Thursday, March 5, 2015

Notes on unorthodox teachings in Sufism (Khezr, Iblis).

I found this email that I had written several years back (maybe a decade), in response to someone's questions on the role of Iblis (Satan), Khezr and teachings in Sufism. I've posted it here for recording sake, and also in the event that someone may be interested in this:

>>What would be the relation between Iblis and El-Khidr in the Sufic 
>>tradition, then?

Well strictly speaking, they aren't related in any direct way, especially in Orthodox Islam, but in Sufism, yeah there are some similarities.. ie. beings of a higher order than man, initiates into hidden Wisdom, etc.

Because most of Sufism is recorded in poetry, which may make use of the Quran, but is complete in itself.. most stories applauding Iblis and/or Khezr were written in poetry form- which made it a little safer for Sufi's not to be executed by the clergy.

The similarities I would draw, would be that both are constantly instructing mankind, however, in an inverted fashion-- by showing man his true animal nature, and idiocy, rather than in a direct "do this" fashion that the so called Prophets took. They are also both in direct contact with the Inner Knowledge that allows them to know precisely what a man needs as a spiritual lesson-- the "one lesson fits all" teachings of Orthodoxy isn't the way of either Iblis or Khezr.
This involved outwardly ghastly looking stories, such as Khezr instructing Moses to kill a child, or knock a house down etc.. and only later does the reader find out the true reasons for Khezr asking this.. despite all the "good" protestations of Moses at the time. (See Masnavi of  Rumi).

Some of Shah's books also have stories about Khezr and his unorthodox ways of teaching. 
In Sufic tradition, a disciple needs to have a physical teacher (Sheikh).. it appears in history some dervishes found enlightenment with no teacher.. often it is said the "Hidden Man" or Khezr was their teacher.
Here's a nice page about Khezr:

>>Still, what you 
>>have written Dean, has more than a few seeds of Initiated wisdom...

Yeah, its hard sometimes to nail down WHERE those seeds emnated from LOL. But its nice to know its been retained somewhere.

>>**This is a very interesting angle on the whole Satan story.  Would you have
>>any links to this story or any books that I could look for? I would 
>>really appreciate it.

Yes.. Sufi's were always peeving off the Orthodox establishment in one way or another. Which is why some were executed. There are a few famous Sufi poets who wrote about Iblis and his virtues.
The most famous would have been Al-Hallaj , who was an ecstatic around 900CE, and who was killed for announcing "I am the Truth!".. meaning of course- I am God.
In one of his works, Kitaab Al Tawasin, he speaks of Iblis/Satan being one of the few real lovers of God, and a martyr. This outlook gives a head spin to most orthodox religious, and shows the head space of some of these gnostics at a time when they were forced to made do with orthodox teachings.

A good nice summary I found on Hallaj's thoughts on the praiseworthiness of Iblis/Satan, can be found here:
(link removed-- but can be found easily via a websearch)

(Ignore the silly website name, and also the unfortunate use of caps in the page)

Or you can go to Hallaj's work.. its on the net somewhere.. at the bottom of the page is a good book list.. also this is worth a read if you can find it "Awn,  Peter  J.  Satan’s Tragedy and Redemption: Iblis In Sufi Psychology.  Leiden:  E. J.  Brill,"


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