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Difference Between Sunni and Sufi

Sunni vs Sufi

The difference between Sunni and Sufi is that Sunni is a descendant of the conventional version of Islam whereas Sufi is an offshoot of the mystical branch of Islam. Sufi can be both Sunni and Shia. Sunnis focus on the teachings and Sunah of the holy Prophet whereas Sufi follows the basic as well as the spiritual practices.

Sunni is a word derived from the Arabic word Sunah. There are many stories about the origin of the word Sufi like the person who wears wool etc. Sufi means a saint in the English language.

Sunni and Sufi both follow Islam and have same beliefs but a Sunni is more involved with worldly matters whereas Sufi is more concerned with the world hereafter. Sunni follows the code of life sent by God in the form of Sunah and Quran. Sunni Muslims follow these codes and spend their lives accordingly to get to heaven as a reward for their worldly noble deeds.

They are fearful of Allah as their literature and teachings incorporate fear of hell whereas a Sufi advocates eternal and divine love rather than fear. The ambition of a Sufi is to attain spiritual enlightenment through meditation, prayers and by quitting worldly desires. Sunni believes in the indirect approach to enlighten the soul whereas a Sufi attempts to experience and feel God with the help of the direct approach.

Sunni Muslim has five major legal schools and several minor ones whereas Sufi has many orders of Sufism. Almost ninety percent of Muslims around the world are Sunni and they get their religious knowledge based on the Quran and the seven books of Hadith narrated by the companions of the Prophet.

Sufism or tassawuf in Arabic follows sharia or the Islamic code of life along with acquired spiritual enlightenment through purification of the heart. A Sufi or saint purifies his heart with the help of various methods and repeated recitations called ‘Dhikr.’

Many of the Sunni sects do not believe in mysticism and call the deviants as Sufism which is misinterpreted. Sufis do not worship graves and they follow the basic beliefs of Islam strictly. There are many Sufi poets who are famous all over the world for their poems on divine love like Jalal ud din Rumi. Unlike many Sunni sects ,Sufism or Islamic mysticism gives importance to the special form of Sufi music and dancing like swirling dervishes.


1. Sunni came into existence after the death of the Prophet and it believes in the well-trodden path of Islam called Sunah.

2. Sufi means dervish or the one who enlightens his heart and soul by following spiritualism and religious practices.

3. Sunni and Sufi are both Muslims yet different in their schools of thought.

4. Sunni is more concerned with attaining the right path in order to get rewards from God. The reward is promised in the next life.

5. Sufi believes in divine love and focuses on meeting God directly by adopting the state of ‘Fana” which means to purify your heart and soul of worldly desires and expectations.

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  1. If I was a Muslim I would rather be a Sufi it is to me more Divine and Universal

    • Mitch do u want yo become a muslim because sufism will show u the guidance

      • I just converted recently (I was born to an atheist family..) Now I believe in only 1 god. I have had bad moments in my past but that was all a journey to become the person I am today. Do not judge anyone making mistakes only try to show them the right path… if they are not ready to discover it then leave them to walk their own path because one day god will wake them up to the truth if they deserve it

        • God meaning Allah but same same

        • good job man god bless u

          • God the creator of Heaven and Earth, the Beginer and the Final, Most Powerful, Most Merciful, From Whom we come and to Him we will return…. He begot not a son, He married not a wife, He is most distinct … He is Allah SWT!!!!!

          • Best answer

        • You are welcome brother in islam always do and follow that islam which ALLAH tell us in quran and prophet told us and his compinion did that is true islam and you are purify by every sin if you are newly entre to islam masha ALLAH bro so dont do deen by your mind follow ALLAH and rasul As QURAN and hadees and and compinion did there are four fiqa hanfi shafi hanbali maliki they studied allot about the deen islam then they brought and tought us after the sahba

        • I m so happy for you,that Allah has blessed you to begin the journey to know Him,HisProphets Adam to Ibrahim to Moses to Jesus to Mohammed(pbuh),we all pray for all our sons to be forgiven and grant Jannah & bless our Parentsalso.

