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The attributes of the followers of the Sufi tradition are attributes that serve to loosen their connection to the world while bringing them closer to God. The attributes they have distinguish them from ordinary people. According to Teachings of the Sufis, by Carl Ernst, they are strict followers of a master, strive to be humble, and try to live without worldly possessions and desires.
At the core of the practice of Sufism is reliance on the truth of God. It is very important that this reliance is maintained, otherwise the follower will become distracted by worldly things and ideas. The Sufi master Abu ‘Ali al-Daqqaq said, “The tree that grows by itself without a gardener puts forth leaves, but it does not bear fruit. Similar is the disciple who has no master from whom he can learn his path, one breath at a time. He remains a worshipper of his own desire and does not attain success.”
It can be understood by al-Daqqaq’s words that having a master is an integral part of a Sufi’s path. Without one a Sufi will go astray and lose sight of God and not succeed. Abu Yazid said, “One who has no master has Satan for a leader.”
Those who fail to be humble are those who are concerned with their own desires. Sufis must forsake their desires. Desires lead to sins and sins separate people from God. The Sufi must be able to give up all sins no matter what the size. Because sins hide in things of worldly origin, such attachments must be given up. This is why wealth must be given up. Wealth provides worldly attachments. Worldly attachments lead people away from God. Power must be given up as well since it too creates attachments and ideas that will lead people away from God. A good example of what power creates is arrogance, a sin that has been warned against for thousands of years. Giving up these things consequently will lead someone to be humble.
Another reason why Sufis must remain humble is that they must always be able to resist any opposition they might feel towards the master. He must never show any disagreement even if he knows that he is right and the master is wrong.
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To be able to maintain that kind of silence and to live under that kind of subordination would take a great deal of humility. A proud person could never deal with that type of rank among a group of people.
One of the hardest things a Sufi must be able to do is to deny the body its human cravings. This is because the master of any Sufi could order that Sufi to sleep only when necessary and to eat only very little until that Sufi could withstand even eating. A good Sufi must never satisfy the body more than is necessary. Sufis must also give up association with common, worldly people. According to the Qur'an, 18:28, God said, "Do not obey those whose hearts we have made heedless of our remembrance." Such an association is considered a dangerous poison.
These attributes that a good Sufi must have indicate that followers of Sufism lead a challenging life. Anyone who wants to come closer to God following the path of Sufism has to really stay focused. It obviously requires attributes that the majority of people do not possess.