Who is a 'Sufi'? A Sufi doesn't call himself a Sufi. He calls himself a 'traveler on the path'.
Sufism is the mystic aspect of Islam. Since mysticism need not necessarily be connected to a religion in particular, one need not even be a Muslim to be a Sufi. However, as far as the connection between Islam and Sufism goes, a seeker passes through 'Shariat', the dos and don'ts of formal religion and comes to the 'Tariqat', the method by which one seeks the truth. With this the seeker becomes a 'murid', a disciple under a 'murshid', the teacher.
When the proper teacher has found a proper student and vice versa, begins the training, which is the practice of 'Sufism'. There are many different schools of Sufism and the training differs depending on the teacher and the student – 'Each according to his capacities; each according to his needs' is the Sufi dictum.
'M' (Mumtaz Ali), as he prefers to be called and is popularly known, is a genuinely secular voice that has assimilated the essence of all religions and is committedly engaged in passing on his understanding of the oneness of all religious paths to spiritual seekers.
Born into a muslim family in Kerala in 1949, 'M' nurtured keen interest towards spiritual pursuit since childhood. Even as a lad he spent time reading books on yoga, vedanta and vedic scriptures. At twenty, he could no longer subdue his strong attraction towards the Himalayas where he met his great master. Emulating the teachings and life of his guru, 'M' strongly asserts that one has to live like the lotus, which, while growing in water and deriving its nourishment from it, still does not let water wet its petals. He shuns the pseudo outer shell of all formal religions, yet cognizes their inner mysticism that can nourish the innate goodness in all human beings.
To all those who seek clarifications, guidance and help in spiritual matters he is available with matchless compassion and unconditional love. He lives in a valley on the outskirts of Madanapalli in Andhra Pradesh but is often on the move travelling far and wide for lectures. He writes and paints when he is not away from his house "Snow White" in Madanapalli. Although not formally trained in music, 'M' sings beautiful bhajans in mellifluous tunes. He is a 'grihasta' not a monk, an has wife and two children.
"Go to the core" he says, "theories are useless".