      • I am a recent convert to Islam. One thing I can say Islam and a few other religions have in common is that they do not celebrate PAGAN HOLIDAYS in which I was taught as a child also. When will the masses stop teaching these false doctrines.

    • sufism is not an innovation in islam,but it is the very soul of islam since inception.

    • It doesn’t matters WHETHER you SUNNI or SUFI


  2. I find it bad to divide these two. There is no division between sufi and a sunni. The respected sufis that have lived, never called themselves sufis but in fact muslims and the followers of the Prophet(pbuh). The person that follows his footsteps will indeed have the charachteristics of a sufi. Even a sunni can be a sufi and I believe that dividing these two is a total mis conception.

    • Totally agree. It is what is in the heart that matters. People act like there is something so “mystic” about being in touch with ones spiritual feelings.

    • salaams imraan

      fully agree , we are all muslims with one quran one allah

      one kaalimah

      take care

      • Sufis and sunni are differ with thier thoughts and their way of worship to god…
        Sufis desire to get the state of god by meditation and never want another life in this world of difficulties and sunnies pray to god and desire another life with rewards by god for next…… So deeds of both differs acording thoughts and believe…..

    • yours is fairly acceptefd but d modern day Nigerian sifis do one thing DAT pain me
      dey use to pray in d name of their saints in don’t low abt oda county’s

  3. Sufism and sunni is the same thing…. Jus two different words but have the same understanding

  4. Excuse me here something wrong went there is no difference between sufi and a sunni,
    The full name of this section of sunni is
    that means As per Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama’at, they are real Muslims and true followers of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) (meaning – Ahle Sunnah), and 4 Khulafa-e-Rashideen (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم اجمعین) (meaning – Jama’at). This is the reason they are known as Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama’a. Their distinctive features are as follows.
    To understand true meanings of poetry, it is important that the reader should have some knowledge of poetical expressions and terms generally used in poetry. It is very difficult for professionals who are expert in their respective fields to understand poetry. Similarly, it is also very difficult for Sectarian Muslims to understand Sufi poetry because they have developed an excessive phobia about shirk and kufr in simple issues. Sufi Shaikhs/Awliya Allah also use metaphors in their poetry for Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی), Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) and their Shuyooks to express their love, respect and affection. Like, they say, O’ my Lord, wherever I see, I see you’. My Lord is visible to me in everything around me. I do not see anything, except my Lord. ‘I talk to my Lord and He replies to me’. ‘I am annihilated in the existence of my Lord’, and so on…
    AND Sufis respect auliya and graves of auliya as sunni there is no difference in it
    the meaning of sufi is POET and they comes in the sect of sunni

  5. If u no that u are dont understand sufi. u dont need too abusy them

  6. Islam means not mere practices, it is beyond that.
    Practises are only the signs of islam. The essence of Islam is thassawuf.
    There two sides for Islam, lhahir and bathin. Now most of the scholars
    deals with the lhahir and unaware of the bathin. So people consider it sunni and sufi as
    twodue to the ignorance. Lhahir and bathin shoul go together. As I told, lhahir deals with
    our body and bathin deals with our khalb and rooh.

  7. surely sunni and sufi is not 2 different things but one thing that can be refer as both the two… Islam is one word for both.

  8. ONe thig is sure that music dance and visiting graves and calling spirts of wali for help is not allowed in islam rest u do izkar no mater what happens with respect and love for prophet Mohammad PBUH and Allah thn for sure u will be guided by allah not by and spirt, jin or wali…
    Sufis and wali’s they give some azkar to open ur heat chakra and makes u more aware of ur srroundings the shitan comes and says see u went to the sufi and now he is guiding u etc so be careful quran and sunnah is enough for our guidence.

