Khezr, the Green Man, the Hidden Prophet, the trickster, the dream-master of all those seekers who need no other master. He drank the Waters of Life in Hyperborea and became immortal. He appears to lost travelers in the desert with water. He wears green. He might be the unknown face in any gathering. According to one version he is a water spirit, like one of the “Believing Djinn”, and wherever he walks flowers & herbs spring up in his footsteps. He should be considered the patron saint of Sufi eco-warriors – an Order should be founded in his name the Khezriyya; more militant than Greenpeace or Earth First!, but in defense of ecological agriculture as well as sacred wilderness.
– Hakim Bey,
Islam and Eugenics
Neo-Sufism arose in the 19th century in response to the corrupt authoritarian Sufism of colonial times and partly in response to colonialism itself. Anti-French resistance in Algeria was spearheaded by the great Emir Abdel Kader, guerilla chief and brilliant Sufi shaykh in the school of Ibn Arabi.
Neo-Sufis broke with the medieval concept of the all-powerful “master.” Instead, they sought initiation in dreams and visions. In North Africa, the Sanussi Order and the Tijani Order, amongst others, were founded by seekers who’d been empowered in dreams by the Prophet Mohammed himself.
The Neo-Sufi orders were also conceived and shaped to some extent as reform movements within Islam, in competition with modernism & secularism on one hand and Salafist/Wahhabi neo-puritan “Islamism” on the other. Education & health and economic alternatives to colonialism were stressed in the Sanussi Order in Libya. And when armed struggle against Italian rule erupted, Sanussi fuqara (dervishes) led the uprising.
After independence, the head of the Order became King Idris I. Young Moammar Qaddafi, born in a Sanussi village to Sanussi parents, attended a Sanussi elementary school and high school. In England for military training in the ‘60s, the young officer read Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and absorbed some New Left ideas, including “council communism” and the notion of the Spectacle. (See The Green Book, esp. the section on sports.)
– Hakim Bey,
Elsewhere in the Islamic world, however, Neo-Sufism largely failed to provide a paradigm for contemporary spirituality or politics. “Westernization” and its reactionary double “Islamism” have swept the field. The old Sufi ideals of tolerance, difference, cultural depth, the arts of peace — as the Tunisian poet Abdelwahab Meddeb asserts in The Malady of Islam (Basic Books, 2003) — are despised by both secular modernists and rabid neo-puritans.
Mebbed also points out that the Islamists by no means adhere to “anti-materialist values.” They adore technology and Capital as fervently as Westerners — provided it’s “Islamic” tech and “Islamic” money, of course.
The synthesis of mysticism and socialism, envisioned by anti-Capitalist/anti-Soviet thinkers of the ‘60s and ‘70s like Ali Shariati of Iran, or Col. Q himself, appears to be a lost cause — along with “third world socialism” in general, and “third world neutralism” as well. The very terms indicate their historical emptiness: how can there be a third world when the “second world” has imploded and vanished?
The conference in Tripoli turned out to be a curious circus of “lost causes,” including two anarchists from New York (we were cheered as heroes for defying the “travel ban”), countless African liberation fronts, the interesting French “New Right” philosopher Alain de Benoist and some Australian Red/Brown types, two charming Turkish Greens, a Slovenian anarchist, a clique of Parisian Maoists, etc., and a phalanx of hospitable Libyans, all fuelled by excessive coffee intake.
– Hakim Bey,