World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sufi order

Article Id: WHEBN0008475715
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sufi order  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Al-Azhar University, Khwaja Ghulam Farid, Kilan, Silsila Azeemia (Azeemia Spiritual Order), Wolof music, Hiram Abiff, Wuzhong, Ningxia, Junayd of Baghdad, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Kafi
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sufi order

A tariqa (or tariqah; Arabic: طريقةṭarīqah, plural طرق ṭuruq, from طريق "way, path"; Persian: طريقتtariqat, Turkish: tarikat) is the term for a school or order of Sufism, or especially for the mystical teaching and spiritual practices of such an order with the aim of seeking ḥaqīqah "ultimate truth".

A tariqa has a murshid (guide) who plays the role of leader or spiritual director. The members or followers of a tariqa are known as murīdīn (singular murīd), meaning "desirous", viz. "desiring the knowledge of knowing God and loving God" (also called a faqīr فقير)

The metaphor of "way, path" is to be understood in connection of the term sharia which also has the meaning of "path", more specifically "well-trodden path; path to the waterhole". The "path" metaphor of tariqa is that of a further path, taken by the mystic, which continues from the "well-trodden path" or exoteric of sharia towards the esoteric haqiqa. A fourth "station" following the succession of shariah, tariqa and haqiqa is called marifa. This is the "unseen center" of haqiqa, and the ultimate aim of the mystic, corresponding to the unio mystica in Western mysticism.

Orders of Sufism

Template:See Template:See The most popular tariqa in the West is the Mevlevi Order, named after Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. The four main tariqas in South Asia are: the Naqshbandi Order, named after Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari; the Qadiri Order, named after `Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī; the Chishti Order, named after Khawaja Mawdood Chisti while Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti is the most famous sheikh; the Suhrawardi Order, named after Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi. Others can be offshoots of a tariqa. For example, the Qalandariyya and Wafa'i orders are offshoots of the Suhrawardi order.

It is important to note that membership of a particular Sufi order was not exclusive and cannot be likened to the ideological commitment to a political party. Unlike the Christian monastic orders which are demarcated by firm lines of authority and sacrament, Sufis often are members of various Sufi orders. The non-exclusiveness of Sufi orders has important consequences for the social extension of Sufism. They cannot be regarded as indulging in a zero sum competition which a purely political analysis might have suggested. Rather their joint effect is to impart to Sufism a cumulant body of tradition, rather than individual and isolated experiences.[1]

In most cases the sheikh nominates his khalīfa or "successor" during his lifetime, who will take over the order. In rare cases, if the sheikh dies without naming a khalīfa, the students of the ṭarīqa elect another spiritual leader by vote. In some orders it is recommended to take a khalīf from the same order as the murshid. In some groups it is customary for the khalīfa to be the son of the sheikh, although in other groups the khalīfa and the sheikh are not normally relatives. In yet other orders a successor may be identified through the spiritual dreams of its members.

Tarīqas have silsilas (Arabic: سلسلة‎) "chain, lineage of sheikhs". Almost all orders except the Naqshbandi order claim a silsila that leads back to Muhammad through ‘Alī. (The Naqshbandi Silsila goes back to Abu Bakr the first Caliph of Sunni Islam and then Prophet Muhammad.) Many silsilas contain the names of Shī‘ah Imams.

Every murid, on entering the ṭarīqa, gets his 'awrād, or daily recitations, authorized by his murshid (usually to be recited before or after the pre-dawn prayer, after the afternoon prayer and after the evening prayer). Usually these recitations are extensive and time-consuming (for example the awrād may consist of reciting a certain formula 99, 500 or even 1000 times). One must also be in a state of ritual purity (as one is for the obligatory prayers to perform them while facing Mecca). The recitations change as a student (murid) moves from a mere initiate to other Sufi degrees (usually requiring additional initiations). The Initiation ceremony is routine and consists of reading chapter 1 of the Quran followed by a single phrase prayer. Criteria has to be met to be promoted in rank: the common way is to repeat a single phrase prayer 82,000 times or more as in the case of Burhaniyya, a number that grows with each achieved rank. Murids who experience unusual interaction during meditation: hear voices like "would you like to see a prophet?" or see visions who might even communicate with the Murid are held dear in the "Haḍra" (Arabic: حضره ), the weekly group-chanting of prayers in attempt of reaching spirits as they are likely to experience something unusual and pass it on. This Murid is promoted faster than others. The least common way is to cause a miracle to happen with criteria similar to that of Catholic Sainthood.

