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Sufism Origin, Development and Emergence of Sufi Orders

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3.2. ORIGIN 7


















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Chapter 1


The study of Islam has always been intrinsic to each and everyone, Muslims and non-

Muslims, since the very beginning of the prophetic mission some fourteen centuries ago.

What is more interesting is that there are certain controversial topics which have always

captured the attention of the whole Ummah. This is precisely the aim of this endeavour, that

is, to shed light on the concept of Sufism in Islam.

This work is divided into various chapters with a systematic presentation of the topic.

There is a literature review of some religious thinkers of how they understood Sufism

(chapter 2), followed by its origin and development (Chapter 3 and 4). Chapter 5 and 6 will

deal with the different orders and Sufism and women whereas the next three chapters will

enlighten us on its concepts and practices, propaganda against it and on its contribution


This research methodology comprises of an exposition of the theoretical approach to

Sufism with its criticism, reconciliation and contribution to the Muslim Ummah. I wish to

acknowledge the help given to me by my Professor Hosany in presenting this humble work. I

would like to make it clear that Tasawwuf – Sufism – is applied only to Muslims. Those

propounding that its source is derived from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism or any non

Muslim concepts are wrong. Many books have been written by non Muslim authors inventing

and falsifying the true essence of Tasawwuf. Now, what does happen is that many Muslims

do copy from these deviant books, thus giving a wrong image of Tasawwuf – Sufism.

The next chapter will deal with the literature review of different authors and religious


Key Words:

Sufism (Tasawwuf, Mysticism), Nafs (Soul), Ummah (Nation, People), Dhikr (Remembrance

of Allah), Peer Murshid (Spiritual guide), Murid (Aspirant), Tawakkul (Trust).

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Chapter 2


This chapter will deal with the views of renowned scholars on the subject of Sufism.

It is worth to note that I have incorporated in this section the view points of past and

contemporary scholars.

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (164-241 H/780-855 CE)

Imam Ahmad (r.a) said, advising his son,

“O my son, you have to sit with the People of Sufism, because they are like a

fountain of knowledge and they keep the Remembrance of Allah in their hearts. They

are the ascetics and they have the most spiritual power.”

(Tanwir al-Qulub, p. 405, by Shaykh Amin al-Kurdi.)

Imam al-Qushayri (d. 465 H/1072 CE)

“Allah made this group the best of His saints and He honoured them above all of His

Servants after His Messengers and Prophets, and He made their hearts the secrets of

His Divine Presence and He chose them from among the Nation to receive His Lights.

They are the means of humanity. He cleaned them from all connections to this world,

and He lifted them to the highest states of vision. And He unveiled to them the Realities

of His Unique Oneness. He made them to observe His Will operating in them. He made

them to shine in His Existence and to appear as Lights of His Lights.”

(ar-Risalat al-Qushayriyya, p. 2)

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Imam Ghazali (450-505 H/1058-1111 CE)

“I knew to be true that the Sufis are the seekers in Allah’s Way, and that their

conduct is the best conduct, and their way is the best way, and their manners are the

most sanctified. They have cleaned their hearts from other than Allah and they have

made them as pathways for rivers to run receiving knowledge of the Divine Presence.”

(al-Munqidh min ad-dalal, p. 131).

Ibn Khaldun (733-808 H/1332-1406 CE)

"The way of the Sufis is the way of the Salaf, the Scholars among the Sahaba,

Tabi’in, and Tabi’ at-Tabi’in. Its origin is to worship Allah and to leave the ornaments

of this world and its pleasures.”

(Muqaddimat ibn Khaldan, p. 328)

„Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn „Abdul Wahhab (1115-1201 H./1703-1787 CE)

“My father and I don’t deny or criticize the Science of Sufism, but on the

contrary we support it because it cleans the external and the internal of the hidden sins

which are related to the heart and the outward form. Even though the individual might

externally be on the right way, internally he might be on the wrong way; and for its

correction Tasawwuf is necessary."

It was a quotation from Mu ammad Man ar Nu‟mani‟s book (p. 85), Ad- ia’at al-Mukaththafa

Didd ash-Shaykh Mu ammad ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab where “Shaykh

„Abdullah, the son of

Shaykh Muhammad ibn „Abdul Wahhab, said about Tasawwuf.

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Chapter 3


This chapter will shed light on the definition and origin of Sufism in Islam. The first

part encompasses the different meanings according to different dictionaries and

encyclopaedias. Whereas the second part deals with the origin of Sufism based on scholars‟

reports and points of views and historical facts.

3.1 Definition of Sufism

According to Mawlana Syed Aleem Ashraf Jilani, in his book “Introduction to

Tasawwuf”, there are approximately 2000 meanings and definitions of Tasawwuf in different

and numerous books. However, I will cite some of them as follows:

1. “Sufism (sū’fĭzəm), an umbrella term for the ascetic and mystical movements

within Islam”. (Columbia Encyclopedia)

2. “From around 800 the term Sufi (from the Persian for coarse wool, denoting the

kind of garment worn) was applied to Islamic mystics who adopted ascetic

practices as a means of achieving union with God”. (Philosophy Dictionary)

3. “Mystical movement within Islam that seeks to find divine love and knowledge

through direct personal experience of God. It consists of a variety of mystical

paths that are designed to ascertain the nature of mankind and God and to

facilitate the experience of divine love and wisdom in the world”. (Britannica

Concise Encyclopedia)

4. “Sufis are members of a small Islamic sect that arose as a protest against the

growing worldliness of Muslims after the time of the Prophet… Although Sufism

is firmly anchored in orthodox Islamic doctrine, it emphasizes the inner pursuit of

love, obedience, and devotion to God over concern with the outward law or

Shari‟ah, and is often associated with mysticism and esotericism”. (Food &

Culture Encyclopedia)

5. “Sufism (Arabic: taṣawwuf, Persian: sufigari, Turkish: tasavvuf) is generally

understood to be the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.” (Wikipedia)

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3.2 Origin of Sufism

There are many opinions regarding the origin of this word. They may be summarized as


1. Some people associate Sufism to the Ahlus-Sufaah (people of As-Sufaah) who were

at the time of the Prophet (s.a.w). That group of people was very poor and they stayed

in the courtyard of the mosque of the holy prophet (s.a.w) in devotional acts.

