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Open Theology

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Sufism and Anti-Colonial Violent Resistance Movements: The Qadiriyya and Sanussi Orders in Algeria and Libya

Fait Muedini
Published Online: 2015-06-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0003


In this article, I examine the role of Sufism (and Sufi leaders) as they relate to anti-colonial political and military resistance movements. Sufism is often viewed as a non-violent and non-political branch of Islam. However, I argue that there are many historical examples to illustrate the presence of anti-colonialist Sufi military movements throughout the “Muslim World,” and I give particular attention to the cases of ‘Abd al-Qadir of the Qadiriyya movement and his anti-colonialist rebellion against France in Algeria in the 1800s, as well as that of Italian colonialism in Libya and the military response by the Sanussi order. Thus, while Sufism clearly has various teachings and principles that could be interpreted to promote non-violence, Sufi political movements have also developed as a response to colonialism and imperialism, and thus, one should not automatically assume a necessary separation from Sufism and notions of military resistance.

Keywords: Sufism; North Africa; Middle East; Colonialism; Jihad; Resistance Movements


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About the article

Received: 2015-03-12

Accepted: 2015-04-14

Published Online: 2015-06-03

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0003.

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©2015 Fait Muedini. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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