What is Sufism (Tasawwuf) ?

Sufism (tasawwuf) is the branch of Islamic knowledge which focuses on the spiritual

development of the Muslim. It is the traditional Islamic science of self-improvement,

self-purification and spirituality (Sufism/mysticism), focusing fully on one’s relationship

with Allah Paak Jallashanahu.

Sufism is a spiritual journey and entails one to be always ever mindful of worship and to

concentrate sharply on Allah (SWT). One must ignore the temptation and lust of this

mundane world and must live by the laws set out by our Almighty Allah (SWT). In order

to achieve this, one must kill his ego and selfishness. These were the ways of the

Companions of the Holy Prophet (Sahabah Ikraam) and the righteous scholars of the past


Imam Ghazali (Rahmatullah’alaiyhi) offers a comprehensive definition of Sufism:

“The highway to this destination is that first of all, make a firm

commitment (to promise to Allah Ta’ala, repent and take oath), destroy all

inner mundane desires (leave the habits of nafs-e-amara), break off any

sentimental attachment with anything whatsoever (stop running after

status, wealth and worldly attractions and stop being materialistic), and

focus fully on the divine being of Allah. And when this stage is achieved,

Allah (SWT) Himself looks after the heart of His slave, and becomes

responsible for imparting knowledge ( ilm ) or devine light (noor) on him,

and fills his heart with noor.”

The prime sources of Sufism (tasawwuf) are the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of Aaqa

Kareem (Sallallahu’alaiyhi’wa alayhi’wasallam).

Man has been taught frequently to observe and practice of remembrance of Allah ta’ala

(Zikr-e-Ilahi) in the Qur’an and in numerous Ahadith.

A great example of this practice comes from the Holy Prophet

(Sallallahu’alaiyhi’wasallam), who was known to frequently meditate (muraqbah) and

reflect in the cave of Mount Hira.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, Sufism (tasawwuf) does not entail isolation from all

worldly affairs. Sufi’s did not totally ignore the world. In fact, they used to work

practically for the cause of Islam and in order to propagate the message of Islam, thus

striving to bring about peace in the era in which they lived.

Spiritual training involves abstinence from superficial worldly attractions and relations

for a designated period of time in order to gain proper control over the base desires (nafse-

amara – ego).

When Irfan-e-Ilahi/ Ilm-e-Haqeeqi is achieved, it gives way to opportunities to obtain all

sorts of beneficial knowledge from unseen sources for the help/aid of mankind.

The Holy Qur’an and Ahadith strictly forbid man to indulge too deeply in materialistic

activities. As the holy Qur’an says:

“Know that the life of this world is only play, and idle talk, and pageantry,

and boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children as

the likeness of vegetation after rain, whereof the growth is pleasing to the

husbandman, but afterward it dries up and thou seest it turning yellow,

then it becomes straw. And in the Hereafter there is grievous punishment

and (also) forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure, whereas the life

of the world is but matter of illusion.”

(Surah Al-Hadiid: 20)

In addition to this, it has been narrated by Sahih Bukhari and Muslim that the Holy

Prophet is reported to have said:

“After me, the thing I fear most for my ummah are the adorned

attractions of this temporary world and the doors of worldly success which

will be opened for you.”

Worship (Ibadah) and remembrance of Allah (SWT) (Zikr-e-Ilahi) have been emphasised

on numerous occasions in the Qur’an:

“And do thou (O Muhammad) remember the Lord within thyself

humbly and with awe, below thy breath, at morn and evening. And be thou

not of the neglectful.”

(Surah Araf: 502)


“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you. Give thanks to Me,

and reject not Me.”

(2: 152)

“Then when ye have finished the salaah, remember Allah, standing and

sitting and lying on your sides. “


“O ye who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. And glorify

Him morning and evening.”


“And do thou bring thy Lord to remembrance in thy (very) soul with

humility and in reverence without loudness in words in the mornings and

evenings; and be not thou of those who are unheedful.”


Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul) and most

suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise). True there is for

thee by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties: But keep in

remembrance the name of the Lord and devote to Him