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Al-Ghazzali - The Alchemy of Happiness - 23 Sufi music, dancing and ecstatic states



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Al-Ghazzali - The Alchemy of Happiness - 23  Sufi music, dancing and ecstatic states

THE heart of man has been so constituted by the Almighty that, like a flint, it contains a hidden fire which is evoked by music and harmony, and renders man beside himself with ecstasy.

These harmonies are echoes of that higher world of beauty which we call the world of spirits; they remind man of his relationship to that world, and produce in him an emotion so deep and strange that he himself is powerless to explain it.

The effect of music and dancing is deeper in proportion as the natures on which they act are simple and prone to emotion; they fan into a flame what­ever love is already dormant in the heart, whether it be earthly and sensual, or divine and spiritual.

…. music and dancing do not put into the heart what is not there already, but only fan into a flame dormant emotions.

……We come now to the purely religious use of music and dancing: such is that of the Sufis, who by this means stir up in themselves greater love towards God, and, by means of music, often obtain spiritual visions and ecstasies, their heart becoming in this condition as clean as silver in the flame of a furnace, and attaining a degree of purity which could never be attained by any amount of mere outward austerities. The Sufi then becomes so keenly aware of his relationship to the spiritual world that he loses all conscious­ness of this world, and often falls down senseless.

It is not, however, lawful for the aspirant to Sufiism to take part in this mystical dancing without the permission of his “Pir,” or spiritual director. It is related of the Sheikh Abu’l Qasim Girgani that, when one of his disciples requested leave to take part in such a dance, he said, “Keep a strict fast for three days; then let them cook for you tempting dishes; if, then, you still prefer the ‘dance,’ you may take part in it.”

…….Those who deny the reality of the ecstasies and other spiritual experiences of the Sufis merely betray their own narrow-mindedness and shallow insight.

Some allowance, however, must be made for them, for it is as difficult to believe in the reality of states of which one has no personal experience as it is for a blind man to understand the pleasure of looking at green grass and running water, ….

A wise man, though he himself may have no experience of those states, will not therefore deny their reality, for what folly can be greater than his who denies the reality of a thing merely because he himself has not experienced it! Of such people it is written in the Koran,
“Those who have not the guidance will say, ‘This is a manifest imposture.’”

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps