Sufism is a branch of Islamic spirituality in which people practice for inner awakening and enlightenment. This is similar in concept to Buddhism or Raja Yoga practitioners of Hinduism. They also follow a Guru-Sishya culture like Hinduism and use parables for explanations like the Zen. Now with the Taliban gone, Sufism is reappearing in Afghanistan.
Kabul has again become a center for Islamic mysticism, or Sufism, a term used to describe those who are interested in inner knowledge or finding the path toward inner awakening and enlightenment. After the flight of the Taliban, every neighborhood in Afghanistan’s capital now seems to have its own Sufi brotherhood.
In the house, Hamidullah’s seven sons attend to him and his guests. They run the economic life of the tariqat. They also organize the practical details of the ecstatic ceremonies, or “zikrs,” around which the tariqat revolves. The zikr is held every Thursday evening, as well as during big religious feasts.
The zikr consists of the rhythmic, collective recitation of a series of mystical names given to God. This culminates with the modulated howling of the “shahada,” which embodies the main teaching of Islam: “La illaha ill’Allah,” or “There is no god but Allah.”
This is shouted in unison by the dervishes. The combination of their breathing and physical movements sometimes results in a trancelike state.
The Qadiris and the Sohrawardis perform a vocal zikr, while the Naqshbandis are silent. The ritual of the Chishtiya includes the attainment of a trance through the use of music. The zikr of the Chishtiya brotherhood is always done through common singing. [Sufism reemerges in Afghanistan]
Footnote: One person in India who converted to Sufism and derives inspiration from it is A R Rahman.