All terrorist attacks are despicable and difficult to comprehend. But when Muslim militants killed 305 Sufis, members of their own religion whose supposed crime is viewing Islam differently -- that's freaking insane.
Back in my true believing days, before I saw the atheist light, for several years I became a huge fan of Rumi. I bought just about every English language book about Rumi and his teachings. Rumi was a Sufi. So this helps explain my outrage at the killings in the Sinai Peninsula.
Here's some excerpts from a New York Times story, "Who Are Sufi Muslims and Why Do Some Extremists Hate Them?"
Sufism is a mystical form of Islam, a school of practice that emphasizes the inward search for God and shuns materialism. It has produced some of the world’s most beloved literature, like the love poems of the 13th century Iranian jurist Rumi. Its modern-day adherents cherish tolerance and pluralism, qualities that in many religions unsettle extremists.
But Sufism, often known as Islamic mysticism, has come under violent attack in recent years. On Friday, militants stormed a Sufi mosque on the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 305 people in what officials are calling the worst terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history. The attack followed several assaults on Sufi shrines in Pakistan over the past year carried out by Sunni extremists. (The vast majority of Sufis are Sunni, though some are Shiite.)
What is this form of Islamic belief, and why has it come under assault?
...Sufism, known as tasawwuf in the Arabic-speaking world, is a form of Islamic mysticism that emphasizes introspection and spiritual closeness with God.
While it is sometimes misunderstood as a sect of Islam, it is actually a broader style of worship that transcends sects, directing followers’ attention inward. Sufi practice focuses on the renunciation of worldly things, purification of the soul and the mystical contemplation of God’s nature. Followers try to get closer to God by seeking spiritual learning known as tariqa.
...Sufism has shaped literature and art for centuries, and is associated with many of the most resonant pieces of Islam’s “golden age,” lasting from roughly the eighth through 13th centuries, including the poetry of Rumi.
In modern times, the predominant view of Sufi Islam is one of “love, peace, tolerance,” Mr. Knysh explained, leading to this style of worship becoming synonymous with peace-loving Islam.
...The Islamic State targets Sufis because it believes that only a fundamentalist form of Sunni Islam is valid.
Some fundamentalists see the reverence for saints, which is common in Shiite Islam, as a form of idolatry, because in their view it shows devotion to something other than the worship of a singular God. Some consider Sufis to be apostate, because saints were not part of the original practice of Islam at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, who died in 632.
...Imam Feisal said that attacks on Sufi worshipers, besides being a “major sin,” are the result of the politicization of religion in the region over the past few decades. Egypt, in particular, he said, is a place where that politicization has fueled extremism.
“When religion becomes politicized,” Imam Feisal said, “it is not good.”