A fakir, or faqir (/fəˈkɪər/; Arabic: فقیر (noun of faqr)), derived from faqr (Arabic: فقر, “poverty”) is a Sufi Muslim ascetic who has taken vows of poverty and worship, renouncing all relations and possessions. Fakirs are prevalent in the Middle East and South Asia. A fakir is thought to be self-sufficient and possesses only the spiritual need for God.
Faqirs are characterized by their reverence for dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God, often performed after prayers). Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE). Though, Sufis have spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium, originally expressing their beliefs in Arabic, before spreading into Persian, Turkish, Indian languages and a dozen other languages.
The term is also applied to Hindu ascetics (e.g., sadhus, gurus, swamis and yogis). These usages developed primarily in the Mughal era in the Indian subcontinent.
There is also a distinct clan of faqirs found in North India, descended from communities of faqirs who took up residence at sufi shrines.