Difference Between Sufi and Bhakti Movement

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 14, 2022, 6:26

India has been home to many movements and practices. The Bhakti Movement is one such movement that initiated a wave of reforms in the country. The Sufi movement, too, began with similar intentions. However, while the two movements sound the same, there are points of marked differences that highlight various aspects of these movements in detail.

Through this blog, let's understand the difference between Bhakti Movement and Sufi Movement.

Definition of Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti Movement can be defined as the wave of collective social revival in Hinduism that dealt with love and devotion to the gods and goddesses through bhajans. The movement originated in southern India during the medieval era and spread towards the north and east later in the 15th century.

Definition of Sufism

Sufism is a practice in Islam that deals with attaining closeness to Allah through asceticism. Sufism isn't a sect of Islam; it is a religious practice that reinforces the love for Allah through initiating a personal experience by way of practising it.

Difference Between Sufi Movement and Bhakti Movement

The table below clearly highlights the differences between Sufi Movement and Bhakti Movement.

Bhakti Movement

Sufi Movement

Bhakti Movement was adopted majorly by the Hindus of the country

The Sufi Movement targeted the Muslims of the country

The roots of the Bhakti Movement can be traced back to medieval India; it became prominent starting late 7th to early 8th century

The Sufi movement had its roots in the Arabian peninsula, and began in the 7th century, far earlier than Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti Movement involved hearty singing of Bhajans in devotion to the Hindu deities

The Sufi movement involves singing and dancing to religious Qawwalis dedicated to their god

The Bhakti movement is limited in its reach to India only

The Sufi movement covered many Islamic countries spread across continents

The Bhakti movement focused primarily on creating and sharing an emotional bond with the divine through devotion

The Sufi Movement concerned itself primarily with establishing disciplined and simplistic ways of life

The scholars interpret Bhakti Movement as a wave of renewal and revival in the social, Hinduism setup of India

The Sufi Movement is a way of life and not a subsect of Islam which is a common perception.

Some pioneers of the Bhakti movement are Kabeer Das and Meera bai.

Some pioneers of the Sufi movement are Moinuddin Chishti and Amir Khusrau

Sufi and Bhakti movements are both religious practices, but they are concerned with different religions and achieve different objectives. While the Bhakti movement aims to achieve social reforms through devotion to deities, Sufism is directed inwards into self-reform.

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FAQs on Difference Between Sufi and Bhakti Movement

Q.1) Who started the Bhakti movement in India?

Bhakti movement started with the Vaishnavite and Shaivite poets of south India, Nayanars and Alvars.

Q.2) Who introduced Sufism to India?

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti introduced Sufism to India.

Q.3) Who is the father of the Bhakti movement?

Ramananda is the father of the Bhakti movement.

Q.4) Who was the first Sufi?

Abd-Allah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, a Persian poet, was the first Sufi.