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Sufism or Taṣawwuf is mysticism in Islam. It is a branch of Islam, defined by adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam; others contend that it is a perennial philosophy of existence that pre-dates religion, the expression of which flowered within Islam. Its essence has also been expressed via other religions and metareligious phenomena.


A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a tariqa (pl. ṭuruq). They belong to different ṭuruq or "orders" – congregations formed around a master – which meet for spiritual sessions (majalis), in meeting places known as zawiyahs, khanqahs, or tekke. All Sufi orders (turuq) trace many of their original precepts from the Islamic Prophet. Some Muslim opponents of Sufism also consider it outside the sphere of Islam. Muhammad through his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib, with the notable exception of the Sunni Naqshbandi order who claim to trace their origins through the first sunni Caliph, Abu Bakr. However, Alevi and Bektashi muslims (and some Shia muslims) claim that every Sufi order traces its spiritual lineage (silsilah) back to one of the Twelve Imams, the spiritual heads of Islam who were foretold in the Hadith of the Twelve Successors and were all descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and Ali. Because of this Ali ibn Abi Talib is also called the "father of sufism". Prominent orders include Alevi, Bektashi, Mevlevi, Ba 'Alawiyya, Chishti, Rifa'i, Khalwati, Naqshbandi, Nimatullahi, Oveyssi, Qadiria Boutshishia, Qadiriyyah, Qalandariyya, Sarwari Qadiri, Shadhiliyya and Suhrawardiyya. Generally, Sufism has similarities with Kabbalah of Judaism.

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