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Turkish Sufi leader: Erdogan turns a blind eye at terrorists' infiltration

Wednesday 24-05-2017 - 12:02 PM
Turkish Sufi leader:

Cairo - Sufism in Turkey enjoys its unique position among Turkish citizens. Contrary to Sufism in the Arab world, in Turkey it is not limited to specific segments of the Turkish community, as it can extend from the aristocratic class to the poorest of people.

Dr. Mohamed Agan, leader of Sufi Refaei Order in Turkey, revealed that jihadists leaving from Turkey to go  into Syria are not Turkish citizens and come from different countries. He also revealed that the Turkish government helped them to enter into Syria under the pretext of 'freedom'.

In an interview with Dr. Mohamed Agan, he speaks about Sufism in more detail

Turkish Sufi leader:

How do you assess Sufism in Arab countries? What does it lack?

Sufism, in principal, is based on promoting charity work which are the basis of Islamic teachings. Sufism, like Islam, is suffering from increasing challenges not only in Turkey, but also in the Arab and Islamic world as a whole. The major challenge facing Sufism is how to balance between the current reality and the life of the righteous ancestors.

Why do Turks lean toward Sufism?

The Sufi approach was associated to the rule of Ottoman Empire which the Turks view as one of the greatest phases of their country. They always express their pride of this approach due to its transparency and moderation.

Do you agree with the view that Sufism in Turkey is undergoing an "intellectual renaissance”?

There is no doubt about that, as Turkey has become a major hub for a large number of scholars coming from stricken countries. Their presence in the country has  pushed forward this intellectual renaissance.

Turkish Sufi leader:

Is this intellectual production a rewriting of the heritage or a modern reading corresponding to the current era?

It depends on the content of the books on Sufism. We have books that re-arrange the values and principles to suit our reality, while others provide additions to these principles.

Are you satisfied with this intellectual production?

Of course. The obligations of Sufis are numerous and Sufis should meet up to their commitments.

What are these obligations?

The major obligation during this current period is to confront extremism. Sufis are required to refute the ideas adopted by extremists and to correct them.

Regarding extremism, do you think that Sufi texts and writings is able to compete with the large amount of texts of  ISIS ideology?

ISIS ideas do not have a large amount of texts. Their ideas appeared 700 years after prophecy. The ideas published by the ISIS extremist group are based on a shallow understanding of texts and lack strong evidence.

Sufis present their ideas to confront extremist ideas. How do you assess the role of Sufism in this regard?

If we judge history objectively, we will find that Sufism played a major role to maintain the stability of the world throughout the ages. If we talk about the ways of confrontation, we should go back to the historic stances Sufis took to refute distorted ideas.

Turkish Sufi leader:

Do you have a specific program to confront extremist ideas?

In addition to prayers for God to guide people with wisdom and good exhortation, and the advice for people to adopt moderate ideas by actions and not just sermons, we meet with scholars from different places to discuss the danger of extremism and ways to deal with it.

Have you reached to the reasons behind increasing extremism?

Yes, we know the reasons causing this crisis and are currently working currently for a solution. We are faced with the extremist interpretation of Quranic verses vs wise interpretation.

Despite the strength of Sufism in Turkey, the country is known to be one of the top countries that exports extremists. How do you explain this dilemma?

Turkey did not export extremism, but it ignored extremists coming from major international powers. The Turkish approach came under the slogan of freedoms adopted by the Turkish government.

How do you interpret the attraction that Turkish youth have to extremist ideas?

There is no doubt that the Turks love Islam, [And] ISIS extremists speak in the name of Islam. The speech adopted by ISIS extremists attract the Turkish youth who are not intellectually and religiously protected.

What is the role of Turkish Sufism to confront the current wave of extremism witnessed in the region?

Turkish Sufis perform a major role to increase public awareness towards the right Islamic approach and to refute extremist ideas through sermons, lectures and God praising sessions.

Turkish Sufi leader:

Does the Turkish government support your role?

Turkey supports all of its citizens, at least by providing them freedom to deliver their ideas.

There is general impression that Sufism in Egypt is not influential. Do you agree with this perspective?

Sufis in Egypt perform a major role. Yet, this impression came as a result of their refusal to perform a political role and by limiting themselves by only attending in mosques.

How do you assess the intellectual outcome of Sufis in the Arab world, and especially in Egypt?

Egypt’s role is to present an intellectual, moderate outcome. This happens with the work done by the Al-Azhar that includes moderate scholars affiliating to the Sufi approach. Azhar is a Sufi institution and its intellectual production is not a secret to anyone. 

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