Christianity And Islam

the pantheistic writings of the Neoplatonist school of Dionysius the Areopagite : but Islam apparently derived its mysticism from Christian sources. In it originated the idea, with all its capacity for development, of the mystical love of God : to this was added the theory and practice of asceticism which was especially developed by Christianity, and, in later times, the influence of Indian philosophy, which is unmistakable. Such are the fundamental elements of this tendency. When the idea of the Nirwana, the Arab /and, is attained, Muhammedanism proper comes to an end. But orthodoxy controls the divergent elements : it opposes any open avowal of the logical conclusion, which would identify " God55 and the " ego," but in practice this group of ideas, pantheistic in all but name, has been received and given a place side by side with the strict monotheism of the Qoran and with the dogmatic theology. Any form of mysticism which is pushed to its logical


consequences must overthrow positive religion- By incorporating this dangerous tendency within itself, Islam has averted the peril which it threatens. Creed is no longer endangered, and this purpose being secured, thought is free.

Union with God is gained by ecstasy and leads to enthusiasm. These terms will therefore show us in what quarter we must seek the strongest impulses to mysticism. The concepts, if not the actual terms, are to be found in Islam : they were undoubtedly transmitted by Christianity and undergo the wide extension which results in the dervish and fakir developments. Dervish and fakir are the Persian and Arabic words for " beggar 55 : the word sufi, a man in a woollen shirt, is also used in the same sense. The terms show that asceticism is a fundamental element in mysticism ; asceticism was itself an importation to Islam. Dervishes are divided into different classes or orders, according to the methods by which

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