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  • What do you understand by Sufism. Explain how Sufism is relevant in the present times?

    18 Oct, 2021 GS Paper 1 History

    Sufism is the name given to mysticism in Islam, a school of practice that focuses on the spiritual search for God and shuns materialism., and those who practice Sufism are called Sufis.

    Sufism came to India in the 10-11th century and became popular in the 12th century. By the 12th century, the Sufis were organised in 12 orders or Silsilas. A Silsila was generally led by a prominent mystic who lived in a Khanqah or hospice along with his disciples.

    The four most popular Silsilas were:

    • Chistis
    • Suhrawardis
    • Qadri-riyas and
    • Naqshbandis.

    Salient Features of Sufism

    • Fundamental principle: God, man and the relation of love between God and man is fundamental to Sufism.
    • Central Ideas: The idea of soul, divine proximity, divine love and self annihilation are central to the theory of Sufism.
    • Love of humanity: According to Sufism, love of God meant love of humanity and thus, they stressed that service to God is nothing but service of humanity.
    • Belief in Equality: Sufism transcends all religious and communal distinctions and treats all human beings as equal.
    • Self discipline: Sufism also lays stress on self discipline and considers it essential to gain knowledge of God.
    • Inner Purity: Unlike orthodox Muslim sects, who lay emphasis on external conduct. Sufism lays stress on inner purity.

    Relevance of Sufism in the present times

    With growing intolerance and violence in society, Sufism has become all the more important in present times.

    • Non Violence: Sufism believes in love and devotion to God. It has no place for violence in its order. It is antithetical to the violent and radical form of Islam as followed by Taliban.
    • Equality of Beings: It does not believe in any societal classification such as religion, caste, class or gender. With growing differences between people, Sufism gives the message of essential equality of all human beings.
    • Social Welfare: It stresses on social welfare which has led to the establishment of works of charitable nature, opening of orphanages and women service centres. Nizamuddin Auliya was famous for distributing gifts amongst the needy irrespective of religion or caste. The importance of social welfare work came to the fore during Covid-19 pandemic.
    • Morality: At a time when struggle for power is the prevailing madness, Sufism reminds men of their moral obligations. In this world which is torn by strife and conflict, It gives the message of peace and harmony.
    • Meditation: Another idea emphasized by Sufism is meditation. With growing stress in our body and mind, meditation gives a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.


    Sufism has left a prevailing impact on religious, cultural, and social life in the world. Its teachings of service to humanity and love for God still resonates with people today. Sufis were firm in abstaining from religious and communal conflict and strived to be peaceful elements of civil society.

    In these tough and uncertain times, the teachings of Sufism can be a guiding light to humanity the world over.

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