In Islam, ziyara or ziyarat is a form of pilgrimage to sites associated with Muhammad, his family members and descendants, his companions and other venerated figures in Islam such as the prophets, Sufi auliya, Islamic scholars. Sites of pilgrimage include mosques, battlefields and caves. Ziyārat can refer to a form of supplication made by the Shia, in which they send salutations and greetings to Muhammad and his family. Ziyarat comes from Arabic: زور "to visit". In Islam it refers to pilgrimage to a holy place, tomb or shrine. Iranian and South Asian Muslims use the word ziyarat for both the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca as well as for pilgrimages to other sites such as visiting a holy place. In Indonesia the term is ziarah for visiting holy graves. Different Muslim-majority countries, speaking many different languages, use different words for these sites where ziyarat is performed: Ziyāratgāh – Persian word meaning, "sites of Ziyarat" Imāmzādeh – in Iran, tombs of the descendants of the Twelver Imāms Dargah – in South Asia and Central Asia for tombs of Sufi saints Ziarat or Jiarat – in Southeast Asia Ziyaratkhana – in South Asia Gongbei – in China Mazar – a general term meaning a shrine of a Shi'i Saint or noble.
Maqam – a shrine built on the site associated with a Muslim saint or religious figure. More than any other tomb in the Islamic world, the shrine of the Prophet Muhammad is considered a source of blessings for the visitor. A hadith of the Prophet states that, "He who visits my grave will be entitled to my intercession" and in a different version "I will intercede for those who have visited me or my tomb." Visiting the Prophet's tomb after the pilgrimage is considered by the majority of Sunni legal scholars to be recommended. The early scholars of the salaf, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh, Abdullah ibn Mubarak and Imam Shafi'i all permitted the practice of Ziyarah to the Prophet's tomb. According to the Hanbali scholar Al-Hasan ibn'Ali al-Barbahari, it is obligatory to send salutations upon Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab after having sent salutations upon the Prophet; the hadith scholar Qadi Ayyad stated that visiting the Prophet was "a sunna of the Muslims on which there was consensus, a good and desirable deed."Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani explicitly stated that travelling to visit the tomb of the Prophet was "one of the best of actions and the noblest of pious deeds with which one draws near to God, its legitimacy is a matter of consensus."Similarly, Ibn Qudamah considered Ziyarat of the Prophet to be recommended and seeking intercession directly from the Prophet at his grave.
Ibn Taymiyyah condemned all forms of seeking intercession from the dead and said that all ahadith encouraging visitation to the Prophet's tomb are fabricated. This view of Ibn Taymiyya was rejected by mainstream Sunni scholars both during his life and after his death; the Shafi'i hadith master Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani stated that "This is one of the ugliest positions, reported of Ibn Taymiyya". The Hanafi hadith scholar Ali al-Qari stated that, "Amongst the Hanbalis, Ibn Taymiyya has gone to an extreme by prohibiting travelling to visit the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace" Qastallani stated that "The Shaykh Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya has abominable and odd statements on this issue to the effect that travelling to visit the Prophet is prohibited and is not a pious deed."Other historic scholars who recommended Ziyarah include Imam al-Ghazali, Imam Nawawi and Muhammad al-Munawi. The tombs of other Muslim religious figures are respected; the son of Ahmad ibn Hanbal named Abdullah, one of the primary jurists of Sunnism stated that he would prefer to be buried near the shrine of a saintly person than his own father.
There are many reasons for which the Shī‘ah partake in the performance of Ziyarah, none of which include the worship of the people buried within the tombs. Ayatullah Borujerdi and Ayatullah Khomeini have both said The Shī‘ah do however perform Ziyarah, believing that the entombed figures bear great status in the eyes of God, seek to have their prayers answered through these people - Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Musawi writes In this regard, Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani narrates a hadīth from the tenth Imām of the Twelver Shī‘as The Ziyarah of the Imāms is done by the Shī‘ah, not only as a means of greeting and saluting their masters who lived long before they were born, but as a means of seeking nearness to God and more of His blessings; the Shī‘ah do not consider the hadith collected by al-Bukhari to be authentic, argue that if things such as Ziyarah and Tawassul were innovations and shirk, Muhammad himself would have prohibited people as a precaution, from visiting graves, or seeking blessings through kissing the sacred black stone at the Ka‘bah.
