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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:The 'takfir' debate: Sources for the study of a contemporary dispute among African Sufis. Part II: The Sudanese arena
Author:Seesemann, RüdigerISNI
Periodical:Sudanic Africa
Geographic term:Sudan
Subjects:Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This article explores the background to a dispute among contemporary scholars of the Tij¯aniyya Sufi order in Sub-Saharan Africa, referred to as the 'Takf¯ir' debate. The debate was started by the book 'al-Takf¯ir akh.tar bid'a', written in 1982 by shar¯if Ibr¯ah¯im .S¯ali.h, a shaykh of the Tij¯aniyya order from Maiduguri (Nigeria), and published in Cairo in the same year. It was publicly criticized by the Sudanese shaykh Ibr¯ah¯im S¯id¯i in his pamphlet 'al-Summ al-zu'¯af' (1985), to which Ibr¯ah¯im .S¯ali.h wrote a 584-page reply, 'al-Mugh¯ir 'al¯a shubah¯at ahl al-ahw¯a'' (1986). The bone of contention was Ibr¯ah¯im .S¯ali.h's restatement of certain Tij¯an¯i doctrines. By deviating from what the Tij¯an¯is believe to be the original doctrine of the order's founder Ibr¯ah¯im .S¯ali.h broke what in fact amounts to a taboo. In Nigeria there was a consensus among Tij¯an¯i leaders not to bring the issue to the public, and it was Ibr¯ah¯im .S¯ali.h who came under pressure for his ambiguous discourse. In Sudan, Ibr¯ah¯im S¯id¯i became the target of sometimes furious attacks by fellow Tij¯an¯is. Underlying the 'Takf¯ir' debate is a fundamental difference in the approach to Sufism. Ibr¯ah¯im .S¯ali.h sees the necessity of reconciling Sufi doctrines with the Shar¯i'a, while for Ibr¯ah¯im S¯id¯i there is no contradiction at all between the two. In Sudan, where references to the Shar¯i'a as the yardstick for everything have been increasing, especially since the National Islamic Front took power in 1989, the debate also acquired a political dimension. Notes, ref.