The classical cultural heritage of the Azerbaijani people was connected, by indissoluble bonds, with religious and philosophical doctrine – Sufism – that had penetrated into the spiritual and social life of the society. Sufism has played an exclusive role in conservation and rethinking of the rich cultural traditions of the pre-Islamic period.
Arisen in connection with Sufism, philosophical, ethical, aesthetic norms, having called forth a definite way of life, penetrated into the culture and art of the Azerbaijani people so deeply that, not having learnt them, it is difficult to deeply understand the philosophy, poetry, music and art of that period.
Sufis considered that the highest purpose of life of a human being is perfection and spiritualization of the personality. Only perfect personality is capable to approach Allah and join him in a definite state by mystical love for Him. Music, poetry and dances helped Sufis to achieve this state. Ceremonies created in Sufi orders were conducted, and each spring Sufis-dervishes living in Sufi settlements went out for travels and preached this doctrine. Wandering Sufis-dervishes were so popular among the people that they had turned into heroes of national fairy tales and dastans and were engraved in miniatures, carpets etc.
Famous scientists-Sufis – great sheikhs Safiaddin Ishak Ardabili, Abuhafs Omar as-Suhraverdi and Sadraddin al-Khalvati - lived and created on the Azerbaijani land. World-renowned orders Safaviya, Suhraverdiya and Khalvatiya were established by them.
Azerbaijan is the Homeland of very authoritative in the Sufi world Baba Kuhi Bakuvi, Ayn al-Kuzat, Sheikh Zahid Lankarani, Mahmud Shabustari, Abu Najib as- Suhraverdi, Shihabaddin Abulfatih Suhraverdi, Fazlullah Tabrizi, Shibli and others.
Works of such great Azerbaijani poets as Nizami, Mahsati Ganjavi, Hagigi, Nasimi, Khatai, Fuzuli, Mirza Shafi Vazeh also have absorbed the ideas of Sufism. Living and creating late in the 19th and early in the 20th centuries, writers and poets also did not avoid the influence of Sufism. Powerful and impressive romantic characters of the works of founders of literary school of romanticism Huseyn Javid, Mohammad Hadi and others are the heroes carrying the ideals of Sufism. Sufis have also played a significant role in progressing and conservation of musical art and musical traditions. At meetings of Sufis, music sounded always, and ceremonial dances were performed. Women also participated in these meetings, read verses, and danced.