It is popular. In Shi'i sacred texts it is stated that the time between death and resurrection should be spent near the Imams. Dargah Hajj Imamzadeh List of ziyarat locations Tablet of Visitation Jamiah kabirah Ziyarat List of holiest Shi'ite sites Sacred Gorshunova, Olga V. Trees of Khodzhi Baror: Phytolatry and the Cult of Female Deity in Central Asia // Etnograficheskoye obozreniye, 200
Walī is an Arabic word whose literal meanings include "custodian", "protector", "helper", "friend". In the vernacular, it is most used by Muslims to indicate an Islamic saint, otherwise referred to by the more literal "friend of God". In the traditional Islamic understanding of saints, the saint is portrayed as someone "marked by divine favor... holiness", and, "chosen by God and endowed with exceptional gifts, such as the ability to work miracles". The doctrine of saints was articulated by Islamic scholars early on in Muslim history, particular verses of the Quran and certain hadith were interpreted by early Muslim thinkers as "documentary evidence" of the existence of saints. Graves of saints around the Muslim world became centers of pilgrimage — after 1200 CE — for masses of Muslims seeking their barakah. Since the first Muslim hagiographies were written during the period when the Islamic mystical trend of Sufism began its rapid expansion, many of the figures who came to be regarded as the major saints in orthodox Sunni Islam were the early Sufi mystics, like Hasan of Basra, Farqad Sabakhi, Dawud Tai, Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, Maruf Karkhi, Junayd of Baghdad.
From the twelfth to the fourteenth century, "the general veneration of saints, among both people and sovereigns, reached its definitive form with the organization of Sufism... into orders or brotherhoods". In the common expressions of Islamic piety of this period, the saint was understood to be "a contemplative whose state of spiritual perfection... permanent expression in the teaching bequeathed to his disciples". In many prominent Sunni Islamic creeds of the time, such as the famous Creed of Tahawi and the Creed of Nasafi, a belief in the existence and miracles of saints was presented as "a requirement" for being an orthodox Muslim believer. Aside from the Sufis, the preeminent saints in traditional Islamic piety are the Companions of Muhammad, their Successors, the third generation after the Prophet called "the Successors of the Successors". Additionally, the prophets of Islam are believed to be saints by definition, although they are referred to as such, in order to prevent confusion between them and ordinary saints.
In short, it is believed that "every prophet is a saint, but not every saint is a prophet". In the modern world, the traditional Sunni and Shia idea of saints has been challenged by movements such as Salafism and Islamic modernism, all three of which have, to a greater or lesser degree, "formed a front against the veneration and theory of saints." As has been noted by scholars, the development of these movements has indirectly led to a trend amongst some mainstream Muslims to resist "acknowledging the existence of Muslim saints altogether or... their presence and veneration as unacceptable deviations". However, despite the presence of these opposing streams of thought, the classical doctrine of saint-veneration continues to thrive in many parts of the Islamic world today, playing a vital role in daily expressions of piety among vast segments of Muslim populations in Muslim countries like Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Algeria, Indonesia and Morocco, as well as in countries with substantive Islamic populations like India, China and the Balkans.
Regarding the rendering of the Arabic walī by the English "saint", prominent scholars such as Gibril Haddad have regarded this as an appropriate translation, with Haddad describing the aversion of some Muslims towards the use of "saint" for walī as "a specious objection... for – like'Religion','Believer','prayer', etc. – generic term for holiness and holy persons while there is no confusion, for Muslims, over their specific referents in Islam, namely: the reality of iman with Godwariness and those who possess those qualities." In Persian, which became the second most influential and widely-spoken language in the Islamic world after Arabic, the general title for a saint or a spiritual master became pīr. Although the ramifications of this phrase include the connotations of a general "saint," it is used to signify a spiritual guide of some type. Amongst Indian Muslims, the title peer baba is used in Hindi to refer to Sufi masters or honored saints. Additionally, saints are sometimes referred to in the Persian or Urdu vernacular with "Hazrat."
