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Sufi Islam


Doctrines The Sanusis rejected the artificial production of ecstasy, music, dancing, singing and other colourful Sufi practices, and are forbidden all forms of luxury. The brothers are expected to work for their living and withdraw from the world into self-sufficient orders in oases in the Saharan wastes. Particularly stressed is the practice of meditation. Through contemplation of the Prophet's essence the murid (novice) seeks to attain a state in which he identifies himself with the Prophet. The order favours bypassing the teachings of the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence and claim the right of ijitihad (the systematic original interpretation of Islamic law) in order to make their own interpretations of the law.

History The Sanusiyyah order was founded in Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) in the 1840s by Muhammad b. Ali al Sanusi (1787-1859). He moved from Mecca to Libya where the Sanusis established a militant theocratic organisation which affirmed the Islamic ideals of equality, brotherhood and peace. They were opposed to Ottoman rule in North Africa but allied with the Ottomans in the face of British colonialism in Egypt and Italian colonialism in Libya.
Following the departure of the Italians from Libya the Sanusis established their own state ruled by hereditary monarchs. (Libya is the only modern state created by a sufi order.) In 1969 the monarchy was overthrown by the present leader of Libya, Colonel Muammar al-Qadafi. The Qadafi regime sought to restrict and discredit the Sanusis by forbidding the establishment of new Sanusi centres and accusing them of promoting corruption and perverting Islam. In spite of official disapproval the order continues in existence and acts as an important source of religious opposition to the Qadafi regime.

Symbols Sanusiyyah has no distinctive symbol system.

Adherents There are no statistics indicating the numerical size of the order.

Main Centre
 Throughout most of the nineteenth century the order's headquarters were at Djaghbub (1855-1895) in southern Libya. In 1895 they were moved to Kufra.