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Abdullah Al Masud1
Md. Shahidul Islam Faruqi2


Sufism is one of the main schools of Muslim philosophy, which teaches the personal and
mystical worship, and union with Allah or God. The attempt of this paper is to eliminate the
misconception and misunderstanding of Sufism in Islam and to demonstrate the relationship
between them in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah, the two main source of knowledge about
Islam. Additionally, it also explains how Sufism movement originated and developed among the
Muslims in Islamic world. This study will show that there is no contradiction of Sufism in Islam
and to prove that both are always in harmony.


Sufism is a philosophy and mysticism of Islam. It has passed many steps and somehow resulting
of various influences in Muslim world in the times. It came to contact with various religions,
customs, norms, cults, myths, traditions and culture. To be free from all bondage of worldly life
and to connect with the Almighty Allah is being a Sufi. The Sufi saints developed a way of
spiritual life who were pious Muslims trying to follow the path of the Prophet and his
companions but sometimes many of them had very little common with the spirit of Islam.
Somehow they have been inclined by the foreign influences and elements which deprived the
Islamic society and faith of its purity.

What is Sufism?

The Arabic word sufi has been used in variety of meanings and opinions and has the various
roots which are used throughout the century. In Arabic, Sufism is called tasawwuf. Both words
derive from Arabic suf meaning "wool but from an Arabic root which conveys the notion of

Phd researcher, Department of Usuluddin and Comparative Religion, IRKHS, International Islamic
University Malaysia (IIUM). Email:
PhD Researcher, Department of Quran and Sunnah Studies, International Islamic University Malaysia.
purity; this would make Sufi mean one who is pure in heart or one of the elect3 The word
also refers one who wears wool4. Some Sufis says: the word Sufi from safa meaning
Purity5 of their hearts and the cleanliness of their acts. Safa (purity) is the opposite of kadar
(impurity), is one of the qualities of the man. A true Sufi is he that leaves impurity behind.6
Bishr ibn al-Harith (died ca. 682) said: The Sufi is he whose heart is sincere (safa) towards
Allah.7 Abul Fida (1273-1331) says that it is originated from Ashabi-safa or sitters in the
Shrine were called as Sufis. They were poor strangers, without friends.8 They spent their time in
worship, imitation of the Prophet and searching the Quran and Hadith. They did not engage in
any worldly business.9 Some said that it comes from banu sufa a Bedouin tribe, from safana a
kind of vegetable, from safwat-al-kifa (a lock of hair on the neck), from sofrati or sophis a
class of Greek seekers of knowledge.10 According to the medieval Iranian scholar Abu Rayhan
al-Biruni (973-1048) Sufism is derived from the Greek word Sofia which means wisdom.11
Some again says the word sufi is from the term sahafa, was one band of men who were
totally devoted to prayer, spiritual perfection and meditation. Over the centuries the sahafa
became those holy men who are now called sufis.12 According to Sufi Raz Ali Faqir Sabz Posh
there are many literal meaning of Sufism/Sufi:13

1. Possessing Spiritual Purity.

2. Becoming a part of Unity of Truth
3. Being sensitive to ones own rights and the aspirations and the rights of humanity
in general.
4. Possessing firm belief in God Almighty.
5. Training ones own soul.

