Interconnection Between Sufism and Political Research Proposal

  • Length: 12 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Research Proposal
  • Paper: #55040298

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

The litanies of the order are believed to have been taught to al-Tijani directly by the Prophet Mohammed. In these visions, al-Tijani was instructed to break ties with other orders, and followers of the Tijaniyyah path were restricted to affiliation with only the Tijaniyyah" (531-532). The Tijani order provides a good example of how different Sufis practiced different rites and held different beliefs, although there were some commonalities among the orders. For instance, Morgan notes that, "The Tijani order was founded in Fez in Morocco and spread chiefly into the Sudan. The Sufi orders resembled each other in their extreme love of the Prophet, their strictness in observing their religious duties, their application of the shari'a in as far as possible, their respect for their leaders, and their guidance of followers of the order until they could be promoted to the highest ranks" (1958, 248). Despite their similarities, the Sufi orders were also different in several ways. For example, Morgan advises, "Each order had its own invocation; some of them made their prayer beads of a hundred beads, others used only twelve. And while the Senussis were tolerant and would perform their recitations and prayers with others, the Tijanis preferred isolation for their devotions" (Morgan 1958, 248). The influence of the Tijani order was manifest in several ways. For instance, Abun-Nasr notes, "Sufi "The Tijaniyya, an Algerian order founded in the 1780s, also moved quickly into the missionary field, and by the end of the century its peculiarly exclusive doctrines were being preached along the Lower Senegal. The founder of the Tijaniyya, Ahmad al-Tijani, claimed for himself a unique place in the hierarchy of the Muslim sainthood and forbade members of his order to join other brotherhoods" (1965, 37).

The Derqaoui Order.

Another Sufi order that would play an influential role in Moroccan history was the Derqaoui order. According to Nasr (1997), "At the end of the twelfth / eighteenth century, a powerful spiritual rebirth took place under yet another branch of the Sh-dhil-s, the Darq-w?, founded by the Shar-f Mawlay al-'Arab? al-Darq-w? (d. 1239 / 1823). This new branch sought to restore the purity of early Sh-dhilism through a return to an equilibrated view of the Law (Shar?'ah) and the Path (t-ar-qah), which was what characterized the first teachers" (45). Numerous branches would in turn emerge out of the Darq-w? And have a profound influence not only in North Africa but also in the Hijaz, Turkey, and in the Levant. These were the B-z-diyyah, the Kattaniyyah, the H-arr-qiyyah, and the Madaniyyah, and some of these would in turn give rise to still other branches. Thus, the Madaniyyah, founded by Muh-ammad H-asan ibn H-amzah al-Madan? (d. 1363 / 1846) of Medina, spread out from Libya, but it created the Rah-m-niyyah in the Hijaz and the Yashrut-iyyah in the Levant. In addition, other Sh-dhil-s would move southward into Africa (Nasr 1997, 45). According to Webber, "After the Moroccan uprisings of 1907-8, 1911, and 1912 against colonialist rule, the Derqaoui [Darqawi] brotherhood, for example, was organized solely to group together all elements of resistance to foreign penetration" (1991, 199-200).

In this regard, Westerlund (2004) notes that, "For the development of Sufism among European converts, the Darqawi branch of the Shadhili tree, which was founded by Ahmad al-Darqawi (d. 1823), has been important" (19). Moreover, Westerlund cites the rise of other Sufi orders as playing a fundamental role in the eventual liberation of Morocco. In this regard, Westerlund writes, "A further ramification, which has been of even greater significance for this development, is the Shadhili-Darqawi-Alawi or Alawiyya, which was initiated by Abu al-Abbas al-Alawi (d. 1934). Like Shadhiliyya, both Darqawiyya and Alawiyya have a North African origin" (19). The Tijani and Derqaoui Orders played a significant role in development of Sufism in Morocco, so too did the Kettani Order which is discussed further below.

The Kettani Order.

