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 MeaningA tariqa is a school of Sufism. A tariqa has a murshid (guide) who plays the role of leader or spiritual director of the organization. A tariqa is a group of murīdīn (singular murīd), Arabic for desirous, desiring the knowledge of knowing God and loving God (also called a faqīr Arabic: فقير, another Arabic word that means poor or needy, usually used as al-Faqīr ilá l-Lāh, "the needy to God's knowledge (الفقير إلى الله)).
There are four main tariqas in Sufism: the Naqshbandi Order (named after Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari), the Chishti Order (named after Khawaja Moduud Chisti while Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti is most famous Sufi Saint of this order), the Qadiri Order (named after Shaykh `Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī), and the Suhrawardi Order (named after Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi). Often, ṭuruq (pl. tariqa) are offshoots of another tariqa. For example, the Qalandariyya and Wafa'i orders are offshoots of the Suhrawardi order.
khalīf from the same order as the murshid. In some groups it is customary for the khalīfa to be the son of the sheikh, although in other groups the khalīfa and the sheikh are not normally relatives. In yet other orders a successor may be identified through the spiritual dreams of its members.
Tarīqas have silsilas (Arabic: سلسلة) "chain, lineage of sheikhs". Almost all orders except the Naqshbandi order claim a silsila that leads back to Muhammad through ‘Alī. (The Naqshbandi Silsila goes back to Abu Bakr the first Caliph of Sunni Islam and then Prophet Muhammad.) Many silsilas contain the names of Shī‘ah Imams.
Every murid, on entering the ṭarīqa, gets his 'awrād, or daily recitations, authorized by his murshid (usually to be recited before or after the pre-dawn prayer, after the afternoon prayer and after the evening prayer). Usually these recitations are extensive and time-consuming (for example the awrād may consist of reciting a certain formula 99, 500 or even 1000 times). One must also be in a state of ritual purity (as one is for the obligatory prayers to perform them while facing Mecca). The recitations change as a student (murid) moves from a mere initiate to other Sufi degrees (usually requiring additional initiations).
Being mostly followers of the spiritual traditions of Islam loosely referred to as Sufism, these groups were sometimes distinct from the ulema or officially mandated scholars, and often acted as informal missionaries of Islam. They provided accepted avenues for emotional expressions of faith, and the Tarīqas spread to all corners of the Muslim world, and often exercised a degree of political influence inordinate to their size (take for example the influence that the sheikhs of the Safavid had over the armies of Tamerlane, or the missionary work of Ali-Shir Nava'i in Turkistan among the Mongol and Tatar people).
 Tariqas around the worldThe tariqas were particularly influential in the spread of Islam in the sub-Sahara during the 9th to 14th centuries, where they spread south along trade routes between North Africa and the sub-Saharan kingdoms of Ghana and Mali. On the West African coast they set up Zāwiyas on the shores of the river Niger and even established independent kingdoms such as al-Murābiṭūn or Almoravids.The Al Hakika Mizaan Mizaani Sufi Order deals with heavy internalization and meditations, their spiritual practice is called Al Qudra Mizaan[(United States)] The Sanusi order were also highly involved in missionary work in Africa during the 19th century, spreading both Islam and a high level of literacy into Africa as far south as Lake Chad and beyond by setting up a network of zawiyas where Islam was taught. Much of central Asia and southern Russia was won over to Islam through the missionary work of the ṭarīqahs, and the majority of Indonesia's population, where a Muslim army never set foot, was converted to Islam by the perseverance of both Muslim traders and Sufi missionaries.
Tariqas were brought to China in the 17th century by Ma Laichi and other Chinese Sufis who had studied in Mecca and Yemen, and had also been influenced by spiritual descendants of the Kashgarian Sufi master Afaq Khoja. On the Chinese soil the institutions became known as menhuan, and are typically headquartered near the tombs (gongbei) of their founders.
