Seekest thou Laila [Divine Reality]
“Muhammad al-Harraq (d. 1845): "Seekest thou Laila [Divine Reality], when she is manifest within thee? Thou deemest her to be other, but she is not other than thou.”Jalal al-Din Rumi (d.1273): "Though the many ways [diverse religions] are various, the goal is one. Do you not see there are many roads to the Kaaba?”
In some Sufi orders the goal of the mystical quest is"personified as a woman, usually named Laila which means 'night'... this is the holiest and most secret inwardness of Allah... in this symbolism Laila and haqiqa (Divine Reality) are one.”This, and the above statements appear to be distinctly contrary to Muslim orthodoxy in their blatant echoes of Eastern mystic religions. Yet, for Sufis this is not a problem. As Ibn 'Arabi stated,
My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christians, and a temple for idols and the pilgrims Ka'ba and the tables of the Torah, and the book of the Koran. I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take, that is my religion and faith.
Another Sufi saint, Mahmud Shabistari, in his work Gulshan-i Raz (The Mystic Rose Garden) concurs, declaring," what is mosque, what is synagogue, what is fire temple? ... 'I' and 'You' are the Hades veil between them.. When this veil is lifted up from before you, there remains not the bond of sects and creeds.”
Thus, not only has Sufism been influenced by other religions, but its mystic quest for spirituality has led it to embrace all sorts of religion, as abundantly shown in the writings of the great Sufi saints. To try to deny this as a scholar is incomprehensible. Yet, those scholars who are sympathetic towards Islam, as previously shown, have a marked tendency to minimize or altogether ignore these facts.”
William Van Doodewaard, Sufism: The Mystical Side of Islam
(U. of Western Ontario, London, Canada: 1996)
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