Michael Laitman, On Quora: “Is Jewish Kabbalah similar to Sufism?“
Sufism and Kabbalah both discuss the need to develop an attitude of love for another as life’s guiding principle. Sufism, however, does not explain the structure of the system of creation and its conduct. It is better suited to the masses because it speaks about the solution to human and spiritual problems on the level of our world.
Sufism does not explain the structure of the upper world with the precision that the wisdom of Kabbalah does: Sefirot, Partzufim, Olamot, Ohr, NRNHY (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Haya, Yechida), KHB ZON (Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, Nukva), Tzimtzum, Masach, Ohr Hozer, and all the rest of the concepts. Only in Kabbalah are such “celestial mechanics” described.
Why are such descriptions needed? They are needed when one begins to attain the upper world. A person in attainment of the spiritual system cannot make inner order and clarification if relying solely on emotion or the teacher. For such a person, the teacher transforms from a person to an internal characteristic, and he perceives and emphasizes the inner layer of reality that Kabbalists call “the Creator,” while lowering the priority on the reality we perceive with our five senses. The progressive attainment of such a reality requires deeper definitions and emotions, and one must work with more subtle and measured states.
I am no Sufism expert, but it seems to me that it is a part of Kabbalah. Moreover, if we penetrate more deeply into true Sufism, then it would possible to discover the dividing line beyond which the wisdom of Kabbalah is imperative. According to its foundation, Sufism is the correct study for leading the person precisely toward the goal, but up to a particular limit.
The idea is that with all of us there are different levels of ego. Sufism stops at a deep level of ego. Yet for people with a big ego, Sufism is not enough. Such people need a greater weapon against themselves, and thus need the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Unfortunately, Sufism has stopped its development for some time. Today in the Muslim world, it is not wanted at all. This is a great shame because once there was a connection between Jews and Muslims through Sufism.