Feb 17, 2022

Spiritual abuse developing as issue in Muslim circles

Religion Watch
Volume 37 No. 3

The issue of spiritual abuse by Muslim leaders is being tackled by ground initiatives and organizations, similarly to what has been taking place in other religious traditions, writes journalist and novelist Hanan Sulaiman in Ahram Online (January 6). Some Sufi spiritual leaders in particular are being targeted by groups confronting spiritual and sexual abuse in Muslim environments, according to Sulaiman. “Sufi sheikhs would be found taking advantage of their followers, especially women, exploiting them financially and/or physically to the extent of sexual relationships.” She writes that these sheikhs would play with abused disciples’ fears about their salvation in order to keep them under control.

Sulaiman lists a number of initiatives against spiritual abuse, noting that they are all based in the West, despite the existence of abuse in Muslim-majority countries. These include the Hurma Project, founded by Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Chair of Islamic Studies at Huron University College in London, Canada, and Facing Abuse in Community Environments (FACE), which was formed in 2017 and is based in Texas. This organization wants to create a framework by which to address the leadership accountability gap within the U.S. and Canada. “Culturally, Arab Muslims tend to deny wrong-doings related to the practice of faith,” Sulaiman writes. More activist work is thus being done behind closed doors than in public. Sulaiman notes that the lack of any such initiative in Egypt is what drove her to write a novel on the topic, The Shepherd (available only in Arabic).

(Websites of initiatives confronting spiritual abuse among Muslims, with each providing various resources: Hurma Project, https://hurmaproject.com; In Shaykh’s Clothing, https://inshaykhsclothing.com; FACE, https://www.facetogether.org)


No comments: