The word Sufi comes from a Persian word meaning wisdom. From the original root many derivations can be traced; among them the Greek word sophia is one of the most interesting.
Wisdom is the ultimate power. In wisdom is rooted religion, which connotes law and inspiration. But the point of view of the wise differs from that of the simple followers of a religion. The wise, whatever their faith, have always been able to meet each other beyond those boundaries of external forms and conventions, which are natural and necessary to human life, but which none the less separate humanity. — Hazrat Inayat Khan
Sufism means a lot of different things to different people. The Sufi Order International divides its activities into five Concentrations, within which different aspects of the Sufi path are emphasized. You may find one or more Concentrations particularly useful to you personally on your own spiritual path. You can visit Concentrations Activities pages to learn more.
Sufism has never been owned by any race or religion, for differences and distinctions are the very delusions from which Sufis purify themselves. It might appear that Sufism must have been formed of the different elements of various religions which are prominent today, but it is not so, for Sufism itself is the essence of all the religions, as well as the spirit of Islam. Sufism reveals all the shades and colors which represent the various religions of the world, having no particular color itself. All prophets, saints, sages, and mystics are practically owned by their followers, as Christ by the Christians and Moses by the Jews. Yet Christ was not a Christian, nor Moses a Jew, all being Sufis, pure from earthly distinctions. The Beloved Ones of God are even as God, impervious to religious dogmas and principles. Sufism is not a religion or a philosophy, it is neither deism nor atheism, nor is it a moral, nor a special kind of mysticism, being free from the usual religious sectarianism. If ever it could be called a religion, it would only be as a religion of love, harmony, and beauty. If it be called a philosophy, it is beyond that because a Sufi, through the study of metaphysics, escapes the selfishness produced by philosophy and kindles the fire of devotion with one’s eyes open to reason to reason and logic. The Sufi prays to Allah every moment in one’s life, invoking God’s Name and realizing at the same time that the self is no other than God. For to a Sufi, God is not a personal being but a mighty healer to awaken the soul from its delusion of earthly individuality, and a guide to lead it to self-realization, the only aim in life."
— Hazrat Inayat Khan To call the Sufi Path an “ism” is a misnomer, since it is not based upon belief or premises to which one is expected to subscribe. It is the path of the awakened human heart, recognizing its unity with the Divine. The Sufi is one who finds that place of freedom where the inner condition is not determined by outer circumstances.
Then what is the purpose of the Sufi Movement? To make a new religion? No, it is to bring together the different organs of one body which are meant to be united and not thrown apart. And what is our method, how do we work to bring about such a reconciliation? By realizing for ourselves that the essence of all religions is one, and that, that essence is wisdom; by considering that wisdom to be our religion, whatever be our own form. The Sufi Movement has members belonging to many different faiths who have not given up their own religion. On the contrary, they are firmer in their own faith through understanding the faiths of others. From the narrow point of view, people may find fault with them because they do not hate, mistrust, and criticize the religion of others. They have respect for the scriptures which millions of people have held to be sacred, though these scriptures do not belong to their own religion. They desire to study and appreciate other scriptures, and to find confirmation of the fact that all wisdom comes from one source, both the wisdom of the East and of the West. The Sufi Movement, therefore, is not a sect; it can be anything but a sect; and if it ever became one it would be quite contrary to the ideal with which it was begun. For its main ideal is to remove differences and distinctions which divide (hu)mankind, and this ideal is attained by the realization of the one source of all human beings, and also the goal, both of which we call God.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan