Hargeisa, 26 June 2009 (Somalilandcurrent) – Some armed groups who adhere to a more moderate interpretation of Islam have begun battling Al Qaeda-linked extremists.

Somalia is beginning to seem more and more like the Swat Valley of eastern Africa – a place where Al Qaeda-linked insurgents are setting up religious law courts, assassinating government ministers, and spreading their tentacles farther and deeper.

This week, Al Shabab, the top militant Islamist force that controls most of the country, tried and convicted four thieves. Their punishment: amputation of one hand and one foot each, in accordance with a strict, literal reading of Islamic law. The sentence has been temporarily delayed, but it’s the latest sign that Somalia is fast becoming an extremist haven. (Last month, Islamists invited a crowd to see a man suspected of stealing $90 worth of clothing get his hand cut off, BBC reports in a detailed eye witness account.)

And as in Pakistan, many are looking to armed tribes in Somalia who adhere to Sufism – a mystical, moderate interpretation of Islam – as the best chance for peace.

A Somalian writer – identifying himself only as Mr. Muthuma – writes in an opinion piece published on Bartamaha, an independent Somalian news portal, that a “new axis” of conflict has formed in Somalia, in which fighters are battling one another along religious lines.

Moderate Sufi scholars, whose tolerant beliefs have come under attack, have decided to fight back against al-Shabaab for destroying their shrines and murdering their imams….

It is an Islamist versus Islamist war, and the Sufi scholars are part of a broader moderate movement that Western nations are counting on to repel Somalia’s increasingly powerful extremists.

Whether Somalia becomes a terrorist haven and a genuine regional threat – which is already beginning to happen, with hundreds of heavily armed foreign jihadists flocking here to fight for Al Shabab – or whether this country steadies itself and ends the years of bloodshed, may hinge on who wins these ideological, sectarian battles.

But not everyone agrees. Ali Eteraz, writing in Foreign Policy this month, laments the goal of propping up Sufis against other religious sects.

The usual response by supporters of the Sufi solution is that thanks to the extremists, Islam has already been politicized, and therefore propagandist measures promoting Sufism are the only way to fight back. But that’s precisely the problem: Propaganda is inherently discrediting. Besides, state-sponsored Sufism … gets everything backward: In an environment where demagogues are using religion to conceal their true political and material ambitions, establishing another official, “preferred” theological ideology won’t roll back their influence. Minimizing the role of all religion in government would be a better idea. Only then could people begin to speak about rights and liberty.

It remains to be seen how this internal struggle will play out. In the meantime, could an “Islamic-led international engagement” from outside be the answer?

That’s the argument of Nuradin Dirie, a former presidential candidate in Puntland, a semiautonomous region in Somalia. Somaliweyn, a Somali news portal, reprinted this speech Mr. Dirie gave recently in London:

Security and capacity for governance, economic growth and forces of moderation. Where can we find such ingredients of international intervention? How about a state-building intervention that is initiated, financed, and staffed by a coalition of Muslim countries? It would have to be specifically designed to build foundations for governance, investment in economic infrastructure and something quite new. We need something I will call a ‘moderation package.’ An intervention made up of prominent Muslim scholars that can challenge forces of extremism with messages of peace, order and coexistence with the rest of the world.

The defining characteristic of this intervention should be that it is a Muslim World project. The UN and the rest of the International community can support this initiative at an arms-length.

By David Montero
The Christian Science Monitor


  1. No not at all. Promoting sufism would be the same as promoting Christianity. Good intentions but the wrong result. These so called Salafis are not really Salafis or Muslims for that matter if they blow themselves up.

    The true Salafi methodology promotes peace and obeying your leaders as per the explicit wishes of the Prophet if Islam Muhammad (sAw) Groups such as Shabaab are uneducated in the very religion they claim to follow and protect and to be honest we don't need an 'outsider' giving us suggestions on which religion should be practised.

