Wherever Sharia law experiences a revival, tolerance decreases, and harassment and violence increase.
As much as it is a frequent target, particularly of Salafist Muslim movements, Sufism is not the peaceful alternative to violent jihad and subjugation of non-Muslims that it is often advertised to be. Rather, its adherents are persecuted as they are accused of being purveyors of innovations (bida) over what Muhammad practiced and for their reverence for shrines and graves of their forebears, denounced as idolatry (shirk).
A few months ago, how many supporters of the Libyan uprising believed this couldn’t happen there? We tried to tell you.
“Islamic hard-liners attack rival shrines in Libya,” by Kim Gamel for the Associated Press, October 13:
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) “” Islamic hard-liners have attacked about a half-dozen shrines in and around Tripoli belonging to Muslim sects whose practices they see as sacrilegious, raising religious tensions as Libya struggles to define its identity after Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster.
The vandalism has drawn concern at the highest levels as Libya’s new rulers seek to reassure the international community that extremists will not gain influence in the North African nation.
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the governing National Transitional Council, reacted with alarm to reports that graves were being desecrated and appealed to a top Muslim cleric, al-Sadek al-Gheriani, to issue a fatwa, or religious ruling, on the issue.
He also called for restraint. “I ask those destroying these mosques to stop doing that because this is not the time to do that,” Abdul-Jalil said Tuesday at a news conference. “What they did is not on the side of the revolution.”
The campaign appears to be aimed mainly at shrines revered by Sufis, a mystical order whose members often pray over the tombs of revered saints and ask for blessings or intervention to bring success, marriage or other desired outcomes. Hard-line Sunnis deem the practice offensive because they consider worshipping over graves to be idolatry.
In one case, witnesses said dozens of armed, bearded men wearing military uniforms ransacked a Sufi shrine in Tripoli this week, burning relics and carrying away the remains of two imams, or prayer leaders, for reburial elsewhere.
The assailants arrived in pickup trucks mounted with heavy weapons and stormed the gate to the compound housing the shrine, then dug up the two imams, identified as Abdul-Rahman al-Masri and Salem Abu Seif, and took the remains to be buried in a cemetery, according to the witnesses.
Many residents in the Al-Masri neighborhood welcomed the attack, accusing worshippers at the shrine of practicing “black magic.” Sufism is a mystical tradition in Islam. The order says its mission is to live a simple life of contemplation and prayer but followers are frequently targeted by extremists.
Witnesses offered conflicting details, with some saying the attackers were heavily armed and came from other parts of the city and others saying it was a small group of unarmed locals.
Abdul-Hamid al-Sunni, one of the residents, said the presence of the bodies had prevented people from the neighborhood from praying there. He claimed it was a small group of some 20 people that exhumed the bodies.
He said residents had long wanted to get rid of the graves and he presented a petition signed by 120 people supporting the action, which began about 11 p.m. Sunday.
Dirt and rocks were piled high around the empty graves that had been dug in the floor of the white and light blue building in Tripoli’s al-Masri neighborhood. Blackened piles of ash and pieces of pottery were in the courtyard outside after the attackers burned relics and other items from the shrine, which sits next to a Quranic school in the same compound.
“We need to build a new school here, a Quranic school, and we need to build a mosque and we need to build a small hospital for the area,” al-Sunni said….
Islamic conquest in a nutshell: “Unfortunately there is one thing standing between me and that property: the rightful owners.” –
Hedy Headley Lamarr, Blazing Saddles