Christopher Melchert proposes to historicize Islamic renunciant piety (zuhd). As the conquest period wound down in the early eighth century c.e., renunciants set out to maintain the contempt of worldly comfort and loyalty to a greater cause that had characterized the community of Muslims in the seventh century. Instead of reckless endangerment on the battlefield, they cultivated intense fear of the Last Judgement to come. They spent nights weeping, reciting the Qur’an, and performing supererogatory ritual prayers. They stressed other-worldliness to the extent of minimizing good works in this world. Then the decline of tribute from the conquered peoples and conversion to Islam made it increasingly unfeasible for most Muslims to keep up any such régime. Professional differentiation also provoked increasing criticism of austerity. Finally, in the later ninth century, a form of Sufism emerged that would accommodate those willing and able to spend most of their time on religious devotions, those willing and able to spend their time on other religious pursuits such as law and hadith, and those unwilling or unable to do either.
What is Sufism? Contemporary views vary tremendously, even among Sufis themselves. Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture brings to light the religious frameworks that shape the views of Sufism’s friends, adversaries, admirers, and detractors and, in the process, helps readers better understand the diversity of contemporary Sufism, the pressures and cultural openings to which it responds, and the many divergent opinions about contemporary Sufism’s relationship to Islam. The three main themes: piety, politics, and popular culture are explored in relation to the Islamic and Western contexts that shape them, as well as to the historical conditions that frame contemporary debates. This book is split into three parts: • Sufism and anti-Sufism in contemporary contexts; • Contemporary Sufism in the West: Poetic influences and popular manifestations; • Gendering Sufism: Tradition and transformation. This book will fascinate anyone interested in the challenges of contemporary Sufism as well as its relationship to Islam, gender, and the West. It offers an ideal starting point from which undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers and lecturers can explore Sufism today.
Based on university lectures at the New School for Social Research, New York, and the University of California, San Francisco, Neglected Aspects of Sufi Study deals with many of the problems of Sufic methods of study and those which militate against its effective progress in the modern world; notably the unrecognised assumptions which we make about ourselves and about learning and its process.
Presenting a political history and sociology of Moroccan Sufism from colonialism to the modern day, this book studies the Sufi model of Master and Disciple in relation to social and political life, comparing the different eras of acquiescent versus dissident Sufism. This comparative fieldwork study offers new perspectives on the connection between the monarchy and mystic realms with a specific coverage of the Boutchichi order and Abdessalam Yassine’s Al Adl Wal Ihsane, examining the myth of apolitical Sufism throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Drawing on Michel Foucault and James Scott, this book fuses thinking about the political dimension of Sufism, a "hidden transcript," involving power struggles, patronage and justice and its esoteric spiritual ethics of care. Addressing the lacuna in English language literature on the Boutchichi Sufi order in Morocco, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Islamic Studies, Comparative Politics and the MENA region.
Not revelation, but the accent, the flavor of revelation, this commentary offers a description or analysis of the mysteries at the heart of Sufi experience. The true study of Sufism does not begin in a book or in scholarly investigations because this is an inner pursuit, a path which lies within that must be examined experientially by anyone who has a hunger to know what must be known, and that translated means a hunger for God and His truth. Some talk of losing their faith, some talk of not being able to find their faith, but Sufis know faith is a given, it is already there, not something we can lose like an object, a toy, a set of keys, although we have to undertake the task of uncovering it, shining it up so that this faith can recognize the light of our original purity.
In this wide-ranging anthology of Sufi writings, Idries Shah, who was one of Sufism's leading exponents, offers a broad selection of poetry, contemplations, letters, lectures, and teaching stories that together form an illuminating introduction to this unique body of thought. Sufism, the mystical aspect of Islam, has had a dynamic and lasting effect on the literature of that religion. Its teachings, often elusive and subtle, aim at the perfecting and completing of the human mind. In contrast to certain other beliefs and philosophies, Sufism is continually evolving and progressing and is consequently always relevant to the contemporary world.
This book combines scholarly research into certain aspect of Sufi doctrines and history with a penetrating account of the spiritual and metaphysical message and significance of Sufism as a living spiritual tradition. In an original discussion, unlike anything that has appeared before in studies of Sufism, the author places special accent on the pertinence of Sufi teachings to the most acute contemporary problems. The book addresses itself to both the ever-increasing Western public interested in Sufism and to the Western-educated Muslim interested in his own spiritual heritage. Dr. Nasr draws on his intimate knowledge of the Sufi literature in Arabic and Persian as well as his first-hand knowledge of Sufi tradition itself to produce this further volume in his numerous studies on the different facets of Islam.
Insight into Life is the real religion, which alone can help man to understand Life.' Hazrat Inayat Khan The Sufis have been using carefully constructed stories for teaching purposes for thousands of years. Though on the surface these often appear to be little more than fairy or folk tales, the Sufis hold that they enshrine - in their charac...
Offering new perspectives on the relationship between Shi'is and Sufis in modern and pre-modern times, this book challenges the supposed opposition between these two esoteric traditions in Islam by exploring what could be called "Shi'i Sufism" and "Sufi-oriented Shi'ism" at various points in history. The chapters are based on new research in textual studies as well as fieldwork from a broad geographical areas including the Indian subcontinent, Anatolia and Iran. Covering a long period stretching from the early post-Mongol centuries, throughout the entire Safawid era (906–1134/1501–1722) and beyond, it is concerned not only with the sphere of the religious scholars but also with different strata of society. The first part of the volume looks at the diversity of the discourse on Sufism among the Shi'i "ulama" in the run up to and during the Safawid period. The second part focuses on the social and intellectual history of the most popular Shi'i Sufi order in Iran, the Ni'mat Allahiyya. The third part examines the relationship between Shi'ism and Sufism in the little-explored literary traditions of the Alevi-Bektashi and the Khaksariyya Sufi order. With contributions from leading scholars in Shi'ism and Sufism Studies, the book is the first to reveal the mutual influences and connections between Shi'ism and Sufism, which until now have been little explored.
Historical Dimensions and Comparative Perspectives
Author: Martin Fuchs
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG
Category: Social Science
This volume brings together key findings of the long-term research project ‘Religious Individualisation in Historical Perspective’ (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, Erfurt University). Combining a wide range of disciplinary approaches, methods and theories, the volume assembles over 50 contributions that explore and compare processes of religious individualisation in different religious environments and historical periods, in particular in Asia, the Mediterranean, and Europe from antiquity to the recent past. Contrary to standard theories of modernisation, which tend to regard religious individualisation as a specifically modern or early modern as well as an essentially Western or Christian phenomenon, the chapters reveal processes of religious individualisation in a large variety of non-Western and pre-modern scenarios. Furthermore, the volume challenges prevalent views that regard religions primarily as collective phenomena and provides nuanced perspectives on the appropriation of religious agency, the pluralisation of religious options, dynamics of de-traditionalisation and privatisation, the development of elaborated notions of the self, the facilitation of religious deviance, and on the notion of dividuality.