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The Sufi

In early Islamic history, Sufism was not recognized as a separate, inner dimension of Islam, but was identified with Islam as such. The Prophet was the ultimate Sufi Master, who taught the essential doctrines of esoteric Islam to the sahaba, or 'Companions.' In turn, the Companions transmitted the teachings and practices of the Prophet to their disciplines, cultivating the seeds for schools of esoteric practice based on the true knowledge of the self. In addition, both the Prophet and the Rashidin (the first four 'Rightly Guided' Caliphs) were the ultimate leaders of jurisprudence and governance. Therefore, there was no cause to establish an intricate, separate legal institution. During this fledgling stage of Islam, the Shari'a and Tariqa had not developed as separate entities. It is not until the consolidation efforts during the second half of the Umayyad Dynasty (second century AH/eighth century AD) that schools of Islamic thought began to emerge. Esoteric teaching methods evolved through a system of initiatic chains, where Sufi teachers began asilsilah, or 'chain' of transmission, that passed from one teacher to the next.

Sufiism mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. It consists of a variety of mystical paths that are designed to ascertain the nature of man and God and to facilitate the experience of the presence of divine love and wisdom in the world.

The sufi is one who is a lover of Truth, who by means of love and devotion moves towards the Truth, towards the perfection which all are truly seeking. As necessitated by love's jealousy, the sufi is taken away from all except the Truth. The practice of Sufism is the intention to go towards the Truth, by means of love and devotion. This is called the tariqat, the spiritual path or way towards God. The tariqat (spirtual path) is the way by which the sufi comes into harmony with the Divine Nature. This way is comprised of spiritual poverty (faqr), devotion and the continuous, selfless remembrance of God (dhikr), which are represented by the cloak of the dervish (khirqah).

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