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September 17, 2012

Comments

"Sufis are also a minority of Muslims, and the more hardcore sects like the Salafis are growing in influence."


Sufis, kind of like the Episcopalians or Reform Jews.

I wonder if they make a babies like the Episcopals and Reformed.

hm. ok, this is kind of revision. sufis ARE tolerant...BUT in comparison to salafis.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/03/the-new-york-times-flubs-basic-facts-about-islam/

Sufism is Islamic mysticism, kind of like Kabbalah is to Judaism. Of course mysticism by definition goes against reason and logic; sufi philosopher al-Gazzali is largely given credit for putting an end to the promotion and use of the texts of Ancient Greece that were the seeds of the Golden Age of Islam.

Of course mysticism by definition goes against reason and logic

*shrug* not to be a downer, but this doesn't predict much within islam. the ismailis are plenty mystical, but like mos shia they did not turn their back on the rationalist tradition in totality. mu'tazila thought persists among some shia.

That's the common image of Sufism being pushed, which is partly to give false hope of a most western-friendly islam. Sufism is a very broad category, and many regions will have some particular traditions drawn from it. In other times and places sufism has been associated with violence & insurrection, but there's not a set of doctrines you can assume any particular sufi holds. The guy who shot that Pakistani governor due to his (the governor's) objection to blasphemy laws was a Barelvi, which are attacked in Pakistan by salafists/deobandis for their sufi impurities.

Aren't the Whirling Dervishes part of the Sufi sect? They're pretty cool and stuff...


"Of course mysticism by definition goes against reason and logic; sufi philosopher al-Gazzali is largely given credit for putting an end to the promotion and use of the texts of Ancient Greece that were the seeds of the Golden Age of Islam".

Al-Ghazali used logic to refute the ideas of Greek philosophers that were entrenched in Islam, which he believed had no place in theology. He argued successfully that Greek thought was incompatible with religious matters because God is responsible for everything that comprises the universe, ex. not something what Socrates said in regards to the heavens.

The decline of the Golden Age was due to economic and political factors, and not because of the dismantling of philosophical ideas by al-Ghazali. One can argue that the mismanagement of money that funded the learning process was misappropriated and intense rivalry between the different schools led to its demise altogether. This is not so dissimilar with our current higher education system where colleges or professors are more concerned with their own well being at the cost of the students.

I don't believe in the "learning stage" theory of Islam's problems. I mean, Islam has been around for a long time the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, giving it lots of time to mature, and yet those countries have a particularly bad problem with extremism. By contrast, Albanians/Bosniaks adopted Islam at a relatively late and don't have a huge problem with Islamist extremism (and whatever "Islamist extremism" that does exist amongst them was probably imported by the Saudis). I'd say that the source of troubles in modern Islam has relatively little to do with the youth of the religion and more to do with the cultures it exists in, and maybe the inherent nature of the religion itself.

Keep in mind as well that the Fundamentalist movement in Christianity is no older than the Salafi movement or the Muslim Brotherhood in Islam.

As for Sufism, TGGP is probably right that it's too broad a category to generalize about. However, when it does depart from mainstream Islam, it would probably share more in common with Eastern Religion/New Age religion than the more "worldly" or "reason-oriented" Reform Judaism or Episcopalianism. Their belief in the Lataif-e-sitta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lataif-e-sitta), for example, is quite reminiscent of the Chakras in Hinduism/Tantric Buddhism (and adopted by western new age types).

Of course "mystical" does not mean "liberal" --- just look at the Hassidic Jews.

Sufis are, to use Nietzsche's parlance, Dionysian. They seek to dissolve themselves into ecstasy. They thus are more willing to indulge music, dance, alcohol, sex and all the other fun things Sunnis and Shi'ites alike get anxious about. They also tend to be more like Hindus, insofar as that they see the human soul as just a facet of Godhood, and that the point of our temporal is to look past our mortal selves and see into eternity.

