Difference Between Islam and Sufism


Main Difference

Both Islam and Sufism are associated with one ideology. In fact, Islam is the main ideology and Sufism is the one main part of this ideology. Before revealing the difference between two it is very important to understand them one by one.

What is Islam?

Islam is the second largest religion of the world that was formed by Prophet Ibrahim (عليهم السلام) and carried on by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The believer of Islam are known as Muslims. Islam is based on the fundamental principle that God – also known as ALLAH – is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence of Muslims is to worship God. Muslims also believe that Islam is ultimate religion for practice for all human beings till the day of judgment. Muslims are mostly divided in two school of thoughts: Sunni (85 to 90%) and Shia (10 to 15%) and both sectors have their sub-sectors or school of thoughts as well.


What is Sufism?

Sufism is a thought of Islam that mainly focused on the inner values of a person. Some academics have argued that Sufism is like Neo-Platonism. Sufism is purely based on the teaching of Islam and Islamic Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Bayazid Bastami, Jalaluddin Rumi, Haji Bektash Veli, Junaid Baghdadi, Al-Ghazali, Mansur Al Hallaj, etc. were some famous traditional Sufi of Islam. Some scholars argued that Sufism is a general term that is present in almost every religion in different shapes while others believe Sufism to be totally unique to Islam. A follower and practitioner of this thought is generally known as Sufi and all Sufi orders follow the original percepts of Islamic Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.


Key Differences

  1. First fundamental difference between Islam and Sufism is about the perception of God. Islam clearly states two guidelines – Quran and Hadith- in order to approach to God. While Sufism mostly believes on ritualistic practices and apparently less follow Quran and Hadith.
  2. Islam focused on the adherence to Islamic law while Sufism emphasizes on spirituality.
  3. Music of any kind and dance is disallowed according to Quranic verses while in Sufism music in shape of Qawwali and dance in shape of Wajd or Raqs is allowed.
  4. Islam is a religion while Sufism is the part of Islam.
  5. Dikhr – a practice of repeating the names of God – has very importance in Sufism ideology while in Islam it has also its value but less than Sufism.
Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson