Boundaries, Structures, and Politics
An indispensable reader on the many manifestations of Sufi thought, practice and belief.
Sufism is a growing and global phenomenon, far from the declining relic it was once thought to be. This book brings together the work of fourteen leading experts to explore systematically the key themes of Sufism’s new global presence, from Yemen to Senegal via Chicago and Sweden.
The contributors look at the global spread and stance of such major actors as the Ba ‘Alawiyya, the ‘Afropolitan’ Tijaniyya, and the Gülen Movement. They map global Sufi culture, from Rumi to rap, and ask how global Sufism accommodates different and contradictory gender practices. They examine the contested and shifting relationship between the Islamic and the universal: is Sufism the timeless and universal essence of all religions, the key to tolerance and co-existence between Muslims and non-Muslims? Or is it the purely Islamic heart of traditional and authentic practice and belief?
Finally, the book turns to politics. States and political actors in the West and in the Muslim world are using the mantle and language of Sufism to promote their objectives, while Sufis are building alliances with them against common enemies. This raises the difficult question of whether Sufis are defending Islam against extremism, supporting despotism against democracy, or perhaps doing both.
Francesco Piraino is Marie Curie Fellow at KU Leuven and Acting Director of the Centre for Comparative Studies on Spiritualities and Civilisations at the Cini Foundation.
Mark Sedgwick is Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Aarhus University.