This study concerns some aspects of Sufism as understood and practised among the Malays, which means that the study is not restricted to the understanding and practice of Sufism among a particular section of the Malays; but is applicable to the Malays of Malaya in general, for both aspects of Sufism are understood and practised without distinction – as they are identical throughout as regards each Tariqah (Sufi Order). Most of the examples that are given and the research that has been undertaken are, however, based upon experiences and studies concentrated mainly, though not entirely, in the State of Johore.
This research is divided into three separate parts – which parts must indeed form a configuration of the whole. In the first part a brief picture is presented, in historical as well as doctrinal perspective, of the origin, spread, development and culmination of Sufism in Islam concerning the central core of the Sufi doctrines which is the doctrine of the Unity of Existence (Waḥdatu’l wujūd), based upon that of the Unity of God (tawḥīd). The second part is based upon personal conclusions drawn from readings in Malay prose and poetical works of famous Malay mystics of the 16th and 17th centuries A.D., as they are likely to be the best representatives of theoretical and doctrinal Sufism among the Malays. The third part deals with the practical and ritual aspects of sufism based upon the author findings in existing textbooks and literature on the particular subject and on personal experiences of the ceremonies and practices of the Tariqahs and of their Shaykhs.