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Historical Development and Origins of Sufism: – Sufism emerged in the Hejaz and predates some Islamic sects. – Hasan al-Basri and other early figures played […]

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Historical Development and Origins of Sufism:
– Sufism emerged in the Hejaz and predates some Islamic sects.
– Hasan al-Basri and other early figures played pivotal roles in the development of Sufism.
– Sufism evolved from the internalization and strict emulation of Quranic teachings.
– Muhammad strengthened hearts’ connection to the Divine in the early stages of Sufism.
– Sufism developed as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate.

Sufi Orders and Practices:
– Sufis belong to orders known as tariqa.
– Orders trace teachings back to Prophet Muhammad and meet for spiritual sessions in zawiyas.
– Sufis strive for perfection of worship (ihsan) and focus on purification of the inner self.
– Sufism is considered a method of approaching Islam, emphasizing the importance of living with and serving the teacher.
– Devotional practices in Sufism include adherence to Islamic norms, purification of the heart, and humility.

Influence and Spread of Sufism:
– Sufism spread widely in Islamic civilization, influencing major aspects of Sunni Islamic life.
– Sufi orders have played a role in the history of Islam and have influenced various Shia movements.
– Sufism contributed to the spread of Islam and Islamic cultures in Africa and Asia.
– Sufism has seen revivals in regions like Morocco and has influenced local beliefs and customs.
– Sufi lineages and orders have been prominent in regions like Turkey, Persia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Africa.

Beliefs and Teachings in Sufism:
– Sufis revere Muhammad as a figure of spiritual greatness and emphasize devotion to him.
– The concept of al-Insan al-Kamil (the Perfect Man) is central in Sufism.
– Sufis believe in the transmission of divine light from teacher to student for spiritual instruction.
– Sufi beliefs about Muhammad emphasize his role as the perfect human being and the manifestation of God’s attributes.
– Sufis aim to draw closer to God in this life, seeking to restore the primordial state of fitra within themselves.

Modern Era and Contemporary Views on Sufism:
– Sufism has faced opposition from more literalist and legalist strains of Islam in the modern era.
– Sufi orders declined in the early 20th century due to reforms and criticism but continue to play a major role in the Muslim world.
– The Amman Message recognized the validity of Sufism within Islam, aiming to clarify its role within the broader Islamic context.
– Neo-Sufism emerged in the 18th century to reform ecstatic and pantheistic elements of Sufism, emphasizing universal elements and de-emphasizing its Islamic context.
– Sufism remains deeply integrated into mainstream Sunni Islam, with institutions like Al-Azhar University representing it as an essential dimension of the religion.

Sufism (Wikipedia)

Sufism (Arabic: الصوفية‎, romanizedal-Ṣūfiyya), also known as Tasawwuf (Arabic: التَّصَوُّف‎, romanizedat-taṣawwuf), is a mystic body of religious practice found within Islam which is characterized by a focus on Islamic purification, spirituality, ritualism, asceticism, and esotericism.

Six Sufi masters, c. 1760

Practitioners of Sufism are referred to as "Sufis" (from صُوفِيّ, ṣūfīy), and historically typically belonged to "orders" known as tariqa (pl. ṭuruq) – congregations formed around a grand wali who would be the last in a chain of successive teachers linking back to Muhammad, with the goal of undergoing tazkiya (self purification) and the hope of reaching the spiritual station of ihsan. The ultimate aim of Sufis is to seek the pleasure of God by endeavoring to return to their original state of purity and natural disposition, known as fitra.

Sufism emerged early on in Islamic history, partly as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661–750) and mainly under the tutelage of Hasan al-Basri. Although Sufis were opposed to dry legalism, they strictly observed Islamic law and belonged to various schools of Islamic jurisprudence and theology. Although the overwhelming majority of Sufis, both pre-modern and modern, remain adherents of Sunni Islam, certain strands of Sufi thought transferred over to the ambits of Shia Islam during the late medieval period. This particularly happened after the Safavid conversion of Iran under the concept of Irfan. Important focuses of Sufi worship include dhikr, the practice of remembrance of God. Sufis also played an important role in spreading Islam through their missionary and educational activities.

Despite a relative decline of Sufi orders in the modern era and attacks from revivalist Islamic movement (such as the Salafis and Wahhabis), Sufism has continued to play an important role in the Islamic world, especially in the neo-traditionalist strand of Sunni Islam. It has also influenced various forms of spirituality in the West and generated significant academic interest.

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