Sufism is a movement within Islamic religion, centered on the principles of piety, asceticism and spiritual discipline. It is practiced mainly by Sunni Muslims, but it is also found in Shia Islam.
Origins, Evolution & Role
Sufi teachings and practices were first introduced in the 7th/8th century by a group of charismatic figures who developed an ascetic movement that later became part of the larger Sufi order known as the Naqshbandi order. It was then passed on to subsequent generations of Sufi masters, most of whom traced their enlightenment back to Muhammad.
Traditionally, Sufism was a peaceful and tolerant force within Islamic society; its teachers did not interpret the Qur’anic revelation in a way that discredited other faiths or questioned the fundamental validity of Islamic law. They often defended Muslim sites against Crusaders and attacked Greek-influenced philosophers who were hostile to Islamic doctrine.
Introduction to Sufism: The Mystical Path of Islam
The movement has adapted to different societies and cultures, adapting elements of its philosophy and religious beliefs to fit the local context. This has made Sufism a popular practice and it is an important element of many Muslims’ lives today, even in the Western world.
In modern times Sufism has evolved into a number of diverse groups, each with their own beliefs and practices. But all Sufisms are rooted in the same principle of esotericism, which is to believe that humans can reach the ultimate knowledge of God through the selfless remembrance of his name (called tasawwuf).