What does Sufiyana mean

Sufi

Sufi (Arabic: صُوفِيّ ṣūfī) Islamic mystic; Followers of Sufism. Sufis want to experience God, to merge with God, to experience the presence of Allah. In India in particular, Sufis have taken in many yoga teachers, practiced many yoga practices, and often influenced yoga masters as well. With some Sufis like Kabir or Shirdi Sai Baba, the contemporaries did not know whether they were actually Hindus or Muslims.

Wassili Wassiljewitsch Vereschtschagin: Dervishes in festive decorations, 1869-1870

But what does the word Sufi mean? Sufi means "carrying wool". In ancient Persia and India, cotton was expensive and valuable, while wool was the garment of the poor. So Sufis were those who voluntarily wore an item of clothing as uncomfortable as wool (in the warm regions) in order to lead a simple life.

Sukadev on Sufi

Transcription of a lecture video (2014) by Sukadev on Sufi

Sufi is a Hindi word and stands for "wearing wool". Sufi as a noun is a member of a mystical Islamic order. Sufis, one can say, were originally monastic orders. Sufis are people who have dedicated their lives to the search for the truth and have lived in a certain order, in a certain tradition. And that also included wearing wool. In earlier times, cotton was considered to be the more valuable clothing. Cotton is more comfortable to wear, cotton is light on the skin. Meanwhile, wool is something that itches and pinches - and above all, in southern countries like Persia or India. There wool is something that is pretty hot in summer.

And so cotton was the more luxurious garment. As a sign of their renunciation and their simple life, the Sufis wore wool, at least at a certain time. Sufism later also became the name for a mystical branch of Islam. Nowadays one can also become a Sufi without becoming a monk. The Sufis have also linked yoga spirituality in many ways. Yoga is also a cross-religious spiritual tradition.

There is yoga in Hinduism and of course there is yoga in Buddhism, there is yoga in Jainism, Parsism and also Sikhism. And the Muslims, especially Islam in India, have adopted yoga practices. And a lot of what constitutes Sufism arose through the contact between Islamic mysticism and yoga practice. And so it is not surprising that Sufis developed certain meditation postures, that they developed breathing exercises, that they ultimately used Arabic syllables like the Indians, used mantras, that there are meditation techniques, etc.

In India in particular, Islam, which is strongly influenced by yoga, is a mystical Islam. And the Sufis are the ones who embodied this Islamic mysticism. Then of course there were Sufis in Persia - there are still Sufis in Persia, in Egypt, in Turkey, in Iraq etc. But especially in India there are very many Sufi saints. There is another special feature: today Sufis are persecuted in many Islamic countries or can only carry out their activities underground. In India, on the other hand, they can do that quite openly, because India is a country of great freedom of expression. So it is not surprising that today there are large Sufi orders in India.

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