Rediscover Ancient Egypt
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Last Updated: 28-Mar-2003

The Ancient Egyptian Roots of Sufism

The common premise is that “Sufism” is an Islamic group practicing a form of mysticism that originated in Persia. “Sufism” has nothing to do with Islam or Persia, and everything to do with the quiet people of Ancient and Baladi Egypt. Two points of interest should be mentioned here:

  1. The term and practices of “Sufism” surfaced as a result of Islamic conquests and the subsequent terrorizing of its victims. In order for the Islamic-terrorized masses to maintain their ancient traditions, they had to camouflage old traditions under an Islamic garment.

  2. The pure form of “Sufism” originated in Egypt. Other countries copied it and were quick to take the credit for it. Their application of “Sufism” is impure and incomplete.

The common premise (mentioned above) about the roots and essence of “Sufism” is absolutely wrong, as we will conclude by examining the facts. Here are just a few introductory facts:

  1. The notion of an Islamic origin of “Sufism” is wrong. “Islamic mysticism” is an oxymoron—as per the following selected points:

    The above scene, from a stele dating about 4500 years ago, shows the Egyptian practices of veneration of folk saints, at their dome-roofed shrines, and presentations of offerings.

  2. The claim of a Persian origin of “Sufism” is also wrong. The Persians themselves refer to Egypt as the source of “Sufism”. For example:

  3. To continue the point above (regarding the language of Sufism), it should be noted that the word, Sufi, was never mentioned in the Koran or in Mohammed’s sayings. There is no consensus on its meaning. The “translation” of the word/term “Sufi” as a “wearer of wool” is totally fabricated, and is one of many attempted explanations.

    The word is actually of Ancient Egyptian origin. Seph/Soph was a component of common Egyptian names—meaning wisdom, purity (among many other meanings).

  4. Some of the standard Sufi terms that are often used are: old religion, antique faith, old one, and ancient tradition. Such terms were used/stressed by all early Sufi writers, which is indicative of the pre-Islamic origins of Sufism.

  5. The Egyptians are remarkably traditionalists to a fault. Early historians have attested to this fact, such as: Herodotus, in The Histories, Book Two, 79:
    The Egyptians keep to their native customs and never adopt any from abroad.

    Herodotus, in The Histories, Book Two, 91:

    The Egyptians are unwilling to adopt Greek customs, or, to speak generally, those of any other country.

    Plato and other writers affirmed the complete adherence of the Egyptians to their own traditions.

  6. Supernatural powers acclaimed by the mystics (Sufis) are often called magic.
    From the earliest times, Egypt has been celebrated for its magicians, and accounts of their marvelous achievements have been documented—not only in Ancient Egyptian records, but also in the Bible and in the works of several of the classical writers. Furthermore, many of the tales in the famous collection of stories known as The Arabian Nights show what wonder-working powers were attributed to magicians in medieval Egypt.

    Heka [shown herein] represents the Ancient Egyptian magical power of words. He is usually depicted holding two snakes with total ease.

  7. The country that has the largest number of “Sufi” followers is Egypt. The participation in Sufi fellowships (orders) in other countries—besides Egypt—is very small by comparison.

Egyptian mysticism (Sufism) is not an offshoot of Islam; it is the old “religion” camouflaged into Arabized/Islamized terms.

The Egyptian mystical seekers (Sufis) maintain low profiles, for they seek no public glory, but rather the ultimate mystical glory—The Divine.

Moustafa Gadalla

For more information about the Egyptian origin of alchemy and present-day Sufism, the progression of the mystical Way towards enlightenment, how the mystics (Sufis) of Egypt survive Islam, etc, read:
Egyptian Mystics: Seekers of the Way, by Moustafa Gadalla Egyptian Mystics: Seekers of the Way
by Moustafa Gadalla
192 pages, 5.5" x 8.5"
List Price: $11.95 USD (paperback)
$ 7.95 USD (eBook)

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