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  • In March 2016, India hosted its first ever World Sufi Forum. During the event, India’s

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Sufism asIslam’s greatest gift,” and suggested

  • that the faith was an alternative to more political, extremist interpretations of the

  • religion, akin to groups like the Islamic State. So what exactly is Sufism?

  • Well, Sufism is not a branch of Islam like Sunni and Shia, nor is it a sect or denomination.

  • Rather, Sufism is the spiritual and mystical philosophy of Islam, focused on a direct connection

  • to God by forgoing material goods and relationships. Not unlike Christian monks, or other ascetic

  • groups, Sufis dedicate themselves to Allah through meditation, repetitive prayer, and

  • non-violence. But while the concepts of Sufism are inherent in all versions of Islam, practitioners

  • who wholly dedicate themselves to spirituality are called Sufis.

  • Sufism arose less than a century after the founding of Islam. At the time, many Muslims

  • were concerned with the religion’s increasing materialism, which they believed would interfere

  • with a spiritual connection with God.. The wordSoo-fiis an Arabic term for mystic,

  • which itself was derived fromsoof”, or wool. Sufis have historically worn wool

  • as a rejection of worldly clothes.

  • By about the 11th century, Sufism had adopted a system of fraternal groupings, calledorders”.

  • In these spiritual schools, leaders taught their followers the principles and rituals

  • of Sufism, which included writing books and poems, and reciting hymns. In fact, the 13th

  • Century is known as the Golden Age of Sufism, as the greatest mystical Islamic art and literature

  • is believed to have derived from this period. By the 16th Century, Sufism was deeply ingrained

  • into both Sunni and Shia Islam and had spread throughout Persia, India and Central Asia.

  • The most well-known symbol of Sufism is the Whirling Dervishes, a Sufi order that originated

  • in 14th century Turkey. It’s known for repetitive spinning dances that unite the follower with

  • God, and is a popular tourist attraction in Turkey today.

  • Today, Sufis can still be found all around the world. But according to the Pew Research

  • Center, the belief system is most common in Sub-Saharan Africa, where about 35 percent

  • of Muslims in the region said they belong to a Sufi order. Sufism is also prevalent

  • among Muslims in India, Thailand, and other southeast Asian countries. Sufism has seen

  • a resurgence in popularity as a direct alternative to the growing radicalization of Islam.

  • Sufis have a legacy of philanthropy and missionary work, and are known for their non-violence,

  • tolerance, and personal sacrifice. During the Sufi forum in India, Prime Minister Modi

  • said, “At a time when the dark shadow of violence are becoming longer, you are the

  • noor or the light of hope.” Modi reportedly hopes to make India the center of what he

  • calls theWorld Sufi Movement”, or the large-scale effort to use Sufism as a cure

  • for jihadist extremism. World leaders have made similar efforts in the past, in countries

  • like the United Kingdom and the United States. But whether the ascetic, nonviolent practices

  • in Sufism can overcome the spread of radical Islam is yet to be seen.

  • But even though Sufism has influenced both Sunni and Shia Islam, there is a huge rift

  • between these two Islamic sects. Find out why in our video. Thanks for watching TestTube

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In March 2016, India hosted its first ever World Sufi Forum. During the event, India’s

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What Is Sufism And Can It Stop Radical Islam?

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    BH posted on 2016/12/31
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