Discuss the major beliefs and practices that characterised Sufism.

In the early centuries of Islam, a group of religious minded people called sufis turned to asceticism and mysticism who seeks to god through prayer protest against the growing materialism of the caliphate for god and by following his commands.

Major belives and practices of suifsm are given below:-

1. Suifs criticized the rigid definitions and scholastic methods of interpretating the Quran and Sunna. Sufis interpretated the Quran on the basis of their personal experiences.

2. They gave emphasis on seeking salvation through their devotion and bhakti of god.

3. They regarded Prophet Muhammad as perfect human beings and preached to follow him.


a. The sufis began to arganise communities around the hospice or khanqahs

b. It was controlled by a teaching master known as Shaikh, pir or Murshid.

c. He enrolled disciples and appointed a successor – Khalipha.

d. He established rules for interaction between imamates, as well as between lay persons and master.

e. The reason behind appointing a successor was to transmit the spiritual power from Prophet Muhammed to master (Pir) and then to disciples, reunifying a continuous Link or silsila.


a. When the Shaikh died, his tomb – shrine (dargah) became the centre of devotion for his followers.

b. This led to the practice of pilgrimage or “Zujarat” to his grave, particularly or his death anniversary or use, because it signified their union with God.

c. People visited the shrine to seek material and spiritual blessings, thus evolved the cult of the Shaikh revered as “WALI”


a. The khanqah was the centre of social life.

b. It comprised of several rooms and a hall or ‘Jamaat Khana’ where the inmates and visitors lived and prayed.

c. From morning onwards people from all walks of life – soldiers, slaves merchants travellers, hindu jogis – came seeking discipleship, amulets for heading and the intercession of the Shaikh in various matters.

d. In an attempt to assimilate local traditions, practices like bowing before the Shaikh, doing yogic exercises etc were incorporated in the Khanqah.

e. There was an open kitchen – langar; which was seen on ‘Futuh’ unasked for charity.


a. Ziyarat – Making pilgrimage to the tombs of saints to seek blessings was practiced.

b. Zikr – The sufis remember god by reciting the divine name or Zikr to evoke the high presence.

c. Sama – They also evoke the presence of god through sama or performance by Qawwals-Quawalis of mystical music by trained music or qawwals. They used music and mystical chants to evoke divine ecstasy.

8. MODES OF COMMUNICATION - Sufi saints adopted local languages to converse with their disciples.

9. SUFI AND THE STATE – although the sufis believed in simple and avoidance of wordly powers, they expected unsolicited grants and donations from political elites.