If the concept of Sufism is similar to Greek and Hindu philosophies, how did it come into Islam?
One of the first places where Islam spread when it left Arabia was Egypt, the center where monasticism spread from, where the concept of mysticism was firmly grounded. Therefore, it is not surprising to find some of these ideas arising amongst Muslims as time passed.
What was found is that Greek mystic thought blossomed in the Gnostic Christian movement like that of Valentinians in 140 C.E., 140 years after the time of Christ. It reached its peak in the second century. This trend was combined in the third century, with Platonism by the Egypto-Roman philosopher known as Plotinus. He lived during the period of 205 – 270 C.E. He presented a new religious philosophy, which came to be known as Neo-Platonism. As one studies the various groups of the Masonite or these esoteric groups, Isma’eelis, etc., one finds that the basis of their philosophy comes out of Neo-Platonism.
The Christian hermits of the third century began the monastic tradition in Christendom by withdrawing into the Egyptian desert. This is where the monastic orders and practice in monasticism began. They had adopted in their own philosophy or theosophy, the belief that the goal of man was the union of the human soul with the Divine Soul. This was expressed in Neo-Platonic thought.< Back to Questions