The mysticism or esoterism of Islam. The word is commonly thought to come
from the Arabic word suf (wool): rough woolen clothing characterized the
early ascetics, ...
Sufism is the science of the direct knowledge of God; its doctrines and
methods are derived from the Koran and Islamic revelation. Like exoteric
Islam, Sufism freely makes use of paradigms and concepts derived from
Greek and even from Hindu sources, ... despite any borrowings and influences
from exterior sources, the essence of Sufism is puely Islamic ...
In the early days, Sufism was not recognized as the inner dimension of Islam,
as it is now, but was identified with Islam as such. ... for the Sufis the
great Master, the true Master, is none other than the Prophet himself, ...
Sufism takes many forms, but it always contains two poles: doctrine and
method. Doctrine can be summarized as intellectual discrimination between
the Real and the unreal, the basis for this being found essentially in the
shahadah: "there is no god but God" or "there is no reality but the Reality."
Method can be summarized as concentration upon the Real by the "remembrance
of God (dhikr Allah), the invocation of the Divine Name (dhikr means
"remembrance," "mention," "invocation"). Both doctrine and method must,
however, be complemented by perfect surrender to God and the maintenance of
an equilibrium through the spiritual regime, which is Islam. ...
A kind of Sufism has evolved which reflects a popular idea of spirituality.
As happens in every civilization, this popular sprirituality confuses
piety (augmented by great zeal and a multiplication of ritual practices)
with pure spiritual intuition and lustral transcendent knowledge. Needless
to say, folklore hawked as the "wisdom of idiots" may be exactly that, but
it has nothing to do with Sufism of any kind, nor is it a "self-development"
divorced from its religious framework.