In Islamic mysticism, a pīr's role is to instruct his disciples on the mystical path. Hence, the key difference between the use of walī and pīr is that the former does not imply a saint, a spiritual master with disciples, whilst the latter directly does so through its connotations of "elder." Additionally, other Arabic and Persian words that often have the same connotations as pīr, hence are sometimes translated into English as "saint", include murshid and sarkar. In the Turkish Islamic lands, saints have been referred to by many terms, including the Arabic walī, the Persian s̲h̲āh and pīr, Turkish alternatives like baba in Anatolia, ata in Central Asia, as well as eren or ermis̲h̲ or yati̊r in Anatolia, their tombs, are "denoted by terms of Arabic or Persian origin alluding to the idea of pilgrimage (mazār
The soul, in many religious and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a living being. Soul or psyche are the mental abilities of a living being: reason, feeling, memory, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be immortal. In Judeo-Christianity, only human beings have immortal souls. For example, the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas attributed "soul" to all organisms but argued that only human souls are immortal. Other religions hold that all living things from the smallest bacterium to the largest of mammals are the souls themselves and have their physical representative in the world; the actual self is the soul, while the body is only a mechanism to experience the karma of that life. Thus if we see a tiger there is a self-conscious identity residing in it, a physical representative in the world; some teach that non-biological entities possess souls. This belief is called animism. Greek philosophers, such as Socrates and Aristotle, understood that the soul must have a logical faculty, the exercise of, the most divine of human actions.
At his defense trial, Socrates summarized his teaching as nothing other than an exhortation for his fellow Athenians to excel in matters of the psyche since all bodily goods are dependent on such excellence. The current consensus of modern science is that there is no evidence to support the existence of the soul when traditionally defined as the spiritual breath of the body. In metaphysics, the concept of "Soul" may be equated with that of "Mind" in order to refer to the consciousness and intellect of the individual; the Modern English word "soul", derived from Old English sáwol, sáwel, was first attested in the 8th century poem Beowulf v. 2820 and in the Vespasian Psalter 77.50. It is cognate with other German and Baltic terms for the same idea, including Gothic saiwala, Old High German sêula, sêla, Old Saxon sêola, Old Low Franconian sêla, sîla, Old Norse sála and Lithuanian siela. Deeper etymology of the Germanic word is unclear; the original concept behind the Germanic root is thought to mean “coming from or belonging to the sea ”, because of the Germanic and pre-Celtic belief in souls emerging from and returning to sacred lakes, Old Saxon sêola compared to Old Saxon sêo.
The Koine Greek Septuagint uses ψυχή to translate Hebrew נפש, meaning "life, vital breath", refers to a mortal, physical life, but in English it is variously translated as "soul, life, person, mind, living being, emotion, passion". Vulgate – Creavitque Deus cete grandia, et omnem animam viventem atque motabilem. Authorized King James Version – "And God created great whales, every living creature that moveth."The Koine Greek word ψυχή, "life, consciousness", is derived from a verb meaning "to cool, to blow", hence refers to the breath, as opposed to σῶμα, meaning "body". Psychē occurs juxtaposed to σῶμα, as seen in Matthew 10:28: Greek – καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεννόντων τὸ σῶμα, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι· φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ. Vulgate – et nolite timere eos qui occidunt corpus animam autem non possunt occidere sed potius eum timete qui potest et animam et corpus perdere in gehennam. Authorized King James Version – "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, able to destroy both soul and body in hell."Paul the Apostle used ψυχή and πνεῦμα to distinguish between the Jewish notions of נפש and רוח ruah.