Nicholson, Reynold A., (1975), The Mystics of Islam, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, p. 3
Chittick, William C., (2000) Sufism: A Short Introduction, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, p. 18
Al-Hujwiri, Ali Ibn Uthman al-Jullabi, (2014), The Kashf al-Mahjub (The Revelation of the Veiled),
Reynold A. Nicholson (Trans.) Cambridge: Gibb Memorial Trust, 2014, p. 30
Ibid, p. 32
Valiuddin, Mir, (1978)The Quranic Sufism, Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, p. 1
Shah, Sirdar Ikbal Ali, (1998), Islamic Sufism, Delhi: Adam Publishers & Distributors, p. 13
Subhan, A., (2012), Sufi Tradition in Islam, Vol-3, Delhi: Cosmo Publications, p. 8
Hasan, Syed Mahmudul, Islam, 2nd ed. Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Dacca, 1980, p. 307
Shah, Sirdar Ikbal Ali, Ibid, p. 14
12 retrived 16.11.2014
13, Retrived 25-11-2014
Sufism has been described differently by scholars as being the inner, esoteric, mystical, or purely
spiritual dimension of the religion of Islam. When asked about Sufism, Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-
Qassab (d. 888), the master of Junayd--said, "Sufism consists of noble behavior (akhlaq karima)
that is made manifest at a noble time on the part of a noble person in the presence of a noble
people."14 Al-Junayd (d. 910), is credited with formulating the Sufi path answered that, Sufism
is that you should be with God--without any attachment.15 With regard to Sufism, Ruwaym ibn
Ahmad (d. 915) said, Sufism consists of abandoning oneself to God in accordance with what
God wills.16 Concerning Sufism, Abu Muhammad al-Jariri (d. 923) said, Sufism consists of
entering every exalted quality (khulq) and leaving behind every despicable quality.17 All of
these definitions of Sufism are given by Sufis who lived in the 9th and 10th centuries. 18 Sufi
Sumnun (d. 907), who left many subtle observations on the real nature of love said on the
question of Sufism that, Sufism is that you should not possess anything nor should anything
possess you19 To Abu Ali Qazwini (d. 1276) Sufism is good manners. Abu Sah Saluki
(unknown) defies if as Abstaining from objections.20 In a nutshell, Sufism is the cut of all kind
of worldly attachment and to do the work which help for seeking the pleasure of Divine God.

Sufism, as defined by Sufi people that, it teaches how to purify ones self, improve ones morals,
and build up ones inner and outer life in order to attain perpetual bliss. It was a belief that the
human body was a sacred vessel, and as Rkia Cornell, a professor of Emory University observes,
If the vessel of the body were to be polluted through contact with even the slightest impurity, it
would be rendered unfit for worship.21 And Imam Qushayri (376-465 AH) takes Sufism in the
sense of purity. And Shibli (861 - 946) says: A Sufi is severed from the world (Khalq) and
connected with God (Haqq) alone.22 And God said to Moses And I have prepared Thee for

Edson, Gary, (2012), Mysticism and Alchemy through the Ages: The Quest for Transformation, North
Carolina: McFarland, p. 75
Geaves, Ron, (2005), Aspects of Islam, London: Darton Longman & Todd, p. 123
.. India Perspectives (2000), PTI for the Ministry of External Affairs, p. 20
Al-Sarraj in the earliest comprehensive book on Sufism, the Kitab al-Luma' (The Book of Flashes) (ed.
by R. Nicholson, pp. 34-35 from
Sardar, Ziauddin, (2005), Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of A Sceptical Muslim, London:
Granta Publications, p. 59
Valiuddin, Mir, Ibid, p. 5
Ridgeon, Lloyd, (2008), Sufism, Vol-1, London: Routledge, p. 4
Valiuddin, Mir, Ibid, p. 3
Myself (for service)23 And later Moses had addressed: Allah said: By no means canst Thou
see me (direct).24 Sufism (tasawwuf) comprises esoterism and initiation, haqiqa and tariqa,
doctrine and method.25 Actually Sufism is a spiritual journey to discovering ones inner Self
which leads to knowing God, arguing that when you know yourself you know the Creator. Its
main focus is to bring individuals closer to God.

Abul Hasam Muhammad Ibn al-Farisi says, The elements of Sufism are ten in number. The first
is the isolation of the unification; the second is the understanding of the audition; the third is
good fellowship; the fourth is preference of preferring; the fifth is the yielding up of personal
choice; the sixth is swiftness of the ecstasy; the seventh is the revelation of the thoughts; the
eighth is abundant journeying; the ninth is yielding up of earning; the tenth is refusal of the

Sufism as an Islamic mysticism was largely the product of diverse philosophical and spiritual
influences, including Christianity, Neo-Platonism27 and others. R. A. Nicholson remarks in the
introduction of his book The Mystics of Islam, that Sufism, the religious philosophy of Islam,
is described in the oldest extant definition as `the apprehension of divine realities.28 Nicholson
observes, Islamic mysticism originated in the atmosphere saturated with Greek philosophy. It is
said that, Sufism introduced in the shape when Muslims came to Neo-Platonist of Christianity.29
A.J. Arberry also observe in the introduction of the book Sufism that Sufism is the name given
to the mysticism of Islam and the mystical movement of an uncompromising Monotheism. It
is noted that the area is which Islam and Sufism originated and flourished is that which witnessed
the rise and triumph or rout of several other creeds each with its own particular mysticism like,