Most Muslims, conversely, tend to be squares, who view themselves and their world as being completely, utterly distinct from Allah. So while Sufis come from a Muslim tradition, they're very different from the mainstream types.

Sufism is like a Muslim veneer over a Catholic substrate, in that there is a lot of syncretism involved, from what I know. For instance you have Sufi Saints, and so on.

It just goes to show that I was probably correct when I predicted over 5 years ago that Iran going nuclear is NOT about Israel, but to fend off a possible/probably nuclear attack from Pakistan or any other Salafist state that A.Q. Khan gave nuclear tech too... as Shi'a Islam is also NOT seen as Kosher (heh), and many Salafists would see the Iranians as Kaffirs too...

I don't know much about Sufis, but the Alawitesare at risk of being killed by other Muslims because they are accused of being crypto-Christians.

"I'd say that the source of troubles in modern Islam has relatively little to do with the youth of the religion and more to do with the cultures it exists in, and maybe the inherent nature of the religion itself."

It's the religion combined with centuries of inbreeding and, in Northeast Africa especially, substantial admixture/race mixing with sub-Saharan Africans and the consequent absorption of sub-Saharan low intelligence, violence, and low future orientation genes.

The Egyptian and Libyan rioters look like they are at least 30% black African.

In any case, Islam - and any immigrant who practices Islam, including the "good" muslim immigrants - is completely incompatible with the lifestyle and values white Western civilization.

The entire religion ought to be declared an official terrorist organization and muslim immigration outlawed.

I think this demarkation of Sufis as being a seperate sect in itself isn't useful either.

Sufism is more an approach to the practise of Islam rather than a particular sect within it in relation to the Sunni-Shia split or anything.

Obviously it has become an entity in its own right, but it is entirely possible to identify as both Shii and Sufi or Sunni and Sufi etc.

Shia Islam has, on the whole, historically been more friendly to the Sufi approach than forms of Sunni Islam. Ayatollah Khomeini wrote extensive treatises on the works of Ibn Arabi, one of the most influential (and controversial) Sufi thinkers of all time, whereas Sunni ideologies like Salafism take a huge influence from Ibn Taymiyya, a contemporary (and staunch opponent of) Ibn Arabi, who went as far as to decry him as a non believer (along with all Shii's and vast swathes of Sunni thought too)

Certain Sufi concepts of theology have been integrated into or decried by various schools of thought to varying degrees, but the one thing that sets Sufis apart in an organisational manner is the concept of having an unbroken chain of masters. The Sufi approach (or approaches) to religion was considered dangerous and not for those who were unable to handle it, so Sufis are taught through an intensely close and devoted relationship with a master who can guide them towards those ideas. These masters are considered to have been given authority to teach by their own previous master, a chain, or Silsila that reaches back to the Prophet (SAW).

From these chains different orders of Sufism emerge which can have wildly different approaches to the practise of Islam. A Sufi could be a member of several orders throughout their lifetime and have several masters.

Some orders trace their silsila through contact made with earlier figures in dreams or through special spiritual experience. Others keep their chains strictly in the historical realm, the vast majority of which trace a spiritual lineage back through Ali (RA) to the Prophet (SAW), whereas those derived from the Naqshbandis go through Abu Bakr.

Islam is incredibly varied in its practise, so to see it is a monolithic (either from outside, or inside) is false. The same can be said for Sufi traditions within that. While some may be more prone to the "fun stuff", such as some of the Qalandaris, they weren't being purely hedonistic either (at least that is the theory) They thought that in order to be truely humble you must actively court the disapproval of society. Other groups could be just as theologically and socially conservative as the establishment, when Mansur Al-Hallaj claimed to be "Al Haq" ie "the Truth" one of the divine names, and claimed the Hajj to Mecca could be done within oneself it was one of his masters who signed his death warrant.

So Sufis are and have been anywhere from collaborators with and participants in the religious establishment, dangerous political and theological subversives, the most orthodox of shari'ah compliant muslims and non-muslims entirely (to some).

