Sufis in France

Sufism is a mystical trend in Islam characterised by particular values, ritual practices, doctrines and institutions which began very early on in Islamic history. Several Sufi tariqas (communities) are present in France, which has a population of over 6 million Muslims. The core of Sufi practice is the dhikr, the remembrance of God, often performed after prayers. Dhikr is the remembrance of Allah through a specific devotional act, most commonly the repetition of divine names. This activity is normally practised behind closed doors, but since the rise of terrorism committed in the name of Islam some Sufis have decided to make themselves more conspicuous and publicly spread their message of peace.

Since 2011 I have been invited as a photographer to spiritual meetings among three tariqas which have large number of followers in France: the Alawiyas, the Boutchouchiyyas and the Naqshbandis. The leaders of these three communities joined in the Rassemblement Soufi de France, an association aiming to promote a culture of tolerance, dialogue and togetherness.

The leader of the Alawiyya community Sheikh Khaled Bentounes, who is very active in inter-religious dialogue, founded the Muslim Scouts of France and AISA NGO. The sheikh encourages Muslim youth to vote and participate in cultural and social activities, and his NGO is active in supporting the role of women in world peace. He has petitioned the UN to create a World Day of Living Together.

Alawiyya community prayer meeting in Artigues, France.By Philippe Lissac
Alawiyya community prayer meeting in Artigues, France.By Philippe Lissac
Young French Sufi praying during the Homage to Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Al Haqqani (leader of the Naqshbandi community until his death in 2014) at the Paris Great Mosque.By Philippe Lissac
Naqshbandi Sufis praying in their farmhouse, named Douce France (Sweet France).By Philippe Lissac
Sufi musician performing at the Paris Grand Mawlid. The mawlid (celebration of the prophet's birthday) and music are banned by fundamentalist Muslims.By Philippe Lissac
Naqshbandi Sufi whirling dervish performing the sama in Paris. A French convert, Omar performs the traditional Mevlevi dance during dikhr meetings.By Philippe Lissac
Naqshbandi Sufis bonding together in Nandy castle during the visit of their leader Sheikh Mehmet Adil al-Haqqani.By Philippe Lissac
Naqshbandi sufis bonding together in Nandy castle during the visit of their leader sheikh Mehmet Adil al-Haqqani.By Philippe Lissac
Meeting of Sufis at UNESCO Paris, organised by Sheikh Bentounes, who travels around the world to promote a culture of peace and fraternity.By Philippe Lissac
Sheikh Khaled Bentounes, spiritual guide of the Alawiyya community and founder of the Muslim Scouts of France, placing a sword in the eternal flame at the Arch of Triumph of Paris with two Muslim scouts.By Philippe Lissac
French Muslim girl scout and war veterans at the Arch of Triumph in Paris. By Philippe Lissac
French rap singer, writer and film maker Abd-al Malik, a member of the Qadiriyya Boutchichiyya community since 1999, performing in Paris.By Philippe Lissac

See Also

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zenith Photo Award 2017

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