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Origins of Sufism

  • In some ways the Sufis are similar to the Shi'as. They too originated in the East of the Arab Empire. They too reacted against the materialism and lack of piety among the Umayyad Khalifahs.
  • However they are different from the Shi'a because they are not concerned with historical origins. They regard the first three Khalifahs as "Rightly Guided" and look to their example as well as Muhammad's for how a Muslim should live "As for Muhammad (PBUH), he bound a stone upon his belly when he was hungry; Abu' Bakr had a simple garment tied with two pins;Umar lived on bread and olive oil; Uthman was like one of his slaves in appearance" Sufi Hadith
  • From these ideas about the lives of the early Muslim leaders as compared with the luxury and wealth of the Umayyads, there arose a group of Muslim asectics who were determined to make Islam a more devoted religion. Out of their asectism, there gradually grew a Muslim mysticism in which Muslims could go into trances, have visions.
  • The term sufism can be often seen to have a wide range of meanings; originating from the Arabic letters sa, wa and fa. According to some the word derived from the arabic word safa meaning "purity". Another view is that the word orignated from the word safwe which means "those who are selected". Others think that the word is derived from the word saf which means line or row, implying those early Muslims who stood in the first row in prayer or supplication or holy war. Another view is that the word originates from suf which means wool which can be seen to imply the idea that the people interested in inner knowledge cared less about their outer appearance and often took to wearing one simple garment all year round which was made of wool.
  • Sufis can be seen to be organised in monastic orders. Sufi brotherhoods had begun to emerge by the 12th Century. These are the only ecclesiastical organisation in Islam.
  • The main goal for a Sufi is to have direct knowledge or experience of God's presence.

Principal Teachings of the Sufis

  •  A Muslim who wishes to become a Sufi must attach himself to a Shaykh. The shaykh will be a proven Sufi and many of the great ones from the past are associated with miraculous healings(sick Muslims will often visit the graves of




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