Revivalist Sufi order based in Libya and the central Sahara. Founded in 1841 by Muhammad ibn Ali al-Sanusi. Well known for its role in the resistance to French and Italian colonialism. Supported the right to jihad. Disapproved of excesses in ritual, such as dancing and singing. Its founder placed great emphasis on the role of Muhammad and on following his example. Its core supporters were Bedouin of Cyrenaica, although there were some urban lodges. In its early period, it promoted learning and piety among adherents. The tariqah had a strong work ethic, particularly with respect to the building and upkeep of lodges (zawiyahs) and development through agriculture. It became an important factor in the development of trans-Saharan trade. The French saw the Sanusis as an activist force and initiated hostilities against them in 1901; the Sanusis took up arms in response. The regional population fought the French in the name of and under the leadership of the brotherhood. The Sanusi leader also called for jihad and led a largely Bedouin force against Italian invaders. The ensuing struggle for control of Libya led to destruction of the organizational structure of Sanusi lodges. Muhammad Idris, the head of the order, was the first amir and king of the modern state of Libya; he was overthrown by Muammar Qaddafi in 1969. Most of the organization was destroyed in conflicts in Egypt, Chad, and Cyrenaica. The order is not tolerated in Libya today.
See also Salihi Tariqah; Sanusi, Muhammad Idris ibn al-Mahdi al-