How and Why Sufism Can Help Combat Islamic Extremism
Jamali, Jehangir Ali
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Sufism is the spiritual, mystical, and esoteric version of Islam. A Sufi strives for spiritual unification or union with the Divine. This union is not possible for those who follow an exoteric version of Islam – one that is based utterly on ritualistic submission. For those that follow the exoteric version of Islam – the orthodox Muslims – the giving up or sidelining of the rituals or fundamental conditions necessary for Islam is considered to be wrong, is considered heresy. This is one main reason that we see Sufis in Islam and mystics in general being persecuted throughout history to even this present day and time. In the second chapter, I will present an overview of this persecution throughout history of Sufi mystics by orthodox, conventional Muslim schools of thought. This persecution has existed from the early centuries of Islam to this day. In my third chapter then I will proceed to bring this discussion closer to the heart of the investigation by highlighting how Sufism has been attacked and is still under attack from the hardline, extremist sects and groups in Pakistan. In my final chapter, I will present the perspectives of three Pakistani Sufis whom I interviewed on the persecution they face by Islamic extremists and the role of Sufism to combat this extremism. In my conclusion, I will present my analysis of how Sufism can, thus, be seen as a counteracting force to extremism and terrorism in Pakistani society (and the world in general), bringing my investigation to a close.