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Friday, April 15, 2011

Sufi Muslim Council

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The Sufi Muslim Council (SMC) was launched on 19 July 2006.[1] The SMC is a non-profit, non-governmental religious organization dedicated to working for the cause of Islam.

The group claims to represent British Sufi Muslims.[2] Sufism is a form of Islamic mysticism.[3] Sufi orders (Tariqas) can be found in Sunni, Shia and other Islamic groups. [1] The 14th Century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun described Sufism as: "dedication to worship, total dedication to Allah most High, disregard for the finery and ornament of the world, abstinence from the pleasure, wealth, and prestige sought by most men, and retiring from others to worship alone".[4]

The group claims that up to 80% of Britain's 2 million Muslims come from the Sufi tradition, which is a mystical and personal interpretation of Islam and largely apolitical.[2]. However, the figure has been challenged by the group's critics.[who?]


  • 1 Sufi Muslim Council: Mission Statement
  • 2 The Sufi Muslim Council and Islamic Extremism
  • 3 Rivalry between the Sufi Muslim Council and the Muslim Council of Britain
  • 4 The Sufi Muslim Council and Craig Murray
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

[edit] Sufi Muslim Council: Mission Statement

The SMC was launched with the backing of the government and other faith groups. Politicians from the Labour party welcomed the establishment of the group. The SMC states that it differs from the plethora of other British Islamic groups in that its approach to Islam is less political and hence less confrontational. It tends to view British Muslims as part of mainstream British society rather than separate from it.[5] The group is widely perceived[by whom?] to act as a counter to the Muslim Council of Britain. However its use of the term "Sufi" (ie Islamic mystic) has raised important questions about its authenticity in the Muslim community. Traditional Sufi Orders in Islam (called "tariqahs") are defined by their hagiographic genealogy ("silsile") which they trace back to the Prophet Muhammad and this is considered the criterion of their authenticity in the eyes of the community. The absence of any silsile (or even reference to it) anywhere in the SMC's literature has led to serious doubts over its true mystical pedigree and has increased suspicions over its political agenda. Furthermore, in the science and tradition of Tasawwuf, or Sufism, any self-reference as an individual or group as a 'Sufi' is considered derogatory and arrogant. Isolating Sufism as a sect of Muslims rather than a tradition of self growth and spiritual refinement is also alien to Tasawwuf.

[edit] The Sufi Muslim Council and Islamic Extremism

The SMC has taken a strong stand against radical Islamic extremism prevalent amongst some Muslim youth in the UK, as illustrated by the 7/7 terrorist attacks carried out by predominanly by young Muslims of British Pakistani descent. In its website the group states: "While every religion rejects acts of tyranny, injustice and oppression, extremism is found in every religion. As Muslims we are supporters of love, peace, justice, respect and tolerance. Thus, we see it as our duty to continue to shed light on current events while doing our best to see that the wave of militant radicalism sweeping Muslim nations does not strike again in UK, where we live."[citation needed]

[edit] Rivalry between the Sufi Muslim Council and the Muslim Council of Britain

Given their different approaches to expressing the religion of Islam, both the SMC and the MCB have criticised each other regarding the extent to which unelected community organisations can fight Islamic extremism and alienation from the mainstream. The MCB has dismissed the SMC as 'unrepresentative and divisive'. Meanwhile the SMC has accused existing organisations for not doing enough to engage with and tackle radicalism within British Muslim communities. [3]

[edit] The Sufi Muslim Council and Craig Murray

Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, has written an article claiming that the group is a Labour government project designed to replace the Muslim Council of Britain.[6] Murray has also argued that the Sufi Muslim Council is linked to neo-conservative groups in Washington which propagandise for the Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, and receive funding from business interests of his daughter, Gulnara Karimova.

Murray says that the SMC website and published media contain articles such as 'The Muslim Brotherhood's Conquest of Europe', written by Lorenzo Vidino and 'Islamic Radicalism - Its Wahhabi Roots and current representation', written by the Islamic Supreme Council of America[7] who he sees as neoconservatives.

[edit] References

  1. ^ "From another shore - New Sufis for New Labour". 25 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  2. ^ "About Sufi Muslim Council - SMC". Sufi Muslim Council. 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  3. ^ Lings, Martin (1999) [1975]. What is Sufism?. Bartlow, Cambridge, UK: The Islamic Texts Society. p. 15. ISBN 0-946621-41-1.
  4. ^ BBC Team (2004-04-13). "BBC - Religion & Ethics - Sufism" (in English). BBC Religion & Ethics. BBC. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  5. ^ Casciani, Dominic (2006-07-19). "Minister backs new Muslim group". BBC. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  6. ^ Murray, Craig (August 24, 2006). "The 'Neoconservative' Sufi Muslim Council". Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  7. ^ Articles on extremism on the SMC website

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