Surah Tahaa 20:41
Surah Al-Araf 7:143
Stoddart, William, (1998), Sufism, Delhi: Adam Publishers & Distributors, p. 5
Kalabadhi, Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim, (1991 reprint), The Doctrine of Sufis: Translated from the Arabic
of Abu Bakr Al-Kalabadhi, A. J. Arberry (Trans.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Archives, p.
Neo-Platonism is a modern term which is a system of idealistic, spiritualistic philosophy, tending
towards mysticism. It flourished in the pagan world of Greece and Rome during the first centuries of
the Christian era.
Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, Ibid, p. 1
Alam, Rashidul, Muslim Dorshoner Bhumika, 6th ed. Merit Fair Prokashon, Dhaka, January 2009, p.
Christianity, Jewish, Gnostic, Neo-platonic, Hermetic, Zoroastrian or Buddhist.30 It is clear that,
the Muslim Conquests had brought large numbers of Christian monks and hermits, especially in
Syria and Egypt, under the rule of Muslims. They maintained a dynamic spiritual life for
centuries after the conquests, and many of them especially pious Muslims who founded Sufism
were influenced by their techniques and methods.31

Platonism played a significant role in the development of Sufism. Neo-Platonism laid the
foundation of pantheism32 and Gnosticism33. Al-Farabi (872-950) was the founder of Arab Neo-
Platonism and the major figure in the history of that philosophical movement. And the
philosophy came into the full prominence in the work of Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina (980-1037).34
Von Kremer traces that the origin of Sufism arose essentially from Indian Ideas and in particular
from that school of Indian philosophy known as Vedanta35. H. Marten and Gold zither is the
architect of this theory. According to them that, Sufism evolved by the teaching of Indian and
Vedanta philosophy. It is said that Muslims come to the touch of Indian thought and become
influenced by Indian and Vedanta philosophy.36 Brown says that, Persians are the patron to enter
Sufism in Islam.37 The Persian Sufis were responsible for creating an emotional faith and

Arberry, A. J., (2008), Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, London: Routledge, p. 11-12
Hodgson, Marshall G.S. The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam. Chicago and
London: University of Chicago Press. p. 394
The term pantheism is a modern one, comes from the Greek roots pan (all) and theos (God). It holds
that the view that God is identical with the cosmos, the view that there exists nothing which is outside of
God, or else negatively as the rejection of any view that considers God as distinct from the universe
Gnosticism is a philosophical and religious movement which started in pre-Christian times. The name
is derived from the Greek word "gnosis" which literally means "knowledge." However, the English words
"Insight" and "enlightenment" capture more of the meaning of "gnosis." Gnosticism involves the
relational or experiential knowledge of God and of the divine or spiritual nature within us. Gnostics
believe that they have secret knowledge about God, humanity and the rest of the universe of which the
general population was unaware.
Fakhri, Majid, (1983), A Histoty of Islamic Philosophy, New York: Columbia University Press, p. 107
Vedanta is one of the worlds most ancient religious philosophies based on the Vedas, the
sacred scriptures of India, which affirms the oneness of existence, the divinity of the soul, and the
harmony of religions. The word Vedanta is a combination of two words: Veda which means
knowledge and anta which means the end of or the goal of. In this context the word
Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas the Vedas being the scriptures of the Hindus.
Vedanta is the philosophical foundation of Hinduism. Vedanta is universal in its application and
is equally relevant to all countries, all cultures, and all religious backgrounds.
Alam, Rashidul, Ibid, p. 274
Ibid, p. 276
fostering a movement towards; intuitive knowledge.38 However, Sufism is available to all
Muslims or non-Muslims means that it is joined and embraced by a wider range of people, from
different ethnicities and religious backgrounds.

Sufism in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah

Most of the author of Sufi related books divided the origin of Sufism into four phases. The
guidance that forms the basis of the Sufis practices is found in the Quran and in the teachings
of the Prophet of Islam. The Quran and the Prophet life provided generous encouragement for
Muslims to develop an interiorized, spiritual dimension to Islam that created the basis of
Sufism.39 According to Quranic Theory, the origin of Sufism is the direct outcome of the
teachings of Islam. 40 Sufism is evolved from typical texts of the Quran, which are as follows,
He is with you whatever you are. Allah is nearer to men than his neck vein. I was a hidden
treasure desired to be known and so I created the world and all that is in to know myself.

The Quran is the main source of the Sufism

Apart from the fact that, Sufism has its roots in the Quran and cannot be understood unless we
study it from the main source. There are many verses in the Holy Quran which aspects are the
main sources of Sufism. Some verses regarding Sufism are mentioned here.

On the earth are Signs for those of assured Faith, As also in your own selves: will ye not then

The signs what are mentioned in the verses are not only in the earth but in ourselves as well. You
may not look outside yourself; look within your own self, and you will find countless signs
testifying to the same truth. Religious Muslims who have faith want to follow their religious
instructions and would like to ask themselves, what are the signs? What is the nature? Is there
any difference between inner and outer signs or outer and inner worlds? These verses raise
several questions which leads contemplation and meditation.

Hasan, Syed Mahmudul, Ibid, p. 312
Ridgeon, Lloyd, Ibid, p. 3
Saed Mahmudul, Islam, 2nd ed. Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Dacca, 1980, p. 309
Surah Az Zariyaat 51:20-21
It was we who created man, and we know what dark suggestions His soul makes to him: for we
are nearer to Him than (His) jugular vein.42

God is truly far away from us but He is also near, nearer than the jugular vein. This verse clearly
expresses the control and direct watch of God upon men. The fact is that man is bound to God.
He cannot say a single would that goes to the unpleasant of God. Even he is not allowed to think
anything which is contradictory with the Gods order. However, the verse is enough to make sure
the alertness and carefulness about the Quranic instructions. We know that there are two angels
on our right and left, who always record every movement and every word what we do and say.

Now have come to you, from your Lord, proofs (to open your eyes): if any will see, it will be
for (the good of) His own soul; if any will be blind, it will be to His own (harm): I am not (Here)
to watch over your doings.43

In this verse, God says Himself as Infinite; that is to say, man who sees only bodies cannot see
Him. This verse means that God has given us the guidance and points the right way. Then the
responsibility and choice depend on every individual. It is not the duty of God to force open the
eyes who intentionally keep them shut. Actually this is for drawing the attention of the readers.

Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. the parable of His light is As if there were a
Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed In Glass: the glass As it were a brilliant star: Lit
from a Blessed tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh
luminous, though Fire scarce touched it: light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His
Light: Allah doth set forth parables for men: and Allah doth know all things.44

The word "heavens and the earth" in the Qur'an is generally used for the "universe". Thus the
verse means: "Allah is the light of the whole universe". Allah manifests light and brought them
in existence which makes things visible. The word niche means heart or mind. The human
mind considers light in this very sense. Absence of light is termed darkness, invisibility and

Surah Qaaf 50:16
Surah Al Anam 6: 104
Surah an Nur 24:35
Who say, when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return45
It is mentionable that the part of this verse "To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return is
mostly uttered by the Muslims in their daily lives. Actually, we will not live in the world forever
but have to leave this beautiful world one day. Thus, sooner or later we must die and go to Allah.
He is ultimate sovereign and final authority. To whom we turn on every matter. All of our
destiny and fate comes from Him. Indeed, this is one of the attitudes of the Sufis. Sufis
understand by it the passing away in God head, that is, the notion of transformation from the
human ego, dying, fana.46
And He has subjected to you, as from him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: Behold, in
that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.47

The gift of God is not like the gift of worldly kings. The kings of the world favor their nearest
and dearest people with the wealth but in contrary, all things are created by Allah and He has
given these to man from Himself. No one helps Allah to create these things. He controls it and
operates everything. Without His grace man would not be able to do nothing. In the creation of
Allah, there are many signs for the people who think and reflect. These signs clearly point out
the Creator and Master of everything. However pious man can reflect and contemplate in order
to understand. This is exactly what early Sufis did.

The above Quranic verses discuss various aspects of Sufism. God has led the pious Muslims to
moral and ethical virtues by the completely surrendering (tawakkul) to his absolute free will. The
Quran advocated Muslims to the frugal life and detachment from this world in seeking of God
through patient, trustworthiness, greatness the heart and eliminating the worldly desires. The true
pious Muslims have nothing to say, except We are Gods and unto Him we are returning. The
frugal life should be followed not only outwardly but also inwardly, so that one can realize the
signs of his God both inside and outside himself. All the verses state communication between
God and men through intimacy, love, affection. He is exoteric and Esoteric, wherever we turn,
there is His face. The Quran expresses the Gods Transcendent, Immanent, Kindness,
Mercifulness, and Beneficent etc. He is the First and the Last, who is the outside of us and inside

Surah Al Baqarah 2:156
Al-Dijali, Yehya, (1974), An Inquruiry into the true relationship between Sufism and Islam, Michigan:
University Microfilms International, pp. 61-62
Surah Al-Jathiyah 45:13
of us. He is so near and far at a time; He is far from the people who do not see and near the
people who love Him, when they pray, He will answer.

