Relatives of the victims of the bomb and also gun attack on the North Sinai Rawda mosque wait Nov. 25 exterior the hospital in the eastern port city of Ismailia.

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Reporting from Dubai, UAE—When some two dozen militants masspiritual at leastern 305 people in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday, they were targeting the Sufi community that worshiped in the area’s Rawda mosque.

Even though no group has claimed obligation, Egyptian state news agency MENA said the attack “appeared” to have been carried out by Islamic State.

And it wouldn’t be the first time.

In Egypt and in other places, Sufis have actually regularly been singled out for particularly brutal therapy at the hands of the jihadis.


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The question is, why?

Sufism, or tasawwuf, is an Islamic activity that uses prayer, asceticism, music and also also dance to accomplish a deeper expertise or understanding of God. One of Sufism’s most recognizable numbers is the whirling dervish, whose rapid spinning, along with the repetitive invoking of the name of Allah, permits them to acquire a state of an ecstatic trance.

Practitioners of Sufism adright here to a tariqah (plural turuq), or route, where they divide right into congregations that are instructed by a murmelted (guide).

But Sufism is not a sect. According to William Chittick, writer of “Sufism: A Beginner’s Guide,” it is “an interiorization and intensification of Islamic confidence and practice.”


There is disagreement over the etymology of the name: It is thought that the word Sufi comes from the Arabic word suf, interpretation wool, a referral to the stormy cloth Sufism’s adherents would certainly wear to display they shunned worldly extravagance. Others think it originates from the word saf, or rank, to indicate they are in the first rank in their presence of Allah, or also from the Greek word sofia, interpretation wisdom.

Whatever its definition, Sufism has actually left its mark on Islamic literary works, art, music and architecture. Millions in the UNITED STATE have involved it via the verses of the 13th century Persian mystic and also scholar Jalaluddin Rumi. The English translation of his occupational has also made an appearance in a song by Madonna.

Its mystics additionally reigned over Damascus and also Baghdad, the one-time seats of power of the dynasties that ruled the Islamic Caliphate.


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Egyptian kids stand also close to a pile of footwear belonging to the victims of the attack that targeted the Rawda mosque.
(AFP/Getty Imperiods )
There are no trusted numbers on their numbers global, yet the grand majority of Sufis adright here to Sunni Islam.

Sunni Islam is the best group of Muslims, consisting of between 85%. and also 90%. Nations via Sunni majorities incorporate Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the majority of other Arab nations and non-Arab Turcrucial and also Afghanistan. Most Palestinian Muslims and the majority of West Afrihave the right to Muslims are Sunnis.

Shiite are the second-largest team of Muslims. Iran is the only nation through an overwhelming Shiite majority, and its government is run by clergy. Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain have large Shiite populations as well.

Sunnis and also Shiites follow the same Koran and accept the same five pillars of Islam. The schism in between Sunni and Shiite is historical and political, stemming from the beforehand days of Islam and disagreements over the Prophet Muhammad’s followers as caliph, the political leader of Muslims.

Sufism stands almost diametrically opposed to Salafism, the harsh — some would certainly say puritanical — Sunni ideology that’s esposupplied by Islamic State and Al Qaeda, and also that dismisses Sufis as polytheists and also aposays who are to be killed and regards their shrines as idolatrous.

That has actually made assaults on Sufis and also their sites a matter of regime for jihadis.

In April 2011, suicide bombers eliminated some 41 Sufis who had gathered for a three-day festival at the Sakhi Sarbattle shrine in Pakistan. A similar assault in February of this year eliminated 80.

More than a year later on, Salafist Islamists bulldozed the shrine of Shaab al-Dahmani. In Mali, the Al Qaeda-attached Ansar Dine group damaged centuries-old tombs of Sufi clerics in Timbuktu.

It has been much the same in Egypt, wright here Islamists have actually diminished many kind of Sufi shrines to rubble in the Sinai for years; this despite Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s optimal discovering facility, being led by a Sufi, and also Sufis generally allying themselves via the government.

But the assaults have actually escalated under Islamic State. Not just has it stepped up the destruction of shrines, but a year back it pursued dvery own and also beheaded Sulaiman Abu Hazar, a influential Sufi cleric.

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A few weeks later on, in an interview through the group’s weekly newspaper, Nabaa, the leader of Islamic State’s Hisbah company, said this was part of a campaign that had actually made combating shirk and bidaah (polytheism and heresy) — a recommendation to Sufism — Islamic State’s “top focus.”

He additionally complained of the Sufis’ cshed relationship to the Egyptian state and area protection and knowledge services.

“We say to all Sufis … we will certainly not allow Sufi turuq in Sinai province especially or Egypt generally,” sassist the uncalled police chief. “Know that to us you are polytheist infidels, and also your blood for us is to be spilled and is unclean.”