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There’s a piece by Ishaan Tharoor in Time entitled, “Can Sufism Defuse Terrorism?”
Sigh, non muslims need to stop talking about something they know nothing about(sufism).
Well, I don’t mind people talking about Sufism, so long as they stop doing it in the singular.
I also wish they wouldn’t play up these antinomian aspects of certain, atypical strands of Sufi tradition quite so much.
Take, for example, the example of the naked faqir cited the closing paragraph. It certainly does illustrate an unruly side of Sufism that appears from time to tim, but such socially transgressive behavior is highly exceptional. 99.9% of Sufis, past and present, would be equally scandalized by that behavior, and quite understandably.
i found the article drenched in inaccuracies. It was a joke.
i think the author probably think of Sufis as people with alot of love of duniya
when infact Sufism is quite the opposite.
Although it doesn’t join up all the dots in exactly the right places, this piece about the geostrategic place of Sufis in the GWOT with examples from Iran, Pakistan, India, Somali and Kosovo is heading in the right direction:
It might have been better framed as an official Western globalization of local religious conflict which is homologous with global Salafism and global jihadism’s mobilisation of the same.
Wa s-salam, Yahya
AA. Yeah, when I posted I didn’t have time to comment on the piece’s superficiality (like most MSM discussions of Sufism). Hence the noncommital report.
My other pet peeve is this use of syncretism as shorthand for progress. Admittedly, I happen to be closer to that perspective than many Muslims, but the idea that Sufis are just “laid back” about theology is hopelessly wrongheaded, of course. And when Sufis arrive at a universalistic position, it is the result of a deep engagement with Quran, Hadith and tradition, not some apriori commitment to secular principles. The commitment to the Sacred remains, even if one concedes that the Sacred can be found in more than one place. And, critically, without renouncing traditional norms of piety and practice (to the contrary, some of the most iconic Sufis are proverbial for herculean self-denial, and almost all Sufis of any renown are known for the strictest observance of Islamic law in their daily lives).
You make an interesting and very important criticism about the uncritical view of dunya. Part of the problem, I think, is that individualism and materialism are so ingrained into modern life–especially in Western societies–that the priorities and principles at the core of Sufism are incomprehensible to many otherwise thoughtful and well intentioned observers. Sometimes you can get through to people by framing Tazkiyya an-Nafs in terms of personal freedom (i.e., escaping the tyrrany of various “foreign” influences and base impulses), but even this is paradoxical since it remains rooted in individualism.
At the same time, this is the MSM and popular discussions of Sufism are always beset by misunderstandings, even among Muslims. (Or perhaps even more so. )
AA. Thanks for that far superior link, and your succinct analysis. Perhaps we should dub this fallacy “Jihadism vs. McSufism”!
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