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See below for a selection of the latest books from Sufism & Islamic mysticism category. Presented with a red border are the Sufism & Islamic mysticism books that have been lovingly read and reviewed by the experts at Lovereading. With expert reading recommendations made by people with a passion for books and some unique features Lovereading will help you find great Sufism & Islamic mysticism books and those from many more genres to read that will keep you inspired and entertained. And it's all free!
This book sheds light on the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship (BMF), one of North America's major Sufi movements, and one of the first to establish a Sufi shrine in the region. It provides the first comprehensive overview of the BMF, offering new insight into its historical development and practices, and charting its establishment in both the United States and Sri Lanka. Through ethnographic research, Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism shows that the followers of Bawa in the United States and Sri Lanka share far more similarities in the relationships they formed with spaces, Bawa, and Sufism, than differences. This challenges the accepted conceptualization of Sufism in North America as having a distinct Americanness , and prompts scholars to re-consider how Sufism is developing in the modern American landscape, as well as globally. The book focuses on the transnational spaces and ritual activities of Bawa's communities, mapping parallel shrines and pilgrimages. It examines the roles of culture, religion, and gender and their impact on ritual embodiment, drawing attention to the global range of a Sufi community through engagement with its distinct Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian followers.
The Masnavi is the six-volume masterpiece created by one of the world's greatest poetic geniuses, Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273). It is perhaps the single most influential piece of mystical writing ever conceived. Though the Persian poet Rumi is now hugely popular in the West, his most famous oeuvre still remains enigmatic. Alan Williams here offers a novel approach to reading and understanding this great jewel of world literature. Recognizing that all medieval and modern attempts to 'explain' the Masnavi have been based on an examination of its teachings, Williams shows that those who have tried to find the key to its message in its separate themes have had little success. He argues that the work can only be fully comprehended if the 'meaning' of the text is understood to lie in the poetry itself, in the language. The closely woven tapestry cannot be unwoven into prosaic explanation without losing the whole. The visionary poetic metaphors and devices are not the container for the teachings: they are the teachings. This revelatory unlocking enables Rumi's voice and purpose to become fully transparent.
In America today, online spaces serve as critical alternatives for tech-savvy Muslims seeking a place to root their faith, forge religious identity, and build communities. With a particular focus on the Inayati Order, a branch of the oldest Sufi community in the West, Robert Rozehnal explores the online revolution in internal communication, spiritual pedagogy, and public outreach - and looks ahead to the future of digital Islam in the age of Web 3.0.
Since the eighteenth century, adherence to Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, has been associated with membership in one of the Sufi brotherhoods. These brotherhoods constitute distinct religious communities within the general community of Islam. Jamil M. Abun-Nasr describes them as communities of grace because his readings in Sufi hagiographies have convinced him that divine grace is the central element of their system of beliefs. In his reconstruction of the development of the Sufi tradition, Abun-Nasr examines the emergence of Sufism's central tenets and the factors that account for their appeal to Muslims in different lands. Drawing on original Sufi sources, he contends that, in their formative period, Sufi tenets were shaped by the caliphs' inability to live up to the ideal the Prophet represented in the Muslim community: that political leadership was a subordinate function of religious guidance. He also contends that the Sufi brotherhoods' form of religious communalism emerged from the adaptation of the spiritual authority that Sufis ascribed to their leaders to the Muslims' major pious concerns. In the last two chapters Abun-Nasr examines the reaction of the Sufi brotherhoods' shaykhs to European colonial rule, the campaign directed against them by Muslim reformers of the Salafiyya school, and the reliance of the independent Muslim states' rulers on their support in counteracting the hostility of the Muslim reformers, as well as, since the 1970s, the Islamists, to their secular development plans.
What cannot be said about God, and how can we speak about God by negating what we say? Traveling across prominent negators, denialists, ineffectualists, paradoxographers, naysayers, ignorance-pretenders, unknowers, I-don't-knowers, and taciturns, Unsaying God: Negative Theology in Medieval Islam delves into the negative theological movements that flourished in the first seven centuries of Islam. Aydogan Kars argues that there were multiple, and often competing, strategies for self-negating speech in the vast field of theology. By focusing on Arabic and Persian textual sources, the book defines four distinct yet interconnected paths of negative speech formations on the nature of God that circulated in medieval Islamic world. Expanding its scope to Jewish intellectuals, Unsaying God also demonstrates that religious boundaries were easily transgressed as scholars from diverse sectarian or religious backgrounds could adopt similar paths of negative speech on God. This is the first book-length study of negative theology in Islam. It encompasses many fields of scholarship, and diverse intellectual schools and figures. Throughout, Kars demonstrates how seemingly different genres should be read in a more connected way in light of the cultural and intellectual history of Islam rather than as different opposing sets of orthodoxies and heterodoxies.
The figure of the shaman has always been a prominent motif within the Islamic world, particularly in relation to the mystical domain of Sufism. Here, Thierry Zarcone and Angela Hobart bring together a vigorous and authoritative exploration of the link between Islam and shamanism in contemporary Muslim culture, examining how the old practice of shamanism was combined with elements of Sufism in order to adapt to wider Islamic society. Shamanism and Islam thus surveys shamanic practices in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans, to show how the Muslim shaman, like his Siberian counterpart, cultivates personal relations with spirits to help individuals through healing and divination. Here, two different kinds of healers are examined: firstly, the shaman healers of Central Asia, which belong to several different traditions, and yet all have the common thread of mixing Islam - especially Sufism - with old religious practices. This 'Islamized shamanism', covering the geographic areas of modern-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, northern Afghanistan, the Turkoman province of Iran and the Uygur district of Xinjian province of China, is analysed through its rituals, represenations and modern manifestations. Secondly, the book explores the examples of healers from different parts of the Islamic world outside central Asia, from Iran to Turkey, and from Algeria to the suburbs of Paris. Using healing rituals that are extremely similar to those performed in Central Asian 'Islamised shamanism', Shamanism and Islam draws out the parallels that exist throughout the Islamic World, and the close relations between shamanism and Muslim mysticism. Exploring the complexities and variety of rituals, involving music, dance and, in some regions, epic and bardic poetry, demonstrating the close links between shamanism and the various arts of the Islamic world, this is the first in-depth exploration of 'Islamized shamanism'. It is thus a valuable contribution to the field of Islamic Studies, Religion, Anthropology, and an understanding of the Middle East more widely.
