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In the Name of God بسم الله

Shia Sufis

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Yes, there are Shi'a sufis, but organized sufism is much weaker now amongst the shi'a than it once was due largely to political developments in the Shi'i world. The Nimatullahi, while much diminished is still active even in Iran as well as the Uvaysi. I do not know outside of Iran other than people like Fadhlalla Haeri in South Africa. There are also the Bektashi's, primarily in Albania, who are Shi'a, but not Ithna Ashari and Ismailism is basically a form of sufism (they even call themselves a tariqa). Of course there is also the prominence of 'Irfan amongst the Shi'a, which is very similar to sufism, but that is a whole other discussion.

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Yes, there are Shi'a sufis, but organized sufism is much weaker now amongst the shi'a than it once was due largely to political developments in the Shi'i world. The Nimatullahi, while much diminished is still active even in Iran as well as the Uvaysi. I do not know outside of Iran other than people like Fadhlalla Haeri in South Africa. There are also the Bektashi's, primarily in Albania, who are Shi'a, but not Ithna Ashari and Ismailism is basically a form of sufism (they even call themselves a tariqa). Of course there is also the prominence of 'Irfan amongst the Shi'a, which is very similar to sufism, but that is a whole other discussion.

Well Ismailism is, by most Sunni and Shia, regarded as outside the fold of Islam due to its denial of compulsory nature of basic commandements of Quran like Salaat, Hajj, Sawm etc but thats another story i guess,

Anyway so basically Shia Sufi orders have now disappeared. Why is this so? Is it because of the outlawing of Sufi orders within Iran?

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Well Ismailism is, by most Sunni and Shia, regarded as outside the fold of Islam due to its denial of compulsory nature of basic commandements of Quran like Salaat, Hajj, Sawm etc but thats another story i guess,

True, but at the same time, however, one has to understand the intentions rather than just dismissing what they do on the basis that they're know what they're doing is wrong but they're doing it anyway. As soon as you start kicking people out of the ummah with differing ideas you start falling into the realm of Salafism/Wahhabism/Deobandi and so on. Islam is a big tent; enough room for everyone who is willing to show respect for differences of opinions.

Anyway so basically Shia Sufi orders have now disappeared. Why is this so? Is it because of the outlawing of Sufi orders within Iran?

Unfortunately Shia Islam has become intertwined with Iran even though Iran doesn't represent Shia Islam. You'll find, ironically enough with all the screaming of the 'great Satan' that Shia Sufism is thriving in the west - why? because there is freedom of religion; something that Muhammad preached but subsequent generations have taken it upon themselves to ignore it in favour of the interpolating of national identity and religion (not that there is anything wrong with having a national identity and being a Muslim - the problem starts to happen when the two interpolate to the point that "you aren't a true [nationality] unless you happen to be an xyz").

Edited by macintoshtoffy
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Anyway so basically Shia Sufi orders have now disappeared.

That is not at all what I am saying. As I said, they are diminished, but they are still a number of existing and active Shi'a sufi orders. Although it is probably an exaggeration I have been told by Nimatullahi's in Iran that there are up to two million Nimatullahi's in that country, mostly connected to Gonobad. However, because of the situation in that country, if you visit the shrine of Shah Ni'matullahi Vali in Mahan, and I had this pleasure, you will find it basically deserted. There were only a few old men there when I visited, but they showed me the room where sufis were put in khalwah. It is a spiritually powerful place, but the situation for the sufis is bad in Iran. They are there, but organizationally weakened and underground much like in Turkey for a number of years. In any case, sufism is not about how many people you have, it is about the quality of people that are formed.

Why is this so? Is it because of the outlawing of Sufi orders within Iran?

