Home | News    Tuesday 22 February 2005

Leading Sudanese Sufi Islamic leader dies

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KHARTOUM, Sudan, Feb 21, 2005 (AP) — Sheik Abdul-Rahim al-Buraei, a top Sufi Islamic cleric who wrote mystical poems and helped peace efforts in Sudan, has died at the age of 82, the government said.

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Abdul-Rahim al-Buraei

Al-Buraei, a leader of the mystical Sufi form of Islam, died Sunday and was buried in his hometown of Zariba, about 60 miles southwest of the capital, Khartoum.

State-run TV showed first vice president, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, weeping as he took part in the cleric’s funeral.

"The Sudanese nation has lost one of its pillars, a man who was a model to be copied in working for people’s interests," the Sudanese leadership said in a statement read on state-run radio and TV.

Born in 1923, al-Buraei became a follower of Sufism - Muslim mysticism that preaches moderation - and wrote many songs and poetry to convey Islam’s basic teachings and principles. His poems are commonplace on Sudan’s state-run airwaves.

He was known as a man who called for coexistence among the various Sudanese tribes and groups.

Al-Buraei, who became a sheik in 1944 after replacing his father, was one of the few religious leaders who met with exiled Sudanese rebel groups who had been fighting a 21-year civil war in southern Sudan. A peace treaty was signed in January.

"We are missing a man who had boosted peace efforts ... and encouraged everybody to reach a peaceful solution," said Yasser Arman, spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, in the Independent daily Al-Sahafa.

Al-Buraei had hosted hundreds of disciples from west and east Africa, as well as Sudanese seeking to study Islam’s holy book - the Quran - and other Islamic principles.

He was awarded at least two honorary doctorates from Sudanese universities for his role in spreading Sufism throughout Sudan and Africa.

Sudan’s Islamic-oriented government has accepted the Sufi movement after its leaders committed not to challenge the official use of Sharia — or Islamic law — in Africa’s largest country.

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