Do you love rose petals and music? Dancing with bells on your feet? How about free food? If you enjoy all these things and were reading the New York Times yesterday, you may have been surprised to find out that you are actually a Muslim. A Sufi Muslim, to be exact. Headlining the New York Times’ online edition was a heartwarming story of hippies…er, um…Sufi Muslims in Pakistan who wish only to dance, sing, practice tolerance and eat free food. If you took the New York Times’ word for it, you might think the Sufi Muslim’s only troubles in life were attacks from what the New York Times refers to as “hard-liners.” Considering that I hold to strict Catholicism, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were referring to me in their “hard-liner” reference.
What the New York Times does not mention is that while Sufism today may be rather relativist in many areas, there are actually Sufi Muslims who are themselves “hard-liners.” In August, Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, pointed this out in a story about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who is a Sufi Muslim.
In reality, Sufis from al-Ghazali to the present day have taught the necessity of jihad warfare, and have participated in that warfare. And in January 2009, Iraqi representatives of the Naqshabandi Sufi order met with Khaled Mashaal of Hamas, praised his jihad, donated jewelry to him, and boasted of their own jihad attacks against Americans in Iraq.
How does support of Hamas and jihad specifically by the Naqshabandi Sufi order compare to historical Sufism? When we look back into the traditional history of Sufism, we find men who are sometimes touted as Sufism’s “Warrior Saints” — men like Sidi Mohammed ibn Yajbash Tazi: