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**Foundations of Sufism:**
– Definitions: Sufism is commonly defined as Islamic mysticism, intensifying Islamic faith.
– Etymology: Origins of the term ‘Sufi’ from ascetics and purity, possibly linked to early companions of Muhammad.
– History: Emergence in the Hejaz, focus on internalizing Islam, and establishing a spiritual connection with God through Muhammad.

**Influence and Spread of Sufism:**
– Influence: Vital role in spreading Islam, significant in the Islamic world, and influencing Western spirituality.
– Sufi Orders: Belonging to tariqa, spiritual sessions, worshiping Allah, and various orders like Naqshbandi and Chishti.
– Influence on Shii Movements: Impact on Shia movements, conversion to Shia Islam, and spread of Twelverism in Iran.

**Development and Formalization of Sufism:**
– Sufism as an Islamic Discipline: Approach to Islam, focusing on inner purification, integral to Orthodox Islam.
– Formalization of Doctrine: Ordering into formalized orders, major orders like Suhrawardiyya and Qadiriyya.

**Historical Background and Intellectual Influence:**
– Historical Background: Early scholars, contributions by figures like Uwais al-Qarani, and long history before institutionalization.
– Growth of Sufism Influence: Integral to Islam, spread across Sunni Islamic regions, significant contributions to Islamic culture.

**Challenges and Modern Adaptation of Sufism:**
– Modern Era Challenges: Opposition throughout history, criticism from modernist reformers, and ideological attacks.
– Resilience and Adaptation: Persistence, inclusive Islamic identity, existence in modern societies, and popularity in various countries.
– Notable Sufi Figures: Revival under contemporary spiritual teachers, global spread of lineages, and accommodation of local beliefs.

Sufism (Wikipedia)

Sufism (Arabic: الصُّوفِيَّة‎, romanizedaṣ-ṣūfiyya), also known as Tasawwuf (Arabic: التَّصَوُّف‎, romanizedat-taṣawwuf), is a mystic body of religious practice found within Islam which is characterized by a focus on Islamic purification, spirituality, ritualism, asceticism, and esotericism. It has been variously defined as "Islamic mysticism", "the mystical expression of Islamic faith", "the inward dimension of Islam", "the phenomenon of mysticism within Islam", the "main manifestation and the most important and central crystallization" of mystical practice in Islam, and "the interiorization and intensification of Islamic faith and practice".

Six Sufi masters, c. 1760

Practitioners of Sufism are referred to as "Sufis" (from صُوفِيّ, ṣūfīy), and historically typically belonged to "orders" known as tariqa (pl. ṭuruq) – congregations formed around a grand wali who would be the last in a chain of successive teachers linking back to Muhammad, with the goal of undergoing Tazkiah (self purification) and the hope of reaching the spiritual station of Ihsan. The ultimate aim of Sufis is to seek the pleasure of God by endeavoring to return to their original state of purity and natural disposition, known as fitra.

Sufism emerged early on in Islamic history, partly as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661–750) and mainly under the tutelage of Hasan Al-Basri. Although Sufis were opposed to dry legalism, they strictly observed Islamic law and belonged to various schools of Islamic jurisprudence and theology. Although the overwhelming majority of Sufis, both pre-modern and modern, remain adherents of Sunni Islam, certain strands of Sufi thought transferred over to the ambits of Shia Islam during the late medieval period. This particularly happened after the Safavid conversion of Iran under the concept of Irfan. Important focuses of Sufi worship include dhikr, the practice of remembrance of God. Sufis also played an important role in spreading Islam through their missionary and educational activities.

Despite a relative decline of Sufi orders in the modern era and attacks from revivalist Islamic movement (such as the Salafis and Wahhabis), Sufism has continued to play an important role in the Islamic world, especially in the neo-traditionalist strand of Sunni Islam. It has also influenced various forms of spirituality in the West and generated significant academic interest.

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