Question 058: Is there any kind of Sufi-Shi’ism or Similarity between Shia spirituality and Sufism that perhaps not rejected?

Answer 058: Considering that the lexical root of ‘tasawwuf’ is traced to sūf “wool”, gradually those who were wearing simple wool-made cloaks were known as Sufiyah or Mutsawwefah and their school of thought was named “tasawwuf”. In late centuries, names like Dervish, Kharabati etc. have also been used to refer to these individuals. Terminologies like Khaneqah, Mey, Pir, Qalandar etc. enjoy a special place in their school.

Moreover, we must know that Sufi teachings are not restricted to wearing woolen clothes and that the masters of this school have announced other behavioral standards or codes of practice to the proponents. Some of these codes are baseless and ungrounded religious innovations and some others were evaluated in line with Quranic and Shari’ah rules. In this connection, sometimes the actions which were rooted in the religion were modified somehow and changed into an innovation. For instance, there are narrations prescribing a certain deed to be performed sincerely for a period of 40 days which, if done accordingly, will lead to very positive results but the Sufis have changed it into “seclusion rite” [chelle nishini] and added certain manners to it which are not consistent with the sacred Shari’ah of Islam. As a result, Sufism changed into a composite of valid practices and innovations originating in the Sufists’ tastes. This led some Muslims who were seeking to perform only the religious laws and engage in self-reconstruction according to the divine instructions to be labeled and accused of being Sufists or dervishes.

In view of the above, it can be said that although some external forms and rites of Sufism are not rooted in the religion, we cannot and should not reject or endorse the entire Sufi teachings. In fact, the Sufi teachings should be examined section by section and its conformity with the religion should be checked. Moreover, it is not appropriate to accuse a Muslim, who gives more importance to the spirituality and to self-reconstruction methods, of being a Sufi.

Btw, We should remember that Sufi way of thinking was further developed over the history by different sects that added more and more features and traits to it. Sufi teachings cannot be accepted thoroughly or rejected outright because their doctrines are a combination of correct religious behaviors and incorrect innovations originating in their tastes.[1]

Although most of Sufisms have been attributing themselves to one of the Shia Imams (pbuth), but Shias (among Islamic sects) are against the Sufisms.[2]

There are some tradtions narrated in Shia Haditich books in which Sufisms beliefs and acts have been rejected,[3] however some of these tradtions have been denied, according to Sufims saying that these ahatith are weak in chains of narrations.[4]

Names of some Shia Sufi orders

Most of these following Sufi orders are Sunni, but a minatory of them are Twelver Shia:

– Abd al-Jabbaar al-Hasanī wal-Husaynīash-Shadhili, known as Abul Hasan Shadhili Maqrebi, the head of Shadhilliyah Sufi order. One of the greatest Sufi orders.

– Abdul Qadir Gilani known as Ghaus-e-Azam was a sixth century mystic and a narrator who was born in the north of Iran and died in Baghdad. Hewas the figurehead of the Qadiri Sufi order. Most of his followers were in India and Iraq.

– Khajeh Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani.

– Sheikh Abul Hasan Kharqani

– Sheikh Muhammad Khalvati known as Khalvatian order in Herat.

– Jamalul Din Ardestani (789 Ah.) known as Peer Jamaliyah.

– Jalal al-Din Muhammad bin Baha’ al-Din Muhammad Balkhi. Known as Molaviyah Sufi order.

– Nood Ahmad Chishti, Qadiriyya and Suhrawardiyya. They were in India and Pakistan.

– Sheikh Farid al-Din.

– Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili.

– Amir Sayyid Noor al-Din Nimatullah bin Mir Abdullah Kermani, known as Nimatullahiyah.

– Qazi Noorullah Shooshtari,known as Noor Bakhshiyah.

– Mullah Faidh Kashani.[5]

For further information about the emergence and development of Sufism, see books like “An Inquiry into Iran’s Sufism” by Dr. Abdul Hussein Zarrinkoob.

Also, read the following answers:

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Shia View of the Mutazilah and Wasil ibn Ata, answer 095.

[1] . Kulayni, Muhammad bin Ya’qub, Al-Kafi, vol.2, pg.134, hadith No.17, Islamic Publications, Tehran 1986;  Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.22, pg.429, hadith No.37, Al-Wafa Institute, Beirut, 1404 A.H;  Al-Kafi, vol.5, pg.65, hadith No.1.

[2] . Haydar bin Ali Amoli, Jame al-Asrar wa Manba al-Anvar, Vol. 1, Pg. 128.

[3] . Kulayni, Usul Kafi, Vol. 6, Pgs. 449-450; Muhammad Baqir Majlesi, Bihar al-Anvar, Vol. 5, Pg 318, Beirut, 1403 A.H; Abbas Qomi, Safinat al-Bihar wa Madinat al-Hikam wal Aathar, Vol. 2, Pgs. 57-58.

[4] . Muhammad Masoom bin Zayn al-Aabeding Masoom Alishah, Taraeq al-Haqayeq, Vol. 1, Pg. 212.

[5] . Adopted from answer 140 (Names of some Shia Sufi orders).

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