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Syrian Sufis Divided As Salafist Influence Grows

Sufism has long been the dominant strand of Sunni Islam in Syria, but is under threat as Salafism gains power.
Syria's Sufi Tahleela Band performs during the third annual Sufi Festival at the Royal Cultural Center in Amman October 12, 2010. Arab and international Sufi groups are taking part in the one week event.  REUTERS/Ali Jarekji   (JORDAN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY) - RTXTCZH
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The Syrian revolution has witnessed the clear rise of the Salafist current in its traditional and jihadist forms and as a movement. This is due to the nature of the revolution itself, which was launched and grew in the countryside and on the outskirts of small cities. Meanwhile, the Sufi movement, which is hostile to the Salafist interpretation of Sunni Islam and has predominantly thrived in Syria’s urban centers, split into pro-regime, pro-opposition and neutral currents.

This Sufi component raises fundamental questions about Syria’s religiosity, which during the past decades was dominated by Sufism. There are now questions regarding whether the religiosity of Syria's Sunnis will permanently adopt the Salafist trend or just temporarily while the rebellion continues, with Sufism reverting to its previous status, especially in its strongholds in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo, once the revolution concludes.

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