Human Rights

Sufi Muslims finally able to practice their rituals in Mosul after ISIS


Sufi Muslims in Mosul were banned from practicing their rituals in Mosul during ISIS' reign. However, after the liberation of the city, Sufis have been enjoying their freedom to practice their rituals in Mosul.

When the city of Mosul was under ISIS control, Sufi Muslims like many other minorities were not allowed to practice their faith as the group considered their practices heresy. In many of its propaganda videos and print, ISIS would declare the Sufi faith, scholars, and practices deviant and that punishing them is a must.

As a result, Sufism, its chants, and practices went underground during ISIS’ reign. “When ISIS entered this city in 2014, it prevented anyone from practicing their customs and they would kill anyone playing the tambourine or reciting poetry in praise of the Prophet Mohammed or anyone celebrating the Prophet’s birthday,” says Rami al-Abadi, a member of the Sufi Scholars’ Council.

However, with the defeat of ISIS in July 2017, Sufi customs and beliefs have become visible in the city once again. This year Sufis in Mosul are happy to be able to practice their customs without fear, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan, which they celebrate with congregating and chanting songs. “The songs praising the prophet talk of love and brotherliness to encourage love and brotherliness within the Moslawi community,” said Abdul Wahab al-Abbasi, a religious chanter. The Sufi ‘tariqas’ or paths are known to preach love, fraternity and acceptance for other’s religions, which leads them to believe that they have the most moderate belief when it comes to Islam.

“This is our way, Sufism is to act in moderation it is the moderate approach which Islam teaches,” says Sheikh Najmudeen Ghassoub, a Sufi cleric.

The city of Mosul has been known to be a city that is composed of many different ethnic and religious minorities. Sufi chanters made up a sizeable portion of the identity of Mosul. With their silencing by ISIS, the city lost the charm it once had.

However, after the city’s liberation and the return of these minorities back to their homes to practice their traditions and customs, there is hope for the city to go back to what it once was prior to ISIS invasion.