Also known as sufism (الصوفية al-ṣūfiyya The Sufi people, تصوف taṣawwuf) is a concept and science within Islaam, defined by scholars as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam; others contend that it is a perennial philosophy of existence that pre-dates religion, the expression of which flowered within the Islamic religion. Some hold the notion its essence has also been expressed via other religions and metareligious phenomena, while others believe Sufism to be totally unique within Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a ṣuufee (صُوفِيّ). They belong to different ṭuruq or "orders"—congregations formed around a master—which meet for spiritual sessions (majalis), in meeting places known as zawiyahs, khanqahs, or tekke.
All Sufi orders (turuq) trace many of their original precepts from the Islamic prophet Muhammad(saw) through his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib(ra), with the notable exception of the Naqshbandiyya who claim to trace their origins through the first sunni Caliph, Abu Bakr AS well as Ali(ra). However, Alevi, Bektashi and other Shia Muslims and orders claim that every Sufi order traces its spiritual lineage (silsilah) back to one of the Twelve Imams (even the Naqshbandiyya leads to the Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq(ra) and Salman al-Farsi(ra), a renowned follower of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib(ra), the spiritual heads of Islam who were foretold in the Hadith of the Twelve Successors(Shia interpretation) and were all descendants of Muhammad(saw) through his daughter Fatima(ra) and Ali(ra). Because of this Ali ibn Abi Talib(ra) is also called the "father of Sufism", the source of sainthood for The Ummah of Mohammed(saw).
Prominent orders include Alevi, Bektashi, Burhaniya, Mevlevi, Ba'Alawiyya, Chishti or Shisti, Rifa'i, Khalwati, Naqshbandi,Nimatullahi, Oveyssi, Qadiri Boutshishi, Qalandari, Sarwari , Shadhili and Suhrawardi.
Sufis believe they are practicing Ihsaan (perfection of worship) as revealed by Jibreel to Mohammad(ra): "Worship and serve Allah as you are seeing Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you". Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. Sufism is opposed by Wahhabi and Salafist Muslims(a very low percentage).
Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but Allah ".Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, "a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one's inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits".
Muslims and mainstream scholars of Islaam define Sufism as simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam which is supported and complemented by outward or exoteric practices of Islaam, such as Islamic law. There is no Sufism with perfection of Sharia. In this view, it is absolutely necessary to be a Muslim to be a true Sufi, because Sufism's methods are inoperative without Islamic affiliation.In contrast, author Idries Shah states Sufi philosophy is universal in nature, its roots predating the rise of Islam and Christianity.Some schools of Sufism in Western countries allow non-Muslims to receive "instructions on following the Sufi path" but have bevr produced Sages saint or any contrabution to the true Tasawwuf. Some Muslim opponents of Sufism also consider it outside the sphere of Islam.
Classical Sufis were characterized by their attachment to Dhikr, (a practice of repeating the names of God, often performed after prayers)[and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate(661–750 CE). Sufis have spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium, originally expressing their beliefs in Arabic, before spreading into Persian, Turkish, Indian languages and a dozen other languages
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