In response to some questions, Shaykh al-Tariqat Hazrat Azad Rasool provides critical insights concerning the Sufic Path.
Questioner: Hazrat, can you tell me about the School of Sufi Teaching?
Hazrat: The School of Sufi Teaching was established as a branch of the Institute of Search for Truth, located in New Delhi, India. Through it, one can receive instruction in the five main Sufi Orders.
Questioner: What is the benefit of pursuing this study?
Hazrat: The study of Sufism (Tasawwuf) leads the seeker to inner knowledge through a series of transforming experiences. It results in improvement of one’s character, and develops in the individual profound intuition and awareness of the presence of God.
The way of Tasawwuf employs subtle techniques which stimulate real personal experiences. Teachings and practices are given through a method called “transmission.” Stress is placed on meditation and on the knowledge and fulfillment that one can find through it.
The aim of Sufism is to awaken the heart. The heart is not merely a physical organ; it is the organ through which true knowledge is realized, the place in which comprehensive intuition, knowledge of God, and divine mysteries are revealed. With the help of specific techniques, the student of Sufism receives guidance from the Shaykh and becomes receptive to the blessings (baraka) and transmissions from God. In a practical, step-by-step manner, the study leads the seeker to the Truth through the method of Truth. Gradually the qualities of an individual become refined. Self-centered perspectives give way to deep insights into the nature and meaning of life, and one’s outer work and inner state become reflective of each other.
Questioner: How will I know that this transformation is taking place?
Hazrat: Even in the early stages of studentship, one may discover the benefits of the practices. As one tastes the effects of Sufism upon oneself, one gains clear proof that one is on the right path. One begins to feel and understand experiences and circumstances from a different perspective. Clarity of mind and a sense of deep yearning for more knowledge emerge.
Questioner: Does religion play a role in this Path?
Hazrat: As one proceeds with sincerity, one comes to understand the role of religion, and especially the importance of the Quran and the traditions of Islam.
Questioner: What do I have to do to succeed in this Way?
Hazrat: No impositions or restrictions are laid down. It is left to the individual to understand and implement the values, which will ensure progress. We offer guidance along a special path to special persons who are balanced and have a strong commitment to their own self-development. Personal responsibility plays a major role. The work-load is not excessive, and success is within the capacity of almost any person who sincerely desires knowledge of the meaning of life and its creator.
Renunciation of worldly activity is emphatically discouraged. Students are guided instead to lead normal lives in society, based on spiritual values. You may be familiar with the phrase, “Be in the world, not of the world.” This phrase describes our way.
Questioner: How do I begin the study?
Hazrat: Ten Preliminary Practices are given to every individual irrespective of his or her religion, creed, or belief system. After completion of the Preliminary Practices, one can evaluate for oneself the efficacy of the teachings. If at this stage the student wishes to continue and the teacher agrees to his or her request, a more formal relationship is established based on long-standing tradition. The student becomes a mureed or mureeda, an official member of the Order with all its benefits and responsibilities.
Questioner: How will I know when it is the right time?
Hazrat: There is no hurry. The path of Tasawwuf is a journey of a lifetime, and calls for genuine desire, sincerity, and open-mindedness. We make no claim that an individual will “turn into a Sufi” within a certain period of time.
Questioner: Is there a special schedule I must follow?
Hazrat: Once accepted for probationary training, individuals are to perform the Preliminary practices on a daily basis. In addition, they are encouraged to meet in a group with other students once a week. Occasionally, day-long and weekend courses are offered to allow individuals a greater depth of experience and understanding.
Questioner: Since Sufism has its basis in Islam, can you please clarify your position and attitude vis-a-vis women? Are they treated differently and/or with less importance?
Hazrat: All students are treated according to their sincerity, capacity and yearning. Their creed, colour, culture or sex are irrelevant. We certainly make no distinction between men and women. There have been many women Saints throughout history. So you see, women can achieve a high station just as men can. In fact, women who are genuinely sincere can sometimes make faster progress than men, because they are, by nature, more sensitive, so the awakening of their centres of consciousness can occur more quickly than a man’s.
Questioner: Does the study have any social significance?
Hazrat: We hope that students of the School will actively translate their new-found perceptions and knowledge into service to the community and those around them. Today’s world is fraught with unfulfilled people, lacking in values and a sense of meaning. Through this study, individuals and indeed large segments of society can discover and evolve their potential, thereby fulfilling the purpose for which they were created.
Questioner: Thank you for your time and answers.
Hazrat: Thank you for your sincere questions. If you are interested in developing the potential I have described, you may find this work to be most valuable to you.
© Shaykh Hazrat Azad Rasool