Sufi & Wahhibi tensions surface in Georgia

Transitions Online reports on a growing generation gap between older followers of Sufism and younger, Saudi-educated, Muslims who espouse a form of Islam often refered to as Wahhibism and which is based on Sunni Islam, similar to that in Saudi Arabia.  Sufiism is a mystic form of Islam popular among the small ethnic groups of Kists that originate in the north Caucasus. The Kist communities are located in the Pankesi Gorge in the north of Georgia.

Tensions surfaced three months ago with the construction of a new mosque by the Jamaat congregation on the site of an earlier Sufi shrine. Speaking for the Jamaat congregation, Amur Khangoshvili, a 28-year-old imam in Duisi, told TOL, ‘We are against any recently emerged practices in Islam that the Prophet Muhammad didn’t mention.’

Eka Chianava, a journalist working for Liberali, visited the village of Duisi in October of 2008 and reported in her Catword blog that although the youth were turning away from the traditional Sufi form of Islam, there nevertheless appeared to be little tension at that time between the two Islamic groups.

The dominant presence of the new mosque and the dwindling size of the existing Sufi congregation in Duis, a little over 50, suggests that the ‘purist’ form of Islam espoused by the Jamaat congregation is the more likely to survive in the immediate future in this corner of Georgia. Similar tensions between ‘traditional’ and ‘Wahhibi’ forms of Islam exist  among the Islamic populations of the Balkan countries.

Explore posts in the same categories: Georgia, Islam

2 Comments on “Sufi & Wahhibi tensions surface in Georgia”

  1. catword Says:

    Thank you for your response but feel obliged to correct one mistake, the post which appeared on my blog on Fabruary 2010, actually was written much earlier on October, 2008. I just created my blog in 2010 and posted this story.
    For the second time I visited Pankisi a month ago and reported for the Liberali magazine.

    Thank you

  2. Thank you for this correction. We have corrected our earlier post.
    Darrell Jackson, Director.

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