Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture 2017035714, 9781138687288, 9781138687301, 9781315542379

317 38 27MB

English Pages [292] Year 2018

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture
 2017035714, 9781138687288, 9781138687301, 9781315542379

Table of contents :
Cover
Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedication
Table of Contents
List of figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Contextualizing the production of knowledge on contemporary Sufism in the West
PART I Sufism and anti-Sufism in contemporary contexts
2 Heart or heresy? The historical debate over Sufism’s place in Islam
3 Contesting Sufism today: Contemporary Sufi and anti-Sufi responses
PART II Contemporary Sufism in the West: Poetic influences and popular manifestations
4 Sufism in the eyes of the West: Colonialists, Romantics, and Transcendentalists
5 The era of Rumi: Contemporary Sufism and popular culture
PART III Gendering Sufism: Tradition and transformation
6 Perfecting the self: Female Sufi saints in Islamic history
7 “Women of light”: Contemporary female Sufi leaders
8 Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity and complementary contradictions in contemporary Sufism
Index

Citation preview

CONTEMPORARY SUFISM

What is Sufism? Contemporary views vary tremendously, even among Sufis themselves. Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture brings to light the religious frameworks that shape the views of Sufism’s friends, adversaries, admirers, and detractors and, in the process, helps readers better understand the diversity of contemporary Sufism, the pressures and cultural openings to which it responds, and the many divergent opinions about contemporary Sufism’s relationship to Islam. The three main themes: piety, politics, and popular culture are explored in relation to the Islamic and Western contexts that shape them, as well as to the historical conditions that frame contemporary debates. This book is split into three parts: • • •

Sufism and anti-Sufism in contemporary contexts; Contemporary Sufism in the West: Poetic influences and popular manifestations; Gendering Sufism: Tradition and transformation.

This book will fascinate anyone interested in the challenges of contemporary Sufism as well as its relationship to Islam, gender, and the West. It offers an ideal starting point from which undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers, and lecturers can explore Sufism today. Meena Sharify-Funk is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religion and Culture Department at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. William Rory Dickson is Assistant Professor of Islamic Religion and Culture at the University of Winnipeg, Canada. Merin Shobhana Xavier is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ithaca College, USA.

CONTEMPORARY SUFISM Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture

Meena Sharify-Funk, William Rory Dickson and Merin Shobhana Xavier

First published 2018 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2018 Meena Sharify-Funk, William Rory Dickson and Merin Shobhana Xavier The right of Meena Sharify-Funk, William Rory Dickson and Merin Shobhana Xavier to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Sharify-Funk, Meena, author. | Dickson, William Rory, 1979, author. |Xavier, Merin Shobhana, author. Title: Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture / Meena Sharify-Funk, William Rory Dickson and Merin Shobhana Xavier. Description: New York : Routledge, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017035714| ISBN 9781138687288 (hardback) | ISBN 9781138687301 (pbk.) | ISBN 9781315542379 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Sufism. | Islam and culture.Classification: LCC BP189.S444 2018 | DDC 297.409/051--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017035714 ISBN: 978-1-138-68728-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-138-68730-1 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-54237-9 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Sunrise Setting Ltd, Brixham, UK

For Abdul Aziz Said, who taught generations of students that “the whole is reflected in its diverse parts and from its parts the information of the whole can be constructed. The total is greater than the parts but only when the parts are taken into account.” He is also known for saying, “When we empathize with each other, we discover that human life or the human predicament is so similar in its deeper significance and issues, whatever our society, religion, culture, or gender. When we begin to empathize we also start to learn the patterns of human connection. For the whole world needs the whole world.”

CONTENTS

List of figures Acknowledgments Introduction 1

Contextualizing the production of knowledge on contemporary Sufism in the West

ix x xiii

1

PART I

Sufism and anti-Sufism in contemporary contexts 2 3

33

Heart or heresy? The historical debate over Sufism’s place in Islam

35

Contesting Sufism today: Contemporary Sufi and anti-Sufi responses

62

PART II

Contemporary Sufism in the West: Poetic influences and popular manifestations 4 5

99

Sufism in the eyes of the West: Colonialists, Romantics, and Transcendentalists

101

The era of Rumi: Contemporary Sufism and popular culture

140

viii Contents

PART III

Gendering Sufism: Tradition and transformation

183

6

Perfecting the self: Female Sufi saints in Islamic history

185

7

“Women of light”: Contemporary female Sufi leaders

213

8

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity and complementary contradictions in contemporary Sufism

245

Index

262

FIGURES

7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4

Cemalnur Sargut Hoca at one of her many public speaking events Shaykha Nur Artiran at the Şefik Can International Mevlana Education and Culture Foundation Devi Tide, Head and Vice President of the Sufi Healing Order of North America, Australia, and New Zealand Shaykha Fariha Friedrich leads dhikr at the Masjid al-Farah in Manhattan, NY

217 217 218 220

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

One need not revisit the works of Plato to affirm that dialogue is among the most foundational purposes of the academy – dialogue not just as a method of inquiry but also as a living encounter of seekers after knowledge and understanding. At its best the modern academy emulates this classical purpose, offering a space where scholars can come together to be in meaningful relationship and to sustain conversation over subjects of shared significance. This book is an expression of this tradition, and represents the culmination of countless conversations over many years – conversations not just among the co-authors themselves but also with mentors who have themselves modeled what it means to be in relationship and in dialogue, and to produce scholarly work through collaboration with others. The authors are deeply thankful for this example, and for the opportunity to be part of this collaborative, dialogical tradition. Meena Sharify-Funk is grateful to have learned this approach to scholarship while working with her graduate school mentor Abdul Aziz Said, and to have had the opportunity to carry it forward in her work with William Rory Dickson and Merin Shobhana Xavier. Professor Said, who taught generations of students that “the whole world needs the whole world,” modeled dialogue as a path to mutual learning, discovery, and insight not just through his many co-authored works but also in his dynamic seminar classrooms and manner of engaging each new visitor to his office. Meena is forever indebted to his Mesopotamian spirit and heart. She also would like to convey her deep gratitude to her Beloved parents, Nancy Sharify and Majdeddin Sharifi-Hosseini whose love and unending support enabled Meena to dream the life she is honored to live. Meena also humbly bows to her dear brother, Robert, for believing in her as a writer. She will never forget, after sharing her first poem with Robert around the age of 8, how he looked at her with big astonished eyes and a loving heart then affirmatively said, “You wrote this!?!” Meena would also like to acknowledge the following beautiful and equally

Acknowledgments xi

brilliant friends and colleagues: Hamil Tavernier, Judi Barber, Srimati Kamala, Srimati Karuna, Yvonne Seng, Michel Desjardins, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Peter Mandaville, Ayse Kadayifci, and Margarita Pareja-Stoyell. William Rory Dickson would like first to thank Meena Sharify-Funk for her ever-inspiring mentorship, beginning as his graduate school supervisor and continuing to the present. Rory is grateful that Professor Sharify-Funk has kindly shared Professor Said’s path of dialogos with him, and is deeply honored to be included in such a wonderful and enriching tradition of scholarship. Meena’s Shirazi spirit continues to inspire him to explore the horizons. Rory is grateful to his parents, Bev and Kevin Dickson, for their amazing support and good cheer over the years, and he feels remarkably lucky to have them. Special thanks go to Professor Carlos Colorado for intrepid guidance and support as Rory’s Department Chair at the University of Winnipeg. Rory is grateful for the friendship, travel, and collaborations with Merin Shobhana Xavier, Rachel Brown, Zabeen Khamisa, Amarnath Amarasingam, Naniece Ibrahim, and Sharanpal Ruprai, all of whom enrich his life profoundly. Merin Shobhana Xavier extends her gratitude to her graduate school mentor, Meena Sharify-Funk. Meena’s focused cultivation of her student’s whole being and her boundless energy continues to amaze Shobhana, and she is honored to share this journey with her. Shobhana also thanks William Rory Dickson, who has been a notable intellectual partner and collaborator in thinking and writing about Sufism, not only in this project but also in many others. She is deeply indebted to Meena and Rory for what they have taught her about Sufism not only through the dialogos but also through constant laughter. Special thanks are due to friends and colleagues: Leanne Roncolato, Mike Martell, Alex Roomets, Zabeen Khamisa, and Amarnath Amarasingam and Maxie, Shane, Atlas, and Will Bai Martin. Shobhana also honors the resilient women in her family, especially her mother, Suganthy, who escaped a civil war with her young girls in her arms, and her sisters Reaka and Majura (Akka) – their resolve continues to be a source of courage and strength in her own life. Shobhana thanks the faculty members in the Department of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College, especially the Department Chair John Modern, for their sustained support during her time there. And last but not least, Shobhana (Chithi) is most grateful to Nila Mohan, whose arrival during the completion of this book ignited in her a new sense of wonder, love, and imagination. All three authors are indebted for the great support and guidance to the many wonderful colleagues at Routledge Publishers such as Andrew Weckenmann, Robert Langham, Sophie Rudland, and Eve Mayer. In particular, we are grateful to Sarah Gore for all her brilliant assistance and for helping us to bring this book to fruition.The authors are also indebted to the wonderful copy-editors Karen Greening and Pat Baxter. All three authors would also like to thank wholeheartedly the four female Sufi leaders who graciously provided their thoughts for this book: Shaykha Nur Artiran, Shaykha Fariha Friedrich, Cemalnur Sargut Hoca, and Devi Tide. We also would like to thank Selcuk Cemoglu, Abdul Rahim, and Canguzel Guner Zulfikar for assisting in communicating with these teachers respectively. Our gratitude also goes

xii Acknowledgments

out to Kabir Helminski for introducing us to Nur Artiran and Ayse Kadayifci for introducing us to Cemalnur Sargut. We are also grateful for Jan Potter’s assistance in connecting us to Devi Tide, for helping us understand the role of women in the Inayati Order, and for offering productive insights that have enriched the text. Thank you, Jan, for your kind wisdom and guidance. There are not enough words to describe the authors’ gratitude toward Nathan C. Funk who has been a beautiful host, conversation partner, and editor.The authors would also like to thank Mikael, for sharing his love, kindness, and joyful diversions from the stress induced by scholarly deadlines. We love you, Mikael! Elysia Guzik was instrumental in the completion of this manuscript. We thank you, Elysia, for all of your fine-detailed editorial comments and unwavering support. Ultimately, we are unable to express enough gratitude to all those who have helped us throughout our lives and in the development of this book. Its faults and limitations are truly our own.

INTRODUCTION

The kaleidoscopic diversity of Sufism’s contemporary expressions defies easy definition. Sufism today is a lucrative resource for tourism and an embattled quest for a sense of the sacred that transcends boundaries of religion, ethnicity, and gender. Sufism can be discovered as a popular form of poetry in Western bookstores, on smartphone apps, and in pithy quotations on social media, or it can be excavated in the history of Islamic anti-colonial resistance movements. Contemporary views, from inside and outside of Sufism, vary tremendously. On the one hand, Sufism is often a form of universal spirituality that is in harmony with diverse cultural outlooks and personal aspirations. On the other hand, Sufism has been, and continues to be, highly contested as an expression of Islam. Muslim attitudes vary from strong affirmation of Sufism as the heart of Islamic faith and piety to the negation of Sufism as a form of infidelity. As a result of these highly divergent readings of Sufism, complex dynamics are unfolding simultaneously. Classical Sufi poets such as Jalaluddin Rumi (d. 1273) and Shamsuddin Hafiz (d. 1390) have attained iconic status in spiritual and literary circles of North America and Europe, even as radical Muslim political groups denounce formerly mainstream forms of devotional spirituality as saint worship and destroy Sufi shrines in South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. Turkey, like many other contexts, illustrates the contested nature of contemporary Sufism. For instance, many urban Muslim professionals in Turkey are rediscovering Sufism as an alternative to both conventional secularism and traditionally patriarchal forms of religious practice. Meanwhile, visitors to Turkey often return home with tokens of Sufism, such as little statuettes of Sufi “whirling dervishes.” There is a certain irony in Sufism’s popularity as a symbol of Turkish culture, as Sufi orders remain officially banned in the country, a carryover of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s (d. 1938) sweeping secularization of Ottoman society. Sufi orders were integral to the Ottoman imperial state and military structures, in addition to the

xiv Introduction

empire’s cultural and intellectual traditions. Hence, Sufism was something that Ataturk believed needed to be abandoned and even repressed for Turkey’s modernization to be effective. Nevertheless, Sufism has been recognized by Turkish officials as a popular cultural heritage that acts as a ready source of tourism income, making the whirling dervish a contemporary Turkish icon. Sufis continue to operate in Turkey, though they often register as cultural organizations or centers of religious dialogue to avoid the legal problems associated with the official ban on Sufi orders. Just as Turkish Sufis are associated in the popular imagination with dance – colloquially described as “whirling” or “turning,” – so too has dance been a key signifier of contemporary Sufism in a host of other contexts ranging from America to Pakistan. In the San Francisco Bay Area countercultural scene of the late 1960s, Sufis were readily associated with a troupe of “Sufi dancers” and a “Sufi choir” that performed widely in the region. Led by “spiritual teacher of the hippies” Samuel Lewis (d. 1971) – or “Sufi Sam” as his young followers called him – the Sufi “Dances of Universal Peace” were something of a fixture in the Bay Area. Sufi dancers and singers, utilizing chants from a variety of religious traditions (including some of the Arabic Names of God or asma’ al-husna), performed at Grateful Dead concerts and were featured in the psychedelic–spiritual scene that characterized so much of the Bay Area youth culture during that era. Some scholars have noted the contrast between the Sufi dancers of the 1960s and more orthodox Muslim Sufis. And yet the eclectic dancing of Sufi Sam’s followers finds some parallels with similar phenomena in Muslim-majority contexts, such as the weekly dance known as the dhamaal at the shrine of Lal Shabaz Qalandar (d. 1275) in Sindh, Pakistan. For centuries, the dhamaal has welcomed all, and the shrine courtyard where the ritual takes place is a space where identities of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion coalesce: women and men, Muslim and Hindu, all whirl together to the growing intensity of the drum. In a time of reactionary extremes, such spaces seem to draw the hatred of those tied to a monolithic vision of religion and identity. Tragically, the shrine was struck by an ISIS suicide bomber in February 2017.1 The attack killed many men, women, and children, illustrating the danger Sufis and their spaces face in many Muslim-majority settings, which are fraught with sectarian tension, outside military intervention, and reactionary militancy. Such incidents further highlight the violence so often associated with anti-Sufi movements. It is not only anti-Sufi movements that threaten Sufism: arguably the structural changes wrought by modernity itself make the disappearance of certain Sufi expressions an almost foregone conclusion. Lal Shabaz Qalandar, for example, is named after the wandering Sufi mendicants known as Qalandars from the classical era – Sufis who reject social conventions and respectability. The Qalandars frequently contravened orthodox sensibilities while maintaining that their wandering and ascetic lifestyle represented a deeper expression of the soul’s utter intoxication with God. The integration of traditional landscapes into the systems of the modern economy has often meant the disappearance of wandering dervishes like the Qalandars; highways, suburbs, and shopping malls seem to offer less space for such lifestyles than the forest paths and villages of agrarian economies. Their stories told

Introduction xv

to local children are replaced by satellite television and social media, while their traditional wisdom and healing are replaced by popular televised preachers and modern medical systems. Dance has proven to be an enduring expression of Sufi teachings in its varied geographies and temporalities, and yet contemporary Sufism is not limited to embodied forms of dynamic meditation and celebration. Sufism has also been at the heart of Islamic movements that were formed to offer military resistance to European invasions throughout Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia during the 19th century. The colonial projects of the British and French empires have had a significant impact on the history of Muslim societies and hence Sufism, including its contemporary forms, cannot be understood apart from this impact. Surprising traces of this colonial-era legacy of European invasion and Sufi military resistance can be found in the American Midwest, in Iowa. There, we find the town of Elkader, the only town in America named after an Arab and a Sufi. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri (d. 1883) was a Sufi leader and head of the Algerian military resistance against the French invasion of the 1830s. He rose to global fame due to his remarkable success on the battlefield, despite being significantly outgunned by the modern French military, in addition to his qualities of chivalry and generosity. He was ever willing to engage in prisoner exchanges and truces, and ensured the humane treatment of French captives. ‘Abd al-Qadir became a hero not only to Algerians and Muslims but even to Americans, who read about his exploits in popular magazines, and who shared a cultural memory of their own fight against a European empire with the American Revolution. After his French capture and exile to Damascus, however, ‘Abd al-Qadir’s fame truly came into its own. Anti-Christian riots broke out, and ‘Abd al-Qadir requested French arms to help protect local Christians, working to safely channel thousands to safety. When he died, The New York Times lamented the loss of “one of the foremost of the few great men of the century.”2 Considering his popularity among Americans, it is perhaps not surprising that an American town was named after ‘Abd al-Qadir. His legacy, as in all of these other examples, brings us to the crossroads of contemporary Sufism and its many complexities. What is the relationship of Sufism to colonization, and to the residue of colonialism in contemporary times? What are the interpretative debates over Sufism and Islamic authenticity, and to what extent have they changed in modern contexts? What are the varied understandings of universalism within Sufi traditions? How has the contemporary practice of Sufism been shaped by the rise of anti-Sufi movements among Muslims? What are some ways in which non-Muslims have encountered and understood Sufi traditions through texts? What sense can be made of Western cultural reactions to Sufi texts, particularly in the form of poetry, from Hafiz in the 18th century to Omar Khayyam (d. 1131) in the 19th century, and Rumi in the present day? How is contemporary Sufism gendered? How does this gendering manifest both continuity with and the transformation of past traditions surrounding spiritually authoritative female Sufis, and reflect understandings of metaphysical realities?

xvi Introduction

Emerging as a variety of Muslim ascetic, devotional, and esoteric practices in the 9th and 10th centuries, Sufism is often described as Islamic mysticism or spirituality. Traced to teachings given by the Prophet Muhammad to his closest companions, including the hidden meaning of the Qur’an, Sufism first took shape in small circles of seekers.These circles gradually developed into larger communities, in places such as Khorasan and Baghdad. Later, Sufism took more formal expression through an expanding system of orders, saints, and shrines, together with literature of mystical philosophy and poetry, that would define the classical Islamic tradition and shape medieval Muslim empires. However, Sufism’s centrality during the classical period of Islamic history stands in marked contrast to its current ambiguous (and in many contexts, fraught) place within the larger contemporary Islamic paradigm. “Contemporary” can mean either of the same time or of the current time. We use the term here to refer to Sufism today, in the 21st century, but also in reference to the contemporary or modern period, which for the purposes of this book we consider as beginning in the mid-18th century. This was a time when European powers began their expansion into central Islamic lands, inaugurating a new era in Islamic history, one that was marked by Muslim engagement with and responses to new European-derived modes of economy, state, science, and technology. It is our contention that the contemporary cannot be adequately grasped without an understanding of how current trajectories have their roots in past developments that continue to reverberate in our own time. Contemporary Sufism, then, is defined by a) its perpetuation of classical Sufi principles and practices, and b) its vernacularization of these principles and practices in light of contemporary contexts and historical circumstances.

The structure of this book The book begins by providing a genealogical overview of the production of knowledge on contemporary Sufism. We offer a survey of the field as reflected in the English-language scholarship, produced largely in Europe and more recently in North America. Following this introductory overview, the work is divided into three main sections, which are thematic in nature. Although we could have selected a variety of dynamics shaping the contemporary expressions of Sufism, we have chosen three that have been formative to the global transformations taking place in Sufism today. First, we consider Sufism’s relationship to Islam and the development of antiSufi interpretive movements. Western observers frequently find themselves befuddled by intra-Muslim tensions and conflicts. This section explains one of the most important tensions that is currently playing out in Muslim societies: the contestation over Islamic authenticity by pro- and anti-Sufi Muslims. This section further unpacks the historical forces that set the stage for the current debate, focusing on the rise of a variety of movements that oppose Sufism, to varying degrees, including the 19th-century Salafiyya in the Middle East. The focus then shifts toward Islam’s most sustained and influential anti-Sufi theology, Wahhabism.

Introduction xvii

The second section of the book explores the relationship between Sufism and the West. It first situates the backdrop of the European encounter with Sufism during the colonial period, especially as Europeans were attracted to Persian poetic traditions and to devotional practices such as those of the whirling dervishes.These initial European encounters with Sufism resulted in the perception that it did not originate from Islam but rather found its genesis in Judeo-Christian, Hindu, and even Buddhist spiritualities. Early European scholars of Sufism, later known as Orientalists, created an enduring legacy that is critical to contemporary understandings of Sufism in the West, especially as its presence in popular culture continues to grow. The third and final section looks at the interpretive debates over gender and the questions of female authority in Sufi and Islamic communities. After briefly outlining different roles of women within traditional Sufi cultures, this section explores the ways in which the subject of women’s spiritual leadership within Islamic communities is being engaged and contested in present contexts. Testimonies from four present-day female Sufi leaders provide a vehicle for reflecting on contemporary Sufi thought, culture, and practice, and illuminate how classical metaphysical principles are being understood in relation to issues such as the role of women in Sufi communities. Before considering the three themes that structure the main text, in Chapter 1, we situate the field of contemporary Sufism in historical context by mapping the knowledge production on Sufism in the West, academic and otherwise. After highlighting premodern European encounters with Sufi texts and traditions, we turn to focus on the Orientalist framing of Sufism, which would have a lasting impact on Western impressions of and engagements with Sufi literature and practice. In general, Orientalist scholars would, through translation and commentary, create a base of knowledge on Sufism in European languages filtered through a Romantic and perennialist framework, fostering a broader sense of Sufism as a wisdom transcending religion and Islam. This largely de-Islamicized Sufism would then act as a resource for later Western artists, interpreters, and Sufi teachers. By the mid-20th century, however, scholars began to revise earlier theories, with increasing connections between Sufism and its Islamic sources facilitated by greater access to Sufi texts and traditions. It was during this period that Islamic and Sufi studies matured as a developed discipline of study, with its base in the West shifting somewhat from Europe to North America – first, with the proliferation of area studies and, later, religious studies departments. The final decades of the 20th century would witness a pivot in scholarship as social scientific paradigms helped to usher in a focus on studying lived Sufism, as opposed to an almost exclusive textual focus inherited from Orientalist traditions. Despite a number of mid-20thcentury scholars predicting Sufism’s decline within the conditions of modernity, Sufi orders and groups have demonstrated resilience in modern, globalizing contexts. This has meant that contemporary Sufism has drawn concerted scholarly attention in recent decades.

xviii Introduction

Part I Sufism and anti-Sufism in contemporary contexts Chapter 2 explores the historical roots of one of the most visible theological debates playing out in the contemporary world. This debate is fundamentally a contest between two sorts of Islam – one grounded in Sufism, and the other vehemently opposed to Sufism as a corrosive heresy. The contest between Sufi and anti-Sufi Muslims is playing out in almost every Muslim-majority society and local Muslim community, the outcome of which is shaping the future of Islam. Although the majority of medieval Muslim jurists and theologians affirmed Sufism’s orthodoxy, there were notable opponents of Sufism in the premodern period. Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), in particular, believed that philosophical Sufism was an extra-Islamic contagion weakening Islamic civilization from within. Ibn Taymiyya’s views remained on the margins of Islamic thought for centuries, though they were revived in 18th century Arabia by the reformer Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1798). Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab took the trajectories of Ibn Taymiyya’s anti-Sufism further than Ibn Taymiyya had, condemning Sufi Muslims as apostates who should be fought and killed by his followers, who he believed were the only true Muslims on earth. Labeled “Wahhabis” by other Muslims, this initially violent movement would be domesticated and consolidated in Eastern Arabia, laying the groundwork for a new sort of Islam, one with an unprecedented opposition to Sufism. Wahhabism would have an influence far beyond the borders of Arabia, eventually coinciding with and in some cases amplifying the theology of influential South Asian Islamic movements, including the Deobandi and Ahl-i Hadith, and the Salafiyya movement in the Middle East. The collapse of traditional forms of religious authority during the colonial period facilitated the spread of Wahhabi Islam, and its derivatives, globally. Simultaneously, the disintegration of Muslim empires that were closely intertwined with Sufism left Sufis without a base of material or political support, and vulnerable to attack. These developments then set the stage for the current contest between Sufis and anti-Sufis over the nature of Islamic theology, practice, authority, and authenticity. With the historical background of the current Sufi/anti-Sufi conflict in place, Chapter 3 begins with the global proliferation of Wahhabi thought and activism in the 20th century. This development was sponsored by the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi–Wahhabi religious establishment used the influx of petro-dollars to fund the export of Wahhabi missionaries, scholarship, and literature around the world. Muslim communities found themselves inundated with a new version of Islam, radically critiquing Islam’s classical formations, and Sufism in particular, as deviant. Branding themselves “Salafis” in reference to Islam’s first generations, Wahhabi scholars and their works have radically marginalized Sufism in contemporary Islamic discourse, with Sufi teachings, practices, and sites coming under concerted attack. The now frequent destruction of Sufi shrines, whether in Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, or Syria, by Salafi–Jihadi groups, is an outgrowth of the spread of Wahhabism globally. Sufi-oriented Muslims have responded by reasserting Sufism’s centrality to Islamic theology and practice. In North America,

Introduction xix

for example, popular Sufi Muslim authorities such as Hamza Yusuf, Hisham Kabbani, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Omid Safi all oppose the well-funded efforts of Salafi organizations to rewrite Sufism out of Islamic history and thought, though each comes from different intellectual backgrounds, ranging from traditionalist to reformist or progressive.

Part II Contemporary Sufism in the West: Poetic influences and popular manifestations Just as Muslims were questioning Sufism’s place in Islam, European colonialists were situating Sufism as a phenomenon outside of Islam, a perspective that would further influence anti-Sufi movements. According to these early colonialists, the poetic tradition of love-intoxication that Sufi poets such as Rumi metaphorically evoked were not Islamic in nature but rather set apart from Islam. Islam was thought to be too legalistic to foster such mystical illuminations. It also meant that Persian literary traditions were privileged as being Sufi, while Arabic and Turkish Sufi literary traditions were often discounted. Both Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s (d. 1832) and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s (d. 1882) enthusiasm for the Sufi poetry of Hafiz are exemplary here. It is Hafiz’s understanding of Sufism as a universal phenomenon that influenced Goethe, the German philosopher, poet, and diplomat, and his masterwork, the West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan).3 This universal understanding of Sufism would then spread to America through the works of Emerson, the poet who led the Transcendentalist movement in the middle of the 19th century. It was such spiritual and philosophical tendencies that were already percolating in America that led to the reception of the South Asian Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan (d. 1927) and his ministry to the West. This chapter, then, situates how colonial encounters with Sufism through travel and poetry have resulted in popular perceptions of Sufism as solely outside of the theological or legalistic traditions of Islam, in many ways setting an historical precedent to the contemporary popularization of Sufism and the Rumi phenomenon in the 21st century. The seeds of Western interest in Sufism were planted in the colonial era, and led to the iconic status of historical Sufi personalities such as Hafiz, Sa’di of Shiraz (d. 1292), and Khayyam in the West today. Rumi’s fame has skyrocketed in North America because of publications, endorsements, and the commodification of Rumi poetry, which has manifested widely in popular and material cultures.The popularization of Rumi in the West raises philosophical queries on the nature of Sufism. Is Sufism an esoteric system deeply dependent upon Islamic theology and law and/or is it an ever-transforming, fluid reality that is based on a fundamental principle of universalism? Correspondingly, is the popular material culture surrounding Sufism in the contemporary West antithetical to classical Sufism that denudes Sufism and thus Islam of its true nature? Regardless of how one answers these questions, such diverse productions of Sufism have nonetheless struck a chord in Western cultural contexts, and have generated interest in classical Sufis and their philosophical understandings, particularly in more universalist expressions.

xx Introduction

Part III Gendering Sufism: Tradition and transformation The question of Sufism’s legitimacy is not only unfolding with the proliferation of figures like Rumi in popular culture in the West. It has also emerged in terms of the relationship between Sufism and women’s roles. Some premodern Islamic discourses have marginalized women as deficient in intellect and religion, and relegated most women to the private sphere. As a result, Sufi women did not typically occupy public leadership roles in the more institutionalized forms of Sufi practice. However, a wide range of Muslim women have been recognized as saints or inspirational figures. The veneration of Sufi female saints can be found throughout Islamic history. Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya (d. 801), sometimes described as the first Muslim saint, played a profound role in infusing Sufi spirituality with an ethos of self-abandonment through love for God. Sufism offered women opportunities for religious status and influence that transcended social and cultural limitations, with some even considered to be “men” in their spiritual accomplishment. Chapter 6 explores the philosophical and metaphysical discourses underlying diverse views of women and the feminine in Islam. It further explores diverse examples of female Sufi personalities, from classical through to colonial periods, considering the ways in which their legacies inform contemporary Sufi practice and thought. Drawing upon the rare testimony of four contemporary female Sufi leaders, Chapter 7 explores their definitions of Sufism, their understandings of the teacher– student relationship (murshid–murid) as connected to their own unique experiences of training within particular orders, and their personal reflections on their responsibilities as female leaders of Sufi orders in contemporary contexts. These particular leaders – two from Istanbul, Turkey, and two from America – were chosen, as they represent a spectrum of approaches to Sufism and a variety of classical Sufi lineages and orders (i.e., Mevlevi, Inayati [as connected to the Chishti], and Jerrahi).They also come from a diverse array of cultural contexts. Through their varied experiences of leadership, they are actively shaping contemporary Sufi traditions in local and global realities. Even though these leaders are not meant to comprise a comprehensive overview of gender and Sufism, they offer fascinating insights into traditional Sufi concepts, practices, and questions of authority and authenticity within Sufism. Having navigated the terrain of contemporary Sufism, in the final chapter, Chapter 8, we conclude by offering summaries of what was discussed in each of the three sections and their significant conclusions, especially as they pertain to the outlook of contemporary Islamic thought and identity.We also explore the concept of “complementary contradictions” as a way to understand patterns of connections within the emerging field of contemporary Sufism. This chapter further situates the limitations of our research and makes recommendations for future studies and further directions for research. Recognizing the contested nature of Sufism, in terms of authority, authenticity, and gender, this study brings to light the historical, interpretative, and conceptual frameworks that shape the views of Sufism’s friends and adversaries, admirers and detractors. In the process, we seek to help readers better understand the diversity

Introduction xxi

of Sufism, the pressures and cultural openings to which Sufism has responded in modern times, and the many divergent opinions about contemporary Sufism’s relationship to Islam. In what follows, we illustrate the varied dynamics that contemporary Sufis encounter, using localized examples to bring to light global issues. Before considering these issues, particularly in terms of anti-Sufism, popular culture, and gender, we begin by offering a historical overview of the production of knowledge on Sufism as it has developed in the West. In considering the various kinds of literature produced in the English language on Sufism, we contextualize this work by mapping the broader academic and popular discourses from which it emerges. The following chapter, then, consciously though not comprehensively, points to the kaleidoscopic diversity of writings on Sufism, which together constitute the literary manifestations of contemporary Sufism in English-speaking contexts.

Notes 1

2 3

ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (also referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL), has referred to itself more recently as the Islamic State (IS), as the group has branches in a number of global contexts, including Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Philippines. Arab governments tend to refer to them as DAESH, after the Arabic acronym of their name, which also has a pejorative connotation. John Kiser, Commander of the Faithful:The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader (Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish, 2008), 323. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan) (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1819).

Bibliography Kiser, John. Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader. Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish, 2008. von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan). Stuttgart: Cotta, 1819.

1 CONTEXTUALIZING THE PRODUCTION OF KNOWLEDGE ON CONTEMPORARY SUFISM IN THE WEST

In most major North American bookstores, physical or online, one can usually find several books on Islam, often alongside a somewhat larger number on “Eastern Religions.” In either case, there are normally a few books on Sufism. Sufism is situated either as an aspect of Islamic spirituality or as one of the many mystical traditions of the East, alongside Hindu Vedanta or Kundalini Yoga, and Zen or Tibetan Buddhist meditation-based paths. English-language books on Sufism in particular range from academic, historical overviews of Sufism, such as Carl W. Ernst’s Sufism,1 to books written by Western Sufi teachers, including Hazrat Inayat Khan’s (d. 1927) The Heart of Sufism or Kabir Helminski’s The Knowing Heart.2 Outside of religious categorizations altogether, there are usually various translations of the poetry of the famous Persian Sufi master Jalaluddin Rumi, including Deepak Chopra’s The Love Poems of Rumi, Maryam Mafi’s Rumi’s Little Book of Life, and Coleman Barks’s The Essential Rumi.3 In particular, Barks’s artful and contemporary renditions of Rumi’s poetry have helped make it a bestseller in the West. Regardless of whether we consider books from academic, religious, or literary genres, a map of the contemporary literature on Sufism that is available in the West leads us back to an older tradition of Western interpretation (largely grounded in Orientalism) and the intersection of imperialism, romanticism, and perennialism that it represents. Literature on Sufism has been available in the West at least since the 15th century. However, Sufism would not gain widespread public recognition in Europe and North America until the mid-20th century. It is only since the 1970s that scholars of Sufism began to contend with Sufism as a lived tradition, as opposed to a textual artifact or an ossified carryover of classical Islamic civilization. These later studies have tended to capture the localized manifestation of Sufism in regional contexts, such as Sufism in Pakistan, Egypt, the United Kingdom, or America. More recently, scholars have begun to chart the increasingly transnational and politicized nature of Sufism.4 Twenty-first-century studies of Sufism not only highlight local

2 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

Sufi communities, movements, and brotherhoods (tariqas) but further explore how these movements form networks of affiliation across borders, nationalities, and cultures, transforming Sufi rituals, theologies, and philosophies in the process. To help contextualize this trajectory taken by the field of Sufism, this chapter provides an historical outline of European and North American encounters with Sufism, Sufi texts, and traditions. This outline also further contextualizes our own work on contemporary Sufism by offering an overview of the development of Western understandings of Sufism in general and the field of contemporary Sufism in particular. Neither meant to be exhaustive nor a literature review, we consider the varied forms of knowledge produced on Sufism in the West (academic and popular works about Sufism, and works of Sufism by Western Sufi teachers) to paint a picture of how Sufism has been written about and constructed in the Western imagination. In doing so, we capture a diverse set of authors who together represent the range of approaches to, and genres of literature about, Sufism. These authors include not only academic scholars but also practitioners, poets, and Sufi teachers whose works have added to and shaped the idea of Sufism in the Western milieu, which has influenced the broader global perception and practice of Sufism. Our choice to include “non-academic” productions of knowledge in this overview of Western writings on Sufism is a deliberate one. A more expansive approach to a survey of this literature conveys to readers the different modes that have influenced the varying approaches to Sufism that are discussed in the subsequent chapters. Some threads of this narrative are picked up and elaborated upon in this book’s later chapters (particularly Chapters 4 and 5). We will see that a persistent aspect of Sufism’s appeal in the West results from its reframing as a universal, perennial tradition of transformative wisdom that transcends dogma and religion. Although conceptions of the universal and formless nature of wisdom have been important constitutive elements of Sufism throughout its history, these conceptions have traditionally been framed in Islamic ways, using the vocabulary of the Qur’an, Hadith, and the conceptual framework offered by the medieval Islamic intellectual traditions. In contrast, Western interpreters of Sufism have in many ways reframed its universalism in Western terms, largely situating it in terms of the spiritual perennialism and universalism that came to the fore during the Renaissance, and was later taken up by Romantic and Orientalist interpreters.

Orientalism and the study of Sufism Sufism did not emerge as a broadly acknowledged category of religion in the West until the late 18th century, largely as a result of the access to Eastern or “Oriental” traditions that colonial rule afforded. Although now an anachronism, “the Orient” was a term that Europeans and North Americans used in previous centuries to evoke “the East”: the regions of the world we now refer to as North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.5 First used in France in the 1830s, the term Orientalism came to refer primarily to the academic discipline that crystalized in the 18th and 19th centuries and was concerned with the study of the languages, cultures,

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 3

religions, and peoples of the Orient. Since Edward W. Said’s (d. 2003) watershed study Orientalism, the term is used now as a critical label for this academic discipline, and for the broader cultural phenomenon of European fascination with the Orient.6 Using Michel Foucault’s (d. 1984) work on the production of knowledge (and its inevitable relationship to power) Said suggested that Orientalism was not just an academic discipline or cultural imaginary but a “Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.”7 Although Orientalism has roots in ancient Greco-Roman and medieval Christian engagements with the cultures of the Middle East, it emerged as a paramount element of the (primarily) British and French project of controlling the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and South Asia during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. For Said, Orientalism was a network of notions about the Orient that formed a coherent “body of theory and practice” with considerable material support. This system of knowledge acted as a lens that refracted an accepted, homogenizing vision of the Orient at all levels of European society, a vision that justified and hence perpetuated Western dominance of the region. Said’s Orientalism is a rich, subtle, and critical overview of European literature on the Orient: whether engaging the philological works of Sir William Jones (d. 1794), Napoleon’s (d. 1821) employment of Orientalist scholars to assist in his invasion of Egypt and make it more palatable to Egyptians, or depictions of the Orient in Gustave Flaubert’s (d. 1880) novels, Said draws out the ways in which Europeans constructed the Orient as a place to control, categorize, romanticize, or racialize. His work is particularly à propos when dealing with Orientalists like Ernest Renan (d. 1892), who married a sense of scientific mission in the study of the Orient with an incorrigible racism and anti-Semitism: Read almost any page by Renan on Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, or protoSemitic and you read a fact of power, by which the Orientalist philologist’s authority summons out of the library at will examples of man’s speech, and ranges them there surrounded by a suave European prose that points out defects, virtues, barbarisms, and shortcomings in the language, the people, and the civilization.8 Said’s work has been recognized as one of the more significant and influential cultural studies of the 20th century, and his insights remain essential to making sense of contemporary Western understandings of the East and Islam. Said’s analysis brought to the fore ways in which Western discourses on the Orient functioned to justify and perpetuate Western superiority and dominance. He ingeniously foregrounded how scholarship on Islam has historically intersected with the needs of empire, and the ways in which this pattern can persist within contemporary discourses on Islam in the West, such as is found in his criticism of Bernard Lewis’s writings on Arabs.9 In the 1970s, Said observed that in the United States, “the Middle East experts who advise policy makers are imbued with Orientalism almost to a person.”10

4 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

Alongside recognizing these insights, Said’s thesis has since been criticized for, in a sense, doing to Orientalism the very thing that he suggests Orientalist discourse did to the Orient: offering a homogenizing and reductive vision of the phenomenon. In making his case for Orientalism as a Western tradition that caricatures the Orient while highlighting Western rightness and superiority, Said tends to overlook some of the sympathetic, positive Western scholarly engagements with the Orient. Where he does address such positive Western interventions, Said can at times reduce them to relations of power, or situate them as mere products of the Orientalist interpretive framework, as one might suggest he does to a degree in his otherwise rich, sympathetic analysis of the French scholar of Islam and Sufism, Louis Massignon (d. 1962).11 As a result, a somewhat homogenized and monolithic picture of European Orientalism emerges, one that fails to fully account for the more varied, dialogical encounters between Westerners and Easterners that make up the totality of the historical picture (though it should be said these are not entirely neglected by Said).12 Although the modern period began as one characterized by Western dominance, influence was not a one-way street, and just as the West would transform the lifeways of the East, so too would the East transform the culture of the West, despite an uneven playing field.

Precolonial European encounters with Sufism First, it is useful to recall those European experiences of Sufism and the Orient that took place outside the context of European dominance, especially as these experiences would shape the contours of later Orientalism. In Chapter 4, for example, we consider the life and work of Ramon Llull (d. 1315), a Spanish Christian philosopher and mystic. Born in Mallorca just years after its return to Christian hands following three centuries of Muslim rule, Llull’s environment remained shaped by Muslim culture and thought. A devout Christian committed to proselytizing Muslims, Llull studied Arabic and read Muslim religious and philosophical texts. He even wrote works in Arabic, some of which show clear signs of Sufi influences. The extent of this influence is such that Ernst refers to Llull’s understanding as a “Christian Sufism.”13 Integrating Christian theology with Neoplatonism and Sufism, Llull’s thought would prove instrumental in the esoteric revival during the Renaissance in 15th-century Florence. While subtle Sufi influences were at play in Florence, an anonymous Latin work entitled Treatise on the Customs, Conditions, and Wickedness of the Turks (1480) played a major role in informing European perceptions of the Orient in general and of Sufism in particular, even earning Martin Luther’s praise.14 As we will see in Chapter 4, the work was actually written by George of Hungary, a Dominican who was captured by the Ottomans during their conquest of Transylvania. He was subsequently sold into slavery in Turkey, where he would become a Sufi practitioner for over a decade before returning to Europe and repenting of his Islamic practice. Mark Sedgwick suggests that George is “the first Western Sufi who is known by

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 5

name,” and that his Treatise on the Turks contains “the earliest known discussion in a Western printed work of Sufis and dervishes,” in addition to the first translations of Sufi poetry into a Western language.15 In contrast with later European encounters with Sufism that take place within a context of Western dominance, George experienced Sufism during the ascendency of the Ottoman Empire, at a time of Islamic expansion into Europe. As a European observer, George was profoundly impressed by Ottoman society, and wrote not from a position of contempt but rather of admiration for what seemed to him to be quite a natural Ottoman superiority (though one that could only be explained as diabolical in origin, from his late medieval Christian perspective). George attempted to explain the frequent Christian conversions to Islam in the Ottoman Empire, describing worldly reasons such as admiration for Ottoman military and political achievements, and attraction to the sophistication of the elite Ottoman culture. He suggests that religious reasons for conversion include the appeal of Islamic theology and the remarkable piety of Sufi dervishes. George relays that Sufi practitioners are “so exemplary in all their words and actions and display so much piety in their manners and movements that they seemed to be not men but angels.”16 He further distinguishes the Sufis and dervishes from the ‘ulama, the jurists of Islam, introducing an idea that becomes central to later Orientalist works: that Sufis, like Christians, decenter the divine law and instead emphasize the centrality of love and spirituality. In the 16th century, the French would enter into an alliance with the Ottomans against the Hapsburgs, giving French officials and scholars intimate access to Ottoman society. This exclusive access to the Ottoman world allowed the French to take a pioneering role in the Western study of Sufism and Islam. This form of Orientalism, however, developed not in the context of Western imperial dominance but in a context of alliance. Sixteenth-century French writings on the Ottomans (and Sufism) by knight Antoine Geuffroy (d. 1556) and diplomat Pierre Belon (d. 1564) tend to emphasize the positive aspects of Ottoman culture, and the ways in which it resembles the cultures of France and Rome. Here we see a discourse on the Orient and Sufism that emphasizes similarity and equality rather than categorical difference and inferiority. Later, in the 17th century, French writers like the royal geographer Nicolas de Nicolay (d. 1583) would further cement the European impression that Sufi dervishes were largely lawless spiritualists, while Arabist François Pétis de la Croix (d. 1713) would link Sufism to “mystical theology.”17 This connection was elaborated upon later in the century by another French Arabist, Barthélemy d’Herbelot (d. 1695), in his encyclopedic work the Bibliothèque orientale, where he suggests, quite accurately, that Sufi mystical theology is “the intimate union with the Divine in the heart of man detached from love for things of the earth, and transported beyond himself.”18 Prior to the colonial period, then, Europeans had a variety of sources on Sufism, with some giving quite accurate pictures of Sufi thought and practice.

6 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

Colonial-era encounters with Sufism Beginning in the late 18th century, we see a striking shift in East–West relations. Previously, a situation of imperial competition held where none could gain an upper hand. This situation dissolves as modern technology allows Europe to gain uncontested global dominance. Marshall G. S. Hodgson (d. 1968) calls this the “Great Western Transmutation,”19 a series of social, political, economic, and technological changes that inaugurates the modern era. Hodgson notes that this shift or transmutation (implying something more drastic, irreversible, and total than mere transformation) was epochal. Whereas in the previous millennium the imperial powers of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia existed in a condition of basic parity, with new ideas and social structures diffusing gradually over centuries, and allowing the culture that encountered them to absorb them without losing its integrity, the rise of European industrial technology rapidly accelerated the pace of change, such that transformations that would previously have taken centuries now happened in a matter of decades. The rapid expansion of European power around the world gave little chance for non-European cultures to gradually absorb and assimilate the new technologies, social structures, and philosophies. Hodgson highlights the trauma this rapid social change entailed – usually under the aegis of European conquest – and observes that, “the millennial parity of social power broke down, with results that were disastrous almost everywhere.”20 The broader political, military, and cultural context within which Europeans encountered Sufism shifted decisively in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, shaping a new form of discourse on Islam, as so acutely outlined by Said. As we will see in what follows, some of the central figures in the establishment of Sufism as a subject of study in the West were British and French scholars who were affiliated to imperial projects, much as Said highlights. However, as mentioned above, one of the critiques of Said’s work on Orientalism is that he does not adequately consider the important colonial-era scholarship that occurs outside of imperial projects, nor does he fully address the generally positive, sympathetic engagements of Europeans with Islamic thought. Perhaps most significantly here, in Orientalism, Said does not sufficiently consider the rich legacy of German scholarship on the Orient, including the foundational works on Islamic literature by German philologists like Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (d. 1856), and Johann von Goethe’s (d. 1832) remarkable poetic engagement with Islamic texts, as we discuss in Chapter 4. These Western encounters with the East have been described as a form of “affirmative Orientalism” by sympathetic and antiimperialist European writers, who sought a more dialogical relationship between Western and Eastern thought, and even a mutually enriching transformation.21 Such West–East encounters cannot be reduced simply to a relationship of power and domination, but represent an attempt by Westerners to deeply comprehend and integrate non-Western traditions, a seeking of a genuine synthesis. Altogether, these various strands of Orientalism, including its imperial affiliations and more dialogical manifestations, come together in the person of William Jones. A

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 7

Welsh philologist and lawyer, Jones was a remarkable polymath who would become one of the most prominent intellectuals of the English Enlightenment.With friends like Edward Gibbon (d. 1794), Edmund Burke (d. 1797), and Benjamin Franklin (d. 1790), Jones was plugged into elite Anglo-American networks, through which he would disseminate his passion for the Orient. Jones’s access to Sanskrit and Persian was greatly facilitated by his work as a judge for the British East India Company (the de facto ruler of much of India at the time), beginning in 1784. For Jones then, the Orient was a career: a people and place he experienced from the vantage point of a colonial administrator. It was also a repository of some of humanity’s most profound wisdom, philosophy, religion, literature, and culture. Besides his groundbreaking work in highlighting the patterns of connection among Latin, Greek, Persian, and Sanskrit (i.e., the discovery of the Indo-European language family), Jones was an accomplished poet, comparative religionist, and legal scholar. He founded the first learned society and journal devoted to the study of the Orient, the Asiatick Society of Bengal, and its journal Asiatick Researches. Mehdi Aminrazavi remarks that it is “nearly impossible to overemphasize the importance of Sir William Jones in transmitting Oriental history and literature to the West.”22 Through various journals, and later through his collected works, Jones would introduce readers in Britain and North America to Persian and Sanskrit philosophies and literatures, transforming the European cultural archive. He was clearly an admirer of Eastern cultural forms, evaluating Sanskrit as a language superior to Greek and Latin, and holding traditional Indian and Persian forms of literature, medicine, and law in high esteem. In his quest to catalogue the intellectual riches he had found, however, Said argues that Jones sought to “gather in, to rope off, to domesticate the Orient and thereby turn it into a province of European learning.”23 In Jones we see both (a) genuine passion and admiration for the literatures and languages of the East, and a desire to transmit their profundity to the West to foster a sense of global humanity, and (b) a desire to categorize, catalogue, and control, to map the intellectual and linguistic territory of the East to facilitate effective British rule. Jones’s passion for the Orient intersected with a growing movement among Western intellectuals, poets, and politicians. His translations of Sanskrit and Persian literature, philosophy, and poetry provided a rich resource for Europeans to engage in their own creative endeavors, an engagement that was led, in many respects, by the Romantic movement. A key aspect of this Romantic appreciation of Oriental thought was perennialism. The Perennial philosophy or philosophia perennis was an intellectual framework developed during the Renaissance, one that suggested that underlying the various philosophies and religions of the world was a singular, perennial wisdom.24 Perennialism would prove to be an attractive framework for the comparative religion project of which Jones was such an important part. He saw as the goal of much of his work, “to recommend universal toleration by showing that all nations, even those deemed most idolatrous, agree in the essentials of religion.”25 In the philosophy of the Persian Sufi poets and the scriptures of India, Jones saw shared patterns with Plato in the West, and even came to believe that the fountainhead of Western philosophy drew his ideas from the East, writing that

8 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

“Plato drew many of his notions (through Egypt, where he resided for some time) from the sages of Hindustan.”26 As we will explore further in Chapter 4, Jones’s understanding of Sufism was framed by the unusual and remarkable Dabistan-i madhahib (School of Sects). Although the Dabistan’s author is unknown, the text was most likely written in the late 17th century. It offers a chronological critique of the various religious systems that the author encountered in Persia and India. The text describes Sufis as universalists who transcend all religious affiliation: “The Sufi is by no necessity bound by creed; no faith nor religion fetters his choice; he befriends the idol and the temple of the idol, and is no stranger to the mosque.”27 Hence Jones saw in Sufism a quintessential expression of perennialism. This perennialist take on Sufism would take hold among English interpreters, including Sir John Malcolm (d. 1833) and Lieutenant James William Graham (d. 1845). Graham was an officer under Malcolm (a brigadier general in the British colonial army), and wrote the first English work devoted solely to Sufism, A Treatise on Sufism, or Mahomedan Mysticism (1819), which perpetuated the idea that Sufis rejected the law and rituals of Islam, and that Sufism bore a distinct affinity to Neoplatonic and Hindu thought. Graham asserted that “a person of any religion or sect, may be a Sufi.”28 Malcolm’s History of Persia emerged in part from his conversations with a Persian jurist and opponent of Sufism, Agha Muhammad Ali. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Malcolm perceives Sufi transcendence of the outward religious forms of Islam as, per Ali’s view, a deceptive subversion. Malcolm’s negative perception is somewhat exceptional among Western interpreters; however, Jones’s more positive evaluation of Sufi perennialism would prove influential even through the 21st century. As we will see in Chapters 4 and 5,Western intellectuals, poets, and popular audiences have tended to perceive Sufism as something profound and positive to the degree that it has been separated from Islam. The extent that Sufism was understood as an accessible, universal, nondogmatic spirituality is the extent to which it could be embraced as an appealing alternative to mainstream Judeo-Christian religiosity. Later, German theologian Friedrich August Tholuk (d. 1877) would offer a more extensive and nuanced account of Sufism with his Latin work, Sufismus, sive theosophia Persarum pantheistica (1821), published when he was just 22 years old. Using primarily Persian sources, alongside some Arabic and Turkish works, Tholuk acknowledged Sufism’s roots in the early Islamic tradition and, contra Jones, Malcolm, and Graham, rejected the thesis of Sufism’s Greek or Indian origin. However, he still maintained that Sufism fell outside the boundaries of Islam proper, as a tradition that began monotheistically, but soon developed into a pantheistic doctrine.29 Sufism remained, for Tholuk, something of a “foreign plant in the sandy soil of Islam.”30 Written in Latin, Tholuk’s work would have a limited readership. The English perennialist understanding of Sufism would prove to be a more enduring (if less grounded) perspective in the West. Popular 19th-century theories of race would further entrench the Western sense that Sufism was something separate from Islam. Renan, for example, believed that Semitic peoples were racially incapable of producing sophisticated philosophy and

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 9

mysticism, being mired instead in dogmatism and legalism. As such, all genuine mysticism was thought to be Aryan in origin, whether Indian, Persian, or Greek. Islam, as a quintessentially Semitic religion, could not on its own have produced Sufism then, but must have absorbed it from extra-Islamic sources. British Orientalist and imperial agent Edward H. Palmer (d. 1882) and Dutch scholar Reinhart Dozy (d. 1883) both suggested that Sufism was Indo-European or Aryan in origin, with Palmer writing that Sufism was a development of the “primeval religion of the Aryan race.” For his part, Dozy argued that the Qur’an was a moral and practical text, but failed to offer principles of spiritual development and even proved an “obstacle to mysticism.”31 It is not until the 20th century that we find Western scholars, better acquainted with the history, literature, and practice of Sufism, correcting earlier perspectives, countering racialized theories of Sufism’s Aryan origin, and noting Sufism’s early, indigenous development within Muslim societies. Hungarian scholar of Islam Ignaz Goldziher (d. 1921) countered Renan’s negative assumptions of Semitic peoples, arguing for the philosophical, imaginative, and cultural complexity of Islam, and bemoaning the extent to which European intellectuals had fallen for the “scientific dogma” of race, as found in Renan’s work. However, Goldziher perpetuated the prevailing consensus that Sufism was largely the product of extra-Islamic influences. He argued that Sufi hermeneutics were not so much drawing out the spiritual richness of the Quranic text, but rather using it as a pre-text upon which they imposed their own non-Quranic worldview.32 It would be left to British Orientalist Reynold Alleyne Nicholson (d. 1945) and his student Arthur J. Arberry (d. 1969) to offer more nuanced studies of early Sufism that would acknowledge its extra-Islamic influences (Persian, Neoplatonic, Christian, etc.) while asserting its ultimately Islamic origin and character. Nicholson, the grandson of biblical scholar John Nicholson, was a student at Cambridge University in 1887.33 He would go on to hold Chairs of Arabic and Persian between Cambridge and University College London.34 He was a scholar of Persian and Arabic, translating a number of Sufi texts, including Rumi’s massive Mathnawi, and writing an influential, scholarly introduction to Sufism, The Mystics of Islam.35 He set about putting to rest the thesis of Sufism’s Aryan origin, first in his essay “A Historical Enquiry Concerning the Origin and Development of Sufism” arguing that Sufism was “the native product of Islam itself.”36 For instance, Nicholson traced “theosophical Sufism” to Dhu’l-Nun al-Misri (d. 859) whose teachings he did not think could be simply accounted for as derivative of Egyptian thought (i.e., hieroglyphics, alchemy, astrology) and/or Vedanta or Persian, or as an Aryan response to Islam.37 In his Mystics of Islam, Nicholson also frames Sufism as Islamic. He writes in this text, “Even if Islam had been miraculously shut off from contact with foreign religions and philosophies, some form of mysticism would have arisen from it, for the seeds were already there.”38 However, Atif Khalil and Shiraz Sheikh contend that despite Nicholson’s departure from previous European scholars in his framing of Sufism, in acknowledging its Islamic origin, he continued to maintain the “view that Sufism as a whole was not an organic outgrowth of ‘pure’ Islam”

