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« on: April 02, 2009, 03:22:37 PM »

In a religions class of Middle Eastern faiths i've been taking, we've been learning about Muslims for the past month or so. One of the things we have recently been learning about are Sufi Muslims and the Dervishes.

One of the most disturbing things was in a video we watched of a Dervish group in Skopje, Macedonia. This group was made up of many ethnicities, but primarily Turks and Slavs that had converted during the Ottoman control. This group of Dervishes/Sufis practice the "piercing" during their service. In this piercing, they take small swords and pierce various parts of their anatomy while remaining in a "trance" and sometimes even spinning while the crowd sings or repeats certain phrases.
They said this particular group was connected to the group that would be in the Turkish Military at the front of the lines during an attack encouraging their military and leading the charge.

I was just wondering, what are some Orthodox perspectives on this sect of Islam?
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2009, 03:43:28 PM »

In a religions class of Middle Eastern faiths i've been taking, we've been learning about Muslims for the past month or so. One of the things we have recently been learning about are Sufi Muslims and the Dervishes.

One of the most disturbing things was in a video we watched of a Dervish group in Skopje, Macedonia. This group was made up of many ethnicities, but primarily Turks and Slavs that had converted during the Ottoman control. This group of Dervishes/Sufis practice the "piercing" during their service. In this piercing, they take small swords and pierce various parts of their anatomy while remaining in a "trance" and sometimes even spinning while the crowd sings or repeats certain phrases.
They said this particular group was connected to the group that would be in the Turkish Military at the front of the lines during an attack encouraging their military and leading the charge.

I was just wondering, what are some Orthodox perspectives on this sect of Islam?

For the sake of the discussion, I hope people give you a better answer than "they're going to hell," or "they're not Christian, so they don't matter," or "who cares," or "they're devil worshippers," etc.  It would be good if they would provide historical perspective / analysis / saints' commentaries on the actions, theology, etc.
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2009, 03:44:21 PM »

I was just wondering, what are some Orthodox perspectives on this sect of Islam?

I think a better question is what traditional Islam thinks of it, which is not much.  It does not represent what many consider to be authentic Islam, and Wahabis utterly reject Sufism.  It is controversial and certainly does not reflect Islam in its earlier stages.

One of the main figures who's writings later influenced the movement was Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, known in the West as simply Rumi.  Rumi is a descriptive part of his name which means "Roman."  It is often hypothesized that the mystic emphasis of divine love was a product of his frequent interaction with Byzantine (Roman) Christians, which I tend to agree with, because it reinforces the superiority of my own belief system (Orthodoxy).

While it is not Orthodoxy and is missing the key element to the divine love, which is Jesus Christ, the lover of mankind, it is about a million times better than traditional Islam.  It is far more tolerant and nonviolent in general than its more conservative counterparts, and encourages even non-Muslims to participate in the quest for divine love.  That said, it is not faith in Jesus Christ, and hence it lacks the full Truth of the Love that it seeks.
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2009, 03:51:13 PM »

While it is not Orthodoxy and is missing the key element to the divine love, which is Jesus Christ, the lover of mankind, it is about a million times better than traditional Islam.  It is far more tolerant and nonviolent in general than its more conservative counterparts, and encourages even non-Muslims to participate in the quest for divine love.  

This is not entirely correct. Early Sufi movements were often also the most conservative and uncompromising theologically. Moreover, Sufis were also heavily involved in religious warfare, not only the inner jihad that they are often associated with today.
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2009, 03:54:13 PM »

The one thing that really bothers me was the self-mutiliation as well as the (sometimes) excessive alcohol consumption and promiscuity.
I guess for me, it resembles protestant charismatic movements too closely. (minus the promiscuity and excessive alcohol)

_____________________________

As an aside, in the video we watched, they showed an Orthodox Church in Skopje and the baptism service for several babies that had recently been born. I thought it was really nice because everyone was smiling including the Priest, and it showed that chanting is Christian as well as an Islamic practice.
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2009, 04:14:54 PM »

The one thing that really bothers me was the self-mutiliation as well as the (sometimes) excessive alcohol consumption and promiscuity.
I guess for me, it resembles protestant charismatic movements too closely. (minus the promiscuity and excessive alcohol)

The end of your first sentence above highlights what turns off many a mainstream Muslim: the loose living against Quranic teaching.

