– We believe that Islam is not just about reading the Quran and praying five times a day, it is about practicing how to be a good human being and helping the ones in need, says Kemo Ceesay, an active member of the Sufi movement in Sweden.
Sufism is a form of Islamic mysticism which focuses on seeking the truth about divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. In Sufism love is the answer to all misery, and hatred is haram (forbidden).
– As a Sufi you pray and meditate a lot, says Kemo. You don’t just follow the five pillars of Islam, you do a lot more. Loving your neighbors, sharing whatever you have with them and opening your heart and door to the ones who need love and a roof over their head are some examples of the things that Sufis do – and by neighbours I mean all human beings.
Kemo is born and raised in a Sufi family. As a teenager he didn’t take his religion seriously, but the older he got, his relationship to God and to Sufism improved. He came to Europe as a student and when he got a job in financial management with a Swedish company he decided to stay and live here and has now for many years been an active member of the Sufi movement in Sweden.
Providing money, food, a place to stay, engaging in homework sessions and having other social and fun activities, Kemo together with his other fellow Sufis have helped many immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees – newcomers – in Sweden in the past years. Their only partner so far has been ABF (The Workers’ Educational Association) in Sweden. ABF provides the Sufi movement in Stockholm with the venue for meetings, homework sessions and other educational and job searching programs.
– We aim to have our own place for our activities, also a temporary home for those in need, says Kemo. ABF gives us limited access to their facilities, the immigrants stay with us in our homes as long as they haven’t arranged their own place. And it is different how long they stay, depending on their situation. Some of them stay a few months, some of them half a year or more. Most of them come from Spain – some after staying in Italy for a while and getting rejected.
According to Kemo the problems that immigrants face in Sweden today are many, they help as much as they can, both socially and economically, but it is not always enough and more aid organisations are needed.
Besides the refugee’s issues, there are other, bigger, issues also that Sufis around the world are facing today. For instance, the lack of communication with the other Islamic groups. And when the Swedish government invites Islamic groups for meetings, Sufis are not invited, because they are not recognized as one of the Islamic branches.
– As civilized human beings, unity is what we need, says Kemo. Especially during this pandemic. By working together, respecting one another’s differences and listening to one another’s opinions, we can solve anything. All we need is love, not war. We should not reject others opinions just because we don’t like them. We don’t even have to like others, we can learn to accept others as they are and treat them equally – we can always try.
The Sufi community in Sweden are mostly people from Western Africa, but there are also some of Swedish, Spanish, Italian, English nationality.
One of their main focuses is fighting racism and discrimination. They prioritize helping people, mostly immigrants both inside and outside Europe, to get a job, giving them food, sharing love and doing whatever it takes to solve their problems and that way keep humanity alive.
– Because without our humanity we are no different than wild animals, Kemo says.
All the work is funded by the Sufi community itself. They have no state funding and there are no aid organisations who support them financially, they spend whatever they have in their own pockets for the love of God. In the way of God.
– What we do is for the sake of humanity and for the love of God, says Kemo. We don’t expect anything in return. We don’t want publicity or gratitude. All we want is to make sure that nobody feels left alone and hungry. Soon we the Sufis of Scandinavia will build a place where we will have our activities officially – a real platform for the Sufis of Europe.
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