Discuss the salient features of the Sufi Movement in medieval India.

 Discuss the salient features of the Sufi Movement in medieval India.


  • Introduce the Sufi Movement
  • Discuss salient features of the Sufi movement
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

Sufism or ‘Tasawwuf’ in the Islamic texts, is the quest for the divine within man. Sufis turned to asceticism and mysticism in protest against the growing materialism of the Caliphate as a religious and political institution. Sufis sought an interpretation of the Quran on the basis of their personal experience and by following the example of the Prophet Muhammad whom they regarded as a perfect human being.

The features of Sufi movement are as follows:

  1. The Sufis were organised into various orders called Silsilahs. Each of these silsilah e.g. Suhrawardi, Qadiri, Chishti, etc. were founded by a leading figure who lent his name to it. A silsilah consisted of persons who had become disciples of a particular Sufi saint. Though different silsilahs had their individual special characteristics, all shared some common features.
  2. Sufism stressed the importance of traversing the Sufi pathas a method of establishing direct communion with divine reality.
  3. As per Sufi beliefs, the beginner has to pass through a succession of stages and changing psychological conditions experience God.
  4. Only a spiritual director or Pir who had himself successfully traversed the Sufi path can lead his disciple towards establishing direct communion with God.
  5. The disciple has to practise spiritual exercises like self mortification, recollection of God’s name and progress through the stages to attain concentration and contemplation.
  6. Impersonate musical recitals were organised and the intention was to induce a mystic sense of ecstasy. However, this practice was not supported by some Sufi silsilahs .
  7. The centre of the activities of a Sufi order was the hospice. Here the Pir imparted spiritual training to his disciples. The number of isciples and popularity of the hospice depended on the reputation of the Pir. The hospices were supported by endowment and charity.

The Sufism was a critical response to the dogmatic traditions developed in Islam. By the eleventh century, it gathered mass followings and evolved into a well-developed movement with a body of literature on Quranic studies and Sufi practices.

Subjects : History and Culture