As an aside, in the video we watched, they showed an Orthodox Church in Skopje and the baptism service for several babies that had recently been born. I thought it was really nice because everyone was smiling including the Priest, and it showed that chanting is Christian as well as an Islamic practice.

Cool.  It's nice when people portray the best of Orthodoxy, instead of merely the worst of it (like monks fighting in the Holy City).
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2009, 02:24:16 AM »

I have actually seen the video in question.

But first things first.  Sufi, as the term is used today, is too broad to say "what is your view of Sufism?"  Instead the question ought to be phrased "What is your view of practice x as practiced by sufi order y in location z?"  There is also a lot of ideological baggage over I've noticed among westerners who start looking at Islam - i.e that there most be a monolithic, hierarchal nature to Islam, that one form must be the "true" Islam with other deviants being less true.  This is also impacted by the immigration to the US from Islamic countries - for example you're far more likely to come across an Arab funded, Arab dominated Mosque in an American city than one dominated by Central Asian Hanafites.  So what I'm getting at, is that you really have to have an individual Sufi order and it's main teachings to judge opposed to just a blanket "Sufism".  There is also this trend by westerners to label anything and everything liberal within Islam as "Sufism" - this is hardly accurate.  As was already mentioned, in many cases sufi orders established Sunni orthodoxy (the most common example is the Naqshbandi in the Mughal empire).  The other thing to consider is that a lot of these practices (and the most common theories about the origins of the piercing in the video you saw, is that these are simply pre-Islamic practices absorbed into Islam in the same manner that many pre-Christian practices are alive and well in Latin American Catholicism). 

If you want a good introduction broader Sufism, it's relationship to Sunni Orthodoxy or translations of important Sufi texts, I highly recommend anything in your University's library by William C. Chittick.

As an aside, in the video we watched, they showed an Orthodox Church in Skopje and the baptism service for several babies that had recently been born. I thought it was really nice because everyone was smiling including the Priest, and it showed that chanting is Christian as well as an Islamic practice.

Cool.  It's nice when people portray the best of Orthodoxy, instead of merely the worst of it (like monks fighting in the Holy City).


Not so fast.  The baptisms were in Skopje.  Our bishops are frothing at the mouth over the name of their country, none of the "canonical" churches are in communion with the MPC - and this the is best of Orthodoxy?  Lord help us.   

{Edit - fixed the quote tags - Cleveland, GM}
« Last Edit: April 03, 2009, 07:03:49 AM by cleveland » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2009, 02:30:09 AM »

Something  funny from another forum....Ha Ha Ha



The quran is at a job interview. The boss asks, "Do you have references?" quran replies, "Torah and Bible, call them." So the boss calls Torah, and Torah replies, "I have never heard of him." Confused, the boss calls Bible and Bible says, "I know him; he is a liar and a thief and is actually from Satan, the devil, don't believe him." Pressed by the boss, quran defends "they are liars." And the boss reasons: "if they are liars, why do you use them for references unless you are insane?"
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2009, 03:21:04 AM »

Something  funny from another forum....Ha Ha Ha



The quran is at a job interview. The boss asks, "Do you have references?" quran replies, "Torah and Bible, call them." So the boss calls Torah, and Torah replies, "I have never heard of him." Confused, the boss calls Bible and Bible says, "I know him; he is a liar and a thief and is actually from Satan, the devil, don't believe him." Pressed by the boss, quran defends "they are liars." And the boss reasons: "if they are liars, why do you use them for references unless you are insane?"

Ha Ha Ha indeed.  good one.

