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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

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Tasawwuf Bahraini

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I attended a small performance of devotional singing by Bahraini sufis this evening. It was a few days late, but the purpose of the event was to celebrate the Prophet's birthday. It was a very moving performance, which involved about ten men singing devotional poetry in heterophony, following one lead singer (no instrumentation). They had excellent control over their voices, producing an extremely rich and powerful overall sound.

I was quite surprised to read the announcement of this event in the newspaper a couple days ago, because prior to that I had no idea that there were any active sufi groups in Bahrain. I knew that they must have existed on the island in previous generations, but when I asked around most people didn't have any idea about what sufism is. But today I learned that there are actually several sufi orders represented on the island (including the Qadiriya, Naqshbandiya, Azeemia). I'm wondering now... does anyone know if any of the shia sufi orders are active in Bahrain?

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5 Responses to 'Tasawwuf Bahraini'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Perhpas you could explain to us nitwits in cyberspace what a "sufi" is?    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

interesting...where was it?


Blogger Chanad says:

Bahrania: This event took place in Sehla in a building called the National Cultural Forum. This isn't the usual place that they meet, but they held it there because they were inviting the public. Each of the groups have their own separate meeting places.

Anon: Depending on who you ask, Sufism can be described as a system of thought within Islam that focuses on its mystical, spiritual, gnostic aspects. It is quite difficult to explain the concepts in just one paragraph, so instead I'll refer you to an excellent online resource: Sufism's many paths    

Blogger Evil Odd says:
5/06/2005 05:12:00 am

A book called "Ideals and realities of Islam" by Seyyed Hossein Nasr covers the Sufi aspect of the religion quite lightheartedly.

Many tend to think that Sufism is an off-shoot of Shi'ism. It really isn't. Esoterically speaking, they believe in the Mohameddan Light and twelve layes of spiritual realisation. However, when it comes to practice, Sufis can be either Sunnis or Shi'a. The closest one can come to describe them is perhaps "the monks of Islam." Also, some of their spiritual poems have been known for being "sexually explicit."

They've been accused of heresy (surprise surprise!) by people who quote sayings from here and there about how "Islam is a religion of socialisation not isolation."

Other books about Sufism:
Sufism : a short introduction by William Chittick

Sufism by Javad Nurbakhsh    

Blogger dervish says:
5/08/2005 06:02:00 pm

There is a small sufi presence in Qatar as well. Even Saudia has some.

While sufi thought bridges the sunni/shia divide, historically sufis have been somewhat more accepted by the Shia. Perhaps this is why there is some confusion.    

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