The Ancient Egyptian Roots of Sufism
The common premise is that “Sufism” is an Islamic group practicing a form of mysticism that originated in Persia. “Sufism” has nothing to do with Islam or Persia, and everything to do with the quiet people of Ancient and Baladi Egypt. Two points of interest should be mentioned here:
The term and practices of “Sufism” surfaced as a result of Islamic conquests and the subsequent terrorizing of its victims. In order for the Islamic-terrorized masses to maintain their ancient traditions, they had to camouflage old traditions under an Islamic garment.
The pure form of “Sufism” originated in Egypt. Other countries copied it and were quick to take the credit for it. Their application of “Sufism” is impure and incomplete.
The common premise (mentioned above) about the roots and essence of “Sufism” is absolutely wrong, as we will conclude by examining the facts. Here are just a few introductory facts:
The notion of an Islamic origin of “Sufism” is wrong. “Islamic mysticism” is an oxymoron—as per the following selected points:
The mystical seekers who are called “Sufis” have always suffered from Islamic rule throughout the ages. Many have been killed. They have been accused of attempting to make innovations on the dogmas of Islam; of following practices forbidden by the Koran; of denying the very existence of a personal Allah. The tolerance, or lack thereof, of Sufism in the Arabized/Islamized world is closely linked to the whim of the ruler and how he interprets/enforces Islamic laws. During certain periods, Sufism was/is tolerated; during others, it was outlawed and condemned.
The keynote of mysticism (Sufism) is the union between man and God, which in Islam is considered blasphemy; and as such punishable by death by any Moslem, as “empowered” by the Koran itself!
Islamic teachings are characterized by a consuming fear of God’s wrath, while the Egyptian model of mysticism (Sufism) emphasizes love and not fear. God is perceived in terms of emotional closeness—“the friend,” “the lover”—whose love can be experienced personally and individually.
Mysticism (Sufism) is based on self-attained revelations by mystical means, which is contrary to Islam. Such revelations, as experienced by the mystical seekers (Sufis), are considered blasphemy and therefore are punishable by death, as established in the Koran.
The Egyptian mystical seekers (Sufis) include in their ritual practices (as well as public festivals) specific methods to achieve ecstatic proximity to God—through music, dance, or song. This goes contrary to Islam—where music, singing, and dancing are strictly forbidden, as clearly stated in all treatises on Islamic laws.
Contrary to Islamic doctrine, the Egyptian mysticism (Sufism) bridges the gulf between man and God with folk saints. Veneration of folk saints and pilgrimages to their shrines represent an important aspect of the Egyptian Baladi mystical practices, which is totally against the Islamic doctrine.
The above scene, from a stele dating about 4500 years ago, shows the Egyptian practices of veneration of folk saints, at their dome-roofed shrines, and presentations of offerings.
The claim of a Persian origin of “Sufism” is also wrong. The Persians themselves refer to Egypt as the source of “Sufism”. For example:
The Egyptian Dhu ‘l-Nun (died in 860 CE) is recognized in all Islamized Sufi references as the spiritual source of “Sufism”, who prepared the way for the presently known form of Islamized Sufism. Sufis claim him for their own, as a leader and the originator of important concepts, such as the mystic’s direct knowledge (gnosis) of God and the stations and states of the spiritual Path. Dhu ‘l-Nun was knowledgeable of the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. A number of short treatises are attributed to him, which deal with alchemy, magic, and medicine.
Tehuti (known to the Greeks as Hermes), the Ancient Egyptian neter (god), is recognized by all early (and later) Sufi writers as the ancient model of alchemy, mysticism, and all related subjects.
The well known Sufi writer, Idries Shah, admits the role of Egypt via Tehuti and Dhu’I-Nun on Sufism and alchemy as follows:
. . . alchemical lore came from Egypt direct from the writings of Tehuti (Hermes) . . .. According to Sufi tradition the lore was transmitted through Dhu’i-Nun the Egyptian, the King or Lord of the Fish, one of the most famous of classical Sufi teachers. [The Sufis, 1964]
Tehuti's name appears among the ancient masters of what is now called the Way of the Sufis. In other words, both the Sufis and the alchemists recognize Tehuti (known to the Greeks as Hermes) as the foundation of their knowledge.
Idries Shah also makes a direct reference to the Spanish-Arab historian, Said of Toledo (died in 1069), who gives this tradition of the Ancient Egyptian Tehuti (Thoth or Hermes):
Sages affirm that all antediluvian sciences originate with the Egyptian Hermes [Tehuti], in Upper Egypt (namely Khmunu (Hermopolis)). The Jews call him Enoch and the Moslems Idris. He was the first who spoke of the material of the superior world and of planetary movements . . .. Medicine and poetry were his functions . . . [as well as] the sciences, including alchemy and magic.
[Cf. Asin Palacios, Ibn Masarra, p. 13]
It is an indisputable fact that all Sufi mystical terms are not Persian (or Turkish). All Sufi terms are “Arabic”. The “Arabic” language is substantially of Egyptian origin. After the Arab/Islamic conquests of their neighboring countries (including Egypt) in 640 CE, they simply cancelled the identity of their victimized countries, and labeled them “Arabs”.
To continue the point above (regarding the language of Sufism), it should be noted that the word, Sufi, was never mentioned in the Koran or in Mohammed’s sayings. There is no consensus on its meaning. The “translation” of the word/term “Sufi” as a “wearer of wool” is totally fabricated, and is one of many attempted explanations.
The word is actually of Ancient Egyptian origin. Seph/Soph was a component of common Egyptian names—meaning wisdom, purity (among many other meanings).
Some of the standard Sufi terms that are often used are: old religion, antique faith, old one, and ancient tradition. Such terms were used/stressed by all early Sufi writers, which is indicative of the pre-Islamic origins of Sufism.
The Egyptians are remarkably traditionalists to a fault. Early historians have attested to this fact, such as: Herodotus, in The Histories, Book Two, 79:
The Egyptians keep to their native customs and never adopt any from abroad.
Herodotus, in The Histories, Book Two, 91:
The Egyptians are unwilling to adopt Greek customs, or, to speak generally, those of any other country.
Plato and other writers affirmed the complete adherence of the Egyptians to their own traditions.
Supernatural powers acclaimed by the mystics (Sufis) are often called magic. From the earliest times, Egypt has been celebrated for its magicians, and accounts of their marvelous achievements have been documented—not only in Ancient Egyptian records, but also in the Bible and in the works of several of the classical writers. Furthermore, many of the tales in the famous collection of stories known as The Arabian Nights show what wonder-working powers were attributed to magicians in medieval Egypt.
Heka [shown herein] represents the Ancient Egyptian magical power of words. He is usually depicted holding two snakes with total ease.
The country that has the largest number of “Sufi” followers is Egypt. The participation in Sufi fellowships (orders) in other countries—besides Egypt—is very small by comparison.
Egyptian mysticism (Sufism) is not an offshoot of Islam; it is the old “religion” camouflaged into Arabized/Islamized terms.
The Egyptian mystical seekers (Sufis) maintain low profiles, for they seek no public glory, but rather the ultimate mystical glory—The Divine. http://www.egypt-tehuti.org/articles/sufism.html