Sufi Islam is like Gnostic Christianity or Kabbalah in Judaism, based on mystical "hidden teachings" in Islam and elsewhere (they consider the writings of other religions to be somewhat valid). They don't tend to get violent, they focus on things like meditation and weird rituals intended to "expand consciousness" and such.

They don't take the letter of the Qur'an super seriously. Historically they are also responsible for the majority of "Islamic poetry" and "Islamic philosophy" in the middle ages.

"They don't tend to get violent, they focus on things like meditation and weird rituals intended to "expand consciousness" and such".

It's laughable when people generalize most Muslims as violent.

I for one believe Muslim fanatics are in the camp of the NAMs. That is if they were in America, they would fit right in with those pesky and undesirable NAMs that everyone wants to avoid as neighbors.

“It's the religion combined with centuries of inbreeding and, in Northeast Africa especially, substantial admixture/race mixing with sub-Saharan Africans and the consequent absorption of sub-Saharan low intelligence, violence, and low future orientation genes.

The Egyptian and Libyan rioters look like they are at least 30% black African.”

If sub-Saharan African ancestry were a primary determinant of this behavior how do we explain the fact that some sub-Saharan African Muslims in places like Mali and Senegal are relatively less likely to act this way and are relatively more tolerant than Arabs and/or North Africans, though that is changing.

"The Egyptian and Libyan rioters look like they are at least 30% black African."

-

Ok, but Egyptians and Libyans and Islamists aren't like nice white guys who were corrupted by blacks. All this violence and terrorism we're seeing now is a home grown result of clannishness and radical political Islam imported from places like the Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel/Palestine.

"It's laughable when people generalize most Muslims as violent."

That's not what most people say. The observation is that large Muslim populations have a high tendency for violence. That doesn't mean that most Muslims will participate in the violent acts but rather that a significant minority do and the rest of the Muslims either rationalize it or support it. For example, only a tiny minority of Palestinians participate in terrorist activities. The majority are peaceful but they either excuse the violence or support it by valorizing the terrorists or by financing them.

"By contrast, Albanians/Bosniaks adopted Islam at a relatively late and don't have a huge problem with Islamist extremism (and whatever "Islamist extremism" that does exist amongst them was probably imported by the Saudis)"

Muslim Albanians and Christian Albanians seem to get along fine because nationalism in Albania is very strong. However, Muslim Albanians do cause problems for other non-Albanian Christians (not just the Serbs). The Saudis did contribute to the radicalization of the Muslims in the Balkans but they weren't the cause of it. Albanians and Bosniaks were perfectly capable of radicalizing themselves and the outcome of the various Balkan wars wouldn't have been any different even if there had been no Arabs present in the Balkans during that time. The same rule applies to other "new" Muslims like the Indonesians who have committed horrible crimes against the religious minorities in their country without the influence of Arabs, Persians, or Turks.

@ tiny

"That doesn't mean that most Muslims will participate in the violent acts but rather that a significant minority do and the rest of the Muslims either rationalize it or support it. For example, only a tiny minority of Palestinians participate in terrorist activities. The majority are peaceful but they either excuse the violence or support it by valorizing the terrorists or by financing them".

"The same rule applies to other "new" Muslims like the Indonesians who have committed horrible crimes against the religious minorities in their country without the influence of Arabs, Persians, or Turks".

And where does this problem stem from? I say it's rooted from poor socioeconomic environments. Societies where there is a lack of capital and education are the main culprits. Disenfranchised individuals are likely to resort to violence, and indoctrinating them with a religion gives them more reason to engaged in it. The violence against the Chinese Indonesians by the natives had nothing to do with Islam, but of envy of their economic successes.

The comments from "Just Speculating" and "Muffy" on are learned and to the point.

