Monday, July 12, 2010

More about Muslim Cults

In this post, I use the word "cult" in its psychological and sociological meaning, not theological meaning. According to Christian apologetics, the whole Islam is a cult. However, according to psychology and sociology, cults are authoritarian and thought-reforming groups regardless of their doctrines. I do not believe that all the Muslim groups are such. However, inside of Islam, there are cultic groups.

So called cult experts usually do not pay much attention to Muslim cults with the exception of terrorist cults. Obviously, there are much more Muslim cultic groups.

There is a tendency to consider Wahhabi/Salafi groups dangerous and Sufi groups benign. Some terrorist groups in Islam are based on Wahhabi/Salafi belief system and Al Qaeda is one of them. However, for example, Nation of Islam has absolutely different belief system. Also, many Wahhabis/Salafis are quite peaceful and this religion is the state religion in Saudi Arabia which is the main US partner in Arabic world.

Regarding its name, this branch of Islam has two names. Outsiders call it "Wahhabism" after the name of its founder Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab. However, insiders do not like it because Al-Wahhab is one of the names of Allah and cannot be used for a human being (Abdul-Wahhab means "slave of Al-Wahhab" and can be used for a human being). They call themselves "Salafis." However, other Muslims refuse to call them this way because this word denotes first Muslims who were the best Muslims according to Islam teaching.

Sufis are commonly viewed as peaceful Muslims, though not all the Sufis are peaceful. For example, in 19th century, there were several Sufi sheikhs who take the lead in the war of Northern Caucasus nations against Russia. The most famous of them was Shamil who was sheikh of Naqshbandi tarikah of Sufism. Those who take the lead in the recent wars in the same region are mainly Wahhabis. I am not going to discuss the reasons of these wars here as well as who is right and who is wrong. My point is that both Sufis and Wahhabis may be peaceful or warlike. By the way, although both Sufis and Wahhabis are Sunni Muslims, they are the worst enemies and there are many occasions when they fight against one another. For example, Chechen and Daghestani Wahhabis fight not only against Russia, but also against Chechen and Dagestani Sufis (most Chechens and Daghestanis are Sufis).

In internet, there are reports about some Sufi cults in the Western countries and I do not think that there are no Sufi cults in traditionally Muslim cults and regions. Although in one of previous posts I mentioned that Daghestani Sufi sheikhs write about some requirements for genuine sheikhs that may serve as some protection, the situation in Daghestan is not so good. Sufi sheikhs there proclaim that all the Sufi tariqahs and sheikhs are equal. However, reportedly, most Muslim leaders in Daghestan are murids (disciples) of Said-afandi al-Chirkavi, sheikh of Naqshbandi and Shadhili tariqahs while some other sheikhs are unable to teach openly. In addition, some sheikhs accuse one another of being pseudo-sheikhs who do not have permission to be sheikhs from their sheikhs.

Anyway, there are Sufi cults as well as Wahhabi cults. However, these cults are commonly neglected in anti-cult community.

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