The term “sufism” covers a very broad gamut of beliefs and group, and some of them are within the fold of mainstream Islam — not even a form of Islam, but just Islam, and others have lost their Islamic character altogether.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s Universal Sufism which itself claims to be universal and not specific to Islam and that most Muslims would not recognize as Islam in any way. They have different theological beliefs, and their practice of Islam is not familiar to most Muslims.
The Arabic word for sufism is tasawwuf and is considered a dimension of Islam which adds a lot of mystical and spiritual meaning to Islam.
Origin and spread
Over a period of time, Sufism has gained the status of an outer periphery of Islam which addresses a larger arena of spiritual ideologies. But without any dispute, etymologically, Sufism is primarily the inner dimension of Islam.
What is Sufism
Sufism is remembrance of God and inculcating higher values in life by practicing austerity. People see sufism as a mystical expression of Islam. The churning of deeper values which are mentioned in Quran are so subtly expressed in the Sufi Path that people from every religion have appreciated it.
Sufism has spread from middle east to Africa and even to many parts in South Asia. Most admirable aspect of Sufism which took it across global boundaries are the Sufi Music and Sufi Poetries. Indian music industry has many adaptations from the sufi style of music. One of my all time favorite songs which has a great influence of Sufi music is embedded below – it has very deep meanings and is no less than a daily prayer.
Nowadays, Sufism often refers to a certain type of Muslim who participates in a spiritual order called a Tariqah. However, Sufism or Tassawuf is a major branch of science in Islam and covers all aspects of appropriate spiritual thought and practice.
However, in the modern times, Sufism has a worldwide appeal and people from all religion like to read and listen to the teachings and practices of Sufis.