Non-Muslims often mistake Sufism as a sect of Islam.
Introduction As a popular and enduring mode of religiosity prevalent across Muslim societies past and present, Sufism has been a topic of natural interest to historians of the medieval Islamic world. At the same time, significant lacunae exist in present understandings of the develop- ment, place, meaning, and role of Sufism and its institutions in medieval Muslim societies.
As recently noted by a string of scholars, one of the major reasons for this is that research on Sufism produced in western academic discourse over the past century has tended to favor largely de-historicizing phenomenological approaches to the topic.
These approaches tend to yield little of direct interest to historians.
By taking into account larger questions concerning social, cultural, political, and economic life, Sufism has come to be seen as possessing wider import than it has in the past. Keeping this An overview of sufism mind, this article furnishes a broad schematic overview of basic issues concerning the development, place, meaning, and role of Sufism in medieval Muslim societies in relation to major historiographical and interpretive trends associated with recent western scholarship on the topic.
While boasting an impressive range of research which does, in more than a number of cases, intersect with the interests of researchers writing in European languages, scholarship on Sufism produced within the Muslim world falls outside the purview of this article. The first of these spanned the years — C.
The second spanned the years — C. This parallel chronology has typically been envisioned as falling into four discrete phases: In order to better outline the major interpretive models, trends, and developments attendant to western academic research pertaining to the wider subject of Sufism in medi- eval Muslim societies, this article will summarize the predominant characteristics associ- ated with each of these phases as they have been presented within the standard scholarly literature.
This movement combined ascetical piety with devotional and contemplative practices centered on the cultivation and analysis of mystical experience, and is known largely through a hodgepodge of logia, biographical anecdotes, and poetic fragments collected by later Sufis.
While all of these strains have been addressed independently in the scholarship to one degree or another, synthetic accounts concerning the wider dynamics attendant to this situation have only just recently begun to appear. Thus, the later part of this phase has often been characterized as a period of systematization and consolidation.
Given the critical role of the figures who emerged over the course of this phase in establishing Sufism as a recognizable presence in medieval Muslim societies, the literature of this period has been studied more extensively than that of the others, although overarching synthetic accounts remain few and far between.
The most predominant char- acteristic of this phase is the emergence of the so-called Sufi orders turuq; sing. Predicated on what is increasingly seen to be a decidedly ahistorical and unilinear trajectory of the development of the Sufi orders, the influential three-stage model proposed by J.
Whereas over the course of much of the preceding phase Sufism was primarily an elite phenomenon, from this point forward it would begin to develop mass appeal.
Due to their focus on interior experience and their generally tolerant attitudes towards localized expressions of religious diversity resulting from notions of metaphysical inclusivity, eminently adapt- able Sufi masters were able to provide the basis for a social order which simultaneously embraced and co-opted less flexible modes of socio-religious organization.
Despite a long history of unease in mixing worldly affairs with those of the spirit and a good deal of diversity in expressed attitudes towards engagement with the state amongst different Sufi communities,23 there are numerous examples of Sufis of this phase who were not only deeply involved in the poli- tics of their day, but who owned and administered extensive properties, married into powerful families, travelled with large retinues, and maintained visible relations with state officials.
Accounts of such situations are readily found in scholarship bearing upon the period, and show a clear potential to contribute to a wider understanding of socio-politi- cal forms obtaining in medieval Muslim societies.
Whether or not they were accepted as trained members of the learned religious class — and tensions between Sufis and the ulama were not unknown in any case25 — that such assertions served to endow Sufis with status and authority is well documented.
This phenomenon has been the subject of a number of recent studies in the context of several regional milieux. Hagiographies of all types, which were initially dis- missed or received only limited attention among earlier generations of scholars, have now been shown to be sources of profound significance for the study of Sufism in pre-modern Islamic societies generally.
For example, recent studies of antinomian Qalandar groups,30 the chivalric futuwwa fraternities,31 or mystically-inclined messianic movements32 show a clear potential for adding to our general understanding of Muslim social and religious life in the Later Middle Period.
The general acculturation of Sufism within Muslim societies during this period is also evinced in other arenas.Overview Sufism: A Short Introduction William C.
Chittick, the leading scholar in the field, offers a compelling insight into the origins, context, and key themes of this fascinating metin2sell.com: $ Sufism in Western Scholarship, a Brief Overview Atif Khalil and Shiraz Sheikh The academic study of Sufism in Western scholarship began more than two centuries ago.
Drawing on the work of Edward Said, Carl Ernst has demonstrated that it had its. Sufism (also spelled Sufiism) is a Muslim mystical movement in which its followers (called Sufis, fakirs, or dervishes) seek to find divine truth . The Sufism Reoriented Sanctuary in Walnut Creek, California was designed by the renowned architectural firm of Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie.
The sacred design includes marble clad concrete domes surrounded by contemplative gardens.
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