A case is sometimes made[who?] that groups such as the Muslim Brotherhoods (in many countries) and specifically the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt (the first, or first known), are modern inheritors of the tradition of lay tariqa in Islam. This is highly contentious since the turuq were Sufi orders with established lineages while the Muslim Brotherhood is a modern, rationalist tradition. However, the Muslim Brotherhood's founder, Hassan al Banna, did have a traditional Islamic education (his family were Hanbali scholars) and it is likely that he was initiated into a tariqa at an early age.
Certain scholars, e.g., G. H. Jansen, credit the original tariqas with several specific accomplishments:
- Preventing Islam from becoming a cold and formal doctrine by constantly infusing it with local and emotionally popular input, including stories and plays and rituals not part of Islam proper. (A parallel would be the role of Aesop relative to the Greek mythos.)
- Spreading the faith in east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where orthodox Islamic leaders and scholars had little or no direct influence on people.
- Leading Islam's military and political battles against the encroaching power of the Christian West, as far back as the Qadiri order of the 12th century.
 Tariqas in the Four Spiritual Stations
 Orders of SufismIt is important to note that membership of a particular Sufi order was not exclusive and cannot be likened to the ideological commitment to a political party. Unlike the Christian monastic orders which are demarcated by firm lines of authority and sacrament, Sufis often are members of various Sufi orders. The non-exclusiveness of Sufi orders has important consequences for the social extension of Sufism. They cannot be regarded as indulging in a zero sum competition which a purely political analysis might have suggested. Rather their joint effect is to impart to Sufism a cumulant body of tradition, rather than individual and isolated experiences.
 See also
- Category:Sufi orders
- Murabitum Sufitum
- Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Routledge. pp. 113–114. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=hUEswLE4SWUC. One of Dillon's main sources is: 馬通 ( Ma Tong) (1983). 中国伊斯兰教派与门宦制度史略 (Zhongguo Yisilan jiaopai yu menhuan zhidu shilue) (A sketch of the history of Chinese Islamic sects and the menhuan system). Yinchuan: 宁夏人民出版社 (Ningxia Renmin Chubanshe).
- Sufi martyrs of love By Carl W. Ernst, Bruce B. Lawrence. Pg 28
- J. M. Abun-Nasr, "The Tijaniyya", London 1965
- M. Berger, "Islam in Egypt today - social and political aspects of popular religion", London, 1970
- J. K. Birge, "The Bektashi Order of Dervishes", London and Hartford, 1937
- Clayer, Nathalie, Muslim Brotherhood Networks, EGO - European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: May 23, 2011.
- O. Depont and X. Coppolani, "Les confreries religieuses musulmans" (the Muslim brotherhoods as they existed then), Algiers, 1897
- E. E. Evans-Pritchard, "The Sanusi of Cyrenaica", Oxford, 1949
- M. D. Gilsenen, "Saint and Sufi in Modern Egypt", Oxford, 1978
- G. H. Jansen, "Militant Islam", Pan, London 1979
- F. de Jong, "Turuq and Turuq-Linked Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Egypt", Brill, Leiden,1978
- J. W. McPherson, "The Moulids of Egypt", Cairo, 1941
- http://www.islamdag.info/story/2036 Tariqah in Daghestan, Russia.
- http://www.kadiriyolu.com QADIRI TARIQAH - QADIRI ORDER
- http://www.ashrafesimna.org- Ashrafesimna Academy, is dedicated to great scholars of Ashrafi order...Hazrat Pir Ashraful-ulema Abul Hasan Shykh Saiyed Mohammed Ashraf Ashrafi-Jilani. Kichhouchvi
- BeRabbani.com - Lefke International Rabbani Association - english and turkish 3000 sohbet lectures audios in MP3 of Sheikh Nazim since 1980-2010. All about Sheikh Nazim and his son and full successor Sheikh Mehmet Sultan. And much more...
- PHILTAR (Philosophy of Theology and Religion at the Division of Religion and Philosophy of St Martin's College) has a very useful Graphical illustration of the Sufi schools.
- is the web page Tariqah Sufitum España]