|“||[Sufism is] a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.||”|
|“||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.||”|
Sufi Orders or Sufi Brotherhoods are traditionally known as Tariqa. They may be associated with Sunni Islam or Shia Islam, though the major ones, such as the Qādirī and Naqšhbandī orders, are associated with traditional Sunni Islam and are accepted by the majority of 'folk Muslims'. 
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Basic views
- 3 History of Sufism
- 4 Sufi Concepts
- 5 Sufi Practices
- 6 Orders of Sufism
- 7 Influences
- 8 Islam and Sufism
- 9 Other Resources
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Additional Reading
- 13 External links
The conventional view is that the word originates from Template:Lang-ar (sūf), the Arabic word for wool, referring to the simple cloaks the early Muslim ascetics wore. However, not all sufis wear cloaks or clothes of wool. Another etymological theory states that the root word of Sūfi is the Arabic word صفا (safā), meaning purity. This places the emphasis of Sufism on purity of heart and soul.
Others suggest the origin of sufism is from Ašhab as-Sufā ("Companions of the Porch") or Ahl as-Sufā ("People of the Porch"), who were a group of Muslims during the time of the Prophet Mohammad who spent much of their time on the veranda of the Prophet's mosque, devoted to prayer. Yet another etymology, advanced by the 10th century Persian historian Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī is that the word, as sūfīya, is linked with the word sophia, the Greek term for wisdom.
While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise — after death and after the "Final Judgment" — Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness while one is alive.  The chief aim of all Sufis then is to let go of all notions of duality, including a conception of an individual self, and to realize the Divine unity.
Sufis generally teach in personal groups, as the counsel of the master is considered necessary for the growth of the pupil. They make extensive use of parable, allegory, and metaphor, and it is held by Sufis that meaning can only be reached through a process of seeking the truth, and knowledge of oneself. Although philosophies vary among different Sufi orders, Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such may be compared to various forms of mysticism .
A significant part of oriental literature comes from the Sufis, who created books of poetry containing the teachings of the Sufis. Some of the more notable examples of this poetry are Attar's Conference of the Birds and Rumi's Masnavi.
History of Sufism
- Main article: History of Sufism
Sufism is generally believed to have originated among Muslims near Basra in modern Iraq, though there is a history of Sufism in Transoxania dating from shortly after the time of Muhammad. From the traditional Sufi point of view, the esoteric teachings of Sufism were transmitted from the Prophet Muhammad, who was taught by God, to those who had the capacity to contain the direct experiential gnosis of God, which was passed on from teacher to student through the centuries. Almost all traditional Sufi schools (or "orders") trace their "chains of transmission" back to Prophet Muhammad via his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Naqshbandi order is a notable exception to this rule, as it traces its origin to the first Islamic Caliph Abdullah (Abu Bakr).
Some orientalist scholars believe that Sufism was essentially the result of Islam evolving in a more mystic direction. For example, Annemarie Schimmel proposes that Sufism in its early stages of development meant nothing but the interiorization of Islam. According to Louis Massignon: "It is from the Qur’an, constantly recited, meditated, and experienced, that Sufism proceeded, in its origin and its development."
The Great Masters
The Sufis dispersed throughout the Middle East, particularly in areas previously under Byzantine influence and control. This period was characterized by the practice of an apprentice (murid) placing himself under the spiritual direction of a Master (shaykh, pir or murshid).
Schools were developed, concerning themselves with topics of mystical experience, education of the heart to purify it of baser instincts, the love of God, and approaching God through progressive stages (maqaam) and states (haal). The schools were championed by reformers who felt their core values and manners were threatened, as the material prosperity of society seemed to them to be eroding the spiritual life.Uwais al-Qarni, Harrm bin Hian, Hasan al-Basri and Sayid ibn al-Mussib are regarded as the first mystics among the "Taabi'een" in Islam. Rabia al-Basri was a female Sufi and known for her love and passion for God. Junayd al-Baghdadi was among the first theorists of Sufism; he concerned himself with fanā and baqā, the state of annihilating the self in the presence of the divine, accompanied by clarity concerning worldly phenomena derived from the altitude of that perspective.
Mevlânâ Celaleddin-i-Rumi (Jalāl-e-Dīn Rūmī, Balkh, 30 September 1207 - Waksh , 17 December 1273 - Konya) is known as Rumi in the West. He was a universal mystic and a devout Muslim. His way of sufism teaches unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. The Mevlevi order was formalized and propagated by his son Sultan Walad and the scribe of the Mathnawi, Husamaddin Chalabi.
- "So long as my life persists, I'm the servant of the Qur'an"</br >
- "A dust on the path of Muhammad, the Chosen,"</br >
- "If one conveys contrary to my words,"</br >
- "Disgusted I am from the conveyor and from the conveyed."
It has been suggested that Sufism was later influenced by Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist culture when Islam was introduced in South Asia.
The Chishti order was founded by Abu Ishaq al-Shami ("the Syrian") who brought Sufism to the town of Chisht, now Afghanistan. The Chishti Order was first introduced in India by Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (1143-1223 AD) and is the oldest known order.
The dates of the founding of the orders are as follows:[Reference needed]
- Chishti Order (India and Pakistan) (1143-1223 AD),
- Suhrawardi Order (India and Pakistan) (1234-1335 AD), Iraq (13th century) 
- Mevlevi Order (Turkey) (1273),
- Qadriya Order (Iraq) (1430-1517 AD), 
- Naqshbandi Order (Afghanistan) (d.1642 AD),
- Nimatullahi Order (Iran) (at the end of the 14th century AD),
- Rifa'iyya Order (Iraq) (12th century) 
- Shadhiliyya Order (Egypt)(15th century) 
- Shattari Order (India and Pakistan) (d.1485 AD)
- Bektashi Order (Turkey and Balkans) (13th century AD)
- Tijaniyyah Order (Morocco) (1739-present)
Formalization of Philosophies
Al Ghazali's treatises, the "Reconstruction of Religious Sciences" and the "Alchemy of Happiness," argued that Sufism originated from the Qur'an and was thus compatible with mainstream Islamic thought and theology. It was around 1000 CE that early Sufi literature, in the form of manuals, treatises, discourses and poetry, became the source of Sufi thinking and meditations.
Propagation of Sufism
Sufism, during 1200-1500 CE, experienced an era of increased activity in various parts of the Islamic world. This period is considered as the "Classical Period" or the "Golden Age" of Sufism. Lodges and hospices soon became not only places to house Sufi students, but also places for practicing Sufis and other mystics to stay and retreat.
Professor Victor Danner, in his book "The Islamic Tradition," writes that:
|“||Sufism has influenced the spiritual life of the religion to an extraordinary degree; there is no important domain in the civilization of Islam that has remained unaffected by it.||”|
The propagation of Sufism started in Baghdad, and spread to Persia, India, North Africa, and Spain. There were tests of conciliation between Sufism and other Islamic sciences (Sharia, Fiqh, etc.), as well as the beginning of the Sufi Brotherhoods (Turuq).
One of the first orders to originate was the Yasawi order, named after Khwajah Ahmed Yesevi in modern Kazakhstan. The Kubrawiya order, originating in Central Asia, was named after Najmeddin Kubra, known as the "Saint-producing Shaykh," because a number of his disciples became Shaykhs. The most prominent Sufi master of this era is Abdul Qadir Jilani, the founder of the Qadiriyyah order in Iraq. Others included Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi order in Konya, modern day Turkey, Sahabuddin Suharwardi in Iran, Moinuddin Chishti and Makhdoom Ashraf in India.
Mujaddid Alf Sani, a 17th century reformer of the Naqshbandi order, is also a seminal personality in the propagation of Sufism, as he began a movement that aimed to purify Islam of pantheist influence by returning to its basic sources (Quran and Sunna), while maintaining the integrity of its spiritual dimension.
