Archive for May, 2013

MOGADISHU, Somalia: Mystical branch of Islam has resurgence in Somalia – World Wires – MiamiHerald.com

Saturday, May 18th, 2013
mogadishu-story

Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP Photo

By ABDI GULED

Associated Press

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Hundreds of sweating Sufis chant and sway as the lead sheik moves into the middle of a circle of worshippers and bursts into a chant louder than anyone else’s

Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is having a major comeback since al-Shabab, an armed militant Islamic group, was pushed out of Somalia’s capital in August 2011. The Sunni insurgents had banned Sufis from gathering and prevented them from worshipping. Sufi sheiks, or elders, were attacked, graves of their saints were desecrated and rituals and celebrations became rare or secretly performed.

Beyond the circle of worshippers are dozens of women, some of them so moved that they are crying. Nearby is the grave of a Sufi saint where the worshippers go to pray to show reverence. Free food, including toasted coffee beans fried in oil, is distributed in wooden containers.

In this photo taken Friday, April 19, 2013, Sufis chant and sway in a circle of worshippers, at the Sufi's main center in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is having a comeback in Somalia since al-Shabab, an armed militant Islamic group, was pushed out of the capital in August 2011. Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP Photo Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/16/3400765/mystical-branch-of-islam-has-resurgence.html#storylink=cpy

Sufis chant and sway in a circle of worshippers, at the Sufi’s main center in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is having a comeback in Somalia since al-Shabab, an armed militant Islamic group, was pushed out of the capital in August 2011. Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP Photo

“With Allah’s wish, we are here free and worshipping today,” said Sheik Abdullahi Osman, a 72-year-old Sufi cleric, who has beads dangling from his neck. Sufis in Mogadishu spend hours feasting, praying, and invoking Allah’s name. Traditionally Sufis used sticks to protect their shrines but now it’s common to see a guard with an AK-47 slung over his shoulder in this seaside capital.

“There’s no choice other than defending ourselves and our faith,” said Mohamed Ahmed, an armed Sufi follower guarding the gathering. The arrivals were being checked and other guards stood outside a gate.

Ruqiya Hussein, a veiled woman, traveled from an al-Shabab-held town 90 kilometers (55 miles) away to get to a place of worship.

“I am thrilled to see my sheiks come back to lead us again,” she said, squeezing her henna-tattooed fingers before she joined a group of women swaying and chanting rhymes.

Sufis were known for spreading Islam across Somalia through peaceful teaching and practicing tolerance toward other faiths. Some Sufis hope that their style finds fertile ground in a nation recovering from the wounds of extremism and war.

“Unlike others we don’t kill or harass people. Instead, we provide examples of how to live.” said, Sheik Abdirizaq Aden, the regional leader of the faith.

In this photo taken Friday, April 19, 2013, Sufis eat traditional toasted and fried coffee beans during a ritual service at the Sufi's main center in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is having a comeback in Somalia since al-Shabab, an armed militant Islamic group, was pushed out of the capital in August 2011. Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP Photo Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/16/3400765/mystical-branch-of-islam-has-resurgence.html#storylink=cpy

Sufis eat traditional toasted and fried coffee beans during a ritual service at the Sufi’s main center in Mogadishu, Somalia. Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP Photo

Al-Shabab, a group of al-Qaida-linked militants that seeks to instill an ultra-conservative brand of Islam across Somalia, controlled Mogadishu from roughly 2007 to 2011. The group still dominates most of south-central Somalia but has seen its territory reduced after military pushes by African Union and Somali forces.

The Sufis in the capital now feel free to practice their faith. In central Somalia, after the graves of sheiks were desecrated and killings occurred, Sufis used weapons to kick militants out of some key towns. The conflict in that part of the Horn of Africa nation persists.

