Originally Featured on the Green Prophet
Sufis, “heirs of a mystical ancient tradition”, helped propagate the faith to the height of its expansion in Islam’s coined “Golden Age”. The then flourishing multiculturalism played a key role resulting in the large number of Muslims today, roughly 1.5 billion followers world wide. A great but under represented percentage this figure are still Sufi Muslims.
Relevance of Sufism within the Arab World
Sufism emphasizes “eco-spirituality” – the fundamental belief in the sacredness of nature. Since Gnostic teachings, the Kabalah, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc, all hold this as a key truth, it’s easy to see how Sufism has the capacity to bridge perceived divides between Islam and other faith groups.
According to Sufi expert and director at the Moroccan Ministry of Religious Affairs in Rabat, Ahmad Kostas, “Progress and change are basic tenets of Sufi philosophy.” With this in mind, and with the premise of mutual appreciation for environmental initiatives, the common interest in eco-spirituality is a potential conduit for possible future partnerships between Mid East nations and their neighbors.
A Green Middle East
With the reasoning that a physical environment is reflective of a moral and cultural environment, proactive Sufi efforts to protect the environment can be seen in Morocco, where local Sufi youth gather regularly to “debate timely topics of social and political importance, ranging from the protection of the environment and social charity to the war on drugs and the threat of terrorism.”
It’s no wonder that this esoteric branch of Islam is now not only gaining increased worldwide attention as a possible solution to prevailing conflicts, but is also helping pave the way for a greener Mid East. A green Mid East is slow in the making – mostly because as Karin Kloosterman points out, “environmental education is seriously lacking.” And while Sufis make up about 1/3 of all Muslims, unfortunately their reach and global presence is still limited.
It’s Saudi Arabia that’s still the front runner role when it comes to Islam and Mid East issues. If there’s to be a trickle down effect of green Muslims in the region, then Saudi Arabia is a good place to start.