2. Some say that Sufism comes from As-Saff al-Awwal (First Row), implying that some

companions of the holy prophet (s.a.w) would stay in the first row in the mosque of

Madinah. Their main aim was to study Islam in depth.

3. Some claim that the term is derived from As-Safaa‟ meaning clearness, purity,


4. But the most accepted opinion is that the term Sufism refers to the wearing of woollen

clothing (Suf). This is so because many scholars known to be Sufis used to wear

woollen cloth.

With all these definitions, one main question still remains. What is the origin of Sufism?

Well, in order to understand and to arrive to a definite answer, we must ponder upon the basic

reason for the coming of the holy Prophet (s.a.w) to mankind. The following lines will

enlighten us on the origin of Tasawwuf, keeping in mind that we are talking about Muslim

Mysticism – Tasawwuf – not the one for Christians or Buddhists or any un-Islamic creed.

Allah says in the holy Qur‟an (3: 102):

ى سه تى ي إال وأ ىت حق تقاته وال ت آيىا ٱتقىا ٱلل يأيها ٱنذي

“Oh those who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except as


According to the above verse, we should build up a fear –Taqwa – for Allah in our

hearts as it should be and we must make it as such that we die as Muslims. However, what is

intended by to fear Allah as He should be feared? Allah said in the holy Qur‟an (2: 129):

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ة ويزك ب وٱنحك هى ٱنكت تك ويعه هى يتهىا عهيهى آي ا وٱبعث فيهى رسىال ي يهى إك رب

أت ٱنعزيز ٱنحكيى

“Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a Messenger from among them who shall

recite to them your Verses, and shall teach them the Scripture, and the Wisdom and

shall purify them. Surely, You are the Mighty, the Wise.”

The above verse is the supplication – Du‟a – of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s). The holy

prophet (s.a.w) came with his wisdom to purify the hearts of human beings. So, right from the

beginning, the duty of the holy Prophet (s.a.w) was to instruct his Ashab – companions – the

way to purification and the way to Taqwa. This is precisely the main objective and aim of the

concept of Sufism. It is only after the purification of the heart that we will know Allah. The

more we know Allah, the more we will fear Him. As Ibn Khaldun said,

“The way of the Sufis is the way of the Salaf, the Scholars among the Sahaba,

Tabiceen, and Tabi

c at-Tabi

ceen. Its origin is to worship Allah and to leave the

ornaments of this world and its pleasures.”

(Muqaddimat ibn Khaldan, p. 328)

Sealing up the origin of Sufism, the Fatwa – juristic opinion – of the chief religious

authority in Egypt (Shaykh al-Azhar), Imam „Abd al-Halim Mahmud is:

“The Sufi is both an ascetic and a worshipper. Thus the Sufi abstains from the world,

since he is beyond the point where anything can distract him from God. Also, the Sufi is

a worshipper because of his constancy with God and his link with God (may He be

exalted). He worships God because God is suitable for worshipping, not out of desire or


(From the Fatawa of Imam „Abd al-Halim Mahmud, p. 334, 38)

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Chapter 4


In this chapter there will be an exposure on the development of Sufism since the

beginning till this present time. This endeavour will be supplemented with ideologies of all

famous scholars on the topic, thus proving its existence and acceptance during its specific


4.1 Early stage

During the first years of the Islamic Revolution, the holy Prophet (s.a.w) encouraged

his Ashab to seek knowledge. At the same time, new discipline like the reading of the Qur‟an

was established. Similarly when the Ashab were in the midst of the holy Prophet (s.a.w),

disciplines like the State of Perfection (Ihsan), the State of Austerity (Zuhd), the State of

God-fearingness (Wara’) and the State of God-consciousness (Taqwa) were naturally

practiced by them.

Now, by the passing of time and after the death of the holy Prophet (s.a.w), there has

been the need to establish schools propounding the above mentioned disciplines. In this

context, the period of the Tabi‟in and Taba-ut Tabi‟in was solicited immensely. It is worth

noted that Tasawwuf is neither new nor innovated in Islam. It has been practiced by the holy

Prophet (s.a.w) and his Ashab. Whatever the name given to Sufism, whether it is Tasawwuf

or Ihsan, the aim is the same – to approach Allah. In order to illustrate more deeply into the

matter, let‟s see the following analysis.

Hazrat An-Nu‟man bin Bashir (r.a) said that the holy Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“... Surely there is in the body a small piece of meat; if it is good the whole body is good

and if it is corrupted the whole body is corrupted and that is the heart.”

(Swahih al-Bukhari: Vol 2, Book 1, Hadith 49) and (Swahih Muslim: Book 10, Hadith 3882)

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Hazrat Abu Huraira (r.a) said that the holy Prophet (s.a.w) said (emphasizing on the heart):

“Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your

hearts,” and he pointed towards the heart with his fingers.

(Swahih Muslim: Book 32, Hadith 6220)

The holy Qur‟an says (26: 88-89):

بقهب سهيى يىو ال أتى للا إال ي يفع يال وال بى

“The Day wherein neither wealth nor sons will avail but only he will prosper who brings

to Allah a sound heart.”

