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Editor's Note is a quarterly column with inspirational words of wisdom from the Editor-in-Chief of Sufism: An Inquiry, Shah Nazar Seyed
Dr. Ali Kianfar

Can We Step Beyond Our

Editor's Note
from Vol. 9, No. 4

Knowledge is the Light God Pours
Into the Heart of whoever
He Desires

Editor's Note
from Vol. 2, No. 2

Tariquat: Way
Editor's Note from
Vol.8, No.2


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An Essential Principle
in Sufi Teaching

From Vol. 6, No. 3

by Shah Nazar Seyed Ali Kianfar

Does everyone have the essential capacity to accept and receive the teachings and the principles taught by Sufis? More precisely, can everyone make the principal focus of their life the cultivation of discipline, learning, and advanced morality? Truthful Sufis have a consensus on this important, though little-discussed issue.

The answer is clear in nature: not every human being is capable of receiving, accepting, and understanding spiritual teachings.

Sufis believe that everything is in the hands of Allah. This might seem to imply that anything and everything is possible--but in truth this fact does not alter the conclusion Sufis have affirmed. Allah has established the harmony of Being, a world governed by laws, including spiritual laws. One of the most basic of these is that there must be a harmony between the sender and the receiver, both in the world of nature, and in the world of the spirit--the two are, for Sufis, one realm of being. In the spiritual domain, such harmony consists in understanding, and that depends upon the inherent capability of the receiver.

The heart of the human being is the locus of receiving spiritual truth, and the truth that the individual is capable of receiving depends upon the qualities of heart. Just as not every individual may be a mathematician, a poet, or an inventor, so also not everyone may receive spiritual teachings for many lack the necessary basis of understanding. To admit this is merely to accept the nature of being, to acknowledge the evidence of many years of teaching and the long history of Sufism.

Some people may argue against this statement by claiming that everyone is equal, and all can receive spiritual knowledge. But this is not really argument, only empty sloganeering. Indeed, to think in this way is itself a sign of a lack of essential inward understanding, or a poverty of heart. Those who would make everyone equal deny the uniqueness of heart, the reality of humanity, and reduce the human being to the uniformity of a thing. Such people do not practice reason, but instead express their own anger at Being. They question God for His supposed lack of compassion--as if to make everyone the same were to show Divine compassion. In so doing, they merely expose their own lack of understanding: the God that is accused in such a court and by such people is indeed unknown to them.

There is a story told by a Sufi that may be mentioned here:

A group of bandits once infested the mountains, waiting for passing caravans to rob . . .

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