13 May 2003, 12:55

Sufism

Mystical-ascetic trend in islam. The name occurs from the Arabian "suf" - wool. The matter is that ascetics-eremites, mystics carried a rough woolen attire. Sufism started developing in middle of 8 - the beginning of 9 century. For early Sufies were characteristic: cult of poverty, proof transferring of sufferings and deprivations, strict following to instructions of the Koran and Sunnah, repeated additional prays and fasts, refusal of cooperation with secular authorities, deep reflections above the Koran texts and aspiration to open true motives of human acts. In their sermons there were motives of unselfish love for Allah, passionate desire to become close to him. In the 9 century there apeared a number of Sufies' schools which were working out a mystical "way" to a God, and each Sufy who would follow that way could be cleared from "secular bad things" and become closer to a deity. Since 11-12 centuries an institute "teacher-pupil" (sheikh, murshid-mjurid) becomes widely developed with its system of religious-spiritual exercises and practice (solitude, fasts, zeal). At the end of that period there arise Sufies' brotherhoods (orders) which quickly distribute its influence on moslems in various areas of the Islamic world.

The doctrine of Sufism demanded a full submission of members of brotherhoods to the instructor not only in religious questions, but also in secular. It promoted unprecedented growth of authority of instructors in moslems opinion, and the greatest teachers of Sufism began to be esteemed as "sacred". They started organizing pilgrimage of believers to their tombs. There was a whole cult of the "sacred" Sufists. Sufism motives have found a wide reflection in the works of many outstanding Arabian, Turkic andespecially Persian poets - Dzhalaladdin Roomi, Saadi, Dekhlevi, Khafiz, Dzhami, Nijazi, etc. Among 12 so-called parent brotherhoods which had numerous branches, the most widespread became the kadiria and the nakshbandia. The kadiria brotherhood, sunnit in its basis, preached a total refusal of secular for the sake of approximation to a God, a boundless mercy to a neighbour, a humility and an absolute full submission to murshid. Notable for its collective zikr - a ritual of loud glorification of Allah, made in special manner and accompanied with certain body motions. A refusal of ascetism, a compulsion of contacts with the government with a view of influence on its politics in interests of Muslim mass, a quiet zikr, i.e.glorification of Allah by heart, are characteristic for the nakshbandia brotherhood.

Inspite of the fact that Sufism stands for sermon of humility and patience, it quite often became a banner of struggle for the oppressed against the oppressors, and in 19-20 centuries in some countries it became an ideology of the national-liberation movements of anticolonial orientation. Sufism started penetration into the territory of present Russia still in the 12 century - to Dagestan (later - into other areas of Northern Caucasus), and to the Volga region - in 18 century. And while its influence essentially relaxed in the Volga region still in pre-Soviet times, in the territory of Northern Caucasus (especially among Chechens, ingushs and Dagestans) it was kept rather strongly. Prosecutions of imperial authorities and the Soviet regime (especially the deportation of Chechens and ingushs the Second World War) promoted strengthening of Sufism positions.

Now the Nakshbandia and the Kadiria brotherhoods are functioning on Northern Caucasus, there are hundreds of mjurid communities. Penetration of the Vakhaby current into the region during the last decade; in Islam (through the activity of foreign missionaries, especially from Saudi Arabia, and of young religious figures coming back from their study in the Muslim countries), supporting the returning to an initial Islam, create intense life conditions for the religious organizations. Vakhabits resolutely condemn a cult of the sacred ones which is revered by the Soofism followers who declare it a display of multy-deityzm, breaking a basic principle of Islam - a consecutive monotheism. As an unlawful innovation they perceive the main element of the Soofism practice - a zikr. In its turn, members of Mjurid communities consider the Vakhabits position as an encroachment on Islam - the traditionally professed "religion of truth". When Spiritual management of moslems of Northern Caucasus, which have been functioning earlier and giving an element of stability to religious life of moslems, had collapsed, a struggle between members of Soofism brotherhoods and Vakhabits tends to aggravation.

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