10 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

primarily because of the stereotype held at the time that Islam was mainly a legalistic tradition.39 Nicholson’s student Arberry would pick up from where his mentor left off. Arberry met Nicholson in 1927, when he was a student of Arabic.40 It was their relationship, one that lasted until Nicholson’s death in 1945, which ignited Arberry’s lifelong interest in Sufism. Arberry further traveled throughout the Middle East, including Egypt, where he taught Greek and Latin at Cairo University for two years beginning in 1932.41 He was also positioned at the India Office for a decade, working as an editor and founder of several magazines.42 Arberry was eventually hired by the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where he held the Chair of Persian and then Arabic, like his mentor Nicholson.43 Arberry strongly felt that Britain would “benefit to strengthen her ties with the Muslim countries,” which led him to encourage Oriental studies and his efforts in the establishment of a Middle East Centre at Cambridge, not only for academic study but also for cultural knowledge.44 Arberry also published prolifically on Islam and Sufism. He is known for his translation of the Qur‘an,45 in addition to over sixty books, articles, and reviews on Arabic and Persian studies.46 They include Introduction to Sufism (1942) and Sufism (1950), and translations of many of Rumi’s works, such as the Ruba‘iyat (1949), Discourses (1961), Tales from the Masnavi (1961), and eventually The Mystical Poems (1968), which consisted of fifteen volumes – one that he completed in his retirement.47 Despite his numerous publications on the topic, Arberry held that Sufism’s classical age of mystical virtuosity had passed, with contemporary Sufism a shadow of its former self, vaguely suggesting past glories. As is apparent from the titles of Nicholson’s and Arberry’s works, however, Sufism was conceived of as a distinctly Islamic phenomenon, in contrast with the earlier works of Jones, Malcolm, and Graham. Nicholson, for example, defined Sufism as “the religious philosophy of Islam,” and argued that it could not be understood in isolation from the “outward and inward development of Islam.”48 The early 20th century witnessed a turn in Western appreciations of Sufism toward acknowledging its Islamic character. This happened not only among British academics like Nicholson and Arberry but also among French scholars, most notably Louis Massignon, whom Said calls “the most renowned and influential of modern French Orientalists.”49 Massignon’s interest in the Orient developed at a time when the French presence in North Africa was growing. As a result, he traveled to Algiers in 1901, which was his first encounter with the Muslim world.50 He began studies at the Sorbonne in Paris that same year, which initially included a regional focus on India and the study of Sanskrit.51 However, after a visit to Morocco, he switched to focus on Arabic, which led to further training in Cairo.52 Massignon read widely. He integrated “urban sociology, structural linguistics, psychoanalysis, contemporary anthropology” into his work, writing in an aesthetically rich way, which Said characterizes as “one of the Great French styles of the century.”53 Massignon would also prove to be one of the century’s most accomplished scholars of Sufism. He wrote a definitive multi-volume biography of the famous Sufi martyr of 10th-century Baghdad, Mansur al-Hallaj (d. 922), a thesis project for which he

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 11

completed archaeological work outside of Baghdad (which was at the time under Ottoman rule), and for which he drew “effortlessly on the entire corpus of Islamic literature.”54 Patrick Laude notes that Massignon’s relationship with al-Hallaj was no mere “scholarly rapport,” but rather “a spiritually seminal, intimately personal and life-altering encounter that pertains more to the realm of living relationships than to that of archival study.”55 Although deeply sympathetic to Islam and spiritually connected to one of its great mystics, Massignon remained a devout Christian, and even became a priest of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church later in his life.56 In his influential Essai sur les origines de la lexique technique de la mystique musalmane, Massignon argued, more explicitly than Nicholson, that Sufism developed out of Islam’s ascetic tradition, and convincingly demonstrated the role of the Qur’an in shaping Sufi terminology.57 Annemarie Schimmel (d. 2003) suggests that it is with Massignon’s work that “the Islamic roots of early Sufism were expounded for the first time.”58 He openly criticized the anti-Semitism underlying some of his contemporaries’ analyses, describing them as “pro-Aryans” and “anti-Semites” for suggesting that “Semitic peoples absolutely lack the aptitude for the arts and sciences, concluding that there is an ‘Aryan’ origin of mysticism in the so-called Semitic religions.”59 Together, the works of Nicholson, Arberry, and Massignon ushered in a new era of scholarship on Sufism, one that more systematically recognized Sufism’s overall character as an Islamic phenomenon.60

The beginnings of Western Sufism: René Guénon and Hazrat Inayat Khan Alongside Nicholson, Arberry, and Massignon, French esotericist, Sufi, and influential author René Guénon (d. 1951) affirmed the Islamic (and Arabic) character of Sufism during the early 20th century. He argued that: The completely gratuitous supposition of a foreign origin – Greek, Persian, or Indian – is in any case formally contradicted by the fact that the means of expression of Islamic esotericism are intimately linked with the very constitution of the Arabic language … The truth is that ‘Sufism’ is as Arab as the Koran itself, in which it has its direct principles.61 Unlike 20th-century Orientalists, however, Guénon approached Sufism not as a subject of study or even a personal passion, but as a path of transformation that he adopted wholeheartedly, eventually taking on the name ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya and living in Cairo as a devout Muslim. In his writings, Guénon focused the perennialism and romanticism of the Orientalists through the lens of Western esotericism and traditionalism. Laude highlights the three main themes of Guénon’s works, namely (1) a concern with articulating a universal metaphysics underlying diverse religious expressions; (2) defining esotericism as distinct from exotericism; (3) analyzing various religious symbols, drawing out their universal implications.62 Having participated in Theosophical, Masonic, and gnostic movements in Paris, Guénon

12 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

sought to recover the universal metaphysics of humanity’s primordial tradition (the Renaissance’s prisca theologia and philosophia perennis), whose wisdom he believed could still be found preserved in esoteric teachings. Guénon began increasingly to locate these teachings within traditional religious formations. With his growing distaste for Paris’s occult groups, Guénon began to sympathize with traditionalist Catholics at the Sorbonne, who argued for the efficacy of tradition as a means of preserving spiritual authenticity. Guénon eventually moved away from Catholicism, however, and became a practitioner of Sufism. Besides focusing on themes of universal metaphysics, esotericism, and symbolism, Guénon’s works offered a trenchant critique of Western modernity. In a way, he represents another form of “affirmative Orientalism,” in that he hoped that a transformative “Easternization” of the West could save it from itself. In his fourth work, Orient et Occident, Guénon suggested that the pending collapse of Western civilization could be assuaged with the help of Oriental metaphysics and religion.63 For Guénon, the modern, Western world was a materialistic deviation from the great premodern or “traditional” civilizations, such as Indian, Chinese, and Islamic. These civilizations preserved the universal metaphysics and transformative spirituality of the primordial tradition, and as a result maintained contact with the divine truth and experienced a certain civilizational equilibrium and health. Although, on the surface, the modern West seemed to offer philosophical, social, scientific, and technological progress, it was in fact premised solely on material development, and thus moved away from traditional principles, “leading to the atrophying of sacred knowledge, social fragmentation, conflict, and the eventual dissolution of human civilization.”64 Guénon was initially drawn to the non-dualistic metaphysics of the Advaita Vedanta tradition within Hinduism, which he believed to be the most explicit articulation of metaphysical truth. He was not simply seeking to learn metaphysical principles, however, but to be initiated into a spiritual path that allowed for the individual realization of these principles. This search for authentic initiation would eventually lead Guénon to Ivan Aguéli (d. 1917), a Swedish-born convert to Islam, Sufi, and impressionist painter. Aguéli, or Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hadi Aqili as he was also known, managed a bookstore in Paris that was something of a nucleus for the city’s intricate and varied network of seekers. Aguéli was also a representative (muqaddam) of Shaykh Ilaysh al-Kabir (d. 1921), a Maliki scholar, Shadhili Sufi master, and student of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s thought in Cairo. Through Aguéli, Guénon began to correspond with al-Kabir, becoming a Muslim as a result and taking the name ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya.65 Although he continued to venerate Hindu Vedanta as the most explicit expression of primordial, metaphysical truth, Guénon would come to see Islam as the final revelation of the primordial tradition before the end of the world, one that was particularly accessible to Westerners due to its shared emphases with Christianity and the ease with which one could convert. Guénon wrote prolifically, publishing almost thirty books. Although his writings do not encourage conversion to Islam, Guénon’s personal example proved to be a model for many who believed, with him, that Islam represented the most

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 13

vibrant, accessible manifestation of the primordial tradition for Westerners. Hence, a number of Traditionalists, particularly among Western academics, became Sufis, leading to an academic–Traditionalist–Sufi nexus in Europe and North America, a school of thought that has continued to be influential in charting the manner in which Sufism and Islam have been translated for Western audiences. In particular, Traditionalist writings emphasize themes of authenticity. Guénon and his followers believe that genuine metaphysical truth, initiation, and spiritual transformation can only be accessed within orthodox, traditional religious forms. Consequently, they tend to distinguish sharply between heretical, syncretistic forms (e.g., Theosophy is oft-decried in Traditionalist works) and orthodox ones, which are usually thought to have an exoteric or outward path of ritual, rite, and law, and an inward path of esoteric truth. This approach has informed a significant body of academic work on Sufism by Traditionalist scholars like Titus Burkhardt (d. 1984), Martin Lings (d. 2005), and Seyyed Hossein Nasr (who will be discussed further in Chapter 3), in addition to William Chittick, Sachiko Murata, and Ibrahim Kalin. Although not directly affiliated with Traditionalism as a school of thought, a number of Western Muslims, including popular preacher and scholar Hamza Yusuf, have been influenced by Traditionalist writings to varying extents. Interestingly, around the same time that Guénon was developing an understanding of Sufism as the esoteric truth within Islam, a Muslim Sufi master and musician from India began teaching a more universal form of Sufism in Europe and North America. Between 1910 and 1926, Hazrat Inayat Khan (d. 1927) traveled throughout North America and Europe giving talks and musical concerts, and establishing his Sufi Order (later called the Sufi Movement), which would remain the predominant form of Sufism available to North American seekers until the 1960s. Inayat Khan began initiating American seekers into Sufism following his arrival in New York in 1910. In 1912, he moved to England, where the Theosophical Publishing Society published his first book on Sufism in the West.66 The book offered traditional Sufi teachings, presented as “the pure essence of all religions and philosophies,” much in the same way that Swami Vivekananda (d. 1902) had presented Vedanta and how D. T. Suzuki (d. 1966) would later represent Zen. Universalizing the mystical essence of a religious tradition was a common pattern, one that presented transformative paths using Western motifs popularized by Theosophy and other similar movements. In London, Inayat Khan would further establish his “Sufi Order of the West,” which would frame traditional Indian Sufism within a universalistic Theosophical framework. Inayat Khan’s universalism was further rooted in the cosmopolitan culture of Indian cities like Hyderabad, where Muslim and Hindu practices, spiritualities, philosophies, and cultures had intermingled for centuries, dissolving ready-made borders of religious identity. Inayat Khan was trained in the Chishti Sufi order, an order particularly known for its openness to Hindus and its comfort with integrating Hindu practices into Sufism. He set out west, at the behest of his Sufi master, who advised him to go to Europe and North America to “harmonize the East and West” with his music and Sufi message.67 However, Inayat Khan had long

14 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

been fascinated by the West, learning Western musical instruments at a young age and even dressing in Western three-piece suits, making him somewhat conspicuous among the Sufis of Hyderabad.68 Like many Orientalists and Romantics in the West, Inayat Khan set out across the world to both transform and be transformed by his encounters, with a shared sense of a call to join East and West in a new universal synthesis. The Sufism he would eventually teach “reflects a synthesis of traditional Islamicate and modern Western motifs,” as Inayat Khan “creatively adapted traditional Indo-Islamic categories to the concerns of late modern Western inquirers and disciples.”69 Both Guénon and Inayat Khan embraced perennialism, the belief that there was a singular truth underlying the world’s various religions. However, Guénon’s perennialism was filtered through a conservative traditionalism, meaning that this underlying truth, for Guénon, could only be accessed through the outward religious form within which it was encapsulated: thus, Sufism could only be authentically realized within the bounds of Islamic practice and law. In contrast, Inayat Khan’s perennialism was shaped more by Theosophy, with its eclecticism, anti-dogmatism, and sense of a new era that was dawning. For Khan, Sufism was not only a particular path of spiritual transformation rooted in Islamic traditions, it was also the “message of the time,” a universal truth offering a timely congruence with the dawn of a new age transcending differences of race and religion (i.e., forms), as envisaged in Theosophical teachings. Guénon’s and Inayat Khan’s respective presentations of Sufism, through publications and teachings, built upon the now dual understandings of Sufism taking shape in Western scholarship: either as the mysticism of Islam or as a universal mysticism transcending religion altogether.

From text to context: The shift to studying living Sufism In contrast to scholars like Nicholson and Arberry, who distinctly remained outsiders to their subject of study, and those who, like Guénon, became committed insiders, the mid-20th century witnessed the emergence of several Western scholars of Sufism who fell somewhere between these two possibilities: evincing a deep, personal connection to Sufism, though without formally attaching themselves to a Sufi order or converting to Islam. Certainly, Massignon can be counted here, as he was someone who was deeply rooted in Catholicism and yet profoundly shaped by his spiritual relationship with al-Hallaj.70 During Massignon’s audience with Pope Pius XI, the Pontiff even playfully called Massignon a “Catholic Muslim.”71 Henry Corbin (d. 1978), one of Massignon’s foremost students and even his successor of sorts, would further prove to be among those scholars with a deep, personal connection to Sufism alongside Shi‘a esotericism. Laude notes that unlike English and German scholarship on Islam, some of the most prominent French studies of Islam have focused on its inner dimensions, namely the esoteric traditions of Sufism and Shi‘ism.72 Corbin is paradigmatic here, as his life’s work was devoted to interpreting these esoteric Islamic traditions, and further drawing out the connections between Sufi and Shi‘a strains of inner Islam. Corbin would prove to be, like Massignon,

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 15

a passionate and inspired interpreter of Sufism. As with his teacher’s devotion to Hallaj, Corbin would immerse himself in the works of Sufi figures like Suhrawardi and Ibn al-‘Arabi, with The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism and Alone with the Alone.73 Corbin began his intellectual career as an expert on Martin Heidegger and German phenomenology. Through Massignon, Corbin encountered Sufi and Shi‘a metaphysics, which were to become his lifelong passion. Corbin studied in Istanbul during the Second World War before taking a professorship at Tehran University. Succeeding Massignon at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris, Corbin would spend half the year in Paris and half in Tehran for the remainder of his career,74 in a sense physically representing his intellectual synthesis of East and West. Also like Massignon, Corbin read widely, integrating various psychological, philosophical, and metaphysical perspectives into his creative interpretations of Islamic esotericism. His idiosyncratic interpretations of Islamic esotericism were both admired for their depth and brilliance, and criticized for at times obscuring rather than illuminating the original works. Corbin’s oeuvre unsurprisingly made him a good fit for Eranos, one of the 20th century’s most interesting academic milieus. At the behest of theologian and philosopher Rudolf Otto (d. 1937) and psychologist Carl Jung (d. 1961), Olga Froebe-Kapteyn (d. 1962) established the Eranos center in Ascona, Switzerland, to, as Jung suggested, ‘bring together East and West.’75 Eranos would host annual gatherings of world-renowned scholars of religion and myth, psychologists, and scientists. Annual conferences were attended by such luminaries of religion and psychology as Gershom Scholem (d. 1982), Jung, Otto, and Mircea Eliade (d. 1986). In 1949, Corbin was invited to replace Massignon as a speaker at the conference (as Massignon refused to abide by the conference’s apolitical orientation). Through his participation in the Eranos conferences, Corbin would help disseminate elements of Sufi philosophy and spirituality among Western intellectual elites of the post-war period. Although Corbin’s work on Sufism remains some of the richest produced during this period, the maturing of Western scholarship on Sufism in the latter half of the 20th century is best represented in the life and legacy of Annemarie Schimmel. One of the 20th century’s most influential scholars of Islam, Schimmel earned her first doctorate in Islamic studies by age 19, spoke at least seven languages, and wrote more than eighty books. Her works range from introductions to Sufism, such as her seminal Mystical Dimensions of Islam,76 to works on famous Sufi figures, the Mughal Empire, numerology, calligraphy, and even the place of cats in Islamic cultures. Emerging out of the German Orientalist tradition, Schimmel evinced a warmer appreciation for Islamic cultures and Sufism than many of her predecessors, perhaps falling more into the tradition of Goethe’s Romantic engagement with Hafiz. Unlike Nicholson, for example, who never actually traveled to a Muslim-majority country, Schimmel taught in Turkey, traveled and established friendships throughout Muslim lands, and made Pakistan a second home of sorts, much as Corbin had done with Iran.The fact that a street in Lahore is named after her speaks to the way in which her sensitive, relational approach to scholarship on Islam, and Sufism in particular, bridged cultural divides.

16 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

Schimmel’s more immersive approach was part of a larger shift among Western scholars in the 20th century away from the Orientalist model of studying Islam and Sufism, which remained primarily text- and language-based, to one based more in travel study. John O. Voll notes that, “Following World War II, scholars in the West began a major reconceptualization of the disciplines and methods to be used for the study of non-western societies.”77 Whereas many an armchair Orientalist may have never actually visited a Middle Eastern country or even met someone from the Middle East, scholars increasingly turned toward area studies in the middle of the 20th century, which fostered a sense that time spent in the region one studies was an integral means of gaining knowledge of the said area. This is not to say the European Orientalist tradition of Islamic studies, focusing on texts and languages, was simply abandoned. It too was transmitted to North America during the mid-20th century, when scholars like Hamilton Gibb (d. 1971) moved from Oxford to Harvard to establish the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Gustave von Grunebaum (d. 1972) led the Center at the University of California, LA, and Franz Rosenthal (d. 2003) started at Yale University.78 Canadian scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith (d. 2000) established North America’s first Institute of Islamic Studies in 1952 at McGill University. In 1967, Schimmel established the Indo-Muslim Studies program at Harvard University, offering a closer regional specialization within American Islamic studies. As some of the above examples indicate, during the 1970s, Islamic studies largely shifted from area studies to religious studies departments, alongside departments of anthropology and sociology. The pursuit of language studies related to Islamic cultures was assisted in the US during this period by the government’s interest in having experts in languages relevant to Cold War politics, which made funding available to scholars who were interested in mastering languages like Arabic and Persian. Besides public support for area and language studies, Marcia Hermansen observes that the respected place of religious studies within liberal arts curricula has meant the proliferation of religious studies departments and academic positions in private liberal arts colleges. This has, in turn, fostered “a broader scope for offering courses on Sufism,” and hence “training in such an area would seem more likely to lead to employment,” creating an economic base for the pursuit of the study of Sufism in the American academy.79 This economic imperative intersected with a growing cadre of “seekers” among baby boomers, who, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, embraced a number of transplanted contemplative traditions rooted in Zen Buddhism, non-dualistic Hindu traditions, and Sufism. As such, many of those North Americans who would become scholars of Sufism were themselves also practitioners of the tradition.Together, all of these factors have combined in leading to a situation whereby from the 1960s and 1970s onward, “the majority of western experts in Sufism were no longer based in Europe, but in North America.”80 Representative of this North American shift, Schimmel’s student Carl W. Ernst is a leading scholar of Sufism, with his work focusing on South Asia and Iran. Along with colleague Bruce Lawrence, Ernst has helped further establish the academic study of Sufism in the North American milieu. Lawrence has been formative

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 17

in crafting the Islamic Studies program at Duke University, which is now being directed by Omid Safi – another scholar with personal ties to Sufism, including a connection with Sufi teachers, like Cemalnur Sargut, who we discuss further in Chapter 7.81 Duke University is closely aligned with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (or the Duke–UNC–Emory triangle). Islamic and Sufi studies have been shaped there by Ernst, Lawrence, and Safi, among others. Ernst, though a student of Schimmel, has not only continued work in translation (as Schimmel often did) but also forged his own path by taking a more political-social critical approach to studies of Sufism and Islam. Students who have come out of the Duke–UNC-Emory triangle have included Zia Inayat Khan (the grandson of Inayat Khan and current head of his Inayati Order), Robert Rozehnal (founding Director of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University), and Scott Kugle. Kugle is now a Professor of South Asian and Islamic Studies at Emory College, where, alongside Rkia Cornell and Vincent Cornell, a robust program of Sufi studies focuses on South Asia (Kugle), North Africa (Vincent Cornell), and women and sexuality (Rkia Cornell). The University of Chicago has long been a center of religious studies in North America. This is a legacy of Eliade’s time there, where he established the comparative history of religions and methodology, trained a generation of scholars, and largely shaped the field in the 1970s and 1980s.82 Although Eliade was not particularly interested in Islam in his work, he was familiar with Traditionalist writings, and shared many overlapping concerns, including symbolism, comparative mysticism, and esoteric traditions. His approach lent itself to the study of Sufism, and as such he has also played an important role in developing studies of Sufism. Michael A. Sells, who teaches in the Divinity School at Chicago, has written extensively on Sufi literature, poetry, and figures (i.e., Ibn al-‘Arabi). Just as religious studies departments gained their place in the North American academy in the second half of the 20th century, Guénon’s Traditionalism would make its way across the Atlantic, intersecting closely with the formation of religious studies and Sufi studies in particular. In 1981 Frithjof Schuon (d. 1998) – a Swiss-German author, mystic, and Sufi teacher – moved to Bloomington, Indiana. Although Guénon laid the intellectual groundwork for Traditionalism, it was his associate Schuon who would further articulate the Traditionalist perspective while considerably expanding its influence. Over twenty of his books (written in French) have been translated into English. His works, though covering a variety of religious traditions, all purport to describe the perennial wisdom at the heart of human religious history. Unlike Guénon, Schuon became a Sufi teacher or shaykh, and founded a branch of the Shadhili-‘Alawiyya known as the Maryamiyya. In 1932, Schuon spent three to four months at an Alawi Sufi center in Algeria, meeting with Shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi (d. 1934) a number of times. Upon returning to Europe, Schuon began initiating fellow Traditionalists who were themselves eagerly seeking a spiritual lineage within which to practice. In 1965, Schuon had a vision of the Virgin Mary, whom he saw as an incarnation of both divine mercy and perennial wisdom.

18 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

In 1967, Victor Danner (d. 1990), Professor of Religious Studies in Bloomington, IN, established a Maryamiyya center there, which became the most important center of Schuon’s order, and facilitated the intersection of Sufi Traditionalism with academia. Seyyed Hossein Nasr remains the leader of the most prominent branch of the order, and is generally seen as Schuon’s successor. Although his connection to the Maryamiyya was less publicized, Huston Smith (d. 2017), one of the most well-known scholars of religion in America, was a practicing member of the Maryamiyya, as well. Traditionalist influence in North American religious studies generally facilitated a scholarly interest in mysticism, comparative mysticism, and religious philosophy, and hence Sufism was something that many Traditionalists pursued as both a personal practice and scholarly research. Summarizing the influence of Sufism on scholars of the subject, Hermansen comments, “most scholars of Sufism in American universities are themselves Sufis, crypto-Sufis, or religious persons from other traditions who are sympathetic to Sufism.”83 William C. Chittick, a Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at Stony Brook University, was a student of Nasr’s in 1974. Chittick has numerous publications on Sufism, Ibn al-‘Arabi, and Rumi. Sachiko Murata, who is married to Chittick, also studied in Tehran, though the Iranian Revolution forced them both to leave Iran. Murata is also a Professor of Asian Studies at Stony Brook University, where she teaches courses on Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. One of her formative works on Sufism has been The Tao of Islam.84 She has also helped to develop the study of the interrelationships between Sufism and Far Eastern thought and practice. Scholars of Sufism, including Chittick, Murata, Corbin, and Toshihiko Izutsu (d. 1993), were prominent figures within the field who taught at the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy in Tehran. Others, like Alan Godlas and Leonard Lewisohn, were influenced by the scholarly networks that intersected in Tehran during this era. They then returned to America to teach at institutions of higher learning, such as in Islamic studies programs.85 After 9/11, Nasr’s and Chittick’s books on Sufism and Islam proliferated, in effect attempting to reclaim Islam from the violent and reductive portrayals of Islam in the popular media.

Scholarship on Sufism beyond the academy Sufism was growing not only as an academic subject of study or even a path of personal transformation, but, in the 1960s and 1970s, was also gaining some cachet as a form of popular literature. Much of Sufism’s broader popularity during this period is due to the remarkable books published by Idries Shah (d. 1996), including The Sufis and The Way of the Sufi.86 Combining Sufi teaching tales with psychology and claims of Sufi origins for a great many Western and global cultural phenomena, Shah wove together a number of idiosyncratic threads to produce books that made for compelling and entertaining reading. Although claiming to be the “Grand Sheikh of the Sufis,” Shah did not provide details on the nature of his connection to Sufi teachers and teachings, and his works drew sharp criticism from scholars,

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 19

including Schimmel, who generally dismissed Shah as an “unserious” author if not a charlatan.87 Nevertheless, his books helped cement the impression among an English readership that Sufism was not simply an ancient philosophy and poetry but a living wisdom that was still accessible. An exemplary example of Shah’s influence is seen with his relationship with the Nobel literature laureate Doris Lessing (d. 2013). Lessing was a prolific British author who wrote extensively on topics that ranged from education, women’s rights, racism, and more.88 She was also interested in Islam, particularly Sufism, which she explains “transcends the boundaries between many or all religions to the point where it is argued that a person can be a Sufi without having an Islamic identity,” adding that Sufism is “the substance of that current which can develop man to a higher stage in his evolution.”89 Lessing viewed her teacher, Shah, as a “moderate and liberal Muslim,” who influenced her writing and spiritual path as early as the 1960s.90 The latter part of the 20th century saw the establishment of publishing houses devoted to disseminating the teachings of Sufism, in both their classical and their contemporary iterations. Traditionalist works, many on Sufism, were published by presses like World Wisdom, which is exclusively devoted to works in a perennialist vein, whether by Schuon or his affiliates. Fons Vitae also prints works connected with Traditionalist authors, though this press is more closely focused on publishing classical Islamic and Sufi texts. Fons Vitae’s publications capture the broad nature of Traditionalist thinkers in the 20th and 21st centuries. Noteworthy here is Thomas Merton (d. 1968), a Cistercian monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky and a writer, known especially for his book The Seven Story Mountain (d. 1948). Merton was visited by a Sufi teacher by the name of Abdeslam (d. 1980) from Morocco and was heavily influenced by Sufism. Merton also corresponded with a Buddhist student of Schuon’s, Marco Pallis (d. 1989), who exposed him to Traditionalist writings, which Merton found closely paralleled his own path. Merton’s relationship with Sufism led to a Thomas Merton series by Fons Vitae, which includes titles such as Merton & Sufism: The Untold Story and Thomas Merton on Sufism (a CD collection).91 Shah’s teachings were disseminated by Octagon Press (which further published older translations of classical Sufi texts), while Threshold Publishing, established by Kabir and Camille Helminski, teachers within the Mevlevi Sufi order, acted as another venue for Sufi teachings in English. Inayat Khan’s movement, now led by his grandson Pir Zia Inayat Khan and renamed the Inayati Order, also runs their own press, known as Suluk Press, Omega Publications, which exclusively publishes classic and contemporary books on Sufism.They also publish works by Inayat Khan and his children,Vilayat Inayat Khan (d. 2004) and Noor Inayat Khan (d. 1944), in addition to Zia Inayat Khan’s teachings on Sufism. Other presses include the Fellowship Press, which publishes wholly the teachings of Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (d. 1986), a Tamil Sufi teacher who came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1971 and established the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship. The Nur Ashki Jerrahi Community, a branch that traces its lineage to the Turkish Sufi teacher Muzaffer Ozak (d. 1985), who came to America to teach, also has an independent

20 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

press known as Pir Press, which issues works on Ozak and his teachings, as well as Ibn al-’Arabi. Another voice in American Sufism is that of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a student of Irina Tweedie (d. 1999), who was a teacher of the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya order.The Golden Sufi Center in the Bay Area, out of which Vaughan-Lee is based, also houses its own press, which features Vaughan-Lee’s teachings but also works of his teacher, Tweedie, not only in English but also in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Bulgarian. These presses are by no means limited just to North America, but are globally prominent. Anqa Publishing is an independent publisher based in the United Kingdom that focuses specifically on publishing the teachings of Ibn al-’Arabi, while Beshara, another UK-based movement, inspired by the teachings and leadership of the Turkish teacher Bulent Rauf (d. 1987), similarly publishes works on Sufi traditions. Sufi activists have also added to the proliferation of literature on Sufism, especially in North America. Noteworthy here is Nahid Angha, a Sufi scholar, lecturer, and human rights activist. She is the co-director and co-founder of the International Association of Sufism, and founder of the Sufi Women Organization (SWO). Angha is the daughter of the late Shah Maghsoud (d. 1980), a Persian Sufi teacher of the Uwaiysi way. Aside from her prolific activism on women’s rights and intercultural and interfaith work, she has also published books on Sufism, such as Principles of Sufism (1991). The Kuwaiti-American Sufi Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (who will be discussed at greater length in Chapter 3) and his wife Daisy Khan are other examples of activists who are also contributing to the construction of Sufism through literature and public lectures. Rauf ’s fame rose to national attention with the proposed ground zero mosque, but his views on Islam and Sufism can be found on TED talks and books, such as Moving the Mountain: A New Vision of Islam in America.92

Toward contemporary Sufism With the methodological tools offered by the social sciences and religious studies, scholars began to focus more on Sufism as a lived tradition from the 1970s onward. Initially, Western scholars largely understood contemporary Sufi orders as carryovers from an earlier era, disappearing or soon to be, as Muslim societies modernized. Associated with the rural, superstitious, and mystical, social scientists initially saw Sufism as something that, like other forms of “folk,” “local,” or “popular” religion, would dissipate in light of modern processes of rationalization and industrialization. Arberry associated contemporary Sufi orders with “the ignorant masses,”93 while Clifford Geertz (d. 2006) and Ernest Gellner (d. 1995) suggested that Muslims were abandoning the rural, miracle-working saints in favor of urban intellectuals offering a scripture-based, rationalized form of Islam.94 Michael Gilsenan’s pioneering study of the Hamidiyya-Shadhiliyya in Egypt helped revise the ongoing theory of Sufism’s decline, in highlighting a Sufi order that was actually expanding during this time (though he believed most were in

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 21

decline).95 This suggested that some Sufi orders could adapt and thrive in modern urban centers, even if this was somewhat exceptional. Valerie Hoffman’s research on Sufism in Egypt in the 1980s would reveal that the number of Sufi orders overall was expanding, and although much of this was found among those situated in low socioeconomic statuses, Sufi orders such as the Burhaniyya were successfully drawing interest from urban elites.96 Since the 1990s, scholars have largely abandoned the thesis of Sufism’s inevitable decline, and have begun to chart the various ways in which the practice of Sufism is adapting to contemporary contexts, drawing attention to the increasingly transnational and politicized nature of Sufism. Recent studies not only highlight local Sufi communities, movements, and brotherhoods (tariqas), but further explore how these movements form networks of affiliation across borders, nationalities, and cultures, thus transforming Sufi rituals, theologies, and philosophies in the process.97 The field of contemporary Sufism critically engages with and unpacks everyday Sufi practices, philosophies, and theological tenets within the climate of a modern era. Such studies have also taken further regional, and at times anthropological, approaches, as seen in the scholarship of Rozehnal, Anna Bigelow, Carla Bellamy, Afsar Mohammad, and Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger.98 Although not all regions and works are included in this brief summary, the latter examples are illustrative of the kind of work being done on Sufism in regions such as Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia. At the same time, these regions have expanded to include what is traditionally understood as the Western world, such as Europe and America. For instance, Pnina Werbner and Robert Geaves, in their respective studies, employed a spatial focus to chart migration and diasporic patterns of Sufism in Britain, with a special focus on South Asian Sufi communities.99 Other scholars, such as Hermansen and Gisela Webb, have been formative in helping people think about Sufism as it has unfolded in the American context. Hermansen and Webb have focused less on Sufism as an alternative or New Age spirituality and more as an expression of Islamic spirituality, though noting the range of emphasis (or not) on Islamic identity among American Sufis.100 Whether analyzing Sufi literature in North America (Hermansen), providing a close history of a particular Sufi group (Webb), or using sociological analytic tools (both), these scholars have drawn out the intellectual and cultural frameworks in the West with which Sufism interacts. Hermansen, for example, has considered some of the ways in which Sufi leaders frame their teaching of Sufism in North America in psychological terms, using Western psychology as a kindred framework for translating Sufi contemplation into terms that are digestible to North Americans.101 Additionally, both scholars have personal connections with Sufi traditions. Webb, who has written extensively on the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, has been influenced by Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and has participated in his Fellowship community. It is these broader global trends of Sufism that have led to works by Nile Green and Mark Sedgwick, who have respectively mapped the historical and intellectual legacies of Sufism from premodern to modern times, and from East to West.102

22 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

Conclusion The production of knowledge on Sufism in the West can be traced as far back as the medieval period. However, it was during early colonial encounters that Europeans began to develop a more distinct and focused sense of Sufism, a sense that was later refined in the Western academy, by scholars with and without affiliations to Sufism as a practice. Starting with figures like Llull (a Christian missionary) to Traditionalist Sufi teachers like Guénon, the knowledge production of Sufism has been immensely varied, ranging from scholarly translations to anthropological and sociological studies. This knowledge production has not been without political implications. The critique of Orientalism, which Said helpfully inaugurated, is precisely that the discipline tended to reductively represent the “Orient” for political purposes. This of course further complicates the knowledge produced on Sufism, especially by Orientalists, whose legacy was felt centuries later in the Western academy’s perception and study of Islam in general. Perhaps its greatest strength and contribution as a discipline was Orientalism’s emphasis on studying languages and texts, a trajectory that has in many ways continued in departments of Islamic studies and Near Eastern studies. Later European scholars of the Orient tended to share the thesis that classical Sufism peaked in the medieval period as a sophisticated mystical philosophy, and degenerated into superstition and corruption after that. This general trend persists in a sometimes unspoken assumption that Sufism today must somehow be less authentic than its historical counterparts, or that Sufism practiced in contemporary Istanbul or New York is in some ways less authentic than Sufism practiced in what are thought of as more ‘traditional’ contexts, perhaps a rural North African village, or the Sufism found in the classical texts of masters. However, with the rise of social sciences, we see a shift in scholarship during the 20th century toward analyzing contemporary social phenomena. Collectively, these studies have presented Sufism through a particular framework shaped by Western intellectual trends and methodologies, coloring Sufism in particular ways in the imagination of those in the West. This coloring continues to influence the ways in which Sufism is encountered, constructed, and imagined by Sufis and nonSufis alike. Despite the proliferation of scholarship on lived Sufism, the plethora of recent studies within the field of contemporary Sufism have yet to be synthesized into a coherent overview that highlights key trends that are currently shaping Sufism in the modern world. Significantly, while the theological debates that are shaping contemporary Sufism and its place in Islam have yet to be adequately articulated, this understanding is necessary to interpret contemporary Islam as a whole, as well as to make sense of Sufism’s place within the contemporary Islamic paradigm. Rather than opine about Sufism’s historical ‘peak’ or its current authenticity, we seek in this work to provide an overview of Sufism’s lived expressions, and to highlight patterns of connection that define the contemporary scene, starting with the first theme of Sufism and anti-Sufism.

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 23

Notes 1 Carl W. Ernst, Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2011). 2 Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Heart of Sufism (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1999); Kabir Helminski, The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2000). 3 Deepak Chopra, ed., The Love Poems of Rumi (New York: Penguin Random House, 1998); Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin, trans., Rumi’s Little Book of Life:The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit (Charlottesville,VA: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2012); Coleman Barks, trans., The Essential Rumi (New York: HarperCollins, 2004). 4 See, for example, Catharina Raudvere and Leif Stenberg, eds., Sufism Today: Heritage and Tradition in the Global Sufi Community (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009). 5 Although some scholars have shifted to using the terms “West Asia” or “Western Asia,” in North America the term “Middle East” remains the most common referent for the region encompassing Egypt, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, the Anatolian peninsula, and the Iranian plateu. 6 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York:Vintage Books, 1978). 7 Ibid., 3. 8 Ibid., 142. 9 Ibid., 314–321. 10 Ibid., 321. 11 Edward W. Said, Orientalism. 25th Anniversary edition. (New York: Penguin, 2003) (all subsequent mentions refer to this edition), 274, describes Massignon as “less a mythologized ‘genius’ than he is a kind of system for producing certain kinds of statements, disseminated into the large mass of discursive formations that together make up the archive, or cultural material, of his time.” Said continues that he does not think such an analysis is dehumanizing nor reductively deterministic, signifying that it can certainly appear to be such. For a study of more affirmative, integrative Western engagements with the Orient, see J. J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought (New York: Routledge, 1997). 12 In his preface to the 25th Anniversary Edition of Orientalism, Said, perhaps responding to such critiques, makes a point to affirm that,“there is a difference between knowledge of other peoples and other times that is the result of understanding, compassion, careful study and analysis for their own sakes, and on the other hand knowledge – if that is what it is – that is part of an overall campaign of self-affirmation, belligerency, and outright war,” xix. 13 Carl W. Ernst, The Shambhala Guide to Sufism (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1997), 122. 14 Luther would even go on to write an introduction to the German translation of the book. Sedgwick notes that the original Latin version of the Treatise of the Turks (Tractatus de moribus, conditionibus et nequita Tercorum) went through twelve printings between 1481 and 1550, while the German translation was printed eleven times between 1482 and 1531. Mark Sedgwick, Western Sufism: From the Abbasids to the New Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 71, 77. 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid. 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid. Remarking on its profound influence, Said notes that d’Herbelot’s Bibliothèque “remained the standard reference work in Europe until the early nineteenth century. Its scope was truly epochal.” Said, Orientalism, 64. 19 Marshal G. S. Hodgson, Rethinking World History: Essays on Europe, Islam, and World History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 70–71. 20 Ibid. 21 Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment, 8. 22 Mehdi Aminrazavi, “Introduction,” in Sufism and American Literary Masters, ed. Mehdi Aminrazavi (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2014), 3.

24 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

23 Said, Orientalism, 78. 24 Charles Schmitt notes that although there is no agreed-upon definition of the Perennial philosophy, the term “is usually taken to indicate that some sort of continuous theme runs throughout the history of philosophy, that certain enduring and lasting truths are recognizable in the philosophical writings of all historical periods.” Its emergence has been traced to a delegation of Byzantine scholars present for the Council of Ferrera (1438–1439), held to discuss the possible reunion of the Roman and Eastern Churches. Georgios Gemistos Plethon (d. 1452), a Neoplatonist scholar of the Byzantine delegation, suggested to Catholic Florentines that “all Greek philosophies could be harmonized and that a profound knowledge of Plato could become the basis of religious unity.” Plethon caught the ear of Florence’s prince Cosimo de’ Medici (d. 1464), who would become a patron of Platonic and Hermetic thought during the Renaissance. Charles B. Schmitt, “Perennial Philosophy: From Agostino Steuco to Leibniz,” Journal of the History of Ideas 24, no. 4 (1966): 505. 25 Michael J. Franklin, Orientalist Jones: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer, and Linguist 1746– 1794 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), ix. 26 Sedgwick, Western Sufism. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid. 29 Atif Khalil and Shiraz Sheikh, “Sufism in Western Historiography: A Brief Overview,” Philosophy East and West 66, no. 1 (2016): 197. 30 Annemarie Schimmel quoting “another nineteenth-century scholar,” “Foreword,” in In the Garden of Mrtyles: Studies in Early Islamic Mysticism, ed. Tor Andrae and trans. Birgitta Sharpe (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1987), viii. 31 Khalil and Sheikh, “Sufism in Western Historiography,” 198. 32 Ibid., 200. 33 Raja Lahiani, Eastern Lumaries Disclosed to Western Eyes: A Critical Evaluation of the Translations of Mu‘allaqāt into English and French (1782–2000) (Bern: Peter Lang, 2008), 57. 34 Ibid. 35 Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, trans., Mathnawi (London: Luzac & Co., 1925–1940); Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam (London: George Bell & Sons, 1914). 36 Reynold A. Nicholson, “A Historical Enquiry Concerning the Origin and Development of Sufism,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (April 1906): 305. 37 Ibid., 309–315. 38 Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, 20. 39 Atif Khalil and Shiraz Sheikh, “Sufism in Western Historiography: A Brief Overview,” Philosophy East and West 66, no. 1 (2016): 194–217, 201. 40 S. A. Skilliter, “Obituary: Arthur John Arberry,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 33, no. 2 (1970), 364. 41 Lahiani, Eastern Lumaries Disclosed to Western Eyes, 59. 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid. 44 Ibid. 45 A. J. Arberry, trans., The Koran Interpreted: A Translation (London: Allen & Unwin, 1955). 46 Lahiani, Eastern Lumaries Disclosed to Western Eyes, 59. 47 Ibid.; A. J. Arberry, Introduction to Sufism (London: Longman, 1942); A. J. ArberrySufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam (New York: Dover Publications, 1950); A. J. Arberry, trans., Ruba‘iyat of Jalauddin Rumi (London: E. Walker, 1949); A. J. Arberry, trans., Discourses of Rumi (London: John Murray, 1961a); A. J. Arberry, trans., Tales from the Masnavi (London: Allen and Unwin, 1961b); A. J. Arberry trans., The Mystical Poems of Rumi (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1968). 48 Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, 1–3. 49 Said, Orientalism, 104.

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 25

50 Jean Jacques Waardenburg, Muslims as Actors: Islamic Meanings and Muslim Interpretations (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007), 158. 51 Ibid. 52 Ibid. 53 Said, Orientalism, 266. 54 Ibid. 55 Patrick Laude, Pathways to an Inner Islam: Massignon, Corbin, Guénon, and Schuon (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2010), 1–2. 56 Ibid. 57 Louis Massignon, Essai sur les origines de la lexique technique de la mystique musalmane (Paris: Geuthner, 1922). 58 Schimmel, “Foreword,” ix. 59 From page 64 of Massignon’s Essai, as translated by Leonard Lewisohn, “Persian Sufism in the Contemporary West: Reflections on the Mi‘matu’llahi diaspora,” in Sufism in the West, eds. Jamal Malik and John Hinnells (New York: Routledge, 2006), 60. 60 By the end of his life, Massignon was a Professor of Sociology of Islam at the Collège de France in Paris, Director of Religious Studies at the École pratiqu des hautes études, and a member of the Arab Academy in Cairo. For more, see Dorothy C. Buck, ed., Louis Massignon: A Pioneer of Interfaith Dialogue (Clifton, NJ: Blue Dome Press, 2017). 61 René Guénon, Insights into Islamic Esoterism and Taoism, trans. Henry D. Fohr (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perrenis, 2001), 4. 62 Laude, Pathways to an Inner Islam, 14. 63 René Guénon, Orient et Occident (Paris: Les Editions Vega, 1924, 1983). 64 William Rory Dickson, Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2015), 71. 65 Laude, Pathways to an Inner Islam, 9. 66 Hazrat Inayat Khan, A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty (London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1914). 67 Donald A. Sharif Graham, “Spreading the Wisdom of Sufism: The Career of Pir-oMurshid Inayat Khan in the West,” in A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan, ed. Zia Inayat Khan (New Lebanon, NY: Omega, 2001), 127. 68 Zia Inayat Khan, “A Hybrid Sufi Order at the Crossroads of Modernity:The Sufi Order and Sufi Movement of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan” (Doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 2006), 56–57. 69 Ibid., 7, 11. 70 H. A. R. Gibb (d. 1971) wrote in his obituary for Massignon that the French scholar exhibited both “a masterly use of established tools of academic research” and “an individual intuition of spiritual dimensions.” As quoted in Said, Orientalism, 265. Massignon would also be critiqued for Christianizing Islam in his works as much as he Islamized his Christian spirituality in his own life. 71 Laude, Pathways to an Inner Islam, 11. 72 Ibid., 1–2. 73 Henry Corbin, The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism (New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications, 1978); Henry Corbin, Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969). 74 Ibid., 12. 75 See Hans Thomas Hakl, Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century, trans. Christopher McIntosh (New York: Routledge, 2014). 76 Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975). 77 John O. Voll, “Changing Western Approaches to Islamic Studies,” in Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, eds. Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang (Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012), 28–52 [31].

26 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

78 Marcia Hermansen, “The Academic Study of Sufism at American Universities,” in Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, eds. Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang (Herndon,VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012), 88–111 [89]. 79 Ibid., 90. 80 Alexander Knysh, as quoted in ibid., 91–92. 81 Safi is now the Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and a Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. 82 During this time, Fazlur Rahman, who held the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Islamic Thought at the University of Chicago, also helped to develop the Near Eastern Studies program that would produce some of the most influential North American scholars of Islam, including Michael A. Sells, Amina Wadud, and Tamara Sonn. 83 Quoted by Mumtaz Ahmad in “Islamic Studies in American Universities: Conversations, Discourses, and Dialogues with Scholars,” in Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, eds. Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang (Herndon,VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012), 219–251. 84 Sachiko Murata, The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992). 85 Yannis Toussulis, Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of Sacred Psychology (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 2010), 30–31. 86 Idries Shah, The Sufis (London: The Octagon Press, 1964); Idries Shah, The Way of the Sufi (London: The Octagon Press, 1968). 87 See, for example, James Moore, “Neo-Sufism: The Case of Idries Shah,” Religion Today 3 (1987): 4–6. 88 Mahmudul Hasan, “Discovering Doris Lessing: Convergences between Islam and Her Thoughts,” American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 33, no. 2 (2016): 25–49. 89 Ibid., 41. 90 Ibid., 43. Mark Sedgwick, in his chapter “The Reception of Sufi and Neo-Sufi Literature,” in Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality, eds. Ron Geaves, Markus Dressler, and Gritt Klinkhammer (London: Routledge, 2009), classifies the works of Idries Shah and Doris Lessing as examples of “Neo-Sufi literature.” 91 Rob Baker, Henry Gray, and William C. Chittick, eds., Merton & Sufism: The Untold Story: A Complete Compendium (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999); Fr. Anthony Ciorra, ed., Thomas Merton on Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae), 2012, CD collection. 92 For more, please see Rosemary R. Corbett, Making Moderate Islam: Sufism, Service, and the “Ground Zero Mosque” Controversy (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016); Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Moving the Mountain: A New Vision of Islam in America (New York: Free Press, 2013). 93 R. J. Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam (New York: Dover Publications, 1950), 122. 94 Julia Day Howell and Martin van Bruinessen, eds., Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007), 8. 95 Michael Gilsenan, Saint and Sufi in Modern Egypt: An Essay in the Sociology of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973). 96 Valerie J. Hoffman,Sufism, Mystics, and Saints in Modern Egypt (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1995). 97 Howell and van Bruinessen, eds., Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam; Julia Day Howell and Martin van Bruinessen, eds., Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality, eds. Ron Geaves, Markus Dressler, and Gritt Klinkhammer (London: Routledge, 2009); Catharina Raudvere and Leif Stenberg, eds., Sufism Today: Heritage and Tradition in the Global Community (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009). 98 Joyce Flueckiger, In Amma’s Healing Room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South Asia (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006); Carla Bellamy, The Powerful

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 27

99

100

101 102

Ephemeral: Everyday Healing in an Ambiguously Islamic Place (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011); Anna Bigelow, Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Robert Rozehnal, Islamic Sufism Unbound: Politics and Piety in Twenty-First Century Pakistan (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009). Pnina Werbner, Pilgrims of Love: The Anthropology of a Global Sufi Cult (London: Hurst, 2003); Ron Geaves, The Sufis of Britain: An Exploration of Muslim Identity (Cardiff: Cardiff Academic Press, 2000); Ron Geaves and Theodore Gabriel, eds., Sufism in Britain (London; Oxford: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013). For more, please see Marcia Hermansen, “Sufism and American Women,” World History Connected, November 2006, http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/4.1/hermansen.html; Marcia Hermansen, “Literary Production of Western Sufi Movements,” in Sufism in the West, eds. Jamal Malik and John Hinnells (New York: Routledge, 2006), 28–48; Marcia Hermansen, “Global Sufism: ‘Theirs and Ours’” in Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality, eds. Ron Geaves, Markus Dressler, and Gritt Klinkhammer (London: Routledge, 2009), 26–45; Marcia Hermansen, “South Asian Sufism in the United States,” in South Asian Sufis: Devotion, Deviation and Destiny, ed. Charles Ramsey (New York: Continuum, 2012), 247–268; Marcia Hermansen, “In the Garden of American Sufi Movements: Hybrids and Perennials,” in New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam, ed. Peter Clark (London: Luzac Oriental Press, 1997), 155–178; Gisela Webb,“Third-wave Sufism in America and the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship,” in Sufism in the West, eds. Jamal Malik and John Hinnells (New York: Routledge, 2006), 86–102; Gisela Webb, “Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary American Spirituality: The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship,” in Muslim Communities in North America, eds.Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane I. Smith (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 75–108; Gisela Webb, “Negotiating Boundaries: American Sufis,” in The Cambridge Companion to American Islam, eds. Juliane Hammer and Omid Safi (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 190–207; Gisela Webb, “Teaching with Pictures: Three Paintings of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen,” in Windows on the House of Islam, ed. John Renard (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998), 290–296. Marcia Hermansen, “What’s American about American Sufi Movements” in Sufism in Europe and North America, ed. D. Westerlund (London: Routledge, 2004), 36–63. Sedgwick, Western Sufism; Nile Green, Sufism: A Global History (West Sussex: WileyBlackwell, 2012).

Bibliography Ahmad, Mumtaz. “Islamic Studies in American Universities: Conversations, Discourses, and Dialogues with Scholars.” In Observing the Observer:The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, edited by Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang, 219–251. London; Washington, DC: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012. Aminrazavi, Mehdi. “Introduction.” In Sufism and American Literary Masters, edited by Mehdi Aminrazavi, 1–11. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2014. Arberry, A.J. Introduction to Sufism. London: Longman, 1942. Arberry, A.J. trans. The Ruba’iyat of Jalaluddin Rumi. London: E. Walker, 1949. Arberry, A.J. Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam. New York: Dover Publications, 1950. Arberry, A.J. trans. The Koran Interpreted: A Translation. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1955. Arberry, A.J. trans. Discourses of Rumi. London: John Murray, 1961a. Arberry, A.J. trans. Tales from the Masnavi. London: Allen and Unwin, 1961b. Arberry, A.J. trans. The Mystical Poems of Rumi. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1968.

