Sufism is not pantheism, as is often said, because the Sufis believe not only in God manifest but also in the vast reaches of an infinite God in His beyond states which are not manifested in His creation.
Sufism is not Deism because Sufis do not regard God as separate from themselves.
In the same way that a plant will vary when grown under different conditions and in different climates, so there have been different Sufi schools. Four main ones in the East have been the Soharwardia, Nakshibundi, Kadaria and that established by Moin-ud-din Chishti. Three others are found in the Near East: Maulavi, Sadi and Bakhtashi.
Sufism is often regarded as a purely Muslim offshoot. As mentioned above, whenever a world messenger appears, a fresh, far-reaching wave of illumination occurs, and we have still extant many great works of philosophers, poets, etc., inspired through the advent of Mohammad. Some of these famous names are: Hafiz, Jalal-ud-din Rumi, lbn Al-Arabi, Al Ghazzali, AI Hujwiri, Farrid Ud-din Attar (whose famous allegory called "The Conference of the Birds" describes so fascinatingly the hazards of the journey through the planes), Saa'di of Shiraz, Shams Tabriz, Anwari, Nizami, Jami, Kabir and Shibli. Among the most noted women were Rabia of Basra and of very recent fame, Hazrat Babajan of Poona.
Unfortunately, the only name popularly known to Americans is that of Omar Khayyam, and he is often misconstrued. It has been the habit of Sufis, more often than not, to veil their meaning so that for the eyes of the mystic the intent stands clear, but to the eyes of the layman the verses appear simply beautiful poesy. Because of the idioms Sufi writers use, one might suspect them of being interested only in "wine, women and song," but let us see.
While Christians speak of the church as the allegorical bride and Christ as the Bridegroom, Sufis reverse the positions and speak of God as friend, beloved, mistress, and the Sufi himself as the lover. He will mention the dimpled cheek and perfumed curls of the Beloved, simply to convey in eastern fashion the great beauty of God. He seems always a tippling inebriate but when he suggests drinking wine he is begging us to become intoxicated