To know the heart‟s diseases such as jealousy, arrogance and pride, and to leave them

is an obligation on every Muslim. The interpreters of the holy Qur‟an – Muffassirun – said

that jealousy, ostentation, hypocrisy and hatred are the bad manners which Allah mentioned

in the holy Qur‟an (7: 33):

ها ويا بط و ربي انفىاحش يا ظهز ي ا حز قم إ

“Say: the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds whether open

or secret ...”

And Allah‟s mentioning “Whether open or secret” is the proof for the need to not

simply make the exterior actions correct, but to cleanse that which is hidden by a person in

his heart and is known only to his Lord.

And Hazrat Abdullah b. Mas‟ud (r.a) said that the Prophet (s) said:

“He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.

A person said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should

be fine. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace.

Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.”

(Muslim: Book 1, Hadith 164)

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The following will give you an idea of how the Tabi‟in and Taba-ut Tabi‟in

considered Tasawwuf – Sufism:

Imam Abu Hanifa (85 H. - 150 H) said:

“If it were not for two years, I would have perished.” He said, “for two years I

accompanied Sayyidina Ja’far as-Sadiq and I acquired the spiritual knowledge

that made me a gnostic in the Way.”

(Ad-Durr al-Mukhtar, vol 1. p. 43)

Imam Malik (95 H. - 179 H.) said:

“Whoever studies Jurisprudence (tafaqaha) and didn’t study Sufism

[tasawwafa] will be corrupted; and whoever studied Sufism and didn’t study

Jurisprudence will become a heretic; and whoever combined both will be

reaching the Truth.”

(‘Ali al-Adawi , vol. 2, p 195.)

Imam Shafi‟i (150 - 205 AH.) said:

“I accompanied the Sufi people and I received from them three knowledges: (1)

how to speak; (2) how to treat people with leniency and a soft heart, (3) and they

guided me in the ways of Sufism.”

(Kashf al-Khafa, ‘Ajluni, vol. 1, p 341)

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (164 - 241 AH.) said:

“O my son, you have to sit with the People of Sufism, because they are like a

fountain of knowledge and they keep the Remembrance of Allah in their hearts.

they are the ascetics and they have the most spiritual power.”

(Tanwir al-Qulub p. 405)

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4.2 Later stages

During the formative period of Tasawwuf the Sufis were not strictly identifiable in

different orders. Students would gather around a Shaykh where they would often devote

themselves to years of learning. Amongst the outstanding Sufi masters of this period were

Hasan al-Basri (d.728), Ibrahim ibn Adham (d.777), Rabia al-„Adawiyyah (d.801), Fudayl

ibn „Iyaad (d.803), Ma‟ruf al‟Karkhi (d.815), Abu „Abdullah al-Muhaasibi (d.857), Sar as-

Saqati (d.867), Abu Yazid al-Bistaami (d.874), and Abul Qasim al-Junayd al- Baghdadi

(d.910). The “Shaykh – Murid (aspirant)” relationship entailed three important features.

1. The first is the Ilbaas ul-Khirka. This entailed the donning of a patched frock that

indicated the aspirant‟s initiation into Tasawwuf.

2. The second is known as the Talqin udh-Dhikr which was the shaykh‟s instruction

to the murid with regard to the type and nature of the dhikr (invocation) to be


3. The third is the suhba which referred to the nature and quality of the murid‟s

companionship with the Shaykh.

These features formed an integral part of the Sufi Way right from the outset. In fact

most of these practises are traceable to the Sunnah of the holy Prophet (s.a.w). The teachings

of the Sufi masters, along with the different dhikr forms, were handed down from Shaykh

(teacher) to murid (student) in a continuous chain of transmission called a silsila. It is through

these silsila – accompanied by the ijaaza system – that the teachings of the Sufi masters were

protected as part of our spiritual heritage. It was, however, only during the 12th

and 13th

centuries that the Tariqa orders were formalised and officially adopted particular names by

which they came to be identified. The institutionalisation of the Orders really only started

with the followers of Sayyid „Abdul Qaadir al-Jilani (r.a) (d.1166). Later on a number of

other Orders developed along similar lines such as the Suhrawardiyyah, the Shadhiliyyah, the

Naqshabandiyyah, etc. Despite this proliferation of Sufi Orders, the Sufi path has been

identified by most scholars as a fourfold process:

1. The Shari‟ah - that is to acquaint oneself with and to meticulously follow the legal

rulings of the Shari‟ah.

2. The Tariqah - to engage in various spiritual excersises (such as dhirk) recommended

by the holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the established adepts of Tasawwuf.

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3. The Haqiqah, that is the attainment of a spiritual consciousness or inner

enlightenment that witnesses that all things ultimately come from and belong to Allah.

4. The Ma‟rifah, that is the knowledge of spiritual realities, is able to ascertain the

spiritual level of a murid (spiritual seeker/disciple) and can assign additional awraad

and azkaar (regular voluntary invocations) to be performed to attain spiritual


lbn Qayyim (691 - 751 AH.) said:

“We can witness the greatness of the People of Sufism, in the eyes of the earliest

generations of Muslims by what has been mentioned by Sufyan ath-Thawri (d.

161 AH), one of the greatest imams of the second century and one of the foremost

legal scholars. He said, “If it had not been for Abu Hisham as-Sufi (d. 115) 1

would never have perceived the action of the subtlest forms of hypocrisy in the

self... Among the best of people is the Sufi learned in jurisprudence.”

(Manazil as-Sa’ireen.)

Muhammad „Abduh (1265 - 1323 AH.) said:

“Tasawwuf appeared in the first century of Islam and it received a tremendous

honor. It purified the self and straightened the conduct and gave knowledge to

people from the Wisdom and Secrets of the Divine Presence.”

