Sufis vs. Shiahs in Iran

Sufis vs. Shiahs in Iran February 17, 2006

Police, Sufis clash in Iran

    Sufi Muslim spirituality is tolerated under mainly Shia Iran’s strict Islamic laws, although some senior religious figures occasionally call for a clampdown on its rites.
Foreign plot
    Abbas Mohtaj, the governor-general of Qom, accused the dervishes of being part of a foreign plot, but he did not explain this.
    The Sufis’ mystical path to God through dance and music does not go down well with some of the most senior religious figures in the country.   
    Ayat Allah Hossein Nouri-Hamedani in September called for a clampdown on dervish groups in the holy city of Qom, which he called a "danger to Islam".

I’d be interested in learning more about the doctrinal objections to Sufism that are put forward by conservatives in Iran, and comparing them against those of Salafis and other critics of Sufism.

I find this dynamic particularly intriguing given how much Sunni Sufism and orthodox Shiahism seem to have in common in terms of devotional practice and mystical discourse, at least compared to Salafism and many other contemporary Islamic movements. 

In fact, Zahir makes the interesting argument that Shiahs don’t need to become Sufi to be mystical, as mysticism is woven into their tradition.  If that’s true, I wonder what doctrinal issues the clerical establishment has with Sufism (other than the fact that most Sufis are Sunni).

[HT: Anas, who emailed me this last week; Shabana, for reminding me of my forgotten draft by posting on the topic.]

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment