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Sufism: Islam's most powerful weapon is love

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The terrorists did not understand Islam. What is more: you have alienated its meaning through their rigid, ultra-orthodox interpretation. The fight against fundamentalism can only be won by replacing this misunderstood ideology with an approach to true Islam.

Muslims should focus on the peaceful and tolerant interpretation of Islam, for example by reflecting on Sufism. So far, the diverse repertoire of Sufimus, its rituals and artistic works have received too little attention in the debates about the correct reaction to extremist Islamism.

The most enlightened centuries of Muslim civilization were marked by Sufism. Therefore, one should promote the dissemination of his teachings in schools and mosques globally today. Because Sufism embodies some important basic values โ€‹โ€‹of Islamic teaching: humanism, fellow humanity and philanthropy. With the stronger promotion of the ideas of Islamic Sufimus we could not only create a counterweight to extremism, but also to the increasing hostility to Islam.

The teaching of Islam is shaped by two schools of thought: The first is based on the Sharia, those guidelines and patterns that have been adopted by orthodox thinkers of Islam and are strictly mandatory. The second is based on that Tariqat, a spiritual methodology adopted by Sufism, which is considered to be the forerunner of a liberal interpretation of Islam.

Jihadist terror groups rely on the first, i.e. the political interpretation of Islam. Many Muslims are aware of the cultural effects of globalization. They fear that ideas and ways of life from the West could penetrate their own societies that could negatively affect young people in particular. They perceive some influences from music or film as threatening their own traditions and their own identity.

The Sufi interpretation of Islam, on the other hand, is considered moderate. It does not focus on the state, but on the inner dimensions of Islam and the purification of the soul. The Tariqat represents liberal values, which are reflected in terms such as brotherhood and community.

Union with God as the highest goal

There are around 15 million Sufis worldwide today, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus is an important center in this direction. Historically, Baghdad is the cradle of Sufi Islam. The Persian scholar Abdul Qadir Jilani (1088โ€“1166) founded the Qadri School there, an order that spread throughout the Islamic world. His following can still be found today from West Africa to India.

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Islam Today - Why This Series?

No religion is so prejudiced as Islam. In Germany, the mood has been heated at least since the arrival of the refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Muslims have become an enemy for many. In many of the comments that also reached ZEIT ONLINE, resentment is undisguised.

At the same time, very few seem to know what Islam actually is. Can it be used to legitimize terrorist violence? Is he justifying the disadvantage of women? Is it suppressing sexuality? We pursue these questions in this series.

Who writes?

We let scientists, authors and experts have their say who deal intensively with Islam and strive for a differentiated discussion of the religion.

The essays and interviews in this series focus on the question of whether and to what extent Islam is compatible with modernity, which liberal approaches there are - and which ones will be needed in the future to enable a contemporary approach to this belief.

All parts of the series

Intellectual Sufism was shaped by the great mystics Ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240) and Celaleddin Rumi (1207-1273). Rumi, the most important Persian poet of the Middle Ages and founder of the order of the Whirling Dervishes, is the most popular representative. Rumi acted as a bridge between Western ethics and an Islamic understanding of morality. Islamic poets and thinkers have repeatedly taken up Rumi's poetry in order to shed light on religious differences or to use his verses to gain access to questions of modernity. In the West, Rumi's message has become synonymous with spiritual union with the beloved, with God.

For Rumi, Allah was the Creator and God of all people and all religions. Despite his extremely tolerant attitude towards other religions, he drew his image of God solely from the Koran.

In Sufism, Islam has been a lived experience with many cultural and intellectual variations for 1,500 years. His practice is much more than the words of a sacred text.