28 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

Baker, Rob, Henry Gray, and William C. Chittick, eds. Merton & Sufism: The Untold Story: A Complete Compendium. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999. Barks, Coleman, trans. The Essential Rumi. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Bellamy, Carla. The Powerful Ephemeral: Everyday Healing in an Ambiguously Islamic Place. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011. Bigelow, Anna. Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Buck, Dorothy C., ed. Louis Massignon: A Pioneer of Interfaith Dialogue. Clifton, NJ: Blue Dome Press, 2017. Chopra, Deepak, ed. The Love Poems of Rumi. New York: Penguin Random House, 1998. Ciorra, Fr. Anthony, ed. Thomas Merton on Sufism. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2012. CD collection. Clarke, J.J. Oriental Enlightenment:The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought. New York: Routledge, 1997. Corbett, Rosemary R. Making Moderate Islam: Sufism, Service, and the “Ground Zero Mosque” Controversy. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016. Corbin, Henry. Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969. Corbin, Henry. The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism. New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications, 1978. Dickson, William Rory. Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation. New York: State University of New York Press, 2015. Douglas-Klotz, Neil. “From Breath to Life: Music and Movement as Languages of Experience in an American Sufi.” Presentation at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, 2011. www.aarmysticism.org/AARMysticism2011.htm. Ernst, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1997. Ernst, Carl W. Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2011. Flueckiger, Joyce. In Amma’s Healing Room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South Asia. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006. Franklin, Michael J. Orientalist Jones: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer, and Linguist 1746–1794. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Geaves, Ron. The Sufis of Britain: An Exploration of Muslim Identity. Cardiff: Cardiff Academic Press, 2000. Geaves, Ron, and Theodore Gabriel, eds. Sufism in Britain. London; Oxford: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. Geaves, Ron, Markus Dressler, and Gritt Klinkhammer, eds. Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality. London: Routledge, 2009. Gilsenan, Michael. Saint and Sufi in Modern Egypt: An Essay in the Sociology of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973. Graham, Donald A. Sharif. “Spreading the Wisdom of Sufism: The Career of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan in the West.” In A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan, edited by Zia Inayat Khan, 127–156f. New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications, 2001. Green, Nile. Sufism: A Global History. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Guénon, René. Orient et Occident. Paris: Payot, 1924. Guénon, René. Insights into Islamic Esoterism and Taoism. Translated by Henry D. Fohr. Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perrenis, 2001. Hakl, Hans Thomas. Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. Translated by Christopher McIntosh. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 29

Hasan, Mahmudul. “Discovering Doris Lessing: Convergences between Islam and Her Thoughts.” American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 33, no. 2 (2016): 25–49. Helminski, Kabir. The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2000. Hermansen, Marcia. “In the Garden of American Sufi Movements: Hybrids and Perennials.” In New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam, edited by Peter Clark, 155–178. London: Luzac Oriental Press, 1997. Hermansen, Marcia. “What’s American about American Sufi Movements?” In Sufism in Europe and North America, edited by D. Westerlund, 36–63. London: Routledge, 2004. Hermansen, Marcia. “Literary Production of Western Sufi Movements.” In Sufism in the West, edited by Jamal Malik and John Hinnells, 28–48. New York: Routledge, 2006a. Hermansen, Marcia. “Sufism and American Women.” World History Connected. November 2006b. http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/4.1/hermansen.html. Hermansen, Marcia. “Global Sufism: ‘Theirs and Ours.’” In Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality, edited by Ron Geaves, Markus Dressler, and Gritt Klinkhammer, 26–45. London: Routledge, 2009. Hermansen, Marcia. “The Academic Study of Sufism at American Universities.” In Observing the Observer:The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, edited by Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang, 88–111. London; Washington, DC: The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012a. Hermansen, Marcia. “South Asian Sufism in the United States.” In South Asian Sufis: Devotion, Deviation and Destiny, edited by Charles Ramsey, 247–268. New York: Continuum, 2012b. Hodgson, Marshal G.S. Rethinking World History: Essays on Europe, Islam, and World History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Hoffman, Valerie J. Sufism, Mystics, and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1995. Howell, Julia Day, and Martin van Bruinessen, eds. Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007. Inayat Khan, Hazrat. A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1914. Inayat Khan, Hazrat. The Heart of Sufism. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1999. Inayat Khan, Zia. A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan. New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications, 2001. Inayat Khan, Zia. “A Hybrid Sufi Order at the Crossroads of Modernity:The Sufi Order and Sufi Movement of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan.” Doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 2006. Khalil, Atif, and Shiraz Sheikh. “Sufism in Western Historiography: A Brief Overview.” Philosophy East and West 66 (2016): 194–217. Kiser, John. Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader. Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book Publishing, 2008. Lahiani, Raja. Eastern Luminaries Disclosed to Western Eyes: A Critical Evaluation of the Translations of Mu’allaqāt into English and French (1782–2000). Bern: Peter Lang, 2008. Laude, Patrick. Pathways to an Inner Islam: Massignon, Corbin, Guenon, and Schuon. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2010. Lewis, Franklin D. Rumi: Past and Present, East and West. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2008. Lewisohn, Leonard. “Persian Sufism in the Contemporary West: Reflections on the Ni‘matu’llahi diaspora.” In Sufism in the West, edited by Jamal Malik and John Hinnells, 49–70. New York: Routledge, 2006.

30 Contextualizing the production of knowledge

Mafi, Maryam, and Azima Melita Kolin, trans. Rumi’s Little Book of Life: The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit. Charlottesville,VA: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2012. Massignon, Louis. Essai sur les origines de la lexique technique de la mystique musalmane. Paris: J.Vrin, 1922. Moore, James. “Neo-Sufism: The Case of Idries Shah.” Religion Today 3 (1987): 4–6. Murata, Sachiko. The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992. Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne. “A Historical Enquiry Concerning the Origin and Development of Sufism.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Spring 1906): 303–348. Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne. The Mystics of Islam. London: George Bell & Sons, 1914. Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne, trans. Mathnawi. London: Chapman and Hall, 1925–1940. Raudvere, Catharina, and Leif Stenberg, eds. Sufism Today: Heritage and Tradition in the Global Community. London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009. Rauf, Imam Feisal Abdul. Moving the Mountain: A New Vision of Islam in America. New York: Free Press, 2013. Rozehnal, Robert. Islamic Sufism Unbound: Politics and Piety in Twenty-First Century Pakistan. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009. Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York:Vintage Books, 1978. Said, Edward W. Orientalism. 25th Anniversary edition. New York: Penguin, 2003. Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975. Schimmel, Annemarie. “Foreword.” In In the Garden of Mrtyles: Studies in Early Islamic Mysticism, edited by Tor Andrae and translated by Birgitta Sharpe, vii–xii. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1987. Schmitt, Charles B. “Perennial Philosophy: From Agostino Steuco to Leibniz.” Journal of the History of Ideas 24, no. 4 (1966): 505–532. Sedgwick, Mark. Against the Modern World:Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Sedgwick, Mark. “The Reception of Sufi and Neo-Sufi literature.” In Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality, edited by Ron Geaves, Markus Dressler, and Gritt Klinkhammer, 180–197. London: Routledge, 2009. Sedgwick, Mark. Western Sufism: From the Abbasids to the New Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Shah, Idries. The Sufis. London: Octagon Press, 1964. Shah, Idries. The Way of the Sufi. London: Octagon Press, 1968. Shaikh, Sa’diyya. Sufi Narratices of Intimacy: Ibn ’Arabi, Gender, and Sexuality. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Sirriyeh, Elizabeth. Sufis and Anti-Sufis: The Defence, Rethinking and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1999. Skilliter, S.A. “Obituary: Arthur John Arberry.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 33, no. 2 (1970): 364–367. Toussulis, Yannis. Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of Sacred Psychology. Wheaton, IL; India: Theosophical Publishing House, 2010. van Bruinessen, Martin, and Julia Day Howell, eds. Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam. New York: I.B.Tauris, 2007. Voll, John O. “Changing Western Approaches to Islamic Studies.” In Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, edited by Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang, 28–52. Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012.

Contextualizing the production of knowledge 31

Waardenburg, Jean Jacques. Muslims as Actors: Islamic Meanings and Muslim Interpretations. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007. Webb, Gisela. “Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary American Spirituality: The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship.” In Muslim Communities in North America, edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane I. Smith, 75–108. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994. Webb, Gisela. “Teaching with Pictures:Three Paintings of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen.” In Windows on the House of Islam, edited by John Renard, 290–296. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998. Webb, Gisela. “Third-wave Sufism in America and the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship.” In Sufism in the West, edited by Jamal Malik and John Hinnells, 86–102. New York: Routledge, 2006. Webb, Gisela. “Negotiating Boundaries: American Sufis.” In The Cambridge Companion to American Islam, edited by Juliane Hammer and Omid Safi, 190–207. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Werbner, Pnina. Pilgrims of Love:The Anthropology of a Global Sufi Cult. London: Hurst, 2003. Westerlund, David, ed. Sufism in Europe and North America. New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004.

PART I

Sufism and anti-Sufism in contemporary contexts

2 HEART OR HERESY? THE HISTORICAL DEBATE OVER SUFISM’S PLACE IN ISLAM

There is a striking incongruity in contemporary Muslim discourse on Islam. Interested readers, new mosque attendees, and even scholars may find themselves quickly confused when it comes to the subject of Sufism. According to some Muslim authors, Sufism is the spiritual core of Islam, its “heart” and “soul.”1 For many Muslims, even discussing Sufism as something separable from Islam seems odd, as what we call “Sufism” is considered to be Islam, pure and simple. Other Muslim preachers, however, loudly warn from the pulpit and the page about the “deviations,” “misguidance,” and “dangers” of Sufism.2 These opponents of Sufism portray it as an un-Islamic corruption of early Islamic teachings, something Muslims are to be wary of and even actively oppose. Too often, sensationalistic stereotypes of Sufism act in the place of a genuine understanding of the tradition and its pervasive historical role in Muslim societies – a history that in many cases is being totally erased from Islamic narratives. For some Muslims, Sufism is seen as a form of heresy so starkly contrasting normative Islam that Sufis are anathematized as the most obvious sort of nonbelievers. Sufism is either the best of Islam or its most pernicious imitator and infiltrator. Tragically, amid the instability of postcolonial Muslim societies, it is not only ink that is spilled over Sufism. Armed with a toxic mixture of theological and political motivations, suicide bombers target Sufi shrines in Pakistan, while al-Qaeda affiliated movements bulldoze ancient Sufi sites in Mali and Iraq. Some Muslim governments ban Sufi literature and persecute Sufis. Weak states and unfinished theological debates are woven together into a larger crisis of political legitimacy in Muslim societies.These tensions, though exacerbated by recent developments, have deep roots in the soil of Islamic thought. Sufism’s place in Islam has shifted over the centuries, from the margins, to the center, and back again. As we will see later in this chapter, for centuries Sufism was seamlessly integrated into every facet of Muslim life, with Sufis functioning as key allies and teachers of sultans, Sufi poetry

36 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

and music forming a mainstay of Muslim cultural life, and with Sufi orders shaping Muslim devotion from Morocco to Indonesia, while Sufi-infused guilds shaped the trades in Muslim societies. Regardless of its place within the larger Islamic community, debates over Sufism take us to the heart of what it means to be Muslim. This chapter outlines Sufism’s historical shifts, familiarizing the reader with its moving place in Islamic history, and setting the stage for considering the contemporary debate over Sufism’s place in Islam. The debate over Sufism hinges on questions of metaphysics, epistemology, anthropology, and authority: What is the nature of God? How can we gain knowledge of God? What is the nature and purpose of being human? Who inherits the Prophet Muhammad’s authority and charisma? The different ways in which Muslims have answered these questions led to distinct interpretive traditions, traditions that had largely crystallized by the 10th and 11th centuries CE. We focus on two of these interpretive currents as they developed within Islam’s majority Sunni sect (ahl al-sunna wa’l jama‘a).3 The two traditions can be described broadly as Sufi and anti-Sufi interpretations of Islam.4 Neither are homogenous schools of thought, but both are marked tendencies that have maintained an intellectual and practical coherence throughout much of the history of Islam. With each attempting to authoritatively define Islam, the contestations between them have had, and will continue to have, profound effects on the nature of Islamic thought and the place of Islam in the modern world.

Early Islam and the emergence of Sufism From where did Sufism emerge? As there is no historically incontrovertible answer to this question, we can only consider the most prominent theses as to its origin. They are important to review here, as determining the nature of Sufism’s genesis has profound implications for its claims to Islamic authenticity – claims which frame contemporary debates. Muslim opponents of Sufism decry its extra-Islamic origin, while Sufis themselves trace their way to the Qur’an, the Prophet, and his closest companions (al-sahaba). Before considering the historical origins of Sufism, it is important to highlight here an aspect of the Quranic narrative of prophecy that has long informed Sufi understandings of their path. The Qur’an refers to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as Muslims, as those who submit to God.5 Islam, in this more universal Quranic usage, is a term that includes humanity’s heritage of divine guidance.6 For Sufis, if Sufism is simply the inner aspect of Islam, then Sufism is as old as humanity, the ever-present path of transformation found in the company of revelation. It follows that Neoplatonism, Zoroastrian mystical traditions, Jewish and Christian contemplative paths, can be thought of as aspects of earlier revelations (i.e., earlier versions of Islam, in this more universal meaning), from which Muslims can legitimately draw and integrate into the path of Muhammad (i.e., a path that is foundationally synthetic in nature, if by “synthetic” we mean synthesizing and drawing out the essence of previous revelations). For Sufis who take this more universal understanding of Islam/Sufism as their point of departure, questions of

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 37

historical origin become somewhat secondary. Considering the importance of the historical question for current debates regarding Sufism’s relation to Islam, however, it is critical to start here. Historians of Islam, seeking to locate the roots of mystically oriented Islamic traditions,7 have generally concluded that they grew largely from indigenous sources, with important exogenous influences. This of course does not make Sufism an exception within the wider Islamic tradition. Although Islam was born in Arabia, it matured as a law, theology, and spiritual path in Damascus, Cairo, and Baghdad, as much as in Mecca. These Middle Eastern metropoles were melting pots of Greek and Persian, and Jewish and Christian cultural forms as much as they were Arab. Like Sufism, Islamic theology and philosophy developed in conversation with the confluence of cultures that defined the larger Middle Eastern region. Muslims tended to embrace, synthesize, and reformulate extant traditions of learning in light of the Qur’an’s universalizing monotheism.8 Premised on an absolute unity (tawhid), Islam’s monotheism has been interpreted as manifesting (or not) in the world in different ways, leading to bifurcated opinions of Sufism. Like religions before it, Islam’s institutionalization would inspire ascetic, critical responses emphasizing spiritual integrity and transformation in contrast to authoritative discourses tied to political power. The term Sufism (tasawwuf) itself likely originated as a reference to Muslim ascetics who wore wool (Arabic: suf).9 Although monasticism never took hold in Islam, with Muhammad’s life of activism and family being exemplary for Muslims, early sources show that asceticism (voluntary poverty, frequent fasting, abandoning sleep for nocturnal prayer vigils) was a widely held ideal among early Muslims. The first recorded application of the label “Sufi” to an ascetic was in the 8th century.10 The term did not gain traction in mainstream Sunni Islam until later in the 9th century, when Sufi circles in Iraq came to prominence. Does the relatively late emergence of the term tasawwuf mean that Sufism itself was a later development? Abu al-Hasan al-Bushanji (d. 960) famously opined that Sufism is “a name without a reality. It used to be a reality without a name.”11 It is possible (and given later developments, likely) that proto-Sufism existed as a pietistic, esoteric strain in Islam since the religion’s inception, only later taking form and crystallizing as a semiautonomous school of thought and practice. The most immediate endogenous sources of Sufism are Islam’s early ascetic movement and the esotericism of proto-Shi‘ism.12 As Islam became the religion of a newly minted Arab Empire in the Middle East, devout Muslims began to feel that the Quranic imperatives of frequent worship and non-attachment to worldly wealth and achievement were being lost. Known as zuhhad (ascetics) and ‘ubbad (worshippers), some Muslims gained renown and notoriety for their poverty, fasting, fear of divine punishment, and frequent worship. Most famously, Hasan al-Basri (d. 728) embodied the early ascetic ideal, preaching repentance and the denial of the self ’s appetites. Simultaneously, the early Imams of Shi‘a Islam espoused doctrines that would find parallels in Sufism, including the granting of divine authority to a set number of individuals close to God, and the esoteric interpretation of

38 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

the Qur’an.13 Whereas for Shi‘a Muslims these divinely appointed guides were exclusively from the Prophet’s family, Sufis saw this role as a more widespread possibility, including any believer, perhaps one anonymous and quite hidden from public notice.14 Exogenously, Christian asceticism and Neoplatonism appear to be the most likely influences on Islamic mysticism, though Buddhism may also have played a role in this regard. Islamic asceticism closely resembled the Christian asceticism that was prevalent in Egypt and Syria.The numerous accounts of Muslim and Christian ascetics interacting lend credence to Christian influences here. The practice of wearing wool has a probable Christian origin. The numerous shared emphases of later Islamic mystical philosophy with Neoplatonism, and the explicit reference of Sufi or Sufi-related writers to Greek and particularly Neoplatonic thought, make this connection well established. However, as evidence of Neoplatonic influence comes later in the development of Sufism, Greek mysticism is an unlikely source of Sufism, though it is undoubtedly a notable influence on how Sufism (particularly its unique ontology and cosmology) came to be articulated. Later Sufi biographers and historians, writing in part to establish Sufism’s Islamic credentials against its opponents, traced Sufism’s origin to the Prophet Muhammad. They suggested that the Prophet shared with his closest companions a living wisdom based on unwavering consciousness of God and a unitary understanding of reality. The existence of this extra-scriptural transmission is indicated by Abu Hurayra’s (a companion of Muhammad’s) famous saying: “I have committed to memory two vessels (of teachings) from the Messenger of God: One of them I have widely disseminated; but as for the other, if I had disseminated it this throat of mine would have been cut!”15 This saying resembles others by Muhammad’s companions that Sufis have highlighted, indicating this deeper teaching reserved for his closest followers. For most Sufis, this deeper wisdom was believed to be transmitted most fully from the Prophet by his cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (d. 661), a figure at the epicenter of Shi‘a Islam as well. As this transmission of extra-Quranic teachings continued from master to disciple over generations, and as various doctrines and practices associated with it became increasingly codified, the term tasawwuf was developed to refer to those Muslims who focused on intensifying devotion based on these inward teachings.16 Although we cannot historically confirm this narrative of a personal transmission of wisdom and authority from Muhammad to his close companions, the fact that both Shi‘a and Sufi Muslims developed esoteric traditions relatively early – in many cases sharing lines of transmission and closely resembling one another in many respects – certainly strengthens the case that such a narrative has historical grounding. In the eastern Iranian province of Khurasan, circles of devotees emerged in the 9th century who focused on avoiding religious hypocrisy. In some cases, they did so through engaging in blameworthy actions (malama or “drawing blame”) to ensure neither public nor personal renown, better securing devotion as free from the snares of egoic fulfillment and pride. Centered in Nishapur, they were known as the “People of Blame” or Malamatiyya, and they would later be considered as

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 39

progenitors of Sufism.17 Hakim al-Tirmidhi (d. ca. 908) was an eminent scholar, theologian, and sage (hakim) in Khurasan with whom later Sufis like Ibn al-‘Arabi engaged as an early master of their path. Some of al-Tirmidhi’s letters to prominent Malamati teachers debating their approach remain extant. Malamati emphases on self-denial and rejecting social status and convention would eventually lead to some quite radical, antinomian Sufi tendencies, as found with the Qalandars.18 As Sufi circles came to prominence in Baghdad and Khurasan, they drew the wrath of some theologians and jurists, who accused Sufis of atheism, heresy, and believing in reincarnation.19 Increasingly, anti-Sufi theologians were associated with the Hanbali movement. Founded by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 855), Hanbalism became Sunni Islam’s most socially conservative and theologically literalistic school of thought. Besides his scriptural and theological literalism, Ibn Hanbal was also known for criticizing early Sufis for their innovative spiritual practices and for their use of amorous language in describing their experience of God.20 Hanbalis in general wanted to preserve the letter of the law and the literal meaning of scripture, condemning innovations in religious practice (bida‘a) and esoteric or allegorical interpretations of scripture (tawil), things with which Sufis were associated. This is not to say that Ibn Hanbal was an outright opponent of Sufism, and there is some evidence that he respected the devotion and piety of some Sufi-related figures. Not all later Hanbalis were opposed to Sufism either. Some Hanbalis were renowned Sufis themselves, including ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (d. 1166) and ‘Abd Allah Ansari (d. 1089). Hanbali thought has several shared emphases with Sufism, including an emphasis on religious integrity and piety, and a critique of worldliness. However, the Hanbali tendency toward legalism and literalism led to a number of Hanbali critiques of Sufi emphases on the spirit of the law and the esoteric possibilities of scripture. It is not surprising then that Sunnism’s most concerted anti-Sufi movement would later emerge from the Hanbali school of thought, with its historical iterations including Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 1328) and Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s (d. 1792) anti-Sufi perspectives, discussed later in this chapter.

The Sunni synthesis: Sufism and Shari’a Despite some early opposition, Sufis eventually succeeded in convincing Muslim rulers and jurists that theirs was a legitimate ‘ilm or “science” within Islam. The 10th century saw a number of histories of Sufi masters and systematic accounts of Sufi doctrine, works that cemented Sufism’s place as a respected Islamic discipline.21 Just as jurists specialized in the law, Sufis argued that they specialized in the inward correlates of outward practices, things like purifying one’s intention, developing genuine virtues, tackling psychological issues like the dangers of selfaggrandizement through worship, and purifying one’s soul so that one may draw nearer to God. The Sufi success in this regard is best epitomized by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111), perhaps Sunni Islam’s most famous theologian, who is often given the

40 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

honorific title hujjat al-Islam, or the “proof ” of Islam. His most influential work, “Reviving the Religious Sciences” (Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din),22 is the foremost representative of the medieval Sunni synthesis of Islamic jurisprudence and mysticism. Al-Ghazali successfully made the case to Muslims in general that following the law and rituals of Islam alone was not enough, but was fulfilled only by corresponding inward states of piety. It was these states that Sufis cultivated and categorized, developing a legitimate expertise in this most important realm of religion.23 Just as there were scholars of the outward laws and rituals of Islam, so there were scholars of the inward states, virtues, and intentions. Sufism then, as the science of the inward, became understood as absolutely integral to proper Muslim practice, and its respected place within Sunni Islam was secured until the early modern era.24 The centuries following al-Ghazali saw the growth of Sufism, particularly as a collection of religious orders that took root in almost every corner of Islamic civilization, from Andalusia in the West to India in the East. Just as schools of Islamic law formed around the teachings of figures like Abu Hanifa (d. 767) and Malik (d. 795), systems of Sufi practice formed around famous Sufis like ‘Abd alQadir al-Jilani, Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi (d. 1168), and Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili (d. 1258). Each system or tariqa (literally “path”) was built around a lineage of masters who increasingly systematized teacher–student relations, initiations, and a path of spiritual practice. The orders offered Muslims fraternity, education, music, literature, and spirituality, and were essential to Islamic life in the medieval period. Sufi shrines, where Sufi masters were buried, united various strata of Muslim societies as sites of shared piety, especially as central Muslim societies recovered from the devastating Mongol invasions of the 13th century. In a great many contexts, what we now call Sufism was Islam, without any sense of qualification or separation. Peasants, nomads, craftspeople, scholars, and sultans all relied on Sufis for religious guidance, blessing, training, and credibility. It was Sufis who would spread Islam in Central Asia, Africa, and India, Sufis whose patronage secured the Islamic legitimacy of Muslim governments, and Sufis who were thought by many to be the genuine heirs of the Prophet and the friends of God.

Ibn Taymiyya and the medieval roots of modern anti-Sufism By the medieval period, being a Sufi was respected as a legitimate religious expression, one that was essential to the institutions of power and authority in Muslim societies. However, it did not follow that Sufism was something entirely uncontroversial after the 12th century. Sufi epistemology and ontology would prove challenging and even unacceptable for some Muslim theologians and jurists. Generally known as the ‘ulama (literally “the knowledgeable”), Muslim jurist-theologians based their claims to authority on an in-depth knowledge of Islam’s scriptural sources and the (legal, exegetical) interpretive traditions that surrounded them. Though Sufis and the ‘ulama often functioned in complementary ways, with each respecting the other’s realm of expertise, there was always the potential for tension between epistemologies based on the agreed-upon meaning of scripture and

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 41

tradition, and those premised on inner experience of spiritual realities – what Sufis called “unveiling” (kashf) or “gnosis” (ma‘rifa). Al-Ghazali described some of the jurists as the ‘ulama al-zahir, those who specialized in the outward sciences of the law and in some cases rejected the possibility of an inward science of spiritual states and knowledge of God.25 For Sufis, rational and textual forms of knowledge, though valid as far as they went, were in a sense secondary to this immediate, intuitive knowledge of spiritual reality. This kind of knowing was something shared by both prophets and saints (in Arabic the awliya or “friends” of God), according to the Sufis. Although prophets were exclusively given revealed laws and scriptures, for Sufis, access to a direct experience of God and the realm of spiritual forms was something more prolific among Muslims: a certain sort of prophetic experience was available more widely.26 This view has a basis in the Qur’an, which describes different types of revelation, not all of which involve prophets. Derivatives of the Arabic root wa-ha-ya such as wahy (“revelation”) occur in reference to God guiding bees to their homes (16:68) or to God guiding Jesus’s apostles to believe in him and in God (5:111).27 For the ‘ulama al-zahir, whose claim to authority was based on correctly interpreting scriptures, the claims of others to have gained knowledge from the very source of the scriptures themselves could be perceived as a direct threat to their authority and potentially destabilizing for the conclusions they worked out regarding the nature of God and how humans relate to Him. And, indeed, Sufis often proclaimed that they, not the jurists and theologians, had authoritative knowledge of what the Qur’an and Muhammad’s way meant, based on ma‘rifa: this more direct and profound sort of knowledge that trumped scholarly methods. Those ‘ulama who were most concerned about the potential for claims of Sufi gnosis to contest and destabilize orthodox religious interpretations tended toward textualism, or scriptural literalism. They tended to be affiliated with Hanbalism’s most conservative wing. Foremost among these was the Damascene jurist and scholar of Hadith (sayings of Muhammad), Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328). A controversial figure, Ibn Taymiyya was widely respected for his voluminous learning, integrity, and sharp mind. He wrote broadly, composing “hundreds of works on numerous topics including theology, political theory, Qur’anic exegesis, jurisprudence, and mysticism.”28 However, Ibn Taymiyya was opposed by many for his iconoclasm, literalistic theological views, and vehement polemics, for which he was imprisoned on a number of occasions, the last of which led to his death. In particular, his statements that God’s “hands,” “face,” and “descent” as described in the Qur’an were literal (haqiqi) attributes brought charges of anthropomorphism, while his invective against almost every conceivable interpretation of Islam besides his own earned enemies in numerous quarters. Although he had populist appeal among Damascenes, the scholarly class tended to be skeptical if not embarrassed by Ibn Taymiyya’s particular brand of invective.29 It is important to highlight the larger historical context within which Ibn Taymiyya developed his religious polemics. Just as Muslim forces were able to push out the Crusaders from central Muslim lands in the late 12th and early 13th centuries,

42 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

they faced an almost unstoppable threat from the east. Led by Genghis Khan (d. 1227), the Mongols sacked and destroyed some of the most renowned centers of Muslim civilization and religious learning, including Bukhara (1220), Samarkand (1221), and later the center of the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad (1258).30 The destruction of Baghdad marked the end of the Abbasid caliphate, and hence the end of a period of relative political unity in Muslim societies. The caliphate was not to be resurrected until nearly 300 years later, when, in 1517, the Ottomans assumed this title.31 The interim period was marked by a contested reconfiguring of Muslim political and religious authority, a process that Ibn Taymiyyah sought to shape. Writing in a time of crisis, Ibn Taymiyya wanted to save Islam from what he believed to be its greatest enemies: the external threat posed by the Mongols and the internal threat posed by heretics of all kinds, most notably Sufis. For Ibn Taymiyya, just as external invaders fragmented Muslim political power, Sufi excesses, innovations, and deviations threatened to dissolve the coherence of Muslim doctrine and law. In an important sense, the two threats are connected in Ibn Taymiyya’s thought: internal incoherence and corruption invite external domination by foreign foes. He wanted to reinvigorate Islam by defining its theological and geographical borders more clearly, purging it of corruptions and deviations, and inspiring Muslims to fight for their faith against non-Muslims and Muslim hypocrites. Whether external or internal, Ibn Tayimyya understood Islam’s greatest threats to originate with non-Arabs.The Mongol destruction of the ‘Abbasid caliphate was, in a sense, the nail in the coffin of Arab dominance within Islam. Persians and Turks were increasingly coming to the fore as Islam’s most prominent representatives and standard-bearers. Islam’s post-Mongol era would be shaped by Turkish, Persian, and South Asian dynasties, with the concomitant role of their respective languages and cultures. Ibn Taymiyya’s “anxiety about cultural and linguistic pluralism” situated these non-Arabs as threats to the pure Islam of the Arabs.32 He held that Arabs “are in themselves superior” to non-Arabs, an innate superiority amplified by the Prophet being Arab, and the Qur’an an Arabic text.33 His anti-Sufi polemics were related to his sense that certain kinds of Sufism were non-Arab corruptions of early Islam’s Arabic purity. He even went so far as to suggest that because the Prophet, his companions, and the other early generations of Muslims (al-salaf al-salih) spoke Arabic, all Muslims should speak it regardless of their mother tongue, so as to better follow the Prophet and early Muslim generations.34 For Ibn Taymiyya, his project of revivifying Islam meant grounding it firmly in its Arabic source texts: all authentic knowledge must be confirmed by referring to the clear meaning of the Qur’an and Hadith, only filtered by the recorded opinions of the first righteous generations of Muslims (salaf), a principle that fostered his noted hostility to esoteric claims of knowledge and interpretive frameworks.35 Although Ibn Taymiyya did not oppose Sufism outright and was himself a member of a well-known Sufi order,36 his works targeted central aspects of Sufism, laying the intellectual groundwork for later, more sustained anti-Sufi movements.

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 43

He criticized the Sufi veneration of saintly masters and the prayers made at their shrines as compromising Islam’s pure monotheism, which was supposed to limit veneration and prayer to God alone. He rejected the Sufi use of music and belief in saintly miracles as blameworthy innovations in Muslim religiosity. However, the majority of Ibn Taymiyya’s anti-Sufi polemics were directed toward a single Sufi master and his intellectual heirs, whose epistemologies and ontologies contrasted sharply with Ibn Taymiyya’s own. More than any other figure, Ibn Taymiyya was concerned about the growing influence of Ibn al-‘Arabi. For his comprehensive synthesis of Quranic commentary, Islamic philosophy, and Sufi cosmology, Ibn al-‘Arabi had garnered the title of the shaykh al-akbar or “Greatest Master.” Hailing from Andalusia, his many works (around 400 of which we are aware) became widely accepted in Sufi circles as quintessential expositions of the deepest truths of the Islamic tradition. Ibn al-‘Arabi’s students, beginning with Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi (d. 1274), were at the intersection of the various facets of the post-Mongol Islamic intellectual tradition, engaging in debates with Islam’s most famous philosophers and theologians, writing expository commentaries on the most renowned Sufi poetry, and gaining influential positions heading Islamic academies under the new Turkish dynasties that were taking hold in the Middle East.The Ottomans in particular favored Ibn al-‘Arabi and promoted his works, fostering the proliferation of his views throughout the Islamic heartland in the post-Mongol period. Ibn al-‘Arabi’s doctrine was later referred to as wahdat al-wujud, or “oneness of being.” Although he never used the term, and his early followers rarely did, it is widely accepted that the term accurately reflects his oeuvre. As this term suggests, Ibn al-‘Arabi’s thought has profound ontological implications (though its precise relationship to ontology is contested). Ibn al-‘Arabi frequently asserted that God, as sheer, infinite being, was the only truly existent: nothing substantially existed except for God, meaning that the world and all creatures, to the degree that they did exist, were disclosures (tajalliyat) or determinations (ta‘ayyun) of God’s being.37 To the degree that they were not God, they were pure illusion, hence Ibn al-‘Arabi’s description of all things as huwa-la-huwa or “He/Not He,” simultaneously God and not God, or being and illusion. For Ibn Taymiyya, this doctrine was a reprehensible innovation (bida‘a) in belief, profoundly deviating from the monotheism of the early Muslim community, evincing instead a heretical confusion of the Creator and His creation. Ibn Taymiyya wrote a number of works to this effect (most notably The Exposition of the Falsity of the Unity of Being and the Refutation of Those Who Adhere to It)38 distinguishing between authentic Sufism, which he determined to be the purification of the soul through scrupulous observance of the shari‘a, and its inauthentic counterpart, what he called philosophical Sufism (tasawwuf al-falasifa). Ibn Taymiyya associated philosophical Sufism first and foremost with Ibn al-‘Arabi.39 He was so concerned with the deleterious effects of this radical Sufi ontology that he suggested its prevalence was a greater calamity for Muslims than the Mongol invasions.40

44 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

Two visions of Islam Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-‘Arabi represent well the two interpretive trends examined in this chapter: anti-Sufism and Sufism. Each has played a seminal role in shaping these interpretations. Ibn Taymiyya’s works established the foundation for modern anti-Sufi understandings of Islam, and the revival of his thought by Wahhabi-Salafi movements makes him one of the most influential Muslim theologians within contemporary Islam.41 Ibn al-‘Arabi’s thought is widely credited with more fully extrapolating the implications of the Sufi understanding of Islam than had been done previously, veritably shaping the contours of the post-Mongol Islamic tradition.42 Ibn al-‘Arabi’s views continue to shape contemporary Sufi thought and Shi‘a metaphysics, and to inspire a spectrum of contemporary Muslim interpretations from progressive and feminist to traditionalist. Before moving to discuss later historical developments, it is worth considering at greater length the precise nature of each of these understandings of Islam, delineating clearly the key issues on which they diverge. Scholar of Islamic thought Ebrahim Moosa argues that “conflicts between competing discourses within a religion are often not disputes over a common language as much as they are clashes between entirely different ‘grammars,’ or networks of ideas.”43 We can thus conceive of the intra-Islamic debate between Sufis and anti-Sufis as the “contesting grammars of religion.” This debate is not simply over different interpretations of religious sources, but is rooted in different ways of being religious, ways that are in turn founded on contrasting ideas about what religion is, or what is the nature of the object/subject of religion. The central difference between these two religious “grammars” is their understanding of the nature of God. Put simply, Sufis and anti-Sufis have two separate networks of ideas regarding the meaning of the word “God” (or Allah in Arabic). Ibn Taymiyya and his intellectual followers exclusively emphasize the uncompromisingly transcendental (tanzih) nature of God. God is a being, the supreme being without question, but a being nonetheless, clearly distinct from creation, residing in the highest heaven above. Because God is a being transcendent to us, we relate to Him, according to Ibn Taymiyya, primarily through obeying His commands. True religion is apprehending and following these commands in the Qur’an and Sunna, and the true heirs of Muhammad are the scholars who preserve and disseminate these commands. In contrast to Ibn Taymiyya’s legalistic theology, Ibn al-‘Arabi holds that God is simultaneously transcendent and immanent (tashbih), with both aspects emphasized equally. Quranic verses such as “Wheresoever you turn there is the face of God” (2:115) are taken literally, and the world is understood to be God manifest. God is not a being but the being. God is being as such and hence the only truly existent. This vision of God’s closeness and ubiquity has had profound theological implications. If God is purely transcendent, then intimacy with Him is possible only by following his will and command; if, however, God is also immanent, then intimacy with Him is possible in a much more immediate, experiential way.The sacred is not

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 45

limited to a being in the highest heaven, but is found fully available in creation as a whole and indeed within the human self: all of existence functions as a series of symbols or signs of God’s presence. The three “books” according to Ibn al-‘Arabi’s teachings are the Qur’an, the cosmos, and the self – all three are signs of God manifest, and hence all three need to be, in a sense, “read” so that the presence of the Author can be perceived and encountered. Sufi theology has tended to venerate the Prophet Muhammad not merely as a Messenger of God, but as a manifestation of divine light (nur), and the Perfected Human (insan al-kamil), manifesting all of God’s Ninety-Nine Names. The Prophet Muhammad then is the archetype of the human being who has fully realized their function as a mirror reflecting the totality of God’s qualities. Muhammad’s true heirs are not simply the scholars who can articulate legal rulings based on source texts, but those who transmit some of the divine light and blessing inherited from Muhammad into the world: these are God’s friends, the Sufi saints. These individuals channel divine energy (baraka) from God to their followers, enlivening their hearts, enlightening their minds, while in body and even after their death. Hence the burial shrines of saints are thought to continue to emanate light and blessings to all who partake of their presence there.

Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and the birth of modern anti-Sufism Although Ibn Taymiyya had a limited impact on the wider Islamic intellectual tradition for some time following his death,44 his concerns over corruption and theological deviance among Sufis were shared by a growing number of Muslims in the 16th and 17th centuries, including many Sufis themselves. The official patronage Sufis enjoyed gave them a wealth and power that eventually allowed for forms of corruption to take hold.45 In varying contexts, Sufis became thought of as exploitative landlords, loafers avoiding productivity to live off of state-run endowments, and charlatans profiting from the uneducated. These negative manifestations would be noted by European observers, as we discuss further in Chapter 4. As a result, the reform of Sufism had been a project in which Sufis themselves were increasingly engaged. Many contemporary Muslims perceive Sufism to be a deviance from the dynamism of early Islam and a cause of the decline of Islamic civilization. And yet, in contrast to this widespread perception, Sufis were central to religious reform and revival in Islam’s later centuries.46 From the 16th to 19th centuries, Sufi reformers worked to purify Sufism of passivity, superstition, corruption, and overly speculative theology. Famous Sufi reformers include Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624), Shah Wali Allah (d. 1762), and Ahmad Tijani (d. 1815). These reformers have been described as “Neo-Sufis,” a term first used by contemporary scholar and philosopher Fazlur Rahman (d. 1988) to refer to how their ostensibly novel approach to Sufism left the inward-looking passivity and metaphysical speculations of older Sufism and embraced “the activist impulse of orthodox Islam.”47 However, scholars have since suggested that the distinction Rahman draws between these newer orders and older

46 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

ones is too stark, and that Sufi revivalism overlapped more with earlier Sufism than it deviated from it.48 Sufi revivalism49 was largely successful in reviving social vitality, emphasis on Sunni religious law, and political activism in a number of Sufi orders in South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. However, Sufi reformers would eventually be outpaced by an unlikely reviver of Ibn Taymiyya’s thought in an overlooked corner of the Arabian Peninsula known as the Najd. The stark barrenness of the Najd was perhaps mirrored in Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s articulation of an Islam devoid of poetry, philosophy, legal pluralism, and most significantly, Sufism. His life and thought is important to consider here because of the paramount influence of Wahhabism within contemporary Islam. Scholar of Islamic law Khaled Abou El Fadl observes that “It is unequivocal, however,” that Wahhabis “have influenced every puritanical movement in the Muslim world in the contemporary age.”50 Abou El Fadl uses the term “puritan” to refer to the uncompromising absolutism of conservative reform movements in Islam, movements that share an opposition to Sufism and a theological grounding in Wahhabism. As an aspiring theologian and jurist in Medina, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab was troubled by the popular religious practices he saw in Arabia, with sacred trees being venerated and the shrines of saints acting as popular pilgrimage destinations. Whereas some Muslims saw an unproblematic proliferation of diverse practices and others saw problematic practices that could be gradually reformed, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab saw a sea of superstition, corruption, and even idolatry, all masquerading as Islam, requiring a total revolution. It is not suprising then that Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab was drawn to the works of Ibn Taymiyya. He shared with his medieval mentor a hermeneutics of literalism, an intolerance of intra-Islamic pluralism, an Arab chauvinism, and a xenophobic despisal of non-Muslims and their influences. Pre-Islamic cultural customs and foundations were seen not as complementary to Islamic teachings, but dichotomously opposed to them, meaning that Muslims had to choose either Islam or culture, rather than a culturally contextual Islam. He read the Qur’an as a text with obvious meanings (zahir) to be apprehended and applied, discounting and condemning expositions of the text’s hidden, layered meanings (batin) so loved by Sufi interpreters. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab viewed Islamic source texts as, collectively, “an instruction manual to a virtual utopia modeled after the Prophet’s city-state in Medina.”51 Islam was not a dynamic, plural tradition to be debated and engaged, but a rigid, singular system to be straightforwardly applied. This quest to recreate the purity of the first Muslim community was an absolute one, requiring the utter condemnation of views, cultures, and persons that stood as obstacles to recreating the early Islam of the Prophet and his companions as described in the Hadith literature. Surveying the religious practice of his Ottoman-ruled surroundings, he saw Islam’s pure monotheism hopelessly compromised by saint veneration, folk superstitions, and philosophical Sufism.52 Although inspired by Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab took the tenor and trajectory of his thought to unprecedented conclusions: Muslims in general and Sufis in particular had not simply deviated from the path of the early Muslims, as

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 47

Ibn Taymiyya had charged, but instead had fallen into idolatry (shirk) and hence could no longer be considered Muslims at all. The cherished (if contested and limited) theological pluralism of medieval Sunnism, whereby a variety of schools of law and theology were accepted as orthodox, was categorically abandoned. For Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, there was only one correct form of Islam, and those who deviated from it in any way were not simply wrong, but nefarious enemies of truth. He frequently referred to respected Sunni jurists with whom he disagreed not simply as misguided, but as “satans,” for only inhuman miscreants could oppose the one, true, obvious understanding of Islam.53 He made long lists of actions or beliefs that made a Muslim a nonbeliever, and readily condemned Muslims as apostates and enemies. Unlike any previous Sunni thinker, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab rejected Sufism completely, seeking to purge it entirely from the Islamic tradition. His willingness to declare fellow Muslims to be nonbelievers, a practice known as takfir, set him apart from the norm within the medieval Sunni tradition. Sunni theologians such as al-Ghazali expressed an abhorrence for takfir (at least in regard to fellow Sunnis), and attempted to draw the borders of normative Islam widely, duly acknowledging the legitimacy of difference of opinion within these borders.54 This approach allowed for a broad “Sunni consensus” to form around a plurality of legal and theological approaches. As his movement gained traction, however, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s challenge to this medieval Sunni synthesis was about to make its debut not only in Arabia but throughout the Muslim world. If the majority of Muslims in Arabia were in fact idolators and apostates, reasoned Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, their blood and property were licit: they could be fought and killed legitimately, and their property seized. After implementing his strict interpretation of Islamic law in his hometown in the Najd (destroying burial shrines of Muhammad’s companions and reviving corporal punishments), he set his sights on the peninsula as a whole. In 1746, with the support of a local ruler, Muhammad Ibn Sa‘ud (d. 1765), Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab formally declared a jihad against the surrounding Muslims of Arabia.55 The Wahhabis only described themselves as Muslims, seeing those who refused to accept their understanding of tawhid as nonbelievers. The jihad brought much of the peninsula under his notably harsh rule. By the early 19th century, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s followers had taken over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, where they slaughtered opponents and continued to destroy Islamic holy sites deemed idolatrous. Shi‘a Muslims in particular were deemed far beyond the pale, as was made all too clear when the Wahhabis sacked the predominantly Shi‘a city of Karbala in 1802, destroying the city’s holy sites and massacring thousands of its inhabitants.56 Further, following Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab counseled against befriending non-Muslims, and instead encouraged hostility toward them: Muslims were not to greet non-Muslims, offer them condolences, wish them peace, or honor them.57 Non-Muslims, in both Ibn Taymiyya’s and Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s writings, are dangerous contaminants, who are to be dominated, humiliated, and converted.58 Abou El Fadl summarizes that, “‘Abd al-Wahhab espoused a selfsufficient and closed system of belief that had no reason to engage or interact

48 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

with any other, except from a position of dominance.”59 This intolerance of nonMuslims and their religions stands in stark contrast to the openness demonstrated by Ibn al-‘Arabi’s frank acknowledgment of the truth found in all religions, beliefs, and views.60 The Ottomans were shocked by the success of the Wahhabi movement. Most of the Ottoman ‘ulama respected Sufism and in many cases were Sufis themselves, well-versed in Ibn al-‘Arabi’s thought. They condemned the Wahhabis as extremists and heretics.61 The Wahhabi seizure of Islam’s two holiest sites, the Haramayn of Mecca and Medina, forced the Ottomans to act and restore their prestige as the guardians of Islam.62 Under Ottoman purview, an Egyptian army was sent to destroy the Wahhabi state. Although the state was successfully crushed by 1818, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s ideas had already spread. He wrote very little, mostly arranging short collections of Hadith such as his famous Kitab al-Tawhid or “Book of Monotheism.”63 But his simple call to purify Islam of idolatry, restore it to the pristine purity of prophetic monotheism and strict obedience to prophetic norms (usually by a literal reading and application of Hadith), resonated with Muslims from North Africa to India who were engaged in projects of Islamic reform and revival. While Wahhabi ideas had spread to cities like Baghdad, Cairo, and Delhi by the mid-19th century, the Wahhabi movement gained political traction in Arabia again, this time with the help of the British, who sought to displace Ottoman influence in the Middle East. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s vision of an Islam emptied of legal pluralism, Sufi spirituality, esoteric hermeneutics, and philosophy had found its foothold in the world.64

European colonialism, Salafism, and the end of Sufi normativity Beginning in the late 17th century, the three most powerful Muslim states – the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires – increasingly found themselves cornered by the rapidly expanding power of European states. In response to Western pressures, these Muslim empires attempted to reform their bureaucracies and militaries in light of European models. Ultimately, however, they failed to keep up and fell far behind as European societies underwent what amounted to a modern transformation. With unprecedented advances in science, economic production, and military technology, colonial powers such as Britain, Holland, Russia, and France found themselves essentially unmatched in their quest for global dominance. They gained footholds in South Asia and the Middle East, with the British controlling Bengal and the French controlling Egypt by the end of the century. Growing Western influences would radically and in many cases traumatically reshape Muslim societies as they began to fall under the direct rule of European powers. The gradual European control of Muslim societies came to a head in the 19th century with the near total collapse of Muslim political power on the world stage.65 European colonial powers sought not only to control but also to remake much of the Muslim world in their own image. European rule of Muslim societies saw the gradual dissolution of traditional Muslim institutions such as the sultanate, the

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 49

madrasa system of Islamic theological colleges, and the network of endowments (awqaf) and patronage that funded Muslim religious institutions.66 The basic structures of premodern Muslim societies were largely dismantled and replaced with either European or European-derived systems of government, law, and education, representing a profound historic, cultural, and existential break with the past. As Sufi orders were deeply woven into the fabric of precolonial Muslim societies, the European dissolution of the old order in many cases displaced them as well. Sufis were found across all segments of Muslim societies, and their responses to European domination were as varied as they were for Muslims as a whole. Most Sufis quietly carried on with their lives and devotions regardless of political circumstances. Some Sufi leaders, such as ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jazairi (d. 1883) in Algeria and Shamil Dagestani (d. 1871) in the Caucasus region, organized concerted military resistance to European invasion and rule.67 Although Sufi resistance was ultimately quelled, the potential for Sufi orders to mobilize Muslims made an impression on Western powers: Sufis appeared to many British and French colonial officials as the stalwart representatives of Islam’s old order in the face of the political collapse of Muslim states. Despite this impression among European authorities, the failure of Sufi resistance and their eventual collaboration with colonial powers shook Muslim confidence in Sufism.68 Under colonial rule in the 19th century, institutional centers upholding the classical Sunni synthesis of Sufism and shari‘a were rapidly losing ground, falling into irrelevance, or disappearing completely. The ‘ulama were no longer needed as administrators, being replaced by lawyers and modern bureaucrats. In India, for example, in order to make Islamic law more amenable to British administration, William Jones proposed codifying Islamic law. Warren Hastings (d. 1818), who was effectively the first governor-general of India, liked the idea and proceeded to have a small number of Islamic legal texts translated into English and set up as authoritative. British judges could then rule based on these texts, effectively codifying Islamic law for the first time in its history.This rendered Muslim jurists superfluous, transforming Islamic law from a heterogeneous system of debate among an independent class of jurists to a homogenous system based on a small number of texts applied by state officials.69 As we discussed in Chapter 1,William Jones was not only a colonial official but also a scholar and translator of Islamic texts, who was deeply interested in Sufism. Although Sufi orders in some cases flourished under colonial rule, even gaining influence in some contexts, their success often included collaboration with colonial authorities. Even when Sufis did resist European invasions, their eventual failure to forestall European domination caused many Muslims to look elsewhere for a revival of Islam. The scene was set for new claimants to Islamic authority to step forward, for new discourses of Islam to emerge, challenging traditional Islamic authority and authenticity. One of the most influential Muslim intellectual movements to develop during the colonial era, in this respect, became known as Salafism. Much of our current notions on the rise of Salafism or the Salafiyya can be traced to the work of one of the 20th century’s most remarkable scholars of Islam

50 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

and Sufism, Louis Massignon (discussed in Chapter 1). In an attempt to make sense of and categorize several prominent Muslim reformist thinkers who (a) shared some theological emphases with the Wahhabi movement but (b) retained a desire for a modern, rational Islam, Massignon suggested the term Salafiyya as a suitable label. In the journal Revue du monde musalman (1919), Massignon proposed that the Salafiyya were a reformist movement among Muslims largely disseminated by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (d. 1897) and Muhammad ‘Abduh (d. 1905). Later he would add ‘Abduh’s student Rashid Rida (d. 1935) as one of the progenitors of the Salafi movement. Massignon saw their thought as a somewhat perplexing mixture of progressivism and “semi-Wahhabi” leanings.70 His application of the term Salafiyya to al-Afghani, ‘Abduh, and Rida made sense in that these authors tended to look to the salaf as models of an original, authentic Islam to be revived. And yet neither al-Afghani nor ‘Abduh labeled themselves Salafi: instead they associated themselves with an age-old tradition in Islam of revival and reform (tajdid and islah). Rida would, however, articulate the theology of his teacher ‘Abduh as of the madhhab al-salaf (school of the pious predecessors), a term that premodern Hanbali Muslims sometimes used for the thoughts of Ibn Hanbal in general and for the theological literalism of Ibn Taymiyya in particular, to distinguish this approach from the more mainstream Sunni Ash‘ari school of theology, which tended toward rational interpretations of God’s attributes.71 Rida would have had an even harder time articulating al-Afghani’s theology as of the madhhab al-salaf, as al-Afghani’s thought was an idiosyncratic synthesis of rationalism, elements of Sufi philosophy, and Islamic reform and revivalism. Regardless of their theological differences, we can consider these three influential thinkers in terms of their shared critique of Sufism (though Rida would align more closely with Wahhabi anti-Sufism than either al-Afghani or ‘Abduh ever did).72 Despite the difficulties in neatly fitting these three disparate Muslim reformers into the category “Salafi,” Massignon’s use of the term Salafiyya for these thinkers has stuck, and largely shaped the study of contemporary Islam.73 Hailing from Eastern Persia, activist, intellectual, teacher, and author al-Afghani was struck by the gap between European and Muslim societies. Having lived in Afghanistan, Egypt, and Turkey, he saw the paramount role that European, and in particular British, power played in the Muslim world. He was distraught by the inability of Muslim societies to offer a coherent resistance to the global dominance of the British Empire. Al-Afghani believed that Muslims needed to wake up to the cold reality of European domination, and take the necessary action to counter it. He suggested that Muslims embrace Europe’s technology, but that they do so on their own terms, uniting around a renewed sense of shared Islamic identity. Although enamored with aspects of Sufi philosophy, on the whole, al-Afghani saw everyday Sufism in Muslim communities as an embarrassing, retrograde medieval obstacle to Muslim advancement. He criticized the Sufis of his day for abandoning Islam’s inherent rationality in favor of passivity, esotericism, and blind obedience to tradition.74 To some degree, al-Afghani projected European criticisms of Islam onto Sufism, partially scapegoating it. Unlike Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, however, al-Afghani did not reject Sufism as such, and was open to more rational interpretations of Sufi

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 51

texts. Al-Afghani’s pan-Islamism mobilizes Islam as an identity around which Muslims can rally to respond to European domination. This Islam, however, to function this way, needs to discard the varied local Islams that took root over centuries, and understandings of Islam that situate it more as a spiritual state or journey. ‘Abduh and later Rida would take up Afghani’s cause, disseminating his ideas in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. ‘Abduh became the Grand Mufti of Egypt in 1899, based out of the venerable al-Azhar University, one of the oldest Islamic universities. Although he did not label himself a Salafi or see himself as a part of what we now consider to be the Salafiyya, ‘Abduh favored a return to the Islam of the salaf (the pious early generations of Islam). He was keenly aware of European criticisms of Islam as fatalistic, backward, and superstitious. ‘Abduh proposed that Islam as it currently existed may warrant such criticisms, but the Islam of the salaf was a religion of reason, moral reform, activism, and progress. Interestingly, ‘Abduh’s Islam sounded a lot like current European ideals of “advanced” as opposed to “primitive” religion. Indeed we see similar movements among Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in South Asia, calling for a return to the textual sources and early traditions of their religions, emphasizing rationality, moral reform, and unifying around this new streamlined version of their tradition. For example, Buddhist reformers like Shaku Kozen (d. 1924) proposed reviving the pure message of the historical Buddha, a message purged of superstitious and divisive doctrines and practices. This new, rational, unitary Buddhism would then foster a global Buddhist solidarity and help the Japanese counter European power. Similarly, the Brahmo Samaj was founded in 1828 as a Hindu reform movement, one that “promoted Hinduism as universal, monotheistic, rational, and grounded in the authority of scriptures rather than popular practices.”75 Salafism, then, can be understood as part of a larger response to Western discourses on religion during this period, discourses that took on a particular cogency in contexts of colonial dominance. In contrast to his “Golden Age” of Islam, ‘Abduh criticized what he deemed to be contemporary Sufi excesses, including saint veneration and the ontological unity characteristic of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s school of thought.76 Although ‘Abduh was initially quite positive toward what he deemed to be true Sufism, he became increasingly concerned throughout his life and public career over Sufi innovations and deviations from the shari‘a.77 With his role as Egypt’s highest religious authority (1899–1906), ‘Abduh’s perspectives on Sufism were influential not only in Egypt but also in Syria, Tunisia, and Algeria, where ‘Abduh made visits to promote his version of reform based on the ideal of a return to the salaf.With his Syrian student Rida, ‘Abduh also launched an international journal, al-Manar to disseminate their reformist project. Notably, in 1904, as Grand Mufti,78 ‘Abduh published a fatwa (Islamic legal ruling) declaring the practice of intercession, or praying through an intermediary (tawassul), to be a harmful innovation in Islam (bida‘a), one that led to idolatry (shirk).79 Tawassul involved prayers asking the Prophet Muhammad or deceased Sufi saints to intercede with God on one’s behalf. Although the majority of Sunni

52 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

scholars had affirmed its permissibility, ‘Abduh reflected Ibn Taymiyya’s and Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s understanding that this practice was not found among the salaf and should be opposed. As tawassul was particularly associated with Sufism, ‘Abduh’s fatwa against this practice had important implications for Muslim opinion regarding Sufis in Egypt and the larger Arabic-speaking world.80 Like ‘Abduh, Rashid Rida was drawn to the works of Ibn Taymiyya. Rida would popularize Ibn Taymiyya’s thought through his thirty years at the helm of al-Manar, which played a growing role in spreading anti-Sufi critiques in the Arab world and beyond. Ibn Taymiyya’s Arab chauvinism also played well among the emerging Arab nationalist movement. Although initially closer in his thought to al-Afghani and ‘Abduh’s pan-Islamism and reformism, Rida would later in his life pivot toward Wahhabism, emerging as a key public supporter of the ‘Abd al-Aziz al-Sa’ud (d. 1953) led Wahhabi takeover of Arabia in the 1920s. He used the reach of al-Manar to defend the Wahhabis, agreeing “to publish (and sometimes add commentaries) to any text that celebrated the orthodoxy of the Wahhabi movement,”81 in response to the worldwide Muslim alarm over their comeback and fears of religious militancy (tashaddud fi’l din). However, Rida maintained reservations about the Wahhabi clerics and they him, disagreeing most pointedly on whether, as Rida believed, modern science and philosophy were tools that would strengthen Islam or, as the Wahhabis believed, forms of heresy and disbelief. Rida never fully abandoned his reformism and belief in the need for Muslims to embrace modern science, technology, and philosophy. Overall, though, we see Rida increasingly shift toward Wahhabism in the 1920s, moving away from embracing theological diversity in Islam in favor of calling Muslims to return to the creed of the salaf and actively opposing Shi‘a and Sufi leaders (people with whom he had previously been willing to work). Notably, Rida’s al-Manar published a series of seven anti-Shi‘a articles in 1927, condemning shrine visitation (an activity important for both Shi‘a and Sufi Muslims) in particular just as the Wahhabis were engaging in “heavy-handed efforts to impose their version of Islam on the Shi‘i population of the [Saudi] kingdom.”82 Rida still called for pan-Islamic unity, and a broad-based struggle to restore a united Islamic polity headed by a caliph. However, now his program was no longer based on Islamic ecumenism: for Rida, Islamic unity was now reframed as Salafi uniformity.83 Together, the emerging Wahhabi and Salafi narratives attempted something of an erasure of Sufism from Islamic history, downplaying its role in medieval Islam. Sufism was opposed either as a form of shirk (idolatry and heresy) or as a backward superstition holding back Muslims from advancing their civilization. European scholarship on Sufism was widely translated into Arabic and Persian and avidly read by Muslim elites.84 As previously discussed (and elaborated upon further in Chapter 4), the Orientalist separation of Sufism from Islam – in claiming a Greek, Persian, or Hindu origin – bolstered the argument of Salafis and others that Sufism was in many ways a contaminant from outside of the Islamic tradition. Although anti-Sufism gained traction across the Muslim world in the 18th and 19th centuries, taking shape in a variety of revivalist movements, Sufism’s place in Islam would only be truly threatened on a global scale in the 20th century.

