Thanks to Zainub, I came across this article on the Superluminal blog that traces the links between coffee and Sufis rather well. Coffee or Qehva was used by the Sufis to stay up for dhikr (Divine remembrance) sessions. The picture on the right also courtesy Superluminal depicts an Ottoman coffee house. Here is an excerpt:

Most modern coffee-drinkers are probably unaware of coffee’s heritage in the Sufi orders of Southern Arabia. Members of the Shadhiliyya order are said to have spread coffee-drinking throughout the Islamic world sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries CE. A Shadhiliyya shaikh was introduced to coffee-drinking in Ethiopia, where the native highland bush, its fruit and the beverage made from it were known as bun.It is possible, though uncertain, that this Sufi was Abu’l Hasan ‘Ali ibn Umar, who resided for a time at the court of Sadaddin II, a sultan of Southern Ethiopia’Ali ibn Umar subsequently returned to the Yemen with the knowledge that the berries were not only edible, but promoted wakefulness. To this day the shaikh is regarded as the patron saint of coffee-growers, coffee-house proprietors and coffee-drinkers, and in Algeria coffee is sometimes called shadhiliyye in his honor.

The piece also narrates the story of coffee’s secularization over the centuries; however, it tells us how qehva continued to be a favourite among the Sufis.

Despite coffee’s eventual secularization, the fondness for it in Sufi circles and the motives for its use were not lost. Helveti dervishes were among those who enthusiastically drank coffee to promote the stamina needed for extended dhikr ceremonies and retreats.

12 Responses to Coffee and Sufism – the ancient links

  1. I Me My says:

    You refer to Qehva, and I wonder if it is the same beverage that I have during winters; a habit I acquired from a friend who comes from Kashmir and calls it ‘Kehva’. It is made from green tea leaves; is sweet and has crushed almonds, cardamom, and cinnamon added to it.

  2. RR says:

    Id: well that is also called Qehva or Kahva. However, in Turkish and Arabic coffee is also called qehva..
    Have you tried Turkish coffee??

  3. I Me My says:

    Yes I have! Those tiny goblets in which it is served is fascinating, and the aroma of that coffee is simply divine! Near where I live is a restaurant called “The Seven Hills of Istanbul” which serves Turkish coffee, and though it is a trifle strong, I have it whenever I go there.

  4. Interesting information. As a coffee freak (black bitter coffe has kept me awake hundreds of nights), I have wondered (but been too lazy to google) about its history. I’ve had a chance to socialize with some Arabs (Lebanese) who also have their own version, served in tiny shot-glass like mugs – is it the same as Turkish coffee?

  5. billo says:

    Dear Raza, I can’t believe you’re writing about coffee when you’re such a pukka Lahori:)

    Fantastic blog, btw!

    How are you?



  6. Sidhusaaheb says:

    Well, before I read this blog-post, even I thought of Kehva as I, Me, My has described it.

    I am yet to try Turkish coffee.

  7. Baraka says:


    As a coffee fan and a superSufi this makes me happy 😉


  8. […] including coffee … • Found on Windows Live, Yahoo! Search Coffee and Sufism – the ancient links | Jahane Rumi Oct 8, 2007 … Thanks to Zainub, I came across this article on the Superluminal blog […]

  9. Salideen Theory says:


    drinking a cup of coffee once a day is one of the recommendations from my Shaykh.

  10. Abdulrahman says:

    What about Sufis in ethiopia today?? Any information??? I am looking for amharic Sufi poetry…

  11. Max myers says:

    Your talk of this fine coffee, mmmm I want to try some. Thank you for the image!

  12. abagar says:

    what is sufi condition today they are existing or dominated
    wadajaa zar minamin is that necessary or bid’a??

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