Ethics and Community
Sufi orders are called "tariqas," from the Arabic word for paths. Sufism is found in all parts of the Muslim world, attracting Sunnis and Shi'is, and men and women of all social classes. Some becomes disciples or join orders, while others do not practice Sufism but attend Sufi ceremonies or festivals.
Aspiring Sufis become disciples to a master, usually known as a shaykh, who provides instruction in humility, self-denial, and patience. The disciple follows the master's path until he or she experiences inner understanding of God and universal love.
Principles of Moral Thought and Action
Sufism teaches that there is both an outer law, Islamic "shariah," and an inner law, which consists of rules regarding repentance and maintaining a good and virtuous character.
Vision for Society
Sufism is an inner tradition focused on prayers and individual character development, while sharing the wider Islamic vision of a just and peaceful society.
Gender and Sexuality
Sufism is generally more open to the leadership of women than is orthodox Islam. There have been hundreds of female Sufi teachers, many Sufi saints and women, and some have had shrines built in their honor.