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 53

Conclusion The contemporary controversy over Sufism’s place in Islam can only be understood in historical context. Whether one considers Sufism to be the heart of Islam or its most pernicious and persistent heresy, these positions are rooted in much larger historical trends. For Muslims who see no separation between Sufism and Islam, they invoke the centuries within the classical period in which Sufi orders, practices, poetry, and philosophy were intimately intertwined with every facet of traditional Muslim life. In contrast, many Muslims today, even if they do not identify as Salafi, have a general sense that Sufi beliefs and practices are antithetical to Islam. Their views too are rooted in centuries of Muslim thought, and in particular the revival of anti-Sufi interpretations in recent centuries. The proliferation of contemporary anti-Sufi perspectives has been shaped by (a) theological movements within Islam that have sought to purify the religion irrespective of outside forces (the Wahhabi movement); and (b) the colonial context, whereby European understandings of Islam inspired Muslim reactions. These reactions tended to offer a streamlined Islam that scapegoated Sufism as the bearer of superstition and corruption, leading to the decline of classical Islamic civilization (the Salafiyya and affiliated reformers). As Muslims faced the chaos of a collapsing caliphate during the colonial period, it is not surprising that many would turn to Ibn Taymiyya, a Muslim thinker who himself grappled with the chaos and fragmentation (both political and religious) of the post-Mongol period. The hyper-coherence that Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab offered undoubtedly resonated (and still does) with Muslims looking for stability in religion and politics. Although arguably reductionist in its excision of Sufism and Islamic philosophy, this vision had the appeal of a simple (or simplistic) clarity, which offered Muslims an easily replicable Islam that could be mobilized in the cause of reaffirming Islamic identity, law, and political formations. In Chapter 3, we will see how this anti-Sufi vision of Islam would gain a global foothold in the 19th and 20th centuries, radically altering contemporary Islam and Sufism’s place within it.

Notes 1 See for example, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002). 2 Muslim preachers (da’is) who identify as Salafi tend to see countering Sufism as a key pillar of their mission to promote an “authentic,” “pure,” “original” Islam. Popular antiSufi preachers are generally found among the Saudi or Saudi-trained clergy, among the most popular including ‘Abd al-Aziz Ibn Baz (d. 1999), Nasir al-Din al-Albani (d. 1999), Muhammad Ibn al-Uthaymeen (d. 2001), Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, and Bilaal Phillips, to name just a few. 3 Literally translated as “the people of [Muhammad’s] way and the majority,” the ahl al-sunna wa’l jama‘a, or Sunnis, make up the majority of Muslims (currently estimated at around 85%). Sunnis are generally defined as those Muslims who accept the religiopolitical legitimacy of Muhammad’s first four successors (Abu Bakr,‘Umar,‘Uthman, and ‘Ali). Under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties that followed these, a “Sunni consensus”

54 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

4 5

6 7

8 9

10

11 12

13

formed around four schools of law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, and Hanbali), two schools of theology (Ash‘ari and Maturidi), with a general acceptance of Sufism as the spiritual/ inward aspect of Islam. The term “anti-Sufism” was given academic currency by Elizabeth Sirriyeh in her helpful work Sufis and Anti-Sufis:The Defence, Rethinking, and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1999). For example, “Say, We believe in God and what has been sent down to us and in what was sent down to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and in what Moses and Jesus were given, and in what the prophets were given by their Lord – we make no distinction between any of them – and to Him do we submit” (Qur’an 2:136). For more on the Quranic narrative of prophecy, see the section “God’s Messengers” in Daniel A. Madigan, “Themes and Topics,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 79–96. Although the appropriateness of using the term “mysticism” to describe Sufism has been challenged (in part due to the Christian origin of the term), if we define mysticism broadly as an approach that seeks a direct experience of God or cultivates spiritual states of being, then we can comfortably describe Sufism as the mystical approach that developed within Islam, though acknowledging that Sufism cannot be reduced to mysticism. For an insightful overview of how Muslims integrated Middle Eastern patterns of law, governance, and religion, see Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East: 600–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). In his famous 11th-century Persian manual of Sufism, Kashf al-Mahjub, ‘Ali al-Hujwiri (d. 1073) summarizes the current theories on the etymological origin of the word tasawwuf. He relates that some say it is derived from the Arabic word for wool, suf, as early Sufis wore wool as a sign of renunciation. Others say the word comes from safa, meaning purity. Some connect tasawwuf to the Greek word for wisdom, sophia. Al-Hujwiri remains unsatisfied by any of these options, and concludes that no one can, with certainty, determine the origin of the name. Refer to ‘Ali bin ‘Uthman al-Hujwiri, The Kashf al-Mahjub: An Early Persian Treatise on Sufism, trans. R. A. Nicholson (New Delhi: Adam Publishers, 2006), 30, 34. The first person to be called a “Sufi” in the early sources is an Iraqi named Abu Hashim (d. 767).The term initially had a disreputable connotation, referring to marginal, political dissenters, not yet associated with mysticism. Refer to Christopher Melchert, “Origins and Early Sufism,” in The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, ed. Lloyd Ridgeon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 13. Ahmet T. Karamustafa, Sufism: The Formative Period (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), 100. The term Shi‘ism comes from the Arabic term Shi‘at ‘Ali, which means the “party” or “faction” of ‘Ali, referring to the Muslims who believed that Muhammad had designated his cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali as his successor. This movement of supporting ‘Ali as the Muslim community’s rightful leader evolved in Islam’s first centuries into a sect that believed that religious and political authority were joined in the person of the Imam. The Imam is believed by Shi‘a Muslims to be a divinely appointed guide for Muslims, beginning with ‘Ali, and being passed on through his bloodline to his sons Hasan, then Husayn, and on through their descendants. The majority of Shi‘a Muslims believe that the twelfth Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi went into occultation in 941 ce and will return to earth prior to the return of Jesus. Ismaili Muslims believe that the Imams continue to this day, with their leader the Aga Khan the current Imam. Due to the simultaneous emergence of Sufi and Shi‘a literature in the mid-9th century, it cannot be historically established which came first. However, both Sufi and Shi‘a Muslims trace esoteric interpretations of the Qur’an to Ja‘far al-Sadiq (d. 765). Al-Sadiq is further considered an Imam or divinely appointed guide by Shi‘a and a key figure in the transmission of Sufism by Sunnis, with some further considering al-Sadiq to be a qutb or axial pole of the spiritual universe (Melchert,“Origins and Early Sufism,” 15). For

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 55

14 15

16 17

18 19 20 21 22

23 24

25

26

27 28

more on al-Sadiq’s commentaries, see Farhana Mayer, Spiritual Gems:The Mystical Qur’an Commentary Ascribed to Ja‘far al-Sadiq (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2011). For more on Sufism’s relation to Shi‘a Islam, see Rebecca Masterton, “A Comparative Exploration of the Spiritual Authority of the Awliya’ in the Shi‘i and Sufi Traditions,” American Journal of Islamic Social Science 32 (2015): 49–74. Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 1, Book 3, No. 121. As quoted by James Winston Morris, “How to Study the Futuhat: Ibn ‘Arabi’s Own Advice,” in Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi: A Commemorative Volume, eds. Stephen Hirtenstein and Michael Tiernan (New York: Element Books, 1993). Rabia Harris,“Introduction,” in The Risalah: Principles of Sufism (Abu’l Qasim al-Qushayri), ed. Laleh Bakhtiar, trans. Rabia Harris (Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, 2001), xx. The first author to write on the Malamatiyya was ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami (d. 1021) in his Risalat al-Malamatiyya. This work remains the only early source describing the Malamatiyya. Notably, al-Sulami himself was from Nishapur, and his maternal grandfather was a disciple of a Malamati teacher, Abu ‘Uthman al-Hiri (d. 910). For more on the Malamatiyya, see Sara Sviri, “Hakim Tirmidhi and the Malamati Movement in Early Sufism,” in The Heritage of Sufism, Volume 1, ed. Leonard Lewisohn (Oxford: Oneworld, 1999), 583–613. For more on the Qalandars, see Ahmet T. Karamustafa, God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Later Middle Period, 1200–1550 (Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 1994). Ali Hassan Abdel-Kader, The Life, Personality and Writings of Al-Junayd (Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2013 [1976]), 37. Christopher Melchert, “The Hanabila and the Early Sufis,” Arabica 48 (2001): 353. Notable works here include al-Sulami’s (d. 1021) Tarikh al-Sufiyya and al-Sarraj’s (d. 988) Kitab al-Luma’. Fons Vitae has published a number of short works translating parts of al-Ghazali’s Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din. See for example, Al-Ghazali, Faith in Divine Unity and Trust in Divine Providence, trans. David Burrell (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2001) and (with Hamza Yusuf), Marvels of the Heart: Science of the Spirit (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2010). Fons Vitae has focused much of its recent publishing on reviving al-Ghazali’s thought as a relevant contemporary expression of a Sufi-infused Islam. Ebrahim Moosa, Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 239. Ghazali writes, after concluding his spiritual, existential explorations, “I knew with certainly that the Sufis are those who uniquely follow the way to God Most High, their mode of life is the best of all, their way the most direct of ways, and their ethic the purest.” R. J. McCarthy, Al-Ghazali’s Path to Sufism: His Deliverance from Error (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2006), 56. For example, in April of 2016, the University of Exeter hosted a conference entitled “Sufis and Mullahs: Sufis and Their Opponents in the Persianate World,” which highlighted the role of the ’ulama al-zahir or exoteric jurists and theologians in opposing Sufi understandings of Islam. For instance, Sufis predicate the possibility of encountering God in this world on the Quranic and subsequent Hadith traditions describing the Prophet Muhammad’s ascension or the mi’raj (17:1). His ascension through the seven heavens, and in some traditions the descent through the seven hells, becomes a paradigm of the Sufi quest, in particular as it is at the end of this ascension that Muhammad accesses the divine. It is this model that would be utilized by the Sufis in their journey in seeking to unite with the divine. For more on the Qur’an’s discussion of revelation, see Yahya Michot, “Revelation,” in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, ed. Tim Winter (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 180–196. Elliott Bazzano,“Ibn Taymiyya, Radical Polymath, Part 1: Scholarly Perceptions,” Religion Compass 9 (2015): 100.

56 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

29 Scholars have long debated Ibn Taymiyya’s influence, though there is some agreement that his impact on the broader Islamic intellectual tradition was muted for centuries following his death. Although he remained an important point of reference for later Hanbalis, especially in Damascus, Ibn Taymiyya’s real import for the Islamic tradition would only become apparent in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ibid., 101. 30 For a concise summary, see Tamara Sonn, A Brief History of Islam (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 73. 31 Sonn, A Brief History of Islam, 74. 32 A. Kevin Reinhart, “Fundamentalism and the Transparency of the Arabic Qur’an,” in Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, eds. Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2010), 97. 33 Ibid., 101. 34 Bazzano, “Ibn Taymiyya, Radical Polymath, Part I,” 102. 35 In his treatise on Qur’anic interpretation, Muqadimma fi usul al-tafsir, Ibn Taymiyya suggests four exegetical steps: (1) See if a Qur’anic verse can be interpreted by another; (2) Refer to Hadith; (3) Examine statements by the Prophet’s companions (sahaba); and next (4) Examine statements by the Followers (tabi’un), the generation after the Prophet and his companions. Jane Dammen McAuliffe, “Chapter 9: The Tasks and Traditions of Interpretation,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 197. 36 See George Makdisi, “Ibn Taymiyya: A Sufi of the Qadari Order,” American Journal of Arabic Studies 1 (1973): 118–129. 37 In his own works, Ibn al-‘Arabi uses the term tajalli or self-disclosure of God, whereas his school of thought as a whole also used ta‘ayyun, in a similar respect, following the terminology of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s most influential disciple Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi. For more on Ibn al-‘Arabi’s ontology, see William C. Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Cosmology (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1997). For more on Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi’s thought, see Richard Todd, The Sufi Doctrine of Man: Sad al-Din al-Qunawi’s Metaphysical Anthroplogy (Leiden: Brill, 2014). 38 Alexander D. Knysh, Ibn ‘Arabi in the Later Islamic Tradition:The Making of a Polemical Image in Medieval Islam (New York: State University of New York Press, 1999), 89. 39 See, for example, Wael B. Hallaq, Ibn Taymiyya against the Greek Logicians (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). 40 Hallaq, Ibn Taymiyya against the Greek Logicians, xii. 41 Despite Ibn Taymiyya’s pervasive influence on contemporary Salafi groups, including some of the most extreme (ISIS execution videos and literature make liberal use of Ibn Taymiyya’s religious rulings), it is important not to draw too straight a line from Ibn Taymiyya to such groups. A number of scholars have lamented the reductive way that Ibn Taymiyya is perceived by both his modern followers and his modern opponents, both of whom, in many cases, fail to acknowledge the subtlety, range, and depth of this thought. Bazzano, “Ibn Taymiyya, Radical Polymath, Part I,” 103–106. 42 Illustrating Ibn al-‘Arabi’s paramount influence, Alexander Knysh observes that almost every significant Muslim thinker since the 13th century has made a point of defining his position on Ibn al- ‘Arabi’s orthodoxy or lack thereof. Knysh, Ibn ‘Arabi in the Later Islamic Tradition, 1. 43 Twentieth-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (d. 1951) expanded the use of the word “grammar” to include not simply the rules of syntax but also the rules of meaning. For Wittgenstein, grammar refers to the network of ideas that underlie a shared sense of what constitutes meaning in language. In other words, we only understand one another because we share a grammar, or a set of ideas about what is meaningful speech. For a useful overview of Wittgenstein’s thought, see Anat Matar and Anat Biletzki, “Ludwig Wittgenstein,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta (2014), 140. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein; Moosa, Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination.

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 57

44 This is not to say he had no impact. His prominent students include Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1350) and Ismail Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), both of whose works of Qur’an commentary, Hadith scholarship, and spirituality have pride of place in Hanbali thought. 45 Marshall Hodgson suggests that over the centuries the Sufi orders had become “burdened with the weight of endowed property and popular superstition.” Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization: Volume Three, The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 159. 46 Itzchak Weismann, “Sufi Fundamentalism Between India and the Middle East,” in Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam, eds. Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007), 115. 47 Fazlur Rahman, a pioneering modernist thinker within Islam, has written a classic introduction to the religion, Islam, 2nd Edition (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 206. 48 See, for example, R. S. O’Fahey’s “Foreword,” in his Enigmatic Saint: Ahmad Ibn Idris and the Idrisi Tradition (London: Hurst and Co., 1990), 1; and R. S. O’Fahey and Bernd Radtke, “Neo-Sufism Reconsidered,” Der Islam 70 (1993): 52–87. 49 Revivalism is usually a term used as a translation for the Arabic terms tajdid and islah, which mean, respectively, revival and reform. These terms signify a longstanding Islamic theological tradition which holds that Islam is revived in each age. 50 Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), 45. 51 Ibid., 47. 52 Invoking Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab considered the Ottomans to be equivalent to the Mongols, who had invaded Muslim lands and then converted to Islam. The Mongols’ Islam, for Ibn Taymiyya, was corrupt and insincere, and hence Muslims could oppose them as they would nonbelievers. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab essentially replicated Ibn Taymiyya’s anti-Mongol rhetoric and applied it to the Ottoman Turks. Ibid., 51. 53 Ibid., 47. 54 See, for example, Sherman A. Jackson, On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Faysal al-Tafriqa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). It is important to note that although al-Ghazali was careful to curate a broad Sunnism, this did not stop him from anathematizing philosophers and Shi‘a Muslims in his writings. 55 Hamid Algar, Wahhabism: A Critical Essay (Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2002), 20. 56 Hodgson, The Venture of Islam:Volume Three, 161. 57 Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft, 49–50. 58 Muhammad Umar Memon, Ibn Taimiya’s Struggle against Popular Religion: With an Annotated Translation of His Kitab iqtida as-sirat al-mustaqim mukhalafat ashab al-jahim (The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1976), 216. 59 Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft, 50. 60 According to Ibn al-‘Arabi, the world is nothing but the kaleidoscopic self-revelation of God, in myriad, ever new and changing forms, then each religion and belief is simply another form of God. He counseled his readers to recognize God in each form, and not limit him to any one system of belief or thought. For more on Ibn al-‘Arabi’s views on religions other than Islam, see William C. Chittick, Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994). 61 In particular, Ottoman writers associated the Wahhabis with the Khawarij, the early sect that broke away from the majority Muslim community, declaring all who did not share their understanding of Islam to be nonbelievers who could be fought, following which they engaged in a “campaign of banditry” against Muslims. Algar, Wahhabism, 21. 62 Ibid., 28. 63 Ibid., 9, 13–17.

58 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

64 As will be discussed further in Chapter 3, although not a direct outgrowth of Wahhabism, the Ahl-i Hadis (Ahl al-Hadith in Arabic) movement in the Indian subcontinent shared many emphases with Wahhabi theology: members of the Ahl-i Hadis (“People of Hadith”) movement vocally opposed not only shrine and saint veneration but also mainstream Sunni jurisprudence, as corruptions of the pure Islam found in the Qur’an and Hadith. For a good, brief discussion of the movement’s activities in 19th century South Asia, see Ayesha Jalal, Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 141–149. 65 Hodgson, The Venture of Islam,Volume Three, 134. 66 John Walbridge aptly summarizes the break up of Islamic charitable endowments during the colonial period as “a sort of colonial fencing of the commons.” John Walbridge, God and Logic in Islam:The Caliphate of Reason (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 161. 67 Ira. M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, 2nd Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 587. 68 Sirriyeh, Sufis and Anti-Sufis, 34. 69 Wael B. Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 86. 70 Henri Lauzière, The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press 2016), 38–44. 71 Ibid., 30. 72 If we are to label these three thinkers Salafi, it is important to add the qualifier “modernist” or “reformist” as in “modernist Salafi” or “Salafi reformism” to dissociate them from the current usage of the term largely in reference to the contemporary representatives of Wahhabi thought, for whom the term Salafi is most commonly used now among Muslims. Scholars tend to refer to “traditionalist Salafism” or “Salafi literalism” when referring to this more theologically conservative brand of Salafism. We will look more closely at Tariq Ramadan’s distinction between “Salafi reformism” and “Salafi literalism” in Chapter 3. See Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 23–28. For the similar usage of “modernist” and “traditionalist” Salafism, see Jonathan Brown, “Scripture in the Modern Muslim world: The Quran and Hadith,” in Islam in the Modern World, eds. Jeffery T. Kenney and Ebrahim Moosa (New York: Routledge, 2014), 13–34. 73 It is worth noting here that the Salafiyya movement or Salafi reformism was a broad, disparate movement throughout Muslim lands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although generally receiving less scholarly attention than al-Afghani, ‘Abduh, and Rida, other figures with shared emphases include Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898), Tahir al-Jaza‘iri (d. 1920), ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Zahrawi (d. 1916), and ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (d. 1902). 74 Sirriyeh, Sufis and Anti-Sufis, 72. 75 Michael Muhammad Knight, Why I am a Salafi (Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, 2015), 178. 76 ‘Abduh’s dislike of Ibn al-‘Arabi was such that he refused to permit the publication of Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya. Ibid., 150. 77 Reflecting the ways in which ‘Abduh valorized Sufism as an ideal, he remarked, “There is no tradition that could be compared to Tasawwuf in its ethics and purification of the soul … by eroding this tradition we have eroded our religion.” Muhammad ‘Abduh. The Complete Works,Volume 3 (Cairo: Al-Shorouq 1993), 551. 78 A mufti is one who gives Islamic legal rulings or fatwas, and a Grand Mufti is usually the head mufti in a state or region. In Egypt, the Grand Mufti, based in al-Azhar is the highest religious authority in the country. 79 Sirriyeh, Sufism and Anti-Sufism, 149. 80 This did not mean that ‘Abduh was an unqualified supporter of Wahhabi theology and indeed he remained critical of the movement, “for running counter to the intellectual

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 59

81

82 83 84

and social objectives of Islamic modernism” and failing to embrace “science and civilization.” Lauzière, The Making of Salafism, 63. Rida received a number of letters from concerned Muslims who remembered the Wahhabi excesses of the late 18th and early 20th centuries, which offended Muslim sensibilities around the world, to which Rida offered responses that acknowledged the problems with the movement while defending their overall trajectory. Ibid., 65–67. Ibid., 80–83. Derived from the Arabic khalifa, the term refers to a “successor” or “representative,” and was used among early Muslims to refer to the leaders of the community who succeeded Muhammad. Later Muslim dynasties would claim the caliphate. Sirriyeh, Sufism and Anti-Sufism, 18.

Bibliography Abdel-Kader, and Ali Hassan. The Life, Personality and Writings of Al-Junayd. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2013 [1976]. ‘Abduh, Muhammad. The Complete Works,Volume 3. Cairo: Al-Shorouq, 1993. Abou El Fadl, Khaled. The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. Algar, Hamid. Wahhabism: A Critical Essay. Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2002. Al-Ghazali. Faith in Divine Unity and Trust in Divine Providence. Translated by David Burrell. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2001. Al-Ghazali, and Hamza Yusuf. Marvels of the Heart: Science of the Spirit. Translated by Walter James Skellie. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2010. Bazzano, Elliott. “Ibn Taymiyya, Radical Polymath, Part 1: Scholarly Perceptions.” Religion Compass 9 (2015): 100–116. Berkey, Jonathan. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East: 600–1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Brown, Jonathan.“Scripture in the Modern Muslim World:The Quran and Hadith.” In Islam in the Modern World, edited by Jeffery T. Kenney and Ebrahim Moosa, 13–34. New York: Routledge, 2014. Chittick, William C. Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994. Chittick, William C. The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Cosmology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1997. Hallaq, Wael B. Ibn Taymiyya against the Greek Logicians. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Hallaq, Wael B. An Introduction to Islamic Law. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Harris, Rabia. “Introduction.” In The Risalah: Principles of Sufism (Abu’l Qasim al-Qushayri), edited by Laleh Bakhtiar and translated by Rabia Harris, xiii–lix. Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, 2001. Hodgson, Marshall G.S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization:Volume Three, The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1974. al-Hujwiri, Ali bin Uthman. The Kashf al-Mahjub: An Early Persian Treatise on Sufism. Translated by R. A. Nicholson. New Delhi: Adam Publishers, 2006. Jackson, Sherman A. On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Faysal al-Tafriqa. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Jalal, Ayesha. Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

60 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

Karamustafa, Ahmet T. God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Later Middle Period, 1200–1550. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 1994. Karamustafa, Ahmet T. Sufism: The Formative Period. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. Knight, Michael Muhammad. Why I am a Salafi. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, 2015. Knysh, Alexander D. Ibn ‘Arabi in the Later Islamic Tradition:The Making of a Polemical Image in Medieval Islam. New York: State University of New York Press, 1999. Lapidus, Ira M. A History of Islamic Societies. 2nd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Lauzière, Henri. The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. McAuliffe, Jane Dammen. “The Tasks and Traditions of Interpretation.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, edited by Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Chap. 9, 181–210. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. McCarthy, R.J. Al-Ghazali’s Path to Sufism: His Deliverance from Error. Louisville, KY: Fons Vita, 2006. Madigan, Daniel A. “Themes and Topics.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, edited by Jane Dammen McAuliffe, 79–96. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Makdisi, George. “Ibn Taymiyya: A Sufi of the Qadari Order.” American Journal of Arabic Studies 1 (1973): 118–129. Masterton, Rebecca. “A Comparative Exploration of the Spiritual Authority of the Awliya’ in the Shi’i and Sufi Traditions.” American Journal of Islamic Social Science 32 (2015): 49–74. Matar, Anat, and Anat Biletzki. “Ludwig Wittgenstein.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, 2014. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein. Mayer, Farhana. Spiritual Gems: The Mystical Qur’an Commentary Ascribed to Ja’far al-Sadiq. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2011. Melchert, Christopher. “The Hanabila and the Early Sufis.” Arabica 48 (2001): 353. Melchert, Christopher. “Origins and Early Sufism.” In The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, edited by Lloyd Ridgeon, 13. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Memon, Muhammad Umar. Ibn Taimiya’s Struggle against Popular Religion: With an Annotated Translation of his Kitab iqtida as-sirat al-mustaqim mukhalafat ashab al-jahim. The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1976. Michot, Yahya. “Revelation.” In The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, edited by Tim Winter, 180–196. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Moosa, Ebrahim. Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2005. Morris, James Winston. “How to Study the Futuhat: Ibn ‘Arabi’s Own Advice.” In Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi: A Commemorative Volume, edited by Stephen Hirtenstein and Michael Tiernan, 73–89. New York: Element Books, 1993. O’Fahey, R.S., and Bernd Radtke. “Neo-Sufism Reconsidered.” Der Islam 70 (1993): 52–87. Rahman, Fazlur. Islam. 2nd Edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1979. Reinhart, A. Kevin. “Fundamentalism and the Transparency of the Arabic Qur’an.” In Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, edited by Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin, 97–113. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010. Sirriyeh, Elizabeth. Sufis and Anti-Sufis: The Defence, Rethinking, and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1999. Sonn, Tamara. A Brief History of Islam. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Sviri, Sara. “Hakim Tirmidhi and the Malamati Movement in Early Sufism.” In The Heritage of Sufism,Volume 1, edited by Leonard Lewisohn, 583–613. Oxford: Oneworld, 1999.

Debate over Sufism’s place in Islam 61

Todd, Richard. The Sufi Doctrine of Man: Sad al-Din al-Qunawi’s Metaphysical Anthropology. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Walbridge, John. God and Logic in Islam: The Caliphate of Reason. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Weismann, Itzchak. “Sufi Fundamentalism between India and the Middle East.” In Sufism and the ‘Modern’ in Islam, edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell, 115– 128. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007.

3 CONTESTING SUFISM TODAY Contemporary Sufi and anti-Sufi responses

The 20th century has witnessed an unprecedented marginalization of Sufism within Islamic communities. During no previous era of Islamic history have Sufis come under such concerted and widespread attack, with their very place in Islam coming under question.The recent destruction of Sufi shrines is only the most visible manifestation of a much wider attempt to purge Sufism from Islam. Whether in Mali or France, the United States, Iraq, or Pakistan, anti-Sufi movements have established themselves, in many cases displacing Sufism from its previously assumed place in the lives of Muslims. The rich traditions of Sufi art, architecture, poetry, music, and philosophy that shaped Muslim life and thought are erased from historical memory and purged from normative conceptions of Islam. This displacement occurs as mosques are stocked with free literature that either totally neglects Sufism or warns against Sufi deviations. As a number of scholars have observed, many pamphlets found in mosques offer a reductionist, homogeneous picture of Islam, one divorced from historical context, Muslim diversity and debate.1 A single strand of Islamic thought is presented as the only sort of Islam there is, erasing Sufism from the picture entirely. Alongside the proliferation of this form of “pamphlet Islam,” local preachers the world over are offered scholarships to study Islam at well-funded Salafi schools, such as the Islamic University of Medina, and return from their studies with a mission to convince their communities to abandon Sufi practices, again promoting a particular interpretation as the final word on Islam.Well-funded, aggressive Salafi militias form in conflict regions and intimidate and silence Sufis. Globally then, Sufism becomes at the very least suspect, and in many cases actively opposed, maligned, and proscribed. To continue our discussion of Sufism’s place in Islam, we begin by noting that, as in the premodern period, contemporary debates over Sufism are ultimately debates over orthodoxy: Which Islamic beliefs and practices are legitimate? What counts as Islamic? What does it mean to be Muslim? As anthropologist and scholar

Contesting Sufism today 63

of religion Talal Asad has suggested, orthodoxy is always a reflection of who has the power to establish their understanding of Islam as “normative,” “official,” and “orthodox.”2 Most major Islamic sects and schools of thought have produced institutions of authority, the representatives of which simultaneously claim orthodoxy for themselves while classifying other sects as heretical. As power shifts, so too does orthodoxy. Orthodoxy, then, is more dynamic than it is often portrayed to be by its proponents, and there are of course a number of competing claims to orthodoxy. Who has the power to fund, establish, and promote institutions, teachers, and literature as orthodox? The success of a particular interpretation of Islam (and its impact on Sufism) is closely tied to this question, as we see in this chapter. The 19th century witnessed the erosion of classical Sunni Islam’s religious and political institutions. European encroachment increasingly threatened the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over Islam’s heartland in the Middle East and North Africa. Ottoman rulers struggled with the imperative to modernize and Westernize, against conservative pressures to maintain traditional authority structures dominated by the ’ulama and Sufi orders. Military failure and territory loss eventually forced the modernization of the Ottoman military, justice, and education systems. In 1826, the Ottomans dissolved and repressed the famed Janissaries (dominated by the Bektashi Sufi order).That same year, the system of religious endowments (awqaf) that funded institutions of Islamic jurisprudence began to be brought under direct government control and gradually dismantled.3 The Ottoman free trade agreement with the British in 1838 opened Turkish cities to European merchants, money, and cultural influence. Under Sultan ‘Abd al-Majid I (d. 1861) a series of far-reaching reforms known as the Tanzimat (“reorganization”) were inaugurated. Though prefaced with references to Islamic sources, the Tanzimat reforms “aimed to create a legal and administrative system along Western, and more specifically French, lines.”4 The ‘ulama were increasingly replaced with modern bureaucrats while shari‘a courts were sidelined in favor of state courts with Western-style legal codes. Islamic law became subsumed under state law (qanuns), losing most of its wider social significance in regulating Ottoman life by the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, whether due to colonial rule or indigenous reform efforts, the shari‘a was reduced to family law in the vast majority of Muslim lands, from Algeria to Malaysia.5 Despite the displacement of Islamic institutions, Ottoman sultans still claimed leadership of Muslims as caliphs.The collapse of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War, however, precipitated the rise of the secular Turkish state and the dissolution of the caliphate in 1924. The abolishment of this longstanding symbol of Muslim political unity, alongside widespread weakening of the institutions of Islamic law, meant that Muslims now lacked centralized authority to a degree rarely seen in Islamic history. Classical Sunnism had lost much of its institutional basis, opening up space for orthodoxy to be redefined.6 Since that time, many Muslims have longed for the return of a symbolic center to the Muslim ummah, which the caliph is thought to represent. As Muslim societies struggled to gain their independence from European rule, questions regarding Islam’s role in the state, society, and spiritual life were paramount,

64 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

with few obvious answers.The Islamic tradition’s encounter with modernity set off an “epistemological crisis,” challenging Muslims to integrate, assimilate, or reject European Enlightenment thought and its concomitant political formations.7 Grand projects of secularization, Westernization, and nationalism in the first part of the 20th century (in countries like Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan) gave way to a religious backlash and revival in the second half of the century. The sound defeat of Arab states by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967 signified for many the failure of secular, nationalist leaders in the Middle East to bring about the promised prosperity, power, and cultural dynamism. Muslims were increasingly turning to Islam as an archive of symbols, principles, and cultural norms that could be mobilized to inform projects of social and political revival. Simply put, could Islam function as the ideological underpinning of a modern state and civil society? The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran coincided with a global movement among Sunnis that sought to recreate the modern state on a purely Islamic basis. With the growth of revivalist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen) in Egypt and the Jama‘at-i-Islami in Pakistan, visible signs of Islamic piety along with calls for Islamicizing the state and culture returned to public life, as much on university campuses as in mosques. With the al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya – or “Islamic Awakening” as it was widely referred to in the 1980s and 1990s – Islam was back on the world stage, with debates over its nature amplified by its renewed social and political currency.

Contending Islamic paradigms What sort of Islam was being revived? Muslim tradition suggests that a reviver (Mujaddid) emerges each century to revitalize Islam, to keep it vibrant, authentic, and purified of ossification and heresy. Muslims of various orientations have claimed their respective luminaries as the prophesied centennial reviver. In the 20th century, however, revivalist movements have tended to utilize a Salafi–Wahhabi paradigm, often filtered through popular preachers. The displacement (though by no means disappearance) of the ’ulama created something of a vacuum in authority that has been filled by a cacophonic chorus of voices vying to define what exactly Islam is and what an Islamic society should look like. The most prominent voices in Muslim societies today tend to be lay activists, whose voices “echo from speakers in mosques, cars, computers, and television sets,”8 while “their pamphlets, books, essays, and columns pervade bookstores, newsstands, and the Internet.”9 These new voices are in many ways reshaping how Islam is conceived, transmitted, and practiced. Abou El Fadl notes that: The vacuum in authority meant not so much that no one could authoritatively speak for Islam, but that virtually every Muslim with a modest knowledge of the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet was suddenly considered qualified to speak for the Islamic tradition and Shari’a law … As these self-proclaimed and self-taught “jurists” reduced the Islamic heritage to the least common denominator, Islamic intellectual culture witnessed an unprecedented level of deterioration.10

Contesting Sufism today 65

Broadly speaking, the Islam of the revivalists combined a largely Wahhabi theological orientation with a reductive approach to Islamic texts, doctrines, and practices. Much of Islam’s classical theological–philosophical tradition was shorn to make way for an Islam that could be easily mastered and applied by nonspecialists. The contrast between this new, revivalist form of Islam and the classical Islamic tradition, with its fusion of jurisprudence, philosophy, and Sufi spirituality, are considered here in terms of their approaches to the Qur’an, their contrasting understandings of key Islamic doctrines, and their notable differences in how Islamic knowledge is understood and transmitted. These differences underpin the larger debate today over the meanings of Islam and being Muslim, and how Sufism fits within these meanings.

Contrasting hermeneutics of the Qur’an and Hadith As most revivalist leaders came from technical and professional backgrounds, they lacked the sophisticated interpretive tools developed over centuries by Muslim jurists and theologians. Jurists operated under the assumption that before the Qur’an could be interpreted and applied (as opposed to merely read for inspiration), the interpreter must have a mastery of the Arabic language, a thorough knowledge of the historical context in which each verse was revealed (asbab al-nuzul), and a mastery of jurisprudential methodology (‘usul al-fiqh), which allowed for one to resolve conflicts between verses or between the Qur’an and other source texts. The basics of Greek philosophy, particularly logic, formed a key aspect of juristic training, further informing classical interpretations.11 A set of skills thought to take decades to fully develop, this extensive background was, for most premodern Muslims, the prerequisite for a legitimate Quranic hermeneutic. Even when applied, however, the interpretation was always considered somewhat tentative, at best a close human approximation of the Divine meaning. Contrary to this approach, revivalist Muslim thinkers tended to read Islamic texts somewhat along the lines of technical manuals: a set of straightforward instructions, accessible to all, with a singular, readily apparent meaning, to be apprehended and then carried out. For the Qur’an to be approached in this manner, its meaning must be flattened out, so to speak, reduced to its surface appearance. This semantic “flattening out” of the text has some of its methodological roots in the thoughts of Ibn Taymiyya (as discussed in Chapter 2), who tended to equate literalism with true belief, arguing that God’s attributes as described in the Qur’an, such as His “hands” and “face,” must be taken to be “literal” (haqiqi) attributes. He considered any metaphorical interpretation to be a deviation from the approach of the salaf and a dangerous destabilization of the text’s clear meaning.12 As scholar of Islam A. Kevin Reinhart aptly observes, “the sustaining myth of the fundamentalist hermeneutic is that the text of scripture is transparent.”13 From the revivalist or “fundamentalist”14 perspective the Qur’an can be approached ahistorically, as a text whose meaning is clear and readily applicable with only a basic knowledge of Arabic needed. The socio-historical context of the text, the lexical

66 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

ambiguities and possibilities inherent in the Arabic, issues of logic, all must be set aside as simultaneously extraneous and dangerous. The contextual, linguistically indeterminate nature of the Qur’an is denied, with the exploration of its linguistic possibilities essentially erased as unnecessary to delve into, further fraught with the possibility of wandering astray. In contrast to the revivalist desire to narrow the semantic field of the Qur’an, Sufis have traditionally held that the text is “an ocean without shore,”15 the semantic possibilities of which are to be found not only in the application of linguistic, historical, and rational methods, but further excavated through contemplation.16 This contemplative approach to the text’s deeper meaning was not thought to be suitable for all, however. Ibn al-‘Arabi admonishes his readers to, “plunge into the ocean of the Qur’an if your breath is sufficiently powerful. If not, limit yourself to the study of the commentaries on its apparent sense; but in this case do not plunge, for you will perish.”17 The orienting principle of Sufi hermeneutics is an understanding that reality is composed of both the apparent (zahir) and the hidden (batin).18 Similarly, the Qur’an has its apparent meanings, which can be accessed through linguistic and historical study (‘ilm), and its ocean of hidden meanings, which are accessed through contemplation (ma‘rifa). Contemplative knowledge “unveils” the Qur’an’s inexhaustible depth, a depth that includes and transcends its surface appearance. For Sufis, this process is the “interpretation by allusion” (tafsir bi-l-ishara), in which the text’s polysemous possibilities are symbolically “extracted” through an inward listening.19 Ibn al-‘Arabi even went so far as to suggest that the meaning of the Qur’an is new each time it is recited by the one whose heart is open to its descent (nuzul). Even if the Arabic language is not understood, the meaning of the Qur’an for the particular person reciting it at that moment descends upon their heart. This means that the text can have a potentially infinite range of meanings that do not in all cases correlate with the outward sense of the text.20 However, it is important to point out that Ibn al-‘Arabi’s hermeneutic was equally concerned to take seriously the letter of the text, to ensure that the various inner meanings of the Qur’an were drawn out of its literal meaning, with close attention paid to the linguistic, grammatical implications of each verse, an approach aptly described as “esoteric literalism.”21 Revivalists summarily dismissed Sufi hermeneutics as unnecessarily opaque layers of interpretation that needed to be excised for the Qur’an’s practical message to shine forth and fix political shortcomings in Muslim societies. This dismissal was a convenient interpretive paradigm for modern professionals who were untrained in Islam’s classical sciences. Sufi and juristic Quranic interpretations informed by Aristotelian logic, Persian poetry, and Neoplatonic metaphysics were rejected as deviations from Islam’s early purity, rather than valued as natural outgrowths of it, or doors through which to access it. In sum, for the sacred texts to be instrumentalized for modern programs of social and political reform, their meaning had to be reduced to their surface appearance. Alongside the Qur’an, revivalists have tended to take authenticated Hadith reports of what Muhammad said or did at face value, rather than as probable reports

Contesting Sufism today 67

that must be carefully interpreted using Islamic legal methodology before being applied. Traditionally, Muslim interpreters simultaneously valued authenticated (sahih) Hadith as the most reliable indicators of the Prophet Muhammad’s way or Sunna, while approaching them with caution in their attempts to formulate Islamic theology and law. Within the classical Sunni tradition, the only source texts that were thought to offer certain knowledge of God’s words or the words of His Prophet were the Qur’an and a small number of Hadith, both of which were transmitted by so many people from generation to generation that a conspiracy of fabrication would be well-nigh impossible.These multiple (mutawatir) lines of transmission offered, for early Muslim scholars, a guarantor of authenticity. However, the vast majority of Hadith reports that were transmitted by the first generations of Muslims describing what Muhammad said and did have only one or two lines of transmission (ahad) – that is, they were passed down from one or two individuals to the next over generations until recorded by a Hadith collector (often two or three hundred years after the Prophet’s death). Muslim scholars have hence suggested that even the most rigorously authenticated line of transmission (list of names of transmitters, each of whom is historically researched and verified) could only offer probable knowledge of the Prophet’s words and actions, not certain, as, without the “checks and balances” offered by numerous lines of transmission, some sort of forgery was still possible, even if considered unlikely. This probable knowledge offered by Hadith with singular lines of transmission (isnad) was deemed to be of sufficient strength to allow for the use of Hadith to determine Muslim law and practice (though generally not issues of belief), though early Muslim jurists differed among themselves over the precise extent to which these Hadith could be used and how. For example, the founder of the Maliki school, Malik Ibn Anas (d. 795), suggested that authenticated Hadith could end up being a source of misguidance for Muslims if those reports were not understood in the context of the wider Muslim tradition of practice (‘amal), especially as preserved by generations of knowledgeable elders in the Prophet’s city, Medina. Abu Hanifa (d. 767), founder of the Hanafi school in Kufa, Iraq, was skeptical of much Hadith literature, and preferred to base his formulations of Islamic law on the Qur’an, the most widely transmitted Hadith, the teachings of the companions of the Prophet who settled in Kufa, and the rigorous application of human reasoning. In contrast to the circumspection with which these early formulators of Islamic law approached and utilized Hadith, the contemporary revivalist movement has tended to assume that authenticated Hadith can be taken as offering unconvertible knowledge of Muhammad’s Sunna that can be employed with very little critical interpretation. As an early example of this approach, the South Asian Ahl-e Hadith (or Ahl al-Hadith – literally “the people of Hadith”) movement promoted a revivalist hermeneutic in the 19th century. This movement encouraged nonspecialist Muslims to derive their religious understanding directly from source texts without the mediation of expert interpretation, whether Sufi or juristic. Like the Wahhabis, the Ahl-e Hadith were admirers of Ibn Taymiyya, translating his works into Urdu.They condemned a variety of Sufi practices (supplication at graves, invoking the Prophet

68 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

in prayer, festivals for Sufi saints, wearing of amulets, celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, distributing food during religious festivals), as heretical and even idolatrous. In general, the Ahl-e Hadith embraced a literalist hermeneutic of Hadith in seeking to purify Islam of non-Islamic contaminants, intersecting with the Wahhabi movement as progenitors of contemporary anti-Sufism.22 Illustrating the Ahl-e Hadith methodology, Shah Isma’il al-Shahid’s (d. 1831) Urdu tract Tawqiyat al-iman suggests that “to comprehend the Quran and Hadith does not require much learning, for the Prophet was sent to show the straight path to the unwise.”23 Jonathan A. C. Brown, scholar of Islamic thought, observes that this manifesto has been widely read since its writing almost two centuries ago, first in cheap printings and now online: “it remains one of the most accessible religious texts to lay Muslims in South Asia,”24 disseminating the notion that source texts are transparent, and can be readily understood and applied by nonspecialists.25 The filtering of Hadith through jurisprudential methodology and/or Sufi contemplation – so characteristic of the Hanafi and Sufi-informed Islam that has dominated the South Asian Muslim scene for centuries – is totally rejected with this approach, which assumes that Hadith offer immediate, conclusive “proof ” resolving all conceivable religious questions. The phenomenon of young Muslims attempting to “correct” each other over their practice of Islam by brandishing Hadith as offering the final say are often completely unaware of the interpretive complexity that has traditionally framed Muslim reading and application of these texts. This rather simplistic usage of Hadith was affirmed by Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s works such as Kitab al-Tawhid, which present Hadith with very little attempt to situate them as against other Hadith, the practices of early generations of Muslims (including the rulings of early caliphs and elders), or the methodological frameworks developed by the likes of Malik and Abu Hanifa. Although this approach has some continuity with Hanbali thinking,26 Hanbalis developed a more critical and methodologically sophisticated hermeneutics of Hadith than a great many contemporary anti-Sufi revivalists appear to evince.

Contesting theologies: Understandings of Tawhid and Islam As with their approach to source texts, the revivalists of the 20th century similarly narrowed the interpretive scope of Islamic theology. Islam’s central doctrine, tawhid, is useful to consider as an illustration here. Literally meaning “unification” or “to make one,” it is the central message of the Qur’an and hence Islam’s foundational doctrine. Usually translated as monotheism, God’s oneness is the basis of Islam’s varied schools of thought and sects. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab in particular emphasized tawhid as the strict limitation of veneration to God alone, without any sort of intermediary. Hence, any veneration of holy people or places is, for Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, tantamount to shirk or idolatry. The social implications of this understanding of tawhid are best represented by the Wahhabi emphasis on al-wala’ wa-l-bara’. This is the principle of loyalty (wala’) to Islam and Muslims alone (true monotheists), with the concomitant distancing from (bara’) and disavowal of non-Muslims (idolaters),

Contesting Sufism today 69

their beliefs, customs, and practices.27 The outward manifestation of this doctrine includes an emphasis on meticulously maintaining the outward signs of Islamic adherence (beards and ankle-length pants for men, and head and face coverings for women, for example) while disavowing non-Muslim styles and norms, and further purifying Muslim society from anything that smacks of a non-Islamic contaminant. Informed by this aspect of Wahhabism, revivalists tend to seek social uniformity. Harkening back to Ibn Taymiyya’s anxiety over theological, cultural, and linguistic pluralism, revivalists promote a program of purging Islamic societies of their longstanding layers of religious, cultural, and linguistic plurality. This approach shares much with 19th-century European conceptions of culture utilized in the service of ethnic nationalism. Although analytically inaccurate, these conceptions resonate during a time of crisis and, perhaps unsurprisingly, have been used by Muslim revivalists, who equate Islam with culture in this sense. They include the notion that culture is “homogeneous,”“uniformly distributed among members of a group,” “timeless,” with an individual’s identity consisting of “but a single culture.”28 For revivalists, then, Islam is a complete cultural system, free of “internal paradoxes and contradictions,” changeless and hence applicable in the same way in all contexts, with authentic Islam similar for all Muslims, being their sole identity.29 Shi‘a practices, Sufi orders, culturally particular forms of Islam, are all rejected as contrary to the unified, changeless, and total nature of authentic Islam. Divine unity is read as social uniformity. Contradiction is denied rather than seen as complementary. Missing here, arguably, is an appreciation of the way in which oneness requires multiplicity. Sufis have long considered tawhid in terms of both absolute oneness (ahadiyya) and in terms of the “manyness of oneness,” or oneness diversified by its relation to manifold creation (wahidiyya). In this second sense of tawhid, according to Ibn al-‘Arabi’s school of thought, the pure unity of God’s essence is modified by its varied relations to creation. This modification is represented by the diversity of Divine Names, each of which expresses a particular form of God’s essence modified by its relationship to a created being.30 The social implications of this layered metaphysic include an understanding of social oneness that preserves diversity, a “unity within diversity” as opposed to uniformity. Historically, this approach has manifested in the remarkable richness of cultural diversity and artistic expressions found within Islamic contexts shaped by Sufism. For example, Sufi missionaries were paramount in the spread of Islam in non-Arab regions, and tended to foster an integration of local culture with Islam, leading to distinctly African, Turkic, and South Asian Islamic forms. The revivalist use of the state to enforce religious uniformity is important to mention here as well. The notable diversity of premodern Muslim societies was not only doctrinally based but also logistical in nature: it was simply unfeasible for any Muslim state prior to the modern period to enforce religio-cultural uniformity. Urban centers where empires were based could enforce orthodoxy with more effectiveness, though imperial authority decreased significantly in rural areas and outlying provinces. The technologies of the modern state, however, enable revivalists to enforce monolithic religious norms with a scope previously inconceivable in Islamic history.

70 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

As with tawhid, the meaning of Islam is narrowed significantly in revivalist discourse. As discussed in Chapter 2, the Qur’an’s description of Moses, Jesus, and Abraham as Muslims opens up Islam semantically to include the larger human history of divine guidance. Islam, then, can be read as including much of Judaism, Christianity, and, potentially, all pre-Islamic religious traditions. Sufis have tended to interpret Islam in this broad sense, leading to an openness toward other religions as previous expressions of Islam, and an acceptance of non-Muslims as people who may be saved, or may benefit from Islamic spiritual teachings regardless of their faith background.31 For modern revivalists, however, Islam is reduced to the historical teachings and practice of the Prophet Muhammad. This fosters a general sense within revivalist circles of other religions being outside of the fold of truth and salvation. Combined with the doctrine of wala’ wa-l-bara’, other religions become rather dangerous contaminants to be contained, avoided, and opposed. Furthermore, intraIslamic diversity is seen in the same light, with any practice or belief deemed to fall outside of the “saved sect” being actively countered. The meaning of “Islam” then is narrowed from referencing humanity’s spiritual heritage in general to referencing the doctrine and practice of one particular sect within the Islamic tradition.32 As we see in Chapter 4, it is precisely these universalistic perspectives within Sufism that attracted European Orientalists, colonial officials, poets, and philosophers.

Pedagogy and the transmission of Islamic knowledge As a result of their hermeneutics and doctrine, revivalists tended to offer a radically simplified Islam, one harkening back to the “fundamentals” and sources of the religion, claiming to bypass the complexities of medieval jurisprudence and philosophy. Islam was repackaged as a total program that could be replicated and followed regardless of context, with the promise of solving contemporary problems in individual, family, and social life. As an outgrowth of the Salafi and Wahhabi movements, the revivalist program is largely rooted in Ibn Taymiyya’s project of purifying Islam from contaminants and accretions. However, revivalists tended to selectively streamline Ibn Taymiyya’s theology to make it fit within the paradigm of modern political ideologies: much of the range and complexity of Ibn Taymiyya’s thought is missing from revivalist mobilizations of it. The desire to perpetuate the essence of Islam as lived by its first generations (salaf) was a desire that Muslims in general tended to share. The question was how this essential, early Islam was to be accessed and lived. For revivalists, accessing the Islam of the salaf was thought to require simply reading early Islamic texts as manuals for individual practice and social policy. This text-based approach was a profound shift away from the premodern emphasis on the importance of religious learning within a personal, face-to-face teacher–student relationship. One’s teacher was further supposed to have had a similar face-to-face learning experience that could be traced back to the Prophet, a chain of knowledge transmission, which, like a recorded chain of Hadith transmission, was known as an isnad. Following a complete program of study, a student would be given a formal ijaza, an authorization to teach, premised on the isnad.33

Contesting Sufism today 71

This premodern pedagogy of the ‘ulama assumed that accurate textual knowledge was only available within the context of practice. This practical context was (ideally) one in which a habitus of refined etiquette, humility, restraint, and mercy formed the container into which knowledge was poured. This habitus was believed to be the intangible aspect of the prophetic Sunna that was passed down from teacher to student over generations, a living tradition that helped secure scriptural interpretations from straying into extremes. The medieval madrasa system was built upon this principle of personal transmission of knowledge in a context of practice. An early scholar of Hadith, Ibn al-Mubarak (d. 797), is reported to have expressed this ethos in noting that, without a secure chain of transmission, “everyone would talk as they please.”34 He suggested that seeking religious knowledge without an isnad was like “trying to get on to a roof without using a ladder.”35 For Islamic revivalists, however, this emphasis on intangible transmission smacked of Sufism, and was largely abandoned in favor of a more modern, materialistic approach that saw knowledge not as transmission but as information, information that can be accessed by apprehending the apparent meaning of a text. This more individualistic approach is one largely divorced from the pedagogical training emphasized by the classical tradition.

