Sufism or Tasawwuf (Arabic: تصوف), according to its adherents, is the inner mystical dimension of Islam. Practitioners of Sufism (Tasawwuf), referred to as Sufis (ṣūfī) (/ˈsuːfi/; صُوفِيّ), often belong to different ṭuruq or "orders"—congregations formed around a grand master referred to as a Mawla who maintains a direct chain of teachers back to the Prophet Muhammad.These orders meet for spiritual sessions (majalis) in meeting places known as zawiyahs, khanqahs, or tekke.Sufis strive for ihsan (perfection of worship) as detailed in a hadith: "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him; if you can't see Him, surely He sees you."Jalaluddin Rumi stated: "The Sufi is hanging on to Muhammad, like Abu Bakr."Sufis regard Prophet Muhammad as the Al-Insān al-Kāmil, which is a concept that describes Muhammad as the primary perfect man who exemplifies the morality of God. Sufis regard Prophet Muhammad as their leader and prime spiritual guide. Sufis also consider themselves to be the true proponents of this pure, original form of Islam.
All Sufi orders trace many of their original precepts from the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib, with the notable exception of the Sunni Naqshbandi order who claim to trace their origins through the first sunni Caliph, Abu Bakr.Sufi orders are largely Sunni and follow one of the four schools of Sunni Islam and maintain a Sunni Aqidah or creed. Over the years various Sufi orders have been influenced by and adopted into various Shi'ite movements, especially Ismailism, which led to the Safaviyya order's conversion to Shi'ite Islam and the spread of Twelver Shi'ism throughout Persia. Sufi orders include Ba 'Alawiyya, Badawiyya, Bektashi, Burhaniya, Chishti, Khalwati, Mevlevi, Naqshbandi, Nimatullahi, Oveyssi, Qadiria Boutshishia, Qadiriyyah, Qalandariyya, Rifa'i, Sarwari Qadiri, Shadhiliyya, Suhrawardiyya, and many others.
Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God". Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, "a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one's inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits".Traditional Sufis, such as Bayazid Bastami, Jalaluddin Rumi, Haji Bektash Veli, Junaid Baghdadi, and Al-Ghazali, define Sufism as purely based upon the tenets of Islam and the teachings of Muhammad.Some Orientalists, however, have proposed a variety of diverse theories pertaining to the nature of Sufism, such as Sufism being influenced by Neoplatonism or as an Aryan historical reaction against Semite cultural influence.Seyyed Hossein Nasr, states that the preceding theories are false according to the point of view of Sufism. According to William Chittick, "In a broad sense, Sufism can be described as the interiorization and intensification of Islamic faith and practice."
Muslims and mainstream scholars of Islam define Sufism as simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam which is supported and complemented by outward or exoteric practices of Islam, such as Islamic law.In
this view, "it is absolutely necessary to be a Muslim" to be a true Sufi, because Sufism's "methods are inoperative without" Muslim "affiliation".Orthodox views also maintain that Sufism is unique to Islam. In contrast, author Idries Shah states Sufi philosophy is universal in nature, its roots predating the rise of Islam and Christianity.Some neo-Sufis in Western countries allow non-Muslims to receive "instructions on following the Sufi pathSome Muslim opponents of Sufism also consider it outside the sphere of Islam.
Classical Sufis were characterised by their asceticism, especially the attachment to dhikr, the practice of repeating the names of God, often performed after prayers. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 ). Sufis have spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium, originally expressing their beliefs in Arabic, before spreading into Persian, Turkish, and Urdu among dozens of other languages