Skip to content
Untitled design

Monthly Musing: Wisdom of the Sufi Masters

I was recently asked by a neighbor about Sufism which lead to a great discussion and now I am inspired to share a bit about my faith with you. Next week, I am speaking on multiple panels at the Parliament of World Religions, which is being held in Chicago. My heart, mind, and spirit are even more immersed in the teachings and practical application of this fulfilling faith and I hope that it enriches you as you read this month’s musing.
The serendipity of my upcoming speaking event, coupled with my neighbor’s inquiry is poignant and I wish to share a tidbit about Sufism with you as well. Of course, it would take several years to impart the lessons from Sufi masters over the last 1400 years, so I will start with a small story and the practical applications I have unearthed while on this path.
The very basis of Sufi spiritual evolution, much like most other faiths, is to achieve being a Pure Insan (person) — a person who is egoless and has committed to a selfless life. To get there, one needs to conquer the ego. In my humble experience, this can come through altruistic service to others without expecting any personal profit or return. According to Sufi masters, in a given century, only a few humans achieve this exalted state — and if they do — they will never tell you about it as that very act of boasting involves ego.
Read below to hear a story that exemplifies this generous nature of giving for the sake of giving and the unspoken benefits that bless those that do.

Like most faiths, much of our wisdom is taught through stories that open the minds of the recipients and inspire people to act from their hearts more than their cognitive minds. To dismantle the ego quickly and effectively, I encourage you to strengthen your empathy muscles and occupy your heart. When we are in our hearts, we see fewer barriers between each other and can show up in the world in ways that better humanity because we ourselves embody humanity.
A highly respected 10th Century Sufi saint and scholar: Ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami compiled the book The Way of Sufi Chivalry as a guide to enlightened behavior for the spiritual aspirant. In its pages, he records the teachings of renowned spiritual masters. The teachings reveal the true meaning of compassion, love, friendship, generosity, and hospitality, as well as the right actions associated with these virtues. To the Sufi, Futuwwah is a code of honorable behavior that follows the examples of the prophets, saints, and sages. By adhering to its precepts, the student learns detachment from the ego.
Here’s a selfless tale from the book, The Way of Sufi Chivalry by Ibn al-Husayn al- Sulami (interpreted by Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi first time in English in 1983 & 1991):
“Be compassionate and prefer the interest of your brethren to your own egotism. Here is a story told by Abu Turab’s dervish: Abu Turab went to Mecca for Pilgrimage. A man from Khurasan came to him. He had 10,000 dirhams in his possession. He opened the bag and said, “O Abu Turab, take this.”
Abu Turab replied, “Pour it out.”
The man from Khurasan poured the money onto the ground in front of Abu Turab. Abu Turab took two dirhams and gave them to one of his dervishes and asked him to go buy a shirt. Then he tore the shirt into shreds, making little bags out of them, and put a handful of money in each. He then sent them to poor people, thus avoiding the embarrassment that would be caused by their having to come and ask for it.
When the money was almost distributed, a man reminded him that his own dervishes had not eaten anything for many days. Abu Turab took a handful of dirhams, gave it to him, and said, “Take this and feed them.”
Then a woman approached; “O Abu Turab,” she said, “what about your family?” Turning to his dervishes, Abu Turab said, “See if there is anything left.” They searched the ground, found two dirhams, and gave them to her.”
This next excerpt comes from the same book, told by Muhammad ibn aka al Hassan al-Baghdadi in 1239 AD:
“The characteristics from the traditions of Sufism are apparent in this example – the Sufi masters refuse to act for the fulfillment of their egos or to obtain anything that has a taste of willfulness, lust, pleasure, or whim. Sufi masters are able to resist the commands of their egos.
They firmly pursue five goals: never to be envious of what other people have, never to trouble other people, and always to control their hands, their stomachs, and their sexual desires. They are humble and they follow the ones who are superior to them in mystical knowledge.”
I will let the lessons of this story and this short introduction to my faith settle in your heart and hope that you resonate with the selflessness of Abu Turab’s essence. Where can you “pour it out?” and share that which is excessive, unneeded, or otherwise more useful for others than yourself? It is in the giving that you receive.
My prayers are that you find much fulfillment and meaning in your lives through service. I know many of my readers are deeply committed to creating a better world for our children and grandchildren. Please accept my sincerest gratitude from the bottom of my heart. We could not do this work without your support and good wishes. Kindly remain inspired to continue this important work in your communities as it is sorely needed to unite and mend the divided country and the world we find ourselves. Together we can unite. Let us stay firmly committed. I promise to do my very best!
Peace and many blessings,
Azim Khamisa
Posted in


Click below to receive Azim's Monthly Musings in your inbox.