An Article by Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi
Our spiritual path is to touch and illuminate hearts. When hearts are open, people are naturally guided to goodness and to helping others. Human nature always has two sides: there is the fundamentalist, extremist, rigid, narrow, oppressive, tyrannical side; and then there's the open heart, the love, the tolerance, the breadth of vision, the mystical side. The real meaning of jihad is this all-important struggle within, between forces of light and dark, a battle that every Sufi undertakes. Wisdom and love carry the sword, and ultimately the victory is the victory of the heart.
True tradition is like clear pure water, wholesome to drink. In every generation, there are living beings who transmit the original message. Over time, inevitably, misconceptions and aberrations creep up and choke the original message, but periodically it is completely refreshed through the hearts of very great beings. These great beings have come to be known as Sufis: people who have connected into the deepest essence of the heart. One can use the word Sufi to refer to the mystical soul. There are Christian Sufis, Jewish Sufis; in fact it is stated that there are 124,000 messengers of God! The whole global family is included.
Our Sufi lineage goes to the heart of the Prophet Muhammad, may divine peace always embrace him and his noble wives and companions throughout time. The rose fragrance of his love ignites our hearts and reveals in us the truth that we are not separate, that we are God's own essence, His treasure. The nature of Islam is love and unity. We see all of humanity as one. The training of a dervish is called 'polishing the heart,' like a mirror that reflects divine reality. There is no reality apart from the One Reality, but we forget that, and we become disconnected. The path is to reconnect, clarify and polish the heart, to remove any obstacles that cloud our oneness with God.
Of course you don¹t find this teaching in the teaching of the fundamentalists, but all traditions seem to have more a mystical nature, which is their heart, and an outer, more armored side. The present fundamentalism that we see in the Islamic world may be a result of colonialism which stripped away the religion in many countries. When the main tradition is cut off and real guides are no longer accessible, people can become attracted to anyone with a strong and simplistic statement to make. These people are the fundamentalists, often political fanatics who totally distort the true message of Islam.
Fundamentalists are basically just enforcing rules. Rules are not the Truth. The sharia is not as much a code of rules as a state of the heart. It is called the life-giving law, and part of its teaching is to treat others as oneself. The sharia is always pointed to the heart. In the Koran, it is stated that the truth is radiant and clear, and cannot be imposed. Any small part of the Koran taken out of context is as ridiculous as taking a sea urchin out of the ocean, pricking people with it and saying this is the ocean. The greatest teachers are the most merciful, the most forgiving, and not rule-bound at all. They reflect His light, forgiveness and tolerance.
There are more and more people with open hearts manifesting in the world. This whole process started with the heart, and only survives through heart. The heart is always victorious.