Sufism is a Muslim movement whose followers seek to find divine truth and love through direct encounters with God. Sufism arose from within Islam in the 8th-9th centuries C.E. as an ascetic movement. The movement may have been given (or taken on) the name Sufism because of the coarse wool garments they wore as a mark of their rejection of worldly things; Sufis have traditionally taken vows of poverty and celibacy. Sufism developed religious practices focusing on strict self-control that enable both psychological and mystical insights as well as a loss of self, with the ultimate goal of mystical union with God. The Sufi movement consists of fraternal orders in which leaders train and assist disciples in the mastery of Sufism's philosophical principles and ritual practices.

Such rituals and practices include writing and reciting poetry and hymns; some of the most famous and beautiful literature of the Islamic world has been written by Sufis. Sufis engage in a variety of ritual practices intended to help them realize union with God, such as distinct forms of ritual prayer (dhikr, literally "remembrance"), including the recitation of God's names, as well as bodily rituals such as those practices by the so-called "Whirling Dervishes," a Turkish Sufi order that practices meditation and contemplation of God through spinning.

Quick Facts

Formed 675
Adherents 9,000,000
Deity Allah
Sacred Text Qur'an
Origin Middle East
Headquarters None
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