Expansion of Islam and Sufism
Sufism is flexible in terms of religious materiality. This characteristic of Sufism attracted the nomadic people of mid-western Asia (mainly the current Iranic and Turkic republics of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan). Sufism also spread quickly among the Anatolian and Azerbaijani Turkmen and among the Balkan peoples of modern Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.
The mystics of Khorasan, like Ahmad Yasavi and Hajji Bektash Wali, were influential in the spread of Sufi Islam first in Asia Minor and then in Eastern Europe as the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks extended their empires.
One of the first Western Sufis to return to Europe as an official representative of a Sufi path, and with the specific purpose to spread Sufism in Western Europe, was the Swedish-born wandering Sufi Abd al-Hadi Aqhili (1869-1917). Important Sufis alive today include Nader Angha, Nazim al-Qubrusi, Keller, Hamza Yusuf,and Muzaffer Ozak. These individuals have in some measure been responsible for the continued introduction and spread of the Sufi path in the modern West.[Reference needed]
Sufism also is popular in such African countries as Senegal, where it is seen as a mystical expression of Islam in Senegal. Mbacke suggests that one reason Sufism has taken hold in Senegal is because it can accommodate local beliefs and customs, which tend toward the mystical.
In Pakistan, Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi appeared to be very well known sufi, who rendered great services to propagate Sufism. Gohar Shahi was the first ever Muslim Spiritualist who was invited by almost all religions to deliver speech in their place of worships. He toured the world and delivered the message of Divine Love without any discrimination of caste, creed, nation or religion. Gohar Shahi was in favor of divine love and considers it most important for an approach to God and no discrimination of caste, creed, nation or religion is accepted for Divine Love of God as every human has been gifted with an ability to develop spiritual power to approach to the essence of God.
- Main article: Sufi philosophy
The Six Subtleties
Realities of The Heart: Drawing from Qur'anic verses, virtually all Sufis distinguish Lataif-e-Sitta (The Six Subtleties), Nafs, Qalb, Ruh, Sirr, Khafi & Akhfa. These lataif (singular : latifa) designate various psychospiritual "organs", or faculties of sensory perception.
Sufic development involves the awakening of these spiritual centers of perception that lie dormant in an individual. Each center is associated with a particular color and general area of the body, often with a particular prophet, and varies from order to order. The help of a guide is considered necessary to help activate these centers. After undergoing this process, the dervish is said to reach a certain type of "completion."
The person gets acquainted with the lataif one by one by Muraqaba (Sufi meditation), Dhikr (Remembrance of God) and purification of one's psyche of negative thoughts, emotions, and actions. Loving God and one's fellow, irrespective of his or her race, religion or nationality, and without consideration for any possible reward, is the key to ascension according to Sufis.
These six "organs" or faculties: Nafs, Qalb, Ruh, Sirr, Khafi and Akhfa, and the purificative activities applied to them, contain the basic orthodox Sufi philosophy. The purification of the elementary passionate nature (Tazkiya-I-Nafs), followed by cleansing of the spiritual heart so that it may acquire a mirror-like purity of reflection (Tazkiya-I-Qalb) and become the receptacle of God's love (Ishq) and illumination of the spirit (Tajjali-I-Ruh). This process is fortified by emptying of egoic drives (Taqliyya-I-Sirr) and remembrance of God's attributes (Dhikr), and completion of journey by purification of the last two faculties, Khafi and Akhfa.
Although there is no consensus with regard to Sufi cosmology, one can disentangle at least two different cosmographies: Ishraqi visionary universe as expounded by Suhrawardi Maqtul, and Neoplatonic view of cosmos cherished by Islamic philosophers like Ibn Sina and Sufis like Ibn Arabi. All these doctrines (each one of them claiming to be impeccably orthodox) were freely mixed and juxtaposed, frequently with confusing results – a situation one also encounters in other esoteric doctrines.
- Main article: Dhikr
Dhikr is the remembrance of God commanded in the Qur'an for all Muslims. To engage in dhikr is to have awareness of God according to Islam. Dhikr as a devotional act includes the repetition of divine names, supplications and aphorisms from hadith literature, and sections of the Qur'an. More generally, any activity in which the Muslim maintains awareness of God is considered dhikr.