Summarizing the contemporary Islamic scene Tariq Ramadan, in his Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (2005), breaks down the complex landscape of contemporary Islam into six major tendencies, all of which will be discussed at length throughout the remainder of this chapter. The following is a concise summary of the various perspectives competing to define an authentic Islam for the 21st century. Familiarity with these broad tendencies will help readers in understanding the dynamics of contemporary Islam and Sufism’s place within it.36 1. Scholastic traditionalism Scholastic traditionalists seek to preserve and transmit the medieval crystalization of the Islamic tradition, as represented by the classical schools of jurisprudence, usually with some recognition of Sufism as the inward dimension of Islamic law and theology. Following medieval legal luminaries, scriptural commentators, and spiritual specialists it is thought to be the most reliable way to access the message of the Qur’an and Sunna.

2. Salafi literalism Salafi literalists seek to bypass the traditional schools of jurisprudence and access the Qur’an and Sunna directly. They tend to interpret scriptural sources literally, using proof texts from scripture to justify Islamic beliefs and practices, and reject those deemed un-Islamic. Salafi literalists strongly oppose Sufism as a corruption of early Islam (the Islam of the

72 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

righteous, first generations following Muhammad, the salaf al-salih), which they want to revive. This interpretive tendency is usually traced to the teachings of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, and hence Salafi literalists are often referred to as Wahhabis, though they reject this term.

3. Salafi reformism Salafi reformists also seek to return to the source texts and dynamism of early Islam. In contrast to Salafi literalists, however, they seek to interpret source texts in light of the rational “ends” or “intentions” of the law, rather than its literal application. They attempt to use reason to reinterpret source texts in light of contemporary sociopolitical circumstances. This trend emerges out of the al-Afghani, ‘Abduh, and Rida’s Salafiyya movement. Although generally more open to Sufism, many Salafi reformists retain ‘Abduh and Rida’s concerns about Sufism.

4. Political literalist Salafism Marrying Salafi literalism with political activism, this brand of Salafism seeks to establish an “Islamic state,” overthrowing secular governments in the Muslim world and opposing Western influence. Most notoriously represented by groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), this more militant tendency is sometimes referred to as “jihadism,” or more recently “Jihadi-Salafism.” Political literalist Salafis strongly oppose Sufism and have taken violent action against Sufis and Sufi shrines.

5. Liberal reformism Liberal reformists seek to advance Muslim societies in light of modern, Western developments. Source texts are interpreted in light of modern philosophy and science, and Islamic practice situated within secular notions of privatized religion. Sufi texts are at times valued by liberal reformists as sources of spiritual inspiration, but Sufi orders are generally seen as anachronistic carryovers from Islam’s old order.

6. Sufism Sufis tend to be represented by the various Sufi orders and groups found throughout Muslim societies. Source texts are interpreted in light of contemplative practice, with the inner life taking some priority over life in the world. Although Islamic law and theology is usually adhered to, this adherence is understood through the teachings of the particular Sufi leader with which one is affiliated. Hence, these elements of the Islamic tradition may be de-emphasized in favor of a focus on mystical practice and development.

Contesting Sufism today 73

The spread of anti-Sufism in the 20th century Logistically, revivalist Islam’s anti-Sufism gained a powerful global momentum in the 20th century with Saudi Arabia’s organized and remarkably well-funded campaign to finance and promote Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s vision of a purified Islam. As we will see in this chapter, largely under Saudi auspices, Islamic revivalism (Salafi reformism) was fused with Wahhabi theology (Salafi literalism), a phenomenon that today is usually simply referred to as Salafism. A global campaign funded by Saudi Arabia’s immense petroleum wealth made itself felt across Muslim societies and communities, ushering in a transformation of Islam in the modern world. The growing persecution of religious minorities, including Sufi and Shi‘a Muslims, Jews, and Christians, at the hands of Salafi/Wahhabi militias and derivative movements in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan illustrate journalist Patrick Cockburn’s contention that “the ‘Wahhabisation’ of mainstream Sunni Islam is one of the most dangerous developments of our era.”37 As a global society, we are currently experiencing the effects of this transformation, and will likely continue to do so for decades to come. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s anti-Sufi theology made headway following his death, though it was significantly curtailed with the Ottoman-led destruction of the first Wahhabi state in Arabia (1745–1818). The remnants of the Saudi–Wahhabi movement regrouped in their home base in the Najd, making Riyadh their new capital, from which they began again to expand their influence in the peninsula.38 Saudi and British interests coincided, as both sought to advance their interests in the region and weaken the Ottomans. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab mobilized latent Arab nationalism in the peninsula against the Ottomans. In 1865, the British began subsidizing the Saudis (among other contenders to power in the peninsula) – a relationship that would only grow throughout the 19th century. The Saudi–Wahhabi alliance proved more powerful than its competitors in Arabia, notably following the establishment of the Ikhwan or “brotherhood” (not to be confused with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood) an effective, fanatical Wahhabi fighting force in 1912. In 1915, the British signed a treaty of “friendship and cooperation” with the Saudis, involving primarily money and arms. With British aid, the Saudis again conquered Mecca and Medina in 1925. The Wahhabi enforcers began again enforcing their vision of Islam, focusing heavily on outward conformity to their understanding of Islamic norms. They demanded that men grow beards, women cover up, musical instruments be prohibited, and sacred shrines in the region, including those of the Prophet and his companions, be destroyed.39 The Ikhwan proved at times too much even for the Saudis to control, however. Upset by the Saudi alliance with the non-Muslim British (as a violation of bara’ or disavowal of nonbelievers), and the restrictions it imposed on their ability to expand and enforce Wahhabi Islam, the Ikhwan rebelled in 1929, and were only subdued with British military help.40 Wahhabi influence was not contained within Arabia during the first decades of the 20th century. Scholar and former Sufi Mahmud Khattab al-Subki (d. 1933), for example, became “the most eminent exponent of Wahhabism in Egypt of

74 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

his generation.”41 His many writings utilized the works of Ibn Taymiyya to attack Sufi doctrine and practice. He founded the al-Jam‘iyya al-shar‘iyya in 1913, an organization that fought with Sufis for control of mosques and religious foundations, putting Egyptian Sufis on the defensive.42 Wahhabi perspectives were also making headway in South and Southeast Asia, with periodicals and organizations cropping up in British India and Dutch Indonesia criticizing Sufism as a deviation from early Islam.43 In Arabia,Wahhabism’s future was secured in 1932 with the establishment of the Saudi Arabian kingdom. Although the Saudis at times came into conflict with Wahhabi clerics, they maintained a close alliance, in which the Wahhabi religious establishment was given the power of the state to enforce their strict religious norms domestically, and in turn Wahhabi clerics offered religious legitimation to the Saudi monarchy (which tended to abandon Wahhabi principles in its international alliances). Now consolidated in Arabia, the stage was set for Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s ideas to develop a truly global reach. Following the discovery of vast oil reserves in the Arabian Peninsula in the 1930s, and the resulting accumulation of oil wealth, the Saudi state began a campaign to export Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s call to purify Islam of Sufi innovations throughout the world, in many ways fundamentally altering the religious landscape of Islam. This dissemination of Wahhabi thought in the latter half of the 20th century has occurred through a variety of channels. Saudi money (both public and private) has financed Islamic colleges, schools, mosques, and charities around the world, supported Islamic conferences, and funded the writing and distribution of books.44 It should be pointed out that Saudi society, leadership, and charitable organizations are by no means homogeneous promoters of Wahhabi theology. The Saudis have been incredibly philanthropic in recent decades, funding a wide range of cultural, religious, and charitable projects around the world, many of which range across the spectrum of liberal, progressive causes, alongside more traditional religious ones. Although the social effects of Wahhabi theology have drawn concerted criticism from a variety of perspectives, it is important not to reduce the complexities of contemporary Saudi society, culture, and politics to this theology. Wahhabism, however, has been promoted as a result of the Saudi religious establishment’s desire to spread their interpretation of Islam, and also due to the Saudi government’s interest in utilizing Wahhabism as a tool of foreign policy. The 1960s saw the emergence of an “Arab Cold War,” between Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasr’s (d. 1970) secular nationalism in Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s conservative combination of monarchy and Wahhabi Islam.45 The Saudi establishment believed that the export of Wahhabi Islam could function as an important ideological bulwark in their struggle against regional rivals who were mobilizing around Arab nationalism, secular socialism, and later revolutionary Shi’ism, their three main ideological rivals in the Middle East in the latter part of the 20th century. One of the most important channels though which these goals have been accomplished is an organization known as the Muslim World League (Rabitat

Contesting Sufism today 75

al-‘Alam al-Islam).46 Established by a group of Muslim scholars and politicians in Mecca in 1962 to counter the spread of communism and secular nationalism, the League has grown to become “the most important non-governmental international Islamic organization.”47 From its inception, the League was a potent fusion of Salafi literalism (Wahhabism) and Salafi reformism, joining the two most prevalent forms of anti-Sufism within a single organization. Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, a descendant of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, was the first head of the League.48 Other initial members included the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna’s (d. 1949) son, Sa‘id Ramadan (d. 1995), alongside the founder of the Jama‘ati-Islami, Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979). These outgrowths of the Salafi reformist movement, also referred to as Islamists, form a key pillar of anti-Sufism in the 20th century. Rooted in the older Salafi reformism (Massignon’s Salafiyya) of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan al-Muslimeen and the Jama‘at-i-Islami have made an important contribution to marginalizing Sufism. Islamist movements have emerged as considerable challengers to secular states in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.With their claim to offer Muslims a vision of a genuine Islamic state, in contrast to state structures modeled after those of nonbelievers, Islamists have what for many Muslims are powerful claims to Islamic authenticity, claims that have great appeal considering the corruption, weakness, and religious and political confusion of the post-caliphate and postcolonial eras. Olivier Roy defines Islamism as consisting of “the activist movements who see in Islam as much a political ideology as religion.”49 Islamists believe an Islamic state is necessary for the wholeness of Islam to be established on earth, and hence direct their efforts toward establishing a “purely” Islamic state, based on the Qur’an and Sunna. Led by modern professionals, Islamists hope to fuse a homogenized Islamic law with the modern state, rendering the ‘ulama mostly redundant. The spiritual, ethical, and aesthetic elements of the historical Islamic tradition are downplayed, while revamped political elements are correspondingly foregrounded, leading to an Islam that is as much, if not more, an ideology than a spiritual path. Brown notes that Islamists promote the revivalist sense of the simplicity and transparency of Islamic source texts, making them easily applied by non-experts: “For Islamists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Islam was blessedly simple, common sense and ripe for personal and social implementation with no need for ulema.”50 The idea that a modern state could be made “Islamic” was first developed by Abul Ala Maududi, a South Asian revivalist thinker who founded the Jama‘ati-Islami in Lahore in 1941.51 Maududi was inspired by great Sufi revivalists (mujaddids) of the Mughal period, Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624) and Shah Wali Allah (d. 1762).52 Although Maududi came from a family descending from a branch of the Chishti Sufi order53 and became thoroughly acquainted with Sufi philosophy in his religious education, he understood legitimate Sufism as simply the love of God and the Prophet shown through strict obedience to their commands (along the lines of Ibn Taymiyya’s understanding of Sufism). Despite allowing for

76 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

this circumspect form of Sufism, he maintained that Muslims should abandon it. Maududi wrote: Just as a pure and lawful thing as water is prohibited when it is deemed to be harmful to a patient, similarly the cult of Tassawuf, though allowable, needs to be eschewed and laid aside. For through it the Muslims have become addicted to a kind of intoxication which has lulled them into sleep and sapped them of life and reality for centuries.54 Mirroring Karl Marx’s (d. 1883) famous critique of religion as the “Opium des Volkes” or “opium of the masses,” Maududi saw Sufism as a key obstacle to the revival of Muslim political power. His pragmatic opposition to Sufism was appreciated by the Saudi-Wahhabi sponsors of the Muslim World League. As a founding member of the first council of the League, Maududi was clearly comfortable with Wahhabi perspectives on Sufism, if he did not strictly share them. Maududi’s influence has been channeled not only through the Jama‘at in South Asia but also through organizations founded by Jama‘at members around the world, including the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) founded in 1971.55 ICNA continues to administer mosques, hold conferences, publish literature, pursue charitable operations, and release public statements on issues of concern to Muslims around the world. Arabic language teacher and religious activist Hasan al-Banna (d. 1949) founded the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen) in Egypt in 1928. Al-Banna established the Brotherhood as an activist movement to counter Westernization and bring Egyptian society back to Islamic norms and practices, though it would soon have a global impact. Like Maududi, al-Banna believed in a highly circumscribed form of Sufism.56 Reflecting Salafi criticisms of Sufism, al-Banna suggested that Sufis were responsible for bringing outside contaminants into Islam, such as Greek and Persian philosophy, corrupting the purity of Islamic belief.57 Furthermore, Banna saw Sufism’s focus on the inner world as leading to an inevitable neglect of the outer world, fostering a political and social quietism that betrayed Islam’s activist impulse and hobbled Muslim reform efforts. Later, Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966),58 one of the Brotherhood’s most influential and controversial thinkers, would characterize Sufism as a “medieval relic” that served to keep Muslims fragmented by affiliation with various orders, and resigned to their social and political fates. For Qutb, Sufism helped foster the ignorance and superstition (jahiliyya) that medieval Islam had succumbed to: it was an archaism that kept Muslims from regaining civilizational dynamism and power. Qutb’s call for Muslims to overthrow states that were not fully implementing God’s rule, and to replace them with a modern state that enforced a homogenized Islamic law, formed the ideological basis of Political Literalist Salafism. Al-Banna and Qutb’s largely negative views of Sufism have, like Maududi’s, gained considerable traction through worldwide institutional reach. Along with League involvement and the funding it bequeathed, Brotherhood members and

Contesting Sufism today 77

similarly affiliated Muslim revivalists have gone on to establish Islamic education, welfare, and advocacy organizations around the globe. Muslim Brotherhood members were instrumental in establishing some of North America’s first Muslim organizations, including the Muslim Students Association (MSA), founded in 1963, and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), founded in 1982.59 Contrary to the increasingly prevalent Islamophobic conspiracy theories, however, this early Brotherhood influence on these organizations in no way means that such organizations were simply offshoots of the Brotherhood or the League, or that their members were exclusively affiliated with these Islamist/ revivalist movements. Although founding members often came out of revivalist movements or were influenced by them, later MSA and ISNA leaders came from a variety of Muslim orientations and by no means did revivalism have a monopoly on Muslim organizations. However, anti-Sufi perspectives were initially present in these organizations through Brotherhood and League influences. For decades, these perspectives continued to shape the atmosphere of North American Islam, which was in many contexts hostile to open expressions of Sufism. Notable here is the influence of Ismail Al-Faruqi (d. 1986), a Palestinian political refugee and immigrant to the United States who worked as a philosopher, religious studies professor at Temple University, and Muslim activist. With his Islamic worldview shaped by studying with revivalist preachers at al-Azhar during his time in Cairo in the 1950s and his experience of MSAs in America, Al-Faruqi would foster a vision of Islam that was shaped by Salafi literalist and Salafi reformist understandings.60 His vision would in turn help define the orientations of North America’s pioneering Islamic organizations, significantly marginalizing Sufism among Muslims in Canada and the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. By the mid-1980s, the MSA had over 300 chapters and almost fifty thousand members, making it one of the region’s most important Muslim organizations. Locally, the dissemination of perspectives like Al-Faruqi’s coincided with the settlement of “more revivalist Muslim international students in the US [and Canada]”61 in the 1970s and 1980s who helped establish a more extensive institutional framework for Muslims in North America. Under the influence of Al-Faruqi and other revivalist perspectives from the Middle East and South Asia, MSAs alongside other national Muslim organizations in North America tended to present Islam as a homogeneous system, one that was threatened by cultural and religious diversity, rather than enriched by it.62 In the 1980s, Al-Faruqi began working with Abdulhamid Abu Sulayman on a project to address the “crisis of the Muslim mind.”63 Like the Salafiyya of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Al-Faruqi and Abu Sulayman saw Muslims as having fallen behind the West in terms of civilizational advancement and knowledge.They believed that as “thought naturally precedes deeds,” the revival of Islamic civilization must begin with an articulation and application of “sound Islamic thought.”64 They termed their project of intellectual reform the “Islamization of Knowledge.” Its goal was nothing less than restoring the ummah (global Muslim community) to a place of power and prominence on the world stage. This could be done first by recognizing that the European Enlightenment was actually an appropriation and

78 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

misapplication of Islamic principles of rational and scientific investigation: whereas Muslims ensured that these principles stayed within the boundaries of revelation, the secular European distortion of divinely guided scientific principles led to the discontents of modernity. Muslims and particularly North American Muslims were thus tasked with recovering this knowledge and “restoring its Islamic roots.”65 Hence the natural and social sciences could be Islamicized, a process that would restore them to their original harmonization with divine revelation, offering a new, alternative paradigm that would allow Muslims to build societies that were both authentically Islamic and modern. As their “Islamization of Knowledge” project took shape and gained influence through a growing institutional base in America that was devoted to its enactment,66 Al-Faruqi and Abu Sulayman tended either to ignore Sufism or consider it “decadent, deviant, and superstitious.”67 Beyond the North American context, the Muslim World League, alongside various public and private Gulf donors, has funded Salafi/Wahhabi missionary activity through scholarships offered for preachers (da‘is) to study religion in Saudi Arabia. Frequently, these studies are pursued at the Islamic University of Medina, which some have acerbically labeled “Wahhabi U,” referring to the university’s premier role in creating Wahhabi missionaries. Following their training in Salafi understandings of Islam, these missionaries export their newly acquired Salafism back to their communities of origin, which in many cases has involved developing concerted movements to purify local Muslims’ religious practice of any “innovations” or cultural/traditional corruptions, usually associated with Sufism.68 The Muslim World League has set up offices in and sent missionaries throughout the Middle East, Africa, North America, and South Asia. The implanting of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s vision of Islam in these places has led to tensions between the new, monolithic version of Islam and the usually quite heterogeneous and Sufi-oriented Islam that was already present.69 The League’s activity has had a noticeable impact around the world, transplanting Wahhabi-informed understandings of Islam in regions dominated for centuries by Sufi orders, often with a corresponding amplification of intra- and inter-religious tensions. For example, beginning in the 1960s, League funding supported leading political and religious figures in Northern Nigeria. The region’s chief judge, Abubakar Gumi (d. 1992), established the Society for the Eradication of Innovation (bida‘a) in 1978, institutionalizing anti-Sufism in the region.70 League promotion of Wahhabism in Nigeria has contributed to the recent attempt at implementing Islamic law in northern Nigerian states (interacting with a number of local, historical factors as well), exacerbated tensions with Christians, and helped foster the eventual rise of the militant Salafi Hausa group Boko Haram. Saudi funding for mosques and Islamic organizations in the region has unsurprisingly made the Saudi implementation of Salafism a desired model for some Nigerians. Scholar of contemporary Islam Sarah Eltantawi shares an excerpt of an interview with a Nigerian interlocutor who stated simply, “I wish Nigeria could be like Saudi Arabia,” which she notes is an opinion shaped by widespread Saudi funding in the area in recent decades.71 Similarly, starting in the 1970s, Saudi funding to Yemen’s Ministry of

Contesting Sufism today 79

Education brought Salafi preachers and doctrines into the country, exacerbating tensions between Sunni and Shi‘a tribes in Yemen, and between Salafi and Sufi mosques and schools.72 Scholar of Islam and politics Noorhaid Hasan observes that, “the development of the Salafi movement in Indonesia is inexorably related to the rising influence of Saudi Arabia in the global politics of the Muslim world.”73 Forms of Salafism have further taken hold in Pakistan and Afghanistan, regions previously dominated by Sufism, as Saudi Arabia has funded and supported Islamist, Salafi movements there. In the 1990s, for example, the Saudis shifted their funding from Maududi’s Jama‘at-i-Islami to the Ahl-e Hadith, which received “millions of dollars and developed a publishing empire with worldwide distribution,” creating “Salafi establishments in Pakistan” with global impact.74 Pakistani alumni of the University of Medina have further contributed to the establishment of Salafism in Pakistan. Although rooted in the Deobandi madrasas75 dotting the Pashtun belt in Northwestern Pakistan, the Taliban movement became increasingly Salafi and antiSufi oriented as it gained power in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. Its connections with the Saudi political and religious establishments grew, as Saudi clerics approved of the Taliban’s strict enforcement of Islamic laws and punishments, its opposition to Sufism, prohibition of music, destruction of statues and shrines, and persecution of Shi‘a Muslims, all reminiscent of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s reforms in Arabia. Their punitive implementation of Islamic laws flew in the face of Afghanistan’s traditionally tolerant, heterogeneous Islam, which accommodated a variety of Sunni, Sufi, and Shi‘a orientations.76 Traditionally prevalent Sufi orders, such as the NaqshbandiyyaMujaddidiyya, have been all but pushed out of Pashtun regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years, with the rise of the increasingly anti-Sufi Taliban.77 Interestingly, the Deobandi movement itself originated among students of the Sufi saint Hajji Imdadullah Muhajir (d. 1899). Imdadullah was a leader of the Chishti order, which was traditionally associated with an emphasis on inter-religious harmony, charity, and pacifism. Imadadullah, however, supported the Mutiny against the British in 1857. Following the consequent British sacking of Delhi and his exile to Karachi and then Mecca, Imdadullah advocated for Sufis, as the true heirs of the Prophet, to take over greater leadership of the South Asian Muslim community, as the Mughals declined under growing British dominion.78 For Imdadullah, the practice of Sufism led to the “rectified heart,” a state of internal spiritual purity and power that was “the locus for mystical experience, religious authority and social reform.”79 His students established the Deobandi movement to solidify and perpetuate the classical Islamic tradition among Muslims in India. As the Muslim political order collapsed under colonialism, the Deobandis sought to maintain Islamic identity and culture through a fusion of scholasticism and Sufism. This fusion would be increasingly broken, however, in the later 20th century as some branches of the Deobandi school of thought became increasingly Salafi literalist in orientation, as evidenced by the Taliban movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Besides the organizational spread of Salafi literalist influence since the 1960s, the 1990s saw the emergence of online Salafism, which proved to have a powerful presence within Islamic cyberspaces. Scholar of Islam online Gary Bunt notes

80 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

that “Wahhabi-influenced material has emerged in diverse online contexts from a variety of cultural and linguistic sources,” and acknowledges that “there is a sense that Wahhabi and Salafi discourse has a prominent role in cyberspace.”80 Salafism has indeed proven to be appealing online and, as sociologist of Islam Olivier Roy observes, “due to its universal quality and de-territorialised, de-culturised character [Salafism] has become a highly powerful model of identification and is eminently suitable for the creation of new virtual communities.”81 For many young Muslims who find the culturally particular Islam of their parents to be less relevant to their quest for identity and community in a globalizing world, Salafism offers a neat, clean,“pure” Islamic identity divorced from cultural permutations, and further, with its claims to represent the only true version of Islam, that of the “saved sect” (al-firqa al-najiya), it provides a sense of having exclusive access to salvific truth. Most Salafi websites include articles that are written almost exclusively by Saudi religious authorities – such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Baz (d. 1999), his student Muhammad Ibn al-Uthaymeen (d. 2001), and the late Hadith specialist Nasir al-Din al-Albani (d. 1999) – who are the current scions of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s teachings.82 With archives of fatwas (religious rulings) and articles on the “pure” Islam of the Salafi manhaj (program or path), these websites designate a significant amount of their content to castigating deviant sects, which include most prominently Shi‘a, Sufi, and modernist perspectives, as well as those of Sunni followers of the traditional legal and theological schools. Such websites draw sharp lines between the authentic Islam of the salaf and all other sorts, which are anathematized, further exacerbating sectarian tensions in mosques, communities, and countries. Relations between Muslims and non-Muslims are also often strained by the online spread of Salafi literalism with its emphasis on wala’ wa-l-bara’. Echoing Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s call to sever ties with non-Muslims, fight them, and “grow closer to God by hating them,” Ibn Baz “ordered Muslims to withhold their greetings to non-believers and cultivate hatred for them.”83 Taken together, the combined influence of anti-Sufi preachers, literature, mosques, madrasas, and websites, funded by tens of billions of Saudi petro-dollars, has been immense.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS Perhaps nowhere is the Salafi doctrine of wala’ wa-l-bara’ more viscerally evident than in the Political literalist Salafi movement, including most notoriously the al-Qaeda organization and its derivatives like ISIS. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s program of hating and fighting non-Muslims (including all Muslims who fall outside the fold of the saved sect of “true Muslims”) comes to modern fruition with such organizations. It is important to point out, however, that the curators of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s teachings among the ranks of the Saudi clergy would suggest that Political literalist Salafi groups represent a misguided, hyper-politicization of literalist Salafism. However, Political literalist Salafis share an almost identical conceptual universe with literalist Salafis, significantly in terms of wala’ wa-l-bara’ though they diverge in terms of how this doctrine is to be implemented in practice. The

Contesting Sufism today 81

doctrine of “loyalty and disavowal” was first amplified by Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s grandson Sulayman al-Shaykh (d. 1818), who suggested that the litmus test of true belief is where one’s love and loyalty, and one’s hatred and opposition, lie. If one is loyal to and loves Muslims and all things authentically Islamic, while hating and opposing non-Muslims and all things un-Islamic, only then, according to al-Shaykh, is one a true believer. Later Wahhabi scholars made the implications of al-Shaykh’s position more explicit in stating that one is not a Muslim “until one disavows the people of unbelief and declares to them that they are unbelievers and that one is their enemy. If that does not happen, one has not declared the religion.”84 Declaring tawhid is incomplete unless it includes openly condemning and opposing unbelief (kufr). In the 20th century, this doctrine took an even more militant form, as it was increasingly tied to disavowing non-Islamic political formations. Influential Saudi dissident Juhayman al-‘Utaybi (d. 1980) concluded that true belief as manifest in wala’ wa-l-bara’ is a three-stage process that involves openly condemning idolatry and idolaters, emigrating (hijra) to a gathering place free from shirk, then fighting idolaters.85 Al-‘Utaybi’s doctrine was taken up by the Palestinian-Jordanian Salafi scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who remains one of the al-Qaeda movement’s key ideological architects. Al-Maqdisi, however, further adopted Maududi’s and Qutb’s belief that obeying non-Islamic laws and governments was tantamount to shirk. Hence, Muslims are obligated to condemn all states that are not fully implementing God’s laws, declare their enmity and opposition to them, and then make jihad against these states to destroy their idolatry and to establish a state where the laws are solely God’s. For Maqdisi, this is an integral part of wala’ wa-l-bara’ and it is obligatory upon all Muslims to pursue it.86 Maqdisi has been largely condemned by the Saudi religious establishment for espousing a hyper-politicized and militant form of Salafism that they see as both theologically ungrounded and politically dangerous, generally referred to as “Qutbism” after the revolutionary Islamism of Qutb. More broadly, scholars have tended to refer to the jihad-oriented Salafism of al-Qaeda and ISIS as Jihadi-Salafism. Maqdisi was an influential teacher of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (d. 2006), the founder of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which would eventually morph into ISIS. Hence ISIS, in many respects, represents an attempt to fully implement Maqdisi’s doctrine of wala’ wa-l-bara’. To do so involves opposition to and fighting against all forms of idolatry. With Sufism long considered a form of idolatry by Wahhabi theologians, Sufism is something that, for ISIS members, must be openly condemned, hated, and opposed for Muslims to demonstrate their true belief. The ISIS destruction of Sufi shrines, then, is a logical expression of wala’ wa-l-bara’ as articulated by Maqdisi, al-‘Utaybi, al-Shaykh, and ultimately, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab.

North American Sufi responses to anti-Sufism The influence of the Muslim World League, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Jama‘at-i-Islami on mosque administrations, national organizations, and annual

82 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

conventions in North America, though never total or determinative, generally succeeded in the 1980s and 1990s in creating an Islamic environment in which Sufism was understood to be something inauthentic, impractical, and corrupt. The early 2000s saw a significant shift in the largely anti-Sufi tenor of North American Islam. Following the discovery of the predominantly Saudi-Salafi origin of the 9/11 hijackers, Saudi charities, religious organizations, and Salafism in general drew powerful scrutiny from American intelligence agencies and media commentators, and a general crackdown on militancy was pursued both by the United States government and by the Muslim community. One of the fallouts from this crackdown was an opening for other Muslim perspectives to gain public voice and recognition. Whereas before 9/11 Salafi/Wahhabi views, explicitly or implicitly, informed many Muslim understandings of Sufism at the mosque, community, and national organizational levels, the atmosphere shifted after 2001, as a certain sort of Salafi perspective (Political literalist Salafism) was quite clearly implicated in the attacks. Many Muslims were mobilized to more concertedly and vocally counter those aspects of Salafism that facilitated dichotomizing perspectives, and an openness and desire for a wider array of Islamic interpretations emerged.87 Hisham Kabbani is a leading shaykh of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani (more recently renamed the Naqshbandi-Nazimi) Sufi order, based in the United States, though with origins in the Caucasus region, Cyprus, and the Middle East. Upon arrival in America in the late 1980s, Kabbani discovered the anti-Sufi tenor of a great many mosques and Muslim organizations. As a result, he became a vocal opponent of the Salafi–Islamist nexus in North America prior to 9/11 and made a number of public statements warning of the security dangers posed by extreme or militant perspectives within this nexus.88 Some of Kabbani’s warnings were in their own right dichotomizing, equating any trace of Salafism or anti-Sufism with trenchant extremism. His overall concern, however, was in a sense vindicated by the tragic events that transpired in September 2001. Shortly after 9/11, ‘Abd al-Hakim Murad (a British convert to Islam, scholar, and popular speaker) observed that Kabbani was “brushed aside as a dangerous alarmist” by Muslim organizations for warning of the danger of extremism. Following the 9/11 attacks, he speculated that such organizations “are no doubt beginning to regret their treatment of him.”89 Sufi claims to a represent “traditional Islam” or the “Sunni consensus,” offered by classical scholars like al-Ghazali, intersected with a growing perception among North American Muslims that Sufism represented a balanced, spiritual, and openminded interpretation of Islam, and increased its appeal. Highlighting the connection between Salafi literalist theology and terrorism (and the lack thereof with Sufism), Murad observed that “no-one has ever heard of Sufi terrorism.”90 Sufism went from being a bad word, something often unspeakable in public Muslim forums, to something more frequently affirmed as an integral part of a traditional, tolerant, and orthodox Sunni Islam. Sufi or Sufi-infused perspectives are now more openly discussed at Muslim events such as the annual ISNA conference in Chicago. In Canada, the popular annual “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” (RIS) convention in Toronto is characteristic of this trend toward an Islam that is more comfortable with

Contesting Sufism today 83

aspects of Sufism and at home in North American society. The RIS website claims that the convention, first held in 2003, “aims to promote stronger ties within the North American society through reviving the Islamic tradition of education, tolerance and introspection, and across cultural lines through points of commonality and respect.”91 Some of the most popular speakers at RIS conventions include proponents of Scholastic traditionalism, the classical Sunni synthesis of jurisprudence, theology, and Sufism. Proponents of this “traditional” or “classical” Islam in North America include Hamza Yusuf, Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, Umar Faruq ‘Abd-Allah, and Zaid Shakir – all associated to some degree with Yusuf ’s Zaytuna Institute. The most famous, however, is Yusuf, an American convert to Islam and charismatic speaker. Anthropologist and scholar of Islam Zareena Grewal describes him as follows: Yusuf developed a national reputation with Muslim American counter publics as a gifted orator with flawless Arabic and a sharp wit. His striking command of Western philosophy and the classical Islamic sciences, punctuated by pop-culture references and his pitch-perfect recitation of Arabic scripture became his signature, earning him a reputation as a speaker that could draw thousands in any city he traveled to in North America and western Europe.92 Yusuf founded the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, California in 1996 in the hopes of reviving knowledge of traditional Islamic sciences (‘ulum), such as the jurisprudence of the four Sunni schools of law (madhhab, pl. madhahib), the theology of the traditional schools of kalam, and the spirituality developed by the masters of Sufism. In 2009, Yusuf and Shakir collaborated with Hatem Bazian of the University of California at Berkeley to found the first Muslim post-secondary institution in the United States, Zaytuna College. Located in Berkeley, Zaytuna College offers Bachelor’s programs in Islamic law and the Arabic language, maintaining the emphasis on the classical tradition.93 In 2015, it became the first accredited Muslim college in the United States. As Salafi literalists reject almost the entirety of this traditional Sunni synthesis (including the madhhab system, the schools of theology, and Sufism), the Zaytuna approach forms an important alternative to anti-Sufi versions of Islam, one with powerful claims to Sunni authenticity. This Zaytuna approach has further spread through weekend- and month-long “Deen Intensives,” or rihlas (“journeys”) offering intensive training in classical Islamic jurisprudence, theology, and spirituality.94 Since gaining a following as a charismatic speaker in the 1990s,Yusuf has become one of America’s most influential Muslim leaders, having a particular appeal with youth and college-aged Muslims. Although some of his harsh political rhetoric in the 1990s drew criticism following 9/11, Yusuf has since made a concerted effort to tone down angry, dichotimizing tones in his preaching, arguing that Muslims need to move away from the “discourse of anger” and build bridges with non-Muslims.95 Though strongly oriented toward Islamic jurisprudence and generally theologically exclusivist, teachers and

84 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

scholars associated with Zaytuna tend to be much more open to interfaith dialogue and American democratic culture and values than some of their Salafi counterparts, and furthermore contribute to normalizing Sufism as an integral part of a holistic Islamic practice. One of Yusuf ’s main teachers, Abdullah Bin Bayyah, is a globally respected “scholar of scholars” in Islamic legal methodology (‘usul al-fiqh) and theology. Hailing from Mauritania, Bin Bayyah is a Professor of Islamic law at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and has served on a variety of Islamic legal councils around the world. Like his American student Yusuf, Bin Bayyah promotes a form of Scholastic traditionalism, and suggests that only through the mediation of Islam’s venerable traditions of jurisprudential scholarship and Sufism can Muslims recover a holistic Islam that can counter the influence of extremists and revive Muslim faith and societies. Recent years have seen Bin Bayyah spearhead a number of projects to counter the messaging of Political literalist Salafi groups and the global violence they have fostered. He is President of the Forum for Peace in Muslim Societies based in Abu Dhabi, through which Bin Bayyah has gained a profile in the West as a peace activist. In his address to the United Nations Assembly in September 2014, American President Barack Obama commended the Forum for Peace and Bin Bayyah as offering an antidote to extremism, quoting Bin Bayyah as asserting that, “We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace.”96 In 2016, Bin Bayyah led over 200 Muslim scholars in the creation of the Marrakesh Declaration, which calls on Muslims to protect the rights of religious minorities in Muslim societies, develop inclusive conceptions of citizenship based in Islamic jurisprudence, purge educational curricula of extremist material that exacerbates tensions between Muslims and others, and work collaboratively with non-Muslims to address pressing global issues.97 Compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Jordan, The Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims is an annual list ranking the world’s Muslim leaders, political and religious, in terms of their overall influence, theological or otherwise. Regardless of the stock that one puts into such lists, in 2017, Bin Bayyah was ranked as the ninth most influential Muslim in the world, with Yusuf ranking thirty-third on the list, reflecting perhaps his more American-based influence in contrast with Bin Bayyah’s global profile, especially in Muslim-majority countries. Just a bit further down one finds Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ranked fortieth on the list.98 Although not a popular preacher like Yusuf, nor a jurist and cleric like Bin Bayyah, Nasr remains one of the most prolific and well-known scholars of Islam in the English language. Like those affiliated with Zaytuna, Nasr has been a proponent of traditional Islam, which he distinguishes from the Islam of “secular modernizers” and “fundamentalists.”99 Nasr describes himself as a Traditionalist, referring to the Perennialist school of thought founded by René Guénon and Frithjof Schuon, described in Chapter 1. Like Yusuf and Bin Bayyah, Nasr advocates for a maintenance of the various forms of knowledge, art, and morals of traditional Islamic civilization, including Sufism. Following 9/11, Nasr published The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity to “explain the authentic teachings

Contesting Sufism today 85

of Islam.”100 In the text, he emphasizes the spiritual life, beauty, and compassion that flow through “authentic,” traditional Islam, which he contrasts with Salafi, Islamist, and modernist reactions to Western encroachment and influence. As a well-respected scholar and authority on Islam, Nasr’s writings contribute to establishing Sufism as a normative part of Islam. Although his books are easily accessible in big-chain bookstores, the question remains about the extent of his influence among Muslims. Nasr’s influence within the Muslim community may be limited by his affiliation with Traditionalism/Perennialism, which many Muslim theologians construe as an unorthodox, esoteric school of thought premised on religious pluralism. As a leading figure within Frithjof Schuon’s Sufi order known as the Maryamiyya, Nasr is an advocate for the legitimacy of the world’s major religious traditions as authentic paths to salvation and enlightenment. This situates Nasr well to engage with North America’s religious diversity as a Muslim who sees truth in other religions, rather than contamination and danger. Besides publishing extensively on Sufism since the 1960s, Nasr has trained generations of Islamic studies scholars who have gone on to produce influential translations and works on Sufism and Islam in their own right. Through Nasr,Traditionalist understandings of Sufism have permeated the Western academy. Recently, Nasr led the development of the Study Qur’an project, which offers the first English translation of the Qur’an that includes an extensive range of classical commentaries, including some by classical Sufi authors.101 Alongside the Scholastic Traditionalism of Yusuf and Bin Bayyah and the esoteric Traditionalism of Nasr, liberal reformist tendencies inform what is sometimes called “Progressive Islam” in North America, a movement found primarily among Muslim academics and activists. In Omid Safi’s cogently edited collection of essays, many of the contributing authors share a combined scholar/activist orientation, seeing their scholarly work as closely interfacing with their critical activism against oppressive structures in North American and global contexts, especially within Muslim communities.102 These scholars have been influenced by Sufism, galvanized by the spread of Salafism/Wahhabism, or both. Safi notes in the introduction that “progressive Muslims need to problematize, resist, and finally replace the lifeless, narrow, exclusivist, and oppressive ideology that Wahhabism poses to Islam.”103 Many progressive Muslim activists believe that Sufism must be an integral part of any Islam that seeks to recover and develop Muslim traditions of humanism, justice, and dialogue. Safi writes that, “as much as any group of Muslims, the Sufis have attempted to cultivate this interpersonal ethic at a communal level.”104 Progressive Muslims, or what Ramadan calls “Liberal Reformists,” pursue an agenda of liberalizing Muslim discourse on women, LGBTQ issues, social justice, and understanding religious others. Liberal reformists such as Omid Safi, Amina Wadud, Farid Esack, and Sa‘diyya Shaikh challenge Salafi literalists, Scholastic Traditionalists, and esoteric Traditionalists, and critique static notions of tradition, romanticizations of the past, and failures to engage fruitfully with contemporary thought and culture. Reformists seek to foster a more dynamic approach to tradition that utilizes traditional resources to address contemporary issues of justice, seeking in particular

86 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

to engage with Islamic thought to foster social justice, critique dominant power structures in Western and Muslim societies, and encourage solidarity across lines of identity. This shift in the North American Muslim community toward a wider diversity of perspectives, including implicit and explicit Sufism, has not necessarily meant a shift in wider perceptions of Muslims. Centuries-old stereotypes of Muslims as typically Arab, fanatical, and prone to violence have left a lasting imprint on the cultural archive of Western images of Islam.The trope of the Arab or Muslim fanatic is too frequently invoked in literature, media, and film, reinforcing this reductive caricature of Muslims, influencing American public opinion, and even foreign and domestic policy. Part of Said’s work in Orientalism (discussed in Chapter 1) was to highlight how such stereotypes are only the latest manifestation of an older Orientalist tradition rooted in the colonial era, a tradition of situating Islam and Muslims as inferior to the West, usually by reducing them to a series of singular, static tropes. Hence what we might call discourses of neo-Orientalism offer repackaged versions of older forms of “othering” and patronizing Muslims as somehow inherently oppositional and inferior.105 Following 9/11, these older stereotypes have been compounded by fears and anxieties about Muslims, leading to a sort of anti-Islamic or Islamophobic106 cottage industry, perpetuated by talk radio, cable news networks, politicians, and authors who tend toward sensationalism in stoking fears about Islam.107 The entirety of the Islamic tradition is frequently reduced to the most sensational acts of violence carried out by Muslims who represent a fraction of a percentage of the worldwide Muslim population. With titles like Richard Spencer’s Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs,108 it is not difficult to see how a mood of fear and suspicion increasingly surrounds Muslim communities in the West. Such writings have been further analyzed as a genre called “clash literature,” a post-9/11 phenomenon building off Samuel Huntington’s famous “clash of civilizations” thesis that post-Cold War conflicts would take place along civilizational lines, particularly between “Islam” and “the West.”109 This literature, found in the works of authors like Bruce Bawer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Mark Steyn, tends to juxtapose a faultless, morally superior West against a “monolithic, authoritarian, and mysoginistic Islamic culture,” which threatens, through immigration, to destroy the West from within.110 The proliferation of these views and their intersection with extremist terrorism has led to an increasingly dangerous social situation for Muslims in Europe and North America. In 2016, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States were at their highest levels since 9/11.111 Additionally, regular polls conducted among North Americans and Europeans show that negative perceptions of Islam are shared by upwards of 70% of respondents.112 Within Islamophobic literature, images of ISIS-inspired terrorism, violent protests, stonings, and burqas coalesce into a hardened view of Muslims as extremists who are inevitably drawn to violence, imbuing the hijab-wearing neighbor, for example, with a misplaced menace. In her foreword to talk-show host and author Erik Stakelbeck’s The Terrorist Next Door,113

Contesting Sufism today 87

conservative political commentator Michelle Malkin writes that “the so-called ‘tiny minority’ of ‘fringe’ radical Muslims who support violent jihad is actually a mainstream legion of hundreds of millions that hides behind the deceptive banner of the ‘Religion of Peace.’”114 With an image of “hundreds of millions” of violent Muslims deceptively claiming to “come in peace,” uneducated readers are mobilized by fear to oppose mosque building and Muslim immigration and integration into Western societies. Farish A. Noor, a Malaysian political scientist and human rights activist, succinctly sums up the tenor of this anti-Islamic rhetoric taking hold in recent decades: The line was simple and clear: Muslims were a hidden menace to the West; they could not be trusted; they should not have been given the same democratic rights as others (on the grounds that they were bound to abuse it); and they have a pathological hatred of the West which cannot be understood, rationalized, or engaged with.115 For their part, fringe Political literalist Salafi groups have fanned the flames of such generalized mischaracterizations of Islam, melodramatically calling for an Islamic state in Britain, or the imposition of Islamic law in the West, for example.116 Drawn by the lure of sensationalism, Western media too often focus on such fringe groups, magnifying their significance beyond their actual, minimal influence in the Muslim community, and usually failing to adequately highlight the ways in which Muslims have reported and opposed such groups.Whether perpetuated by fringe Muslims or the growing cadre of Islamophobic writers and commentators, narratives of Islam as an inherently violent, subversive ideology put pressure on Sufis, like other Muslims, to prove their moderation. Sometimes, this happens in an atmosphere of assumed guilt until innocence can be demonstrated; at other times, the dyad of the good Muslim (the liberal or Sufi) and the bad Muslim (conservative or revivalist) is reinforced, which collapses the intricacy and diversity of Islamic history. As an illustration of this phenomenon, we can consider the difficulty that a prominent Muslim imam and Sufi shaykh recently faced in lower Manhattan. Feisal Abdul Rauf has been the imam of a Sufi-oriented mosque, the Masjid al-Farah, in New York City’s lower Manhattan since 1983. (In Chapter 7, we will discuss Sufi shaykha Fariha Friedrich, who leads a Sufi order based out of the Masjid al-Farah.) Abdul Rauf is a Sufi teacher within the Shadhili-Qadiri order, and has a circle of students with whom he meets weekly.117 He has spent decades pursuing serious interfaith dialogue, winning awards for his efforts and friends in Jewish, Christian, and other religious communities. Abdul Rauf has written extensively on the compatibility of Islam with core American values, and is a clear opponent of extremist movements.118 The US State Department has included him in one of its exchange programs as a representative of the US overseas, where he worked to define Islamic moderation by “translating Islamic traditions into American idioms.”119 Rosemary R. Corbett, scholar of Islam and race in America, describes Abdul Rauf ’s overall message as follows: “Islam is part of an ethical tradition originating with Abraham

88 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

(the biblical patriarch common to Judaism and Christianity) and, of all the governments in the world, American liberal democracy best embodies this ethic in social form.”120 Despite Abdul Rauf ’s extensive interfaith and American government work and his deeply pro-American message, Abdul Rauf faced accusations of extremism and terrorist association in prominent American media during the summer of 2010. His proposed community center and mosque (called the Cordoba House in reference to the religious pluralism of medieval Muslim Spain), located blocks away from the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York, drew widespread condemnation and accusations of Islamic triumphalism. Although the project was publicized for months without controversy, conservative blogger Pamela Geller invoked conspiracist Islamophobic tropes, suggesting that Abdul Rauf ’s community center was, despite its benign appearance, in fact a symbol of “Islamic supremacism,”121 a mosque signifying Muslim dominance and victory after the 9/11 attacks. Her post was picked up by Republican Congressman Peter King, who called for Abdul Rauf to be investigated for ties to extremism, igniting weeks of national media coverage and debate, with extended protests against the center in Manhattan. Many media commentators on the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” issue (this framing falsely implying that the mosque was built “on” the site of the attacks, rather than blocks away) failed to make any sort of distinction between the fringe Political Literalist Salafi Muslims who carried out the attacks in 2001 and the vast majority of Muslims who abhorred the events of September that year, let alone Abdul Rauf, whose work for the US government and pro-American views seemed to be drowned out in the media, political, and public outrage. Further, few commentators showed any understanding of Sufism and its role in shaping Abdul Rauf ’s life and work. Like Sufis in bygone centuries, Abdul Rauf ’s spirituality has informed a life of social engagement, leadership, and intercultural bridge building in the Muslim community.Yet, he was imagined to be a subversive extension of al-Qaeda by many Americans, whose image of Islam was shaped by the widespread Islamophobic discourse and “clash literature” in the United States.

Conclusion The 20th century witnessed the dissolution of almost every traditional form of Muslim authority – political and religious – and their replacement by Western models of government, law, and morality. Muslims have since grappled with the overarching question of how to structure their societies and maintain Islamic traditions while assimilating some aspects of the technology, forms of knowledge, and political formations that emerged from the European Enlightenment. The collapse, or at least marginalization, of traditional Islamic structures of authority during the colonial and postcolonial eras has allowed for non-experts – often physicians and engineers with little training in the classical Islamic sciences (‘ulum) – to form movements that speak for Islam and claim to offer programs for the revival of the faith and Muslim societies. Islamic revivalism has been a phenomenon that, led by

Contesting Sufism today 89

non-experts, has tended to gravitate toward Salafi literalist and Political Literalist Salafism, as these interpretations of Islam largely reject the Scholastic Traditionalism of Islam’s old authority structure, which is premised on the mediation of Islamic source texts by trained jurists and Sufis. Salafi/Wahhabi interpretations of Islam gained ground, however, not only due to this appeal but also due to the immense funding made available by Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth. Saudi clerical networks interfaced with Islamist movements to form global organizations to disseminate versions of Islam that are profoundly anti-Sufi in nature. The consequent spread of the Wahhabi/Salafi theological, political nexus has led to a total erasure of Sufism in numerous global contexts, both textually from Islamic history and literature, and physically in the destruction of Sufi shrines and the killing of Sufis in places like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, and Pakistan. Whereas, as we saw in Chapter 2, Sufism used to inform every level of Islamic thought, practice, culture, and politics during the classical Islamic period, it has in recent centuries found itself increasingly cornered by well-funded and politically aggressive anti-Sufi movements. In North America, anti-Sufi influences were present during the formation of the Muslim community’s national organizational structure in the 1960s and 1970s, fostering an environment that was generally hostile to Sufism in the 1980s and 1990s. Following 9/11, however, Muslims were simultaneously more suspicious of anti-Sufi or Salafi movements due to their affiliation with the terrorist attacks, and more open to alternate claimants to Islamic authenticity. Scholastic Traditionalists such as Yusuf and Bin Bayyah have hence gained a more prominent voice as proponents of an Islam that integrates classical jurisprudence and theology with Sufi spirituality. In North America, Sufism has acted as a bridge that unites a variety of contemporary Muslim interpretive trends. Liberal reformist, Scholastic Traditionalist, and esoteric Traditionalist Muslims all share a sense of the need for Muslims to embrace aspects of Sufism in forming a balanced, spiritually open, and peace-loving Islam, one that is able to counter extremisms and foster pluralistic, inclusive Muslim societies. The conspiracism and paranoia of Islamophobic discourse, however, downplays this movement, and casts the Muslim community as a whole under a cloud of suspicion (as Abdul Rauf experienced when depicted as an extremist attempting to build a “conquest” mosque in New York). Despite such suspicions of Islam, Sufism continues to have great appeal for Westerners, though often to the degree that it is separated from its Islamic context and origin. As we will see in the chapters that follow, Sufism has had a deep influence on popular culture in the West, as a de-contextualized, “universal” spirituality or poetry, rarely associated with the broader Islamic tradition. The history of Western perceptions of Sufism are important to consider in depth, as they largely frame contemporary Sufism’s place in current discourses in Europe and North America on mysticism, spirituality, and Islam. In particular, the colonial era’s separation of Sufism from Islam set the stage for a simultaneous hostility toward Islam and enthusiastic embrace of Sufism, giving “Western” Sufism a very different hue than its counterpart in most Muslim societies.

90 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

Notes 1 See for example, Michael Muhammad Knight’s “Return to Pamphlet Islam” in Why I am a Salafi. 2 “Wherever Muslims have the power to regulate, uphold, require, or adjust correct practices, and to condemn, exclude, undermine, or replace incorrect ones, there is the domain of orthodoxy.” As cited in Richard C. Martin and Abbas Barzegar, “Formations of Orthodoxy: Authority, Power, and Networks in Muslim Societies,” in Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, eds. Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin (Columbia, NC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010), 185. 3 Wael B. Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 95–96. 4 Pankaj Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt against the West and the Remaking of Asia (Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2012), 64. 5 Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law, 115. 6 Shi‘a Muslims, however, have generally maintained traditional authority structures to a greater degree, whether we think of the role of Shi‘a clerics within the Iranian state or the living Imam (Aga Khan IV) of the Ismailis. 7 Vincent J. Cornell, “Reasons Public and Divine: Liberal Democracy, Shari’a Fundamentalism, and the Epistemological Crisis of Islam,” in Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, eds. Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin (Columbia, NC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010), 29. 8 Zareena Grewal, Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority (New York: New York University Press, 2014). 9 Ibid. 10 Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), 38–39. 11 For more on this subject see John Walbridge, God and Logic in Islam: The Caliphate of Reason (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011). 12 Bernard Haykel, “On the Nature of Salafi Thought and Action,” in Global Salafism:Islam’s New Religious Movement, ed. Roel Meijer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 38. 13 Kevin A. Reinhart, “Fundamentalism and the Transparency of the Arabic Qur’an,” in Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, eds. Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin (Columbia, NC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010), 103. 14 Although there are a number of issues with using the term “fundamentalism” in reference to Islam, scholars of religion have argued for the term’s analytical usefulness when adequately defined. Bruce Lawrence defines fundamentalism as “the affirmation of religious authority as holistic and absolute, admitting of neither criticism nor reduction; it is expressed through the collective demand that specific creedal and ethical dictates derived from scripture be publicly recognized and legally enforced.” See Cornell,“Reasons Public and Divine,” 26. 15 Michel Chodkiewicz, An Ocean without Shore: Ibn ‘Arabi, The Book, and the Law, trans. David Streight (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993). 16 For an example of a Sufi approach to the Qur’an, see Annabel Keeler, Sufi Hermeneutics: The Qur’an Commentary of Rashid al-Din Maybudi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 17 Chodkiewicz, An Ocean without Shore, 22–23. 18 Erik S. Ohlander, “Early Sufi Rituals, Beliefs, and Hermeneutics,” in The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, ed. Lloyd Ridgeon (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 57. 19 Ibid., 59. 20 Chodkiewicz, An Ocean Without Shore, 25. 21 Toby Mayer, “Theology and Sufism,” in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, ed. Tim Winter (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 282.

