A hush came over the crowd as the young man sitting cross-legged on the floor picked up the microphone and sang, a cappella, a poem about Islam’s prophet Muhammad. His eyes shut tight, his head covered by an orange-and-white turban, he crooned with barely contained ardor of how the world rejoiced and lights filled the skies the day the prophet was born.
The men attending the mawlid — a celebration of the birth and life of Muhammad — sat on colorful rugs, rocking gently back and forth, while the women, on the upper floor watching via a large projection screen, passed around boxes of tissues and wiped tears from their eyes.
The centuries-old mawlid, a mainstay of the more spiritual and often mystic Sufi Islam, was until recently viewed as heretical and banned by Saudi Arabia’s official religious establishment, the ultraconservative Wahhabis. But a new atmosphere of increased religious tolerance has spurred a resurgence of Sufism and brought the once-underground Sufis and their rituals out in the open.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saudi Arabia liberalizing? Sufism in the Kingdom
Faiza Saleh Ambah (yes her! see hereunder...) wrote a very interesting article for the Washington Post from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, about the increase of Sufism in the Kingdom. What is happening! Well, Jeddah,we know we can breath a bit better in this city than elsewhere in the Kingdom, but still - remarkable!