Sufi Reading of Jesus' Teaching Parables

~ Aleph ~

I called through your door,
"The mystics are gathering
in the street. Come out!"

you say: "Leave me alone.
I'm sick."

"I don't care if you're dead!"
Jesus is here, and he wants
to resurrect somebody!"

- Jelaluddin Rumi

 ~ Beth ~

Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary), peace be upon his blessed soul - to the Muslims universally - is a Divine Messenger (Rasul), Sign (Ayat), Word and Spirit of Allah (Ruhu'Llah). Just as every verse of the Quran is called Ayah (Sign); before the earthly unveiling of the Quran, in the previous cycle of messengership, Jesus himself was 'a Sign' embodied. For the Sufis, the Mystics of Islam - the station of Jesus is adorned as the Seal of Saintly Station, the Great Guide of Hearts (Murshid al-Akbar fil Qulub) and Teacher of the Sacred (Mu'allim al-Muqaddas).

The Seal of Saintly Station (Khatam al-Maqam al-Quddusin) refers that none among the Sons of Man will ever again surpass the holiness of Jesus, his God consciousness and his saintly attributes. The divine pattern of transmission of sacred knowledge (al-marifat) is such that it is transmitted unbrokenly from one heart to another heart. Thus the role of the Murshid (one who guides) is so sincerely preserved in Sufi Path and the Sufi Mystics who receive that unbroken baraka from God sent messengers and their disciples, companions and successors, consider Jesus as a great Murshid who's pattern (sunnah) reached kamaliyat, holy perfection.

Jesus' instruction of initiation is this, 'as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.' - John 13.34. This is the transmission of love which not all can achieve and those rare beings who achieve become the successor of the master in loving other as the master embodied and taught. Such is the transmission. That transmission from one heart to another, which Sufis called baraka is a continuation of love from, and for the fully Awakened Human Beings. And Jesus, in the eye of the Sufis is one such fully Awakened Human Being, one who, by the grace of Allah, has become a Beauteous Blossom of Love. May Allah perfect our love for him and for our own spiritual guides.

Some Sufis directly inherited the station from Jesus by God's will and perfumed themselves in the color of Christ. Ahmad al-Alawi was one of such well documented Sufi Saint in not-so-distant-past who even on physical level resembled Christ. Shaykh Ibn Arabi, one of the greatest gnostic, received initiation from Jesus. Ibn Arabi later recorded how his conversion (tawba) took place between the hand of Jesus, his Shaykh of inner plane. He said about Jesus: "He has prayed for me in order that I might persist in the religion... and has called me his beloved. He ordered me to practice zuhd (renunciation) and tajrid (the stripping away of all that is unnecessary)". Ibn Arabi and Ahmad al-Alawi, may Allah be pleased with them, are two prominent ones among many know and unknown examples that the Sufis continue to carry the nisbat of love with Christ. Allow me to give you a very simple example. If in the present world if one wish to discover Christ-like human beings, one will be extremely disappointed if one venture to seek such ones among the Christian pastors, priests , bisops or even among the Popes (past or present) - even though they are suppose to be the vanguard of Christ's teaching and hence supposedly be embodying Christ like characters. This is not to say there are none, but you would think and naturally expect that from the Great Tree, the fruits would bear more resembling attributes of their Source. Since the Source Tree is What it Is, the fruits must have been cut off their nourishment long time back.

What an irony you may say! Yet, God be our witness, such Christ-like personalities who live in holy poverty and simplicity, a hallmark of Christ's asceticism, who live in spotless purity when it comes to morality and honoring God's limits and imbued in the love of God, like Christ who often practice itikaaf (retreat) in solitude to be alone with the Alone, like Christ who often prostrate with their face on the ground, who are humble and yet shine with wisdom of kingdom of heaven and who perform healing like Christ - such personalities can even be found among Sufi Masters, even in this age, if you only knew how to seek them.

There are even Sufi branches called Isawyi. This poor servant was fortunate enough to see and listen from one such Isawyi Sufi Shaykh and the temperament, energy, and the combination of peaceful innocence and fierce wisdom reminded none but our noble master, Isa Masih (Messiah Jesus).

~ Gimel ~

In Jesus, the Sufis trace the quintessential quality of a Murshid or a Shaykh, a Guide of the Soul.