Contesting Sufism today 91

22 Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan: The Ahl-e Hadith Movement,” in Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, ed. Roel Meijer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 128. 23 Jonathan A. C. Brown, “Is Islam Easy to Understand or Not? Salafis, the Democratization of Interpretation and the Need for the Ulema,” Journal of Islamic Studies 26 (2015): 117. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibn Hanbal, for example, is reported to have said, “A flawed Hadith is preferable to me than a scholar’s opinion,” arguing that even if singularly transmitted, a Hadith with an authenticated isnad required acceptance and implementation. Jonathan A. C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad:The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy (London: Oneworld Publications, 2014). 27 Joas Wagemakers, “The Transformation of a Radical Concept: al-wala’ wa-l-bara’ in the Ideology of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi,” in Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, ed. Roel Meijer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 81–82. 28 Cornell, “Reasons Public and Divine,” 31–32. 29 Ibid. 30 Guiseppe Scattolin, “The Key Concepts of al-Farghani’s Commentary on Ibn al-Farid’s Sufi Poem, al-Ta’iyyat al-Kubra,” Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society 39 (2006): 48. 31 For more on Sufi perspectives on other religions, see William C. Chittick, Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994). 32 For more on universalism within Islam, see Patrick Laude, ed., Universal Dimensions of Islam (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2011). 33 Olivier Roy notes the explicitness with which some Islamic revivalists reject the isnad/ ijaza tradition, quoting London’s radical cleric Abu Hamza, who writes: “The people who have bestowed ijaza give us nothing but headache … What’s the use of all this ‘Islamic’ knowledge if it’s not bringing anything positive to Muslim people and Islam?” Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam:The Search for a New Ummah (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 166. 34 Ebrahim Moosa, What is a Madrasa? (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2015). 35 Ibid. 36 For Ramadan’s breakdown of these six trends, see Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 23–28. 37 Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (New York:Verso, 2015). 38 Hamid Algar, Wahhabism: A Critical Essay (Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2002), 37. 39 Ibid., 43–44. 40 Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft, 65. 41 Frederick de Jong, “Opposition to Sufism in Twentieth-Century Egypt (1900–1970): A Preliminary Survey,” in Islamic Mysticism Contested:Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics, eds. Frederick de Jong and Bernd Radtke (Boston, MA: Brill, 1999), 315. 42 Ibid., 316. 43 See Martin van Bruinessen, “Controversies and Polemics Involving the Sufi Orders in Twentieth-Century Indonesia,” in Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics, eds. Frederick de Jong and Bernd Radtke (Boston, MA: Brill, 1999), 705–728. 44 Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 574. 45 Algar, Wahhabism: A Critical Essay, 48.

92 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

46 See Reinhard Schulze, Islamischer Internationalismus im 20. Jahrhundert: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der islamischen Weltliga (Leiden: Brill, 1990). 47 “Muslim World League,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. 48 Algar, Wahhabism: A Critical Essay, 49. 49 Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994), vii. 50 Brown, “Is Islam Easy to Understand or Not,” 120. 51 Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 3. 52 Ayesha Jalal, Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 250. 53 Nasr, Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism, 10. 54 Marc Gaborieau, “Criticizing the Sufis: The Debate in Early-Nineteenth Century India,” in Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics, eds. Frederick de Jong and Bernd Radtke (Boston, MA: Brill, 1999), 452. 55 Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 353. 56 Al-Banna described the Brotherhood as “a Salafiyya message, a Sunni way,” and “a Sufi truth.” Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993 [reprint of original, 1969]), 14. 57 Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, 216. 58 For more on Qutb’s life see Sayyid Qutb, A Child from the Village, trans. John Calvert and William E. Shepard (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2004). For good examples of his thought, see Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, 1993), and Sayyid Qutb, Social Justice in Islam, trans. John B. Hardie and Hamid Algar (Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2000). 59 GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America, 352. 60 Perhaps one measure of this influence can be found in the fact that Al-Faruqi translated Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s Kitab al-Tawhid into English. See Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Kitab al-Tawhid: Essay on the Unicity of Allah or What is Due to Allah from his Creatures trans. Ismail al-Faruqi (Al-Aain, United Arab Emirates: Zayed Welfare Centre for the New Muslims, 1990). 61 Grewal, Islam Is a Foreign Country. 62 Ibid. 63 See Abdulhamid A. Abu Sulayman, Crisis in the Muslim Mind, trans. Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo (Herndon,VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1993). 64 Tahar Jabir al-’Alwani, “Foreword,” in Abdulhamid A. Abu Sulayman, Crisis in the Muslim Mind, trans.Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo (Herndon,VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1993), ix–x. 65 Grewal, Islam Is a Foreign Country. 66 The “Islamization of Knowledge” project would lead to the foundation of the International Institue of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a Muslim think tank based in Washington, DC, and the American Islamic College in Chicago. 67 Mumtaz Ahmad, “Islamic Studies in American Universities: Conversations, Discourses, and Dialogues with Scholars,” in Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, eds. Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang (Herndon,VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012), 234. 68 Nuh Ha Mim Keller, a Shadhili Sufi teacher and scholar of Islamic law, described the Islamic University of Madinah as “Wahhabi U” in an interview with the Voice of the Cape radio station in Cape Town, South Africa. See “The Current Crisis – Formulating a Response: Interview with Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller,” www.masud.co.uk/ ISLAM/nuh/voc_interview.htm. 69 Elizabeth Sirriyeh, Sufis and Anti-Sufis:The Defence, Rethinking, and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World (Surrey: Curzon, 1999), 158.

Contesting Sufism today 93

70 Ibid. 71 Sarah Eltantawi, Shari‘ah on Trial: Northern Nigeria’s Islamic Revolution (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2017). 72 Daniel M. Varisco, “Proxy Morons: The Demolition of Yemen,” www.menatidningen. se/english/proxy-morons-the-demolition-of-yemen. 73 Noorhaidi Hasan, “Ambivalent Doctrines and Conflicts in the Salafi Movement in Indonesia,” in Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, ed. Roel Meijer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 170. 74 Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan,” 130. 75 In 1867, Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi (d. 1880) established an Islamic college in Deoband, near New Delhi. The curriculum focused on training in classical Islamic law (according to the Hanafi school of thought), with ancillary studies including logic, philosophy, and a strictly orthodox form of Sufism, one rejecting shrine veneration.The Deobandi program essentially promoted a standardized Islam for India, grounded in the classical Sunni legal-theological tradition, with branch colleges throughout the subcontinent. By 1967, there were 9,000 Deobandi madrasas in South Asia. Deobandism tends to be conservative in orientation and primarily middle-class in its base. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: The Power of Militant Islam in Afghanistan and Beyond (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2008). 76 Ibid. 77 For an excellent account of how Sufis have been pressured by anti-Sufi groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, see Kenneth P. Lizzio, Embattled Saints: My Year with the Sufis of Afghanistan (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2014). 78 Scott Kugle, Sufis and Saints’ Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 223, 259. 79 Ibid., 260. 80 Gary R. Bunt, iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 34–35. 81 As quoted in Roel Meijer, “Introduction,” in Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, ed. Roel Meijer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 13. 82 Exemplary (English sites) here are: “Fatwa-Online,” www.fatwa-online.com; “Troid,” www.troid.org; “Islam Against Extremism,” www.salafipublications.com; “Islaam.com,” www.islaam.com; and “SalafiManhaj,” www.salafimanhaj.com. 83 Meijer, Global Salafism, 10. 84 Wagemakers, “The Transformation of a Radical Concept,” 88. 85 Ibid., 90. 86 Ibid., 92–95. 87 GhaneaBassiri observes that, post-9/11, “American Muslim organizations came to represent a wider spectrum of Muslims’ diversity, in terms of theology, politics, and gender, in the American public square.” GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America, 365. 88 See, for example, “Islamic Radicalism: Its Wahhabi Roots and Current Representation,” Kabbani’s Islamic Supreme Council of America, www.islamicsupremecouncil.org/understanding-islam/anti-extremism/7-islamic-radicalism-its-wahhabi-roots-and-currentrepresentation.html. 89 Abdal Hakim Murad, “Recapturing Islam from the Terrorists,” www.masud.co.uk/ ISLAM/ahm/recapturing.htm. 90 Ibid. 91 “Reviving the Islamic Spirit,” www.revivingtheislamicspirit.com/index.php. 92 Grewal, Islam Is a Foreign Country. 93 See the Zaytuna College website, “Academics,” www.zaytunacollege.org/academics/. 94 See the Deen Intensive Foundation website, www.deen-intensive.com/index.php. 95 Richard Scheinin, “American Muslim Scholar Declares: Terrorists Are Mass Murderers, not Martyrs,” San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, CA), September 16, 2001. 96 See The White House Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by President Barack Obama, Address to the United Nations General Assembly,”

94 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106

107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117

118 119 120 121

September 24, 2014, http://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/09 /24/remarks-prepared-delivery-president-barack-obama-address-united-nations-. See the “Marrakesh Declaration,” www.marrakeshdeclaration.org/marrakesh-declaration. html. See “The Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims,” http://themuslim500. com/the-top-50. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002), 108. Ibid., xiii. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E. B. Lumbard, and Mohamed Rustom, eds., The Study Qur’an: A New Translation and Commentary (New York: HarperOne, 2015). Omid Safi, ed., Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford: Oneworld, 2003). Omid Safi, “Introduction,” in Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, ed. Omid Safi (Oxford: Oneworld, 2003), 8. Ibid., 14. Said was particularly critical of Bernard Lewis in this respect, for perpetuating problematic Orientalist stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims. See, for example, Edward Said, Orientalism (New York:Vintage Books, 1994), 314–315. Differentiating Islamophobia from criticism of Islam or Muslim groups, scholars have defined Islamophobia as “unfounded hostility towards Islam” that manifests as “fear and dislike of most Muslims.” Islamophic discourse presents Islam as singular and unchanging, sharing almost nothing with other faiths and cultures, inherently barbaric and irrational, and bent on global domination and oppression. Todd H. Green, The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015), 9, 12-15. See, for example, Carl W. Ernst, ed., Islamophobia in America: The Anatomy of Intolerance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Richard Spencer, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2008). Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs 72 no. 3: 1993. Meena Sharify-Funk, “Pervasive Anxiety about Islam: A Critical Reading of Contemporary ‘Clash’ Literature,” Religions 4 (2013): 443. Green, The Fear of Islam, 1. Ibid. Erik Stakelbeck, The Terrorist Next Door: How the Government is Deceiving You about the Islamist Threat (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2011). Michelle Malkin, “Foreword,” in Erik Stakelbeck, The Terrorist Next Door: How the Government is Deceiving You about the Islamist Threat (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing 2011). Farish A. Noor, “What is the Victory of Islam? Towards a Different Understanding of the Ummah and Political Success in the Contemporary World,” in Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, ed. Omid Safi (Oxford: Oneworld, 2003), 322. Ibid. Although initiated into the Halveti-Jerrahi order by Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak, Abdul Rauf was later given the task of bringing a branch of the Shadhili-Qadiri order to America, by a Moroccan general he met in 1997. For more on Abdul Rauf ’s Sufism, see Brad Gooch, Godtalk:Travels in Spiritual America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002), 351–361. See, for example, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancsisco, 2004). Rosemary R. Corbett, Making Moderate Islam: Sufism, Service, and the “Ground Zero Mosque” Controversy (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017). Ibid. Pamela Geller’s blog, “Atlas Shrugs,” http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/.

Contesting Sufism today 95

Bibliography Abdul Rauf, Feisal. What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancsisco, 2004. Abou El Fadl, Khaled. The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Abou Zahab, Mariam. “Salafism in Pakistan: The Ahl-e Hadith Movement.” In Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, edited by Roel Meijer, 126–142. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Ahmad, Mumtaz. “Islamic Studies in American Universities: Conversations, Discourses, and Dialogues with Scholars.” In Observing the Observer:The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, edited by Mumtaz Ahmad, Zahid Bukhari, and Sulayman Nyang, 219–251. Herndon,VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012. al-‘Alwani, Tahar Jabir. “Foreword.” In Crisis in the Muslim Mind, edited by Abdulhamid A. Abu Sulayman and translated by Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo, ix–xii. Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1993. Algar, Hamid. Wahhabism: A Critical Essay. Oneonta, NY: Islamic International Publishing, 2002. Brown, Jonathan A.C. Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy. London: Oneworld Publications, 2014. Brown, Jonathan A.C. “Is Islam Easy to Understand or Not? Salafis, the Democratization of Interpretation and the Need for the Ulema.” Journal of Islamic Studies 26 (2015): 117–144. Bunt, Gary R. iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. Chittick, William C. Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity. Albany, NC: State University of New York Press, 1994. Chodkiewicz, Michel. An Ocean without Shore: Ibn ‘Arabi, The Book, and the Law. Translated by David Streight. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993. Cockburn, Patrick. The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution. New York: Verso, 2015. Corbett, Rosemary R. Making Moderate Islam: Sufism, Service, and the “Ground Zero Mosque” Controversy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017. Cornell, Vincent J. “Reasons Public and Divine: Liberal Democracy, Shari’a Fundamentalism, and the Epistemological Crisis of Islam.” In Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, edited by Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin, 23–51. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010. de Jong, Frederick. “Opposition to Sufism in Twentieth-Century Egypt (1900–1970): A Preliminary Survey.” In Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics, edited by Frederick de Jong and Bernd Radtke, 310–323. Boston, MA: Brill, 1999. “Deen Intensive Foundation.” www.deen-intensive.com/index.php. Eltantawi, Sarah. Shari‘ah on Trial: Northern Nigeria’s Islamic Revolution. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2017. Ernst, Carl W., ed. Islamophobia in America: The Anatomy of Intolerance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. “Fatwa-Online.” www.fatwa-online.com. Gaborieau, Marc. “Criticizing the Sufis: The Debate in Early-Nineteenth Century India.” In Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics, edited by Frederick de Jong and Bernd Radtke, 452–467. Boston, MA: Brill, 1999. Geller, Pamela. “Atlas Shrugs.” http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/.

96 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

GhaneaBassiri, Kambiz. A History of Islam in America. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Gooch, Brad. Godtalk:Travels in Spiritual America. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. Green, Todd H. The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015. Grewal, Zareena. Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. New York: New York University Press, 2014. Hallaq, Wael B. An Introduction to Islamic Law. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Hasan, Noorhaidi. “Ambivalent Doctrines and Conflicts in the Salafi Movement in Indonesia.” In Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, edited by Roel Meijer, 169–188. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Haykel, Bernard. “On the Nature of Salafi Thought and Action.” In Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, edited by Roel Meijer, 33–51. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Huntington, Samuel P. “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs 72, no. 3 (1993): 22–49. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Muhammad. Kitab al Tawhid: Essay on the Unicity of Allah or What is Due to Allah from his Creatures. Translated by Ismail al-Faruqi. Al-Aain, United Arab Emirates: Zayed Welfare Centre for the New Muslims, 1990. “Islaam.com.” www.islaam.com. “Islam against Extremism.” www.salafipublications.com. “Islamic Radicalism: Its Wahhabi Roots and Current Representation.” The Islamic Supreme Council of America. www.islamicsupremecouncil.org/understanding-islam/anti-extremism /7-islamic-radicalism-its-wahhabi-roots-and-current-representation.html. Jalal, Ayesha. Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008. Keeler, Annabel. Sufi Hermeneutics: The Qur’an Commentary of Rashid al-Din Maybudi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Keller, Nuh Ha Mim. “The Current Crisis – Formulating a Response: Interview with Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller.” www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/voc_interview.htm. Knight, Michael Muhammad. Why I Am a Salafi. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, 2015. Kugle, Scott. Sufis and Saints’ Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007. Lapidus, Ira. M. A History of Islamic Societies. 2nd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Laude, Patrick, ed. Universal Dimensions of Islam. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2011. Lizzio, Kenneth P. Embattled Saints: My Year with the Sufis of Afghanistan. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2014. “Marrakesh Declaration.” www.marrakeshdeclaration.org/marrakesh-declaration.html. Martin, Richard C., and Abbas Barzegar. “Formations of Orthodoxy: Authority, Power, and Networks in Muslim Societies.” In Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, edited by Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin, 179–202. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010. Mayer, Toby. “Theology and Sufism.” In The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, edited by Tim Winter, 258–287. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Meijer, Roel. “Introduction.” In Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, edited by Roel Meijer, 1–32. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Mishra, Pankaj, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt against the West and the Remaking of Asia. Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2012. Mitchell, Richard P. The Society of the Muslim Brothers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Reprint of original, 1969.

Contesting Sufism today 97

Moosa, Ebrahim. What Is a Madrasa? Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2015. Murad, Abdal Hakim. “Recapturing Islam from the Terrorists.” www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/ ahm/recapturing.htm. “The Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims.” http://themuslim500.com/ the-top-50. “Muslim World League.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E. B. Lumbard, and Mohamed Rustom, eds. The Study Qur’an: A New Translation and Commentary. New York: HarperOne, 2015. Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza. Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Noor, Farish A. “What is the Victory of Islam? Towards a Different Understanding of the Ummah and Political Success in the Contemporary World.” In Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, edited by Omid Safi, 320–332. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003. Ohlander, Erik S. “Early Sufi Rituals, Beliefs, and Hermeneutics.” In The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, edited by Lloyd Ridgeon, 53–73. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Qutb, Sayyid. Milestones. Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, 1993. Qutb, Sayyid. Social Justice in Islam. Translated by John B. Hardie and Hamid Algar. North Haledon, NJ: Islamic Publications International, 2000. Qutb, Sayyid. A Child from the Village. Translated by John Calvert and William E. Shepard. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2004. Ramadan, Tariq. Western Muslims and the Future of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban:The Power of Militant Islam in Afghanistan and Beyond. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2008. Reinhart, A. Kevin. “Fundamentalism and the Transparency of the Arabic Qur’an.” In Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, edited by Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin, 97–113. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010. “Reviving the Islamic Spirit.” www.revivingtheislamicspirit.com/index.php. Roy, Olivier. The Failure of Political Islam. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994. Roy, Olivier. Globalized Islam:The Search for a New Ummah. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. Safi, Omid. “Introduction.” In Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, edited by Omid Safi, 1–32. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003. Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York:Vintage Books, 1994. “SalafiManhaj.” www.salafimanhaj.com. Scattolin, Guiseppe. “The Key Concepts of al-Farghani’s Commentary on Ibn al-Farid’s Sufi Poem, al-Ta’iyyat al-Kubra.” Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ’Arabi Society 39 (2006): 33–83. Scheinin, Richard. “American Muslim Scholar Declares: Terrorists Are Mass Murderers, not Martyrs.” San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, CA), September 16, 2001. Schulze, Reinhard. Islamischer Internationalismus im 20. Jahrhundert: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der islamischen Weltliga. Leiden: Brill, 1990. Sharify-Funk, Meena. “Pervasive Anxiety about Islam: A Critical Reading of Contemporary ‘Clash’ Literature.” Religions 4 (2013): 443–468.

98 Sufism and anti-Sufism in context

Sirriyeh, Elizabeth. Sufis and Anti-Sufis: The Defence, Rethinking, and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1999. Spencer, Richard. Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2008. Stakelbeck, Erik. The Terrorist Next Door: How the Government is Deceiving You about the Islamist Threat. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2011. “Troid.” www.troid.org. van Bruinessen, Martin. “Controversies and Polemics Involving the Sufi Orders in Twentieth-Century Indonesia.” In Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics, edited by Frederick de Jong and Bernd Radtke, 705–728. Boston, MA: Brill, 1999. Varisco, Daniel M. “Proxy Morons: The Demolition of Yemen.” www.menatidningen.se/ english/proxy-morons-the-demolition-of-yemen. Wagemakers, Joas. “The Transformation of a Radical Concept: al-wala’ wa-l-bara’ in the Ideology of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.” In Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, edited by Roel Meijer, 81–106. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Walbridge, John. God and Logic in Islam: The Caliphate of Reason. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. The White House Office of the Press Secretary. “Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by President Barack Obama, Address to the United Nations General Assembly.” September 24, 2014. http://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/24/ remarks-prepared-delivery-president-barack-obama-address-united-nations. Zaytuna College. “Academics.” www.zaytunacollege.org/academics/.

PART II

Contemporary Sufism in the West Poetic influences and popular manifestations

4 SUFISM IN THE EYES OF THE WEST Colonialists, Romantics, and Transcendentalists

As the tradition of tasawwuf was being pushed from the center to the margins of Muslim civilization by anti-Sufi movements, non-Muslims – and in particular European colonialists – began to draw (or pull) Sufism into their own Western cultural context. This would lead to the presentation of Sufism as something other than Islam. For Orientalists, Sufism was largely understood as being different from Islam, whereas most Muslims, historically, did not see any such difference.1 Orientalist scholarly interest in non-European religions unfolded during the colonial period and was framed within a Christian, and specifically Protestant, lens and further filtered through European Perennialism and esotericism. While not all Orientalists were involved in imperial and colonial endeavors, some of the key figures of the Orientalist project were engaged in colonial activities. These scholars tended to focus on the regions that their nations had colonialized, such as South Asia and parts of the Middle East. For other writers and artists, their diplomatic and trade relations with empires, such as the Ottomans in Turkey, also led to cross-cultural exchanges. Historically, in European and North American contexts, the idea of an “Orient” basically meant “the East” or, more broadly, the “non-West.” In this vast region – generally referred to as the “Orient” – European scholars encountered new cultures, histories, and religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Islam.2 As we explored in Chapter 1 “Orientalism” is a term that has been used in various ways, first to describe a form of academic inquiry that was devoted to understanding the languages, cultures, and peoples of the “non-West”; and later as a critical label for this academic enterprise of studying non-Western peoples, based on the conviction that it was inherently biased, distorting, and harmful. There was a variety of scholars, artists, and government officials who either labeled themselves or were labeled “Orientalist.” One of the ways that Orientalist scholarship affected Western and later Muslim understandings of Sufism was to effectively separate it from Islam.

102 Contemporary Sufism in the West

The term “Sufism” itself was a word coined by 18th-century European scholars, most of whom were connected with the East India Company, the British institution established in India during its imperial control of the region. The construction of Sufism as an “ism” placed it in the “tableaux of modern Western ideolog[ies].”3 In naming the tradition, colonial explorers and scholars defined the framework of the thing they named.4 It is the process of this construction of Sufism in the European and Orientalist paradigms that this chapter explores.5 This framing of Sufism by Europeans was taking place just as Muslims were questioning Sufism’s theological, legal, and metaphysical place in Islam (as laid out in Chapters 1–3). This interest in Sufism by non-Muslims would further propel anti-Sufi Muslim movements. These two processes – that is, the push and pull factors, as they were – unfolded concurrently, adding complexities to the trajectory that Sufism would take in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Orientalists’ definition of Sufism emerged within a context of longstanding Western stereotypes of Islam. European images of Muslims as fanatical warriors and dry legalists have roots as far back as the Crusades, when Christian knights and warriors fought the “infidels” in the Holy Land. Negative perceptions of Muslims are best represented in the rhetoric of Pope Urban II’s (d. 1099) fiery speech in 1095 that helped mobilize Crusaders. In calling for the Franks (Crusaders) to reconquer Jerusalem, Urban II describes Muslim Turks as destroying church altars with “filth and defilement” while they are “pleased to kill others by cutting open their bellies, extracting the end of their intestines, and tying it to a stake.”6 Over time, European travelers and diplomats encountered Muslims and their texts, and developed an image of the Prophet Muhammad as a charlatan and a fraud, in addition to an image of his followers as violent warriors.7 Gradually, European scholars concluded that Islam was far too legalistic to foster the mystical illuminations and universalistic tones that they discovered in Sufi poetry. Although some early interlocutors like Johann Wolfgang Goethe (d. 1832) perceived the way in which Sufism, with its metaphors of drunkenness and love, was connected to the Islamic tradition more broadly – notably in his treatment of the famous Sufi poet Hafiz (d. 1390) – many Orientalists did not think that Sufism was inherently Islamic. Sufism, then, in the Orientalist analysis, largely came to be seen as a form of perennial truth that had origins beyond Islam, and just happened to be absorbed by some Muslim practitioners. Sufism, in the literary and scholarly works of Orientalists, was largely ahistoricized for a European audience. The European understanding of Sufism during this period was particularly influenced by the reading and translating of Persian poetry, more than Arabic and Turkish texts. For the colonial scholars, mastery of the Persian language, with its literary beauty, offered a critical currency in their administrative positions. The same capital did not exist with gaining proficiency in Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, unless it was used for Christian apologetics. In their readings of Persian texts, most Orientalists understood and compared Sufism to Christian mysticism, which was compatible with Neoplatonic frameworks (a shared emphasis between Sufis and Christian mystics); but they also related Sufism to Eastern traditions such as Hinduism and

Sufism in the eyes of the West 103

Buddhism.This comparative approach further disconnected Sufism from an Islamic particularity while emphasizing its universality. European encounters with Sufism did not simply result, however, in the reframing of Sufism. Sufi ideals, worldviews, and poetry also transformed European and American intellectuals and literary figures in new and fascinating ways. Two key figures stand out in this symbiotic relationship: namely, the German author Goethe and the American poet, essayist, lecturer, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement (discussed later in this chapter) Ralph Waldo Emerson (d. 1882). These two individuals’ engagements with Sufi poetry and personalities, particularly the Persian poets Hafiz and Sa‘di (d. 1291), offer exemplary illustrations of how Sufi traditions became distilled through translation, but also transformed European spiritual and literary movements. In contrast to a variety of Orientalists, Goethe and Emerson engaged with Hafiz in a substantial way, and their own works and worldviews were powerfully influenced by his poetry. Hafiz’s irreverent, satirical, joyous, and at times individualistic poetry, with its critique of religious moralism and institution, resonated strongly with Goethe and Emerson, whose Romantic tendencies matched closely with the tenor of Hafiz’s poetry. Though their encounter with him was in many ways exceptional, neither Goethe nor Emerson spent time in places like Iran and Turkey, and hence did not develop a keen sense of how Hafiz’s poetry was interwoven into the everyday lives of Muslims. Sufism, though deeply loved by many European and American intellectuals, remained somewhat removed from the lived practice of Muslims in their understanding. The Europeans who did interact with Sufis in their travels were far more mystified by their exotic and wild tendencies, and did not associate the universal poetry they came to experience in textual traditions to their wandering mendicancy. In general, colonial encounters, whether through travel, business, or poetry, resulted in popular perceptions of Sufism as a philosophical and poetic tradition outside of Islamic theology and law, which set the precedent for the contemporary popularization of a form of universal Sufism in the 21st century in the West.

Before Orientalism: Ramon Llull and early medieval encounters with Sufism Premodern encounters between Muslim and non-Muslim civilizations unfolded through trade, diplomatic relations, or through times of war, while translation of Muslim textual sources was another form of cultural and religious exchange. One of the earlier instances of the translation of the Qur’an dates back to 1142 in the Iberian Peninsula, when Peter the Venerable (d. 1156), an Abbot of Cluny, began translations of the Qur’an at the request of Spain’s Emperor Alfonso VII (d. 1157).8 As translations of the Qur’an became available, interest also grew in the figure of Prophet Muhammad. In the 15th century, Flavius Mithridates (d. 1489), a Jewish convert to Christianity, who also taught Kabbalah to Pico della Mirandola (d. 1494), translated the Qur’an into Latin, while including Arabic.9 The Qur’an was translated several times and stories found in the Qur’an of Prophet Muhammad even

104 Contemporary Sufism in the West

influenced some Europeans. For instance, the Mi’raj, Prophet Muhammad’s mystical journey to heaven, inspired Dante Alighieri (d. 1321) in his La Vita Nuova and The Divine Comedy (completed in 1320), despite the fact that Prophet Muhammad was placed in the eighth level of hell in his The Divine Comedy. Both of these texts remain seminal in the canon of Italian literature.10 Prophet Muhammad persisted as a curious and problematic figure for Christians as his life and legacy were antithetical to the finality of Christianity while his followers, through their empires, were a threat to the Christian territorial domain.11 These Quranic translation efforts, then, unfolded with the intent of using the translated text as a tool against Muslims, who were perceived to be enemies.12 As the translation efforts of the Qur’an continued and spread throughout Europe, there were further renditions of other Islamic texts, such as philosophical, medical, and scientific tracts and poetry, which were also reaching the hands of non-Muslims.13 Of particular interest here are Sufi texts. One of the earliest documented instances of exchanges between Sufi and Christian traditions is found in the figure of Ramon Llull (1232–1315). Llull, a Christian philosopher, theologian, and mystic, is regularly invoked in medieval Christian– Muslim polemics. He was born in Mallorca, Spain, just as James I (d. 1276) conquered the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims in 1229.14 Llull served in the royal court until he had a visionary experience that led to a “transcendent conversion,” transforming him into a “peripatetic scholar, evangelist and missionary, … [and], theological theorist.”15 This propelled his ventures into theological inquiry and the publication of numerous texts in the languages of Catalan, Latin, and Arabic. His works would play a key role in the revival of Neoplatonic mysticism during the Renaissance and beyond. Llull lived in an era when plans for the second Crusade were brewing, led primarily by Pope Clement IV (d. 1268) in 1266 and King Louis IX (d. 1270) of France (ruled from 1226–1270). This was unfolding just as the call for the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula was also being projected. In this larger sociopolitical climate, Llull, who was a follower of St. Francis of Assisi’s (d. 1226) teachings, took on the position of instructor of the Franciscan friars in Arabic study at the monastery of Miramar in Mallorca.16 During this time, he wrote one of his seminal treatises, The Book of the Order of Chivalry, presumably for the knights caught on the battlefield. In his understanding, knights and clergy were urged to engage with Muslims to convert them spiritually or kill them in battle.17 His philosophies of proselytization were not merely rhetorical; he actively mobilized to enact his goals of converting Jews and Muslims, who were a normative feature in Spain’s landscape. He was also known to have entered into public debates with Muslims.18 He traveled to North Africa on three separate occasions to convert nonbelievers, particularly Muslims. During two of his trips, he was jailed and eventually forced to flee.19 He was stoned while preaching Christianity, which led to his eventual death and martyrdom. Llull occupied two different worlds: one of the Arab Muslims and the other a Western Christian world. With such a liminal position, scholars refer to him as a “personification of paradox.”20 Llull’s fierce anathema against Muslims has been noted in the scholarship on him, but the degree to which his works were transformed by the Islamic sources he rigorously mastered is still heavily debated.

Sufism in the eyes of the West 105

It was Llull’s deep investment in the proselytization efforts that prompted him to be versed in Islam, particularly in the traditions of Sufism. These Sufi literary and metaphysical traditions also seeped into his own works. Annemarie C. Mayer suggests that Llull was interested in establishing a “single faith and a single universal religious law (vera religio)”; but to do so, he needed to contend with the differences between the traditions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.21 One of the ways he tried to compete with the challenges of Judaism and Islam was through exploring the doctrine of God, which he did by studying all three of Abrahamic religions’ mystical, rational, and philosophical traditions. His comprehensive understanding of these traditions is most evident in his text, Book of the Gentile.22 In this text, he engages with the attributes of God in Muslim theology (i.e., schools of kalam) but also as discussed by the Sufis. He focused especially on the teachings of the presences of God (hadrat), connected to the traditions of Ibn al-‘Arabi. Llull did the same with Jewish traditions to assert the “compatibility” of the monotheisms.23 Llull’s Book of Contemplation, which was written in Arabic, and Book of the Lover and the Beloved are “the result of his admiration for the language of Sufis and Sufi dhikr.”24 In the Book of the Lover and the Beloved, love becomes the way of the mystic path for Llull, as he writes: “The Lover asked his Beloved if there remained in Him anything still to be loved. And the Beloved replied that he had still to love that by which his own love could be increased.”25 This particular text is part of a larger novel entitled Blaquerna, the name of the protagonist of the text. In one instance, Llull writes: While Blaquerna considered after this manner, he remembered how that once when he was a Pope a Saracen related to him that the Saracens have certain religious men, and that among others are certain men called Sufis, who are most prized among them, and these men have words of love and brief examples which give to men great devotion.26 Llull was aware of the “certain men called Sufis” who were very pious, and was likely well read in their works. Llull’s Llibre dels Cent noms de Déu (Book of the One Hundred Names of God), written in Catalan (not Arabic) is one text where we see again the extent to which Llull was heavily influenced by Sufi theologies. This particular text mirrors the traditions of the asma al-husna or the beautiful names of God.27 The text includes an introduction for the Pope, and one hundred chapters which discuss the qualities of God.28 Each chapter ends with benedictions to God, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary,29 as follows: In each of the hundred names of God, we aim to put ten lines of verse, which can be recited in the same manner as the Psalms are recited in the holy Church; and we do this because the Saracens recite the Koran in their mosques, for which reason these lines of verse can be recited according to the manner in which the Saracens recite [theirs.] … I therefore advise that each day one should say the Hundred Names of God and should carry them

106 Contemporary Sufism in the West

around on one’s person in written form. Once one has said a chapter, one should utter this laud …; Praise and honour to the essence of God and to His divine Persons and to their Dignities. And let us call to mind and love Jesus the Nazarene and the Virgin Mary, his mother. This laud is uttered in the same way as is the Glory Be to the Father in the Psalms.30 According to interpreters of the Qur’an, only ninety-nine names are revealed in the sacred text and the hundredth name of Allah remains mysterious and beyond the reach of those in ordinary states. So even the title suggests a level of superiority mastered by Llull in presenting a Christian version of a Sufi tradition. In creating a text (out of a Quranic tradition of the names of God), Llull aims to show that the beauty espoused in the Qur’an is not divine in nature but can be replicated, as he does, by a human being. This mastery of poetics and style of the Qur’an is purposefully attempted to be matched in the Catalan style, rhythm, and prose by Llull’s version of the names of God.31 This particular text also indicates how Islamic practices influenced Christian ones. Llull was influenced by Greek philosophy (Platonism and Neoplatonism) and the Arab philosophers, such as al-Kindi (d. 873), al-Farabi (d. 950), and Ibn Sina (d. 1037), in addition to Sufi thought. Though much of his particular Sufi influence is hard to map, it has been suggested that Llull was influenced by al-Ghazali.32 Llull wrote the Compendium of al-Ghazali’s Logic, which is a summary of al-Ghazali’s Maqasid al-falasifa, and the text itself is written in Arabic, Latin, and Catalan.33 Aside from reference to al-Ghazali, Llull does not directly cite any specific Arabic sources in his writings.34 It is for this reason that there has been much debate regarding Llull’s exact sources of inspiration, especially in regards to Sufism. Scholars point to Ibn al-‘Arabi as a possible source of Llull’s intellectual themes, especially his notions of presences or God’s attributes.35 Another source of possible influence includes the Ikhwan al-Safa (the Brethren of Purity).36 Still, it is these Sufi elements that have led scholars, such as Carl W. Ernst, to categorize Llull’s thought as “Christian Sufism,” though as we can see, the extent of these elements is debatable. Annemarie Schimmel also points to Llull as the “first [to have] contact” with Sufism among the Europeans.37 Llull’s “Christian Sufism” in many ways “prepare[d] the ground for Western reception of Sufism” in the centuries to come.38 This link is particularly evident in the impacts Llull had on Marsilio Ficino (d. 1499) and Giovannia Pico della Mirandola (d. 1494), who would engage with Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, and Kabbalah, all of which would be seminal for later esoteric and philosophical trends in the West, including the Perennialism of Jones and Guénon, the Romanticism of Goethe, and the Transcendentalism of Emerson.39 Aside from Llull, there are other recorded instances of Sufi literary texts in European literary worlds prior to the beginning of colonialism. For instance, the famous 9th-century female Sufi figure Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya was also one of the first figures that Jean de Joinville (d. 1317), Chancellor of King Louis IX in the 13th century, introduced into European writings. Joinville used Rabi‘a as an example of “Divine love” in his treatise. This classical Sufi figure will be discussed further in

Sufism in the eyes of the West 107

Chapter 6.40 These early encounters with Sufism and Islam were not restricted to Christian theologians. For instance, Arabic Sufi literature influenced Maimonides’s (d. 1204) son, Abraham Ibn Musa (d. 1237), who claimed that Sufism originated in Judaism.41 Greek philosophical traditions, especially Neoplatonism and ideas of “emanationism,” were shared resources among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim mystical traditions.42 These resources led to interest by Jewish Kabbalist and Christian mystics in Sufism (and vice versa) in early and late medieval periods.43 Not only were philosophies and texts transmitted across religious borders, but in the 15th and 16th centuries, Europeans were writing about their encounters with Sufis and their practices.

Dervishes and non-Muslims in Ottoman Turkey Martin Luther (d. 1546) is most known for igniting the Protestant Reformation with the nailing of his ninety-five theses on a church door in Wittenberg in 1517, just as Selim I was demanding the caliphate from the Mamluks. During Luther’s time, the Ottomans were expanding in power and Turkish Muslim presence was a growing reality. Due to his immediate climate, similar to Llull, Luther also had a compartmentalized relationship with Islam and Sufism. He was convinced that the religion of Prophet Muhammad was false and destructive, both spiritually and politically.44 However, Luther believed that it should not be refuted based on sensationalistic falsehoods, but genuine understanding. Hence, he was greatly appreciative of a Latin work that highlighted the impressive virtues and religious discipline of the Turks, but ultimately condemned them.45 Luther wrote the introduction to this book, Treatise on the Customs, Conditions and Wickedness of the Turks, which was first published in 1480. The text itself was written as a caution against being beguiled by the apparent piety of the Sufis, the dervishes.46 The text is credited to George of Hungary, a Dominican friar sold into slavery in Anatolia under Ottoman rule, where he became a Sufi but later reverted back to Christianity.47 George is arguably the first Western Sufi, but by no means the last. Wojciech Bobowski, known as Albertus Bobovius Leopolitanus (d. ca. 1675) in Latin or ‘Ali Ufki in Turkish, was a page and musician in women’s quarters (seraglio) in the Ottoman palace. A book by the title of The Inner Palace (Seray-i Enderun) (1665) is attributed to him, in which he describes his experiences in the seraglio. What is fascinating about Bobowski is that although he was to become a well-known author and translator, because of his language abilities in Ottoman, Arabic, Latin, Italian, French, German, Polish, and maybe even more languages, it is likely that he converted to Islam and even entered the Helvetiye Sufi brotherhood. There does not seem to be a sense that he reverted or converted for the sake of survival, unlike friar George.48 When Christian Europeans met Sufis in Ottoman Turkey, their experiences varied. However, one common theme found in these early primary sources is the gravitation toward the “dervishes” because of their use of music and dance. Guillaume Postel (d. 1581), a French linguist, astronomer, and diplomat was interested

108 Contemporary Sufism in the West

in spirituality. His experience of the dervishes unfolded during the time of the French King Francois I (r. 1515–1547) and Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire (r. 1520–1566). In Postel’s writing, one can note precisely this attention to the practices and rituals of dancing and music that he noted during a dervish ceremony: They begin by bowing the head, and all the body, one toward the other, saying “alla, alla, alla, alla, alla” so many times and repeating it for so long that they fall as if they were stunned, and they say that their spirit takes the prayer to God. In Syria and Anatolia or Turkey there are some who begin to whirl so powerfully while repeating “alla, alla” etc. that a pirouette could never imitate them; so that finally they are all stunned and remained as if dead, in ecstasy, and they say that their spirit goes with God.49 Postel’s attention to detail, especially of the “pirouette” and the “bowing the head,” calls to mind the practices of whirling and dhikr of the Mevlevis. The “dances” of the dervishes were commonly described in the works of many European travelers to Ottoman Turkey as they were exotic in the eyes of foreigners. Pietro della Valle (d. 1652), a Roman antiquarian, composer, and musicologist, also recorded similar practices. Between 1614 and 1626 he traveled to the Holy Land, the Middle East, and North Africa, including Istanbul (Constantinople). In one of his letters from the European quarter of Istanbul, he describes a visit to a mosque, where dervishes “danced” and whirled while “repeating loudly the word Hu.”50 Charles de Ferriol (d. 1722), an ambassador of Louis XIV (d. 1715) to the Ottoman court, was heavily influenced by the paintings and engravings of Flemish artist Jean-Baptiste Vanmour (d. 1737), and included descriptions to some of his works. Ferriol goes on to write about these works in the book he published in 1715, Recueil de cent estampes: This engraving represents the temple of the Pera Dervishes, which is a dome; it is clear and well parquetted: there is a gallery where the music is performed. We have added here the musical notation of the air which the musicians play in order to make the dervishes turn: they turn with open arms and seem in ecstasy: the young turn at an incredible speed. The Superior and the elders turn more slowly, and when they are tired they place themselves on their knees with their faces to the ground. It is music that animates them; they claim that it is in some way divine: many have assured M. de. Ferriol that, without the music, they would not be able to perform three turns without falling, while they turn for nearly an hour.51 Here with Ferriol’s descriptions, mainly of the engravings produced of whirling dervishes by Vanmour, there is early indication of the interest in music and dancing that becomes a fascination for Europeans who encountered the Mevlevi

Sufism in the eyes of the West 109

tradition, one that will continue well into the contemporary period, especially with the popularization of Rumi in the West. Music and dance would then be central to facilitating interest in Sufism, especially by musicologists from Europe. Others, such as Giambattista Toderini (d. 1799), are an example of the attention to Ottoman music that motivated some European travelers. Toderini was a Jesuit abbot who arrived in Istanbul in 1781, during which time he wrote his Letteratura, which among many things appealed to musicologists who were interested in Ottoman music. Toderini includes discussions with Mevlevi dervishes and even explores musical instruments, such as the ney (classical Middle Eastern flute), not only in the Ottoman context, but also within the Arab–Persian context.52 He writes: The Mevlevi dervishes, who are named in this way after their founder, having introduced the dance as a religious devotion in their oratorio, practice music assiduously, and are among the best musicians. They play wind instruments, and kettledrums, as I saw when I was at their whirling dances.53 Toderini was also very inquisitive of the practices he was observing. In one instance, he writes the following: We need to ask what the Mevlevi sema was likely to have represented for Ottoman hosts. Was it a performance of which they were especially proud? Why did Ottomans think that European visitors would have enjoyed such a ceremony or been impressed by it? And for their part, why were Europeans almost invariably fascinated? What did they see in such rituals?54 From as early as the 16th century, then, European travelers, diplomats, and scholars positioned in Istanbul encountered forms of whirling and Turkish Sufi music. This set the trajectory for one of the most seminal ways in which Sufi practices were disseminated to Europeans – that is, through music and dance. Dervishes were influencing music and making appearances in paintings and even as characters in novels and plays (vaudeville) in Europe, such as in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s (d. 1781) play Nathan the Wise (1779), a trend that would only continue well into the 21st century.55 The latter forms of engagement were just the beginning, while new forms of scholarship on the Orient led to more intensive translation efforts for Sufi poetry. Sufi poetry continued to find its way to European audiences slowly through the 16th century. The earliest to mention Persian poetry in English was George Puttenham (d. 1590) in 1589.56 Puttenham included four unnamed “Oriental” poems in “The Art of English Poesie,” while Sa’di’s Gulistan, which was translated by the Dutch Orientalist Georgius Gentius (d. 1687), was available in Latin as early as 1654.57 These somewhat sporadic European encounters with Islamic culture and text (and more specifically, Sufism) would give way in the late 18th and 19th centuries of the colonial era to a more concerted European engagement with Muslim societies and their Sufi traditions.

110 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Orientalists and Sufism: Scholarly constructions and poetic transmissions Early translations and interpretations: Jones, Malcolm, and Wilberforce Sir William Jones (d. 1794) is often given the epithet of the “Father of Orientalism,” because of the extensive scholarly writings he left behind on this topic. Many of Jones’s works, as well as others like him, were an outgrowth of their affiliation with the East India Company under the British Crown in India. Jones went to India as a judge in 1784, and was posted to Bengal and Calcutta. During his posting, he used philology and literary studies to pursue his intellectual endeavors.58 Jones rendered pre-Islamic poetry into English and introduced his readers to Indian and Persian literature.59 Jones reported back to England and America through forums such as the Asiatic Researches and Asiatic Miscellany, sharing his encounters of the cultures, peoples, and poetic traditions of the East. During this period, Persian became a language of social and economic currency and correspondence, whereas Arabic language study was already established by this period. For instance, Simon Ockley (d. 1720), the Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge, felt that Arabic was important in understanding Hebrew since, unlike Aramaic and Syriac (other languages of biblical exegesis), it was still a living language.60 Another reason for Arabic study was also to understand the Qur’an. Ockley writes: It is by no means unsuitable that the theologian should read this book, which has subjugated so large a portion of the globe; his duty is to know not only the things that are true but also in order that he may be able to refute and contradict them.61 During Jones’s time in the East India Company, however, Persian became a language of more interest, primarily because it was viewed as a language of India or the East. Persian was not only studied in India by the British but also in England in institutions of higher learning, such as Oxford.62 Special fonts were created in manuscript printing presses to ensure the production of Persian classics, while schools were established to promote Persian language training for civil servants.63 In 1771, Jones told his students that they should practice Persian by translating selections from Sa‘di’s Gulistan into English. This text became one of the primary sources of instruction for civil servants in British India at Fort William College, which was founded in 1801, and Haileybury College in England, which was established in 1806. The first selections from Sa‘di’s Gulistan were translated in 1774 and were seen as “nothing particularly striking … recommending justice and humanity to princes, which in regions of the East, can never be too much inculcated.”64 Sa’di was already known at this juncture. Renaissance scholars had introduced him to Europe through Latin translations as early as 1651.65 Men of the Enlightenment

Sufism in the eyes of the West 111

era – such as the writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (d. 1778) and the author, scientist, and statesman Benjamin Franklin (d. 1790) – found his works attractive, and even tried to pass off verses of their poetry as missing chapters from Sa‘di’s poems.66 Sa‘di was translated by numerous figures, such as the British explorer, translator, and writer Sir Richard Burton (d. 1890), and would also be invoked by Emerson, who will be discussed further below.67 This openness to the traditions of the East was not uniformly held by all of the Europeans who were engaging with the Orient: Of late years some writers of the French nation, partly from an affectation of singularity and partly with a view to depreciate the religion of Christ, have set up the Arabians and the doctrines of Mahomet, as it were in opposition to the people of Europe … They have represented the nations of Arabia as a civilized, polite people who possessed the arts and sciences at a time when Europe was buried in ignorance and barbarity.68 There was still a growing sentiment that the cultures of the East were uncivilized, especially the Arabs. Yet, figures like Jones viewed certain languages, such as Sanskrit, and later Persian, as occupying a class of their own. In Jones’s 1786 third presidential address to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, one sees how languages of Asia, such as Sanskrit, became associated with a larger worldview: The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet beating to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.69 Persian was grouped with Indian and European languages as a “common source,” as alluded to above. Over time, these groups of languages came to be viewed as Indo-European or “Aryan” (“noble”) languages, while Hebrew and Arabic were categorized under the Semitic language family. These categorizations of languages would become racially infused, particularly by Wilhelm von Humboldt (d. 1835), the Prussian minister, education reformer, and linguist.70 These language categories further reinforced the thesis that Islam was a religion based on the Semitic language of Arabic, and was hence different from the Persian Indo-European language, which also happened to be the main language of the Sufi poetry experienced by Europeans. This is evident in how Jones defines Sufism. For him, Sufism was a “metaphysical theology, which has been professed immemorially by a numerous sect of Persians and Hindus, was carried in part into Greece, and prevails even now among the learned Muselmans, who sometimes avow it without reserve.”71 For Jones, like many who came after him and similarly engaged with Sufi poetry, Sufism was a

112 Contemporary Sufism in the West

universal tradition that was not limited to Islam. This particular outlining of Sufism is essential, then, to Sufism’s reception among Europeans who, be they influenced by Deism, Spinozian philosophy, or pantheism, felt that Sufism fit the model of what they were looking for.72 As Jones’s reading of “Oriental” texts grew more pervasive, he became an enthusiastic advocate of the profundity of Islamic scripture and literature: In no language, Hebrew excepted, are there more pious and sublime addresses to Being of beings, more splendid enumeration of His attributes, or more beautiful descriptions of His beautiful works, than in the Kuran (Arabic), in the poems of the Sa‘di, Nizami, Firdausi (Persian).73 The collected letters of Jones shed light on his sources and the poets he was attracted to, which led to his positive evaluation of Sanskrit and especially Persian, and even his perceptions of Sufism. In his letters, Jones quotes extensively across different religious traditions, philosophies, and cultures, referring to Confucius as the “Chinese Plato” and relating stories from the Arabian Nights. He also expresses his commitment to learning different languages, such as Chinese, Latin, Persian, and Arabic. From the collected letters, one can glean that he corresponded extensively with a number of significant historical figures. The first mention of Persian poets in Jones’s letters appears as early as 1768 in his correspondence with Charles Reviczky (1737–1793), a Hungarian-born diplomat. The editor of the letters, Garland Cannon, explains that it was Reviczky who was “responsible for Jones’s interest in Persian poetry, especially Hafiz.”74 In a letter to Reviczky dated to April 1768, Jones writes, “Our Hafiz is most assuredly a poet worth to sup with the gods; every day I take pleasures in his work, which daily gives me more delight by its charms and attractive style.”75 Throughout their correspondence over the years, Reviczky mailed Jones Latin renditions of Hafiz’s Persian poetry. It is through these letters that Jones’s love for Hafiz and also for Persia continued to grow. For Jones, Hafiz was the “‘Persian Anacreon’ because many of the ghazals (odes) in his Divan (collection) are panegyrics and drinking songs.”76 Jones was not alone in noting the similarity between Hafiz and the Greek Anacreon. John Nott (d. 1825), an English physician, also translated portions of Hafiz’s poetry in Select Odes from the Persian Poet (1787).77 In his “Preface” to the ghazals of Hafiz that Nott translates, he writes: Whether Anacreon borrowed the gaiety of his Odes from the Persian Gazel or whether Hafez enriched his native language by an imitation of the Teian bard, I will not venture to determine. The similarity of sentiment is oftentimes wonderful. And perhaps it may be said of both, that they both wrote not so much to the understanding, as to the heart.78 Nott was even unsure who inspired whom. Such presentations of Persian poets like Hafiz, as embodying universal themes beyond the Persian context, led to

Sufism in the eyes of the West 113

“depriv[ing] [Hafiz of] his nationality,” which further universalizes the traditions with which he was associated, such as Sufism.79 This literary interest resulted in a complex relationship between the Orientalists and Persian poetry. John D. Yohannan writes: The dual loyalties of the late eighteenth century, on the contrary, moved the first Orientalists to present the Persian poets in the more or less familiar garb of eighteenth-century poetics.The result was that at first a considerable injustice was done to the genius of two of Persia’s three greatest poets, Firdausi and Hafiz. The third, Sadi escaped with no violent distortion.80 Still, there is a sense that these early encounters of the poems of the East were inspirational for figures like Jones. He writes: Yet I cannot but think that our European poetry has subsisted too long on the perpetual repetition of the same images, and incessant allusions to the same fables … and if the languages of the Eastern nations were studied in our great seminaries of learning … a new and ample field would be opened for speculation; we should have a more extensive insight into the history of the human mind; we should be furnished with a new set of images and similitudes; and a number of excellent compositions would be brought to light, which future scholars might explain and future poets.81 Jones’s perennialist conceptualization of Sufism may have been a result of his reading of the Persian text Dabistan-i madhahib. The author of this text is still unknown, but it was likely written between 1645 and 1658. In the Dabistan, Sufism is framed as a “supra-confessional” universalistic tradition and a form of Neoplatonic philosophy, which is what Jones thought of Sufism.82 Lieutenant James Graham (d. 1845) wrote a brief unpublished paper in 1819. Graham continued Jones’s conceptualization of Sufism as a universal tradition.The two authors framed Sufism within their own milieu, which was shaped by Romantic and Perennialist tendencies, as previously discussed. This particular text was then used by Major-General Sir John Malcolm (1769–1833) in his seminal work on Persia.83 Malcolm wrote a two-volume study entitled The History of Persia from the Most Early Period to the Present Time. It was printed in London, in 1815. Malcolm was a soldier-diplomat, who served as a governor of Bombay from 1827 to 1830.84 He was one of the formative administrators and “ideologues” of the East India Company, and wrote nine books along with articles, pamphlets, and poetry, mostly to do with “Asian topics.”85 His Sketch of the Political History of India86 was one of the most consulted texts on India by the British Empire, while his The History of Persia contributed significantly to European understanding of this region near India.87 In his The History of Persia, Malcolm dedicates some space to the topic of Sufism. He begins by placing the “Sooffees” of Persia within the “Mahomedan” tradition.

114 Contemporary Sufism in the West

He estimates on good account that there are “between two and three hundred thousand persons” who are “Sooffees in Persia.”88 Malcolm adds: The great proportion of the Sooffees of Persia are not to be distinguished from the other part of the Mahomedan population.They are in fact required, when in the first ranks of this mystic faith, to conform to the established religion: and the gradual and unseen manner in which men are led into infidelity, is justly stated, by Mahomedan divines, to be one of the greatest dangers that attend this delusive doctrine.89 Even in situating Sufism as Islamic (at least superficially), Malcolm considers it to be a pernicious corruptor of the true faith from within. He writes in a footnote a word of caution regarding Sufis, proposing to help local opponents of Sufism eradicate the tradition: As the Soofees have at this time extended their belief to an alarming extent, and obtained many foolish and credulous converts who adopt their faith, and dress in their fashion; as all this is contrary to the interest of the true religion, and has occasioned much thought to the wisest of our state; as you also have urged us much on this subject, we have taken the ill into consideration, and have written to all our governors and officers to punish these offenders if they do not recant; to take from them all which they have plundered from weak men; and, if the proprietors of this wealth cannot be found, to distribute it among the poor. We have, in short, ordered, that the sect be extirpated and put an end to in order that the true faith may flourish.90 Here, the Persian Sufis to whom Malcolm refers warrant negative attention due to their fashion and their habits of misleading innocent people, which results in punitive legal responses. The text also seems to indicate that local anti-Sufi sentiments were influencing European perspectives on Sufism, as Malcolm is made “ill” by what the locals have informed him of these “Soofees.” Still, despite this cautious outlook, Malcolm goes on to discuss the poets of this tradition, particularly “Ferdosi” and “Nizamee” as “epic poet[s],” while Rumi, Hafiz, Jami, and Sa‘di are also referenced as poets who “rank the highest.”91 He writes of Rumi and Hafiz the following: The author of the Musnavee is generally called the Mollah of Room; while Hafiz is usually known by the title of Khaujah. The Persians conceive that the former far surpasses the latter in penetration and judgment. I have heard their opinion of these two celebrated Sooffee poets illustrated by the following anecdote – “A learned person,” they say, “was asked how it came that the author of the Musnavee and Hafiz, two Soofees, had expressed themselves, in the commencement of their works, so oppositely on the subject of divine love; Hafiz having said, ‘The path of love appeared at first easy, but afterwards proved full of difficulties:’” – while, according to Jellâl-u-deen, “Love at first appeared like a murderer, that he might alarm all who were without his pale.”