Sufism in the practices of the Prophet

At the time of the Prophet and his companions, the term Sufism did not exist as a distinct
discipline. But the reality was inseparably present in the spirituality of Islam. The name The
People of the Bench (Ahl us-Suffa) according to some Muslim historians provided the origin of
the word Sufi. According to Jami (1414-1492), the name Sufi was first applied to Abu Hashem
(d. 1040). According to others, the name was first applied by Jabir ibn Haiyan (d. 815).48 In
present day, each and every Sufi order claims that the doctrines what they possess are originated
from the Prophet (sm) who led very simple life, avoiding luxurious and shown indifference to the
ordinary pleasures of general man. The Prophet preached the message of Allah in the day and
asked rahmah to Him in the major portion of the night. It is said in the Quran that, Thy Lord
doth know that Thou standest forth (to prayer) nigh two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a
third of the night, and so doth a party of those with thee. But Allah doth appoint night and Day In
due measure He knoweth that ye are unable to keep count thereof.49 Uncounted wealth, precious
presents send to him but he didnt take any even he didnt go to bed until he had spent it in
charity. He would go to market for his own purpose and prepare his clothes, shoes, houses by his
hand.50 His mode of living and his outlook of life are were devoted to Allah and gave importance
towards spirituality. He suggested goodness or ihsan as a mode of worshipping Allah that many
Sufis has built their theory of devotion.

It is said that the popular Sufis theory of Ecstasy was developed by the prophet (PBUH). The
grade devotion and prayer is the consciousness of the fact that Allah is watching ones
movements even knowing the secrets of his heart. These consciousnesses of man make sure to
remove one from evil action and thoughts. It is possible to commit evil acts and conceal from
human eye but impossible to conceal from the all-seeing, all-watching, and all-judging eye. This
sense in prayer can reform the character of a person. Actually the foundation of the ecstasy is the

Hai, Saiyed Abdul, Muslim Philosophy, Vol-1, Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1989, p. 137
Surah Muzzammil 73:20
Ahmad, M. M. Zuhuruddin, (1999, Mystic Tendencies in Islam, Delhi: Adam publishers and
distributors, p. 11
complete incorporation in prayers what Ali shown during saying prayer to get an arrow from his
body. Ibn khaldun (1332-1406) noted that, Sufism owed its allegiance largely to Ali as its
initiator after the Prophet.51

In the life time of Prophet and his companions emphasized to perform dhikr means remembering
Allah (not like present form) and nawafil especially they had drawn deep attention to their
midnight prayers. The prophet inspired his companions to practice alms giving or Zakat towards
poor people. He also strictly prohibited the ascetic practices which have been more practiced by
later Sufis. Actually prophet visited to a cave named Hira where he went and mediated for days
together. But after becoming prophet he began to go assemblies like fairs, markets,
congregations, festivals instead confining him in the cave. However, it is not impossible to
conclude that, the practices of some later Sufis are not sanctioned by the Prophet (sm). So those
Sufis practices cannot be justified as the practice of the prophet. The later Sufis emphasized the
inward reformation rather than the social which Islam equally emphasized.

Sufi tendencies in the companions of the Prophet

The companions of the Prophet completely followed the Quran and his instructions in case of
their actions, views, ideas, interpretations as well as various problems what they faced in their
daily lives. When they faced any difficulties, they always first searched the Quran to solve the
problem and then relied upon the traditions of the Prophet. If they were unable to solve the
problem through these two then they used their own judgments in the spirit of the Quran and the
Sunnah. They always acted like this instructions of the Quran: if ye differ in anything among
yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger.52

They lived very frugally and didnt lead gorgeous life. They seemed that luxurious life destroys
the nation and individual and drive out from Allah. Their houses were free from valuable
furniture. They were frugal but were very kind to help others. They were busy in days to spend
most of their times cause of Islam even they spent in nights in prayer. Their daily routine shows
us that they were not luxerious but were discipline and hard worker to serve the humanity as well
as to seek pleasure of Allah. They had no aims of life themselves without the injunction of the

Alhaq, Shuja, (1995), A forgotten vision, Selangor: Thinkers Library, p. 120
Surah An Nisaa 4:59
Quran and the Sunnah. They were so social that they took part in social function after prayers
that helped them to build brotherhood and unity among them. Later on, Sufis gave up the social
functions and confined themselves in monasteries or a certain palaces.

The companions desired the same thing and advised one another to help for the sake of good not
for the sake of evil. They followed the Quranic instruction that, Help ye one another in
righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancor.53 They were free from
all kind of controversial discussions and realized that salvation could be attained by good actions
not by evil discussion. They would follow the Prophet in everything in their practices. For
example, at the time to take charge of Jerusalem Umar and his servant took a camel but the
camel could not hold both of them at once. He agreed with his servant to ride and tie. This
incident shows that the companions of Prophet lived a true Islamic life and acted up to the
principles of equality and justice.54

Development of present Sufism

Within a hundred years of the hijrah, there was extensive political turmoil and the rulers had
become absorbed in worldly affairs. It is a period when a number of orders revived and each
order was divided into a number of branches with many differential issues. The principles of true
Khilafat had been deprived at all sectors of lives. Civil war had become occurred and bloodshed
was the common on every side among different groups of Muslims. The controversy and
struggle were not limited to political matter but the intellectual world was also controversial. As
a result, many well-known and respected intelligent Muslims felt that the war and struggle
deprived them from the spiritual and ethical teachings of Islam. They were slowly losing their
sacredness and Islamic world was being superficial. Thats why, Muslims, cut themselves from
the government altogether. Within two hundred after the death of the Prophet (saw), some of
those who rejected the government started to be called Sufis.

In the 7th century we find further development of Sufism in Spain and Persia.55 At this time
Hasan al-Basri (642-728) and Uwais al-Qarni (d. 657) contributed in writings, who were

Surah Al Maa-idah 5:2
Ahmad, M. M. Zuhuruddin, Ibid, pp. 52-53
Hai, Saiyed Abdul, Ibid, p. 139
regarded as the first Sufis in the earliest generations of Islam. An interesting feature of the
history of Sufism that many of them were women. Among them Rabia Basri (717-801) was a
Sufi known for her love and passion for God. The ninth century was the most fertile periods for
Sufism where its enormous expansion was found both in its theoretical and social dimension.56
From this period the spread of Sufi teachings occupied an important aspect of Islamic history and
began to be publicly thought. Dhu an-Nun Misri (d. 861) was one of the representative figures of
this century. Nicholson noted that, in him, with his immediate predecessors we can trace the
germs of nearly all characteristic Sufi doctrines.57 Al- Harith bin Asad al-Muhasibi (481-857)
and Abu Yazid Bastami (d. 874) were his contemporaries and pioneers of two distinctive
tendencies that flourished in later Sufism. Al- Junayd (830-910) headed the Baghdad school of
Sufism and kept Sufism on more moderate path. The main subject of this school was Tawhid or
Unification. At the time, Sufism claimed to lead to a direct communion with God, which the
orthodox Ulama rejected. It became a religion within a religion with its own exclusive structure
of ideas, practice and organization.58 Al-Junayds disciple Husain bin Mansur al-Hallaj (858-
922) was most of the controversial figure in the whole history of Sufism, indeed in the history of
Islam. He was famous for his spiritual intoxication of Anal-Haqq (I am the Truth) and death
as a martyr. His contemporary Ibn Ata (d. 922) and Abu Said ibn Abi al-Khair (d. 1049) boldly
supported him. Some of the greatest and most renowned Sufis were from this period, such as Al-
Fudayl ibn Iyad (d. 803), Ibrahim ibn Adham (718-782) and their successors, like Shaqiq al-
Balkhi (d. 810) and al-Farabi (872-950).

Between the tenth and twelfth centuries, Sufism became a widely respected discipline. Many
great scholars and spiritual masters like Ghazali, taught during this period, establishing the Sufi
practices and terminology and several orders were founded. They were developed in a very open
and public way and were then written up as articles concerning such topics as; mystical
experience. By the end of the thirteenth century, Sufism had become a well-defined science of
spiritual awakening. The Sufi orders had become the basis for a widespread mystical movement,
lending new life to humanitys age-old spiritual quest.59 This period refers to the formalization

Alhaq, Shuja, Ibid, p. 138
Rahman, Fazlur, (1979), Islam, (2nd Ed.) University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, p. 150
of the doctrines and theory of Sufism. The sages of this era tried to revive a religious spirit and
emphasized purification of the self, guiding people to overcome the conditioning that comes with
worldly pursuits and rational thinking. They helped people refresh their inner lives by providing
a framework and discipline for ethical and moral outer lives.