Btw, the term Suufii means "woolen," taken from the cloaks that they wore.  They claim that Jesus wore wool.  Why?  I think it is because of the prevelance of monks wearing wool as a form of mortification in the Middle East.
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2009, 03:27:57 AM »

I have actually seen the video in question.

But first things first.  Sufi, as the term is used today, is too broad to say "what is your view of Sufism?"  Instead the question ought to be phrased "What is your view of practice x as practiced by sufi order y in location z?"  There is also a lot of ideological baggage over I've noticed among westerners who start looking at Islam - i.e that there most be a monolithic, hierarchal nature to Islam, that one form must be the "true" Islam with other deviants being less true.  This is also impacted by the immigration to the US from Islamic countries - for example you're far more likely to come across an Arab funded, Arab dominated Mosque in an American city than one dominated by Central Asian Hanafites.  So what I'm getting at, is that you really have to have an individual Sufi order and it's main teachings to judge opposed to just a blanket "Sufism".  There is also this trend by westerners to label anything and everything liberal within Islam as "Sufism" - this is hardly accurate.  As was already mentioned, in many cases sufi orders established Sunni orthodoxy (the most common example is the Naqshbandi in the Mughal empire).  The other thing to consider is that a lot of these practices (and the most common theories about the origins of the piercing in the video you saw, is that these are simply pre-Islamic practices absorbed into Islam in the same manner that many pre-Christian practices are alive and well in Latin American Catholicism). 

If you want a good introduction broader Sufism, it's relationship to Sunni Orthodoxy or translations of important Sufi texts, I highly recommend anything in your University's library by William C. Chittick.

As an aside, in the video we watched, they showed an Orthodox Church in Skopje and the baptism service for several babies that had recently been born. I thought it was really nice because everyone was smiling including the Priest, and it showed that chanting is Christian as well as an Islamic practice.

Cool.  It's nice when people portray the best of Orthodoxy, instead of merely the worst of it (like monks fighting in the Holy City).


Not so fast.  The baptisms were in Skopje.  Our bishops are frothing at the mouth over the name of their country,
Then YOUR bishops need to get a bib.
Quote
none of the "canonical" churches are in communion with the MPC - and this the is best of Orthodoxy?  Lord help us.   
You put canonical in quotation marks, while your point hinges on the canonicity.  Aren't you sure?

{Edit - fixed the quote tags in the quote from Nektarios' post - Cleveland, GM}
« Last Edit: April 03, 2009, 07:04:39 AM by cleveland » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2009, 01:03:14 PM »

none of the "canonical" churches are in communion with the MPC - and this the is best of Orthodoxy?  Lord help us.   
You put canonical in quotation marks, while your point hinges on the canonicity.  Aren't you sure?


Time will tell.  1870-1945 was a long time for the Bulgarian Exarchate to be uncanonical only to normalise relations later.  I go to church for other reasons than using the Church as a platform for some tribalistic dispute, so forgive for thinking things like the Macedonian dispute are beneath the dignity of the Church. 
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2010, 01:49:49 PM »

Even though this thread wen to sleep, I feel a need to awake in order to clear some misconception.

Sufism is a part Traditional, Orthodox Islam. It is merely the emphasis on esoteric knowledge rather than the exoteric, that is, the emphasis on the sickness of the heart and their cures instead of the Law and its details. Though no exoteric knowledge can be attained without the esoteric part of the Religion, all of the great Sufi masters were versed in Islamic Jurisdiction according to the the different madhabs of Sunni Islam (four of which survive today). A lot of them were grand judges (which means they have to excel in Shari'a study) before devouring themselves to asceticism (e.g. Imam Ghazali and sidi Mohamed al-Harraq).

Also, they were all observant of the Law. When Sufi poetry talks about love and it indulges in praise of "Layla", it speaks of nothing but God's essence (dhat). And when it speaks of wine and drinking, what's alluded to is not what we normally hear about the word. The fact is, the very basis of Sufism is disobedience to one's carnal desires and purifying the worship as to be exclude to the Creator Almighty. Drinking and Fornicating goes directly against that.

And I should add Wahabism is not a representative of Traditional Islam, it's a movement that peared about three centuries ago and it has only gained pewee due to the foreign aid in an attempt to weaken the Islamic Caliphate.
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2010, 11:20:49 PM »

And when it speaks of wine and drinking, what's alluded to is not what we normally hear about the word. The fact is, the very basis of Sufism is disobedience to one's carnal desires and purifying the worship as to be exclude to the Creator Almighty. Drinking and Fornicating goes directly against that.

There was an unbroken tradition of alcohol-drinking among spiritual seekers in Central Asia from the time of Rumi to the 20th century. Don't try to claim that wine was a mere poetic symbol.
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2010, 04:17:02 AM »

There was an unbroken tradition of alcohol-drinking among spiritual seekers in Central Asia from the time of Rumi to the 20th century. Don't try to claim that wine was a mere poetic symbol.

If you're making that claim solely because of the wine poems. Then you ought to know that virtually every Sufi poet who has ever existed wrote poems about both drinking wine and in praise of Layla (a female name). But the fact remains that drinking and singing about carnal loves goes against the most basic principles of taçawwuf.
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2010, 04:33:09 AM »

If you're making that claim solely because of the wine poems. Then you ought to know that virtually every Sufi poet who has ever existed wrote poems about both drinking wine and in praise of Layla (a female name). But the fact remains that drinking and singing about carnal loves goes against the most basic principles of taçawwuf.

No, I'm making that claim because of histories written both by locals and foreign visitors that holy men in Central Asia, the same who would recite those poems about wine, enjoyed drinking wine (and later vodka) themselves. From the time of the Great Game, Muslims of Central Asia have often been asked about this by European visitors, "Isn't alcohol against the tenets of Islam?" and the answer is usually that becoming a little tipsy is perfectly fine.
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2010, 04:45:54 AM »

If you're making that claim solely because of the wine poems. Then you ought to know that virtually every Sufi poet who has ever existed wrote poems about both drinking wine and in praise of Layla (a female name). But the fact remains that drinking and singing about carnal loves goes against the most basic principles of taçawwuf.

No, I'm making that claim because of histories written both by locals and foreign visitors that holy men in Central Asia, the same who would recite those poems about wine, enjoyed drinking wine (and later vodka) themselves. From the time of the Great Game, Muslims of Central Asia have often been asked about this by European visitors, "Isn't alcohol against the tenets of Islam?" and the answer is usually that becoming a little tipsy is perfectly fine.

Well, Drinking wine is, like I said, is against the principles of the Way. But it's inconceivable  that there never existed people who claimed Taçawwuf but didn't practise it, not just in Central Asia. Jalaluddin is not one of them.
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2010, 04:50:26 AM »

Bosnijan Muslims, when they attend each others svadba's wedding Parties,and other type of events ,greet the host and hostess and the whole family lined up in front of the house with a kiss and bottles of wine and hard liquor.... Grin After they had enough to drink , then they start the shota mashala dance...... Grin

 
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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2010, 04:54:35 AM »

Bosnijan Muslims, when they attend each others svadba's wedding Parties,and other type of events ,greet the host and hostess and the whole family lined up in front of the house with a kiss and bottles of wine and hard liquor.... Grin

Well, Christians who live among Muslims learn to act in a Christian manner, the Muslims who live among Christians do that!
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« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2010, 05:00:34 AM »

Bosnijan Muslims, when they attend each others svadba's wedding Parties,and other type of events ,greet the host and hostess and the whole family lined up in front of the house with a kiss and bottles of wine and hard liquor.... Grin

Well, Christians who live among Muslims learn to act in a Christian manner, the Muslims who live among Christians do that!


My Brother Has a Albanian Macedonian Muslim friend, who will  eat a whole spiral cut ham almost all in one sitting ... Grin
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« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2010, 05:02:09 AM »

Bosnijan Muslims, when they attend each others svadba's wedding Parties,and other type of events ,greet the host and hostess and the whole family lined up in front of the house with a kiss and bottles of wine and hard liquor.... Grin

Well, Christians who live among Muslims learn to act in a Christian manner, the Muslims who live among Christians do that!

