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Lebanon’s Sufi orders threatened by rise in Salafism

While Lebanon has been home to Sufi orders for centuries, a recent rise in extremist Salafism on the Sunni scene threatens their existence.
A Darawish Sufi dancer performs a traditional dance to celebrate the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan during the Ajyalouna Festival in Beirut July 30, 2011. Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking and conducting sexual relations from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi (LEBANON - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY) - RTR2PH1I

There are few sources on Sufism and Sunni Sufi orders in Lebanon. Were it not for some news reports on Sufi ceremonies and video clips on YouTube depicting remembrance sessions and spiritual dances, one would almost think that Sufi orders are completely absent in Lebanon. This comes in light of the media, political and military dominance of fundamentalist Salafist currents on the religious scene in Lebanon. 

Al-Monitor spoke with Sheikh Ahmed Darwish al-Kurdi, a religious judge who follows one of the Sufi orders in Lebanon. He said that the majority of the Sunni Islamic community in Lebanon loves and supports Sufism. That many of Lebanon's muftis are supporters of Sufism is proof, he said.

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