that the majority of Sufis have long been actively engaged in promoting Islamic
expansionism and aggression, and this remains part of their agenda today. Prominent Sufis
were involved with major Islamic rulers in India, including tyrants like Aurangzeb, Mahmud
Ghauri, Mahmud Ghaznavi and Alauddin Khilji, who killed thousands of Hindus and destroyed
hundreds of temples. Mahmud of Ghaznavi, for example, was a great hero in the Sufi poetry
of Attar and Sanai, for his ruthless destruction of the Somnath Shiva temple, which
they saw as a den of infidels.
Perhaps because Islam
is generally intolerant, the Sufis gain much by way of contrast. While one can sympathize
with the Sufis and more easily dialogue with them than with the orthodox, to think that
Sufis dont represent the vested interests of Islam is quite naïve. I remember a
meeting with an American Sufi who followed a traditional Middle Eastern Sufi order. He
admitted that non-Muslims could gain access to Allah but insisted that it required a
special effort on their part. I mentioned the example of Ramana Maharshi. He noted that
the Maharshis achievement was great for a Hindu but ordinary Muslims could reach the
same level without effort by faith alone. He said that through Islam one connects to a
lineage that goes all the way back to Adam or the original man and connects one directly
with God, while all other religions deviate from that and cannot be trusted!
In my dialogues with various Sufis I found that they
didnt accept karma and rebirth. In spite of their portrayal in India as monists,
they were generally dualists, seeing some ultimate difference between God and the soul.
Though they firmly believe that God is One they feel that the human soul can never
completely merge into Allah but can only go to one of the nine heavens or paradises. While
many accept a unity of religions, if you question them they usually place that unity only
in Islam, not in any real religious pluralism.