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I've looked at

but there's so much information I don't know where to begin.

What are the minimum requirements to study Sufism, i.e. what should I know before I start?

  • 4
    Why do you want to do that? – goto Aug 13 '13 at 6:09
  • For clarity, do you mean study as in "learn about on a scholastic level" or study as in "learn and apply Sufi teachings (i.e. become Sufi)"? – goldPseudo Aug 14 '13 at 1:07
  • I meant "study" as in learning about it on a scholastic level. I am a recent convert; I have no idea if Sufism appeals to me as a set of practices. – cartomancer Aug 14 '13 at 1:29
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It depends on the reason you are interested in the topic. If you want to get a high level understanding then there are books like Henry Corbin's book History of Islamic Philosophy. I personally found the book quite interesting. I think such books by academics are a better source to learn about Sufi thoughts.

On the other hand, if you want to have a deeper understanding then it is much more difficult. One reason is that most of the writings of famous Sufies are not available in English and only available in their original language (and sometimes in the language of other major Muslim countries: Arabic, Persian, and Turkish). If you really want to dive into the topic you need to learn these languages. And even then finding copies of these works is quite difficult, you need to use a library with a good collection of these works. And even if you can read and have access to these works understanding them is a quite different matter. There are typically not written in a straightforward manner, e.g. they often use a lot of metaphor. Understanding them without the help of an expert on the topic is not easy and can lead to (possibly dangerous) misunderstandings.

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If you wish to learn Sufi, then find a Sheikh/Maulana/Habib who follows the Sufi order. Or their Mureed that could lead you to meet their Sheikh. Reading a book is just like you studying about Makkah year after year which will never want to you to get close to it. So, you never know what is the feeling when you go there.

Sufism teaches to keep a clean heart and love all thr creatures of God. Sufis hate nobody, but will never compromise when it is about al Haq.

Sufis are very calm and intelligent but they just hide it.

If you really want to know about Sufi to meet the Sheikh and just keep searching.

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To Study sufism seek the company of people who have studied and continue to study we a authorized teacher. One who you deem to be compassionate, kind, just, tolerant, open to diversity and a servant of people regardless of religion, race, gender, nationality. One who strives to guide themself and others by the inner teaching of the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (sal) and affirms the rights of all human beings, indeed all life. Find that person, take your time in getting know that person and the students and perhaps then you will have found the doorway to Sufism...in your heart. Be patient but don't cease looking, hold a high standard and be willing to be among the few.

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As laila said, getting a Sheikh is the only way of learning sufism. Because it is the same thing that happened in between Prophet (s.a) and His sahabath. The Prophet passed down thouheed to the sahabas.

All you can do to confirm its authenticity is to pray to Allah to show the right path.

All who reach in the trust sufi orders (which passes down thouheed), must have prayed to Allah sincerely with utmost love and respect, to show the right path.

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