(Majallat al-Muslim, 6th ed. 1378 H, p. 24)

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Chapter 5


By the passing of time since the era of the holy prophet (s.a.w) many Sufi orders have

taken birth throughout the whole world. At the outset of Islam there was no order. It became

a must in the view of spreading the inner meaning of Islam. The presentation below could

have well been in Sufi orders one. But I have preferred to present it country wise for both

knowledge of the Sufi orders and the countries they are spreading.

5.1 Orders in Africa

Sufism was transplanted into North Africa as a result of the expansion of the Rifa‟i

order into Syria and then Egypt. In the eastern part of Africa, the people are orthodox Sunnis

and adherents of the Shafi‟ite rite of the Shari‟ah. Sufism arose in between the 9th and 10th

centuries but attained its climax in the l1th and 13th centuries. The three most prominent

orders are the Qadiriya, the Ahmadiya, and the Saalihiya.

The Qadiriya, the oldest Sufi Order in Islam, being introduced into Harar in the 15th

century by Sharif Abu Bakr ibn „Abd Allah al-„Aydarus who died in 1508-9 (A.H.911 ). The

Ahmadiya (Sayyid Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi (1760-1837) and the Saalihiya (Muhammad ibn

Salih, in 1887), were both introduced into southern Somalia towards the close of the last

century. The Sufi Shaykh Yusuf al-Taj al-Khalwati al-Maqasari (more commonly, Shaykh

Yusuf of Macassar), known to be the founder of Muslim Community of the Cape, arrived in


5.2 Orders in Malaysia and Indonesia

Sufism first came to Indonesia along with the spread of Islam brought to the region by

Muslim traders. Some point to the Muslim traders from Persia and Gujarat, others offer

evidences of Arab. Evidence of their presence can be found at tombstones of Muslim scholars

at Baros bearing the date of 44 – 48 Hijri or 665 – 669 AD. They are Shaykh Rukunuddin,

Shaykh Makhmud, Tuanku Batu Badan, and Tuanku Ambar. There is also a tombstone of a

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Muslim woman, Fatimah binti Maimun, in Gresik, East Java, bears the date of 461 Hijri

(1082 AD). It was not until the 13th century when the rulers of Samudra Pasai and Perlak at

northern Sumatra started to embrace Islam and made the first Islamic kingdom in Indonesia.

The most obvious evidence of this is the tombstone of the first Islamic ruler of Samudra,

Sultan Malik Al-Saleh, which bears the date 1297.

5.3 Orders in China

Islam was introduced by one of the companions of the holy prophet (s.a.w) known as

Sa‟id bi Abi Waqqaas (r.a). In China most of the texts of Fiqh, Taṣawwuf and Tafs r are

written in Persian. Persian Sufism, thus, spread all over China. In south eastern China titles

and terminologies of Sufi sects like “Darvish” and “Baba” were used to be pronounced in its

original Persian form. The tombs of Kubr viya and the other Sufi sects which have been

preserved in good condition are the clear signs of the perpetual influence of Sufis since

seventeenth century. The Naqshbandi order in China has come to an end but its influence on

other Sufi Chains (Jahriya, Kubr viya, Q deriya and Khafiya) is completely visible.

5.4 Orders in India and Pakistan

Of the various Sufi orders, Muslims of India prominently follow Chistiyya,

Naqshbandiyya, Qadiriyya and Suharwardiyya. The Chisti order (Khwaja Moin-ud-Din

Chisti) has a great impact among small villages of Indian subcontinent. Born in Afghanistan

in 1142 AD, he came to India in 1192 AD and selected Ajmir. Four Islamic mystics from

Afghanistan namely Moinuddin (d. 1233 in Ajmer), Qutbuddin (d. 1236 in Delhi),

Nizamuddin (d.1335 in Delhi) and Fariduddin (d.1265 in Pattan now in Pakistan)

accompanied the Islamic invaders in India.

Suharwardy order of Sufism was founded by Shihabud-Din Suharwardy of Baghdad

and introduced in India (popular in Bengal) by his disciple Baha-ud-Din Zakariya of Multan.

Qaadiri order (mainly in South India) was founded by Abdul Qaadir whose tomb is at


Baha-ud-Din Naqshband (1318-1389) of Turkistan founded Naqshbandi order of

Sufism. The conquest of India by Babur in 1526 gave considerable impetus to the

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Naqshbandiyya order. Khwaja Mohammad Baqi Billah Berang introduced Naqshbandi order

in India.

Pakistan and Sufism are inter-related and inseparable from each other. Early in the 8th

century A.D. when Mohammad Bin Qasim conquered Sind, Sufi movement had not taken

any organised form. In its early stages Sufism was an individual affair confined to

intellectuals and spiritualists with hardly any appeal to the masses. Sufism became organised,

and adopted a form and institution in the 12th and 13th centuries A.D. The two great

pioneers in this field were Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) and Hazrat Shahabuddin

Suhrawardy (r.a).

5.6 Orders in Balkans

During the six centuries of Ottoman rule, Islam spread rapidly. Indeed, among the

nations that now comprise the Balkans Peninsula (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria,

Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) the visible Muslim component to their

populations are readily evident. The largest and most wide-spread of these orders were the

Halveti (Khalwatiyyah) and the Bektashi. They were followed by the Naqshibandi, Qadiri

and Rifa‟i in size and distribution.

Though the Ottoman rule in Bosnia-Herzegovina terminated in 1878, several new Sufi

Shaykh managed to establish new centers of influence. For instance, the Naqshbandi-Khalidi

Order was introduced into central Bosnia by Mufti Shaykh Husnija Numanagic (d.1931). In

1952 all Tariqa activities were banned by the modernist minded „ulama of the government

sanctioned Islamic Community, who saw the orders and their shaykhs as a remnant of archaic

superstition and innovation.

This ban remained in place until the early 1970‟s when prominent scholars, notably

the Qadiri-Mevlevi shaykh and Imam Fejzulah Hadzibajric (d.1990) and the Rifa‟i shaykh of

Prizren, Xhemali Shehu (b.1926), made a successful move to revitalize Sufism in Yugoslavia.

In Kosova, the post-Ottoman situation resembled that of Bosnia. By the 1930‟s many orders

in Turkish dominated regions of central and eastern Macedonia stood abandoned as a result

of these population shifts. Elsewhere in the post-Ottoman Balkans, the activities of the orders

are virtually non-existent.

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5.7 Orders in USA

The first Muslim immigrants, from 1878 to 1924, were labourers from Syria, Jordan

and Lebanon. In the 1960s many Asian immigrants reached the United States in pursuit of the

“Great American Dream”. There was a spiritual flowering as many gurus, Sufis and

missionaries came in. Sufism began to attract serious attention and found a niche in American

society from the early 1900s. By the end of the 1960s, San Francisco was home to a large

number of Sufis, representing different spiritual orders. Idris Shah‟s stories, reflecting the

Sufi way of life, and Rumi‟s whirling dancing became popular on college campuses. The

largest share of credit for popularizing Sufism in the West goes to Hazrat Inayat Khan, who

brought musical, Universalist Sufism from India to the United States in 1910. Although he

began as a master of the Chishti Order, in America he trained people in the Naqshbandi,

Qadiri and Suharwardi orders as well. In 1927, the movement he led became Sufi Order

International, headquartered in New York.

5.8 Orders in Mauritius

It was recorded that under Governoor Nyon (1722 – 1725), the first Muslim (Ally

Khan) came to Mauritius. The first Imam (prayer leader) of Al-Aqsa Masjid was Gassy

Sobdar who died in 1861 at the age of 70. Hazrat Syed Peer Jamal Shah bin Murtaza Shaq

(r.a) (in 1848) and Hazrat Peer Juhoor Shah (r.a) (in 1870) came to spread Islam in Mauritius.

There was a pious lady – Bibi Halima Hajeebaboo (r.a) – who predicted the coming of

Mawlana Abdul Aleem Siddiqi (r.a) which happened in the month of December 1928. This

was the beginning of structured Tasawwuf in Mauritius. In September 31 he established the

Halqua-e-Qaderia-Ishaat-e-Islam, the Islamic Waqf Law, the Islamic Law of Marriages,

Divorce and Inheritance for Muslims. The First Id Miladun Nabi (s.a.w) was organized on the


May of 1939. The Darul Uloom Aleemeea was established on the 18th

June 1953. This

was the last time he came to Mauritius and he left his son Mawlana Shah Ahmad Noorani

Siddiqui (r.a) who was presided the Id Miladun Nabi (s.a.w) every year till 2002 when the

following year his son, Mawlana Anas Noorani came.

Another figure was Maulana Muhammad Ibrahim Khushtar Siddiqui Qadiri Razvi

who arrived in Mauritius on 2 January 1965 to work as Imam and lecturer (Khateeb) of the

Jummah Mosque and founded the Sunni Razvi Society, the Qadiriyya Tariqa, the Sunni

Razvi Academy and re-started the practice of Halqa Dhikr (Circle of Dhikr).

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Chapter 6


Islam is a complete religion, meant for each and everyone. The Shari‟ah – Islamic

Law – is obligatory on all Muslims. The quest of the love of Allah is a will of many of us. In

this way and many other fields, women have made a place and a name. The following will

enlighten us on some of Sufi women.

1. Hazrat Bibi Khadija (r.a), the wife of the holy Prophet (s.a.w) filled a role of great

importance. It was to Muhammad‟s and Khadija‟s daughter, Hazrat Bibi Fatimah

(s.a.w), to whom the deeper mystical understanding of Islam was first conveyed, and

indeed she is often recognized as the first Muslim mystic. She was there when all

revelations were sent upon the holy Prophet (s.a.w). For spiritual advancement, the

holy Prophet (s.a.w) kept the time in between the prayer of Maghrib – sunrise time –

and Isha – night time – for educating members of his family. Her marriage with

Hazrat Ali (r.a) bound this new manifestation of mysticism into this world, and the

seeds of their union began to blossom.

2. Later on, another figure of Sufism was Rabi‟a al-Adawiyya (r.a) (717-801 A.D.), who

was the first to express the relationship with the divine in a clear language we have

come to recognize as specifically Sufic by referring to God as the Beloved.

3. A woman for whom Hazrat Bayazid Bustami (r.a) had great regard was Fatimah

Nishapuri (r.a) (d. 838), of whom he said, “There was no station (on the Way) about

which I told her that she had not already undergone.” The Egyptian Sufi master Dhun-

Nun Misri (r.a) was asked, “Who, in your opinion, is the highest among the Sufis?”

He replied, “A lady in Mecca, called Fatimah Nishapuri, whose discourse displayed a

profound apprehension of the inner meanings of the Qur‟an.”

4. The wife of the ninth-century Sufi Al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi (r.a) was a mystic in her

own right. She used to dream for her husband as well as for herself. Hazrat Khizr

(r.a), the mysterious one, would appear to her in her dreams. One night he told her to

tell her husband to guard the purity of his house. She thought that perhaps Hazrat

Khizr (r.a) was referring to the lack of cleanliness that sometimes occurred because of

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their young children, she questioned him in her dream. He responded by pointing to

his tongue: she was to tell her husband to be mindful of the purity of his speech.