Some Sufi orders engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies, the liturgy of which may include recitation, singing, instrumental music, dance, costumes, incense, meditation, ecstasy, and trance. (Touma 1996, p.162).
- Main article: Muraqaba
Muraqaba is the Sufi word for meditation. Literally it means "to watch over", "to take care of", or "to keep an eye". Metaphorically, it implies that with meditation, a person watches over or takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings, and its creator.
- Main article: Qawwali
Qawwali is a form of devotional Sufi music common in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afganistan, Iran and Turkey. It is known for its secular strains. Some of its modern-day masters have included Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri Brothers. Amir Khusro, a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, of the Chishti Order, is credited with inventing Qawwali in the 14th century.
- Main article: Sama
Sama or Sema' (Arabic "listening") refers to Sufi practices which can involve music and dance (see Sufi whirling). In Uyghur culture, this includes a dance form also originally associated with Sufi ritual. See Qawwali origins and Origin and History of the Qawwali, Adam Nayyar, Lok Virsa Research Centre, Islamabad, 1988.
- Main article: Khalwa
Khalwa refers to a form of retreat, once widespread but now less common. A khalwa may be prescribed by the shaykh (spiritual advisor) of the murid or talib (student). Muslims believe that most of the prophets, and also Maryam (Mary) the mother of Issa (Jesus), lived in some form of seclusion at some point in their life. Prophet Muhammad, for example, used to retreat to the cave on Mount Hira where he received his first revelation – but had been going there for many years prior to his meeting with the angel Gabriel. Similar examples include Moses' going into seclusion for 40 days in a cave in Mt. Sinai. Mary was in seclusion in the Jewish temple for a year, where only Zakariya was permitted to see her.
Sufism has produced a large body of poetry in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu which notably includes the works of Sultan Bahu, Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, Hafiz, Jami, Ibn Arabi, Farid Ud-Din Attar, Bulleh Shah, Amir Khusro, Yunus Emre, Bhittai, Muhammad Iqbal as well as numerous traditions of devotional dance, such as Sufi whirling, and music, such as Qawwali.
Orders of Sufism
- Main article: Tariqa
The traditional Sufi orders emphasise the role of Sufism within Islam. Therefore, the Sharia (traditional Islamic law) and the Sunnah (customs of the Prophet) are seen as crucial for any Sufi aspirant. Among the oldest and most well known of the Sufi orders are the Naqshbandi, Qadiri, Suhrawardi, Chisti, Shadhili,Jerrahi and Nimatullahi. One proof traditional orders assert is that almost all the famous Sufi masters of the past Caliphates were experts in Sharia and were renowned as people with great Iman (faith) and excellent practice. Many were also Qadis (Sharia law judges) in courts. They held that Sufism was never distinct from Islam and to fully comprehend and practice Sufism one must be a practicing Muslim obeying the Sharia.
For a longer list of Sufi orders see: Sufi orders.
Non-Traditional Sufi Groups
In recent decades there has been a growth of non-traditional Sufi movements in the West. Some examples are Universal Sufism movement, the Golden Sufi Center, the Sufi Foundation of America, the Blaketashi Darwishes, Universalist Sufis and Sufism Reoriented.
Some researchers find influences in Sufism from pre-Islamic and non-Islamic schools of mysticism and philosophy such as Neoplatonism. Some of these perspectives originate from the synthesis of Persian civilization with Islam, an emphasis on spiritual aspects of Islam, and the incorporation of ideas and practices from other mysticisms into Islam. [Reference needed]The same has been said of Buddhism and ancient Egyptian spiritual practices. [Reference needed] However, most Muslim theologians disagree with this.
