1-2 of 2 Results

  • Keywords: Islamic mysticism x
Clear all

Article

Sufism in the Modern World  

Marcia Hermansen

Sufism, the mystical expression of the Islamic tradition, has been for centuries a major cultural, social, political, and, of course, religious influence in diverse Muslim cultures. With modernity Sufism has been subjected to increased criticism, and in some cases repression and violent hostility, on the part of certain Muslim opponents. From another direction, secularizing reformers such as President Kemal Atatürk (d. 1937) of Turkey view Sufism as a repository of decadent behaviors and superstitions that are incompatible with modern values and rationality. It is also noteworthy that, in response to internal and external reactions to violent extremism especially post-9/11, political leaders in Muslim majority countries such as Morocco and Pakistan have attempted to promote Sufism as a potentially moderating and peaceful influence and therefore encouraged it in their societies. This approach has also been promoted by Western political interests that present Sufism as a moderating counter to violent extremism. These latter examples highlight the importance of the modern nation-state as it engages with Sufism and its institutions, especially in the postcolonial period. Pre-modern forms of Sufism emphasized pledging allegiance (bay‘a) to a spiritual master and affiliating with a Sufi order (Arabic: ṭarīqa, pl. ṭuruq). Being part of a Sufi order was thus a communal, as well as a personal, commitment, and the hierarchy and sense of belonging they entailed led the orders to play an important social, and in some cases, political role. With modernity, esoteric elements of Sufi thought, as well as traditional folk practices of making vows and faith healing, along with earlier social forms of clientage and patronage, have become less relevant in increasingly urban environments. Some scholars of Sufism have therefore characterized the modern era as a time of decline and degeneration in Sufi social and political influence, as well as in Sufi intellectual production and literary and artistic creativity. However, expectations that Sufism is on the wane are challenged by observations of how Sufis have adapted to changing circumstances in modernity, both in Muslim-majority societies and in the West. For example, some scholars document a Sufi renewal involving the rise of charismatic teachers and practices and the reach of new global networks. Sufi teachings are promoted through Internet sites and social media, while today’s Sufi teachers may draw on 20th century Western psychological frameworks to explain the spiritual and therapeutic impact of Sufi practices on individuals. Meanwhile Sufi ideas are disseminated to broader publics through music videos, conferences, and other cultural events, such that Sufism in these new configurations continues to inspire significant, if more diffuse, loyalties, both locally and globally. In an age of networking and social mobility, flows of individuals and ideas have created new transnational spheres for the influence and impact of Sufism. At the same time local conditions vary considerably in shaping its diverse contemporary expressions and adaptations.

Article

Sufi Communities in Secular Mexico  

Lucía Cirianni Salazar

The emergence of an organized presence of Sufi communities in Mexico dates to the last two decades of the 20th century. Sufis constitute a part of Mexico’s minority Muslim community. Their groups are mostly made of Mexican and other Latin American converts who follow the leadership of Western sheikhs, who themselves converted to Islam and were initiated into Sufi orders as adults. These characteristics shape many of the particularities of Mexican Sufi communities and their relationship to the Sufi orders from which they originated. The oldest and most established Sufi community in Mexico is the Nur Ashki Jerrahi order, an offshoot of the Turkish Halveti-Jerrahi order. The second community of Sufi Muslims to have been established in Mexico is the Murabitun community, a branch of the Murabitun World Movement that settled in the southern state of Chiapas in 1995. Apart from these two larger communities, other Sufi orders have representatives in Mexico who guide smaller groups of followers. Some Sufi groups in Mexico have combined traditional gatherings with commercial activities, especially in the form of workshops and alternative therapeutic services that are advertised as being based on Sufi concepts and ritual practices. These groups have also offered intellectual approaches to Sufism, such as reading circles and seminars. By considering groups whose Sufi dimension has been overlooked, either because they are secular communities or because they are organizations focused on social transformation with little or no mystical emphasis, scholars can query the conventional Western construal of Sufism as Islamic mysticism.