An Introductory Study of the "Al Sanusiya" Movement and its Thoughts
al-Sanūsī, in full Sīdī Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Sanūsī (born c. 1787, Tursh, near Mostaganem, in northern Africa—died September 7, 1859, Jaghbūb, Cyrenaica), North African Islamic theologian who founded a reformist Sufi movement, the Sanūsiyyah, which helped Libya win its independence in the 20th century.
During his formative years in his native Tursh (now in Algeria), which was incorporated in the Ottoman Empire, al-Sanūsī observed the corruption of the Ottoman administrators. To continue his religious studies, in 1821 he went to Fès, Morocco. Morocco was then nominally independent but actually a colony of France. Al-Sanūsī’s experiences under foreign rule and his observation of the inherent weakness of the Islamic states convinced him of the need for a revitalized Islamic community.
The Sanūsiyyah became popular among the tribes of Cyrenaica. In the 20th century, under the leadership of al-Sanūsī’s grandson Idris, the Sanūsiyyah spearheaded the liberation movement against Italian colonization. After Libya gained independence, Idris ruled Libya as king from 1951 to 1969.