WHAT IS SUFISM (TASAWUF)?
Tasawwuf (Sufism) is referred to the Spirituality of Islam, its objective is purifying the heart and turning it away from all else but Allah. This helps to draw closer to Allah Almighty and to more fully embrace the Divine Presence in the life.
In simply, the Tasawwuf is an inner law concerned with the human heart.
WHAT IS TARIQAH (SUFI ORDER OR SCHOOL OF SPIRITUALITY)?
The schools of spirituality in Islam are called as “Tariqa” (The way). The main purpose of Tariqa is to attain Divine Presence through mystical learning from a spiritual teacher, spiritual practices and purifying the hearts.
One of the most famous companions of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), Hazrat Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
“I have memorized two kinds of knowledge from Allah's Apostle. I have propagated one of them to you and if I propagated the second, then my pharynx (throat) would be cut (i.e. killed).”
Book: Sahih al Bukhari Book 3, Number 121
From the above hadith, it can be understood that there are two types of knowledge which the beloved Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) has taught to his companions. One is explicit. That is, the teachings of Shariah (Islamic Jurisprudence). Another one is secret knowledge or implicit knowledge. It cannot be taught or learned through the books or materials. It is the knowledge from heart to heart. It is called the Spiritual Knowledge.
This spiritual knowledge was taught by the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) to his companions personally or secretly. Then this knowledge was transmitted to the people of next generation from the companions through the spiritual teachings.
All the Tariqas have silsilas (chain, lineage). Almost all Tariqas except the Naqshbandi Tariqa has a silsila that leads back to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Sayyiduna Ali (May Allah be pleased with him). The Naqshbandi Silsila goes back to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Hazrat Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him)
Each Tariqa has a Murshid (guide or teacher) who is the spiritual teacher. The student or follower of a Tariqa is known as Murid. The student would take baiyat (oath of allegiance) in the hands of his teacher. Then, the teacher would guide the student through spiritual practices such as Dhikr (remembrance of Allah Almighty), teachings of spiritual knowledge and guiding him in the ethical disciplines. Through the guidance of his Murshid, a Murid should come more and more close to Almighty Allah by submitting his heart, soul and deed.
In terms of Spirituality, there are many schools or sufi orders are followed by Muslims worldwide. However, most famous schools are:
Schools of Spirituality Founder
Qadriya Tariqa Seyyaduna Abdul Qadir Gilani (may Allah be pleased with him)
Rifa'iyya Tariqa Seyyaduna Ahmed Kabeer Rifai (may Allah be pleased with him)
Chistiyya Tariqa Seyyaduna Abu Ishaq Shami (may Allah be pleased with him)
Mehlavi Tariqa Seyyaduna Jalaluddin Rumi (may Allah be pleased with him)
Suhrawardiyya Tariqa Seyyaduna Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi (may Allah be pleased with him)
Naqshbandiyya Tariqa Seyyaduna Muhammad Baha ad-din an-Naqshabandi (may Allah be pleased with him)
Shadhiliyya Tariqa Seyyaduna Abu-l-Hassan ash-Shadhili (may Allah be pleased with him)
WHICH TARIQA DO I WANT TO FOLLOW?
There is no compulsory in selecting a particular Tariqa. It is a personal choice of a person to choose any of these Tariqa. Generally, Muslims follow the same Tariqa of their forefathers. However, if a person finds a good spiritual teacher, then he can take baiyat (oath of allegiance) in the hands of that teacher and can follow his teachings in order to attain Divine closeness.