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Sufism and Indian Heritage
Sufism and Indian Heritage

Sufism and Indian Heritage

by S M Azizuddin Husain

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Punjabi University


9788130203058 - Year: 2014 - Pages: 124



S M Azizuddin Husain
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Author: S M Azizuddin Husain
Akhtarul Wasey/Several Contributors
Translator(s)/ Editors(s): Nashir Naqvi/Dhanwant Kaur
Publisher: Punjabi University
Year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 124
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788130203058



The word used for Sufism in texts is tasawwuf which is closer to Persian word Sofa, meaning Purity. Historians have understood this term in several ways. According to some scholars, it is derived from soof, meaning wool, referring to the coarse woolen clothes worn by Sufis but this definition is considered to be just conventional as it is a traditional Arabic dress only.

It may also have been derived from suf, a group of close followers assembled to learn about the faith, outside the Prophet's mosque. Sufi mysticism sprang from the doctrine of the unity of being which identified the creator and creation. The Sufis had two objectives- their own spiritual development and service of humanity.

They attempted to bridge the gulf between orthodoxy and religion of faith and devotion. They spoke the language of the masses and gave an impetus to a cultural synthesis. The stages of spiritual development of the Sufis included abstinence, gratitude, poverty, patience, fear, hope, contentment and submission to divine will. The Sufis discouraged the materialistic outlook of life but they encouraged working for the necessities of life.

In the early centuries of Islam a group of religious minded people called Sufis turned to asceticism and mysticism in protest against the growing materialism of the Caliphate as a religious and political institution. They were critical of the dogmatic definitions and scholastic methods of interpreting the Qur'an and traditions of the Prophet adopted by theologians. Instead, they laid emphasis on seeking salvation through intense devotion and love for God by following His commands, and by following the example of the Prophet Muhammad whom they regarded as a perfect human being. The Sufis thus sought an interpretation of the Qur'an on the basis of their personal experience.

By the eleventh century Sufism evolved into a well developed movement with a body of literature on Quranic studies and sufi practices. Institutionally, the sufis began to organise communities around the hospice or klianqah (Persian) controlled by a teaching master known as shaikh (in Arabic), pir or murshid (in Persian). He enrolled disciples (murids) and appointed a successor. The Sufis established rules for spiritual conduct and interaction between inmates as well as between laypersons and the master. Sufi silsilas began to Crystallise in different parts of the Islamic world around the twelfth century.

The word silsila literally means a chain, signifying a continuous link between master and disciple, stretching as an unbroken spiritual genealogy to the Prophet Muhammad. The Sufis are divided into several Silsila (orders). Some of them are:-

Suharwardi Silsila; founded by Shahabuddin Suharwardy and introduced by Jalaludddin Tabrezi & Babauddin Zakariya. The saints of this order led a comfortable life as they believed that there was no harm in possessing wealth if the heart was detached. They did not allow the practice of listening to music and song as a means of spiritual upliftment.

Qadri Silsila: Founded by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani and introduced in India by Syed Mohd Gilani. Teachings emphasize the struggle against the desires of the ego. The most famous saint of this order was Sain Miyan Meer, who was a close friend of the Fifth Guru in Sikhism Sri Guru Arjun Dev.

Naqshbandi Silsila: Khwaja Baqi Billah introduced this order in India. Of all the Sufi Orders it was nearest to orthodoxy and listening to Music was not allowed here too. They comply strictly with the Law.



1. Sufis and Communal Harmony
2. Spiritual Architect of Composite Culture of India
3. The Message of Peace and Love in Punjabi Sufi Poetry
4. Shah Husain: Social Significance of His Female Voice
5. Growth of Sufism in North India
6. Position and Role of Pir-Murid
7. Role of S. Ali bin Hujwiri in the Composite Culture of the Punjab
8. Khawaja Ghulam Farid
9. Punjabi Sufi Poetry: Cultural Insights
10. City of Multan: As a centre of Sufi Shrines
11. Composite Culture of Punjab
12. Sufism in the state of Rajasthan

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