In the ancient Egyptian religion, an individual was believed to be made up of various elements, some physical and some spiritual. Similar ideas are found in ancient Babylonian religion. Kuttamuwa, an 8th-century BCE royal official from Sam'al, ordered an inscribed stele erected upon his death; the inscription requested that his mourners commemorate his life and his afterlife with feasts "for my soul, in this stele". It is one of the earliest references to a soul as a separate entity from the body; the 800-pound basalt stele is 2 ft wide. It was uncovered in the third season of excavations by the Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute in Chicago, Illinois; the Bahá'í Faith affirms that "the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, whose mystery no mind, however acute, can hope to unravel". Bahá'u'lláh stated that the soul not only continues to live after the physical death of the human body, but is, in fact, immortal. Heaven can be seen as the soul's state of nearness to God.
Each state follows as a natural consequence of individual efforts, or the lack thereof, to develop spiritually. Bahá'u'lláh taught that individuals have no existence prior to their life here on earth and the soul's evolution is always towards God and away from the material world. Buddhism teaches that all things are in a constant
İsmailağa Jamia or İsmail Ağa Jamia is a branch of the Gümüşhanevî Dergâh of Nakşibendi-Khālidī Ṭarīqah in Turkey. It takes its name from the İsmailağa Mosque in Istanbul, it is aligned with the Naqshbandi spiritual order of Sunni Islam Sufism in the silsilah of Khalidiyya and is led by Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu, imam of the İsmailağa Mosque from 1954 to 1996. It has significant influence over daily life in few streets of Fatih, the capital district of Istanbul. However, once in 2006 a politician had described the whole district of Fatih as an "İsmailağa republic". There are communities including Erzincan. According to Ahmet Hakan Coşkun, the jamia requires strict Islamic-clothing, with members wearing beards and shalwar trousers, turbans of white muslin when praying. Women wear a face-covering Çarşaf. A number of leading Turkish politicians are associated with the wider Naqshbandi order; this might explain how the wire-tapping ordered by public prosecutor İlhan Cihaner in 2007 to 2009 in relation to İsmailağa included Erdoğan.
Their most famous imam is Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü. In the 1990s the group sent missionaries to parts of the Caucasus, trained people at its madrassa in the İsmailağa Mosque; the work continued more after new restrictions on religious activities in Turkey 1997. The İsmailağa Jamia came to wider public attention in Turkey through three murders committed in the İsmailağa Mosque - the son-in-law of Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu in 1998 and in 2006 a retired imam and the man who stabbed him, lynched. From 2007 to 2009 the local Chief Public Prosecutor in Erzincan, İlhan Cihaner, investigated the community and ordered wire-tapping after reports of the community offering unauthorised Koran courses and preventing girls from attending school. Www.ismailaga.org.tr Picture series of the mosque
The Aissawa is a religious and mystical brotherhood founded in Meknes, Morocco, by Sheikh al-Kamil Mohamed al-Hadi ben Issa, best known as the Shaykh Al-Kamil, or "Perfect Sufi Master". The terms Aissawiyya and Aissawa, derive from the name of the founder, designate the brotherhood and its disciples, they are known for their spiritual music, which comprises songs of religious psalms, characterized by the use of the oboe ghaita accompanied by percussion using polyrhythm. Complex ceremonies, which use symbolic dances to bring the participants to ecstatic trance, are held by the Aissawa in private during domestic ritual nights, in public during celebrations of national festivals as well as during folk performances or religious festivities, such as Ramadan, or mawlid, the "birth of the Prophet." These are organized by the Algerian States. Some details regarding Ben Issa remain unknown, he has a controversial genealogy and a hagiography that projects the image of a Sufi master and legendary ascetic of considerable spiritual influence.
