Barakah

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For the movie titled 'Baraka', see Baraka (film). For other uses, see Baraka (disambiguation).

In Islam, Barakah or Baraka (Arabic: بركة ‎ ) is the beneficent force from God that flows through the physical and spiritual spheres as prosperity, protection, and happiness.[1] Baraka is the continuity of spiritual presence and revelation that begins with God and flows through that and those closest to God.[2] Baraka can be found within physical objects, places, and people, as chosen by God. This force begins by flowing directly from God into creation that is worthy of baraka.[3] These creations endowed with baraka can then transmit the flow of baraka to the other creations of God through physical proximity or through the adherence to the spiritual practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. God is the sole source of baraka and has the power to grant and withhold baraka.

Islamic mysticism[edit]

Baraka is a prominent concept in Islamic mysticism, particularly Sufism. It pervades Sufi texts, beliefs, practices, and spirituality. Sufism emphasizes the importance of esoteric knowledge and the spiritual union with God through the heart. Baraka symbolizes this connection between the divine and the worldly through God's direct and intentional blessing of those that are most reflective of Him and his teachings.

Baraka is not a state, it is a flow of blessings and grace. It flows from God to those that are closest to God, such as saints and prophets. Those that have received baraka are thought to have the abilities to perform miracles (karamat), such as thought-reading, healing the sick, flying, and reviving the dead.[4] However, according to Abd al-Karīm ibn Hawāzin Qushayri, a prominent Sufi mystic, the use of these miracles and the actual possession of these abilities are not indicative of a saint's status, however, the performance of these miracles by prophets is important to establish credentials.[5]

Sources, transmission, and traditional importance[edit]

Sources[edit]

The Qur'an, hadith, saints, prophets, Muhammad and his descendants are all powerful sources of baraka.[6] Through these sources, one may achieve baraka by three methods: (1) visitation of saints and holy shrines charged with baraka, (2) attachment to the chain of spiritual masters through the khirqa, and (3) emulation of the inner Sunnah.

Transmission through saints[edit]

Saints as the source of baraka, can transmit baraka to ordinary men simply through their presence. As this hadith explains, "By means of the righteous Muslim, God repulses affliction from one hundred neighbors".[7] In this way, the saints provide a means for ordinary men to connect with the blessings of God through baraka. The physical closeness to a saint's shrine is said to emit baraka, which is why many followers of Islam choose to visit shrines. The ritualistic act of visiting tombs and other holy places, such as shrines, to receive baraka is known as ziyara.[8]

Transmission through khirqa[edit]

Sufis pass esoteric knowledge and baraka from the master sheikh to the aspirant through the passing of the khirqa. The khirqa is the initiatory cloak of the Sufi chain of spirituality. This cloak initiates an aspirant into the silsilah, which is the chain of sheikhs that goes back to Muhammad. This chain serves as the channel through which baraka flows from the source of spiritual revelation to the being of the initiate.[9] There are two kinds of this kind of transmission (tanakkul) of baraka through the khirqa: khirqa-yi irada and khirqa-yi tabarruk. Khirqa-yi irada is characterized by the passing of baraka to the aspirant from the singular sheikh to which he has sworn. Khirqa-yi tabarruk, also known as the "frock of blessing", is characterized by the passing of baraka to the worthy aspirant from any sheikh that he has encountered.[10]

The silsilah chain created from the passing of the khirqa that confirms authenticity of many hadiths is known as the isnad. It was not until the late eleventh and twelfth centuries that the Sufi tradition began accepting this form of isnad as a means to transmit mystical knowledge and blessings.[11]

Transmission through Sunnah[edit]

By following the practices and teachings of Muhammad, one can achieve baraka through the emulation of Sunnah. Because Muhammad is the source of Muhammadan baraka, by living in constant remembrance of the names of God and in accordance to Muhammad's Sunnah. Those that live the inner Sunnah within the heart, are those that reflect the Light of Muhammad (al-nur al-muhammadi) and the Muhammadan baraka.[12] Those that live according to the Sunnah, live in constant remembrance of God, and live authentically from the heart are those to whom God opens the channel through which baraka can flow. By living in accordance to Muhammad, one can become worthy of God's direct blessing of baraka. If granted baraka, the saintly person is able to feel God's force from within and is nourished by the hadith while being guided by the baraka.[13]

Controversy of seeking baraka[edit]

Seeking baraka has been a source of controversy throughout the Islamic world. Through the act of ziyara, saints and the shrines of saints are seen as a means to access the baraka sent from God. Because of this, many within Islam see ziyara as a form of idolatry in the way devotees may look towards the saints instead of towards God, Himself, for baraka.[14] Although ziyara has been a source for great controversy, it remains one of the most typical ritual practices of Islamic spirituality.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Colin, G.S. "Baraka.". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill Online. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (1999). Sufi Essays. Chicago: ABC International Group, Inc. 
  3. ^ Colin, G.S. "Baraka.". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill Online. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Ernst, Carl (1997). The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc. 
  5. ^ Ernst, Carl (1997). The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc. 
  6. ^ Colin, G.S. "Baraka.". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill Online. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Hoffman, Valerie (1995). Sufism, Mysticism, and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. 
  8. ^ Karamustafa, Ahmet (2007). Sufism: The Formative Period. Los Angeles: University California Press. 
  9. ^ Hoffman, Valerie (1995). Sufism, Mysticism, and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. 
  10. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1975). Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 
  11. ^ Brown, Jonathan (2009). Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. 
  12. ^ Brown, Jonathan (2009). Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. 
  13. ^ Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (1999). Sufi Essays. Chicago: ABC International Group, Inc. 
  14. ^ Sells, Michael (1996). Early Islamic Mysticism. New York: Paulist Press. 
  15. ^ Sells, Michael (1996). Early Islamic Mysticism. New York: Paulist Press. 

Further reading[edit]

  • C. Coulon, et al. Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam. Oxford Univ. Press, 1988. ISBN 0-19-822723-X.
  • J.W. Meri. Aspects of Baraka (Blessings) and Ritual Devotion among Medieval Muslims and Jews. Medieval Encounters. 5 (1999), pp. 46–69.
  • L. N. Takim. The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma And Religious Authority in Shi'ite Islam. SUNY Press, 2006. ISBN .
  • P. Werbner, et al. Embodying Charisma: Modernity, Locality and Performance of Emotion in Sufi Cults. Routledge, 1998. ISBN .