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
Dhikr are devotional acts in Islam in which short phrases or prayers are recited silently within the mind or aloud. It can be counted through fingers of the hand. A person who recites the Dhikr is called a ḏākir. Tasbih is a form of dhikr; the content of the prayers includes a duʿāʾ taken from the hadith or the Quran. There are several verses in the Quran that emphasize the importance of remembering the will of God by saying phrases such as "God willing," "God knows best," and "If it is your will.' This is the basis for dhikr. Sura 18, ayah 24 states a person who forgets to say, "God Willing," should remember God by saying, "May my Lord guide me to do better next time." Other verses include sura 33, ayah 41, "O ye who believe! Celebrate the praises of Allah, do this often," and sura 13, ayah 28, "They are the ones whose hearts rejoice in remembering God. By remembering God, the hearts rejoice." Muhammad said,'The best is La ilaha illa’llah, the best supplicatory prayer is Al-hamdu li’llah. Muslims believe dhikr is one of the best ways to enter the higher level of Heaven and to glorify the Oneness of Allah.
To Sufis, dhikr is seen as a way to gain spiritual enlightenment and achieve union or annihilation in God. All Muslim sects endorse individual rosaries as a method of meditation, the goal of, to obtain a feeling of peace, separation from worldly values, and, in general, strengthen Iman. There are several phrases that are read when remembering Allah. Here are a few: Allāh- الله is the Arabic word for God and mentioned in Quran most of the verses. Allāhu ʾakbar - الله أَكْبَر means "God is greater" or "God is the greatest" Subhan Allah - سبحان الله means "Glory be to God" or "How pure is God" or "Exalted be God" Alhamdulillah - الحمد لله means "All praise is due to God", an expression of gratitude Lā ʾilāha ʾillā llah - لا إله إلا الله means "There is no god but Allah" Lā ḥawla wa-lā quwwata ʾillā bi-llāh - لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله means "There is no power or strength except with God." Bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm - means "In the name of God, the gracious, the merciful", said before anything of spiritual significance.
Audhubillah - means "I seek refuge in Allah". Laa ilaaha illal laahu wahdahoo laa sharikalahoo lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa'alaa kulli shai'in qadeer - means "There is no god but Allah, without partner, his is the sovereignty, His the praise, He has power over everything". SubhanAllah wa biHamdihi - means "Glory be to Allah and Praise Him". SubhanAllahi wa biHamdihi, Subhan-Allahi'l-`adheem Some of these can be said together.e.g- Subhan'Allahi wal hamdulillaahi wa laa ilaaha ilallaahu wAllahu Akbar - means "Glory be to Allah, All Praise is for Allah, There is No God but Allah, Allah is the Greatest". Subhan'Allahi wal hamdulillaahi wa laa ilaaha ilallaahu wAllahu Akbar wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaahil'aleeul azeem. Laa ilaaha illal laahu wahdahoo laa sharikalahoo lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa'alaa kulli shai'in qadeer - means "There is No God But Allah Alone, who has no partner, his is the dominion and His is the raise, He is Able to do all things". Subhan'Allahi wal hamdulillaahi wa laa ilaaha ilallaahu wAllahu Akbar wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaahil'aleeul azeem.
Laa ilaaha illa Anta, subhaanaka inni kuntu min al-zaalimeen. Reciting the Quran sincerely is considered a kind of Dhikr. E.g.- Reciting Sura Ikhlas / Tawheed is equal to one-third of the Quran. Reciting Sura Ikhlas 10 times gives a palace in Heaven. Reciting Sura Kaafiroon is equal to one-fourth of the Quran. Reciting Sura Nasr is equal to one-fourth of the Quran. Reciting Sura Zalzalah is equal to half of the Quran. "Shall I tell you about the best of deeds, the most pure in the Sight of your Lord, about the one, of the highest order and is far better for you than spending gold and silver better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefield where you strike at their necks and they at yours?" The companions replied, "Yes, O Messenger ﷺ of Allah!" He replied, "Remembrance of Allah ﷻ". "People will not sit in an assembly in which they remember Allah ﷻ without the angels surrounding them, mercy covering them, Allah ﷻ Mentioning them among those who are with Him" “There is nothing, a greater cause of salvation from the punishment of Allah than the remembrance of Allah" Hadhrat Mu`adh ibn Jabal said that the Prophet ﷺ said: "The People of Paradise will not regret except one thing alone: the hour that passed them by and in which they made no remembrance of Allah ﷻ."
It is mentioned in hadith that where people are oblivious to dhikir, remembrance of Allah is like being steadfast in jihad when others are running away. Followers of Sufism engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies, the details of which sometimes vary between Sufi orders or tariqah; each order, or lineage within an order, has one or more forms for group dhikr, the liturgy of which may include recitation, music, d
Akbariyya is a branch of Sufi metaphysics based on Ibn Arabi's teachings, an Andalusian Sufi, a gnostic and philosopher. The word is derived from Ibn Arabi's nickname, "Shaykh al-Akbar," meaning "the greatest shaykh." Akbariyya has never been used to indicate a Sufi society in history. It is nowadays used to refer to all historical or contemporary Sufi metaphysicians and Sufis influenced by Ibn Arabi's doctrine Wahdat al-Wujud, it is not to be confused with Al Akbariyya, a secret Sufi society founded by Swedish Sufi'Abdu l-Hadi Aguéli. Wahdat al-Wajud meaning the "unity of being" is a Sufi philosophy emphasizing that'there is no true existence except the Ultimate Truth' or in other words, that the only truth within the universe is God, that all things exist within God only. Ibn Arabi is most characterized in Islamic texts as the originator of this doctrine. However, it is not found in his works; the first to employ this term was Ibn Sabin. Ibn Arabi's disciple and stepson Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi used this term in his works and explained it using philosophical terms.
See Sufi metaphysics In the 20th century there has been focus on the Akbariyya School in academic circles and universities. Viewed in a historical context, increased government support for the study of the Muslim world and Islamic languages emerged in the United States after the Second World War where many students were attracted to Islam and religious studies during the 1970s; the greatest growth in American scholarship on Sufism, took place from the work done by scholars trained during the 1970s. Alexander Knysh notes that “in the decades after World War Two the majority of Western experts in Sufism were no longer based in Europe, but in North America.” Henri Corbin and Fritz Meier who were prominent among these experts, made important contributions to the study of Islamic mysticism. Another important names were Miguel Asín Palacios, Louis Massignon made contributions to Ibn Arabi studies. While Palacios discovered some Akbarian elements in Dante's famous work Divine Comedy Louis Massignon studied on famous Sufi Al-Hallaj saying "Anal Hak" and because of that expression he was executed.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr and his students and academic disciples, have come to play an important role in certain subfields of Sufi studies. The Influence of Nasr and other Traditionalist writers like Rene Guenon and Frithjof Schuon on Sufi studies can be seen on the interpretation of the works of Ibn Arabi and the Akbarian school by such scholars as Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, James Morris, William Chittick, Sachiko Murata and others; these names are both practitioners of Sufism and scholars studying Sufism. Viewed, Turkey is situated where Ibn Arabi's most prominent disciple and stepson Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi and other important commentators of Arabi's works lived in the past. Dawūd al-Qayṣarī was invited to Iznik by Orhan Ghazi to be director and teacher of the first Ottoman university was the disciple of Kamāl al-Dīn al-Qāshānī, himself a disciple of Sadr al-Dīn al-Qūnawī; this means that the official teaching itself was set in motion by a great master of the Akbarian school. Not only Sufis but Ottoman sultans and intellectuals had been impressed by Ibn Arabi and his disciples and interpreters.
Seyyed Muhammad Nur al-Arabi was impressed by Ibn Arabi's doctrine, though that continued to decrease until the Modern Era. In the 20th century the last important commentator of Fusûs was Ahmed Avni Konuk, he was a composer of Turkish music. Studies on Sufism Akbarian works, were not common until the first Ph. D. thesis was written by Prof. Dr. Mahmud Erol Kılıc in Marmara University's Faculty of Theology titled "Ibn'Arabi's Ontology" in 1995. Academic studies on Akbarian metaphysics and philosophy began to rise after studies on this topic were conducted by Turkish scholars such as Mustafa Tahralı and Mahmud Erol Kılıc. In terms of Akbarian studies, the most important event to take place was the translation of Ibn Arabi's magnum opus,"Futuhat-ı Makkiyya", to Turkish. A Turkish scholar, Prof. Dr. Ekrem Demirli started translating the work in the form of 18 volumes in 2006 and finished in 2012; this particular translation was the first complete translation to another language. Demirli's work includes translating Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi's corpus to Turkish and writing a PhD thesis on him in 2004, writing a commentary on Fusus al-Hikam by Ibn Arabi, writing a book titled İslam Metafiziğinde Tanrı ve İnsan.