That is certainly a factor, but I think that it is bigger than that. I think that at root the Shi'a opposition to sufism is that it radically challenges the notion of religious authority propagated by the ulama who Liyakat Takim refers to in his excellent book, The Heirs of the Prophet, as the Shari' men. We should not forget that people like Mulla Sadra faced heavy opposition from the likes of Majlisi and was oppressed for his views. Although not all the Shi'i sufi orders say so explicitly, they all implicitly reject the notion that authority during the occultation was delegated to the ulama and claimed at least some of this authority for themselves. And political forces, beginning with the Safavid's and continuing in modern Iran, having forged a symbiotic relationship with the Shari' men, went about persecuting the sufis. The sufis were a threat to their authority, which they claimed though the ulama came from Imam Mahdi and Allah.

The book I mentioned by Dr. Takim would be excellent as follow-up to this question, but focuses mostly on an earlier period before the formal sufi orders can to prominence. Ali Amir-Moezzi's The Divine Guide in Early Sufism suffers from the same limitation and is perhaps a little radical in the conclusions it draws. I also wanted to make more explicit what I was hinting at in my first post, which is that while there has been a more limited space for formal, tariqa oriented sufism in formal ithna ashari shi'ism, there has great amounts of interaction between more loosely defined concepts of both sufism and shi'ism. I mean, who were the great Persian poets except sufis, and who are the Bektashi's with their ashura ceremonies and focus on the Imam's other than Shi'a? I think it is this that led people like Henry Corbin to see Shi'ism everywhere he looked.

I feel my thoughts were very disorganized, but I hope that was of some value.

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  • Advanced Member

(salam)(bismillah)

By Allah (SWT) there is nothing called a shia sufi. Any sufi who claims to be shia is a lier.

Al-Husayn bin Abul Khattab said, ‘One day, I was with Abul Hasan al-Hadi (a.s.) in the mosque of the Prophet (a.s.) when some of his companions, among whom was Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari, came to him. Abu Hashim was an eloquent man and had a high position near Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). While we were standing, a group of Sufis came into the mosque. They sat in a corner of the mosque and began saying “la ilaha illallah; there is no god but Allah”. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) turned towards his companions and said to them, ‘Do not pay attention to these deceivers for they are allies of the Devils and destroyers of the bases of religion. They become ascetic to relieve their bodies and watch to hunt cattle…they do not practice rites except to deceive people, and do not decrease food except to…cheat the fool…their worships are but dancing and clapping, and their praises are but singing. No one follows them except the stupid, and no one believes in them except the fool. Whoever went to visit any of them alive or dead as if he went to visit Satan and idolaters, and whoever supported any of them, as if he supported, Mo’awiya, Yazid, and Abu Sufyan…’

One of the companions said, ‘Even if he acknowledges your rights?’

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) scolded him and shouted, ‘Do not say that! He, who acknowledges our rights, does not disobey us. Do you not know that they are the worst group of Sufis, though all Sufis are dissentient to us and their way is contrary to ours? They are but Christians and magi of this nation. They do their best to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse.

(wasalam)

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By Allah (SWT) there is nothing called a shia sufi. Any sufi who claims to be shia is a lier.

Al-Husayn bin Abul Khattab said, ‘One day, I was with Abul Hasan al-Hadi (a.s.) in the mosque

Can you please provide the reference (book, page#, etc) from where you quoted this.

Jazakallah.

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The Alevis and the Bekhtashis must be among the largest sufi orders, and they are calassified as Shia sects.

Well Ismailism is, by most Sunni and Shia, regarded as outside the fold of Islam due to its denial of compulsory nature of basic commandements of Quran like Salaat, Hajj, Sawm etc but thats another story i guess,

I think people just look at the relatively newer Khoja converts to Nizarism and go, look at em, KAFIRS

Ismailis seem to be quite more complex than this

The Bohra, who are Ismaili, are not like you describe and and looking at article the given below with the Nizari from Chitral bemoaning his Khoja coreligionists its seems that even within the Nizaris there is a great religious disconnect between the more traditional Northern Pakistan / Afghan / Tajik Ismailis and the subcontinental converts from Hinduism, the Khojas.

http://www.chitralnews.com/L02May10.htm

And syrian Nizaris are said to resemble sunnis and 12er Shia in practice

http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/islam/countries/bl_SyriaIslamIsmailis.htm

Edited by JimJam
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