    Allah knows best
    MAy allah show us right path the true path which our prophet Mohammad PBUH showed us… As none of the sohaba danced or listen to music or went to graves of dead ones to ask for guidence and worldly matters…

  9. ONce ur heart chakra is open with zikar allah or drood sharif thn u are more aware of ur actions and thoughts as allah said allah sends peace to the heart who remembers allah…..
    so thn shitan comes and tryies to steal ur iman please dont let it happen
    dont be afraid irf u have any spirtual or mental prolem let me know inshallah i will try my best to help u with the help of knowledge and prayers

    • Of course Sufis and Sunnis are never the same. Sunnis follow the Sunnas of the Prophet while Sufis have created their own concoctions such dancing, hearing music, asking dead people for help, and believing that the Prophet can come out of his grave and shake hands with them. This concoction is called “burda: where they sit in a group and make “thekr” and then they get up saying the Prophet has entered. They also believe in the “wali” or “Awlia” meaning those dead people who can still help you from their grave. Plus, they celebrate the birthday of the prophet with music, drums, guitars and rubbish acts that we know that the Sahabas never did.

      • No Saima and Imran, Sunni and Sufi is the same. Sufi’s also follow the sunnah of the Prophet(pbuh), and enhance their love of Allah by singing and music. In zikr, we chant names of Allah only, not Sahaba nor Awliya. Music is haram only when it idles time or deviates from Islam, not when it helps brings your heart closer to Allah. I’m sorry to say it, but we Sufi’s are not robots like you, we have true love of Allah and Habeebi Muhammad(pbuh).

        Ibn ‘Abbas said, ” ‘Aishah gave a girl relative of hers in marriage to a man of theAnsar. The Prophet(pbuh) came and asked, ‘Did you send a singer along with her?’ ‘No,’ said ‘Aishah. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) then said, The Ansar are a people who love poetry. You should have sent along someone who would sing, ‘Here we come, to you we come, greet us as we greet you.’ ” (Reported by Ibn Majah.)

        ‘Aishah narrated that during the days of Mina, on the day of ‘Eid al-Adha, twogirls were with her, singing and playing on a hand drum. The Prophet(pbuh) was present, listening to them with his head under a shawl. Abu Bakr then entered and scolded the girls. The Prophet (peace be on him), uncovering his face, told him, “Let them be, Abu Bakr. These are the days of ‘Eid.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

        I look forward to how you defend against these two ahadith guys!

        • Ma Sha Allah Beautifully Explained. I am just trying to research more about the subject as I find that Every Sunni is a Sufi. Jazak Allahu Khairan. Akhi if you read this Can you help me more authentic sites where I can search more. Thanks. Jazak Allahu Khairan once again.

        • Evidence for the prohibition of music is in this website islamqa.info/en/5000.

        • Luqmaan 31:6
          “ And of mankindis he who purchases idle talk (i.e music ,singing ) to mislead (men) from the path of Allah…”
          Ibn abbas said ; this means singing .
          Ibn Abbas (rh); idle talk is falsehood and singing.

    • What do you know about levels of mental health and it’s association with Islam … I have mental issues sloth and deeeep de or rather choose not to be stigmatised ..have had …
      Feel like since of recent last few days have turned into weeks of silent meditation and research prayers and helping parents and kids etc I’ve always equated Allah with LOVE no fear … Well I did until two weeks ago or quite recently have a healthy dee of fear to kick me out of any bipolar Dysfunction and potentially can have … I pray that Allah forgives us I am grateful to Allah has mercy on us and saves us from a torment in the grave …

  10. All of you say there is no difference between Sunni and Sufi. In practice, that is not the case.

  11. Sufism= Love and Fear of Allah
    Sunni= Love and Fear of Allah

    Both say to follow the footsteps of Mohammad (Peace be upon him)

    They are both the same.

    Peace <3


    I wont class sufism as a sect – sufism is more of a path/ a theology/ a
    course/ a way of life

    because my pir sahib always says that sufism is not everyones cup of tea
    sufism is the way of the close companions who spent day and night with
    the prophet
    but not every sahabi practised tassawwuf –

    sufism is bringing ur emaan to an advanced level
    just reading the kalima will make u a muslim
    following the quran and sunnah will make u a mumin (believer)

    and finding god will make ua sufi
    so every sunni is not a sufi but every sufi is a sunni

    I hope that answers your questions

  13. We are Muslims and anyone trying to differentiate between sects is wrong.

    • There is no God, there is only, God

      It is like searching in the Wilderness for a thousand years for something that has always yours by birth.


  14. As one said b4 not every sunni is suffi but every suffi is sunni as in the level of understanding becos there are some words in both guidance which is al qurian that difficult for sunnis like d ayat dat says (wamon kaano fi haasihi duniya ahmon wahuwa fil haakirot ahmon wa adollu sebiila) let one sunni explain it to me.

  15. If sufi are thesame with sunni, them why sunni are killing us all over the world?

  16. Ok, I am glad I happened upon this site. I have been researching masjids in Dallas and saw a comment regarding how one masjid was more Sufi than Sunni. He made it sound like it was wrong or bad and made me worried. I will continue my research. Thank you!

  17. need more research to find out about Sufism,i think these are two different schools of thought..we don’t find any of SAHABA worked hard to get connection with dead souls like in Sufism.plz guide us more

  18. I have only one question. If both suni and sufi believe that all people are created by alla, then why do alla created a significant number of people who do not believe alla. If he is such a powerful, why he can not punish those who do not believe him. I think there is no such person called alla. All people still follow a story created by a person called prophet mohamed several years ago. This is what I feel

    • God(Allah) created people who are in control of themselves and sent down prophets and books to guide them. He tells you in the Holy book(Quran)why you should worship him the creator and sustainer, and that is the purpose of your life and your responsibility to your creator. The second responsibility you have is to your fellow human beings, which is to treat them with kindness love and respect no matter their religion. So it is a test to yourself and what you will gain or lose from it will only affect you in the end. God need not punish you in this earth as it is a place for you to make decisions and certain choices. He does not NEED you to worship him either. Again it is a test of your logic and whether you choose the temporary world and all of its deceptions (wealth, power, lust, intoxicants) or choose to focus on goodness and meaningful efforts towards the creator and the rest of human kind. Islam is logic and logic will give you your answer.

    • God did not create so many non believers. He created the Jews and gave them prophet Moses to guide them, he created the Christians with prophet Isa (Jesus) to guide them,. The Jews believed a prophet was to come but they rejected Muhammad because he was of Arabic decent because of pride and arrogance. The evil people taught they had crucified Jesus and say God came down and died for their sins. The true Christians were fooled because of evil people changing the words of god which was the bible and creating so many versions. Also just to clear up the part you mention about a “story created by a person called prophet Muhammad several years ago” to prove to you that he did not create the story and that it is the true word of god are a few example namely; the human embryo development stages were discovered in the 20th century with modern technology. It is mentioned in the Quraan as well as the shape of it 1400 years ago. Big Bang theory is explained. Communication of ants is mentioned. The makeup of the human body with majority water is mentioned which confirms the 72% makeup discovered recently. It speaks about the earth with orbit and rotating and the roundness of the earth. All of these only discovered by scientist in the modern day. How was a man in the 7th century supposed to make up all of this when the cleverest of people with the highest means of technology only got to it now. God has deliberately put these examples in to make u think logically again, and come to your own conclusion.
      With regard to my opinion of other religions I do so with the utmost respect, and don’t mean to offend. Forgive me if I do.

      • Because scientists existed before Islam. After Islam became mainstream and during the golden age groups like The seljoks and Genghis Khan basically killed all of those scientist and destroyed their work. I bet ask those research were in there. Civilization doesn’t just keep advancing automatically. It will actually go backwards if there isn’t people there holding it down without obstruction. Look at the Egyptians, Mayans, etc.

