This section was not in the original version of ISAISLAM. It was added because I believe that an understanding of Sufism (Tasawwuf, Tasawuf) as the mystical outlet for traditional Islam can help provide the reader of this website a means by which s/he can transition towards acceptance of Isa as their Messiah.
Even though it is estimated that only 5% of Muslims adhere to Sufism, it has been well-represented in my own spiritual journey. The first mosque I ever attended had a strong sufi presence. I was invited to participate in dhikr (a ritualistic practice in remembrance and worship of God) at their tekke (Sufi gathering place). We sat in a circle in the tashahhud position and rhythmically swayed to the right and left, consistently breathing, repeating the word "Allah." Sufism has long had considerable numbers of adherents in Turkey, where I lived for 11 years. I traveled extensively in this country, including visiting Konya, the home of the famous Mevlevi whirling dervishes. This symbolic twirling ceremony is a form of dhikr originating from Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, one of the most famous sufi mystics who is known worldwide for his abundant collection of poetry. The followers of Rumi have an almost missionary-type presence in many parts of America, helping this 13th century Persian to be the most widely read poet in the United States.
Sufism has had a historical influence in both the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. It developed as the Islamic version of asceticism, denying physical pleasures for spiritual rewards, similar to what had already existed among Christians (i.e., monks) and Buddhism. The teacher-student relationship is the main learning method in Sufism. The sheikh (shaykh) is the authorized grand master who is considered a successor of the knowledge originally possessed by Muhammad (PBUH) and, usually, Ali. These spiritual leaders created schools (tariqa/tariqah/tariqat/tarikat), known as orders, where their path towards spiritual enlightenment could be formally taught to their disciples. For example, the Bektashi Order was founded by the Alevi Haji Bektash Veli (my son had an Alevi babysitter, a looked-down upon minority in Turkey) who had successors (khalifa) preserving the founder's way of knowledge and practice, passing them along to members of subsequent generations of the brotherhood.
"Sufis seek a close personal experience with God and believe they have acquired a special mystical knowledge directly from Allah. Many Sufis define their belief as a 'religiosity' rather than a religion because it revolves around personal experience rather than doctrine and involves contemplation, awareness and a quest for purity. The mysticism of Sufism is justified by passages in the Quran that describe the nearness of God and the way that people can respond and on the mysterious night journey Muhammad made after his death to Jerusalem and Paradise...Sufis seek the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience with God. They attempt to reach a state of fana (a temporary ecstatic intoxication of divine love) and baqa (a prolonged condition of complete 'human in-dwelling with God'). Some Sufis viewed the high of spiritual consciousness as the 'Light of Lights' and described the process of reaching it as 'ascending degrees of illumination.' Rather than focusing on the numerous rules and regulations enumerated by the Quran, Sufism picks out poetic and mystic verses, such as 'Wherever you turn, there is the face of God- which also abounds'- and mines them for meaning. Sufis have mapped out a mystical theology that aims to seek out soul of God..." (Facts and Details:Sufism and Sufi History and Beliefs)
The Sufi seeker is not unlike one typically found in other religions. Often times, there is a realization of the need for there to be more in this life than just worldly pleasures. Those well-off may feel their affluence is undeserved while some may feel guilt because they have harmed others. The natural reaction in either of those cases is to punish oneself through the deprivation of natural comforts. This leads to an ascetic life where there is an attempt to cancel out regrets from the past with suffering in the present in the hopes of eventually balancing everything out in the future. It is the position of ISASLAM that this guilt is due to sin and the only way to properly eliminate its effect is not through denial but through the acceptance of the atoning (taking place of) sacrifice for sin that was provided by Isa the Messiah.
Mysticism is also sought because there is realization that traditional religious practices, like praying five times a day, cannot in itself satisfy all of a person's spiritual needs. The seeker longs for some type of special relationship or baqa with Allah which is only possible after one's sins have been forgiven and Allah's spirit is allowed to have control of the individual's life. In other words, the yearnings of the typical sufi seeker can be met as a balanced IsaMuslim.
In the history of Islam, Isa has often been viewed as not only a prophet and the Messiah but also possessing the qualities of a shaykh. Nader Talebzadeh's 2007 Iranian film The Messiah: Jesus, The Spirit of God gives an example of how Isa's interactions with his disciples foreshadowed the relationship between a Sufi grand master and his seekers of truth. "In The Messiah, the disciples of Jesus call their master 'Spirit of God,' a title based on a verse in the Quran that calls Jesus 'a messenger of God, a word which He cast into Mary, and a spirit from Him.' Jesus is so spiritual that he is only just barely on earth. He has no concern for the burdens of this world, and teaches those around him to think only about the next world...The Jesus in Talebzadeh's film is recognizable from medieval Islamic traditions. Medieval Muslim scholars of all sorts, but especially those with mystical (or 'Sufi') tendencies, present Jesus as a spiritually enlightened master who taught renunciation of the world was 'a spirit from God' and, on the other hand, because of the doctrine (accepted by Muslims though not explicit in the Quran) that Jesus was celibate."
Millions of Muslims throughout the world seek to supplement their traditional Islamic beliefs and practices with those found under the umbrella of Sufism. After going to congregational prayers, they will then make their way to a nearby tekke where additional worship of Allah takes place through different expressions of dhikr. Their goal is to have a meaningful experience with God. Although an IsaMuslim may choose to supplement their faith with some alignment towards Sufism, my recommendation would be for them to have Jesus the Messiah as their shaykh as opposed to any historical order or current brotherhood.