My Brother Has a Albanian Macedonian Muslim friend, who will eat whole spiral cut ham almost all in one sitting ... Grin

You're not helping your case, not even slightly. I doubt you even have a case there!
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« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2010, 05:50:15 AM »

This is a example of the shota dance the bosnijan Muslims dance after they had enough to drink at there svadba... Grin

http://www.youtube.com/v/UYfxg77UdXo&hl=en_US&fs=1">


also the mashala song and dance from macedonija.....http://www.youtube.com/v/3KgLRTLZqa4&hl=en_US&fs=1
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« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2010, 05:58:39 AM »

This is a example of the shota dance the bosnijan Muslims dance after they had enough to drink at there svadba... Grin

http://www.youtube.com/v/UYfxg77UdXo&hl=en_US&fs=1">


also the mashala song and dance from macedonija.....http://www.youtube.com/v/3KgLRTLZqa4&hl=en_US&fs=1

They seem like nice folks. How is it things between you and them?
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« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2010, 06:09:50 AM »

I have Bosnijan Muslim friends here in the U.S.A. Parents never taught us to hate them  ..Mom is Bosnijan from Bosanski brod ,dad Rashka Serbia...we have long time friend Ramadan  a Albanian macedonijan ...There Good and Bad In all races can't judge the whole race by a few bad apples.... Grin though a few bad apples can spoil the whole bushel.... Grin
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« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2010, 09:50:13 AM »

Well, Christians who live among Muslims learn to act in a Christian manner, the Muslims who live among Christians do that!

The words for "liquor", "hangover" etc. in many languages are taken from Arabic. It was the Muslims who taught the Chuvash, the Mari, the Tatars and many other peoples to drink hard alcohol when before they only had weak drinks like kvas and kumis. You can't always blame it on the infidels.
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« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2010, 10:13:00 AM »

The word alcohol is also of Arabic origin.
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« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2010, 10:39:14 AM »

Well, Christians who live among Muslims learn to act in a Christian manner, the Muslims who live among Christians do that!

The words for "liquor", "hangover" etc. in many languages are taken from Arabic. It was the Muslims who taught the Chuvash, the Mari, the Tatars and many other peoples to drink hard alcohol when before they only had weak drinks like kvas and kumis. You can't always blame it on the infidels.

Regardless of whether or not that's true. Drinking is highly frowned upon by everyone in Muslim countries, even those who drink, most of them would tell you that they would quit if they could and they know that what they do is bad. Whereas drinking is more than common practice in Christian land (Does Russia ring a bell?).

Also, "infidel" is a Christian word, we don't have a fidel and an infidel, we have a believer and a disbeliever (mu'min and kafir)
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 10:41:28 AM by Mekki » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2010, 10:41:16 AM »

The word alcohol is also of Arabic origin.

Wine and other drinks are never referred to classically as alcohol الكحول. In classical Arabic, Alcohol refers strictly to the chemical substance.
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« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2010, 10:43:51 AM »

Regardless of whether or not that's true. Drinking is highly frowned upon by everyone in Muslim countries, even those who drink, most of them would tell you that they would quit if they could and they know that what they do is bad.

No, they wouldn't. Have you never been to the 'Stans? Tatar imams are proud of the presence of alcohol in their land, as they believe that Arab countries have got it all wrong. No social gathering in Uzbekistan, even Muslim ones like circumcision feasts, is considered complete without a liter of vodka for each participant.

Quote
Also, "infidel" is Christian word, we don't have a fidel and an infidel, we have a believer and a disbeliever (mu'min and kafir)

fide- is the Latin root for "faith". "Infidel" and "unbeliever" are comparable terms.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 10:46:21 AM by CRCulver » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2010, 12:15:46 PM »


No, they wouldn't. Have you never been to the 'Stans? Tatar imams are proud of the presence of alcohol in their land,

Every sane male Muslim can be Imam, who are you talking about? We don't have a clergy. If you're talking about paid prayer leaders, then what you're saying is impossible, as they must have the essential knowledge about Shari'a according to the four madhabs before being appointed which means they know the ruling for drinking and they in not way condone it, let alone be proud of it.