5. There was Fatimah or Jahan-Ara, the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan, the Mogul

emperor of India (1592-1666). Fatimah wrote an account of her initiation called

Risala-i Sahibiyya, which is known as a beautiful and erudite exposition of the

flowering of Sufism within her heart.

6. Aisha of Damascus was one of the well-known mystics of the fifteenth century. Her

brother was a Shaykh of the Nimatullahi Order, and she became the wife of the master

of the order. After her marriage, she composed a divan (collection of poems) that

revealed her integration of both the outer and the inner knowledge of Sufism.

7. One luminous lady, Feriha Ana, carried the Rifai tradition in Istanbul until her recent

death; Zeyneb Hatun of Ankara continues to inspire people in Turkey and abroad with

her poems and songs.

8. A popular strain of Sufism that has been very welcoming of women is the Chishti

Order, which was brought to America by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Of the many women

involved, Murshida Vera Corda is perhaps the best-known; her work with children in

particular has been a great inspiration to many parents.

9. One branch of Sufism that has become better-known in the West in recent years is the

Mevlevi. Within this tradition, which was founded upon the example of Hazrat

Mawlaana Jalaaluddin Rumi (r.a), women have always been deeply respected,

honored, and invited to participate in all aspects of the spiritual path. It was his

grandmother, the princess of Khorasan, who first lit the spark of inquiry in Rumi‟s

(r.a) father, Baha-uddin Walid (r.a). Under her care, he grew to be the “sultan of the

learned” and a great spiritual light in his time. Rumi‟s (r.a) mother, Mu‟mine Hatun, a

devout and saintly lady, was very dear to him. Mevlevi Shaykhas have often guided

both women and men.

Though the Qur'an strongly encourages education for women as well as men, women

sometimes received fewer opportunities for instruction than men in similar circumstances.

Within Sufism, this more essential Qur‟anic attitude has prevailed.

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Chapter 7


This chapter will deal with the various concepts found in Tasawwuf. These will be the

different ideologies and practices of those engaging in the Sufi way.

1. Tawbah: This is the first step and starting point for the aspirant when engaging in the

path of Allah. This is the returning from the blamable to the laudable. It is a fact from

the holy Qur‟an to seek the forgiveness of Allah that we may prosper. It is obligatory

foe each sin.

2. Muhaasabah: This is the analyzing of one‟s own soul – nafs. It is a way preventing

us from committing sins again. It is the fear for Allah that leads to such state. We

become more responsible towards Allah. We thus will have the conviction that we

have been created only to worship Allah.

3. Khawf: This is the fear for Allah. The more we know Allah, the more we cultivate

His fear in our hearts. It is very important for the perfection of our faith – Iman. It

forms part of the various means of avoiding sins. But when the fear of Allah deserts

the heart of a person, only disaster will fill in his heart.

4. Rajaa: This is the peace of the heart by the grace of Allah. It is the belief that after

the effort of the Sufi, Allah will help him. In Islamic doctrine, it is part of Iman and

rejecting it is unbelief – Kufr. Thus, Iman resides in between Khawf and Rajaa. It is

the hope that we place in Allah.

5. Swidq: This is the attestation of the truth. This is done through the words, the

intentions, the determination, the perseverance, the actions, and the spiritual states

like Tawbah, Khawf … it is very important in Islam as Allah encourages us to stay

with these kinds of people.

6. Ikhlass: This is the sincerity in faith and actions in each step of worship – Ibaadah. It

is the secret between Allah and the believer. We realize its importance when we know

from the holy Qur‟an that Allah ordered the holy Prophet (s.a.w) to offer his swalaat

with perfect sincerity.

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7. Swabr: This is the patience, forbearance as well as the steadfastness and firmness of

the Sufi. It is done for all complaints of his problems to any human being except

complaining to Allah only. No doubt, the believer will be faced with many tests and

afflictions. The ability and aptitude to cope with these situations is Swabr in the path

of Allah.

8. Waraa: It is the fact of abstaining from something that can‟t be determined as lawful

or unlawful. It is also the abandonment of lawful things if ever there is any doubt. It is

also the abstention of anything doubtful to the heart. It is also the rejection of all and

everything. It is very important to reach Allah.

9. Zuhd: It is the action and feeling of emptying the heart from all attachments relating

to the world and materialism. It is the renunciation of this world for the acceptance

and welcoming of the spiritual state from Allah. It is not the aim of the believer but it

is a means to come nearer to Allah.

10. Razaa: This is the acceptance of the heart of its fate. For the one who attains this

stage, there is no difference for him in the state of joy and sadness. He accepts

everything from Allah and is always satisfied. He contemplates what he has. He never


11. Tawakkul: This is the total trust in Allah and the fact of not wishing and hoping

anything from anyone except from Allah. It concerns only the heart not any other part

of the body or its surrounding. For instance, the holy Prophet (s.a.w) advised one of

his companions to tie his camel and then to abide by tawakkul. It is not the

abandonment of work or job and stay in the belief that Allah will send our

subsistence and livelihood – Rizk.

12. Shukr: The favours of Allah to human beings are unlimited in this world, the grave

and the hereafter. The fact of thanking Him for everything that He has accomplished

and will in the future is known as Shukr. It is a Qur‟anic injunction to thank Allah in

order not to be found among the ungrateful and unbelievers.

13. Dhikr: This is the first and foremost step inevitable in the whole process and path

towards Allah. This word has been utilized in the holy Qur‟an and the Sunnah of the

holy Prophet (s.a.w) for various circumstances with different meanings. Allah wants

us to remember Him in our hearts and in groups and in return He will remember us.

