The Question of Origin and Beginning of Sufism


  • Milad Milani Western Sydney University



Sufism, religious studies, Max Muller, Martin Heidegger, Buddhism, Eastern Christianity, Pauline Mysticism


The question of origin and beginning of Sufism is problematical because the beginning obscures the origin. This statement, which draws on Heidegger’s philosophy of history, underpins the basis of the argument made in this article. We can say that Sufism began with Islam, since Sufi beliefs and practices developed from an initially ascetic and then gradually contemplative praxis that interpreted the Islamic canon in that light. Sufism is therefore not pre- Islamic and emerges for the first time within the Islamic world; its adherents have practised and lived the Sufi way as interpreted through the message of the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet. However, a question mark hangs over the origin of Sufism because its praxis is not always deemed to be aligned with Islamic orthopraxy, and upon closer analysis certain peculiarities are exposed that raise concern about external influence. As such, how do we understand the anomaly as part of Sufism? To pose the hypothesis, the beginning of Sufism is Islamic, but its origin is foreign.

Author Biography

  • Milad Milani, Western Sydney University

    Milad Milani is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Western Sydney University, specialising in the study of Sufism and Islam.


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How to Cite

Milani, M. (2024). The Question of Origin and Beginning of Sufism. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 37(1), 108-134.