It is important to stress that the broader cosmological framework within which Sufism operates is not different from general Islam. This is because Sufism is not a denomination or a sectarian affiliation, such as Sunnism or Shiism. Rather, Sufism is the mystical expression of the Islamic ethos, which is not strictly Sunni or Shii. Thus, Sufis also believe, like all Muslims do, that God created the world, that he sent messengers and prophets such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad with messages and scriptures to guide humankind. All of this is consistent with mainstream Muslim belief.

Sufis do not so much differ from as add to that tradition, accompanying what is seen as traditionally orthodox practice with an additional layer of personal and inwardly-directed spiritual attention. The purpose of this additional dimension is to develop a personal relationship with God that happens to follow specifically Sufi principles of renunciation and spiritual training. As stated above, however, Sufism is not exclusive or generally prescriptive: that is, every Sufi is a Muslim, but not every Muslim must be a Sufi.

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