SUFISM

RELEVANCE – UPSC GS PRELIMS & GS MAINS-I
First go through the text (given after the questions) and then attempt the questions
PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Q) Discuss about the concept, global spread and characteristic features of Sufism.

‘Sufism’ is a term used to refer to mystical religious ideas in Islam. It had evolved into a well developed movement by the 11th century. Sufis, stress on the importance of traversing the path of the Sufi pir enabling one to establish a direct communion with
the divine. Sufism or mysticism emerged in the 8th century and among the early known Sufis were Rabia al-Adawiya, Al-Junaid and Bayazid Bastami.

Fundamental to sufism is God, Man and the relation between them that is Love. They believe that from man emerged the theories of ruh (soul), qurbat (divine proximity) and hulul (infusion of the divine spirit) and that from relation between God and Man ideas such as Ishq (divine love) and Fana (self annihilation) come into being.

The Sufis were regarded as people who kept their heart pure; they sought to communicate with God through their ascetic practices and doctrine of divine love and union with God. The murid (disciple) passes throu`gh maqamat (various stages) in this process of experiencing communication with the divine.

The khanqah (the hospice) was the center of activities of the various sufis orders. The khanqah was led by shaikh, pir or murshid (teacher) who lived with his murids (disciples). In time the Khanqahs emerged as important centres of learning and preaching.

By the twelfth century the sufis were organized in silsilahs (orders). The word silsila meant chain and it represented signifying an unbreakable chain between the pir and the murid. With the death of the pir his tomb or shrine the dargah became a centre for his disciples and followers.

In the 10th century Sufism spread across important regions of the Islamic empire. Iran, Khurasan, Transoxiana, Egypt, Syria and Baghdad were important Sufi centers.

Al-Ghazali, (1059–1111 A.D.) is among the most venerated of Sufis. He reconciled Islamic mysticism with Islamic orthodoxy, providing Sufi mysticism a secure place in Islam. He stressed on the need for the disciple to follow the guidance of the spiritual
master. He also emphasised on the supreme authority of the holy Prophet and the need to obey laws in both letter and spirit.