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Sufism is an Islamic school of thought that includes philosophers and mystics. Sufism embraces the Quran and most of Shi'a and Sunni Islam's beliefs. Sufis believe that Sufi teachings are the essence of every religion, and indeed of the evolution of humanity as a whole. The central concept in sufism is "love". Sufists believe that, love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe. God desires to recognize beauty, and as if one looks at a mirror to see oneself, God "looks" at itself within the dynamics of nature. Since everything is a reflection of God, the school of sufism practices to see the beauty inside the appearent ugly, and to open arms even to the most evil one. This infinite tolerance is expressed in the most beautiful way perhaps by the famous sufist philosopher Mevlana: "Come, come, whoever you are. Worshiper, Wanderer, Lover of Leaving; ours is not a caravan of despair. Though you have broken your vows a thousand times...Come, come again, Come."

Sufi is the Arabic word for "wool", in the sense of "cloak", referring to the simple cloaks the original Sufis wore, but the Sufi use the composing letters of the words to express hidden meanings, and so the word could also be understood as "enlightenment".

Sufis teach in personal groups, believing that the intervention of the master is necessary for the growth of the pupil. They make extensive use of parables and metaphors, in such a way that the meaning is only reachable through a process of seeking for the utmost truth and knowledge of oneself.

A large part of Muslim literature[?] comes from the Sufis, who created great books of poetry, which include for example 1001 Arabian Nights, all of which contain the profound, and hardly graspable, teachings of the Sufis.

Offshoots of Sufism in Africa include, for example, the Muslim brotherhoods of Senegal.

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Universal Sufism

Sufism is usually seen as an offshoot of Islam. Still there is a major line of sufi-thought that sees sufism as predating Islam and being in fact universal and therefore not dependent on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed. This view of sufism has understandably been popular in the West. Major exponents of this view were Hazrat Inayat Khan and Idries Shah.

Orders of Sufism

(Add links & info to other order: such as Bektashi, Nimatalahi, Quaddiri, Rufi, Noori,...)

Famous Sufis

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