International Peace Studies Centre - IPSC

Mercy and Justice from the perspective of Sufism in the context of today’s socio-political situation


By Dr Seyed Salman Safavi

International Peace Studies Centre (IPSC)

20 June 2022

NCF, UK, International webinar


“Ignorance is the worst enemy of humanity”



In this short speech, I will first describe the political, security and economic conditions of the world today, then I will express some of the messages and solutions of Sufism (Islamic spirituality) to deal with the problems of the world today.

The dark conditions of the world today

  • The world today is full of violence and oppression and cruelty.
  • The people of the world suffer from a class division of rich and poor.
  • Immigrants often face many difficulties in building a new life.
  • Arms factories make billions of dollars from wars, but many mothers lose their children in wars.
  • The environmental crisis has posed a serious threat to humanity, and governments and large economic corporations are not taking serious action against it.
  • Conflicts between governments and governments and governments and nations have caused great harm to the people of the world.
  • Western sanctions against opposing governments have caused the people of the sanctioned countries to suffer.

Sanctions have not changed the behavior of governments, but many people have lost their lives because of lack of medicine or becoming unemployed and facing poverty because of the closure of factories.

  • “Around 9 million people die every year of hunger and hunger-related diseases and a child dies from hunger every 10 seconds”[i] in the world, but wealthy big companies do no work to fight hunger.

9- Prices in the world today have risen to the detriment of consumers and to the benefit of global energy companies, and there is a lot of pressure on the lives of people in the world today because of wars and sanctions.

In such a dark world, what is the message of Sufism to the world today?

Sufi messages: social solidarity, mercy, justice and benevolence (Ihsan)based on following principles:

  1. We are all creations of God, beyond racial, national, religious, political, and cultural differences, and were born of one parent (Adam and Eve).

2- Difference is an essential attribute of life in this world.

  1. Racial and cultural assimilation is impossible.

4- The solution to conflicts is not war, but tolerance, dialogue and diplomacy.

5- According to the above principles, from the perspective of Sufism, justice and kindness in individual and social behavior is the cure for the disease of the world today.

6- Mercy, kindness and justice to people should be beyond their nationality, race, religion and culture.

A person who is hungry, or homeless or unemployed, is a human being and needs the basic necessities of life, the difference of nationality and culture has no effect on his need as a human being.

My great ancestor Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili, a great Iranian Sufi, said: “In giving bread, do not differentiate between friend and enemy, believer and infidel, so that it is purely for God.”

This statement of Sheikh Safi al-Din is the golden rule of the social mystical school “Safavid Alawite Mystical order”. It is the foundation of social solidarity, especially in the contemporary period, which has a mosaic and multicultural society. In this Islamic mystical view, all human beings are first class citizens.


All people are citizens of the city of God. All people are the family of God who must be taken care of.

Society is not divided into insiders and outsiders, so that social cooperation and distribution of economic facilities are monopolized or given priority by insiders, and dissidents are deprived of receiving social services, especially economic facilities.

7- Cooperate in goodness and God-wariness (godliness, Piety) and do not cooperate in sinfulness and aggression.(Qur’an, 5:2){ تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ}.

8- Sheikh Safi al-Din’s school of social mysticism considers positive and constructive approach as a way out of the cycle of destruction and social negativity, and synergy as a way out of the cycle of social divergence.

In the social system, there is always a “conflict of interests” and “conflict of ideas” and a “conflict of good and evil” and these cannot be eliminated.

Therefore, the way to deal with social disagreements and conflicts is not to deal with the police and security, but by strengthening the “internal Spiritual police” and self-control and to control selfishness.

To respond to wrong deeds with wrong deeds is to get caught up in the cycle of producing evil, destruction, resentment, disgust, and divergence.

bad deeds must be answered with goodness. Tolerance in social interactions teaches forgiveness in society.

  • In the conflict between justice and kindness, forgiveness and benevolence (Ihsan) should take preference over justice.

Prophet Muhammad messenger of God (PBUH) said: “The forgiveness of the ruler, causes the government to remain.[ii]

Imam Ali said: When you gain power over your enemy forgive him by way of thanks for being able to overpower him. (Imam Ali, Nahj al-Balaghah, Hikmat11)

قَالَ امام علی( عليه‏السلام )إِذَا قَدَرْتَ عَلَى عَدُوِّكَ فَاجْعَلِ الْعَفْوَ عَنْهُ شُكْراً لِلْقُدْرَةِ عَلَيْهِ”.

9- Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (AS) in his definition of forgiveness said: “Forgiveness, despite the power of revenge, is the way of the prophets and good pepole.

  “The meaning of forgiveness is that whenever there is a crime or fault against you, do not follow him and do not express it to him, and forget in appearance and inwardly, and do him more kindness (IHSAN) than before.”[iii]

  • Ihsan benevolence is a very important concept in the Qur’an and Sufism. Ihsan benevolence is a socially selfless good deed. Which is important in the Sufism of Sheikh Safi al-Din. Ihsan is higher than ordinary goodness.

Ihsan is something higher than justice, because justice is that a person gives what he owes, and takes what belongs to him, but Ihsan is that the person does more than what is his duty and receives less than what is his right.

Kindness and self-sacrifice show the transcendence of the soul of the person.

With benevolence (Ihsan), one can forgive one’s right to greater good. The conflict between justice and kindness can be resolved through benevolence (IHSAN).

In the Quran, Allah commands justice, and kindness, and generosity towards relatives and society. (Qur’an, 16:90)

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ.


Safavid Mystical Prayer:

Lord, give me the power of forgiveness rather than revenge.

lord, give me the power of love rather than hatred .

Lord, make me an instrument of peace, rather than war.

Lord, make me an instrument of justice rather than oppression.

Lord, make me an instrument of unity rather than division.



Safavi, Seyed Salman, the Practice of Sufism and Safavi Order, London, London Academy of Iranian Studies Press, 2018.

Safavi, Seyed Salman, Rumi’s Principles, the Practice of Sufism and Safavi Order, London, London Academy of Iranian Studies Press, 2018.

Safavi, Seyed G, Rumi’s Mystical Design, New York, SUNY Press, 2009


[ii] al-Huwayzi, Abd, Tafsir Nur al-thaqalayn, VOL4, P21.

[iii] IMAM SADIQ, Misbah al-shariah, chapter 75 On forgiveness.

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