What is suffering in terms of Sufism?

The way of Sufism passes through suffering. Crude iron cannot be forged without fire. Just like that, it is not possible to purify a self without suffering. The palace of bliss is reached through the way of suffering. The term suffering in Sufism is a Persian word meaning forty days and is derived from the event of Prophet Moses (upon whom be peace) staying in Mount Sinai in a state of asceticism for forty days in order to receive the Torah. (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stayed in Mount Hira before his prophethood, which is also an inspiration for the term.) (Eraydın, Tasavvuf ve Tarikat, p. 139)

Such a retreat is required in order to be engrossed in contemplation and remembrance of God. Actually, it would be perfectly appropriate for every one who seeks truth and knowledge to make a retreat for at least a month every year and to utilize this month with such sacred activities as contemplation, remembrance, self-reckoning, and knowledge.

The period of suffering is also a period of asceticism. Asceticism is a plan of fight against lust and evil desires, eating little, not filling the stomach and thus is a purification of the body and the soul in order to make the soul delicate and to work comfortably. (İz, Tasavvuf, p. 10)

In Sufism, eating little, sleeping little, and speaking little are the essentials that must be complied with. The compliance of these will provide the sovereignty of the sultan of soul in the county of body. Or else, in a person who eats much, sleeps much and speaks much needlessly the sultan of soul will stay in dungeon.

As materiality has its rules, so has spiritualism its own. For instance, a weak person becomes powerful by lifting weight. Just like that, the person who complies with asceticism becomes powerful spiritually. In nearly every mystical movement, asceticism is the basic principle. Furthermore, some poor Indian people who comply with this asceticism exhibit wonderful conditions similar in appearance to workings of miracles.

Whoever shows patience in sufferings will see that whatever comes from God is beautiful. This verse beautifully depicts such peoples world:

It is nice for me whatever comes from you.
Be it a rose or a thorn.
Be it a garment or a shroud.
Your fire is nice, so is your light.

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