Calling Oneself a Sufi

I know that times have changed and dynamics have changed so that now it’s acceptable for people to attribute the name Sufi to themselves. But I choose not do it, because a Sufi is someone who has mastered tazkiyatun nafs, which I haven’t.

I found an interesting excerpt that I wanted to share:

“As for the derivation of the words tasawwuf and Sufism they come from the word sufi, and here it must be first said that no one can ever call himself a sufi, except from pure ignorance, for it proves thereby that he is not truly so, this quality necessarily being a secret(sirr) between the true sufi and Allah; one can only call oneself a mutasawwuf, a term applied to anyone who has entered upon the initiatic “way”, whatever the “degree” he may have reached; but the sufi , in the true sense of the term, is only the one who has reached the supreme degree.”

So I guess we can conclude that in these days the word sufi is not used in the true sense of the term, which is unfortunate.

from Haqiqa and Sharia in Islam



  1. Umm Layth Said:

    as Salamu ‘Alaykum

    I used to think, before looking into Tasawwuf for what it really was, that the sufis were the reflection of their beliefs and thus it was a modernist methodology, subhanallah. Now, I can actually be open-minded about groups and identifying the claimants from the principles, but as Muslims we should be careful that we don’t give the wrong image of things. If a Sufi is someone who has reached a high station with Allah, like you said, who are we to go around calling ourselves such? May Allah help us become Muhsineen. Aameen

    nice blog sis

  2. tradicionalista Said:

    wa alaykom assalam

    jazakAllah khair Umm Layth
    I love your new website by the way. I loved your old blog too!
    I love all of your stuff. 🙂
    guess what I love you too fi Allah!

  3. Danya Said:

    I’ve never met anyone who was serious in their suluk that actually calls themselves a sufi. Who have you meet that deems it acceptable (amongst traditionalists at least)?

  4. tradicionalista Said:

    Well I haven’t actually met someone very serious in their suluk that calls themselves as such thank God, except I’ve noticed very few that are in tariqas/turuq might call themselves sufi not out of arrogance but just because they are students of Sufism, which I found odd.
    Some people define a sufi as someone in a tariqa which is odd. But I haven’t actually seen it that much.

  5. UmmZaid Said:

    Salaam ‘Alaikum

    I’ve come across a few. It makes me cringe. Sheikh Hamza has also said as much in the past (that “Sufi” is not a word he would ever dare ascribe to himself or something like that; it was years ago, so I don’t remember exactly).

    But another problem is sometimes when people first take tariq, they become a little fanatical about it: doing tariqa da’wah and announcing to all and sundry that they’ve taken (or “are in” or “joined”) such and such tariqa with such and such Sheikh. The shayukh and advanced students have said this is akin to announcing that you are in such and such wing of a mental hospital and so and so is your psychiatrist.

  6. andalus Said:

    I once heard someone say to another “But you’re a sufi right?” to which he responded, with a smile. “I am fond of Sheikh so and so, but I am no more a sufi than someone who’s read sahih al-bukhari is a muhadith.”

  7. Bint-eh Adam Said:

    Many thanks for this!

    Imam Ghazali says:

    “..real alchemists are very rare, and so are real Sufis.”

    Label Theory for some is empowerment I guess, but I don’t like it. I much prefer the title ‘Muslim’ as it reminds me of the Abrahamic connection. It is interesting that some Muslims are choosing to refer to themselves as ‘Sufi’ .. it may sound like club membership at first but seriously, I think people are ending up pigeon-holing themselves away into groups.

  8. Danya Said:

    Ya, people have asked me if I am a Sufi too.. I just say “insha’Allah” or flat out say no (depending on who I am talking to) but ya, I do see people announcing their tariqa status, though I don’t know any people who say “I’m sufi” they might say they are students or something…

  9. Sumera Said:

    The new age wannabe Sufi’s are more hippy and feral in nature. Some are just con artists or high on ganja. Its them who have tainted the image and reputation of sufi’s.

    I havent come across any students from particular tariqa’s, but if they call themselves “sufi” then I dont see what the harm in that is – its probably the only term that adequately describes where their inclinations lie.

  10. Yusuf Smith Said:

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    What I find an issue is not people calling themselves Sufis, but people opposed to Sufism calling anyone who is “into” tasawwuf, or who merely approves of it, “Sufis”. I don’t think it was followers of turuq who started this trend, but Orientalists and Muslims who are opposed to it. Shaikh Nuh said there were two definitions of Sufi – the Sufi definition, and the Orientalist one, namely “anyone who calls himself a Sufi”, but the sectarian definition seems to have more currency nowadays.

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