A Sufi Order (Tarīqah) is a school of Sufism. A Tarīqah has a Shaykh or Guide, who is the spiritual teacher.̣ A Sufi Tarīqah is a group of Murīd (pl.: Murīdīn), Arabic for desireous, desiring the knowledge of knowing God and loving God.
Nearly every Tarīqah is named after its founder, and when the order is referred to as a noun - yah is usually added to a part of the founder's name. For example the "Rifai order," named after Shaykh `Ahmed er Rifai, is called the "Rifaiyyah", the "Qādirī order," named after Shaykh `Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī, is called the "Qādiriyyah". Often Tarīqahs are offshoots of other Tarīqahs; for example the Jelveti order founded by Aziz Mahmud Hudayi who are an offshoot of the Bayrami order founded by Hajji Bayram in Ankara who are an offshoot of the zahidiyye founded by Pir Zahid al-Gaylani in Iran. The Khalwatī order are a particularly splintered order with numerous offshoots such as the Jerrahī, Sunbulī, Nasuhī, Karabashiyyah and others, the Tijaniyyah order prevalent in West Africa also has its roots in this Tariqa.Galibi Order founded by Galip Hassan Kuscuoglu in Ankara Turkey, today still continues.
In most cases, the Shaykh nominates his 'Khalīfah' or successor during his lifetime, who will take over the order. In rare cases, where the shaykh dies without naming a khalīfah, the Murīds of the Tarīqah elect another spiritual leader through a vote. In some orders, it is recommended to take a khalīfah from the same order as their Murshid. In some groups it is customary for the khalīfah to be the son of the shaykh, although in other groups the khalīfah and the shaykh are not normally relatives. In yet other orders, a successor may be identified through the spiritual dreams of its members.
Tarīqahs have a Silsilah (Arabic: ( سلسلة )) meaning chain or, more idiomatically, a lineage of various Shaykhs that eventually leads back to Muhammad. Almost all orders except the Naqshbandi order has a Silsilah that leads back to Muhammad through `Alī. (The Naqshbandi Silsilah goes back to Abu Bakr the first Caliph of Sunni Islam and then Muhammad.) This has led some Western writers on Islam to wrongly assume that many of the Tarīqas have a Shi`ite influence within them, although this idea falls short when it is remembered that all of the founders of the main Sufi orders have been Sunni Muslims: `Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī adhered to the Ḥanbalī a school (madhhab) of Sunni Islamic law, and almost all of the famous Shaykhs of the Shādhilī order have been staunch Sunni Muslims