Origins of the word ‘Sufism’

The most widely accepted origin of the word ‘Sufi’ is from the Arabic word ‘suf‘ which means ‘wool’, referring to a group of sincere worshippers who lived during, and shortly after, the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and who became known for their tendency to wear coarse woolen clothes.

Another possible derivation of the word ‘Sufi’ is from the ‘ahl-e-suffa’ (literally, ‘The People of the Bench’), a group of early muslims who lived in the first mosque at Medina in close proximity to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Yet another derivation is from the Arabic word, ‘safa‘, or ‘purity’.