Sufism in the eyes of the West 115

The learned man replied, with a smile, “That which the Moollah saw at first was only found out at last by the Khaujah.”92 Malcolm here is presenting a bifurcated Sufism; the literary Sufism of Rumi and Hafiz is appreciated, while everyday embodied Sufism is viewed as pernicious. It is the theme of love as it is found in the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz that Malcolm highlights in the comparative anecdote above. In referring to the poetry of Hafiz and Rumi, love and beauty are universal themes that were appealing and relatable to the Oriental translators; it is these themes that non-Muslims would consistently invoke when it came to Sufi poetry. Malcolm continues, “Many of these poems are remarkable for harmony of numbers and luxuriance of imagination; but they all abound with the most extravagant and hyperbolical passages.”93 The beauty and lyricism of the poems were not lost on Malcolm; they existed in the realms of “imagination.” Malcolm adds further: Many discussions have arisen regarding the real and mystical meaning of the writers of this class, and particularly of Hafiz, whose Odes are chanted as songs, to excite the young and the dissipated to pleasure, and recited as hymns to remind the old and the devout of the rapture of divine love … among the many classes of Soofees, the natural feelings which man has on earth, and the immortal longings of the soul after its Creator, are deemed inseparable: and, with a poet of this persuasion, it was likely that the subjects should be so blended, as to render it impossible to distinguish when he meant to sing earthly or of heavenly joys.94 Again, the noticeable trend between figures such as Jones and Malcolm, who were positioned in India as civil servants, were the poems of Sufis, primarily Hafiz, who was given the epithet of “the Prince of Persian Poets.” Sa’di and Rumi were also receiving attention, as collectively their poems were far more universalistic in nature. Jones and Malcolm found the emphasis on love a pleasing theme; such intimacies and romances of the divine were far more appealing than any “Mohammadan” legalism they associated with Islam. These two examples illustrate how Jones and Malcolm found pathways into the Sufi tradition, mainly through literature. As Malcolm illustrates, whereas Sufi poetry was lauded, the practice of Sufism was condemned. As discussed in Chapter 2, the Salafi reformers (al-Afghani and ‘Abduh) similarly valued some Sufi texts and ideals, though in practice they tended to be critical of lived Sufism as superstitious and backward. Orientalist and Salafi perspectives on Sufism were mutually influential in creating a broader trajectory that has shaped contemporary Sufism. These trends are also noted with other figures, particularly as they engaged with Persian sources. For instance, Lieutenant Colonel H.Wilberforce Clarke (d. 1903), who was part of the Royal (late Bengal) Engineers and a life member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. He was the author of the Persian Manual, and one of the early translators of The Bustan-i by Sa’di, The Sikander Nama-i-Nizami and Divan-i Hafiz. He also translated Shaykh

116 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Shahabuddin Suhrawardi’s (d. 1234) A Dervish Textbook: From the ’Awarifu-l-Ma’Arif, Written in the Thirteenth Century. In A Dervish Textbook, Clarke suggests that: The term sufi was first adopted by Abu Hashim, a Syrian Zahid (d. 780 A.D.); in his time was built the first takya (convent). But some say that the seed of sufiism [sic] was sown in the time of Adam, germed in the time of Nuh, budded in the time of Ibrahim, began to develop in the time of Musa, reached maturity in the time of Christ, produced pure wine in the time of Muhammad.95 As discussed in Chapters 1–3, Sufis themselves have long emphasized the universal meaning of Islam and hence Sufism. Here, Clarke draws the lineage of Sufism back to the first prophets of the Abrahamic tradition, starting with Adam, transforming with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus and becoming fully developed with Muhammad. He explicitly highlights this universal strand of the Sufi tradition. Clarke goes on to add that, “The Sufis (men of heart; men looking behind the veil; inward men) developed the Greek mysticism” and mentions “Faryabi … Abu Ali Sina … Ghazzali … Ibn Rashid” as key figures in this development.96 For Clarke, Sufis teach, “God to be the One, the Necessary Being, the only Reality, the Truth, the Infinite, the First Cause (source of all action, good and evil).”97 Of Clarke’s 1891 translation of Hafiz’s Divan, Paul Kane writes that it was “the strangest of all the translations (a bewildering mixture of verse and prose commentary that only a late Victorian could have produced).”98 Clarke’s translation of Hafiz would be followed by one of the “best-known translations” by the English writer, traveler, spy, administrator, and archaeologist Gertrude Bell (d. 1926) in her Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (1897).99 Jones’s framework of universal Sufism is further confirmed with Malcolm’s text on Persia, though his work is receptive to Sufi poets, and not necessarily the mischievous Sufis themselves, whose cheeky behaviors seem to have created tensions with local communities. Clarke’s text also highlights how some Sufis have framed their approaches in universal ways, which further affirmed the European reception of Sufism as such. Scholarship on Sufis by Europeans is not homogeneous, but captures the emerging categories in the study of Sufism – that is, textual and poetic versus encounters of Sufi communities were solidifying even early on. Sufism permeated culture and religious practices in diverse ways, and Europeans were meeting most of these facets of Sufism. Edward William Lane (d. 1876) and John P. Brown (d. 1872) further showcase Sufis, not through textual traditions but through their everyday life, which concretized the popular perceptions of Sufis that were already present in the European imagination.

The travelogues of Lane and Brown Europeans traveling through the Middle East and other Muslim societies also came to encounter fascinating figures that offered the allure of the exotic. Early instances of such meetings have already been documented above, especially under the

Sufism in the eyes of the West 117

Ottoman court and the presence of whirling dervishes. European travelers came face to face with dervishes, some who whirled, others with a propensity to chant, dance, and sing in rituals. Most of them did not associate these exotic figures with normative Islam. Edward William Lane, the Arabic lexicographer, had a number of encounters with such enticing “dervishes” or wandering mendicants. His descriptions can be found in his An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, which was written during his time in Egypt from the 1820s to the 1830s.The first edition of this book alone sold over 6,000 copies and was a foundational source of information in the study of Egypt.100 Lane set off to Egypt on July 18, 1825, due to issues of personal illness but also to cultivate his growing interest in Arabic (he was initially pursuing studies in mathematics).101 He writes: I was not visiting Egypt merely for my amusement; to examine its pyramids and temples and grottoes, and after satisfying my curiosity to quit it for other scenes and other pleasures: but I was about to throw myself entirely among strangers, among a people of whom I have heard the most contradictory accounts: I was to adopt their language, their customs, and their dress; and in order to make as much progress as possible in the study of their literature, it was my intention to associate almost exclusively with the Muslim inhabitants.102 Much of the text is dedicated to describing his daily activities, such as how he changed his attire (from British to Turkish outfits) and his wanderings through the cities of Cairo and Alexandria and many more. He was also acquainted with Shaykh Ahmed, a bookseller who, prior to this occupation, was interested in nothing but (writes Lane) “zikrs; which consist in the repetition of the name and attributes, &c [etc], of God, by a number of persons, in chorus; and in such performances he is still often employed.”103 According to Lane, Shaykh Ahmed was part of the “Saadeeyeh durweeshes” who were apparently popular for “devouring live serpents” and Shaykh Ahmed was himself a “serpent-eater.”104 Lane’s descriptions of this Sufi shaykh he encountered in Cairo also highlight a gravitation toward two terms in discussions of Sufi traditions: (1) fakir (Arabic faqir) and (2) dervish, which both loosely translate to “poor man.”105 European travelers from as early as the 16th century associated the dervishes with Catholic monks or friars, which with Luther further marginalized them among Protestants, as noted above.106 By the 18th and 19th centuries, these dervishes became more “sensational[ized],” because they were documented by European travelers throughout Ottoman Turkey, who noted their “dancing, whirling and howling.”107 This is evident in the work of Alexander Pope (d. 1744), an English poet best known for his translation of the epic Homer. In his Essay of Man, Pope writes of the “eastern priests,” which Ernst suspects is referring to the whirling dervishes associated with Rumi’s order (Mevlevi) in Turkey:108 Go, wondrous creature! Mount where science guides. Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides; Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,

118 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Correct old time, and regulate the sun; Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere, To the first good, first perfect, and first fair; Or tread the mazy round his follow’rs trod, And quitting sense call imitating God; As eastern priests in giddy circles run, And turn their heads to imitate the sun. Go, teach eternal wisdom how to rule— Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!109 Pope saw these “eastern priests” as the “deluded followers of Plato” running in circles with their faces to the sun, which was likely a misinformed description of the Whirling Dervishes performing dhikr.110 These descriptions of “dervishes” are seen further in the works of John P. Brown, another Orientalist. Brown, in his “Author’s Preface” to The Darvishes or Oriental Spiritualism, which was composed in Constantinople, writes “that the Spiritual Principles of the Darvish Orders existed in Arabia previous to the time of the great and talented Islam Prophet cannot be doubted.”111 Brown gleans from the works of Lane and Malcolm in writing his own treatise on the “darvishes”. His text is quite comprehensive. In skimming his chapter titles alone, one can see a range of topics from the early Abrahamic prophets, “On the Origin of the Dervish Orders,” and customs and practices of different orders. Brown explains that “Islamism” or Islam originated with the “perfect submission” of Abraham with his willingness to sacrifice Isaac to God. He describes that, “the spiritualism of the Darvishes differ[ed] in many respects from Islamism” since it had its “origins in the religious conceptions of India and Greece.”112 He mainly uses Turkish, Arabic, and Persian sources to introduce Sufism to his readers.113 He is convinced that many of his Christian readers may find the darvishes “unfavorable” but he holds strongly that they are “liberal and intelligent, sincere, and most faithful friends.”114 Brown explains that these spiritual guilds are between Indian Jogis (yogis) and Islamic traditions: Placed between the Pantheism of the Indian Jogis and the Qurān, which is sometimes an informal copy of the Bible, their philosophers, named Sūfis, have established a pantheistic school appropriate to Islām ideas – a sort of esoteric doctrine of Islamism, which must be distinguished from Indian Pantheism, though indeed it presents only the errors of the Vedānta and the Sānkhya. “Pantheism, as a moral doctrine, leads to the same conclusions as materialism – the negation of human liberty, the indifference to actions, and the legitimacy of temporal enjoyments.” In this system, all is God, except God Himself, for He thereby ceases to be God.115 Brown includes numerous illustrations of dervishes, such as a “Bektash Dervish Inhaling Hasheesh,”“Dervishes of the Mevlevee Order,” and “A Rufa’ee Dervish in an Ecstatic State.”116 In his discussions of the “howling dervishes” (the Rufa’ees), he provides a list of the “Esmá el Husná, or the ‘Beautiful Names of God:’ ninety-nine

Sufism in the eyes of the West 119

in number.”117 Brown also incorporates large sections from Lane’s The Modern Egyptians, who also wrote extensively on these “dervishes,” explaining that nothing more needs to be said of the dervishes than what has already been explained by Lane: Durweeshes are very numerous in Egypt, and some of them who confine themselves to religious exercises, and subsist by alms, are much respected in this country, particularly by lower orders. Various artifices are employed by persons of this class to obtain the reputation of superior sanctity, and of being endowed with the power of performing miracles. Many of them are regarded as welees [walis].118 Brown, in quoting Lane, goes on to highlight traditions of the “Rifá‘eeyeh’,” referring to their “turbans” and their “wonderful feats” such as pretend[ing] to thrust iron spikes into their eyes and bodies without sustaining injury; and in appearance they do this in such a manner as to deceive any person who can believe it possible for a man to do such things in reality.119 He adds further, “they also break large masses of stone on their chests, eat live coal, glass &c.; and are said to pass swords completely through their bodies, and packing-needles through both their cheeks, without suffering any pain, or leaving any wound.”120 Highlighting these examples of dervishes as radical and fanatical figures with wild practices contributed to making them an integral feature of the landscape of the East. For European travelers, they were the token representation of exoticism on par with yogis and mendicants from other religious traditions. Lane and Brown documented Sufi practices, such as rituals of mawlids,121 dances, and dhikrs, but also their miraculous and phenomenal feats, such as eating snakes and self-mortification. These models of Sufi fraternities, such as the activities of the Rifa‘i mentioned by Lane and Brown, would become a “necessary subject for European colonial administrators.”122 Sufi orders were the local community establishments in the various regions occupied by the Europeans. They became significant interlocutors between the colonized and colonial administrators.123 Studies of Sufi orders’ activities and rituals, then, were not only for the sake of intellectual curiosity (as they initially began), but also became a requirement for colonial administrative control and success. However, Orientalists’ scholarship on Sufism was not relegated to administrative realms, as these texts on Sufism – especially the poetry translated by the likes of Jones and Nott – migrated to European audiences. In its new locality, Sufi poetry began inspiring the new generation of Romantic poets who were coming of age in a post-Enlightenment Europe.

The Romantics and Sufism The era of Romanticism (ca. 1780s–1830s) – broadly known as a literary and aesthetic movement that emphasized individualism, freedom of thought, emotion, and creativity – was ignited by the French Revolution.The falling of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, was marked by political revolutions and “resistance to massive despotism,”

120 Contemporary Sufism in the West

which led to new intellectual discussions on democracy and freedom.124 These political shifts inspired a new generation of thinkers, leaders, and poets, who “were reacting against political and cultural centralization.”125 As political changes in France spread throughout Europe, there were also growing interactions between European and non-European countries through colonialism. Orientalists were relaying their experiences through their travelogues and translations of texts, as captured above, which led to the rise of new literary traditions, motifs, themes, and figures in France, Germany, and Britain. This movement redrew new geographical and literary imaginaries of Muslim, Indian, and Chinese worlds. The distinguishing aspect of the Romantic Age was the serious effort given to language study, especially Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Sanskrit. This interest in language developed in part as a requirement for colonial administration. However, it was also rooted in the Romantic movement’s concern with spiritual and emotive themes in literature. Romanticism emerged after the Industrial Revolution in Europe and turned inward, emphasizing emotion as central to human experience and spirituality. With regard to Islamic traditions, Romantics had an ambiguous attitude to Islam: on the one hand, it offered a convenient symbol of the tyranny that they all sought to overcome; but on the other, it offered an alternative to the compromised or corrupted political and social systems of Europe.126 It was not Islam that was merely suspect of corruption and delusory ideas, this was seen as the tendency of all religions, and thus Romantics emphasized a far more spiritual, inner orientation toward the world. The early British Romantics were swayed by tales such as Arabian Nights and the Andalusian philosopher Ibn Tufayl’s (d. 1185) Hayy Ibn Yaqzan. Ibn Tufayl’s book was the first Sufi text to be popularly known in the West, but it was not so much known as a Sufi text as a philosophical one.127 Persian poets and mystics, such as Omar al-Khayyam (d. ca. 1123), al-Suhrawardi (d. 1191), Farid al-Din Attar (d. 1221), Sa‘di, Rumi, and Hafiz were familiar in different parts of Europe.128 Islamic works “helped the British Romantic poets not only in finding their own voices, but also their themes, metaphors, symbols, characters and images.”129 British poets like William Blake (d. 1827), William Wordsworth (d. 1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (d. 1834), George Gordon Byron (d. 1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (d. 1822), and John Keats (d. 1821), known as “The Big Six,” were seminal figures who were reading Orientalist translations, such as the ones discussed above. For instance, Jones’s translations of Hafiz made their way to Byron and other Romantic poets.130 Shelley was translating Plato’s Symposium from Greek to English, but he was also gleaning from Hinduism, Kabbalah, and Hermeticism, and Persian Sufi poetry, especially the works of Hafiz.131 Neoplatonism was a facilitator for cross-cultural exchange between the Romantics and Persian Sufi poets.132 Although centuries separate these different theological, philosophical, and mystical movements, there are “archetypical themes” that are shared between these cultures which are too hard to dismiss.133 Some shared motifs include death (annihilation), unity of

Sufism in the eyes of the West 121

religions, and the feminine, which can be found in the poems of Khayyam, Shabistari (d. after 1340), Hafiz, Rumi, Blake, and Coleridge.134 For instance, Leonard Lewisohn compares the theme of annihilation (fana’), a central motif found in Sufi literature, such as in Shabistari’s Garden of Mystery with the Romantic poet William Blake: Go! Take this “self ” which bars the path; Each moment engage yourself in faith anew. Inside us all the lower soul’s an infidel: Rest not content with this Islam of outer form.135 One can note a similar theme of annihilation in Blake’s Milton (1804): I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death, Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate And I be seiz’d & giv’n into the hands of my own Selfhood.136 New figures, characters, and imageries appear in English literature: “the wanderer … the mystic … lonely travelers, seaports, islands, caves, … caravans, and desert filled … landscape.”137 These imageries are repeatedly invoked: the seeker and her/his place in nature and its interface with the divine are what stand out in the works of the Romantics and Transcendentalists. They are also what drew these groups to Sufi poetry, particularly that of Hafiz. These metaphors and themes were influenced by what was being read. Lord Bryon provides us with his reading list: Turkey. –I have read Knolles, Sir Paul Rycaut and Prince Cantemir besides a more modern history, anonymous. Of Ottoman history I know every event ... Arabia. –Mahomet, whose Koran contains most sublime poetical passages, far surpassing European poetry. Persia. –Ferdousi, author of Shah Nameh, the Persian Illiad, –Sadi, and Hafiz, the immortal Hafiz, the oriental Anacreon. The last is reverenced beyond any bard of ancient or modern times by the Persians. Who resort to his tomb near Shiraz, to celebrate his memory. A splendid copy of his works is chained to his monument.138 Lord Byron’s reading list includes numerous Muslim sources, but from the Persian world, it is Hafiz, the “immortal Hafiz,” on which he expends additional notes, comparing him even to the Greek poet Anacreon, as Jones and Nott had done before him. Other British Romantic poets such as Blake also embody the “mystic” and are “understood in a Sufi context where the erotic is blended with the divine.”139 Andrew Warren challenges the thesis that the young Romantics, Byron, Keats, and Shelley, were only writing in “Orientalized settings” because that was the fad of the day.140 For Warren, the young Romantics were far more sophisticated in their methodology of employing the Orient: The Orient – self-critically understood by the Young Romantics – was a historically determined phantasmatic projection of the West’s own fears and desires, and provides a setting in which to explore and critique the

122 Contemporary Sufism in the West

epistemological, existential, and above all political limits of their own solipsistic imaginations. It is simultaneously an escape from and return to the self, a vicious circle.141 In this interpretation, Islam was a “spiritual resource” for Romantic writers, and Sufism in particular played a role in this stimulation.142 Perhaps no other example but Goethe, and his relationship with Hafiz, could capture this powerful sharing of words and worlds.

The poets of the East and the West: Hafiz and Goethe In May 1799, the Austrian Joseph Hammer was in Istanbul, Turkey, working as a translator for the Turkish court.143 Hammer was born in Graz, Austria, in 1774 into a Catholic family.144 In 1816, he married Caroline Heinkstein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism.145 From his marriage, to his interests, travels, and work – such as his History of the Ottoman Empire (1827–1835), the “Assassins,” and “The Mithraic cult” – one sees in Hammer a relative openness to religions beyond his own. Hammer ascended up the social ladder by inheriting property from the Purgstall family in 1835.146 As a baron, he took on the name Hammer-Purgstall, and moved to south Austria with his wife, who died unexpectedly on May 15, 1844.147 The death of his wife commenced a new project, the Prayerbook. In the first pages of this text dedicated to his wife is the Surah al-Fatiha (The Opening), the first chapter of the Qur’an and the oft repeated prayer of Muslims. In his own memoir, Hammer explains that the Prayerbook was “suitable to be prayed by members of all religions.”148 Islamic influence on Hammer extends beyond his texts and publications, but can also be noted in his aristocratic estate, where Arabic inscriptions, such as the names of Allah or the Surah of Joseph (Yusuf, Qur’an 12:64), are found on entryways. There are even walls inscribed with the name “Hafiz”: a name alluding not only to God’s quality or the one who has memorized the Qur’an but also Hafiz, the poet Hammer translated.149 Throughout his time in Istanbul and in his life in Vienna, Hammer continued to collect manuscripts, which he stamped with the Arabic insignia: “as-Sayyāh, as-Sāmir Yūsuf Hāmir” (The Itinerant, the Night Converser Joseph Hammer).150 This is quite indicative of the transformations Hammer experienced in his interactions with the Arabian Islamic world, one that is no longer unilateral but symbiotic for him. As Jeffrey Einboden expresses: Fashioning his new persona in poetic terms, this seal is not only innovative in style, however, but also in spirituality, characterizing Hammer as “The Itinerant, the Night Converser” – terms that seem to typify the Austrian as a wandering dervish, engaging in holy rambling and repartee. Self-describing as a mystic traveler and talker, Hammer’s stamp itself travels into new regions of religion, speaking a fresh Sufi identity through a complex act of code shifting … Hammer no longer renders his German reader in the pages of his Muslim translation, but instead renders his own German name into Muslim expression,

Sufism in the eyes of the West 123

with Europe’s translator of Sufi poetry himself translated into a slide of Sufi poetry.151 This transformation into the world of Sufism would “reshape western poetry, exercising a formative impact on Romantic Orientalism.”152 In June 1799, Hammer began copying and writing commentaries on Hafiz’s Diwan and he continued until he had a German “rendition” of Hafiz’s Persian work in 1806.153 He published two volumes of translations in 1812 and 1813, which included over 500 of Hafiz’s ghazals. In the preface to his work on Hafiz, Hammer explains his intention for translating this particular work:“he wished less to translate the Persian poet [for] the German reader, than the German reader [for] the Persian poet.”154 From his formative translation of Hafiz’s Diwan, his personal transformation and inscriptions in architecture, one sees how Hammer redefined his relationship with the Islamic world and not only brought aspects of it to his Austrian homeland but also set the path to help transmit Hafiz to the rest of Europe and eventually America.155 However, Hammer’s engagement with Islam, and especially Hafiz, would be felt most profoundly with a German figure. On January 30, 1800, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832) opened Mahomet: Transuerpiel: in Fünf Aufzügen (Mahomet: A Tragedy in Five Acts), a tragedy in Weimer Theatre, which was a German translation of Voltaire’s original staged in 1741 and published in 1774. Goethe was a German playwright, poet, and philosopher.156 This particular play was staged just as Napoleon’s troops were entering into Egypt and Syria in 1798 and 1799.157 In contrast to many Western Orientalists whose interest in Islam was limited exclusively to Persian Sufi poetry, Goethe came to this Persian Sufi poetry after a general interest in Islam. Goethe’s interest in Islam soon focused in on the poetry of Hafiz. Goethe claims that it was Hammer’s Diwan that enabled him to first “grasp the inner nature” of Hafiz.158 Though Hammer’s text provided the ability to enter the world of Hafiz, Goethe was determined to access Hafiz directly and so set out to learn Arabic and Persian.159 For Goethe, Arabic was seen as the “primordial” language. His interest in Arabic started early in his life, but he returned to it later to engage with Islamic texts, notably the Qur’an. The West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan) of Goethe is divided into twelve books, which include two titles: one from the East and the other from the West.160 Early on in the second book, in a section entitled “Surname,” Goethe uses fictional characters that parallel Hafiz and himself. The two characters, “Hafiz” and “the Poet,” are in conversation with one another, using the Socratic method to engage with existential questions. Goethe begins: Poet: Tell me why, Muhammad Shamseddin, you are “Hafiz” to worthy folk. Hafiz: For asking, you

124 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Merit thanks. I answer, then: Legacy of the Qur’an I unaltered carry on Hallowed in my memory And, by acting piously, Daily every injury Ward away from me and those Who the Prophet-word and see Treasure and their duty heed. So my name the people chose. Poet: Hafiz, it would seem to me That, I needn’t yield to you: Like another I will be When I think as he would do. We are quite alike, I see. Taking in an image of Value from the Book I loveAs upon a cloth that He Image of the Lord impressedI revived in quiet breast (Quelling foe, denier, thief) With the image of belief.161 It is the parallel image of the Poet and Hafiz that is noteworthy from this passage, as Goethe writes, “We are quite alike.” In examining this excerpt, Einboden writes, “Mirrored as tandem twins, German and Persian poets occupy opposing positions in this cultured dialogue, yet they also emerge as identical in their nominal substance.”162 The focus is on the “heart,” which acts like a mirror and reflects similarity more than difference. Goethe emerges as a German “Hafiz,” with both poets meriting this shared “name due to their mutual memory and captured ‘retention.’”163 Goethe’s interest in Hafiz does not emerge out of a vacuum, but arises out of his engagement with the Qur’an. The Qur’an, which he cites from as early as 1772, was of interest, and is invoked again and used in 1819 in his “Notes and Essays.”164 Goethe writes: Is the Qur’an from eternity? That I will not ask. Might the Qur’an created be? No answer- a thankless task. That is the Book of Books need be My Muslim faith made clear to me.165 It is precisely this synthesis of textual encounters that has resulted in scholars, such as Ziad Elmarsafy (2009), to suggest that “Goethe’s oscillation between poetry and

Sufism in the eyes of the West 125

prophecy as literary paradigms,” was immensely significant for the literary translation of Sufism and Islam throughout Europe.166 A return to the Islamic sources, especially the Qur’an, becomes more and more prominent in the last days of Goethe’s life.167 The Divan would be republished again five years before the death of Goethe to include new poems, including the following on the Qur’an: Of old the sacred Koran did they cite, They named the verse and chapter ever blest, And each good Muslim, as was but was at rest. The modern Dervish nothing better knows, But prates of old and new with endless zest; Each day our most admired disorder grows. O sacred Koran! O eternal rest!168 Goethe not only really struggled to understand the meaning of the Qur’an but also tried to process his relationship to the Prophet Muhammad himself.169 Goethe’s relationship to these Islamic sources was facilitated by his engagement with Hafiz. Hafiz led Goethe to the Qur’an at the end of his days. Goethe’s encounters with the Islamic sources of the “East” placed him in a particular interface, which is captured in the following: He who knows himself and others Will also recognize that the orient and the occident are no longer separable.170 He further wrote, “If Islam means submission to God, then we all live and die as Muslims.”171 These literary cultural exchanges were not limited to Goethe, but involved numerous German Romantics such as Friedrich Schlegel (d. 1829), who wrote under the pen name Novalis. He was also engaging with Arabia, Islam, and Muhammad at the same time. Still, it was due to Goethe’s German translation of Hafiz in his West-Eastern Divan that Germany and Europe had come to know Hafiz as “the sweet singer of Shiraz” and even the name Hafiz became “a nom de plume.”172 Hafiz and the Sufi poets did not remain only in the European realm and, in fact, they would travel further West across an ocean to America.

American Transcendentalism and Sufism Sa‘di’s Gulistan, Hafiz’s Divan, Khayyam’s Ruba’iyyat, and Firdausi’s Shah Nameh, were all available to English audiences in some form by 1790.173 As these texts were being made available for European readers, they were also making their way to American intellectuals.The American Museum of 1792 was the first popular source in the United States to have a printed (an “uncredited”) publication of Hafiz entitled, “Ode Translated from the Persian of Hafez,” which was Nott’s original translations

126 Contemporary Sufism in the West

from 1787.174 This particular text was then followed by the “Tale of Hafez” which was included in the New York Magazine or Literary Repository (1790). It comprised a story of two characters, Hafiz and Sa‘di, and though the tale was not representative of these poetic figures, it does indicate the popularity of these names by this time in New York.175 This growing interest in Sufi poetry converged with a seminal spiritual and intellectual movement known as Transcendentalism. The Transcendental movement began in New England in the 1830s. Members of the movement asked, “what is there beyond the individual?” and “what is universal?” Responses to these questions resulted in a range of approaches in the movement that came to be known as Transcendentalism. Transcendentalism as a movement, then, was in no way uniform. Those who pursued social reform (i.e., emphasis on the outward) mobilized around the formation of communal societies, such as at Brook Farm in 1841. George Ripley (d. 1880), a social reformer, Unitarian minister, and journalist, was one of the main figures behind this approach. There were those who were far more invested in introspection and stressed selfreformation. These ideas can be seen in Ralph Waldo Emerson (d. 1882), and in Henry David Thoreau (d. 1862), the poet, philosopher, and abolitionist known for his work Walden.176 In Thoreau’s Walden, we see him removed from society living in a cabin in the woods in search of the meaning of life. He retreated to Walden Pond for two years, two months, and two days.177 He emphasized the solitary, contemplative life while in communion with nature. The link between European Romantics and American Transcendentalists, however, is most evident in the figure of Emerson.

The Concordians and the Sufis: Emerson, Whitman, and Hafiz Emerson met Coleridge, a leading English poet of the Romantic movement in England, before he died. Reputedly, during this visit, Emerson purchased a copy of the Qur’an.The German Romantic influence of Hammer-Purgstall was also crucial for Emerson. He acquired Hammer-Pursgtall’s German translations of the Divan in April 1846. Emerson began to translate the texts into English five months later, with poems such as “From the Persian Hafiz” and “Ghaselle: From the Persian of Hafiz,” both of which were published in 1847.178 Emerson was also influenced by the poems of Sa’di and eventually Khayyam, but it was the poetry of Hafiz that had the greatest impact on his own poems. Of Sa‘di, Emerson writes that he “speaks to all nations, and like Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Montaigne, is perpetually modern” and viewed the Gulistan as a Bible of the world, with “universality of moral law.”179 In a lecture given by Emerson in 1854 entitled “Poetry and English Poetry,” he lists five paradigmatic poets: Homer, Milton, Hafiz, Hibert, and Wordsworth.180 Emerson began to share his translations among his fellow Concordians, who were also wanting to read more Sufi poetry.181 Emerson seems to have known about Hafiz well before this, however. In his essay “History” (1841), Emerson mentions Hafiz for the first time.This early encounter may have been due to his reading of Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan (1819).182 Goethe’s and Emerson’s encounters with Hafiz closely “parallel” one another.183 Where Goethe found a “kindred spirit”

Sufism in the eyes of the West 127

in Hafiz, Emerson followed suit, “enthusiastically” translating the Persian poet.184 Both also adopted “similar stances toward the religious and esoteric dimension of Hafiz’s work.”185 Emerson translated over seven hundred lines of Persian poetry, most of which were by Hafiz. He would then publish “Persian Poetry” in The Atlantic Monthly in 1858, writing: Hafiz is the prince of Persian poets, and in his extraordinary gifts adds to some of the attributes of Pindar, Anacreon, Horace and Burns, the insight of a mystic, that sometimes affords a deeper glance at Nature than belongs to either of these bards. He accosts all topics with an easy audacity.186 Like the early translators, Emerson compares Hafiz to the likes of Anacreon, while stressing the mystic’s ability to offer deeper knowledge of nature, which for Transcendentalists was a manifestation, if not a reflection, of God. In Emerson’s essay on Nature (1849), he calls for solitude but also the need to look to the stars: “But if man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches.”187 These themes are found not only in Emerson but also in works by his students such as Thoreau and Walt Whitman (d. 1892), who emphasize the soul of the human being as the site of spiritual encounter (“over-soul” or “private-man”), notions which also tie to themes found in Sufism, such as the insan al-kamil or the perfected human being, where the human being is the microcosm of the cosmic macrocosm. Emerson was also drawn to the themes stressed by Hafiz’s poetry: Hafiz praises wine, roses, maidens, boys, birds, mornings and music, to give vent to his immense hilarity and sympathy with every form of beauty and joy; and lays the emphasis on these to mark his scorn of sanctimony and base prudence.188 Again, as noted with Goethe, and even Brown, Emerson was moved by the themes represented in Hafiz’s poetry, but also the notion of “beauty and joy,” which appealed to the Transcendentalist goal of seeking the emotions of the heart and feeding the soul. Emerson adds of Hafiz: The other merit of Hafiz is his intellectual liberty, which is a certificate of profound thought. We accept the religions and politics into which we fall, and it is only a few delicate spirits who are sufficient to see that the whole web of convention is the imbecility of those whom it entangles, – that the mind suffers no religion and no empire but its own. It indicates this respect to absolute truth by the use it makes of the symbols that are most stable and reverend, and therefore is always provoking the accusation of irreligion.189 Here Emerson calls attention to Hafiz’s ability to transcend the “imbecility” of conventions, such as religion and politics; it is Hafiz’s “irreligion” that makes him a “reverend” and “stable” figure of emulation. The appeal of Hafiz is precisely due

128 Contemporary Sufism in the West

to his religious ambiguity, one that has been noted from early Orientalists to the Transcendentalists: Scholars and critical interpreters, including translators, tend to fix Hafiz along a spectrum that ranges from a worldly savant with a savage distrust of religiosity on the one side, and a dedicated Sufi writing esoteric verses requiring an initiated understanding on the other.190 This pattern of interpretation was evident in Hammer-Purgstall, who was Christian but also religiously fluid, as was Goethe. Both sought for a truth beyond religious confines, and both found the same irreligious affinity with Hafiz, one removed from Islam and Christianity, reflecting a universal truth. Their approach is one that was again shared by Emerson in his reading of Hafiz. From 1864 to the end of his life, Emerson maintained his readership in Hindu philosophy, Neoplatonism, Oriental mysticism, and Persian poetry. Among these topics, Hafiz remained one of his favorite figures, citing his “cheerfulness” even in his last journal entries and letters.191 The American Transcendentalists’ exposure to Sufi poetry was not limited solely to poetry of Persian Hafiz. In his Leaves of Grass (1855),Whitman uses the love motif found in Hafiz, the same motif that appealed to figures like Emerson and others before him. However, more than Hafiz, it is Rumi’s voice that abounds in Whitman’s poems. In “A Persian Lesson,” which was originally titled “A Sufi Lesson,”Whitman uses the “greybeard Sufi” Rumi to speak for him and his longing for the divine: Finally my children, to envelop each word, each Part of the rest, Allah is all, all – is immanent in every life and object May-be at many and many-a-more removes – yet Allah, Allah, Allah is there.192 Whitman’s mysticism was influenced by Rumi’s own worldview, which is evident when comparing Whitman and Rumi’s poetry: Whitman: It is the central urge in every atom, (Often unconscious, often evil downfallen,) To return to its divine source and origin, however distant, Latent the same in subject and in object, without one exception Rumi: The motion of every atom is towards its origin; A man comes to be the thing on which he is bent. By the attraction of the fondness and yearning, the soul and the heart Assume the qualities of the Beloved, who is the Soul of souls.193 Here in the first stanza, by Whitman, it is the centrality of the “atom,” as a site of human origins that is stressed, a theme found in Rumi’s poem. The Mathnawi of Rumi was gaining attention as some of its couplets were being translated. The

Sufism in the eyes of the West 129

Mathnawi is a vast compendium of poems, six books in total, which had not been fully translated at this time. For Muslims, the Mathnawi is often referred to as the “Qur’an in Persian.” This particular text gained more attention in the 20th century, the topic of Chapter 5. In the 19th century, figures such as the Reverend Edward B. Cowell (d. 1903), English translator of Hafiz and Professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge, also translated portions of Rumi’s Mathnawi. Cowell’s “The Mesnavi of Jelaleddin Rumi” appeared in the London-based The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1848. Cowell also translated Khayyam, the Persian poet Qasim-i Anwar (d. 1433), along with Buddhist Mayahana texts. Cowell taught Persian to Edward Fitzgerald (d. 1883), whose translation of Khayyam’s poems would become more popular than Hafiz. Initially, the poem was privately published, just 250 copies in 1859, but sales had increased by the 1880s and onwards.194 Cowell had issues with some of Khayyam’s poetry, and consequently was fonder of Rumi.195 The extent of Khayyam’s influence can be seen in Mark Twain (d. 1910) (also known as Samuel L. Clemens), F. Scott Fitzgerald (d. 1940), T. S. Eliot (d. 1965), and Ezra Pound (d. 1972) – the latter named his son Omar Shakespeare Pound. In writing about Fitzgerald’s translation of Khayyam,Yohannan writes, “In its less than one-hundred year history it has achieved a greater fame for Khayyam than his original verses were able to do in over eight hundred years.”196 This interest in Khayyam led to the formation of Omar Khayyam Clubs of England and America, who endorsed goods such as chocolates, cigarettes, and tobacco, while numerous illuminated versions of Fitzgerald’s translations of Khayyam also came into print.197 Khayyam’s poetry completely permeated popular culture and the imagination – every reader saw Khayyam’s poetry as what they sought, be it Sufism, Arab philosophy, or even “hedonism.”198 Students of Emerson, like Whitman, continued to read and translate other poets of the East, precisely because of the shared appeal of universalism found in Sufi and Islamic poetry. Sufi literary traditions became “entrenched” in the American literary and spiritual milieu, a reality which would continue into the 20th and 21st centuries with the explosion of interest in Rumi’s poetry.199 William Rounseville Alger (d. 1905) from Boston, Massachusetts, in his The Poetry of the East (1856) is another example of an American Unitarian minister with interest in religions of the Orient, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Sufism. He was influenced by the translations of Sufi poetry from Jones, Hammer-Purgstall, and Goethe.200 He includes in his compendium of Oriental poems those of Firduasi, Hafiz, Sa‘di, who he writes are “as familiar on the banks of the Rhine and beneath the lindens of Vienna, as they are … amidst the kiosks of Shiraz.”201 He refers to the works of Malcolm’s History of Persia and the Protestant theologian August Tholuck’s (d. 1877) work on Sufism in his compendium of the poetry of the East. For Alger: The Sufis are a sect of meditative devotees, whose absorption in spiritual contemplations and hallowed raptures is unparalleled, whose piety penetrates to a depth where the mind gropingly staggers among the bottomless roots of being, in mazes of wonder and delight, and reaches to a height where the

130 Contemporary Sufism in the West

soul loses itself among the roofless immensities of glory in a bedazzled and boundless ecstasy.202 Alger’s text showcases for us that by the mid-19th century, these prominent Sufi texts, especially poetry, were ubiquitous in the American spiritual circuit, particularly in Boston. For them, the female Sufi personality Rabi‘a was known as a “celebrated Mohammedan saint,” and was an exemplar of ecstatic love in Sufism. But so is “Dschelaleddi Rumi” or Jalaluddin Rumi, the universally acknowledged “head and master” and the “greatest mystic poet of the whole Orient, the oracle of the devotees, the nightingale of the contemplative life, the lawgiver in piety, the founder of the principal order of Dervishes, and author of the Mesnavi.”203 Alger goes on to introduce the “Mesnavi,” writing that “From the banks of the Ganges to the Bosporus it is the hand-book of all Sufis, the lawbook and ritual of all the mystics.”204 In a collection that includes titles such as “Goethe’s West-Oestlicher Diwan,” “The Ramayana,” “The Shah Nameh of Firdousi,” and many more, the Sufis (and Rumi in particular) receive much attention.205 In comparing the works of Oriental poetry and the poetry of the translators from whom he is borrowing, Alger writes that “the imaginations of the two countries are, after all, not so different as has been supposed.”206 Alger continues: During the past year the United States government has imported from Palestine several specimens of a tree called the Carob, or St. John’s Bread [locust bean],and employed skillful arboriculturists to try and see if it cannot be made to grow and yield fruit, even in a clime and air so remote from its own … Who knows but the effort may be successful, and lead to the transplantation and acclimation in America of hundreds of the richest indigenous growths of Asia? And so might the present humble work – seeking to import into the West, and exhibit there, some specimens of the Thought, Sentiment, and Fancy of the East – be but a forerunner of many abler works in the same direction, which shall be worthier representations, in our English speech, of that wonderful Oriental poetry, whose most characteristic treasures are as sparkling with the splendor of imaginative genius, and as odorous with the fragrance of exquisite sensibility, as though they had been “strained through starry strata and the musky loam of Paradise!”207

Conclusion Contemporary Western fascination with Sufism has significant historical precedent, which extends as far back as the 13th and 14th centuries. From Ramon Llull’s “Christian Sufism” to early travelogues of diplomats and linguists in Ottoman Turkey, the European encounter with Sufism is deeply rooted. First, there is a textual transmission, often mediated by Neoplatonic traditions, and proselytization efforts in which Christians were engaging with Islamic scholarship of the Qur’an, Arab philosophy, theology, and Sufism. These textual exchanges, such as with Llull,

Sufism in the eyes of the West 131

resulted in an impact on Llull’s own framing of Christianity, including meditative practices on the names of God which he included in his treatise. While other early European travelers under Ottoman rule such as the Dominican friar George of Hungary also engaged with Sufism, sometimes they were forced to do so. However, most were drawn to the musical traditions, especially the dancing performed by the dervishes. Their beauty of movement and incantations (dhikr) drew wide attention among musicologists and artists. Paintings and renditions of these curious dancers appeared throughout Europe, in plays and novels. These early instances of exchanges only continued with the development of Orientalist scholarship, particularly as it emerged with Jones. His early translations of texts from Eastern religious traditions, including Sufi ones, showed an inclination toward Persian texts. Jones’s reading of the Persian text Dabistan and other poetry, especially that of Hafiz, also led him to frame Sufism as a phenomenon outside of traditional and legalistic Islam. It was a universal tradition, but it was also associated with Persian and Turkish cultures, and was not an Arab one. Aside from the literary transmission that was taking place by Orientalist scholars, travelogues of Persia and Egypt, such as by Malcolm and Lane, continued to supplement the textual exchange with mystifying renditions of curious “Soofees” who wandered in woollen robes with begging bowls, and lived antinomian existences defying social and religious norms.These two extremes – one of Sufi poetry as attractive and universal, and the other of Sufis as wild wandering mendicants who employed austere practices (e.g., snake handling) – became the two poles that represented Sufism to non-Muslim Europeans and Americans. The reception of Sufi poetry, though, had a seminal influence on Romantic figures, such as Goethe, and among the Transcendentalists, including Emerson and Whitman. The Sufi poetry of Hafiz, Khayyam, and Sa‘di was not only being translated but also deeply resonated with European and American translators. Goethe proved to be a unique exception, however, in the type of engagement he had with Sufism. His relationship with Islam and Sufism was interrelated, but his relationship with Islam is not one that is often recalled in the history of these civilizational encounters. As Sufi poetry made its way into American societies, names such as Hafiz regularly appeared in popular Romantic and Transcendentalist literature. The ideals of transgressing religions, and the seeking of a deeply personal experience of the divine, appealed to figures like Emerson who were seeking to reform Christianity in the American landscape. As Alger’s final quote in this chapter indicates, Oriental poetry, which included Sufi poetry, was fully imported into the Western intellectual, spiritual, and popular landscape. It had preceded the arrival of Sufi teachers from the East and even Sufi-Muslim immigrants who came to America in the early 20th century. These literary transmissions of Sufism were foundational to the development of European and American spiritualities, but it was a Sufism that was not Islamic in nature. It was a universalistic, pantheistic, esoteric, and individualistic Sufism, which was primarily mediated by poetry. The latter transmission of Sufis through literary traditions also meant that aspects of Sufism – such as music, dance, and dervishes – seeped into the popular culture and imagination.

132 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Dervishes were on stages in Germany and France, and appeared in novels by writers such as Oscar Wilde (d. 1900). Clubs that formed around these figures, such as that of Khayyam, also used their organizations to endorse goods, like chocolates and tobacco. In many ways, the stage was set for what would ultimately unfold in the 20th and 21st centuries. While Hafiz and Khayyam were the leading figures of this era, Alger, who is quoted at the end of this chapter, pointed to Rumi as the next Sufi figure to rise to prominence. Rumi would not only take Sufi poetry in the West to new heights, but in so doing, he would pervade all aspects of popular culture, from the Hollywood big screen to social media forums, with millions of followers in tow.

Notes 1 Carl Ernst, Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam (Boston, MA: Shambala Publications, 1997), xvii. 2 Ibid., 1. 3 Algis Uždavinys, “Sufism in the Light of Orientalism,” Acta Orientalia Vilnensia 6, no. 2 (2005): 114. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Alexander Knysh, Islam in Historical Perspective (New York: Routledge, 2016), 356. For more, please see Maya Shatzmiller, ed., Crusaders and Muslims in Twelfth-Century Syria (Leiden: Brill, 1993). 7 For more on this, see Kecia Ali, The Lives of Muhammad (Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). 8 Ziad Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur’an:The Politics of Translation and the Construction of Islam (Oxford: Oneworld, 2009), 1. 9 Ibid., 3. 10 In his Islam and the Divine Comedy (1926), Miguel Asin Palacios examines the symbolic similarities between Ibn al-‘Arabi and Dante, suggesting the influence the former had on the latter. 11 Ali, The Lives of Muhammad. 12 Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur’an, 5. 13 Exemplary here are the works of the famed philosopher and physician, Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (d. 1037). His treatises on healing and medicine, such as The Canon of Medicine, which includes instructions for physicians on treating patients, were regularly translated and consulted by Christian monks in monasteries and continue to have traction in the medical world today. 14 José Bellver, “Mirroring the Islamic Tradition of the Names of God in Christianity: Ramon Llull’s Cent Noms de Déu as a Christian Qur’an,” Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 2 (2014): 287–304. 15 Ramon Llull and Noel Fallows, The Book of the Order of Chivalry, new ed. (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2013), 1. 16 Ibid., 2. 17 Ibid., 10. 18 Ramon Llull, The Book of the Lover and Beloved, trans. Allison E. Peers (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1923), 8. 19 Bellver, “Mirroring the Islamic Tradition of the Names of God in Christianity,” 291. 20 Llull and Fallows, The Book of the Order of Chivalry, 1. 21 A. Mayer, “Ramon Llull and the Indispensable Dialogue,” Quaderns de la Mediterrània 14 (2010): 53–59.

Sufism in the eyes of the West 133

22 Ibid., 55. 23 Ibid. 24 Fatiha Beniabbah,“The Idea of Human Unity in Ibn Arabi and Ramon Llull,” Quaderns de la Mediterrània 14 (2010): 32. 25 Llull, Lover and Beloved, 18. 26 Lola Badia, Joan Santanach, and Albert Soler, Ramon Llull as a Vernacular Writer: Communicating a New Kind of Knowledge, new ed. (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2016), 296. 27 Bellver, “Mirroring the Islamic Tradition of the Names of God in Christianity,” 292. 28 Ibid., 294. 29 Ibid. 30 Badia, Santanch, and Soler, Ramon Llull as a Vernacular Writer, 296–297. 31 Bellver, “Mirroring the Islamic Tradition of the Names of God in Christianity,” 294. 32 Beniabbah, “The Idea of Human Unity in Ibn Arabi and Ramon Llull,” 32. 33 Bellver, “Mirroring the Islamic Tradition of the Names of God in Christianity,” 290. 34 Ibid., 291. 35 Beniabbah, “The Idea of Human Unity in Ibn Arabi and Ramon Llull”; Bellver, “Mirroring the Islamic Tradition of the Names of God in Christianity.” 36 Ibid. 37 Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: North Carolina Press, 1975), 7. 38 William Rory Dickson, Between Transformation and Tradition: Living Sufism in North America (New York: SUNY, 2015), 67. 39 Ibid., 68. For more on these transmissions, please see also Mark Sedgwick, Western Sufism: From the Abbassids to the New Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). 40 Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, 7. Alexander Knysh in Islamic Mysticism: A Short History (Leiden: Brill, 2000) has suggested that the imagery of the torch and pitcher of water was often noted in early French stories, some to the 14th century, while another was by the French Bishop Jean-Pierre Camus (1582–1653) in his book published in 1961, entitled, La Caritee ou le purtraict de ay vraye charite historie tiree de la vie de SaintLouis (Paris, 1641). 41 Carl W. Ernst, “Between Orientalism and Fundamentalism: Problematizing the Teaching of Sufism” in Teaching Islam, ed. Brannon M. Wheeler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 115; Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 57. 42 Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 50–68; Ernst, “Between Orientalism and Fundamentalism,” 115. These premodern examples of non-Muslims’ experience with Sufism can also be found in South Asia, especially with the Chishti Order, particularly because of interaction with a living Sufi teacher or saint. Sikhism, the tradition that emerged with the figure of Guru Nanak (d. 1539), is another example of the degree to which Sufism in South Asia intermingled with Bhakti traditions of Hinduism and Islam. The Sikh sacred text, Guru Granth Sahib, includes within it songs (ragas) from the gurus that led the community after the first guru, Guru Nanak, but it also includes Sufi poetry. The 15th-century poet and mystic Kabir (d. 1518) is another example of the interface of Hindu and Muslim traditions of South Asia. Kabir was an antinomian figure. Beyond knowing that he was from Varanasi and born sometime in the 15th century into a family of weavers, much of his biography is hagiographic. He has been claimed by Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus. Much of what is known about him has been passed down via written compilations of his oral poems, which encourage all to be seekers of truth. Most have also experienced Kabir in the Sikh sacred text known as the Adi Granth, where some of Kabir’s teachings are also included. 43 Ibid. 44 Luther described the religion of Muhammad as a “doctrine of works and the sword,” suggesting that “with lies,” Muhammad “kills souls and murders bodies,” Sarah Henrich and James L. Boyce, “Martin Luther – Translations of Two Prefaces on Islam,” Word & World 16, no. 2 (1996): 254.

134 Contemporary Sufism in the West

45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77

78 79 80

Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 71. Ibid. Ibid. Giovanni de Zorzi, “In Constantinople among Music and Dervishes: Reports by European Travelers from the Sixteenth Century to the Eighteenth Century,” Mawlana Rumi Review 6 (2015): 43. G. Postel, quoted in Zorzi, “In Constantinople among Music and Dervishes,” 37. Pietro della Valle, quoted in Zorzi,“In Constantinople among Music and Dervishes,” 39. Charles Ferriol, quoted in Zorzi, “In Constantinople among Music and Dervishes,” 54. Zorzi, “In Constantinople among Music and Dervishes,” 60. Torderini, quoted in Zorzi, “In Constantinople among Music and Dervishes,” 61–62. Ibid., 65. Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 115. Mehdi Aminrazavi, “Introduction,” in Sufism and American Literary Masters (New York: SUNY, 2014), 1. Ibid. John D.Yohannan, “The Persian Poetry Fad in England, 1770–1825,” Comparative Literature 4, no. 2 (1952): 137. Samar Attar, Borrowed Imagination: The British Romantics and Their Arabic-Islamic Sources (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014). A. J. Arberry, Oriental Essays: Portraits of Seven Scholars (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960), 11, 14. Ibid., 14. Yohannan, “The Persian Poetry Fad in England,” 138. Ibid., 139. Quoted in Yohannan, “The Persian Poetry Fad in England,” 141. Ibid., 143. Ibid. John D.Yohannan, ed., A Treasury of Asian Literature (New York:The John Day Company, 1956), 10. Quoted in Yohannan, “The Persian Poetry Fad in England,” 137. Tomoko Masuzwa, The Invention of World Religions: Or How European Universalism was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 150. Dickson, Living Sufism in North America, 36. Quoted in Dickson, Living Sufism in North America, 37. For a thorough discussion of these trends, please see Sedgwick, Western Sufism. H. Wilberforce Clarke, trans. The Dı¯ va¯ n-i-Ha¯ fiz (Bethesda, MD: Iranbooks, 1998), xii. Ibid., 5. Quoted in Garland Cannon, ed., The Letters of Sir William Jones, Vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1970). Anacreon was a Greek poet who lived from ca. 582 – ca. 485 bce. Yohannan, “The Persian Poetry Fad in England,” 143. This text contains over eight pages of names of “subscribers.” It also includes a letter of dedication to “His Grace the Duke of Richmand, Master of General of Ordnance,” in his preface. Nott further acknowledges the translation efforts of Count Revifki, Mr. Richardson, and Sir William Jones. He adds, “We would alike recommend a more intimate acquaintance with the Persian tongue. And we lament whilst years are bestowed in acquiring an insight into the Greek and Roman authors.” John Nott, Select Odes, From the Persian Poet Hafez (London: T. Cadell. 1777), v. Nott’s texts include the Persian original (in Persian script), English transliteration, and Nott’s own translation, with occasional footnotes. Nott, Select Odes, ix. Yohannan, “The Persian Poetry Fad in England,” 144. Ibid., 143.