While describing how a true Spiritual Guide be recognized, Sufi Master Abu Said ibn Abul Khayr said, at least ten characteristics if found in a guide, is proof of his authenticity. These are:

First: he must have become a Goal, to be able to have a disciple.
Second: he must have traveled the mystic path himself, to be able to show the way.
Third: he must have become refined and educated, to be able to be an educator (murabbi).
Fourth: he must be generous and devoid of self-importance, so that he can sacrifice wealth on behalf of the disciple.
Fifth: he must have no hand in the disciple's wealth, so that he is not tempted to use it for himself.
Sixth: whenever he can give advice through a sign (parables, metaphors, mithals), he will not use direct expression.
Seventh: whenever he can educate through kindness, he will not use violence and harshness.
Eighth: whatever he orders, he has first accomplished himself.
Ninth: whatever he forbids the disciple, he has abstained for himself.
Tenth: he will not abandon for the world's sake the disciple whom he accepts for God's sake.

Abul Khayr continues to say that, "If the spiritual guide is like this and is adorned with these character traits, the disciple is bound to be sincere and a good traveler, for what appears in the disciple is the quality of the spiritual guide made manifest in the disciple."

If one truly try to understand the perfumed qualities of Jesus Christ, one will know that these ten characteristics in perfect perfection were truly manifest in him and certainly Allah blessed him with more than what we can enumerate.

~ Daleth ~

Lets return to the subject matter of this post: the Parables of Jesus that he used in his teaching. It is one of the hallmark of Illuminating Masters that when they speak about higher reality, of the unseen, they avoid speaking it directly. There are many wisdom behind this, but its worth explaining it using a parable as well: "Looking at the sun directly and with naked eye is not profitable, either this temporarily blinds the onlooker, or if done severely, this causes permanent blindness."

Parables also perform multiple functions: which is allowing the seeker 'to drink gradually', opening like many petaled flower 'layer by layer' and also parables continue to unveil its meaning transcending limitation of age or time and open its meaning according to the 'readiness' of seeker. Further more, subject matter of the unseen, as the name suggest are often unknown, and hence mind has nothing to compare or contrast against, there are no likeness of, for example the terms such as the kingdom of heaven, the garden beneath which rivers flow, Sakar - which are of reality of the afterworld and unseen for those who are earth bound.

The parables were a key part of the teachings of Jesus. He was fond of parables in conveying his message so much so that in the canonical gospels, the parables forms approximately one third of his available teachings. And we of course have lost, many of the private conversations of the Teacher with his disciples.

The sahabis (intimate companions) came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"

He replied: "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has (such sacred knowledge) will be given more, and he will have an abundance (kausar). Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand."  
- Matthew: 13:10-13

~ Ha ~

With your contribution, God willing, in a series of upcoming post, we would like to share some posts on the teaching of parables of Jesus. It could well turn out to be a PDF ebook if we gather enough material. We shall try our best to incorporate insight and wisdom from the Sufi Path to appreciate  these universal and timeless teachings of Christ. 

I would really be grateful if you could also share with us what are your favorite Parables from the New Testament and how do you read / interpret them in a brief manner. You may access the New Testament and compare translations / search easily via Bible Gateway: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John's Gospel. But its best to read with reverence from a printed copy.

You may send via email [[email protected]] or share in the comment section of this post as well.

Allahumma salli ala Saiyyidina 
wa Murshidina Isa.
Qad hubbana lahu aiyyakunal kamal.

O Allah, send Your blessings upon our Noble Master,
our Murshid Jesus.
May our love for him be perfected.

# References:
. The Significance of Restoration of True Image of Christ
. Resurrection of Jesus | Gnostic Perspective and Beyond
. Ephphatha | Healing of Christ and Sufi Invocation
. Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet | loving the creation for the sake of loving the Creator
. Quran on Jesus Christ (Isa Masih)
. The Spiral Dance and Hymn of Jesus Christ
. Ahmad al-Alawi: a Sufi Saint who resembled Christ
. Jesus, the Murshid
. Confirmation of Islamic Teachings Regarding Our Master Jesus (as)



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Technology of the Heart: Sufi Reading of Jesus' Teaching Parables
Sufi Reading of Jesus' Teaching Parables
Technology of the Heart
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