al-ghazali would be saddened.


"Sufism is a strand of Islam that eschews materialism and emphasizes the inward search for God. Sufi adherents are responsible for some of Islam's most famous and beloved literature, including the poems of Rumi. Followers promote values such as tolerance and pluralism.

Sufi believers can be Sunni or Shiite, though the majority of Sunni. They see Sufism less as a sect than as a way of being, a set of beliefs and practices that lead followers closer to God. “It is nothing more than the spiritual dimension,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told the New York Times. “It is Islam, but we focus on meditation, on chanting sessions, which enable the Muslim to have his or her heart open. The myths people have about Sufis are analogous to the myths people have about Muslims.”"  Washpost


"Salafism is associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam. In the Western world it is often associated with the Salafist jihadism [2] Sufism is associated with the use of prayer, music, dance and the teachings of Sufi masters—who may serve as an intermediary between God and humans—to achieve a spiritual sense of the meaning of God.[3]

While there are Muslims who believe that Salafism and Sufism "overlap", the "standard" Salafi response to Sufism has been called "polemical".[4] According to various observers, Salafists have been "usually … unrelentingly hostile to devotional Sufi practices",[5] arguing that Sufism is "irreconcilable with true Islam",[4] and one of the elements "corrupting" modern day Islam.[6] Relations between the two movements have been described as one with "battle lines drawn",[7] or a "rift" found in "practically every Muslim country",[8] and in "the Muslim diasporic communities of the West"[9] as well."  wiki


 "Sufis were characterized by their asceticism, especially by their attachment to dhikr, the practice of remembrance of God, often performed after prayers.[16] They gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661–750)[17] and have spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium, originally expressing their beliefs in Arabic before spreading into Persian, Turkish, and Urdu among dozens of other languages.[18] According to William Chittick, "In a broad sense, Sufism can be described as the interiorization, and intensification of Islamic faith and practice."   wiki


The great Muslim scholar al-Ghazali successfully devised an argument for reconciliation between the intensely personal devotion of the early sufis of the Abbasid period and the pietist, scripture obsessed majority who wrested control of the caliphate from the Mu'tazila faction of scholars.  The Mu'tazila argued for what might be called an adaptationist understanding of Islam in which the Gate of Ijtihad (new understandings) would never close.  The Mu'tazila had been the dominant force in Sunni Muslim thinking during the reign of several caliphs but were bested politically and lost all influence.

Having accomplished this the pietists turned their attention to the sufis of the day.  There was a great persecution in which sufis were crucified, burned alive, dismembered alive and so forth.  al-ghazali stopped this by successfully arguing that the claim of the sufis to know and experience God was not blasphemy as the pietists insisted but rather was a description of experience of the reflection of God's nature in his creations. (Reflection of a  lamp in a window, etc.)  This made sufis tolerable to Sunnis in general.  (They were  almost always tolerable to Shia muslims) 

Now the wahhabi salafi takfiris have revived the persecution of the sufis.  My SWAG would be that this congregation were of the  Shadhili tariqa.  They are numerous in that part of Egypt and many of them are of a beduin tribe who understandably has resisted the IS devils.  There will be more abominations like this.

If my explanation does not satisfy specialists in these phenomena I can only say that I am not writing for them.  pl

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18 Responses to al-ghazali would be saddened.

  1. The Beaver says:

    Some members of the media reporting on the tragedy yesterday :
    The terrorists, shooting at civilians during the Sinai attack, were yelling: “Allahu Akbar, kill the Kharijites”.

  2. Bill Herschel says:

    Thank you very much for this enlightening and knowledgeable background and explanation.

  3. Yep, you don’t get this kind of depth even from Charlie Rose. Thanks for sharing the insights. It really does help put event into a proper context.

  4. Laura says:

    Thank you, Colonel, there is so much to know and understand.

  5. Will.2718 says:

    Yet, a militant Sufi Order in Iraq blended w Daesh

  6. turcopolier says:

    Wy do you do this charade of using a different name? the Naqshbandiya or part of it made this deal with the IS devils to resist the US occupation. pl

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This was a relatively recent order, a branch of Beduwayyah/Ahmadiyyah. The dead , including 25 children, belonged to Al-e Jorjiyeh tribe. They oppose music, keep women at home, and are known for other such. It did not protect them.

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Every official in police and military has to be sacked. Sisi knows how to murder 2000 people in one day in Cairo…

  9. Poul says:

    Are we going to see the Egyptian government ignore elements of the peace treaty with Israel? If I recall correctly there are size limits on the number of troops allow in Sinai.
    It looks like permanent bases are required to shut down Sinai for jihadi groups.

  10. JohnB says:

    Will 2718
    Interesting that should mention the Naqshbandi Sufi sect in Iraq. As the Col has said on many occasions there are many faces to Islam, so there are different strands within Sufism The ‘Mahadi’ of General Gordon fame was a Sufi as were most of his followers in Sudan.
    It was the Dervish Mehmet Efendi, a Naqshbandi Sufi who began the armed revolt in Turkey against Mustafa Kemal’s policies of forced secularisation in 1930.
    Sultan Erdogan and most of the followers of The AKP are part of the Khaledi branch of the Naqshbandi Sufi order. This branch of the order is very much part of the Sunni tradition unlike other Sufi’s orders who I believe all trace there lineage to Ali.

  11. turcopolier says:

    Sufi tariqas are not sects any more than the Franciscans or Jesuits are sects within the Catholic Church. It would be more accurate to call them communities. There are both Sunni and Shia tariqas but most are Sunni. pl

  12. Will.2718 says:

    Two great medieval islamic books are “The Incoherence of the Philosophers” by al-Ghazal and its later refutation by Ibn Rushd aka Averroes . “His [Averroes] most important original philosophical work was The Incoherence of the Incoherence (Tahafut al-tahafut), in which he defended Aristotelian philosophy against al-Ghazali’s claims in The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-falasifa).”
    Across the centuries, al Ghazali wins in the court of public opinion. Religion is a matter of the heart and intuition and not of words/kalam.

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Idrisi tariqat had much to do with the creation of Libya.

  14. JohnB says:

    Yes, communities or indeed groupings would have been a more accurate description.

  15. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ghazali won, yes, but Muslims lost; they became abject failures writ large as they they did not posess the analytical tools to deal with the world that Western Christians had wrought.

  16. The Beaver says:

    Poor poor Rita Katz (SITE) still asking as to why ISIS has not made a claim yet!
    She forgets that the “caliphate” does not exist anymore and that the leadership is on the run.

  17. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    All .. re how we got here..David Stockman’s lucid broad-brush take. Worth a read to the end if up to it. Decent perspectives and 20th century ME gloss for some hereI IMO. I’da knitted-in the Black Sox parallel start & finish … fits today but that’s just me.

  18. Serge says:

    Propaganda apparatus hasn’t broken down at all, volume has sure decreased esp since the fall of Mosul. There were many claims on the day of the attack and since, but no mention of this attack.

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