Women have traditionally played a vital part in Islam throughout Central Asia - the vast area from the Caspian Sea to Siberia. With this ground-breaking and original study, Razia Sultanova examines the experiences of Muslim women in the region and the ways in which religion has shaped their daily lives and continues to do so today. 'From Shamanism to Sufism' explores the fundamental interplay between religious belief and the cultural heritage of music and dance and is the first book to focus particularly on the role of women. Based on evidence derived from over fifteen years of field work, 'From Shamanism to Sufism' shows how women kept alive traditional Islamic religious culture in Central Asia, especially through Shamanism and Sufism, even under Soviet rule when all religion was banned. Nowhere was the role of women more important than in the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan, the cradle of female Islamic culture and a centre for women's poetry and music. This area is home to the 'Otin-Oy', a sisterhood of religiously educated women and members of Sufi orders, who take a leading part in rituals, marking the pivotal moments in the Islamic calendar and maintaining religious practices through music and ritual dances. Sultanova shows how the practice of Islam in Uzbekistan has evolved over time: long underground, there was a religious resurgence at independence in 1991, boosting national Uzbek identity and nationalism - 500 new mosques were built - only to be followed by a return to persecution by a repressive state under the banner of the 'war against terror'. Now events have come full circle, and once again covert worship by women remains crucial to the survival of traditional Muslim culture. Ritual and music are at the heart of Central Asian and Islamic culture, not only at weddings and funerals but in all aspects of everyday life. Through her in-depth analysis of these facets of cultural life within Central Asian society, 'From Shamanism to Sufism' offers important insights into the lives of the societies in the region. The role of women has often been neglected in studies of religious culture and this book fills an enormous gap, restoring women to their rightful historical and cultural context. It will be essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in the History or Religion of Central Asia or in Global Islam.
The twelfth century CE was a watershed moment for mysticism in the Muslim West. In al-Andalus, the pioneers of this mystical tradition, the Mu'tabirun or 'Contemplators', championed a synthesis between Muslim scriptural sources and Neoplatonic cosmology. Ibn Barrajan of Seville was most responsible for shaping this new intellectual approach, and is the focus of Yousef Casewit's book. Ibn Barrajan's extensive commentaries on the divine names and the Qur'an stress the significance of God's signs in nature, the Arabic bible as a means of interpreting the Qur'an, and the mystical crossing from the visible to the unseen. With an examination of the understudied writings of both Ibn Barrajan and his contemporaries, Ibn al-'Arif and Ibn Qasi, as well as the wider socio-political and scholarly context in al-Andalus, this book will appeal to researchers of the medieval Islamic world and the history of mysticism and Sufism in the Muslim West.
This book explores the organic lives of popular Sufi shrines in contemporary Northwest India. It traverses the worldview of shrine spaces, rituals and their complex narratives, and provides an insight into their urban and rural landscapes in the post-Partition (Indian) Punjab. What happened to these shrines when attempts were made to dissuade Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus from their veneration of popular saints in the early twentieth century? What was the fate of popular shrines that persisted even when the Muslim population was virtually wiped off as a result of migration during Partition? How did these shrines manifest in the context of the threat posed by militants in the 1980s? How did such popular practices reconfigure themselves when some important centres of Sufism were left behind in the West Punjab (now Pakistan)? This book examines several of these questions and utilizes a combination of analytical tools, new theoretical tropes and an ethnographic approach to understand and situate popular Sufi shrines so that they are both historicized and spatialized. As such, it lays out some crucial contours of the method and practice of understanding popular sacred spaces (within India and elsewhere), bridging the everyday and the metanarratives of power structures and state formation. This book will be useful to scholars, researchers and those engaged in interdisciplinary work in history, social anthropology, historical sociology, cultural studies, historical geography, religion and art history, as well as those interested in Sufism and its shrines in South Asia.
A pathbreaking history of Sufism, from the earliest centuries of Islam to the present After centuries as the most important ascetic-mystical strand of Islam, Sufism saw a sharp decline in the twentieth century, only to experience a stunning revival in recent decades. In this comprehensive new history of Sufism from the earliest centuries of Islam to today, Alexander Knysh, a leading expert on the subject, reveals the tradition in all its richness. Knysh explores how Sufism has been viewed by both insiders and outsiders since its inception. He examines the key aspects of Sufism, from definitions and discourses to leadership, institutions, and practices. He devotes special attention to Sufi approaches to the Qur'an, drawing parallels with similar uses of scripture in Judaism and Christianity. He traces how Sufism grew from a set of simple moral-ethical precepts into a sophisticated tradition with professional Sufi masters (shaykhs) who became powerful players in Muslim public life but whose authority was challenged by those advocating the equality of all Muslims before God. Knysh also examines the roots of the ongoing conflict between the Sufis and their fundamentalist critics, the Salafis-a major fact of Muslim life today. Based on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, Sufism is an indispensable account of a vital aspect of Islam.