Sufis in Tripoli can again celebrate Prophet's birthday

North Africa

Extremist groups previously active in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, had banned celebrations of the Prophet Muhammad. The Sufis are now celebrating the holy day freely.

The Sufi Muslim population in the capital of Libya, Tripoli, has been finally able to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, after being banned from practicing their religious rituals for over four years. The “Mystical Marches” that the Sufi’s carry out during this celebration period were forbidden in the city as a result of extremist groups who see these practices as ‘bidah’ or innovation. However, since relative stability has returned to the city, Sufis have been free to practice their rituals without fear.

“I could not do this before, but not because I was a coward or afraid of being shot,” said a Sufi man participating in the celebrations. “I was afraid that a crazy person would come with an explosive belt and blow himself up in the middle of the people gathered, these good simple people who came with their true emotions.”

Violence against Sufi Muslims and other Muslim groups that celebrate the birth of the prophet or the “Mawlid” has been perpetrated by different extremist organisations in the past few decades. Recently in the city of Kabul in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed at least 50 people attending a mawlid ceremony.

However, in Libya, the security situation has improved, allowing citizens to revive this holiday.

“This is clear evidence that the Libyan people in the city of Tripoli feel safe. All groups of the society came out today to hold a blessed annual celebration,” said Fayez al-Sarraj, the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), who also attended the ceremony. “Every day the situation will improve, God willing.”

Muslims from all walks of life came out to celebrate the occasion, expressing their happiness at the revival of this tradition and the improvement of their city’s situation.

“There is a psychological comfort; it’s a beautiful tradition within our customs and traditions in Libya,” said one of the attendees.