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What is Sufism (Tasawwuf)

Date published: 2 December 2021
Topic: Sufism

SUFISM (Tasawwuf)


Sufism (tasawwuf) is 'everything related to the heart and its purification based upon Quran, Hadith and the experiences of the scholars who act upon their knowledge (ulama al-aamiloon), also termed as Awliya'.

Just as fiqh organises one's life and helps make decisions and aqeeda helps us determine what to believe and what not to, sufism offers healing for the heart through its emphasis on remembering death, making remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and leaving off worldly things like needless possessions, fame, and status among people etc.


Sufism is not a doctrine separate for the Ahlus Sunnah Wa Jama'ah, or a fiqh. It is an emphasis. After all religious and worldly duties are complete; sufis place dhikr of Allah Ta'ala above anything else. They make dhikr their pastime and recreation.


Prophet Muhammad said, 'The mufaridoon have outstrippd everyone'. The companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) asked, 'who are they?' Prophet replied, 'the man and women who do much dhikr'.



Sufism is to learn The Holy Quran and the Sunnah from the depths of one's heart and to struggle to live in accordance with them with love and passion.

Sufism is to reach perfection through Quran and Sunnah. It is taking Imaan and carrying it forward to sublime and mighty horizons-where we can come to realize that we are always under the watch of Allah Ta'ala.


Sufism is a spiritual institution which builds the character of the 'perfect muslim', and the 'God-conscious believer'.

On the condition that one perceives Allah Ta'ala with a 'contented self/ego (nafs)' and a sound heart, Sufism is the struggle and effort to transform mere knowledge into wisdom, immitation into realization, and raise one's faith to the level of 'IHSAN'- that you worship Allah Ta'ala as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He verily sees you.

Sufism is the protection offered by the sheild of' piety or God-consciousness (taqwa), that distances all forms of regular desires that distance one from Allah Ta'ala, and which attract the ego (nafs), and sensitivity of making the heart ever 'together with Allah Ta'ala'.

Sufism is the struggle to make sure that Allah Ta'ala is pleased with every single breath we take, with our feelings, thoughts and deeds, so that we can breathe our last breathe with the soundness of faith.

Sufism is a school of wisdom. The teachers at this school are the heirs of the Messenger of Allah , the true friends of Allah and the perfect guides. They are the best representatives of the prophetic character, guidance and beautiful behaviour dispersed throughout all the ages.

Sufism rejects individualism, selfishness and living for ones own sake and encourages and teaches selflessness, sacrifice, struggle for the religion and becoming a believer who serves others.


The role of Sufism in Muslims is to test with his own self, to eliminate the foul traits of ego (nafs) and to overcome ones own self. It is the struggle to become a perfect Muslim, a truly good human being, by making ones heart a shelter of mercy, and peace for all creations.


Most important of all, Sufism is the determination to live as the beloved Prophet ' lived. As the most perfect guide and unique model, he is the most special gift given by Allah Ta'ala to the mankind. All of the states and behaviour of the Messenger of Allah have been transmitted to us by the noble companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) as they witnessed him . All of the acts of the Prophet are a incomparable treasure for us, which we can take as our standard in our quest to become the perfect human being.


Prophet said, 'Abdaals will be found in Shaam. They will be forty in number. Whenever one of them passes away, he will be replaced by another. It is through them that Allah Ta'ala will cause it to rain and also grant the Muslims victory over their enemy and remove possible punishment'.

(Musnad Ahmad).


The order (tariqa/silsila) , by means of which Sufis are distinguished from the rest of the community, is the servant of the Islamic legalism (sharia) and has the function of perfecting its third components, sincerity. The purpose for the attainment of the tariqa is merely the perfection of the sharia, not the creation of something additional to sharia'..

It is a known fact that in spreading the ethical and spiritual values of Islam, major and effective contributions have been made by the saints (Wali of Allah). It was' their humanistic position and devotion, which won over the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people. They made a direct contact with the masses served and loved them, lived with them in the realization of Eternal Truth.


Oath of Allegiance (Bayet)


Bayet means 'to be sold'. It is to pledge spiritual allegiance and totally surrender yourself to a spiritual Master (Wali of Allah) to guide you to Allah Ta'ala. When one becomes a disciple (mureed) of a spiritual guide (Peer/Murshid), he sells his heart, life and wealth to his murshid. The disciple has to follow everything that his murshid tells him, whether he understands the wisdom behind it or not. Bayet is a firm pledge of allegiance not only with the murshid, but also with the other Peers of the order and through them with the Prophet and ultimately with Allah Ta'ala. We cannot physically pledge allegiance to Prophet , the way the companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) did, but when we give our hands to one whose spiritual chain reaches up to him , it is in reality the same thing.

The disciple accepts the Peer as his spiritual master and puts himself under his instruction for the correcting of his lower self/ego (nafs) and his heart (qalb). The murshid is the spiritual doctor in this world, a shinning light and ocean of knowledge.

'Swearing an oath of allegiance on the hands of the pious is the practice of the companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) of Prophet , whether it is an allegiance of Islam, of piety, of repentance or of good deeds etc.'

(Tafseer: Noor-Ul-Irfaan)


Is it compulsory to become a disciple of a spiritual master? It is not compulsory in the sense that it is a decree of the sharia, or that it has been prescribed as an indispensable condition for salvation in the Hereafter. In the same way it may be asked whether it is compulsory to educate ones children. Here again the answer will be that it is not absolutely necessary in the sense that an uneducated person will not be able to remain alive in this world or will not be able to lead the life of a responsible citizen. But it certainly is compulsory in the sense that without it, many hidden qualities of the children will never be developed, and they will never blossom into that, which they are capable of.


Hazrat Imaam Ghazzali(Radi Allaahu Anhu) has laid it down that a disciple must have refuge to a master to guide him aright, for the way of faith is mysterious, where as the way of shaitaan are many, and he who has no Peer to guide him will be led by the devil into his ways.


Hazrat Ibne Abbas(Radi Allaahu Anhu) reports that Prophet said, 'whoever dies and did not make an oath of allegiance (to a Muslim leader) has died a death of a jahiliyah (ignorance)'

(Bukhari, Muslim).




This article is an abridged English translation of an Urdu sermon delivered by his eminence, Peer Syed Imroz Dean Saifi, Hanfi, Maturidi of Masjid Anwaar e Madina, Surrey BC Canada

If there is an inaccurate translation, please pardon it and not let it be a means to negatively reflect on the honoured presenter.