Rifai Tariqah

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Sunni Sufi order that played an important role in the institutionalization of Sufism; until the fifteenth century it was the most prevalent order. Ahmad ibn Ali al-Rifai's (d. 1182) disciples are largely responsible for its promulgation outside southern Iraq. New orders branched out, the most important of which were the Badawi, Dasuqi, and Alwani. Although found elsewhere, the Rifai order is most significant in Turkey, southeastern Europe, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq, with a nascent presence in the United States. In Turkey Kenan Rifai (d. 1950) was a Rifai shaykh whose circle included many highly cultured and educated Turks, including women and Christians; he taught a Sufism of universal love. In southeastern Europe the Rifai order has been recently active in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Yugoslavia. Currently at least three Rifai branches are active in the United States: that of Shaykh Taner Vargonen, based in northern California; that of Mehmet Catalkaya (Serif Baba) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and New York City; and another also located in New York. The Rifai order exhibits a wide variety of practices and teachings that have not been adequately studied.

Subjects: Islam.

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