Being mostly followers of the spiritual traditions of Islam loosely referred to as Sufism, these groups were sometimes distinct from the ulema or officially mandated scholars, and often acted as informal missionaries of Islam. They provided accepted avenues for emotional expressions of faith, and the Tarīqas spread to all corners of the Muslim world, and often exercised a degree of political influence inordinate to their size (take for example the influence that the sheikhs of the Safavid had over the armies of Tamerlane, or the missionary work of Ali-Shir Nava'i in Turkistan among the Mongol and Tatar people).


The tariqas were particularly influential in the spread of Islam in the sub-Sahara during the 9th to 14th centuries, where they spread south along trade routes between North Africa and the sub-Saharan kingdoms of Ghana and Mali. On the West African coast they set up Zāwiyas on the shores of the river Niger and even established independent kingdoms such as al-Murābiṭūn or Almoravids.The Al Hakika Mizaan Mizaani Sufi Order deals with heavy internalization and meditations, their spiritual practice is called Al Qudra Mizaan[(United States)] The Sanusi order were also highly involved in missionary work in Africa during the 19th century, spreading both Islam and a high level of literacy into Africa as far south as Lake Chad and beyond by setting up a network of zawiyas where Islam was taught. Much of central Asia and southern Russia was won over to Islam through the missionary work of the ṭarīqahs, and the majority of Indonesia's population, where a Muslim army never set foot, was converted to Islam by the perseverance of both Muslim traders and Sufi missionaries.

Tariqas were brought to China in the 17th century by Ma Laichi and other Chinese Sufis who had studied in Mecca and Yemen, and had also been influenced by spiritual descendants of the Kashgarian Sufi master Afaq Khoja. On the Chinese soil the institutions became known as menhuan, and are typically headquartered near the tombs (gongbei) of their founders.[2]

Certain scholars, e.g., G. H. Jansen, credit the original tariqas with several specific accomplishments:

  • Preventing Islam from becoming a cold and formal doctrine by constantly infusing it with local and emotionally popular input, including stories and plays and rituals not part of Islam proper. (A parallel would be the role of Aesop relative to the Greek mythos.)
  • Spreading the faith in east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where orthodox Islamic leaders and scholars had little or no direct influence on people.
  • Leading Islam's military and political battles against the Christian West, as far back as the Qadiri order of the 12th century.

Connection to Salafism

There is a historical connection between certain schools of Sufism and the development of Wahhabism and Salafism.

Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was inspired by Ibn Taymiyyah, a 14th-century scholar and dedicated Sufi, who is however remembered mainly as an outspoken critic of the excesses of certain schools of Sufism during his time.[3]

Moroccan Sufi leader Ahmad Ibn Idris was an adherent of so-called "Muhammadan Sufism", claiming to be in direct communication with the spirit of the Prophet himself. Ibn Idris was living in Makkah at the time of the Wahhabi occupation of the city in 1803 and gained favour with Saud bin Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad bin Saud.

More recently, an alliance has formed between Jihadist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Naqshbandi and Chisti tariqas. To some extent, the Taliban during the 1990s were to some extent denied recognition by Arab Wahhabis because of their alleged Sufi or Deobandi connections.[4]

See also



  • J. M. Abun-Nasr, "The Tijaniyya", London 1965
  • M. Berger, "Islam in Egypt today - social and political aspects of popular religion", London, 1970
  • J. K. Birge, "The Bektashi Order of Dervishes", London and Hartford, 1937
  • Clayer, Nathalie, Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: May 23, 2011.
  • O. Depont and X. Coppolani, "Les confreries religieuses musulmans" (the Muslim brotherhoods as they existed then), Algiers, 1897
  • E. E. Evans-Pritchard, "The Sanusi of Cyrenaica", Oxford, 1949
  • M. D. Gilsenen, "Saint and Sufi in Modern Egypt", Oxford, 1978
  • G. H. Jansen, "Militant Islam", Pan, London 1979
  • F. de Jong, "Turuq and Turuq-Linked Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Egypt", Brill, Leiden,1978
  • J. W. McPherson, "The Moulids of Egypt", Cairo, 1941

External links

  • PHILTAR (Philosophy of Theology and Religion at the Division of Religion and Philosophy of St Martin's College) has a very useful Graphical illustration of the Sufi schools.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.