Ben Issa built his own mausoleum in Zaouia in the city of Meknes. This is now a destination for his modern followers to visit and pray while participating in individual or collective acts of piety. Ben Issa was initiated into Sufism by three masters of the tariqa Shadhiliyya/Jazuliyya: Abu al-Abbas Ahmad Al-Hariti, Abdelaziz al-Tebaa and Muhammad as-Saghir as-Sahli; the spiritual doctrine of the Issawa follows the earlier mystical tradition of the tariqa Shadhiliyya/Jazuliyya. This religious teaching first appeared in 15th century Marrakesh and is the most orthodox mystical method to appear in the western region of North Africa known as the Maghreb. Issawa disciples are taught to follow the instruction of their founder by adhering to Sunni Islam and practising additional psalms including the long prayer known as "Glory to the Eternal"; the original Issawa doctrine makes no mention of ecstatic or ritual exercises such as music and dance. The Zaouia or monastery in Meknes is the main spiritual centre of the Issawa brotherhood.
Founded by Muhammad Ben Issa at the end of the 15th century, construction resumed three centuries under sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah. Renovated by the Ministry for Habous and Islamic Affairs and maintained by the municipal services, this is the center of the brotherhood's international network; the site is open to the public all year round and is the location of the tombs of founder Shiekh al-Kamil, his disciple Abu ar-Rawayil, the alleged son of the founder, Issa Al-Mehdi. Issawa's international growth began in the 18th century. From Morocco, it has spawned organizations in Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Iraq. Outside of these countries, Issawi practice without immediate access to Issawa institutions, as in France, Italy, the Netherlands, the USA and Canada. There is a building movement in the United States, focused in Chicago. Theoretically, the brotherhood's network is led from the mother-monastery in Meknes by direct biological descendants of Muhammad Ben Issa; the leader is Sidi Allal al-Issawi, a teacher and member of the League of Oulemas of Morocco and Senegal, as well as a poet and historian.
In Morocco, the brotherhood – the musicians together with their rituals and music – enjoy a particular vogue. The basic cell of the religious order in Morocco is the team, which takes the form of a traditional musical orchestra with twenty to fifty disciples. Since a decision taken in the 17th century by the mother-monastery, groups of musicians are placed under the authority of a delegate. There are orchestras of the brotherhood across Morocco, but they are numerous in the towns of Fes and Meknes, under the authority of the master Haj Azedine Bettahi, a well-known Sufi musician; as leader of the muqaddem-s, Haj Azedine Bettahi has under his authority the following individuals: Haj Mohamed Ben Bouhama Haj Muhammad'Azzam Haj Said El Guissy Haj Said Berrada Abdeljelil Al Aouam'Abdelatif Razini'Adnan Chouni'Omar'Alawi'Abou Lhaz Muhammad'Abdallah Yaqoubi Muhammad Ben Hammou Haj Hussein Lbaghmi Idriss Boumaza Haj'Abdelhak Khaldun Muhammad Ben Chabou Mohcine Arafa Bricha Moustafa Barakat Nabil Ben Slimane Hassan Amrani Youssef'Alami Youssef Semlali'Abdellah al-Mrabet Benaissa Ghouali Djamel Sahli Nadjib Mekdia Lounis Ghazali Djamel Blidi Essaid Haddadou Mustapha Ben Ouahchia Hadj Ali Al Badawi Cheikhuna Hakim Meftah Al Bedri Abdelillah BerrahmaAll Issawa groups lead ceremonies that mix mystical invocation with exorcisms and trance-inducing group dances.
In Morocco, the ceremonies of the Issawa brotherhood take the form of domestic nightly rituals, organized by Imam Shiekh Boulila, at the request of women sympathizers. Women are the principal customers of the orchestras of the brotherhood in Morocco; as the Aissawa are supposed to bring to people blessings, reasons for organizing a ceremony are varied and include celebration of a Muslim festivity, birth, circumcision, or exorcism, the search for a cure for illness or to make contact with the divine through the extase. Rituals have standardized phases among all the Aissawa orchestras; these include mystical recitations of Sufi litanies and the singing of spiritual poems along with exorcisms, collective dances. Ludic aspects of the ceremony are attested to by the participants' laughter and dances, alongside ecstatic emo
Sufi whirling is a form of physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and, still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order and other orders such as the Rifa'i-Marufi. It is a customary meditation practice performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kamal; this is sought through abandoning one's nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, spinning one's body in repetitive circles, seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun. The Mevlevi practice gave rise to an Egyptian form, distinguished by the use of a multicolored skirt; this has developed into a performance dance by non-Sufis, including dancers outside the Islamic world. "In the 12th century, Sufi fraternities were first organized as an established leadership in which a member followed a prescribed discipline in service to a sheikh or master in order to establish rapport with him."