Al-Ghazali (10581111) also played a very major role in integrating Sufism and Shariah. He was
also the first to present a formal description of Sufism in his works. His major works is Ihya'
Ulum al-Din (The Revival of Religious Sciences) covers a part of Sufism. In the eleventh
century when Islam came to India, Sufism also arrived here and reached the highest stage of its
theoritical development. They developed the great association of silsilas or orders, who were
responsible to create a universal Sufi culture in the Muslim world. The number of the individual
Sufi orders throughout the Muslim world is so long. There also were numerous Sufi orders active
in the modern period, especially in non-Arab parts of the Muslim world. The Chishtiyya was the
first Sufi order in India introduced by Muin ud-Din Chishti (1142-1223). This order is the most
widespread among all the Sufi orders in India. The Chisti saints follow the concept of pantheistic
monism called Wahdat-ul-wajud, which finds similarities with the Vedanta philosophy.60 Muin
ud-Din left two outstanding disciples, Qutb Bakhtiyar Kaki (d. 1235) and Hamid ad-Din Sufi (d.
1276). But the coming of two Chisti leaders: Farid ud-Din Masud Shakarganj (d. 1265) and
Nizam ud-Din Awliya (1325) took a new leap of Indian Sufism.

The most significant development of Sufism took place by the thought of Ibn Arabi (1156-1240),
who was an exponent of Sufi doctrines. He was also one of the most misunderstood figures of
Islamic spirituality for his two concepts: pantheist and monist. His doctrine of Wahdat al-Wajud
or Oneness of Being is expressed in his books al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah (The Meccan
Revelations) and al-Fusus al-Hikam (Bezels of Wisdom) represent a majestral synthesis of
metaphysical, cosmological and spiritual teachings. Besides Ibn Arabi, Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-
1273) was known as the greatest exponent of Sufi doctrine.

The second main centre of Indian Sufism was the Suhrawardiyya in thirteenth century founded
by Shaikh Bahauddin Zikiriyya (1182-1262) of Multan and Shaikh Jalal ud-Din Tabrizi (d.
1244) of Lakhnauti. It reached its acme under Shaikh Rukn ud-Din Abu al-Fatah (d.1335). The

Rahman, Fazlur, Ibid, p. 165
Qaderiya is one of the oldest Sufi Orders was instituted by Saiyid Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (1077-
1166). This order widespread in India by Shah Niamatullah (d.1430 AD) and was later promoted
in an organized manner by Syed Makhdum Muhammad Gilani (d.1517 AD). The Qaderiya have
not developed any distinctive doctrines or teachings outside of mainstream Islam. They believe
in the fundamental principles of Islam, but interpreted through mystical experience. The
Naqshbandi order was popularized in India through the efforts of Khwaja Baqi Billah (d.1642
AD), who came to India during the reign of Emperor Akbar. His Khalifah or deputy was Shaikh
Ahmed Sirhindi (1564-1624), commonly known as Mujaddid-i-Alf-I thani. Shah Waliullah
(17031762) of Delhi, Syed Ahmed of Rae Bareilly (17861831) and Shah Ghulam Ali (1743
1824) were some of the great Sufis of this order.

At this time when Greek philosophy and sciences had become part and parcel of Muslims, and
Islamic society was faced with a storm of rationalism. Then to counter these influences Sufi
masters stressed the doctrine of ishq (passionate love) and the experiences attained through
spiritual states of the heart. Sufism became a more successful formalized movement throughout
the Muslim world during the 13th to 16th centuries. In Turkey the Sufi movement has been
associated with the numerous rebellions against the state from the 13th century to the 17th
century. In Africa, the Sufi orders of various kinds have constantly put up a fierce military
resistance against the penetration of the European colonial powers. 61 At this time, Sufism
increased its intellectual culture throughout the Islamic world. Sufism was an important factor in
the historical spread of Islam, and in the creation of regional Islamic cultures, especially in
Africa for the pre-modern era and for the colonial era, and Asia. It is popular in such African
countries as Morocco and Senegal, where it is seen as a mystical expression of Islam. 62 Recent
academic work on these topics has focused on the role of Sufism in creating and propagating the
culture of the Ottoman world.63

