Main Ideas and Principles of Sufism

Introduction to Sufism

The basic idea behind Sufism is truth and the concept of Sufism is to experience, visualize and actualize the truth having no self-interest. Sufism means to perform the deeds that may lead towards the truth. The Sufis always try to move towards the truth and focus on acts that are full of love and devotion. If someone is performing these acts then it can be said that the person is moving towards the spiritual path and he is getting closer to God. The best way to describe Sufism is to call it a mystical practice that focuses on the definite different rituals which are used for guiding the people who are looking for the spiritual guideline. These people aim to directly be in touch with God. People consider Sufism as a spiritual brand of Islam. Some many different meanings and definitions have been given to the word Sufism. According to Bishr ibn-al-Harith, “the Sufi is he whose heart is sincere towards God”.

So it is believed by some people that the word Sufi is derived from the word ‘Safa’ which means pure. This purity is the purity of heart and soul that is attained if someone becomes a Sufi. Some people believed that this word has been taken from the word ‘Saff’ which means “the first rank”. Here this meaning is also meant to have the first rank in front of God. In Sufism, the people convert themselves into a very pure condition so they are thought to be in a very strong position. Another belief is that this word has been taken out from the word ‘suffab’ which means the people on the bench. The most agreed upon thought is that the word Sufism has been derived from the word ‘suf’ which describes a practice of Sufis of wearing wool. Sufism is not bounded with any particular religion as it only refers to the purity of heart and believes in following the religion with a pure heart. A Sufi can be described as a person who loves to be true. The person should be sincere and his heart should be full of love and devotion. 1

What do Sufis Believe About God?

The perception of God in Sufism is quite superior and Sufis believe that God is behind their every activity. The Sufis firmly believe that all the actions that are performed by them are just the orders of God. If some person gets disagreed with this thought then Sufis consider that this person is considering himself God and will be able of performing any act that comes to their minds. The basic idea behind Sufism is that every single thought and act is from God. No matter that the act is in the favor of the person or not. Zikr is considered to be the most important practice in Sufism and by Zikr, it means to remember God. The Sufis used to remember God by different acts like meditation and chant and so on. The Sufis keep on remembering the many attributes of God until and unless they start feeling themselves closer to God. This practice slowly and gradually makes them isolated and they are changed. When people spend a lot of time spinning and whirling around these thoughts then a state comes when they are absorbed in these thoughts and consider themselves ecstatic and pure. Sufis lose themselves and are emptied. They just hand over themselves to God and His will. 2

Abdul Qadir Jilani

Although many Sufis are there in history and at present are famous for their rituals. Many famous Sufis include Abdul Qadir Jilani, Amer Khusro, Bulla Shah, Omar Khayyam, Khawja Sham-ud-din Azeemi, Sultan Bahu, and many others. All these Sufis have devoted their lives for the love of God, in search of truth and making themselves pure. In this paper,we are going to discuss the spiritual life of Abdul Qadir Jilani. Sheikh Muhyiddeen Abdul Qadir Jilani can be known as one of the brightest scholars and saints of Islam. During his time he was the leading light of the religion and mystic studies. He made a great part in Islam and sharia and for this reason, he was known as the spiritual pole of his time. Abdul Qadir Jilani is known in the whole universe for his Qadriya order which is the most benevolent order for the Sunni Muslims. Abdul Qadir Jilani is also known as Ghaus-e-Azam which means that he is known to be the highest saint.

The paternal side of Abdul Qaidr Jilani can directly be linked up with Hazrat Imam Hassan and so with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Abdul Qadir Jilani loved humanity and just wanted to have a pure heart by searching and following the path to God. Abdul Qadir Jilani was a sincere and true preacher and never made any differences among human beings. He prayed for every human and he had a soft corner for the entire humanity. Some of his literary work is known as the best pieces of Islamic literature. Abdul Qadir Jilani was not an inspiration only for the Muslims but he also attracted many of the Christians and Jews towards him. He was very much devoted to religion, purity, and truth that people from all around the world used to come for asking questions regarding their lives. 3

The Qadriya Order

The Qadriya order is abstinent order that was established in 561 AH. This order was given to the people by Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani who was also known as Pir Dastagir. The basic aim of Qadriya order was to live a life by having fear of God in hearts and to live life with truth and honesty. This order is the most widespread Sufi order and is still being followed in many of the countries of the world. The Sufi orders intend to give the guideline that how a person can walk on the path provided by God. The Qadriya order gives the most proper ways to remember God and this order can change the hearts and lives of people significantly. The Qadriya order not only guides the achievement of the love of God but also emphasizes the achievement of the love of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), His companions, saints, Sufis, and descendants. The Qadriyah order also focuses on following the rules that are provided by the Shariah. 4

Fundamental Principles of Sufism

The basic principle of Sufism is to present the depth of the Islamic religion that what does this religion is asking from us. The fundamental principles of Sufism include the purity of heart, beautification of the soul, emphasizing self-realization, choosing the righteous path, creating the feeling of love, and getting closer to God. The Sufis believe that God possesses divine attributes and praising these divine attributes should be the purpose of one’s life. In the view of Sufis, all the prophets are expressions of divine love and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the utmost of these expressions. Sufism tries to convert a person into a righteous being. For being into Sufism it is necessary to have a strong faith in God and to purify the heart. Sufism preaches for the equality of human beings and does not consider any differences of creed and race. Feelings of equality and equity should be in the heart of people who want to get close to God. 5


This paper has described Sufism, its meaning, and its fundamental principles as well. It has been made clear that Sufism is the purity of heart and the search for truth. Sufism is a feeling that makes the person feel closer to God. Sufis are the people who get themselves involved in the mystical practices and rituals and they do not want to get back into their worldly lives. In Sufism, the lives of Sufis are completely devoted towards the love of God and also for the love of humanity. The heart of Sufis is always full of love and devotion. Sufis never believed in making differences among the people based on religion, race and creed, and culture. It is important to know that Sufism is not bounded with any particular religion. It shows the bonding with God and love towards humanity and truth so it can be linked up with any religion. In short, we can say that Sufism is merely the purity of heart. Many saints and Sufis are there in history that has made a significant contribution in making the people realize the distinction between the righteous and wrong path. These Sufis have contributed a lot in providing the guideline to the people that may lead them towards the right path. This paper has also discussed in depth the spiritual life of Abdul Qadir Jilani who is a very well-known Sufi and has performed a great job in preaching to the people and also in guiding them. The paper has also discussed the Qadriya order presented by Abdul Qadir Jilani and still being followed by people all over the world.


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Jean Louis Michon, Sufism: Love and Wisdom, published by World wisdom, 2006.

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What is Sufism? The Nimatullahi Sufi order (2009). Web.

What is Sufism? (2004). Web.


  1. What is Sufism? The Nimatullahi Sufi order (2009). Web.
  2. Sufism, Web.
  3. A great saint: Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (2001). Web.
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  5. Sufism, Sufism in Islam, Origin of Sufism in Islam religion, Sufi orders in Islam. Web.
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