Pilgrims of Love

The Anthropology of a Global Sufi Cult

January 2004 9781850656517 360pp


In Pilgrims of love, Pnina Werbner traces the development of a Sufi Naqshbandi order founded by a living saint, Zindapir, whose cult originated in Pakistan and has extended globally to Britain, Europe, the Middle East, and Southern Africa. Drawing on twelve years of fieldwork in Pakistan and Britain, she elucidates  the complex organisation of Sufi orders as regional and transnational cults, and examines how such cults are manifested through ritual action and embodied in sacred mythology and global diasporas. A focus of the study is the key event in the order’s annual ritual cycle, a celebration in which tens of thousands of people gather at the saint’s lodge in Pakistan and in streets in Britain

Werbner challenges accepted anthropological and sociological truths about Islam and modernity, and reflects on her own role as ethnographic observer. Pilgrims of Love is a major contribution to the understanding of diasporic Islamic practices, highlighting the vitality of Sufi orders in the postcolonial world.


‘This excellent book will be of interest not only to those concerned with Pakistan and the new Muslim presence in Europe, but also to those interested in an anthropological study of the region.’ — Barbara Metcalf, University of California, Davis

‘This is a sympathetic and finely observed narrative about the international development of a Sufi group or “regional cult”. … Werbner demonstrated the dynamism and indeed “modernity” of Sufi practices in a scholarly landscape dominated by the story of Sufism’s decay or reformation into something more akin to scripturalist Islam.’ — Faisal Devji, Oxford University


Pnina Werbner is Reader in Social Anthropology at Keele University. The author of many books, including Diaspora, Islam and the Millennium, she edits the 'Postcolonial Encounters' series, published by Zed Books.

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