Rahman, Fazlur, Ibid, p. 151
Babou, Cheikh Anta, (2007), The International Journal of African Historical Studies, v. 40 no1 p. 184-
Hareir, Idris El, (2011), The Spread of Islam Throughout the World, Paris: UNESCO Publishing, pp.
Finally, we can summarize the development of Sufism from its origin to modern era by a seminal
work of J. S. Trimingham. He categorizes it into three periods:64 The first, from the ninth
century, witnesses Sufism as a manifestation of an individuals expression of religion against
institutionalized religion. Second period from twelfth century, Sufi orders emerged with master-
student structure. And finally, from the fifteenth century, Sufi organizations appeared with
smaller Sufi groups and created saints tombs by the state sponsor.

Recommendations and Findings

Sufism is originated from the Holy Quran, which provided an encouragement to Muslims
to develop their spiritual lives. Several verses are mentioned in the Quram which are the
basis of Sufism.
At the time of Prophet, the Sufi was not existed but the reality of spirituality was
presented. Many historians tried to provide the example of Ahl us-Suffa as Sufi who led
very simple lives and cut their relationship with worldly life. Even the theory of ecstasy,
a popular theory of Sufism was evolved by the Prophet. Prophet would go to cave of Hira
for mediating before his Prophethood. On the other hand, the real fact that, there was no
need of exact Sufism what we mean now in the time of Prophet (PBUH). Because it was
a time of Prophets personality who influenced the majority people; it was a time of god-
fearing and pious people were totally involved in serving Allah.
There are many tendencies of the companions of Prophet which are similar to the Sufi
characteristics. They were not called Sufis but that is who they actually were. They
followed the Quranic instructions in all aspect of their lives. They would lead very simple
lives and eliminated all kind of gorgeous tendencies. They were discipline and hard
worker to serve the humanity as well as to seek pleasure of Allah. Sufism is doing
anything only for the pleasure of Allah in any condition. These characteristics are
appeared among the followers of the Prophet (PBUH) in three generations: Sahabah,
Tabiun, and Tabi al-tabiyun. These three generations are regarded the best of the

Ridgeon, Lloyd, Ibid, p. 6
Sufism had been a tremendous success, expansion and development during its middle
ages both in its theoretical and social dimension as well as occupied an important aspect
of Islamic history and began to be publicly thought. It became a widely respected
discipline, a well-defined science of spiritual awakening and formalized doctrines and
theories of several orders.
According to Islam, our faith, action, and worship would not be fulfill and enough until
we have built a strong bonds of brotherhood. Sufism opens a new horizon of
understanding of the most prolific and stable of the Sufi brotherhoods. For example,
Sufism became flourishing in Indian subcontinent because people attracted due to their
justice, equality and brotherhood irrespective of caste, creed, religion, and sect.
Personal behavior and the soul are important for both inner and outer world. Prophet
(PBUH) thought his companions good manners which is the mirror of good soul. A heart
puts a man in action that is why it is our duty to purify it from bad deeds. Even Allah
gives importance to the heart of people. Prophet says that: Verily Allah does not look to
your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts65 However, most of the Sufi
traditions paid a deep attention on chastity (purifying the heart) which improve mans
behavior a lot. A mans happiness to Eternity depends on chastity. Sufism helps a person
to overcome faultiness of the heart and make noble the soul. Finally, purifying the soul
nurtures mans penitence, honesty, sincerity, piety, good manners, fear of God, firmness,
asceticism, affection, love, remembrance of Allah.


After discussing the Sufism in the light of the Quran and Sunnah, it shows that Sufism has no
contradictory with Islamic spirit. Essentially both are one and has a relationship of harmonious.
Islam and Sufism emphasize on the importance of piety and devotion and believe in achieving
the same goal. The Quran guides humankind to achieve an eternal closeness and purity with the
Divine God. Sufis defend their efforts to achieve a link with the divine with many Quranic
verses. Sufism cannot be separated from Islam although the word may have used little later.
After Prophet (PBUH), the saints and sheikhs spread the knowledge of Sufism and during the
seventh and eighth century it reached its pick position of popularity.
Shahih Muslim

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