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Sufi Grand Sheikh: Sufism best antidote for religious extremism

Friday 02-06-2017 - 01:04 AM
Mohamed Arabi
The transition from
The transition from political Islam to Sufism

Cairo – Following his re-election as Grand Sheikh of the Sufi Orders in the recent Sufi elections on Wednesday May 24th, Sheikh Abdul Hadi al-Qasabi, head of the Parliamentary Solidarity Committee, said that this election ushers in a new period of rapprochement among all Egypt’s Sufi Orders for the sake of public interest concerning the state.  

In his interview with Al-Bawaba News Portal, Al-Qasabi pointed out that Sufism is of paramount importance in the public arena. He emphasized the significance of Sufism and said that “as the world becomes increasingly polarized, Sufism is needed today more than ever before to confront extremism and violence.”

He pointed to the importance of the state's reliance on the Sufi message of peace in reversing the extant religious discourse. Sufism is the death knell needed for every extremist ideology.

Sheikh Abdul Hadi
Sheikh Abdul Hadi al-Qasabi, grand sheikh of Sufi Orders and head of the Parliamentary Solidarity Committee

Is Sufism able to refill the spiritual vacuum after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis from the scene more than four years ago?

Well, the fact of the matter is that the current situation of the Brotherhood and Salafis is reminiscent to that of the Sufis a hundred years ago. Sufism was gradually purged from the scene with the help of the West to provide space for political Islam. This means that Sufism is the origin, and the Brotherhood and the Salafis branched off from it due to social, cultural, religious and political considerations. Furthermore, Egyptian people are naturally disposed to Sufism, including those who have not subscribed yet to any local Sufi Order. Thus, speaking of a Sufi rise is absolutely not true since Sufism has always been ingrained into the minds of Egyptians.

Some have said that you are too preoccupied with your parliamentary duties. How much of that is true? To what extent will you be cooperating with the new leadership of the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders?  

Well, I will fully cooperate with the newly-elected Sufi sheikhs. I have great reverence to them and I congratulate them on their well-deserved win. No one in Egypt can underestimate the importance of Sufi scholars. My duties inside the parliament are closely interlinked with my duties and concerns outside.  On the agenda, we have so many files on the table for discussion, on top of which is the role of Sufism in countering terrorism and extremism, the strategy through which moderate religious discourse based on mysticism is to be disseminated, the solutions to the ideological strife in Egyptian society, and other matters of the same sort. 

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