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Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings


THERE IS a virtue which the Sufi calls Muruwwat, a virtue which is too delicate to express in words. It means refraining from certain actions out of respect for someone else, whether in consideration for his age, position, knowledge, goodness, or piety. Those who practice this virtue do not do so only towards someone important or pious, for when this quality develops it manifests in one's dealings with everyone.

Muruwwat is the opposite of bluntness. It is not necessarily respect; it is something more delicate than that; it is both consideration and respect together. In its full development this virtue may even become so intense that a person out of consideration and respect tries to bear with the lack of the same virtue in another; but when one arrives at that stage the human manner ends, and the saintly manner begins. Man is not born into this world only to eat, drink, and make merry; he is born in order to perfect the human character. The way he realizes this is by great thoughtfulness and consideration; otherwise, with all power, position, wealth, learning, and all the good things of the world, he remains poor if he lacks this richness of the soul which is good manner.

All the beauty which surrounds us is something which is outside of us; the only beauty which is dependable is to be found and developed in our own character. A person may show lack of Muruwwat, if not in words, in his glance. One does not need to speak in order to be rude. In one's look, in one's intonation, in one's manner of standing or walking, in the way one closes the door on leaving the room, one can show one's feelings. Even if one does not speak, one can make the door speak. It is not an easy matter to control oneself when one's mind is out of hand.

Delicate ideas such as these are most difficult to learn and practice in life. And today many wonder if they are not weaknesses; but something that can only be practiced by mastering oneself can never be a weakness. There is no loss even if thought or consideration is given to someone who does not deserve it; for if such an action did not bring any profit, it was still practice; and it is practice which makes a man perfect.