Sufism is considered as the devotional practice of Islam. Being related to devotion, it is directly or indirectly related to all kinds of human beings in this Universe. Devotion is a feeling which derives its meaning from personal experiences of people. Every person practicing devotion, has his own say in the meaning and purpose of the practice. In the same way, Sufism also has many a number of meanings and definitions, out of which some have been universally consented upon.
Some Muslim Mystics trace its derivation from the word ‘safa’ meaning purity. According to them, its origin is drawn from the phrase ‘ahl-al-suffa’ which means ‘the People of the Bench’ i.e. the pious and dignified companions of the Prophet.
Another derivation of this term ‘Sufism’ comes from the Arabic Word ‘suf’ which means “wool” . Ibn Khaldun (d.809/1406) who was a great historian, was also of the opinion that the word ‘Sufi’ is derived from ‘suf’. But it is necessary to remember that it is not mere by wearing wool, one can become a Sufi, purification of the mind and soul is also important for a person before he surrenders himself to God.
Also some outside movements have had some influence on the Sufi terminology. Various Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning away from all else but God.”