Sufi Terms

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Adab

Etiquette, manners, propriety. Islamic and Sufi teachings emphasise the application of adab to all actions.

Ahl as Sunnah, wal Jama’ah

People of the Sunnah, being the majority of muslims.

Allah

The One True God, Who is independent of and Creator of all things, Who has no mother, son nor partner. Who sent down a consistent message through His Prophets, so that humanity may be rightly guided.

Awliya

The friends of Allah. These are His Saints.

Bay’ah

Pledge by a student of alliegance to a Sufi Shaykh, which the Shaykh accepts. Can be the initiation into a Sufi Order.

Dervish

A seeker of Allah, literally meaning, ‘the one who seeks doors’.

Dhikr

Remembrance, invocation or glorification of Allah, generally through the repetition of one of His Names or a sacred phrase.

Hadith

Authorised, accurately recorded Prophetic Traditions on a host of topics, narrated by the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Islam

The way of submission to the Divine Will. Also translates as ‘Peace’.

Khwajagan

Persian title for ‘the Masters’. Were the Naqshbandi Sufis of Central Asia that lived from 10th to the 16th century. Some of these outstanding Masters are part of the Naqshbandi Golden Chain.

Maqam

A spiritual station. Also the resting place of a Saint that has reached a certain spiritual station. Also means a rhythm or structure that determines the spirit of a recitation of the Holy Quran or sacred music.

Maryam

The muslim word for the ‘Virgin Mary’. The most revered woman in Islam, with a chapter in the Holy Quran named after her.

Mawlana

Means ‘our Lord’.

Naqshbandi

The Sufi Order based around the Saints of the Golden Chain. Although originating from the Prophet Muhammad, the Order was named after Khwaja Bauhaddin Shah Naqshband. The only Sufi Order to have Hazrat Abu Bakr as part of their chain of transmission.

Qutb

Means ‘pole’ or ‘axis’. Refers to either the ‘Sultan Awliya’ (the person with the highest spiritual station living on Earth at that time) or his four ‘supports’, who are at the next spiritual level.

Ramadan

The muslim month of fasting, being the month the first revelation of the Quran was brought down.

Sahaba

Companions of the Prophet; those who saw or met the Prophet during his lifetime.

Semahane

Large room where the Mevlevi Whirling Ceremony is performed.

Shaykh

Spiritual Master or in a more general sense, a term of honour.

Sheikh

See Shaykh.

Sultan Awliya

The person with the highest spiritual station living on Earth at that time.

Sunnah

Example of the Prophet, illuminated by his words and deeds.

Tasawwuf

The Islamic science that promotes human spirituality and helps one reach the state known as ‘ihsan’, or the state of divine proximity. Another word for Sufism.

Tariweeh Prayers

The Prayers performed each night during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Zikr

Remembrance, invocation or glorification of Allah, generally through the repetition of one of His Names or a sacred phrases.