Sufism in Sudan

Muhammad Saad

Sheikh Abd al-Wahhab al-Tarifi, one of the Sheikhs of the Qadiriyya Order, says: “Since their gradual and phased conversion to Islam, most of the Sudanese people of jurisprudence and religious sciences have not been fascinated by their complexities and entanglements, so they chose Sufism as a form of religiosity.”

He added that “the local African cultures that were prevalent were reluctant to appropriate their customs and traditions, and this is what jurists and clerics have always sought, unlike the sheikhs of Sufi orders who do not oppose local cultures, but rather use them for the benefit of their da’wah.”

Therefore, Al-Tarifi continues, “The Sufis succeeded in spreading Islam in Sudan and Africa with ease, while the scholars and jurists who were pleading with them failed, and are still, a dry method based on prohibition, atonement and extremism. Contribute to social life and influence political life.

Al-Tarifi points out that “although segments of the pre-Islamic Sudanese converted to Christianity in their own way, most of them remained in their local religions, which were based on spiritual mediation between a person (a wise man) and a supreme heavenly power, and this person was playing the role of mediator. Spiritual approach to bring the pious to their Lord, and he was called a sorcerer or (Kjur) or (Father).

He points out that “the rituals of worship were practiced through singing, drumming and violent dancing to the point of absence and fading away, and this is what the Sufi sheikhs absorbed, so they allowed it in Islamic worship. The highest levels of devotional matters for the individual, saying what he says and doing what he does, and gradually and through soft dialogue and love, they are understood to be true Islam and true Sufism.

The Sufi orders have a strong authority over the Sudanese street publicly and politically. There are about 40 Sufi orders in Sudan, the most famous of which are: Qadiriyah, Khatmiyya, Mahdist, Tijaniyah, and Sammaniyah. These methods are spread throughout Sudan, and extend to neighboring countries in Nigeria, Chad, Egypt and others.

These roads compete with each other on the Sudanese street, and the religious upbringing in the community itself helps them. The Sudanese citizen is a mystic by nature, so you find that he is attracted to such methods, and sometimes even sanctifies them. On the other hand, the roads actually communicate with people by providing services such as: establishing schools, hospitals, religious institutes, and universities, as well as “al-khalawis” for memorizing the Qur’an.

Al Khalawi is a small town where students gather for a complete living, the only job in it is memorizing the Qur’an. Students from all of Sudan and neighboring countries come to these khalawis, living in them for periods of up to 7 years, and the student of the order (following it) can ask its sheikh for material subsidies for his life, hence the close link between the roads and society, as the Sufi order itself includes internal institutions As if it were a miniature state, there is a special department for khilwa, hospital, school, finance, etc., and daily they report to the Sheikh of the Order, and this process is known as “the master,” which is the management of the works of the institutions of the Order.

It is noticeable in Sudan that the sheikhs of the paths have great academic degrees, some of them are university professors, and some of them studied in London and are fluent in several languages, such as Sheikh “Hassan Al-Fateh Qareeb Allah”, who wrote more than 100 books that contributed a lot to the development of Sufi thought and its literature. There are also those who worked as ambassadors and ministers, such as Sheikh Kamal Omar, and he was the third man during the time of former President Jaafar Nimeiri.

Sufism was able to break the mental image that was taken from it in being a group of dervishes and sects, and it took another course, which was able to influence the Sudanese politics itself. Here, do not be surprised to see politicians meeting with Sufi men to discuss with them a major matter concerning the country, and they always take their advice because of their great influence on people, and those who want to rapprochement with the Sudanese and influence them should enter through the gate of Sufism.

Among the latest news is the Sudanese love of Sufism and their sheikhs by the general public and officials alike, a private plane transporting Sheikh Muhammad Ahmed Abu Azza from Umm Rawaba to Khartoum under the guidance of Hemeti, as stated in the news in Khartoum, on the 27th of June 2021 AD. See

The First Vice President of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Lieutenant-General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, directed the transfer of Sheikh Muhammad Ahmed Abu Azza, who is lying bedridden in Umm Rawaba, to the capital, Khartoum, for treatment.

Today, the First Vice President of the Sovereignty Council sent a private plane and doctors to Umm Rawaba to transport Sheikh Abu Azza to receive treatment in Khartoum or outside the country, according to what the doctors decided.

Thousands of Abu Azza’s students and disciples defended the moment the plane landed in Umm Rawaba, expressing their thanks and gratitude to the First Deputy for his keen interest and continuous follow-up on Sheikh Abu Azza’s condition. They said that the initiative of the First Deputy represents a tribute to all the sheikhs of the Sufi orders and reflects an interest in the affairs of the people.

Abu Azza was born in the village of Umm Asher, an area of ​​Kordofan in the land of Sudan, around the year 1925 AD. When he reached the age of eight, he went to the retreat of Sheikh Abdullah Wad Al-Abbas and memorized the Qur’an there, and studied Sharia sciences on Sheikh Abdullah and then returned to his country and founded Khalawi for memorization. The Qur’an and science graduated from the hand of thousands of memorizers of the Book of God.

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