    • it is unfortunate to talk something you did not study or have knowledge.
      talking sufism,means something that changed the way of islam in to a better way.
      sufism has introduced islamic study to somalia
      the first sheikhs like yusuf kowneyn ,sh ishak,ahmed gurey,ismail jabarti all were sufis.
      wahabism who came later mess the religion with an ideologies and killings and bid ah.
      so dont be ignorant. grow up man

      • I am sorry but I have been to Jama'at Abu Nur in Damascus Syria and met Nuh Ha Mim Kellar in person along with all the other 'real sheikhs of Sufism.' They are a bunch of nut cases who can do amazing things with the help of the jinns that are busy making them think they're really angels and possessing them.

        I have heard of Wahabism but never experienced it (call them Salafis if you want to make a point). I think it originated from when someone entered a Masjid and saw everyone dancing and yelling names making humping sounds in the dark or going to a dead person's grave in order to ask them to intercede on their behalf with Allaah which makes them apostates.

        I know a lot more about Islam then you may think. I just prefer being sarcastic when speaking with delusional people.

    • It's always sad to see people who claim to have the "TRUTH"……How do you dare say that Sufism is like Christianism? To you Sufis are not Muslims? How you dare say that?Dont u know that Islam doesnt require a clergy? Under which authority are you talking for? Who are you to decided who is and who isnt? Islam is not a monolothic block and never has been……As for Salafism, maybe the one of the origin with Abduh was peaceful, but you cant say that now….no group who claims to be the "only truth" can be considered peaceful because it automatically embraces a form of intellectual violence.
      In addition Salafism itself is a form of outised religion as it was not born in Somalia, so your statement makes no sense.

  2. as if a christian science monitor (the writer of the above article) would tell you the truth about islam. supporting sufism is on their agenda since it is a weak faith similar to hinduism, which christian missionaries can easily mislead like they've done to thousands of hindu dalids in india.

    al shabab is not the voice of islam nor the muslim ummah across the world, they blow up ennocent people (as they have claimed responsibility for) and misread islamic law. so saying that sufism would be "better" of a solution to somalias problems is fare from the truth, sufis are known for their lack of dicipline, grave worship and utter disregard for the tenents of islam such as prayer and the oneness of God, these misguided people even dare to go as fare as thinking they can become "at one with God" authubillah. these people and their faith have NO place in somali society and their faith (where ever it comes from) is a total blasphemy to God.

  3. there is only one solution to the alshabab militia, all somalia people have to come together to defeat this un islamic group, the only way is if somaliland forces go dont to south to Mogadishu to give the government there a breathing ground, then slowly finish alshabab of, after that we can negotiate what will happen to both of us

  4. SUFISM, knows no voilance,no attacks,no insult during friday ceremonies,only sufism can give us harmony and integration.
    sufism is not like hindus,sufism is a way to be clean in the heart and love god,and god only.

  5. A interesting article. I wish for peace for all the people of Somalia, whatever their beliefs but I was shocked to see an advert on this page for Scientology – a business that calls itself a religion and is in fact an evil cult.

    Mr. Editor, please do not take this dirty money.

    • Hello Jesse, thank you for your feedback and suggestion, however the ad you talking about isnt one that we are display but its being pulled by google adsense based on keywords picked from the story. Every time it will be different ad.

  6. Somalia is country under control to foriegners with different points of views, Alshabaab are malatia funded by Al-qaeda, and the only way to over come the adressed violences in Somalia is to get a harmony for the 100% Muslim community who are the residents of this country, if the Somalis reach the real status of Islam and the interventions is stoped. and they look the imapcts of every things towards their faith and religion also ensure Islmaic Policy in Sharia

  7. Sufism can neither be be taught or imposed on others. Salafism and Sufism can never see eye to eye. Come to think of it Somalia is like a frying oil and adding water to it will only worsen it. The more help that is given to Somalia from outside that more chaos that will be created.

    Somaliland should be recognised then the chaos of Somalia might be controlled. Somalia has become a portal for chaos and Somaliland should never underestimate that.