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What is Sufism?

Question: "What is Sufism?"

Sufism is a movement within Islam, though much of the Muslim world believes Sufism is no longer valid. Regardless, to study Sufism, you must first study Islam, as the one stems from the other.

Sufism is considered to be the mystical side of Islam. Perhaps this is one reason traditional Muslims have distanced themselves from Sufism. Sufism focuses on giving love and devotion to God. Because Sufists believe that material possessions hinder one's devotion, they are often considered ascetics who have abandoned the living world. They themselves claim to be mystics. Although the beliefs of Sufism center around Islamic doctrine, it teaches that harmony with God comes through spiritual poverty, love, devotion, and the selfless remembrance of God (usually done by chanting).

Sufists’ devotion to God is commendable. Jesus (called Isa according to Sufism) said the greatest commandment is to love God with all the heart, soul, and mind (Mark 12:30). The problem is that we have not always loved God supremely. By putting money, prestige, and possessions ahead of God, we have all failed to love God.

Thankfully, the Lord Jesus did love God perfectly. He died on the cross to save us from sin, enabling us to love God wholeheartedly. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25).

Jesus’ death and resurrection is the Good News for Sufists. While Sufism cannot give us a relationship of love with God, Jesus can! As followers of Jesus, true Christians can love God and others: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:7-11).

Recommended Resource: Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross by Norm Geisler.

Related Topics:

What is Islam, and what do Muslims believe?

I am a Muslim. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

How can I, as a Muslim, be assured of paradise?

Why did Jesus have to die?

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What is Sufism?