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Sufism has become the general term for the mystical or esoteric expression of Islam. Its roots are debated, but they may be as early as the first or early second century of Islam, the late 7th and 8th centuries C.E.


Sufi Islam has its origins in the interpretation of the Quran and in the life of Muhammad, but it was also shaped by ascetic practices common to the Near East and Byzantium.


Sufism does not have a discrete set of foundational figures, though it traces its origins back to Muhammad and his Companions.

Sacred Texts

Rather than seeking or creating an alternate scriptural basis for their beliefs, Sufis rooted their practice in esoteric interpretations of the Quran.

Historical Perspectives

Though Sufism is now the general catchall term for Islamic mysticism, it is not clear that practitioners always applied that label to themselves.