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 renowned 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.”
During the primary stages of Sufism, Sufis were characterised by their particular attachment to dhikr “remembrance [of God]” and asceticism. Sufism arose among pious Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE). The Sufi movement has spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium, at first expressed through Arabic, then through Persian, Turkish and a dozen other languages. ṭuruq “Orders”, either Sunnī or Shī‘ī in doctrine, trace their origins from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad through his cousin ‘Alī, or from Abu Bakr.
According to some modern proponents, such as Idries Shah, the Sufi philosophy is universal in nature, its roots predating the arising of Islam and the other modern-day religions; likewise, some Muslims feel that Sufism is outside the sphere of Islam, although some scholars of Islam contend that it is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam.
Sufism has a heavy influence in south Asia and Iran region . In India many conversions into Islam took place via sufis such as Muslim rajputs, muslim marwaris , muslim jats , muslim gujjars, muslim khatri . the conversions were usually in the northen India where sufism holds great importance.Though the history books are filled with another account of conversion which was done with force, that conversion has nothing to with Sufism but to do with Aurangzeb’s authoritarian Islamist rule of India.
In India sufism is seen as something which unities many religions and its teaching of tolerance is also the reason for its wingspreads.
There are many great sufi scholoras that have lived among us, a few namely are:
- Hazrath Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki RA (Delhi)
- Hazrath Makhdoom Allauddin Ali Ahmed “Sabir” RA (Kalyar)
- Hazrath Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia “Mehboob Elahi” RA (Delhi)
- Hazrath Khwaja Naseeruddin Mahmood “Roshan Chirag” RA (Delhi)
- Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (1203-1273)
- Baba Sheikh Farid(1173 – 1266)
- Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1758)
- Farid ud-Din Attar (1120- 1220)
- Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006 – 1088)
- Ahmad al-Alawi (1869 – 1934)
- Omar Khayyam (11th Century)
- Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Mu’īnuddīn Chishtī (1141-1230)
The above sufi saints ar those who span many continents but have just one message: peace and love !