Sufism (Arabic: تصوف‎; taṣawwuf) is defined as the inner mystical dimension of Islam. Historically noteworthy Sufis, such as Bayazid Bastami, Jalaluddin Rumi, Haji Bektash Veli, Junaid Baghdadi, Al-Ghazali, and many current Sufi practitioners, define Sufism as solely based upon the tenets of Islam and the teachings of Muhammad. However, others such as Kamuran Godelek, propose Sufism has been heavily influenced by Neoplatonism, Cynicism, and preceding ancient philosophies. There are also those who hold the essence of Sufism has been expressed via other religions and metareligious philosophies.
Practitioners of Sufism (Tasawuf) referred to as Sufis (ṣūfī) (/ˈsuːfi/; صُوفِيّ) often belong to different ṭuruq or “orders”—congregations formed around a grand master referred to as a Mawla who maintains a direct chain of teachers back to the Prophet Muhammad. These orders meet for spiritual sessions (majalis) in meeting places known as zawiyahs, khanqahs, or tekke. e.g. Khanqah Khairiyyah Sufis strive for ihsan (perfection of worship) as detailed in a hadith: “Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him; if you can’t see Him, surely He sees you.” Jalaluddin Rumi stated: “The Sufi is hanging on to Muhammad, like Abu Bakr.” Sufis consider themselves to be the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. Sufis orders have faced criticism in the Muslim world. Sufism is generally opposed by followers of Wahhabist or Salafist movements within Sunni Islam, causing tensions due to a resurgence of Sufi practice in Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Republic of Iran bans the practice of Sufism and in recent years has arrested Sufi activists and clerics because it views Sufism is unauthentic and incompatible with Twelver Shi’ite Islam.
Sufi orders (turuq) generally trace many of their original precepts from the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib- with the notable exception of Naqshbandi order, which does so through the first Caliph, Abu Bakr. Sufi orders are largely Sunni and follow one of the four schools of Sunni Islam and maintain a Sunni Aqidah or creed.
Two origins of the word sufi have been suggested. Commonly, the lexical root of the word is traced to ṣafā (صفاء), which in Arabic means “purity”. Another origin is ṣūf (صُوف), “wool” in Arabic, referring to the simple cloaks the early Muslim ascetics wore. The two were combined by the Sufi al-Rudhabari who said, “The Sufi is the one who wears wool on top of purity”.
Others have suggested that the word comes from the term ahl aṣ-ṣuffah (“the people of the bench”), who were a group of impoverished companions of Muhammad who held regular gatherings of dhikr. These men and women who sat at Al-Masjid al-Nabawi are considered by some to be the first Sufites in existence. Abd al-Karīm ibn Hawāzin Qushayri and Ibn Khaldun both rejected all possibilities other than ṣūf on linguistic grounds.
According to the medieval scholar Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī, the word sufi is derived from the Greek word sofia (σοφία), meaning wisdom.
According to Qur’anist, the word Sufi derived from the word suhufi(ie.Suhufi-papers, pages, records, scriptures from a Qur’anic/Islamic stand point).