Murshid (Arabic: مرشد) is Arabic for "guide" or "teacher", derived from the root r-sh-d, with the basic meaning of having integrity, being sensible, mature. Particularly in Sufism it refers to a Spiritual Guide. The term is frequently used in Sufi Orders such as the Qadiriya, Chishtiya, Shadhiliya, Suhrawardiya, and others including the Alevis, Bektashis, and Nizaris, the main school of Ismā‘īlī Shiites.
The path of Sufism starts when a student-murid takes an oath of allegiance or Bay'ah (bai'ath) with a spiritual guide-Murshid. In speaking of this initiatory pact of allegiance, the Qur’ ̄an (48:10) says: Verily they who pledge unto thee their allegiance pledge it unto none but God. The Hand of God is above their hands.
The Murshid's role is to spiritually guide and verbally instruct the disciple on the Sufi path, but "only one who has himself reached the End of the path is a spiritual guide in the full sense of the Arabic term murshid". Some of the general lessons are called suhbas.
A murshid usually has authorisation to be a teacher for one or more "tariqas" (paths). A silsila or tariqa may have more than one murshid at a time. A murshid is accorded that status by his murshid (shaykh) by way of khilafah: the process in which the shaykh identifies one of his disciples as his successor, the khalifa. A murshid can have more than one khalifa.
- See Hans Wehr's Arabic Dictionary, 4th ed., s.v. rašada.
- Cf. A.R. Siddiqui, Quranic Key Words A Reference Guide, p. 199.
- Daftary, Farhad (2007), The Ismāʻı̄lı̄s: their history and doctrines (2 ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 431, ISBN 0521616360
- Cf. Martin Lings, What is Sufism, Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, p. 125.
- Lings, op. cit., p. 125.