In this photo taken Friday, April 19, 2013, a Somali Sufi woman counts prayer beads during a ritual at the Sufi's main center in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is having a comeback in Somalia since al-Shabab, an armed militant Islamic group, was pushed out of the capital in August 2011. Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP Photo Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/16/3400765/mystical-branch-of-islam-has-resurgence.html#storylink=cpy

A Somali Sufi woman counts prayer beads during a ritual at the Sufi’s main center in Mogadishu, Somalia.  Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP Photo

Somalia fell into chaos in 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Siad Barre and turned on each other. Two decades of violence followed, but the capital and some other towns have seen strong security gains during the last 18 months that have allowed businesses and even sports leagues to thrive.

Read more here: MOGADISHU, Somalia: Mystical branch of Islam has resurgence in Somalia – World Wires – MiamiHerald.com.



 

Heads of Sufi shrines raise voice against terrorism – Oneindia News

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Ajmer Shareef

New Delhi, May 17:

In a bold step, the spiritual heads of leading Sufi shines in the country have passed a resolution against terrorism asserting that terrorism in any form, from scaring to killing innocents, is un-Islamic and against the humanity. Talking about the resolution, spiritual head and Dewan of the Ajmer Dargah, Zainual Abedin Ali Khan, urged followers of Sufi saints to fight the menace of terrorism and expressed that the country is reeling under frequent acts of terrorism by extremist forces, intending to create communal disharmony. The resolution was passed yesterday at an annual meeting of spiritual heads of leading Sufi shines in the country, which was held at Khankah inside the Dargah during the ongoing 801st annual Urs of Khawaja Gharib Nawaz. While addressing the Sufi gathering, Khan said, Hindus and Muslims have to work together to get rid of terrorism. “I will reach out to religious heads of other religions to ensure that no innocent die and no culprit be left unpunished,” Dewan said calling upon religious heads of other religions to unite and fight terrorism. Sufi heads of Barailly Sharief, Gulbarga Sharief in Karnataka, Halkatta Sharief in Andhra Pradesh, Ametha Sharief in Gujarat, Chattgoan dargah in Bangladesh, Bhagalpur in Bihar, Phulwari Sharief in UP, Gango Sharif in Uttranchal, Nizamuddin Aulia were among others present in the meeting.

Read more via Heads of Sufi shrines raise voice against terrorism – Oneindia News.



 

The essence of Sufism on an Israeli stage | JPost | Israel News

Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Sufi Festival Photo: Courtesy

Sufi Festival Photo: Courtesy

The essence of Sufism on an Israeli stage

By GABRIELLA TZVIA WEINIGER

05/07/2013 13:44

What draws trance-loving Israelis to a festival devoted to a mystical strand of Islam?

Chants of “Laa illaha ill-Allah” (There is no god but Allah), and “Allah huwa huwa” (He is God) echoed at the Desert Ashram in southern Israel at the 2013 Sufi Festival last weekend. The prayer fit its settings perfectly, as hundreds of Israelis reproduced its rhythms in a desert oasis surrounded by a vast expanse of empty space.

“The festival was a real experience, with music, workshops, and a special energy we have never felt before, managing to hold a genuine and unique connection between the guests as one community, one tribe,” one of the festivals producers, Kohra Yuval Itach, told The Jerusalem Post.

Intimate stages played host to traditional performances of Sufi music with a modern twist. The music was given another dimension as the audience engaged in workshops, seminars, and dance sessions intended to enlighten and explain.

“The festival produced the idea that the audience [member] is really participating in what’s happening, whether he dances or not, and he is really able to have a direct experience,” Itach enthusiastically said.

With masterclasses in six different compounds continuing throughout the weekend, guests were encouraged to open their minds to a new kind of experience. The seminars focused on the mystical way, and included discussions about great Sufi masters such as Jelaluddin Rumi and Yunus Emre. Beyond the classes were dance and singing workshops, where festival-goers could learn to swirl like a whirling dervish, authentically demonstrated by Harel Shahal and the Turkish Music Ensemble. Guests could also practice mystical eastern dance traditions through sacred movement, dancing the trance of release.

Read more via The essence of Sufism on an Israeli stage | JPost | Israel News.