14. Muzaakarah: This means to search and seek the guidance of the Murshid – Shaykh –

in all the stages of the process of Dhikr. All experiences from the Murid – aspirant –

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must be brought to the Murshid for interpretation. This is very important for the

progress in the path of and towards Allah.

15. Khalwah: This is to seclude oneself as during the last ten days of the month of

Ramadhan. It can be over any period of time but not more than forty days. The aim is

to purify the heart from the materialistic world. In this stage, the Dhikr is permanently

and more present.

16. Muraaqabah: This is the concentration of the mind on a specific point to feel that

Allah is watching oneself. This is a principle found in Swalaat – prayer – where if we

can‟t see Allah, but let it be known that Allah sees us. This can be done preferably

after the dinner during the night.

The above points make the basic concepts and practices of the Sufi Masters and their

aspirants. But no where the Shari‟ah is exempted from them Rather, there is no Sufism

without the Shari‟ah.

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Chapter 8


Since long, there have been many critics raised against the whole concept of Sufism

in Islam. These criticisms are still based on the real origin and concepts and practices of the

Tasawwuf. The following will shed light on how questions are set against the topic of this


1. According to those against Sufism, they say that it was a movement in the 8th


against the prevailing impersonal and formal nature of Islam. The idea here is that if

really Sufism is an Islamic concept, then it should have been existed in the holy

Qur‟an and the Sunnah of the holy Prophet (s.a.w).

2. Secondly, the idea that wealth was enjoyed during the period of the holy Prophet

(s.a.w) for military purposes was the response against Sufi concept of going against

the materialistic world.

3. Another criticism is that the whole concept of Sufism is generated from other various

religions like Zoroastricians, Hinduism, Neo-Platonism and Manichaeism. For

instance, the grave worshipping and the idea of fire-temple.

4. According to Sufis, there are verses of the holy Qur‟an and Hadith of the holy Prophet

(s.a.w) having deeper meaning, that is esoteric aspects. However, the critic says that

the Sufis force the meaning of the holy Qur‟an and the Hadith they use are not from

the sound Hadith books.

5. It is said that the further one delves into Sufism from an academic perspective, the

clearer it becomes that both the origins and content of Sufism clearly show the

inclusion of religious ideas and influences contrary and contradictory to orthodox


6. It is criticized that their practices also bear close similarities to those of Hinduism and

other mystical religions of the East. The Sufi orders are led by Shaykh, who play the

same role as Hindu gurus. Some of the Shaykh were described as having “pronounced

psychic powers.”

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7. The mystical quest of the Sufis is pursued through a number of mental and physical

exercises. These include whirling dances “intended above all to plunge the dancer into

a state of concentration upon Allah.”

8. There are “invocations of the Divine Name,” also known as Dhikr, which can be done

either silently or in a chant. Here similarities with Hindu mantras are unmistakable. It

is also said that the Sufi doctrine of the Dhikr coincides with that taught by the

nineteenth-century Hindu saint Rama-krishna, who succinctly summed it up in the

phrase: „God and His Name are one.‟

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Chapter 9


What will follow in the following paragraphs will enlighten us on how Sufism

contributed to the activities of the society. This is only possible when we keep in mind the

fact that Sufism is a concept propounding peace and love.

1. Social Cohesion: The basis of Sufism is among other things based on human dignity,

love, tolerance and solidarity. It is said in the Hadith that Hazrat Anas bin Malik (r.a) said

that the holy Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“One amongst you believes (is a believer) till one likes for one’s brother or for

one’s neighbour that which one loves for oneself.”

(Swahih Muslim: Book 1, Hadith 72)

The Sufis help the Muslim community to merge with the whole of a society. Using

love and wisdom, they have attained their aim.

2. Economic Development: There are also many texts in the Qur‟an and Sunnah by

which economic development has been stimulated. Accordingly, Sufis are not only

interested with the religious and spiritual sides of man but also to trace the final limit

of man developed science and industry. For this reason the technological and the

industrial development are a kind of war. What is intended here is to wage war against

ignorance, poverty, and conflicting ideas. Economically, Muslims must be prepared to

face the new world.

3. Democratic Process: The Sufi Masters have, in their wisdom, contributed to the

holistic development and dependence of the individual. Through the teachings of the

holy Qur‟an and the Sunnah, Muslims have derived their own way of autonomy.

Though there is the sovereignty of Allah, there is the sovereignty of Muslims

concerning the political and social domains. Through the participation into the

democratic process and civil societies there can be the improvement of the ethic of

society in the direction of justice, dignity, solidarity and respect. There must be the

participation in all political processes, in order to improve the political and social

structure in the direction of justice and morality.

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4. Civil Society: Sufi movement can be seen as a civil society. They were usually

independent religious organizations from nearly all central governmental influence in

history. Actually Sufi organizations have very deep historical experiments as a civil

society in their history. The majority of Sufi Masters is working for more integration in

the society. Based on their historical mission Sufi movements have to adopt themselves to

the environment of any civil society, developing a new Sufi theology which is based on

multicultural and multi religious society.

5. Religious Plurality: Most of Islamic theology and also Sufi theology was based

generally on monoculture of Muslim and where non-Muslim societies are living as a

minority. This situation usually changed in modern times. What is meant here is that the

acceptance of other religions is a must for all. According to the principles of the holy

Qur‟an, the holy Prophet (s.a.w) was sent to confirm past Scriptures, not to deny and

eliminate them. Accordingly, adherents of any other religions save Islam have the liberty

to practice their creed. Sufis can be positive actors in the post-secular society. In this

sway, man can find his original dignity through the contribution of Sufi spirituality.

The Contribution And Reconciliation Of Imam al-Ghazzali (r.a)

Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazzali (born 1058 C.E. in Tus,

Khorasan province of Persia in modern day Iran; died 1111 C.E. in Tus) was one of the

greatest jurists, theologians and mystical thinkers in the Islamic tradition. At a certain period

of his life, he did not attend any more to philosophy and applied himself totally to Sufism and

to the renewal of orthodox religion. In the Munqidh, the spiritual autobiography composed

approximately between 501/1107 and 503/1109, he reveals an almost messianic feeling of

being aware that “God Most High has promised to revive His religion at the beginning of

each century” (al-Ghazali (1967a): 75). Al-Ghazali composed a great work known as The

Revivification of the Sciences of Religion (Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din).

He is known to have reconciled Sufism and orthodoxy. According to him Sufism is

the best doctrine in comparison with philosophy or theology, because Sufism leads to a

positive knowledge of God and nature. When one engages on this way, it is imperative to

avoid the unlawful and the blameworthy behaviour. In opposition to these reprehensible

attitudes, al-Ghazali suggests commendable conduct, among which of great importance are

repentance, self-discipline and fear of God.

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According to Imam al-Ghazali (r.a) we must repend sincerely for all our sins and be

firm on this way with Dhikr and Tawakkul as part of the basics of our lives. Then the murid

will be annihilated – Fana – in the love of Allah. Anyway, the fana’ or ecstatic grasp is only a

short and transient instant (al-Ghazali (1970): 62) and does not concern any kind of hulul, or

descent and incarnation of God in the mystic. Al-Ghazali strongly rejects every immoderate

claim of some Sufis, such as the utterances by al-Hallaj or al-Bastami, because they are

dangerous and can lead through incomprehension to heresy and polytheism (shirk).

Rather, al-Ghazali underlines the importance of love (mahabbah). According to al-

Ghazali “a true learned man loves only God Most High; and if he loves somebody who is not

God, he loves him for God, the Almighty and Sublime” (al-Ghazali (1970): 257). The highest

degree of love involves a full confidence in God: this is the meaning of tawakkul, such a

complete trust in the Creator that the believer gives himself up to Him "like a dead man in the

hands of a corpse-washer" (al-Ghazali (1970): 249; al-Ghazali (1985), 4: 242-3).

An important issue is to point out that the Sufi way did not imply for al-Ghazali the

neglect of the orthodox practices of worship and the careful fulfilment of the Sunnah (al-

Ghazali (1967a): 71-2). Al-Ghazali is persuaded that exteriority leads to interiority (al-

Ghazali (1970): 102ff.), so that Makdisi is right when he says, drawing a comparison between

al-Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyyah on Sufism, that both criticized sharply the exaggerations of

some Sufis because Sufism often sides against the religious law and devalues the external

(and social) meanings of that law (Makdisi (1983): 55).

Finally, Sufism is not for al-Ghazali simply an individual path to reach perfection but

a whole conception of life including ethics and morality, behaviour and belief, cosmology

and metaphysics.

The contribution of the Sufis to society lies in their sincere and dedicated struggle to

find a unity for the heterogeneous elements that make up its totality. They appreciate the

multi-racial, multi-religious and multilingual pattern of the society. Their efforts are directed

towards the creation of a healthy social order free from dissensions, discords and conflicts. In

love, faith, toleration and sympathy they find the supreme talisman of human happiness. In

fact, peace and goodwill between human beings was the end all and be all of Sufi endeavours.

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Chapter 9


Tasawwuf – Sufism – is not only that science by which there are the

purification of the soul – Nafs – and the development of morality, but also the inner and outer

development of one self. Sufism can also be described as the science enabling one‟s heart to

be detached from the material world, thus opening it uniquely to Allah and allowing the heart

to melt in the love of Allah. In this is found the main aim and objective of the holy Prophet‟s

(s.a.w) quest in the cave of Hira before and after revelation – emptying the heart to be then

filled with divine wisdom.

Tasawwuf is the science and knowledge whereby one learns to purify the self of the

bad desires of the ego, such as jealousy, cheating, ostentation, love of praise, pride,

arrogance, anger, greediness, stinginess, respect for the rich and disregard of the poor, just as

one must purify the external self through the needs of the Holy Qur‟an and the Sunnah of the

holy Prophet (s.a.w).

A non-violent approach, sympathy with the weak and the downtrodden and

consciousness of a divine mission to bring happiness to the hearts of men characterized the

efforts of the Sufi saints. They did not indulge in criticism of other customs or practices.

Instead the Sufi Masters have helped Muslims in their everyday duty and responsibility. No

doubt, Sufism has contributed a lot to Islam.

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Chapter 9


1. Holy Qur‟an

2. Swahih Bukhariy

3. Swahih Muslim

4. Mawlana Syed Aleem Ashraf Jilani, 2006. Introduction to Tasawwuf. OEditions Le

Printemps, Mauritius

5. Qutb-e-Alam Muhammad Abdullah, 2000. Islamic Mysticism, Shari’ah And Tariqah.

Saeed International, New Delhi

6. William C. Chittick, 2000, Sufism, Short Introduction. Clays Ltd. UK

7. Kabbani, M. H, 1995. The Naqshbandi Sufi Way: History And Guide Book Of The

Saints Of The Golden Chain. Kazi Publication, Chicago

8. Nasr, S.H, 1972. Sufi Essays. George Allen Unwin, London

9. Michael Sells, 1996. Early Islamic Mysticism, Qur’an, Mi’raj, Poetic and Theological

Writings. Paulist Press, New York

10. Salih As Salih, 2005, Sufism, Origin And Development

11. Reynold Nicholson, 1914. The Mystics Of Islam. Routledge, London

12. www.panjabilok.net Contribution Of Sufism

13. www.uga.edu Sufism, Sufi, Sufi Orders