Invitation of non-Sufi Islamists to Sufi conference provokes outcry among sheikhs

A number of Sufi sheikhs in Egypt on Wednesday expressed their disapproval at the invitations given out to a number of non-Sufi Islamist leaders to attend the first International Sufi Conference, slated to be held at Al-Azhar’s conference hall on Saturday.

The Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, which is organizing the conference, sent the invitations to Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, the Freedom and Justice Party's chairman, Mohammed Morsi, and Salafi sheikh Muhammad Hassan.

The conference will also be attended by Sufi 50 sheikhs and leaders from 35 Muslim and Arab, European and Asian countries.

Relations between a number radical Islamist movements, such as the Salafi’s and Jama'a al-Islamiya and some Sufi orders have become strained of late.

Some Salafi’s have recently demolished a number of shrines frequented by Sufis, arguing that such shrines represent a form of idol worship.

In response to the outcry over the invitations, the head of the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, Sheikh Abdel Hadi al-Kasaby, said: "The invitation of political and Islamist parties and movements will be on the sidelines of the conference to present the Sufi view on Egypt’s future and on how we can cooperate to build and reform the country following the 25 January revolution."

Informed sources have told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Sufi sheikhs opposing the conference met with al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh Ahmed Tayeb and Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa to persuade them to launch an extensive investigation with the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders on why they invited the Islamist movements, which they described as hostile to Sufism.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Shahawi, a spokesman for the Sufi Reform Front, said that "suspicions surround the conference.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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