There are many Akbarian works in Ottoman Turkish. There had and have been many Akbarian Sufis and philosophers in history from all over the world. Ibn Arabi created the philosophy of Wahdat al-Wujud; the Sufis listed below were members of different orders, but following the concept of Wahdat al-Wujud. Masataka Takeshita: Ibn'Arabi's Theory of the Perfect Man and Its Place in the History of Islamic Thought, Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 1987 William C. Chittick: Ibn'Arabi's Imaginal Worlds: Creativity of Imagination and the Problem of Religious Diversity _____________: The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-'Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination ______________: Ibn'Arabi - Heir to the Prophets. ______________: Imaginal Worlds. ______________: The Self-Disclosure of God Stephen Hirtenstein: The Unlimited Mercifier: The Spiritual Life and Thought of Ibn'Arabi _____________: Prayer and Contemplation
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
Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God, that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs; the primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, the teachings and normative example of Muhammad. Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith, revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Abraham and Jesus. Muslims consider the Quran in its original Arabic to be the final revelation of God. Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam teaches a final judgment with the righteous rewarded paradise and unrighteous punished in hell. Religious concepts and practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, following Islamic law, which touches on every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment.
The cities of Mecca and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam. Aside from the theological narrative, Islam is believed to have originated in the early 7th century CE in Mecca, by the 8th century the Umayyad Islamic Caliphate extended from Iberia in the west to the Indus River in the east; the Islamic Golden Age refers to the period traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century, during the Abbasid Caliphate, when much of the Muslim world was experiencing a scientific and cultural flourishing. The expansion of the Muslim world involved various caliphates, such as the Ottoman Empire and conversion to Islam by missionary activities. Most Muslims are of one of two denominations. About 13 % of Muslims live in the largest Muslim-majority country. Sizeable Muslim communities are found in the Americas, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Europe, Mainland Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Russia. Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world. Islam is a verbal noun originating from the triliteral root S-L-M which forms a large class of words relating to concepts of wholeness, submission and peace.
In a religious context it means "voluntary submission to God". Islām is the verbal noun of Form IV of the root, means "submission" or "surrender". Muslim, the word for an adherent of Islam, is the active participle of the same verb form, means "submitter" or "one who surrenders"; the word sometimes has distinct connotations in its various occurrences in the Quran. In some verses, there is stress on the quality of Islam as an internal spiritual state: "Whomsoever God desires to guide, He opens his heart to Islam." Other verses connect Islam and religion together: "Today, I have perfected your religion for you. Still others describe Islam as an action of returning to God—more than just a verbal affirmation of faith. In the Hadith of Gabriel, islām is presented as one part of a triad that includes imān, ihsān. Islam was called Muhammadanism in Anglophone societies; this term has fallen out of use and is sometimes said to be offensive because it suggests that a human being rather than God is central to Muslims' religion, parallel to Buddha in Buddhism.
Some authors, continue to use the term Muhammadanism as a technical term for the religious system as opposed to the theological concept of Islam that exists within that system. Faith in the Islamic creed is represented as the six articles of faith, notably spelled out in the Hadith of Gabriel. Islam is seen as having the simplest doctrines of the major religions, its most fundamental concept is a rigorous monotheism, called tawḥīd. God is described in chapter 112 of the Quran as: "He is God, the One and Only. Muslims repudiate polytheism and idolatry, called Shirk, reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. In Islam, God is beyond all comprehension and thus. God is described and referred to by certain names or attributes, the most common being Al-Rahmān, meaning "The Compassionate" and Al-Rahīm, meaning "The Merciful". Muslims believe that the creation of everything in the universe was brought into being by God's sheer command, "Be, it is" and that the purpose of existence is to worship or to know God.
He is viewed as a personal god who responds whenever a person in distress calls him. There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God who states, "I am nearer to him than jugular vein." God consciousness is referred to as Taqwa. Allāh is the term with no plural or gender used by Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews to reference God, while ʾilāh is the term used for a deity or a god in general. Other non-Arab Muslims might use different names as much as Allah, for instance "Tanrı" in Turkish, "Khodā" in Persian or "Ḵẖudā" in Urdu. Belief in angels is fundamental
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
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