A member of such a fraternity is referred to as a Persian darwish. These turuk were responsible for organizing an Islamic expression of religious life founded by independent saints or resulted from the division of existing orders; each Sufi tariqa stems from a unique silsila, or "chain of order" in which a member must learn, as the silsila binds each member to Allah through one's chain of order. One's silsila extends through the member's individual teacher, to their teacher and so on, through time until one is connected to the Prophet and thus Allah; the Prophet himself is revered as the originator of Sufism, which has in turn been traced down through a series of saints. A dervish practices multiple rituals, the primary of, the dhikr, a remembering of Allah; the dhikr involves recitation of devotional Islamic prayer. This dhikr is coupled with physical exertions of movement dancing and whirling, in order to reach a state assumed by outsiders to be one of "ecstatic trances"; as explained by Sufis: In the symbolism of the Sema ritual, the semazen's camel's hair hat represents the tombstone of the ego.
By removing his black cloak, he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the beginning of the Sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God's unity. While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God's beneficence; the semazen conveys God's spiritual gift to those. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love; the human being has been created with love. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, "All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!" Among the Mevlevi order, the practice of dhikr is performed in a traditional dress: a tennure, a sleeveless white frock, the destegul, a long sleeved jacket, a belt, a black overcoat or khirqa to be removed before the whirling begins. As the ritual dance begins, the dervish dons a felt cap, a sikke, in addition to a turban wrapped around the head, a trademark of the Mevlevi order.
The sheikh leads the ritual with strict regulations. To begin, The sheikh stands in the most honored corner of the dancing place, the dervishes pass by him three times, each time exchanging greetings, until the circling movement starts; the rotation itself is on the left foot, the center of the rotation being the ball of the left foot and the whole surface of the foot staying in contact with the floor. The impetus for the rotation is provided in a full 360-degree step. If a dervish should become too enraptured, another Sufi, in charge of the orderly performance, will touch his frock in order to curb his movement, The dance of the dervishes is one of the most impressive features of the mystical life in Islam, the music accompanying it is of exquisite beauty, beginning with the great hymn in honor of the Prophet and ending with short, enthusiastic songs, some things sung in Turkish; the Western world, having witnessed Sufi whirling through tourism, have described the various forms of dhikr as "barking, dancing, etc."
The practice of each tariqa is unique to its individual order, specific traditions and customs may differ across countries. The same tariqa in one country will not mirror that of another country as each order's ritual stresses "emotional religious life" in various forms; the Mevleviyah order, like many others, practice the dhikr by performing a whirling meditation. Accompanying the dhikr practices of whirling and prayer, the custom of sama serves to further one's "nourishment of the soul" through devotional "hearing" of the "'subtle' sounds of the hidden world or of the cosmos." In contrast to the use of sama and devotional prayer in the practice of dhikr, the tariqa orders perform Sufi whirling in addition to playing musical instruments, consuming glowing embers, live scorpions and glass, puncturing body parts with needles and spikes, or practicing clairvoyance and levitation. The dervish practice can be performed by community residents or lay members, members have been those of lower classes.
