Saturday, November 17, 2007

Iran: Clashes between security forces and Sufi Muslims

The poet Molana Jalal ad-Din Rumi (public domain)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reports that clashes in Iran this week between security forces and followers of a mystic Sufi order have underlined what international human rights groups say is the increasing "demonization" of Sufi Muslims in Iran.

Dozens of people were injured and arrested during the November 11 clashes in the western city of Borujerd, and parts of the Sufis' monastery there were destroyed. Official media said the clashes came after Sufis attacked a Shi'a mosque in the city where clerics had been criticising Sufism.

Sufism is growing in popularity in predominantly Shi'ite Iran, though officials and conservative Shi'a clerics have said it is a deviation of Islam.

Centuries-old Tensions

Sufism is a mystic tradition within Islam in which individuals pursue absolute truth and divine wisdom through mystic revelation. It is best known around the world for its "whirling dervish" dances and for the mystical poetry of 13th-century Persian poet Molana Jalal ad-Din Rumi.

In fact, Sufi Muslims believe that rituals involving dance, music, and the recitation of Allah's divine names can give them direct perception of God.

But although many Sufi orders strictly observe Islamic practices and beliefs, some conservative Shi'a clerics in Iran say Sufism is a danger to Islam.

Full article: Iran: Clashes Highlight 'Demonization' Of Sufi Muslims by Ron Synovitz (Radio Farda's Alireza Taheri contributed to this report)