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What in the world is a Hebrew Sufi?  It all starts with Abraham, of course.  Abraham was called the first Hebrew (Eevreet) in the Torah.  This was because he was told to cross over the river Euphrates from the land of idolatry (Babylon), to the Promised Land, The Holy Land, the Land of Milk and Honey, the future Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael; named after his seed, the children of Jacob).  Abraham, being the founder of the Hebrew Religion, the first monotheistic religion, had a universal message calling everyone to the worship of the ONE unseen God (Allah or Elohim).   He had two sons and a grandson that carried on with this message of monotheism (Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob).  Jacob had 12 sons which became the 12 Tribes of Israel, of which I am a descendent.  

 

Amongst the Israelites, God sent thousands and thousands of Prophets.  And these Prophets taught the Israelites the worship of the ONE God, His Laws, and how to purify their hearts (Tasawuf) to become closer to God and to fell at one with the ONENESS of the One God (Tawheed).  They taught how God does not have a mother or a son.   He does not incarnate to the flesh like the Hindu Avatars.  He is not made up of many parts.  And that everybody is responsible for their own sins!

 

Amongst the Arabs, in Pre-Islamic Arabia, from the descendents of Prophet Ishmael, were a group of monotheists called Haneef’s.  From this group of Haneef’s, a direct descendent of Ishmael, came Prophet Muhammad.  The Prophet came calling the Arabs back to the religion of their ancestors (Abraham and Ishmael) in submission to the One God (Al Islam).  For the Arabs were the only other people on earth besides the Hebrews, that even though the majority of them had fallen into idolatry, they still practiced circumcision as had been passed down to them from Ishmael over 2600 years earlier.  Prophet Muhammad also taught those who submitted themselves to God (Muslims) how to purify their hearts (Tasawuf).  From these Muslims who testified to the Oneness of God and the Prophethood of Muhammad, some really pursued this science of purification and became what is called Sufis.  

 

The Sufi message is really that of all the Prophets of God; to purify ourselves physically and spiritually to get closer to the Oneness of God.  To become one with His oneness and to be enveloped in His Love, to see the beauty in His creation.  The Sufis preserved The Way (Deen) of the ancient Prophets.  There were many practices of the Prophets lost to the Israelites (Jews) due to their persecutions, suffering, and exile from the Land of Israel first during the Babylonian Exile and then later in the Roman Exile.  Examples of these practices include full ablutions (washing the arms, face, and feet) before prayer and prostrations during prayer.

 

Skip to 13th Century Egypt and Rabbi Abraham Maimonides, son of the famous Moses Maimonides (The Rambam), was the Nagid (leader) of the Jewish Community of Egypt, inheriting the position from his father.  He tried to reinstitute these lost practices of the Prophets and the science of self-purification to feel at one with the Oneness of God back into mainstream Judaism.  He articulated his beliefs in his work entitled Kitab Kifayat Al-Abidin (A Comprehensive Guide for the Servants of God).  In this work he articulates The Mystical Path (Tariqa As-Sufia / Derech Ha-Hasidut).  He considered himself a Jewish Sufi and was in close contact with the Muslim Sufis.  Abraham himself says; “Do not regard as unseemly our comparison of that to the behavior of the Sufis, for the latter imitate the Prophets (of Israel) and walk in their footsteps, not the Prophets in theirs.”  (Kifayat Al-Abidin II, p. 320, trans. P. Fenton in The Treatise of the Pool, p. 8).

 

The Sufis had preserved the beliefs and practices of the Ancient Prophets of Israel and that by following Sufi Practice, they were getting back to their roots such as the practices of Meditation and Dhikr (the remembrance of God and His names).  Thus he established a Jewish Sufi Tariqa (path) that kept all the Laws of the Torah and reinstituted the mysticism and spirituality of the Prophets.  

 

In addition, the Sufis had a universal message like Abraham calling all people to the worship of the ONE God.  Famous Sufis include Al Ghazali, Rumi, and Ibn Arabi.  The Sufi message could be heard in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Damascus, Palestine, Baghdad, Basra, Persia, and Turkey amongst others.  While some Muslim groups got carried away with politics or absent-minded ritual obsessed with ONLY performing the 5 pillars of Islam, without any spirituality, the Sufis kept their focus on spirituality and closeness to God, while adhering to the Shariah of the Qur’an and the Sunnah (Way of the Prophet).

 

So in summation, if one were to practice the path of Abraham and the Prophets and those Sages whom preserved this Holy Path, they would be called Hebrew Sufis.