Within Islamic faith, unlike Middle Eastern law, women have equal status to men, allowing women to participate in dhikr as dervishes themselves. Women were received into a tariqa order by a male sheikh
Sufism or Taṣawwuf, variously defined as "Islamic mysticism", "the inward dimension of Islam" or "the phenomenon of mysticism within Islam", is mysticism in Islam, "characterized... values, ritual practices and institutions" which began early in Islamic history and represents "the main manifestation and the most important and central crystallization of" mystical practice in Islam. Practitioners of Sufism have been referred to as "Sufis". Sufis have belonged to different ṭuruq or "orders" – congregations formed around a grand master referred to as a wali who traces a direct chain of successive teachers back to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad; these orders meet for spiritual sessions in meeting places known as khanqahs or tekke. They strive for ihsan, as detailed in a hadith: "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him. Sufis regard Muhammad as al-Insān al-Kāmil, the primary perfect man who exemplifies the morality of God, see him as their leader and prime spiritual guide. All Sufi orders trace most of their original precepts from Muhammad through his cousin and son-in-law Ali, with the notable exception of one.
Although the overwhelming majority of Sufis, both pre-modern and modern and are adherents of Sunni Islam, there developed certain strands of Sufi practice within the ambit of Shia Islam during the late medieval period. Although Sufis were opposed to dry legalism, they observed Islamic law and belonged to various schools of Islamic jurisprudence and theology. Sufis have been characterized by their asceticism by their attachment to dhikr, the practice of remembrance of God performed after prayers, they gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate and have spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium expressing their beliefs in Arabic and expanding into Persian and Urdu, among others. Sufis played an important role in the formation of Muslim societies through their missionary and educational activities. According to William Chittick, "In a broad sense, Sufism can be described as the interiorization, intensification of Islamic faith and practice."Despite a relative decline of Sufi orders in the modern era and criticism of some aspects of Sufism by modernist thinkers and conservative Salafists, Sufism has continued to play an important role in the Islamic world, has influenced various forms of spirituality in the West.
The Arabic word tasawwuf translated as Sufism, is defined by Western authors as Islamic mysticism. The Arabic term sufi has been used in Islamic literature with a wide range of meanings, by both proponents and opponents of Sufism. Classical Sufi texts, which stressed certain teachings and practices of the Quran and the sunnah, gave definitions of tasawwuf that described ethical and spiritual goals and functioned as teaching tools for their attainment. Many other terms that described particular spiritual qualities and roles were used instead in more practical contexts; some modern scholars have used other definitions of Sufism such as "intensification of Islamic faith and practice" and "process of realizing ethical and spiritual ideals". The term Sufism was introduced into European languages in the 18th century by Orientalist scholars, who viewed it as an intellectual doctrine and literary tradition at variance with what they saw as sterile monotheism of Islam. In modern scholarly usage the term serves to describe a wide range of social, cultural and religious phenomena associated with Sufis.
The original meaning of sufi seems to have been "one who wears wool", the Encyclopaedia of Islam calls other etymological hypotheses "untenable". Woollen clothes were traditionally associated with mystics. Al-Qushayri and Ibn Khaldun both rejected all possibilities other than ṣūf on linguistic grounds. Another explanation traces the lexical root of the word to ṣafā, which in Arabic means "purity"; these two explanations were combined by the Sufi al-Rudhabari, who said, "The Sufi is the one who wears wool on top of purity". Others have suggested that the word comes from the term ahl aṣ-ṣuffah, who were a group of impoverished companions of Muhammad who held regular gatherings of dhikr; these men and women who sat at al-Masjid an-Nabawi are considered by some to be the first Sufis. According to Carl W. Ernst the earliest figures of Sufism are Muhammad his companions. Sufi orders are based on the "bay‘ah", given to Muhammad by his Ṣahabah. By pledging allegiance to Muhammad, the Sahabah had committed themselves to the service of God.
Verily, those who give Bai'âh to you they are giving Bai'âh to Allâh. The Hand of Allâh is over their hands. Whosoever breaks his pledge, breaks it only to his own harm, whosoever fulfils what he has covenanted with Allâh, He will bestow on him a great reward. — Sufis believe that by giving bayʿah to a legitimate Sufi shaykh, one is pledging allegiance to Muhammad. It is through Muhammad that Sufis aim to learn about and connect with God. Ali is regarded as one of the