What is Sufism?

This section will attempt provide a very brief introduction to Sufism (Tasawwuf).

For more detailed information on this subject, please consult our list of recommended books.

If you are already familiar with the theoretical principles of Sufism, and would like to find out about the practical training the School of Sufi Teaching offers, please click here.

“Knowledge without Action is like Water without Wetness”

Sufi saying

Sufism is a path of spiritual advancement. By a process of purification, Sufi practices allow light to enter our hearts and our faculties of perception. This may lead to the development of our innate spiritual and intuitive abilities, in the same way that when you open a window to a dark room light floods in and you can suddenly see more.

Thus the practice of Sufism leads to an expansion of consciousness – an increase in our self awareness and our awareness of the universe we live in. We become less prone to acting and thinking in conditioned ways. This in turn leads to a self-transformation – a transformation in the way we conduct ourselves and interact with the world.

We find peace and contentment and a growing awareness of a Higher Plan. Ultimately, the Sufi path brings us closer to the Supreme Reality, which is God.

According to the Sufis, man is asleep. By this, they mean than the vast majority of us are oblivious to the realities of life and death, existence and God, and we live life as if in a dream or a metaphor.

And yet the other side of sleep is wakefulness, and Sufis also teach that mankind is equipped with subtle centres of consciousness which are largely unused, but which can gradually be awakened through practical guidance and sincere effort.

Once awakened, these inner faculties of perception enable us to witness realities which previously appeared to us as obscure mysteries. It is possible to move into the light when previously we were in the dark.Sufism is the the path of the gradual awakening of the heart, whereby we turn away from all that is illusory, and subsist in Reality. This was the condition that Muhammad (peace be upon him) described when he said:

“My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep”

(Sahih Bukhari, 3.32.230).

Sufism is the spiritual aspect of Islam. Those who follow the Sufi path strive to follow both the inner and the outer aspects of Islam with ever-increasing sincerity. Indeed, another name for Sufism is simply Ihsan, or “sincerity”.

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