Islam / Orientations/ Sufism /
Other spellings: Sanussi, Senusi, Senussi, Sanusiya, Sanusiyya, Sanusiyah, Sanusiyyah
Incorrect spellings include the use of 'nn' or replacing one of the 's' with 'z'
The order was founded by Sidi Muhammad ibn Ali as-Sanusi in 1843 in Cyrenaica. As-Sanusi had been the head of Khadirite order during a longer stay Mecca and Sanusi may be seen as related to the Khadirite order.
The Sanusi theology involved that every human being should pass through hierarchies of worlds. Members should aim at communication with Muhammad in their waking hours, praying to God to be united with Muhammad.
Activities of the Sanusi did not involve rituals to create ecstasy through music and dancing like it was done with other Sufi orders. But exactly how their rituals were performed is not well known, the Sanusi have always been very secretive towards outside observers.
The Sanusi taught that Muslims may take independent initiatives in legal matters, making the order powerful in legal and political matters.
The Sanusi order is noted mostly for its missionary activities among non-Muslim peoples in Sahara and Central Africa, as well as its involvement in Libyan politics. Early on they were able to establish governance in an area beyond the control of powers like the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans exempted the order from taxation, and allowed them to tax its supporters. A large part of the followers of the Sanusi leaders were not involved in Sufism themselves.
Early in the 20th century, the head of the Sanusi at that time, and the grandson of Muhammad ibn Ali, Idris, became the first, and only, king of Libya.