Islam and Sufism in Kashmir

Article Opinion

Mehtab Ali

Sufism, an Islamic mysticism, known as, ‘Tasawwuf’ in the Arabic language. A school of practice that emphasizes search for God and shuns materialism. Various accounts stand regarding the origin of the term Sufi, most school of thoughts believe that it originated from the Arabic word Suf, which refers to the wool that was traditionally worn by mystics. Written expressions of Sufism include poetry, and literature describing the places of spiritual ascent on the path to God and their accompanying psychological transformations. Sufism has shaped literature and art for centuries, and is associated with most resonant pieces of Islam, “golden age,” lasting from roughly the 8th-13th centuries, including the poetry of Rumi.




Since from its origin lot of misunderstanding emerged, some believed Sufism as a sect of Islam. However, it is actually a broader style of worship that transcend sects. Sufi practice focuses on the denouncing of materialistic things, purification of the soul, and the mystical understanding of nature of Almighty. Followers try to get closer to God by seeking spiritual learning, belief in pursuing a path that leads to closeness with God, ultimately through encountering the divine in the hereafter; a fundamental component of Islamic belief. However, in Sufi thought this proximity can be realized in this life.

It is nothing more than the spiritual dimension of Islam, often referred to as the intensification of Islamic faith and practice. In contrast to the academic exercises of theology, which depend on reason, Sufism depends on emotion and imagination in the divine-human relationship.




A central component of Sufi worship is constant, meditative remembrance of God, done both communally and individually, towards cultivating greater connection with the divine. Sufi rituals typically consist of the recitation of prayers, poems, and methodical repetitions of divine names or Quranic verses. In communal gatherings, Sufi’s perform these, often with musical accompaniment.

The mystical nature of this practice has often created some controversies surrounding this practice. Some fundamentalists see the reverence for saints, as a form of idolatry, because in their view it shows devotion to something other than the worship of a God. Sufi’s have remained a dynamic part of the religious life in the Islamic world and were very active in the expansion of Islam in rural and modern societies in the West and among the modernized intellectual elites within the Muslim world. Sufi organizations provide social cohesion in an increasingly mobile society, emphasizing communal activities. They have helped to shape and counter the challenges of Muslim faith in the modern era. (KNB)


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