"The term "Sufi" derives from the Arabic word "Soof" (meaning "wool") and was applied to Muslim ascetics and mystics because they wore garments made out of wool. Sufism represents a dimension of Islamic religious life that has frequently been viewed by Muslim theologians and lawyers with suspicion. The ecstatic state of the mystic can sometimes produce extreme behavior or statements that on occasion appear to border on the blasphemous. The cause of this is that the Sufis can sometimes feel so close to God that they lose a sense of their own self identity and feel themselves to be completely absorbed into God. This in fact is the goal of the Sufi. Through following a series of devotional practices, which lead to higher levels of ecstatic state, Sufis aspire to realize a condition in which they are in direct communion with God. Ultimately the individual human personality passes away and the Sufi feels his soul absorbed into God [known in Tassawuf or Sufism as Fana - Annihilation of Sef & Baqa - Eternal Mystical Union and Abiding with God ].
The Sufis never set out to found a new religion, a mazhab or denomination. They were content to live and work within the framework of the Muslim religion, using texts from the Quran much as Christian mystics have used the Bible to illustrate their tenets. Their aim was to purify and spiritualize Islam from within, to give it a deeper, mystical interpretation, and infuse into it a spirit of love and liberty. In the broader sense, therefore, in which the word religion is used in our time, their movement could well be called a religious one, one which did not aim at tying men down with a new set of rules but rather at setting them free from external rules and open to the movement of the spirit.. Perhaps we may say that if, in the past, Sufism's function was to spiritualize Islam, its purpose in the future will be rather to make possible a welding of religious thought between East and West, a vital, ecumenical commingling and understanding, which will prove ultimately to be, in the truest sense, on both sides, a return to origins, to the original unity."
Excerpts from The Persian Sufis by Cyprian Rice.
What is Sufism? (by Martin Lings) (MUST READ)
Introduction To Sufi Doctrine (MUST READ)
Introduction to Sufism: The Inner Path of Islam (MUST READ)
Essential Sufism (MUST READ)
Kashf al-Mahjub (کشف المحجوب)- Revelation of the Mystery - is the oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism written by the eminent 11th century Persian Sufi master, Ali Hujwiri better known as Hazrat Data Ganj-Bakhsh in Indian Subcontinent.
Ali Hujwiri's Kashf al-Mahjub in Farsi, Arabic, Urdu, Sindhi and Bengali
Although Ibn al-'Arabi was primarily a mystic who believed that he possessed superior divinely-bestowed knowledge, his work is of interest to the philosopher because of the way in which he used philosophical terminology in an attempt to explain his inner experience. He held that whereas the divine Essence is absolutely unknowable, the cosmos as a whole is the locus of manifestation of all God's attributes. Moreover, since these attributes require the creation for their expression, the One is continually driven to transform itself into Many. The goal of spiritual realization is therefore to penetrate beyond the exterior multiplicity of phenomena to a consciousness of what subsequent writers have termed the 'unity of existence'. This entails the abolition of the ego or 'passing away from self' (fana') in which one becomes aware of absolute unity, followed by 'perpetuation' (baqa') in which one sees the world as at once One and Many, and one is able to see God in the creature and the creature in God."
Sufi Teachings of Osho
Life and Work of Jalaludin Rumi- by Afzal Iqbal (MUST READ)
Carl W. Ernst is a specialist in Islamic studies, with a focus on West and South Asia. His published research, based on the study of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, has been mainly devoted to the study of Islam and Sufism. On the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1992, he has been department chair (1995-2000) and Zachary Smith Professor (2000-2005). He is now William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor (2005- ) and Director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.