Blaming al-Ghazali for the anti-intellectualism and stagnation in Islamic countries is like blaming the medieval Franciscan philosophers for the anti-intellectualism and stagnation in Christian countries after about 1250, which obviously didn't happen. In fact scholars usually praise the Medieval Fransciscans for pointing out that empirical science and theological speculation are two completely (complementary or opposed) methods of thought, which the (Dominican) scholastics such as Aquinas tended to gloss over. But in Islam you had an identical reaction against Averroes and Avicenna, who Aquinas and the other scholastics liked and respected. So one reaction led to modern empirical science and the other led to the dark ages. Its either one or the other. I think you need some other factor for the stagnation in Muslim thought after about 1250.

@Just Speculating

The Chinese was a different case but the persecution the East Timorese and the Hindus suffered was due to Islam. And the East Timorese aren't rich.


@ tiny

I say with the exception of Lebanon, almost all Islamic societies are completely dysfunctional, and most of their citizens disenfranchised. Islam in itself isn't the reason for all of this, but a lack of education and opportunities. This type of environment creates the resentment and frustration that leads to the violence that you see in the news. Most importantly, much of the mayhem comes from the misguided rulers who abuse their power explicitly, and the religious nutbags who use the naive citizens to further their agenda.

@ Ed

The Golden Age of Islam belong to the Abassid Caliphate which lasted for about 500 years. During their reign on the empire, the caliphs favored a particular school of Islamic thought known as the Mutzalites. They believed religious knowledge could be derived from reason which led to the study of philosophy particulary that of Greek philosophy. Other schools studied it too, but weren't as hardcore as they were. For them, it was a ritual, and the rulers favored them over other schools. This caused resentment and a power struggle from the other schools of thought leading them to brand them as heretics. Eventually the Mutzalites were quashed and this was before Al-Ghazali. Now, besides the rivalry between the different schools, there was a rivalry between certain Islamic scholars who dabbled in Greek philosophy and science. The Banu Musa were brothers who were astrologers and mathematicians and favorites of the caliphs. They were untouchable and anyone trying to outcompete them in ingenuity to gain favor from the caliphs would see their days numbered. This is exactly what happened to al-Kindi who challenged them and was beaten up and perscuted. This marked the beginning of the decline of the study of Greek philosophy and together with one of the Abassid caliphs al-Mutawakil who wanted the empire to return to orthodox Islam. Al-Ghazali who came 200 years later would put the final nail on the coffin and end the fusion of Greek philosophy with Islam. He did this independently and it was an isolated event.

"If sub-Saharan African ancestry were a primary determinant of this behavior how do we explain the fact that some sub-Saharan African Muslims in places like Mali and Senegal"

I didn't say sub-Saharan characteristics were the primary determinant. There are plenty of Muslim terrorists from states where African ancestry is miniscule such as Syria and Lebanon.

I said that Islam can be even more combustible than normal if Islamic theology takes hold in a nation with African cognitive propensities to violence and low African IQ.

Also, I'm seeing too many HBDers not understand the concept of genes-environment.

Genetics is only the underlying ABILITY of a population. The social/cultural environment is how the genetic ability of different people is UTILIZED.

Populations can have very different outcomes in different social environments.

For example, the social organization of North Korea is different than the social organization of South Korea, and that is why the two ethnically identical peoples have different outcomes.

HBD's main insight into political organization is that a nation's culture will only be successful IF the cultural change mostly is compatible with the population's underlining abilities.

HBD does NOT propose that all outcomes will happen regardless of cultural influence but that cultural environment can only be beneficial if the culture matches the population's characteristics.

One also needs to understand that most of the Medieval Muslims who made their brilliant discoveries were in fact direct descendants of pagan converts from the Greco-Roman empires. If not, in the case of Persia, many of the Islamic geniuses were high status Persians who dabbled with Greek philosophy and science. They are not the present day Iranians you see in the streets of Tehran. In the case of Muslim Spain, it was the native Spaniards and the cultivated Berbers who made their mark. Not surprisingly, no mathematical and scientific achievements were produced in the Southern Arabian peninsula, where Islam and the original Arabs came from.

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