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Jihadists v. Sufis

From Pakistan to Bosnia.

4:00 PM, Aug 9, 2010 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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The Bosnian Wahhabi website www.putvjernika.com, the title of which means “path of the believers,” and which is closely monitored by U.S. and other international military and police personnel in the Balkan country, denounced Ajvatovica as an unacceptable “innovation” or addition to fundamentalist Islam, as well as an occasion when men and women mingle. Ajvatovica was held for the 500th time this year, and celebrates a Sufi, Ajvaz-Dedo, credited with the miraculous ability to find water. Muslim fundamentalists despise the spiritual powers ascribed in local legend to the Sufis as much as they hate the Sufis themselves. In Pakistan, Muslim faith-healers have also been murdered.

In both Pakistan and Bosnia, Sufi customs are deeply rooted in local Muslim faith, and the cruelty of the radicals against them increasingly stirs deep revulsion. But official Islamic leaders in both countries are slow to identify the enemy with Saudi-backed Wahhabism and its allied ideologies. Outrage is sharply expressed by ordinary Muslims, who have been left to take action on their own. Sooner rather than later, the moderate majority in both countries will be forced to resist the bloody onslaught of the terrorists.

Irfan al-Alawi is executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, based in the UK. Stephen Schwartz is author of The Two Faces of Islam and The Other 

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