• It was inevitable, as soon as legends of miracles became attached to the names of the great mystics, that the credulous masses should applaud imposture more than true devotion; the cult of the saints, against which orthodox Islam ineffectually protested, promoted ignorance and superstition, and confounded charlatanry with lofty speculation. To live scandalously, to act impudently, to speak unintelligibly—this was the easy highroad to fame, wealth, and power

    A.J. Arberry
  • Mujāhada, a collateral form of jihād (the so-called "holy war"), taken [by Sufis] to mean "earnest striving after the mystical life." The term is based on the Koranic text, "And they that strive earnestly in Our cause, them We surely guide upon Our paths." A Tradition makes the Prophet rank the "greater warfare" (al jihad al-akbar) above the "lesser warfare" (al jihad al-asghar, i.e., the war against infidelity), and explain the "greater warfare" as meaning "earnest striving with the carnal soul" (mujāhadat al-nafs)

    A.J. Arberry
  • To understand the extreme lengths to which the Sufis were prepared to go in reading esoteric meanings into the quite simple language of their Scriptures, it is necessary to remember that the Koran was committed to memory by all deeply religious men and women, and recited constantly, aloud or in the heart; so that the mystic was in a state of uninterrupted meditation upon the Holy Book. Many passages which would otherwise pass without special notice were therefore bound to arrest their attention, already sufficiently alert, and to quicken their imagination, already fired by the discipline of their austerities and the rigor of their internal life

    A.J. Arberry
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