Contents > Chapter 1: Overview and Background > Sufism Today

Sufism Today

Sufism or Tasawwuf is divided into many sects, called Tareeqahs.[1] The four major Tareeqahs are, Chistiya, Qadriyah, Naqshbandiya and Soharwardiyah. Sufism in India is represented by ‘the Deobandis’ and ‘the Barelawis’, who follow all these four Tareeqahs.


Until the seventeenth century, there was no distinct school of thought amongst India’s Sufi Hanafee Scholars. But mutual disagreements later caused a great rift among them and led to the formation of two different and opposing institutions; the ‘Barelawis’ and the ‘Deobandis.’ Hostilities and bitter disagreements between these two groups have taken dangerous proportions and the Barelawis in particular have exaggerated in the Takfeer (declaring Kufr) of the Deobandis. Both these groups claim to follow the Hanafee Madhhab, though they only follow the Hanafee Fiqh and do not share the beliefs of Imam Abu Haneefah.


Since this book focuses primarily on the beliefs and methodology of the School of Deoband and the Jamaat Tableegh, we shall limit ourselves only to those aspects of Sufism that are related to the Deobandis, and study Sufism from their (Deobandi) perspective.

[1] Tareeqah and Sharee’ah: According to the Soofis, Tareeqah is the way by which one reaches to Allah, and Sharee’ah is the path which reaches the Jannah. Tareeqah is special and Sharee’ah is common. Tareeqah is based upon a particular set of beliefs, actions and exercises.  [A Dictionary of the Technical Terms used in the Sciences of the Musalmans by Moulvi Muhammad Alee Ibn Alee Al-Thanvi, p.919]