Sufism or Tasawwuf, is defined as the inner mystical dimension of Islam. Practitioners of Sufism (Tasawwuf), referred to as Sufis, often belong to differenturuq or "orders"—congregations formed around a grand master referred to as a Mawla who maintains a direct chain of teachers back to the Prophet Muhammad.
These orders meet for spiritual sessions (majalis) in meeting places known as zawiyahs, khanqahs, or tekke. Sufis strive for ihsan (perfection of worship) as detailed in a hadith: "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him; if you can't see Him, surely He sees you." Jalaluddin Rumi stated: "The Sufi is hanging on to Muhammad, like Abu Bakr." Sufis regard Prophet Muhammad as Al-Ins?n al-K?mil, which is a concept that describes Muhammad as the primary perfect man who exemplifies the morality of God. Sufis regard Prophet Muhammad as their leader and prime spiritual guide.
All Sufi orders trace many of their original precepts from the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib, with the notable exception of the Naqshbandi order who claim to trace their origins through the first sunni Caliph, Abu Bakr. Sufi orders are largely Sunni and follow one of the four schools of Sunni Islam and maintain a Sunni Aqidah or creed. Over the years various Sufi orders have been influenced by and adopted into various Shi'ite movements, especially Ismailism, which led to the Safaviyya order's conversion to Shi'ite Islam and the spread . . . more