Difference between Islam and Sufism

Core difference

Both Islam and Sufism are associated with an ideology. In fact, Islam is the main ideology and Sufism is the main part of this ideology. Before revealing the difference between two, it is very important to understand them one by one.

What is the Islam?

Islam is the second largest religion in the world which was formed by Prophet Ibrahim (عليهم السلام) and continued by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The believers of Islam are known as Muslims. Islam is based on the fundamental principle that God, also known as ALLAH, is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence for Muslims is to worship God. Muslims also believe that Islam is the fundamental religion to be practiced by all human beings until judgment day. Muslims are mostly divided into two schools of thought: Sunni (85 to 90%) and Shia (10 to 15%) and both sectors have their subsectors or schools of thought as well.

What is Sufism?

Sufism is a thought of Islam that focused mainly on the inner values ​​of a person. Some scholars have argued that Sufism is like Neoplatonism. Sufism is purely based on the teaching of Islam and the Islamic Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Bayazid Bastami, Jalaluddin Rumi, Haji Bektash Veli, Junaid Baghdadi, Al-Ghazali, Mansur Al Hallaj, etc. were some famous traditional Sufis of Islam. Some scholars argued that Sufism is an umbrella term that is present in almost all religions in different forms, while others believe that Sufism is entirely unique to Islam. A follower and practitioner of this thought is generally known as a Sufi and all Sufi orders follow the original insights of the Islamic prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Key differences

  1. The first fundamental difference between Islam and Sufism has to do with the perception of God. Islam clearly establishes two guidelines, the Koran and the Hadith, to approach God. Whereas Sufism believes mainly in ritual practices and apparently less follows the Qur’an and Hadith.
  2. Islam focused on adherence to Islamic law, while Sufism emphasized spirituality.
  3. Music of any kind and dance are prohibited according to Qur’anic verses, while in Sufism music in the form of Qawwali and dance in the form of Wajd or Raqs are permitted.
  4. Islam is a religion, while Sufism is part of Islam.
  5. Dikhr, a practice of repeating the names of God, is very important in Sufist ideology, while in Islam it is also important, but less so than Sufism.

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