Islam and Sufism
Sufism emphasises non quantifiable matters (like states of the heart). The authors of various Sufi treatises often used allegorical language which couldn't be read by an unknowledgeable person to describe these states (eg. likened some states to intoxication, which is forbidden in Islam). This usage of indirect language and the existence of interpretations by people who had no training in Islam or Sufism led to doubts being cast over the validity of Sufism as a part of Islam. Also, some groups emerged that considered themselves above the Sharia and discussed Sufism as a method of bypassing the rules of Islam in order to attain salvation directly. This was disapproved of by traditional scholars. An example of such a deviant sufi was Abu Hilman. One of the most vocal critics of such deviations from the Islamic creed was Ibn Taymiya.
Traditional Islamic Schools of Thought and Sufism
Islam traditionally consists of a number of groups. The two main divisions are the Sunnis and the Shia. Shia and Sunni Islam consist of a number of schools of legal jurisprudence (called Madhabs). Majority of Sunni muslim scholars today follow one or more of the four major madhabs viz Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali. Sufis do not define Sufism as a madhhab — what distinguishes a person as a Sufi is practicing Sufism, usually through association with a Sufi order. In this sense, traditional practitioners of Sufism don't see it as an exclusive group but just as a form of training necessary to cultivate spirituality and Ihsan in their lives. Thus, sufis can be from shias or sunnis following any of the schools of jurisprudence.
W. Chittick explains the position of Sufism and Sufis this way:
In short, Muslim scholars who focused their energies on understanding the normative guidelines for the body came to be known as jurists, and those who held that the most important task was to train the mind in achieving correct understanding came to be divided into three main schools of thought: theology, philosophy, and Sufism. This leaves us with the third domain of human existence, the spirit. Most Muslims who devoted their major efforts to developing the spiritual dimensions of the human person came to be known as Sufis.
The relationship between traditional Islamic scholars and Sufism is complicated due to the variety of views held among them. Many traditional scholars, such as Al-Ghazali, helped its propagation while certain medieval scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyyah, opposed it as an innovation.
Islamic Positions on Non-Islamic Sufi Groups
The use of the title Sufi by many groups to refer to themselves and their use of traditional Sufi masters (notably Jalaluddin Rumi) as sources of inspiration as well as the existence of interpretations of classical Sufis texts by people who have no grounding in traditional Islamic sciences has created a group of non-Islamic Sufis. These are considered by certain conventional Islamic scholars as beyond the pale of the religion, however, Sufis often allow a higher degree of forbearance.Template:Syn
Criticism of Sufism
- Sufi masters have introduced many special prayers and devotional acts into their schools.
- The allegorical and often abstruse language used by Sufis in their texts when interpreted by unqualified people opens avenues for many misunderstandings. As an example, some critics consider the concept of divine unity Wahdat-ul-wujood equivalent to pantheism and therefore incompatible with Islam. Sufi masters in many of their introductory texts caution aspirants from reading and interpreting texts by themselves. They hold that the subject can only be taught by a master to a student under strict guidance and supervision owing to its delicate nature. This discussion only scratches the surface of a very involved and subtle issue.
- Gohar Shahi was heavily criticized by orthodox theological scholars in Pakistan and abroad. Shahi's books were banned by the Government of Pakistan,. public meetings are not allowed to his followers and no press coverage is allowed to either Gohar Shahi or to his followers due to charges of blasphemy law violations. Several cases were filed against Gohar Shahi and his followers. Many attempts were made on Shahi's life including a petrol bomb attack, thrown into his Manchester residence, and an attack with a hand grenade during the discourse at his home in Kotri, Pakistan. A high price tag was put on his head in Pakistan. Shahi's books were banned by the Government of Pakistan, public meetings are not allowed to his followers and no press coverage is allowed to either Gohar Shahi or to his followers due to charges of blasphemy law violations. Several cases were filed against Gohar Shahi and his followers. Gohar Shahi was booked in 1997 on alleged charges of murdering a woman who had come to him for spiritual treatment; Gohar Shahi, and many of his followers, were later convicted under Islamic blasphemy laws by an antiterrorist court in Sindh. Gohar Shahi was convicted in absentia—as then he was in England—resulting in sentences that totaled approximately 59 years. Gohar Shahi died abroad, prior to any decision on appeals filed with the High Court of Sindh.
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