Exploration in derivation and development of Sufi`s title
It is necessary to have a look on different views about derivation of Sufi`s title. Various views are explained as below:
1-Sufi and its derivations are a title.On the basis of this theory, the domination of use in this book for Sufis is to call them, and has no morphological basis.
ABOLGHASEM GHASHIRI says: using this name for a person in said tribe is settled and their sect is called as mysticism or Sufism. This word has no derivation basis in Arabic. Apparently, this word has been used as a title.
But we have to say the theory of GHASHIRI, does not seem to be right. Because giving a title to a person or a group must have a reason. And claiming a word to be only title is not satisfying our needs. And we have to know the reason and its motivation.
2-Relation to SAFAA. The mentioned name was belonged to a group who were companions of holy prophet (PBUH) and were very poor.
3-Derivation from the word SAFA, because Sufis under the effect of austerity were achieving to purity and brightness and their hearths by influence of revelations and observations were clear and smooth.
GHASHIRI does not accept this reason. And says, this derivation on the basis of Arabic grammar is impossible.
4-Connection of Sufi to SAF (line), as Sufi has presence of heart toward God and tries to be close to almighty, but GHASHIRI is not accepting this proposal also, because SAF has relationship to SAFI and not the Sufi.
5-Sufi and Sufism are derived from the Greek words such as Sophia, Sophos and TEOSOPHIA, which means wisdom, wise and mysticism.
This view has been raised by great Iranian philosopher by name ABUREIHAN BIRUNI (died in 440 HIJRI), and some researchers from the east and west have confirmed it, such as VON HAMMER, who was a orientalist and master ABDOLAZIZ ESLAMBOLI and master MOHAMMAD LOTFI as Islamic researchers. However most of the researchers did not accept this view, including NICHOLSON and MASSIGNON who rejected the assumption of NOLD.
Let us see the weak points of NOLD`s theory:
A-translation of Sophia is wisdom and is more related to physics and medicine, and not theology and esoteric knowledge.
B-Arab scholars were sensitive, toward strange words, and always were showing the strange words in their articles. If Sufi was a Greek work, definitely, they could mention about it in various writings.
6-some said that, the word of Sufi comes from SUFANE, which is a thin and short crop in desert and because Sufis were persuaded to desert`s plants, so because of this reason, they were called as Sufis. But this view is not correct, because the relation of SUFANE goes to SUFANI and not the SUFI.
7- SUFALGHAFA, this word means the hairs that grow at the back of the head, so as Sufi is soft and quite just like these hairs, so some people think the word of Sufi comes from said word. But this one is also wrong, because word relates to SOFANI and not the SUFI.
8-SOFA, is a man who was apparently the first man who has completely dedicated himself to serve the God, stayed beside the KAABA and later became in charge of some ritual. His real name was GHOS BEN MAR, and because he left every benefit to work in holy place, so people has given the title of SOFA to him. This tile after his death was given to his children. And even this title was given to
Custodians of KAABA, later.
PIR JAMAL ARDASTANI, who was one of the great authors of SOFIA, has narrated that, the word of SUFI may extracted from BANI SOFA.
Professor HOMAEE, about this comment says: the path seemed to lead nowhere. Because the tribe of SOFIA, were men of worship and piety. But we can`t accept promptly, this was the cause for creation of SUFI`s title.
9-derivation of SUFI from SUF means wool, is accepted and approved by many Sufis and scholars and this word, compare to other ideas and possibilities are more reasonable and is matching to various historical proofs and evidences, such as:
A-confirmation and acceptance by leaders of Sufism and Islamic mysticism:ABUNASR SARAJ TUSI (died in 378 HIJRI) accepted this view and says:
The reason for not relating the Sufis to a science or a case, is that they all are collection of all sciences and excellences and are in improvement path. And people are calling them on the basis of their appearance, only. Because they wear wool. A simple name shows their virtues and perfections. Just like companions of Jesus Christ were called as apostles. They were wearing white dresses.
SUHRVERDI (died on 632 HIJRI), accepts this idea, which is equal to derivation rules. Because Arab, uses the word of TASAVOF for wearing the woolen dress. To explain this matter, he repeated the words of SARAJ TUSI about wool dress, and adds: their fame for woolen dress is a cover for their spiritual status. In the sense, by raising the appearance, they are preventing the inner perfection. By this way they don’t want to become famous. And from the beginning they want to tolerate the difficulties. They want to show humility and be away from pride and claim.
ABUBAKR MOHAMMAD KALABADI says:Sufis did not want the cloths for beauty and their appearance, only covering their body was important, so they stated to wear hard and woolen dresses.
B-approval of west and east researchers:EBN KHALDUN, YAFEI, EDWARD BROWN and NOLD, in an article which was published in 1895, has confirmed that the word SUFI is derived from SOF. MASOUMALI SHAH and ZARINKOUB are relating this issue to authors of Sufism and others. Doctor GHASEM GHANI, is accepting that the word SUFI is derived from SOF, because according to logic and word rules, this is best answer and it is an Arabic word. And professor HOMAEE is also accepting this theory as the most famous and most true. And DEHKHODA, considers it as best assumption. And OMAR FAROUKH, believes it is the most reliable theory for philosophy historians in east and west. And Doctor ZAKI MOBARAK, accepts it as the most correct hypothesis about the said issue. And also HENRY CARBON.
C-background of wool wearing in Islam and even before Islam:If we assume the appearance of Islamic Sufism in second century (HIJRI), there is no doubt, wearing wool and even the title of Sufi was existed before appearance of Islamic Sufism.
YAFEI says: wool was dress of prophets and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his descendants was wearing wool dress. Messenger of God narrated that, the day when God talked to Moses (AS), Moses was wearing the woolen dress. There is a story about the Jesus Christ about his woolen dress.
Wool wearing was a custom of Christian monks. And their dress was perhaps imitated by Arabs. So in the beginning of Sufism, some people were not liking the wool dressing and were believing that, it is copy of Christian monks dress.
D-suitable with religious acceptance:Woolen dress is hard and inferior, so wearing it was common among Muslim and Christian ascetics. Number of narratives are available which say that, prophets were advising their followers to wear woolen dress.
Professor HOMAEE assumes that, this word was probably made by Persian and then this word was entered to Arabic language.
And we can say, only wearing a particular dress is not important, but wearing it as a slogan and sophistic sect is important.