Quote

as they believe that Arab countries have got it all wrong.


However the haters may hate it, we don't have nationalism in Islam, we follow the consensus of the Nation's scholars. And a lot of the Nation's greatest scholars were from central Asia.

I hope you have some kind of evidence there (which we would love it if you could share it with us, e.g. a central-Asian-centrist school of jurisprudence
which allows drinking), and that you're not just making stuff up for there will come a day when you will be judged for every word your mouth uttered or your fingers typed.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 12:16:01 PM by Mekki » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2010, 06:01:18 PM »

I'm not comfortable with the logic of trying to invalidate beliefs based on practices which go against the beliefs held by people. It doesn't really work. There are plenty of Orthodox Christians who sin, and even do so proudly. It does not invalidate the Orthodox faith. If we are endeavoring here to talk about Orthodoxy's view of Islam, we can do far better by talking about dogma and revelation, supplementing with writings from the Holy Fathers.

Anyway, vis a vis Sufism, I don't think the Orthodox response to it is any different than to other forms of Islam or Islam as a whole.
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« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2010, 06:13:58 PM »


No, they wouldn't. Have you never been to the 'Stans? Tatar imams are proud of the presence of alcohol in their land,

Every sane male Muslim can be Imam, who are you talking about? We don't have a clergy.
No, you have 'ulamaa'. Lawyers.

A number of sects (Ismailis, Sufis, 'Alawis, etc.) have clergy.  One might argue that ijaazah amounts to an ordination.

Quote
If you're talking about paid prayer leaders, then what you're saying is impossible, as they must have the essential knowledge about Shari'a according to the four madhabs

You are stacking the deck: Islam has far more than four madhhabs.

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before being appointed which means they know the ruling for drinking and they in not way condone it, let alone be proud of it.

I know plenty of Muslims who go to mosque, won't touch pork, but will drink up a storm.

Quote
Quote
as they believe that Arab countries have got it all wrong.

However the haters may hate it, we don't have nationalism in Islam, we follow the consensus of the Nation's scholars. And a lot of the Nation's greatest scholars were from central Asia.

The Pan-Islamists would like to think so, but nationalisms have always been present: in the early days to convert you have to become the client of some Arab tribe (mawla), and many non-Arab Muslims were charged jizyah.

Quote
I hope you have some kind of evidence there (which we would love it if you could share it with us, e.g. a central-Asian-centrist school of jurisprudence
which allows drinking), and that you're not just making stuff up for there will come a day when you will be judged for every word your mouth uttered or your fingers typed.

The Bosnians drink plenty.  And I don't recalle the Turks being adverse to it either. On the other hand, I"ve known Muslims who will not drink out of glass, since alcohol may have been contained in it.
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« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2010, 06:18:29 PM »

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The Bosnians drink plenty.  And I don't recalle the Turks being adverse to it either.


Quite so. Where do you think raki comes from, Mekki?  Grin
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« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2010, 07:30:54 PM »

I witnessed a verbal fight between a Pakistani Muslim and a Arab Muslim ....The Arab kept calling the Pakistan muskeet and kaffer,hope i wrote the words correctly..... Grin

A shia Pakistanijan friend went to hadj in Mecca a few times,he mentioned that the Arabs are very prejudiced toward non arab muslims..... Grin
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 07:39:18 PM by stashko » Logged

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« Reply #33 on: July 13, 2010, 02:08:10 AM »

I think Shanghaiski said every that could be said, no need to delay the discussion any further.
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« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2010, 02:33:33 AM »

Here's Another Great Macedonijan Dance...reminds me of Greek dances.... Grin

http://www.youtube.com/v/SnFbVrThutU&hl=en_US&fs=1
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