During the 1930s, the charismatic Mohammed V was able to mobilize Sufi groups in cooperating with the colonial powers. As Hammoudi emphasizes, "Mohammed V was able to active the charisma he inherited at the very moment when the nationalist movement was stripping his opponents of their legitimacy. In the early stages of the protectorate some religious leaders -- particularly the heads of Sufi brotherhoods -- stopped resisting and allied themselves with the colonial administration" (17). In response, Moroccan nationalist groups organized demonstrations to counter this Sufi movement during the 1930s and accused them of complicity with the colonialists. According to Hammoudi, "The fate of the Kettani zawiya (religious brotherhood) and its head are exemplary in this regard. During the troubled years in which the occupation of Oujda (1907) was followed by the French troops' landing in Casablanca, Mohammed ben Abdelkebir Kettani established himself as the champion of domestic reforms and of the struggle against the invaders" (17). In addition, in 1907, the ruling sultan was overthrown in Marrakech, to the benefit of the brother who was brought to the throne precisely on the basis of such a program (Hammoudi 17). These events led Kettani to initiative a movement in Fez which combined brotherhood Sufism and a reformist Islam of salafi inspiration; the objective of this movement was to impose a representative constitutional regime while reactivating resistance against the Christian invaders" (Hammoudi 17). The new sultan was offered conditional allegiance and the spokesman for the demands listed in the text of the bay'a was Kettani, who until his death never stopped confronting the sultan on these issues (Hammoudi 17).

Observers have remarked that in addition to problems regarding reform and jihad, there was a rivalry between Kettani -- a man of non-Alawite (Idrissid) sharifian lineage and the head of a powerful brotherhood -- and the Alawite throne. Some contemporaries interpreted Kettani's actions as a bid to be elected as a replacement for the deposed sultan. Such a course would have meant standing in the way of Moulay Abdelhafid, who had already been nominated in Marrakech to succeed his brother; at any rate, Kettani did not give up his fight after the new sovereign had assume the throne" (Hammoudi 17).

The Qadiri Order.

The Sufi brotherhoods would play a decisive role in the revolutionary movements that transformed political life in North Africa and India during the period 1750 to 1850 (Abun-Nasr 1965). For example, this author notes that, "The Qadiriyya order, established in North Africa since the twelfth century, had long been active south of the Sahara, particularly among the Kunta Arabs of the Timbuktu region" (Abun-Nasr 1965, 37). According to Morgan, "The Qadiri order was the most enthusiastic of the orders in the propagation of Islam in Africa, using education and trade as its means. The followers were distinguished for their tolerance which they inherited from their founder, who in the sixth century (twelfth century a.D.) had been known for his genuine veneration of Jesus and was accustomed to say, 'We should pray not only for our own selves, but also for everyone who is created by God as we are'" (quoted at 247). In fact, one of the most influential religious leaders in Sind in 1956 was Pir Pagaro, head of a branch of the Qadiri order of Sufis (Morgan 1958, 329).

In later years, Pagaro, described by Shafqat (1997) as "one of the leading pirs (saints) and landlords from Sind," was selected to be the United Democratic Front party's president, with Mufti Mahmud assuming the position of secretary-general. According to Shafqat, "Most significantly, the coalition had the support of a segment of the powerful feudal class in the four provinces, the financial industrial groups, and the religious groups" (p. 103). In fact, the Pir Pagaro, came by his rank and honor the hard way through armed conflict with imperialists during the early 20th century (Ziring 1980). The self-sacrificing devotion that characterized the Qadiri order was not unique but it was a powerful force to be reckoned with. In this regard, Ziring emphasizes that, "The ties that bound the Hurs to the Pir Pagaro conjured up historic recollections of the relationship between the twelfth-century Iranian folk leader Hasan Sabbah and his coterie of self-sacrificers, the Hashishis (Assassins)" (1980, 148).


There are several reasons for the success of the Sufi orders in propagating Islam among the people of Africa. Islam is a religion of ease and simplicity which charges the Muslim with no more than proclaiming his profession of faith and performing its easy religious rites. Another reason is that Islam has a social character which strengthens the morale of the group, bringing men together as brothers without discrimination in a way which facilitates travel, trade, and the struggle for a livelihood. Also, the Sufi orders have some practices which resemble those of the tribes of Africa, such as the prescribed daily recitations, the gathering around the Shaikh, or head of the order, belief in spiritual powers, and communal living (Morgan 1958, 248).

In his book, a History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, historian Jamil Abun-Nasr reports that Sultan Ahmad defended Morocco…

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