    • Muhinda….ure 100% wrong! Plz, iksplain hw u cm to this earth

  19. As a Muslim I respect both. Sunni and Sufi both in my heart. I love to zikir. Zikir make my heart clean. After zikir I feel very good , and happy.

  20. Assalamualykum –
    Sunni is a sect in Islam and Sufi is saint and close to Allah by doing Zikr and following all his whole life for the sake of Allah on Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) teachings.

    When any Sunni Muslims does Zikr of Allah and Spread love and treat all humans equally as Allah’s Bande irrespective of his Religion, Race, Color and Society Status he becomes a Sufi.

  21. A Sunni is a muslim whose religion is Islam. Who believes in 1 God who had sent down prophets and holy books to guide man. The final of those were the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and the Quraan. Now a Sunni follows what is written in the Quraan as well as narrations by the people who lived with, during and slightly after the prophets time (these are more finer details possibly the right positions to perform prayer in etc this is the sunnah) The Quraan has all the major aspects and beliefs. Now a Sunni believes that Allah is one the only everpresent, all knowing, all hearing, all seeing. Allah is the only one you should ask for help and the only one you should worship.

    A Sufi is a muslim who follows Quran and sunnah but differs with the Sunni with regard to: they believe The prophet is ever present as we’ll and he can hear you etc. They also go to graves and ask the dead people (who were very holy Sunnis) for help and guidance and to give them what they need, and advices etc.

    To associate partners with God is not allowed in Islam, and is one of the basic principles and a major sin which can render one out of the fold of Islam. I will not judge what is right or wrong as Islam is a logical religion and you can use your logic to figure it out.
    God knows best.

  22. Does who are writing comments on this, should first clearly understand quran . Each and every topic is clear in it. And for any muslim it is must to belive in prophet .as in first kalma it is clearly told that “prophet is the messenger of god”

  23. It’s been very interesting to read all the comments left by everyone.
    God sent his message to the prophets to unite all mankind but over time people made it to be exclusively as their and called as religion e.g. Jews, Christianity and Islam. Now all these religions and more are being used to create division and mistrust over the world even in Islam.
    It’s great that we have so much knowledge but not so great as it’s leading us further from each other and the true worship.
    Which is true love for God and love his Prophets, his Creation which includes his special people sent to guide us through this turbulent times.
    If we put as much energy in spreading Gods love as we spent on debating we might reach our true destination, only through our body and soul which means having both teaching Sunni and Sufi after all the are two side of one coin. Allah Hafiz

  24. These difference stated are wrong…. In reality every traditional sunni Ahlussunnah are at the footsteps of Sufi’s saints.m
    … This article must have been a mischief of Wahabis Satans who are trying to create an impression that sufis are offshoot of islam … Whereas in reality The Prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallallam was the greatest person that ever lived and sufis(wali of Allah) follow the footsteps of the Greatest prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam…. By practicing iman , ihsaan, and tasawwuf…. Loving Allah and his Rasul the most and not allowing any attachment to worldly life… Even marrying havin

  25. These difference stated are wrong…. In reality every traditional sunni Ahlussunnah are at the footsteps of Sufi’s saints.m
    … This article must have been a mischief of Wahabis Satans who are trying to create an impression that sufis are offshoot of islam … Whereas in reality The Prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallallam was the greatest person that ever lived and sufis(wali of Allah) follow the footsteps of the Greatest prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam…. By practicing iman , ihsaan, and tasawwuf…. Loving Allah and his Rasul the most and not allowing any attachment to worldly life… Even marrying having kids, working yet living the life of a sufi because they just love Allah and his Rasul and consider worldly matters as Faani…. Isn’t that the message of Rasullallah sallallaho alihe wasallam…??? Ofcourse it is…. What else is islam… And what else is sufism… Sufism is the practical of islam…. Sufism is all about Allah and every other thing or being is faani …..Allah and his messenger knows best….

  26. so basically they think that sunnis focus on fear of allah , tats not really fully true , I’m a muslim and i do not categorise my self as anything except a muslim , i follow allah and the prophet pbuh , we need to have fear of allah and purify our hearts , basically its the same theres really no difference between sufi and sunni , only some people focus on only fear of allah. so their both the same no need for another name , i focus on pleasing allah and remembrance and enlightenment of the soul and moving away from worldly desires …… no difference ….

    • How can one fear of “Allah” when all your sins of one year backwards and one year forwards can be erased by fasting just one day in between on a particular day – the day of Arafah?

      • Because it is up to Allah who judge our sins, not because of our action of praying on day of Arafah. For verily it is Allah who forgive our sins, not our action. Allah isn’t forced and compelled to forgive our sins. Allah does everything in His own intent.

  27. In case you have been trapped in Syria, regardless whether you are Sufi or Sunni, would you prefer to settle in a kuffar country like Germany or a Muslim country (and I can’t see Saudi is willing to accept Syrian refugees though these refugees are the victims of terrorism supported by Saudi in Syria)? Germany expected 200,000 asylum applicants in 2014.

  28. Every innovation is a step into thr fire. Sufism sounds like innovation

    • aisha————— Investigate the origin of Ahle-Sunnah Wal Jamait, It was created by Sunni Caliph Muaweeya against Imam Ali.
      Please investigate. It was not a religion but a political party.

  29. Infact! To be candid, i realy learn frm these you people!. Buh with all comments. I dnt think there are difference btw us. The Writer of this Article does nt mean of creating differences. If one could read the Article and understands, he/she will realise what he meant. He just want us to Realise that both Sunni and sufi are PRACTICES of Prophet ‘pbuh’.
    Buh what i want we all to understand is that; Nothing practise by sufi that we can’t meet in Quran or Sunnah ‘the Deed of Prophet ‘pbuh’ ‘ Or the Deed of the Fore Prophets with Hadith of mohammad ‘pbuh’ Ina lah amarakun bimo Amara bih l mursaleen’.
    About visiting of grave of saint, singing the righteous song ‘zikr’. Did prophet not do siyarah of grave of his parent and prayed for them?
    When Prophet ‘pbuh’ entered Medinah, did they nt welcome him with Righteous song?.
    Plz, these thing are nt evil practice. What they did there ‘with grave’ or voice out in song matter most. Once they dnt turn it to mosque or sing unrighteos song. So nothing bad

  30. Good answer by taf….perfect

    • Thank You Mustafa— Sufism is the balance between far right and far left. Moderation. Followers of Sunnah will never go astray.

  31. The religion acceptable by Allah is Islam…Allah gave the world Islam…all the prophets preached about Islam…there is only 1 way to learn Islam, Quran….take the hadiths to strengthern the practises in Islam…never did any prophet named their teaching with other named than Islam…shame on us muslims that divide ourselves with sects…May Allah accept our good deeds, gives us barakah, shows us the way to HIS perfect religion…

  32. Salam aleykum my dear brothers and sisters

    I would like to share my thoughts on this briefly.

    Sectarianism is not something we should focus on, rather focus on the words of the Quran, and the message of the prophet PBUH. We don’t need to argue and differentiate between muslims. We are all brothers and sisters; spread peace and truth! Pray to Allah that we are all guided on the right path!

    The fondamentals of being a muslim is in the following
    “Ash hadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah.”
    or in English “I declare there is no god but Allah and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”

  33. I have a dout?why the sandal and urus are done? Is this in QURAN?DO Sunni Muslims can do this? What is the difference BTW Sunni and Sufi Muslims?

  34. May Allah forgives all our sins and grant us all with jannatul firdaus. Amen

  35. IAM recently converted to Sufism

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