Is Sufism the Answer to Extremism in Egypt?

Egypt Sufism Extremism

(Peter Crawford)

This article was first published at al-Monitor.

If the Egyptian government wants to combat the spread of radical religious ideology, it would do well to return to its Muslim roots. At a conference held at the headquarters of the Azamiyah Order in Cairo on April 21, which Al-Monitor attended, presenters argued that Sufi Islam is the authentic expression of Egypt’s Muslims.

The conference emphasized the brotherly bond between Muslims and Christians, following the Palm Sunday bombings on April 9. But Sufis are singled out as infidels by the Islamic State (IS), too.

“I have told President [Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi to take care of the Sufi leaders,” Sheikh Alaa Abu al-Azayem told Al-Monitor. “We are the ones who stand against terrorism, fighting not with weapons but ideas.”

Sufism is widely considered the default setting for Egypt’s Muslim community, and tombs of popular Sufi saints dot the landscape up and down the Nile…

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