Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Qadiriyya in Sudan

Sufi sheikhs, sheikhas, and saints of the Sudan.
By: Cifuentes, FrederiquePublication
The Sudan contains a multitude of Sufi movements, with diverse origins and characteristics. Some groups were formed as far back as the fifteenth century by Sufi masters originating in Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt. The Sudan's social structures (numbering more than 600 ethnic groups) have given their own character to each movement. This project is based on photographic research carried out mainly in Khartoum and its surrounding regions, Jazira State and Sennar State covering Sufi movements from inside the Burhaniya, Qadiriyya, Sammaniyya, Mighaniyya, Khatmiyya, and Tijaniya religious communities. For many devotees, Muslim identity in the Sudan consists of an active or hereditary membership to a Sufi movement, which venerates its founder and his successors, called sheikhs. The sheikh is a teacher and the community is under his or her guidance. Sufism is structured into spiritual organizations, tariqas ('spiritual paths') which have scattered over the Muslim world to spread the teaching of the spiritual master. Every tariqa has its hierarchy of saints, its mausoleums, spiritual centers, and particular devotional practices. The sheikhs of the Sudan play an essential role in their religious communities. They advise and listen, bless, reassure, and give direction to the followers who consult them. They have a spiritual power, known as madad or baraka, which their followers hope to receive upon contact with them. They are considered to be providers of miracles, and this is the reason for their status as saints. After their deaths, sheikhs are venerated by the people at their mausoleums. These tombs are a characteristic feature of the religious landscape of the region. There are a great number of these Sudanese saints, both men and women. Their tombs, which are known as maqam, are the sites of pilgrimage for the annual celebration of their births (mulid), or at the festival of Holiya to commemorate their deaths. The Holiya is the great annual gathering of disciples at the place of origin of the tariqa, where they assemble around their leader, the present sheikh. Here disciples can deepen their relationships to their masters, and this is a fundamental part of their spiritual development.
The Khalwa of Omdawanban[The khalwa at Omdawanban was founded in 1867 by Sheikh Al Obeid Wad Badr, a holy man of the Qadiriyya order who established the school after he had had a vision. The descendants of Sheikh Wad Badr believe that he possessed miraculous powers. The school is one of the most well known in Sudan thanks to its succession of famous sheikhs and the quality of its teaching.
This religious institution is the size of a small village and today welcomes more than 1250 students from Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria. It takes from three to six years to acquire a perfect knowledge of the Quran and to master written Arabic. The majority of Sudanese children go to state school, but some parents choose this type of education due to religious convictions. Their religious instruction will continue after they leave Omdawanban.
Today the school is directed and financed by Sheikh El Taib, the great-great-grandson of the founder. He continues the tradition of providing free education to his pupils. He himself initiates each pupil by presentation of the wooden "slate" (loah), used for writing the lesson, and a blessing, the Fatiha. The children learn to write Arabic for the first time on this wooden tablet using a tube of sugar cane filled with an ink made of charcoal or soot. Islamic institutions in Sudan comprise a well-structured social organization. The sheikh is master of the premises by virtue of inheritance or spiritual qualities. He is the guarantor and he charges his khalifs with the instruction of his teachings. The syllabus is organized around memorization of the Quran and recitations known as tawjid, together with the art of pronunciation and intonation, apprenticeship in canon law, and the Hadith (a collection of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammed). When, after many years of study, the student returns to his village he will be respected because he has learned to read and recite the holy book of Islam. In his turn, he will be able to teach the local children in the most far-flung regions of the country.


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