Sufism in the eyes of the West 135

81 Jones, quoted in Yohannan, “The Persian Poetry Fad in England,” 142. 82 Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 111; Carl W. Ernst, “The Dabistan and Orientalist Views of Sufism,” paper presentation, “Sufism East and West: Mystical Islam and Cross-Cultural Exchange between the West and the Muslim World,” International Workshop in Memory of Professor Annemarie Schimmel, Erfurt University, Erfurt, Germany, April 15–17, 2016). Thank you to Professor Carl W. Ernst for sharing this paper with us. 83 Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 110. 84 Jack Harrington, ed., Sir John Malcolm and the Creation of British India (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 1. 85 Ibid., i. 86 John Malcolm, Sketch of the Political History of India from 1784 to 1823 (London: John Murray, Albemarle-Street, 1811). 87 Ibid. 88 John Malcolm, The History of Persia from the Most Early Period to the Present Time (Delhi: Gyan Books, 1815), 423. 89 Ibid. 90 Ibid., 422. 91 Ibid., 540. 92 Ibid. 93 Ibid., 541. 94 Ibid. 95 Shahbuddin Suhrawardi, A Dervish Textbook: From the ’Awarifu-l-Ma’Arif, trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke (London: Octagon Press, 1990), 1. 96 Ibid. 97 Ibid. 98 Paul Kane, “Emerson and Hafiz:The Figure of the Religious Poet,” Religion & Literature 41, no. 1 (2009): 115. 99 Ibid. 100 Arberry, Oriental Essays, 87. 101 Ibid., 88–89. 102 Quoted in Arberry, Oriental Essays, 89–90. 103 Ibid., 94. 104 Ibid., 95. 105 Ernst, Sufism, 3. 106 Ibid. 107 Ibid. 108 Ibid. 109 Mark Pattison and Alexander Pope, eds., Essay on Man, 6th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1881), 38. 110 Ernst, Sufism, 3–4. 111 John P. Brown, The Darvishes or Oriental Spiritualism (Haarlem, Holland: Grafische Industrie, 1868), v. 112 Ibid. 113 Ibid. 114 Ibid. 115 Ibid., 8. 116 Ibid., 310, 379, 119. 117 Brown, Darvishes, 116–119. 118 Lane, quoted in Brown, Darvishes, 244. 119 Ibid., 245. 120 Ibid. 121 Arabic term for birthday. Sufis usually honor the birthdays of Prophet Muhammad and Sufi saints. This was especially the case in places such as Egypt. 122 Ernst, Sufism, 5.

136 Contemporary Sufism in the West

123 Ibid., 3–4. 124 Mohammed Sharafuddin, Islam and Romantic Orientalism: Literary Encounters with the Orient (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1996), xvii. 125 Ibid. 126 Ibid., xxi. 127 Ibn Tufayl’s novel, Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, published in 1160/1170, was translated from Arabic into Hebrew in 1349, then into Latin by Pico della Mirandola. It would go on to be translated into English, Dutch, German, and other European languages. For more, please see Samar Attar’s study, Borrowed Imagination. 128 Attar, Borrowed Imagination, xvi. 129 Ibid. 130 Yohannan, A Treasury of Asian Literature, 343. 131 Lewis Lewisohn, “English Romantics and Persian Sufi Poets: A Wellspring of Inspiration for American Transcendentalists,” in Sufism and American Literary Masters, ed. Mehdi Aminrazavi (New York: SUNY, 2014), 16. 132 Lewisohn, “English Romantics and Persian Sufi Poets,” 17. For more on this, please see also Sedgwick, Western Sufism. 133 Lewisohn, “English Romantics and Persian Sufi Poets,” 18. 134 Ibid., 16. 135 Ibid., 29. 136 Ibid. 137 Attar, Borrowed Imagination, 6. 138 Quoted in Attar, Borrowed Imagination, 14. 139 Ibid., 112. 140 Andrew Warren, The Orient and the Young Romantics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 3. 141 Ibid. 142 Jeffrey Einboden, Islam and Romanticism: Muslim Currents from Goethe to Emerson (London: Oneworld Publications, 2014), 7. 143 Ibid., 47. 144 Ibid., 50. 145 Ibid. 146 Ibid., 51. 147 Ibid. 148 Ibid., 53–54. 149 Ibid., 56. 150 Quoted in Einboden, Islam and Romanticism, 49. 151 Ibid., 50. 152 Ibid., 47. 153 Ibid. 154 Quoted Einboden, Islam and Romanticism, 48. 155 Ibid., 50. 156 Ibid., 18. Goethe’s Mahomet is an example of what Einboden calls “transnational translations”: it is “a German rendition of a French drama with an Arabian setting.” See Einboden, Islam and Romanticism, 18. 157 Goethe and Napoleon met each other on October 2, 1808, and Napoleon even took some of Goethe’s early fiction with him as he entered Muslim lands. See Einboden, Islam and Romanticism, 21. 158 Ibid., 59. 159 Ibid., 60. 160 Ibid., 69. 161 Quoted in Einboden, Islam and Romanticism, 70–71. 162 Ibid., 71. 163 Ibid., 72. 164 Ibid.

Sufism in the eyes of the West 137

165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207

Ibid., 75. Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur’an, ii. Einboden, Islam and Romanticism, 77. Quoted in Einboden, Islam and Romanticism, 78. Katharina Mommsen, Goethe and the Poets of Arabia, trans. Michael M. Metzger (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014), xi. Quoted in Attar, Borrowed Imagination, 2014. Ibid. Yohannan, A Treasury of Asian Literature, 343. Aminrazavi, “Introduction,” 4. Ibid. Ibid. Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods (Boston, MA: Ticknor and Fields, 1854). Many spiritual seekers of the 1960s, who will be discussed in Chapter 5, were reading Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience at the time of the counterculture movement and were influenced by his ideas of nature. Kane, “Emerson and Hafiz,” 113. Yohannan, A Treasury of Asian Literature, 10. Kane, “Emerson and Hafiz.” Aminrazavi, “Introduction,” 4. Kane, “Emerson and Hafiz,” 113. Ibid., 114. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., 118. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (Boston, MA; Cambridge: James Munroe & Company, 1849), 5. Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Atlantic Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics (Boston, MA: Phillips, Sampson, and Company, 1858), 728. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Works (London; New York: George Routledge and Sons, 1883), 482. Kane, “Emerson and Hafiz,” 115. Mansur Ekhtiyar, “Emerson’s Interest in Persian Mysticism,” in Sufism and Literary Masters in America, ed. Medhi Aminrazavi (New York: SUNY, 2014), 69. Quoted in Ghulam M. Fayz, “Images of the Divine in Rumi and Whitman,” Comparative Literature Studies 17, no. 1 (1980): 35. Ibid. Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 122. Yohannan, A Treasury of Asian Literature, 21–22. Ibid., 285. Reportedly, one of the more expensive illuminated versions of Khayyam’s poetry in translation (valued at an estimated £1,000) went down with the Titanic in 1912. Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 122. Sedgwick, Western Sufism, 123. Aminrazavi, “Introduction,” 3. William Rounseville Alger, The Poetry of the East (Boston, MA: Whittemore, Niles, and Hall, 1856). Ibid., 12. Ibid., 64. Ibid., 66. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., 19. Ibid., 92.

138 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Bibliography Alger, William Rounseville. The Poetry of the East. Boston, MA: Whittemore, Niles, and Hall, 1856. Ali, Kecia. The Lives of Muhammad. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. Aminrazavi, Mehdi. “Introduction.” In Sufism and American Literary Masters, edited by Mehdi Aminrazavi, 1–11. New York: SUNY, 2014. Arberry, A. J. Oriental Essays: Portraits of Seven Scholars. London: George Allen & Unwin 1960. Attar, Samar. Borrowed Imagination: The British Romantics and Their Arabic-Islamic Sources. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014. Badia, Lola, Joan Santanach, and Albert Soler, eds. Ramon Llull as a Vernacular Writer: Communicating a New Kind of Knowledge. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2016. Bellver, José. “Mirroring the Islamic Tradition of the Names of God in Christianity: Ramon Llull’s Cents Noms de Déu as a Christian Qur’an.” Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 2, nos. 1–2 (2014): 287–302. Beniabbah, Fatiha. “The Idea of Human Unity in Ibn Arabi and Ramon Llull.” Quaderns de la Mediterrània 14 (2010): 31–36. Brown, John P. The Darvishes or Oriental Spiritualism. Haarlem, Holland: Grafische Industrie, 1868. Cannon, Garland, ed. The Letters of Sir William Jones. Volume 1. Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1970. Clarke, H. Wilberforce, trans. The Dīvān-i-Hāfiz. Bethesda, MD: Iranbooks, 1998. Dickson, William Rory. Between Transformation and Tradition: Living Sufism in North America. New York: SUNY, 2015. Einboden, Jeffrey. Islam and Romanticism: Muslim Currents from Goethe to Emerson. London: Oneworld, 2014. Ekhtiyar, Mansur. “Emerson’s Interest in Persian Mysticism.” In Sufism and Literary Masters in America, edited by Medhi Aminrazavi, 55–74. New York: SUNY, 2014. Elmarsafy, Ziad. The Enlightenment Qur’an: The Politics of Translation and the Construction of Islam. Oxford: Oneworld, 2009. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays. London: J. Fraser, 1841. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. Boston, MA; Cambridge: James Munroe & Company, 1849. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The Atlantic Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics. Boston, MA: Phillips, Sampson, 1858. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Works. London; New York: George Routledge and Sons, 1883. Ernst, Carl. Sufism:An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam. Boston, MA: Shambala, 1997. Ernst, Carl W. “Between Orientalism and Fundamentalism: Problematizing the Teaching of Sufism.” In Teaching Islam, edited by Brannon M. Wheeler, 108–123. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Ernst, Carl W. “The Dabistan and Orientalist Views of Sufism.” Paper Presentation at Sufism East and West: Mystical Islam and Cross-Cultural Exchange between the West and the Muslim World, an International workshop in memory of Professor Annemarie Schimmel, Erfurt University, Erfurt, Germany, April 15–17, 2016. Fayz, Ghulam M. “Images of the Divine in Rumi and Whitman.” Comparative Literature Studies 17, no. 1. (1980): 33–43. Harrington, Jack, ed. Sir John Malcolm and the Creation of British India. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Henrich, Sarah, and James L. Boyce. “Martin Luther – Translations of Two Prefaces on Islam.” Word & World 16, no. 2 (1996): 250–266.

Sufism in the eyes of the West 139

Kane, Paul. “Emerson and Hafiz: The Figure of the Religious Poet.” Religion & Literature 41, no. 1 (2009): 111–139. Knysh, Alexander. Islamic Mysticism: A Short History. Leiden: Brill, 2000. Knysh, Alexander. Islam in Historical Perspective. New York: Routledge, 2016. Lewisohn, Lewis. “English Romantics and Persian Sufi Poets: A Wellspring of Inspiration for American Transcendentalists.” In Sufism and American Literary Masters, edited by Mehdi Aminrazavi, 15–54. New York: SUNY, 2014. Llull, Ramon. The Book of the Lover and Beloved.Translated by Allison E. Peers. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1923. Llull, Ramon, and Noel Fallows. The Book of the Order of Chivalry. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2013. Malcolm, John. Sketch of the Political History of India from 1784 to 1823. London: John Murray, 1811. Malcolm, John. The History of Persia from the Most Early Period to the Present Time. Delhi: Gyan Books, 1815. Masuzwa, Tomoko. The Invention of World Religions: Or How European Universalism was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2005. Mayer, A. “Ramon Llull and the Indispensable Dialogue.” Quaderns de la Mediterrània 14 (2010): 53–59. Mommsen, Katharina. Goethe and the Poets of Arabia. Translated by Michael M. Metzger. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014. Nott, John. Select Odes, From the Persian Poet Hafez. London: T. Cadell, 1777. Palacios, Miguel Asin. Islam and the Divine Comedy. London: Routledge, 2013 [1926]. Pattison, Mark, and Alexander Pope, eds. Essay on Man. 6th Edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1881. Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: North Carolina Press, 1975. Sedgwick, Mark. Western Sufism: From the Abbassids to the New Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Sharafuddin, Mohammed. Islam and Romantic Orientalism: Literary Encounters with the Orient. London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1996. Suhrawardi, Sheikh Shahbuddin. A Dervish Textbook: From the ’Awarifu-l-Ma’Arif. Translated by H. Wilberforce Clarke. London: Octagon Press, 1990. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; or, Life in the Woods. Boston, MA: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. Uždavinys, Algis. “Sufism in the Light of Orientalism.” Acta Orientalia Vilnensia 6, no. 2 (2005): 114–125. Warren, Andrew. The Orient and the Young Romantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Yohannan, John D. “The Persian Poetry Fad in England, 1770–1825.” Comparative Literature 4, no. 2 (1952): 137–160. Yohannan, John D., ed. A Treasury of Asian Literature. New York: The John Day Company, 1956. Zorzi, Giovanni de. “In Constantinople among Music and Dervishes: Reports by European Travellers from the Sixteenth Century to the Eighteenth Century.” Mawlana Rumi Review 6 (2015): 36–66.

5 THE ERA OF RUMI Contemporary Sufism and popular culture

On September 6, 2007, UNESCO declared it the international Year of Rumi in commemoration of the 13th-century Sufi saint’s birth. During this tribute, Rumi was cited as “one of the greatest poets, philosophers, and scholars of the Islamic civilization.”1 Exhibitions of Rumi’s texts and art were displayed, while a UNESCO medal and stamps were issued in honor of Rumi and distributed to post offices in Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. International conferences were also held. Years later, a BBC headline asked, “Why is Rumi the best-selling poet in the US?”2 William Dalrymple would invoke a similar sentiment in asking the pertinent question: how did Rumi “mysteriously [morph] from a medieval scholar of Islamic law, or fiqh, into an American New Age guru”?3 Long venerated by Sufi practitioners and Muslims more widely as a figure representing the pinnacle of Islamic spirituality, today Rumi shows up in yoga intensives, coffee-table books, smartphone apps, cafes, and pithy social media quotations, just to name a few examples. Rumi’s fame has skyrocketed in North America due to publications and endorsements by various scholars, translators, poets, and politicians. Coleman Barks has completed renditions of nearly twenty-two volumes of his poetry in the last three decades alone. This popularity has been further perpetuated by numerous other figures in various cultural spheres. Eli Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love is one such example.4 This novel incorporates a fictional story of Rumi’s encounter with his enigmatic teacher Shams, all the while juxtaposing this classical relationship of a teacher and his student with a modern story of an American housewife, Ella Rubenstein, who finds love again through an unlikely source. Shafak’s book on Rumi has sold over 750,000 copies and has won several literary awards in France and Ireland, while remaining an all-time bestseller in Turkey, where it has been used to promote Rumi tourism. Rumi has also reached Hollywood. There is even a biographical film currently in production. However, an early discussion of casting blockbuster actors

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 141

like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr. to play Rumi and Shams has proven controversial. Oprah Winfrey, with her television series Belief, has devoted several episodes to Sufism, Rumi, and the whirling dervishes.5 On one of her other talk-show programs, Super Soul Sunday, she recently featured the American Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee of the Golden Sufi Center in California.6 In their interview, Vaughan-Lee uses love, the Ninety-Nine Names of God, and Rumi to describe Sufism to Oprah. Oprah, whose voice reaches masses globally, has also become a proponent of Sufism, Rumi, and love as a means of spiritual awakening and attaining peace. Rumi has been embraced by the self-help world, spiritual seekers, and the New Age movement. He has also been welcomed by the North American gay community as a symbol of love. Rumi has even made his way into the world of catwalks and fashionistas, with the designer Donna Karan taking inspiration from his work, while Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the famous American hip-hop artists and moguls, named one of their twins Rumi, after being inspired by the 13th-century poet’s life, poems, and legacy.7 This popularization of Rumi in the West raises philosophical queries on the nature of Sufism and its presentation as a universal and supra-confessional tradition. As is evident thus far, this universal framework for the Sufi tradition did not develop in a vacuum, but has been the historical reality of Sufism’s reception by non-Muslims across time and space, especially through literary cross-cultural transmissions. Rumi’s popularity and his subsequent commodification have come at the helm of other such similar Sufi poets. Every century of Western readers has had a prominent and renowned Persian poet to call their own: “In 1800 it was Hafiz, in 1900 it was Omar Khayyam, and in 2000 it is Rumi.”8 The waves of admiration and esteem for these poets have been due not simply to their mastery of the word but also to a reflection of the ways in which their ideas were reconciled with the prevalent sensibilities of the time: “Hafiz was interpreted to fit with the mood of Romanticism, Omar Khayyam with the aesthetic movement,” and Rumi to suit contemporary ideas of spiritual oneness and universality.9 For the contemporary audience, Rumi’s poetry transcends culture, religion, and history, finding expression in the varied means offered by the commercial market. In each era, Sufi poetry manifests in the West through the particular possibilities offered by the times, whether we think of Omar Khayyam poetry clubs or Rumi smartphone apps. Turning to the proliferation of Rumi in the West, this chapter explores the depth and breadth of this popularization, which includes film, music, and social media networks that are devoted to Sufism. The chapter unpacks the criticism that the popularization of Sufism, especially through material culture, commodification, and an active presence online, dilutes Sufism and thus robs Islam of its true nature. Instead of reducing modern disseminations of Rumi (and Sufism) to adulterations of a “pure” tradition, we seek a nuanced analysis of Rumi’s contemporary popularity that takes into account the historical precedent set by Rumi, and other Sufi figures, wherein their teachings permeated all spheres of society, not just the explicitly “religious.” This chapter hence analyzes and explores the diverse perspectives,

142 Contemporary Sufism in the West

practices, and products that the “universal” interpretation of Sufism has fostered in the modern period, through the case study of Rumi. The modern popularization of Rumi is, however, complicated by the polarization of Sufism as the “antidote” to militant movements in Muslim societies. This assumption can negate Sufism’s origins in Islamic and Quranic ethos, and reduces the diversity of Islamic and Sufi traditions as a whole, as discussed in Chapter 3. Scholars including Safi and Ernst have tried to showcase some correlation between the rise of Rumi before and after 9/11. There is a sense that Rumi plays a “reconciliatory” role promoting an Islam of “love” and peace in stark contrast to the “age of terror” portrayed in news media, hence adding further popularity to Rumi in a post-9/11 milieu.10 Rumi’s path to fame in the West, however, was planted well before 9/11. In 1997, Ernst told the Christian Science Monitor: “I think it’s extremely interesting that at the same time, politically speaking, there is this intense, ideological confrontation with Islamic fundamentalism … this spirituality that Rumi represents has obviously touched a very deep nerve in the American psyche.”11 It is this contrast between the growing popularity of Rumi (a Muslim saint) alongside the spread of Islamophobia that remains far more curious, but has also refashioned Rumi as a mediator and builder of bridges across an assumed cultural dissonance. This, nevertheless, does not resolve the conundrum that the same American cultural context in which Islamophobia seems to be growing is the one wherein Rumi is the bestselling poet. In both Muslim and non-Muslim spaces, Sufism and its ritual aspects – such as music and dance – penetrated culture, trade, and public spaces. Historically, and in its transmission process, Sufism has not been an exclusively Muslim endeavor. Sufism’s appeal among non-Muslims has been dependent on a universal outlook, one that was actively embraced and promoted by Muslims such as Rumi. Rumi’s poetics of love and longing have captured the imagination of Western seekers of a life-affirming spirituality, and it acts as a creative and spiritual catalyst for a variety of artists, writers, and entrepreneurs in the West. While Sufi personalities and practices of various forms have been introduced and interwoven into the fabric of the contemporary West, in recent years Rumi has become the exemplar of not just American Sufism but also the spiritually plural American landscape at large.

The making of the “Rumi phenomenon” in America The phrase “Rumi phenomenon” was first coined by the scholar Amira El-Zein. For El-Zein, the phenomenon situates Rumi within the broader movement of “spiritual consumption” in the United States. She places this popularity within what she terms “New Sufism” – a variation of the “New Age” phenomenon that unfolded in the American spiritual landscape and was similarly led by a yearning or questing impulse.12 Similar to El-Zein, Franklin D. Lewis uses the phrase “Rumi-mania” to situate the poet’s American popularity.13 The term “New Age movement” was used by sociologists studying the rise of new religious movements, particularly in the American context in the 1980s and 1990s.14 Participants in these

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 143

movements re-emerged from the countercultural spiritual scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Many were responding to the US government’s involvement in the Vietnam War, while others were active in the civil and women’s rights movements. In the midst of all these social changes and culture of active protests, many of the younger generation were also leaving churches and synagogues – the religious institutions into which they were born – and began to gravitate to new religious movements, especially those with Eastern origins. As Robert Wuthnow documents, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, Americans shifted from a “spirituality of dwelling,” based around community churches and temples, to a “spirituality of seeking,” centered on an individual quest for personal transformation.15 As noted in Chapter 4, the American landscape was well fertilized with traditions from the East, especially through textual transmissions. Theosophical and esoteric movements were growing, while interests in world religions also led to conventions such as the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, just as “metaphysical” understandings of Christianity were also emerging in the American context.16 These developments laid the groundwork for living teachers from Sufi, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions to cultivate communities in America in the 20th century. The American context was one that included interest in poets like the Lebanese Christian mystic Khalil Gibran (d. 1931), but also growing interest in Catholic saints such as St. Francis of Assisi and St.Teresa of Avila (d. 1582), alongside Hindu, Buddhist, and Zen philosophies. Rumi, and other Sufi poets such as Hafiz, existed within this broader spiritual milieu in America, though Rumi’s poetry would attract a spotlight in ways that some of these other mystical figures did not.

“Jalaloddin Barks”: Coleman Barks and the making of Rumi-mania In 1976, Robert Bly gave Coleman Barks a copy of A. J. Arberry’s translations of Rumi and told him to “release these from their scholarly cages.”17 In a sense, Bly seemed to suggest that Barks transport Rumi from the context of Orientalist translations into a more popular and contemporary idiom. Here, we can see how Orientalism created the textual resources from which later interpretations would develop. However, Bly, in asking Barks to “release” Rumi’s poems from “their scholarly cages,” implied that Orientalist translations were limited by their context, and that Rumi’s poetry needed to be vernacularized in a new way to be accessible to contemporary audiences. Barks “felt drawn immediately to the spaciousness and longing in Rumi’s poetry” and “began to explore this new world…”18 which set Barks to work on preparing Rumi’s words in “… casual American free verse.”19 Bly, born in Minnesota in 1926, was a poet, author, editor, and translator who wrote more than thirty books. As a translator, through works such as Mirabai, he introduced Indian, European, and South American poets to a wide American audience.20 Bly also translated (and co-translated) poems of Hafiz and Rumi, and often performed poetry readings, as featured in films such as Rumi: Poet of the Heart.21 Barks was a literature Professor at the University of Georgia. He began to self-publish some of his renditions of Rumi’s poetry and was eventually picked

144 Contemporary Sufism in the West

up by other publishers.22 Barks’s translations of Rumi’s poems in 1997 sold over a quarter million copies. The Essential Rumi, a collection of Barks’s renditions of Rumi’s poetry, sold 50,000 copies in the first six months alone, and made it onto Billboard’s Top 20 list. It is the number one bestseller on Amazon (US) in Ancient and Classical poetry, while the same translation made The Huffington Post’s “11 Must-Read Books by Muslim Authors” in 2016. Comparatively, Pulitzer Prize winners barely sell 10,000 copies of their books – how is it that Barks’s rendition of Rumi’s poetry into “American verse” gained such popularity? In the preface to The Winged Energy of Delight,23 Bly explains why he thinks Rumi is popular among Americans: Rumi is astounding, fertile, abundant, almost more an excitable library of poetry than a person. In his poems, Rumi often adopts the transparent “you,” using it so beautifully that each of us feels as if we too were being spoken to. Coleman Barks has echoed that tender “you” so brilliantly in his translations that we will never get over our gratitude … When I started reading Rumi, all at once I felt at home. I think many readers of his work have that feeling. It’s almost as if his poems resonate in some echo chamber that we retain in memory.24 Though Barks self-published smaller volumes of Rumi’s poetry, it was The Essential Rumi, published by HarperCollins in 1995 (which initially printed 250,000 copies), that has been one of the most successful poetry books published in America in the 1990s.25 Barks worked with John Moyne and other scholars on this project. Barks has attributed his style of translations to the inspiration of Bly, Kenneth Rexroth (d. 1982), and Ezra Pound – individuals who followed the “aggressively unacademic translation.”26 It is this style that has resulted in Barks’s ability to “create an American Rumi: one who speaks across the centuries with a voice as direct and imperative as a tug on the shirt.”27 Many translations of Rumi’s poetry have been available in the West, primarily from scholars such as Arberry, who supplied the version that Bly first gave to Barks. Yet, it is not these close translations that have popularized Rumi, but the free verse method employed by Barks. Barks’s translations of Rumi have received criticism, especially from “linguistic” and “academic” perspectives.28 Elena Furlanetto, as well as El-Zein, point to Barks’s lack of training in Persian. Furlanetto calls attention to the: Rumi phenomenon as a discourse on the “Orient” produced in the West for the West, from which the “Orient” itself (the place- and time-specific value of Rumi’s poetry) has been completely left out – as if Rumi had “migrated” from the Islamic tradition to Americanness, losing the relevance of the original Persian along the way.29 A criticism that has been offered by numerous scholars, such as Lewis, is that Barks “teleport(s) the poems of Rumi out of their cultural and Islamic context

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 145

into the inspirational discourse of non-parochial spirituality” and thus is a form of “spiritual colonization” as Safi has suggested.30 Although this is one way to frame the way in which Rumi has been presented, Barks feels differently about the Rumi he has channeled. Although Barks has received strong criticism from Western academics for his lack of training in Persian and somewhat decontextualized (or recontextualized) presentations of Rumi, some scholars in Iran have been appreciative of the way in which Barks has been able to communicate the message of one of their “own” – a Persian, Muslim saint and poet who remains beloved in Iran. In 2006, the University of Tehran awarded an honorary doctorate to Barks. Barks was initially reticent to accept the honor as he does not work in Persian (Farsi), but eventually agreed after asking that his mentor Bly also be recognized. Though Bly was not awarded a doctorate, he was also acknowledged by the University of Tehran, and the two American authors describe having a wonderful time in the country in Rumi: Bridge to the Soul, Journeys into the Music and Silence of the Heart (2007).31 Barks explained in an interview with Time magazine in 2002, I’m actually a little embarrassed by the New Age. I want people just to stay with what they love, what they really know. I don’t know why my own versions are so popular, but maybe hopefully it’s because something is coming through and recognized as truthful.32 Jerome W. Clinton writes that the answer to the question of why Rumi (especially Barks’s version of Rumi) has received such popularity is to be found: [F]irst, in the recent burgeoning spiritual consciousness of many Americans, and, second, in the happy alchemy of the right translator appearing at the right time. The success of The Essential Rumi is viewed by the publishing industry as simply one item in the more general phenomenon of the success of works on spirituality, an outrider to the impulse that has kept Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled and Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul on best seller lists for years.33 It is Barks’s ability to recast and transmit Rumi in a way digestible to North Americans (which was not accomplished by those who came before him) that has played such a significant role. “Barks was the first to come to the task as both a practicing Sufi and an established poet, and the first to place translating Rumi at the heart of his own work,”34 so much so that Clinton christens Barks “Jalaloddin Barks” ( just as Fitzgerald, known for his translation of Khayyam gained the epithet of Fitz Omar).35 Barks is a student of the Tamil Sufi teacher Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (d. 1986), who is buried in Pennsylvania, US. In several interviews, Barks shares that it was the encouragement and relationship with his own Sufi teacher, Bawa, that drove his work on Rumi further. Perhaps Barks’s own deep relationship to Sufism and Rumi, and his training in poetry, in addition to his American identity has proved to be the ideal composition to be a translator

146 Contemporary Sufism in the West

of Rumi’s poetry. At the same time, America, both spiritually and culturally, was primed to receive Barks’s Rumi. Barks has been featured on numerous documentaries on Rumi, and television specials such as Bill Moyers’s PBS show Journal, which further catapulted Barks’s and Rumi’s popularity. In 2005, Barks accepted an invitation from the government of Afghanistan to visit Rumi’s birthplace, thus gaining notice not only in the West but also in the land of Rumi himself. Since gaining his fame, Barks has embraced speaking and poetry reading engagements across the globe. For instance, in Toronto, Canada, on November 3, 2012, an event entitled Remembering Rumi was hosted by the Inner Garden, a Toronto-based community organization interested in spirituality. This particular event dedicated to Rumi took place in the Eastminster United Church, and featured Barks reading from his translations of Rumi to the music of Garo & Friends, a band dedicated to the works of Rumi, while whirling dervishes performed. Barks has become popular for such readings of his poems of Rumi, which attract a wide sector of individuals, from Muslim Sufis to non-Muslim Sufis and everyone in between.

Rumi as the main character: Novels, comics, and popular literature Barks’s works on Rumi and their popular consumption have opened the doors for others to attempt what he has done. Whereas Barks produced renditions of Rumi’s poetry, others have used other formats, such as Rumi-inspired novels. Some notable examples include Muriel Maufroy’s Rumi’s Daughter,36 Connie Zweig’s A Moth to the Flame,37 Nahal Tajadad’s Rumi:The Fire of Love,38 and Roger Housden’s Chasing Rumi.39 Figures such as Rumi and Hafiz also appear as inspirations and reincarnated characters in contemporary novels, such as Manoucher Parvin’s Dardedel.40 This novel is written in full verse, in keeping with the tradition of Hafiz and Rumi, but is based in contemporary New York. As Parvin describes it, “a Persian dish cooked in America.”41 Other novels based on Rumi also abound, including Rabisandkar Bal’s A Mirrored Life.42 This book was originally written in Bengali and translated into English. However, the most popular novel thus far, especially in America, is Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love.43 Of Turkish decent, Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1971. She writes in English and Turkish, and splits her time between London and Istanbul. The theme of Sufism is woven throughout most of Shafak’s twelve books, especially her first Turkish novel, Pinhan,44 and her more recent novel, The Bastard of Istanbul.45 The Forty Rules of Love follows two stories: one in present-day Boston, and the other in 13th-century Konya. The former follows the story of Jewish-American housewife and literary agent Ella Rubenstein and novelist Aziz Zahara, whose relationship mystically parallels that of Shams and Rumi. In an interview, Shafak explains how the following authors cultivated her interest in Sufism: My interest in Sufism began about 16 years ago when I was a college student. At the time I was intrigued by the subject. As years passed I kept reading.

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 147

Annemarie Schimmel, Idries Shah, Coleman Barks, William Chittick, Karen Armstrong, Sachiko Murata, Kabir Helminski … I see Sufism as a tapestry of colors and patterns. In my novel Sufism is not introduced as a theoretical, abstract teaching. It is a living, breathing, moving, peaceful energy. I am interested in what Sufism means for us in the modern world. I wanted to bring out how Rumi’s philosophy appeals to us today, even when we seem to be miles and centuries and cultures away from it.46 The Forty Rules of Love is estimated to have sold over 750,000 copies. It was a bestseller in Turkey and has also received international acclaim. The novel drew attention across many news outlets, such as the UK-based newspaper The Independent: “Challenging truisms of the fundamentalist Islamic orient and the consumerist Judeo-Christian occident, the novel proposes Sufism as a quest for spirituality which can fill the void at the heart of both.”47 Above, Shafak indicates her personal relationship with Sufism, which she has been exploring for years, but it is the popular reception of her work that has framed Sufism as the solution to Islam. Rumi and Sufism get caught between these larger religious and civilizational contests of representation, as will be noticeable throughout this chapter. Rumi and Sufism continue to gain popularity only as they are rid of their religious and cultural origins – an Americanized Rumi, it seems, is not one who is openly Muslim and Persian. Furlanetto has explained that Shafak’s book “domesticates Sufism for an American readership,” which is further affirmed as Shafak uses Barks’s translations of Rumi poetry throughout the text.48 Shafak’s role in such a reproduction of Rumi is also a complex one. In her TEDx Talk, “The Politics of Fiction,” which has close to two million views, Shafak draws attention to her broader literary agenda of writing for the East and the West.49 For her, this project has been aided by engaging with Rumi and Shams, but more importantly by the movement of the whirling dervishes. Whirling entails fluidity and ease, which allows for unity, not separation; a symbiosis that Shafak hopes the East and the West will have with each other.50 For Shafak, Rumi symbolizes the essence of Sufism for the contemporary period, not only in her writing endeavors but also in her personal life. Rumi’s presence in the world of literature is not restricted to poetry and novels. It also involves picture books for children. Children’s books such as Elephant in the Dark are inspired by Rumi’s “The Blind Men and the Elephant.”51 The same author wrote The Secret Message, based on a poem by Rumi.52 Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, a community-based organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a focus on faith, social justice, and women’s empowerment, also has a children’s book series, called “Tales from Rumi,” which includes ten books dedicated to Rumi. Some titles are Three Pieces of Advice, The Camel and the Mouse, and The Lion and the Rabbit.53 These books are used to teach ideas of ethical values and love, while stressing the spirituality for children. Rumi’s poetry has inspired the works of other children’s authors, such as Lilian Kars. Kars’s book More Than a Me was inspired by the following quotation from

148 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Rumi’s poem: “You are not just a drop in the Ocean;You are the entire ocean in a drop.”54 The publishing press wrote the following of the book: That idea is what More Than a Me is all about and Mathew James, alongside [with] Lilian Kars and Steffie Padmos, are happy to help continue to spread Rumi’s message and encourage his legacy to live on through the adventures of Little Drop and the children that read them.55 On the same page, the following description of Rumi is included: A writer of both poetry and prose, his work is derived from unity with the Beloved. He believed strongly in his faith and was undeniably a Muslim scholar. He also believed strongly that music and poetry would bring a person closer to God … there is more than just a religious view that can be found within his words.56 Perhaps the most popular children’s book on Rumi is by the celebrated illustrator Demi, or Charlotte Hunt. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Demi has over 300 books to her name. Most of her popular works have been published with Wisdom Tale Press. Some of her more recent books are of spiritual figures across cultures and religions. They include Francis of Assisi, the Jain teacher Mahavira, and Attar’s The Conference of the Birds. Others have also included stories of the lives of Prophet Muhammad and Buddha. Influenced by Persian and Turkish miniature style paintings, Demi tells the story of Rumi in her children’s book Rumi: Whirling Dervish.57 The popularity of these books is not only because of their engagement with different cultures and traditions, but also because of their orientation toward a spiritual ethos, which is enjoyed by parents and teachers. In many instances, these children’s books on Rumi appear on the blog pages of mothers who share parenting tips, including which books to purchase for their children. Versions of Rumi’s poems also exist for young readers (such as Ali Furat Bilkan’sTales from Rumi,58 which is partially illustrated), while Rumi comics (online and in print) have further become popular. Sufi Comics, which began as an online comic series on Sufism, has now printed an e-version comic on Rumi by Mohammed Arif Vakil and Mohammad Ali Vakil, two Indian brothers who grew up in Dubai and moved to Bangalore in 2002. Their series 40 Sufi Comics, which started from the brothers’ blogging Islamic stories through comic strips, has been published in ten languages. They went on to publish the Wise Fool of Baghdad (2012)59 and the third in their graphic representation series on Rumi.60 They used American translator Andrew Harvey’s translations of Rumi’s poetry, while also including passages of the Qur’an after every section. In an interview with The National, the brothers explain, “Rumi is often quoted in social media as a writer of love poems, but his verses did not portray love between two people – they spoke of his yearning for God.”61 Arif goes on to explain that, “Some people have told us they read a single comic strip in the morning and have a positive message to carry with them all day.”62 Their comic on Rumi was featured at the Comic Con convention in Bangalore in 2014.63

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 149

Rumi, along with al-Ghazali and Ibn Sina, has also been featured in various series of the online Existential Comics.64 One popular comic from the online comic series Zen Pencils was Rumi’s “The Guest House,” again taken from Barks’s version of this particular poem.65 The discussion thread on this particular comic is fascinating to follow, as discussants share their experiences of Rumi, especially through Barks, while also sharing various resources on whirling and much more. From Shafak’s works to those of Demi and comic books, Rumi’s poetry and his message are showcased in various print and written media. In most of these incidences, Rumi is framed as a Sufi personality, but in other cases, Rumi has transformed into a “self-help guru.”

“Keep calm and read Rumi!” Rumi, self-help books, and spiritual biographies Andrew Harvey is a poet and novelist who lives in Nevada, US. Aside from being an author of texts that deal with spirituality, meditations, and much more, he is also the founding director of the Institute for Sacred Activism. Harvey was born in South India in 1952 and studied at Oxford University. He has authored such texts as Son of Man,66 The Return of the Mother,67 and A Journey in Ladakh.68 In his The Way of Passion,69 Harvey writes that Rumi is increasingly seen for what I believe he is – not only our supreme poet – but also an essential guide to the new mystical Renaissance that is struggling to be born against terrible odds in the rubble of our dying civilization.70 Harvey uses the translations of Arberry, Nicholson, Edward Henry Whinefield (d. 1922), and Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch (d. 1999); the latter translated Rumi into French. He explains that he is: A disciple of Divine Mother who is working with all religions and all mystical traditions with simplicity and unconditional Love to transform humanity at this moment and to give humanity a chance in this time to find its spiritual truth again and transform the terrifying conditions that threaten us all. I am teaching Rumi because in my journey with, in, for, through, and by Mother Meera, by through, with and in the Divine Mother, I have found that my noblest guide and most precise inspiration has been Jalal-ud-Din Rumi.71 In his introduction to Teachings of Rumi, Harvey writes: Rumi now commands in the West what he has long commanded in the East – an unassailable position as the most poignant and vibrant of all celebrators of the Path of Love and as a supreme witness, in a way that transcends all national, cultural, and religious boundaries, to the mysteries of Divine Identity and Presence.72

150 Contemporary Sufism in the West

He compares Rumi to the “intellect of a Plato, the vision and enlightened soulforce of a Buddha or a Christ and the extravagant literary gifts of a Shakespeare,” and also Ramakrishna, Aurobindo, and Kabir, who were the “very few universal beings that the world religions have produced who [have] possessed and lived Love in its splendor.”73 For Harvey, a “Return of Rumi” will provide hope for the “human race and preserve the planet.”74 Though one may think Harvey appeals to a “New Age” audience, he is actually critical of this movement and the placement of Rumi within it. For him, the New Age is one of “narcissism,” “lazy greed of appropriation,” and lacks “concern for political, social, and environmental issues,” which has led to a misrepresentation of Rumi or what he calls the “Rosebud Rumi.”75 This Rumi is a “Californian hippie-like figure of vague ecstatic sweetness and diffused ‘warm-hearted’ brotherhood, a kind of medieval Jerry Garcia of the Sacred Heart.”76 So who is Rumi for Harvey? Rumi is indeed an ecstatic, the greatest of all celebrators of that ecstasy that streams from the Presence of Love. He is also … the canniest, shrewdest, most unsentimental, and sober of teachers, very un-New Age in his refusal to deny the power of evil, his candor about the limits of all worldly and earthly enlightenment, his Jesus-like suspicion of all forms of wealth and power, and his embrace of the sometimes terrible and prolonged suffering that authentic transformation must and does demand. This rigorous, fierce, authoritative Rumi, the veteran of the wars of Love, is what our spiritual renaissance deeply needs to listen to and learn from.77 Harvey has an active presence on social media, but his presence is not limited to transmitting texts. He also facilitates numerous online and in-person seminars on Sufism and Rumi. He is one of the faculty members and directors leading a course called Mystical Andalusia: Garden Amidst the Flames, Ibn Arabi, Rumi and the Dances of Oneness as part of Wisdom University in Spain in 2017. The course, which could count toward university credits if registered students are interested, is mainly open to anyone who is able to pay the tuition.The course includes travels to pilgrimage sites related to Ibn al-’Arabi, Sufism in Spain, and dance (whirling) associated with Rumi. The following course description is provided on the university’s main website: Although they lived nearly 1,000 years ago, Ibn Arabi’s path of gnosis and Rumi’s vision of sacred passion can galvanize our hearts and minds in our time of complexity, turbulence and uncertainty. Dive into their transformative knowledge of the divine and practice of love and surrender through the Dance of Oneness. Immerse yourself in a sacred field of empowering grace that supports you in living with reverence and light from your deepest passion in the very midst of life. Ignite your creative flame, ground and embody your passion and what makes you most ALIVE through a weaving of sacred dance set to world music, whirling, zambra/flamenco, free-style dance, chanting, meditation, yoga, Sufi teachings and poetry, history and philosophy.78

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 151

Banafsheh Sayyad, founder of Dance of Oneness, is also teaching the course with Harvey. More will be said of her below, when we turn to whirling as a central aspect of Rumi’s popularity. Harvey, who has been featured in the New York Times, TedEd, The Huffington Post, BBC and ABC, also hosts an online program known as “A Year of Rumi.” For a onetime fee (i.e., between $10 and $40), you receive “lessons” each day for 365 days.79 According to the website, over 20,000 people have participated in this virtual Year of Rumi program. Several participant testimonials are included on the website itself: Rumi brings me closer to God than I have ever been. I feel as though Rumi lives within me and I, him. I hope to find through this course that Rumi can help me let go and let God. – Courtney. I have found that every time I read a Rumi poem it immediately resonates with my soul, my spirit. I used to be in quest for the perfect Rumi poem; however, I have found that each are so loving and beautiful that they are expanding inside of me. The more I take them in the more they grow and deeper the feelings of these gems go inside my soul, my spirit. There is a personal journey commencing for me and I find that there are few words to adequately explain what I am feeling but that of the feeling of joy. – Tammy.80 Harvey also hosted a free virtual event called “Dancing in Rumi’s Footsteps: How His Poetry & Wisdom can Liberate Your Soul’s Passion & Heart’s Ecstasy”: In this exciting free teleseminar event, mystic scholar Andrew Harvey, who’s written and edited more than thirty books, will bring alive the core spiritual teachings of Rumi and the mystical initiation he experienced – and allow you to see his breathtaking body of work through fresh eyes. This evening event will be a poetic call to action of the sacred heart that illuminates your own spiritual transformation. Andrew will reveal what we all can learn from the words of this great seer and lover of life.81 Events such as these online seminars by Harvey have resulted in new forms of accessibility, especially in cyberspace. Access to the poetry of Rumi has increased significantly from the early 1990s, when Barks was one of the key figures creating Americanized versions of Rumi’s poetry. Barks’s renditions have led to more translators attempting a similar process, as evidenced above by what Harvey is doing. Barks and Harvey not only provide access to Rumi via the texts that they write but also run courses and speak at poetry readings. These larger events and the more textual traditions such as novels and comic books that have resulted from the works of Barks and Harvey have led to more attention for Rumi, especially from figures who are also considered to be popular “gurus.” For instance, the best example of this is evident in the figure of Deepak Chopra, the spiritual teacher and public figure who also published a text on Rumi, entitled Rumi – Thief of Sleep.82 Other spiritual teachers, such as Joseph Arouet, have also

152 Contemporary Sufism in the West

tried their hand at a similar market: the one of self-help books. Arouet has authored popular texts such as A Beginners Guide to Rumi,83 Stress Free Living & Sufism,84 and Stress Free Living and Buddhism.85 Yahiya Emerick, an American convert to Islam, with his Complete Idiot’s Guide to Rumi Meditations, further captures a similar sentiment.86 He is also available in a self-help audiobook version aimed at stressed New York commuters.87 These figures, from Barks to Harvey and Chopra, have become experts in the popular realm of Rumi and his poetry, and thus are seen to be specialists on Sufism at large. However, many academics remain critical. Their popular approach is evident in documentaries such as Rumi Returning88 and Rumi: Poet of the Heart,89 wherein Rumi is compared to Buddha, Jesus, Shakespeare, and Plato, and is discussed by Harvey, Bly, and Barks. Finally, as described above, the ways through which Rumi is being made available to the wider public just begin to point to Rumi’s influence in broader American society.

Sufism and the arts: Music, Rumi tours, and the big screen Rumi and visual art When Barks first began translations of Rumi’s poetry, he was approached by Michael Green, a Sufi artist. Barks met Green at the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, as both were students of Bawa. Barks and Green collaborated on a new project that led to The Illuminated Rumi.90 Green explained the beginning of this project in an interview: There’s this guy … and I get to know him and his name is Coleman Barks … I learned he’s a professor of English down south [at] some university. And at one point I learned that he’s done some renditions of a poet named Rumi who I’d never heard of, no one had heard of at that time. And I think he gave me a copy and then I learned six months later the whole thing is, I mean he self-published a book on translating a Persian poet you sell twenty copies. And he had sold like five thousand copies, he completely sold out and did another edition and then sold it to a publisher. And Rumi kept going bump, bump, bump and each time it was like well it won’t do better than this. But in any case, I approached him and said why don’t you and I collaborate? And I’ll “illuminate” and I used that word as opposed to illustrate, Rumi. And I played around with it for a while until I just suddenly realized that my model was the illuminated manuscripts, both Persian and Christian, which you know, had the … gospel here and the picture here.91 Published nearly twenty years ago, Barks and Green’s The Illuminated Rumi continues to sell well, though it is not a bestseller at present, as it was when it was initially published. Green’s “illuminated” Rumi has been so successful that it has been used for annual calendars, greetings cards, and journals, all of which can be purchased on Amazon or through Amber Lotus Publishing, which sells other spiritually inspired products, as well.92

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 153

Green produced a second illuminated Rumi book,93 which did not achieve the same publishing success of the first project. The second book was not in collaboration with Barks, though Green did use Barks’s translations of Rumi’s poetry. Green felt that this may have been because of the publishing press and its advertising strategy. In his illuminations, Green employs classical Islamic geometric patterns, floral repetitions, and religious symbolism, while also superimposing images and graphics of modern Hindu and Buddhist gurus, Christian saints, and figures from Asian and Persian miniatures. One of the central messages repeated in Green’s works is the principle teaching that he attributes to his shaykh (teacher) Bawa:“The ‘I’ is an illusion, God alone is real.” Green’s Rumi-influenced illuminations extend beyond books. They can also be seen in his Green Barn studio, or what he likes to refer to as his “ashram.”This space continues the theme of Rumi while combining English and Arabic calligraphy with the added flavor of Pennsylvania barn culture. It has transformed the scale of Green’s Sufi- (but mostly Rumi-) inspired works into installations of varying sizes, some which are wall paintings, while others are spatial installations (i.e., hanging canoes and drums). He also uses the studio as a performance space for his musical group, the Illumination Band, of whom more will be said below. Green purchased the barn, located near the burial shrine (mazar) of Bawa, which Green himself designed and which remains one of the few Sufi shrines in America. Green reworks impressions and motifs drawn from his immediate landscape in Pennsylvania: the rolling hills, the remnants of old barn doors and pieces, while exploring and transforming Native American traditions.The influence of Rumi in popular culture, as in Green’s illuminations, signals the role material culture plays in the introduction of non-Christian forms of spirituality into American popular culture. Green is not the only artist who has used Rumi’s work, though he is one of the more popular ones in North America. Companies such as the online shop Pixels sell Rumi t-shirts and sweaters with quotations attributed to Rumi, and Rumi artwork by such artists as Mawra Tahreem and Bill Wakeley on t-shirts and iPhone cases.94 Start-up companies like Etsy (founded in 2005 and based out of Brooklyn, NewYork) provide an online marketplace for people from around the world to sell creative and unique items. A quick search for “Rumi” leads not only to clothing but also to wall art, jewelry, laptop stickers, scarfs, cups, bags, dervish cookie cutters, bookmarks, Rumi prayer flags, and much more – in fact, close to 2,000 items – for purchase.95 These artistic interests in Rumi have also led to festivals, such as the Rumi Festival held by the Beshara School, a Sufi organization based on the teachings of Ibn al-‘Arabi in the UK. For instance, this particular festival was a: … gathering of artists, scholars, and lovers of truth, celebrating the life work and contemporary relevance of a giant of world spirituality and literature. Its programme is intended to reflect the wholeness and diversity of Rumi’s vision, at once challenging and generous, serious and playful, spiritually aspiring while being firmly planted on this earth.96 The event included the installations of Turkish painter Ismail Acar, who focuses on many aspects of Turkish culture, including whirling dervishes. The festival

154 Contemporary Sufism in the West

comprised theater, dance, and a variety of visual arts based on Rumi. Other similar such Rumi festivals are now the norm across the US and the globe. For instance, the eighth Oslo International Rumi Festival that took place January 29–31, 2015, advertised itself as having its “feet planted in both the traditional and the contemporary.”97 During the first two-day Rumi Festival in Toronto, Canada, at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and her partner John Ralston Saul were guests at the opening night.98 The festival was opened by Barks with his readings on Rumi while Noman Siddiqui, Director of Normans Land Promotions and an award-winning composer, performed Turkish music during Barks’s recitations.99 Some of the funds from this event were used to aid those affected by the flooding in Pakistan in 2010. Another common feature of these festivals is the appearance of whirling dervish performers. In fact, Rumi has become synonymous with whirling dervishes in the popular North American imagination.

Whirling with Rumi and Sufi tourism “Whirling Dervish” has made it into the everyday vernacular, though the definition found in Urban Dictionary does not capture the origins of this tradition. According to Urban Dictionary (a satirical online dictionary popular with youth), a whirling dervish is “a person whose behavior resembles a rapid, spinning object. These actions are often spastic fidgeting and incessant babbling. The actions of the whirling dervish are irritating and annoying, often exhausting other people in the immediate vicinity.”100 Despite the use of “whirling” as an adjective and its odd entry into everyday language usage, the tradition of whirling was historically associated with Rumi’s Mevlevi Sufi order, which formed after his death. As noted in Chapter 4, many Europeans who traveled to Ottoman Turkey were deeply fascinated by the tradition of whirling and the accompanying music. This tradition of traveling to see dervishes in Turkey has only become far more common because of growing interest in Rumi.Today, most online tour companies and guides offer various popularized versions of a “Whirling Dervish Show in Istanbul.” This contrasts Turkey’s 1925 ban on Sufi movements and centers, such as those of the Mevlevi order, after becoming a secular nation-state at the end of the Ottoman Empire. One of the activities that unfolded in the Mevlevi order’s centers was the sacred music-based ceremony known as sama‘. In 1953, sama‘ was permitted to take place as a cultural celebration commemorating Turkey’s great poet, Rumi. In so doing, Sufism, at a state level, was viewed as a form of Turkish cultural dance. In 1964, UNESCO invited a small group of whirling dervishes to Paris for one of the earliest visits by the Mevlevis outside of Turkey. According to Shems Friedlander (the award-winning graphic designer, accomplished photographer, painter, poet, and author on Rumi and Sufism) who photographed this event, this was their first European trip, Selman Tuzon and Suleyman Loras sat on the Sheikh’s red post as nine semazan [whirling dervishes] turned to the music of

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 155

several dervish musicians. This event signaled the beginning of a widespread interest in the West in the remarkable works of Rumi.101 Turkish tourism campaigns have now capitalized on this Western interest, where whirling concerts are held at restaurants all over Istanbul and sold to unknowing tourists as the authentic experience. Rumi’s tomb in Konya is the second most visited tourist attraction, only after Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, which was the seat of the Ottoman sultans.102 Kevin Gould, a travel writer for The Guardian, has been traveling to Konya almost every year since 1983. Some estimates of these tourists suggest nearly two million annually, including Turks, Iranians, and Westerners. Gould advises his readers to stay in Konya and have the real experience with authentic cuisine and tea, as you make your way to Rumi’s tomb, which is officially treated as a museum.103 Numerous Turkish online travel blogs advertise “The Sufi Mystic Experience and Rumi” and offer you lodging at dargahs (Sufi centers) and opportunities to learn how to whirl. The most popular time for the Rumi tour to be taken is during early December, just so that it is timed with the ’urs of Rumi. During the death anniversary commemorations, the Rumi Festival takes place in Konya, unfolding over ten days and attracting people from all over the globe, and is televised.104 The practice of whirling has been listed as an “intangible heritage” by UNESCO.105 Academics, including Duke Professor Safi, also organize the “Illuminated Tours” to Turkey during the summer. Travel guidebooks, such as Istanbul the Guide, include Shafak (discussed above) and her work on Sufism, as another feature of traveling to Rumi’s land. The guidebook further contains Turkish scholars such as Esin Celebi Bayru, a twenty-second generation granddaughter of Rumi and Vice President of the International Mevlana Foundation, as a means of advertising the authentic experience of Rumi’s life and death.106 Those who travel on these journeys have varied stories, reasons, and backgrounds. Karen Cavanagh, who was raised a Catholic, was featured in a 2013 episode of the Belief series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, entitled, “How Rumi’s Teachings Saved Cavanagh’s Life.”107 In a surfing accident, Cavanagh suffered a broken neck and a traumatic brain injury. While in the hospital in a coma, she reputedly had a mystical experience where she remembered the lines to one of Rumi’s poems: I have lived on the edge of insanity, wanting to know reasons Knocking on a door It opens I have been knocking from inside.108 When she woke from her coma, she pursued this experience by joining a whirling group. Though she was initially unable to whirl, over time she surprised even her doctors and began whirling with the help of a teacher. Since then, Cavanagh has traveled to Turkey, where she was officially initiated into a Sufi order.109 The follow-up episode, entitled “Turning,” was completed two years later.110 It finds Cavanagh identifying as a whirling dervish in Konya, Turkey. The episode features Cavanagh and many others turning in Rumi’s tomb. In the episode, Cavanagh

156 Contemporary Sufism in the West

explains that she found more similarities between Islam and Christianity than differences, yet for her, turning was not only for healing but now also part of her faith. Whirling or turning and its association with Rumi have been another important way in which Sufism has been made popular throughout the West. Whirling workshops have now become a regular feature of many Sufi groups. For instance, the Toronto Samakhaneh is a group that is affiliated with the Threshold Society led by Kabir and Camille Helminski, who are based in Louisville, Kentucky. In one such whirling workshop, a group of more than ten people participated at the Jerrahi Center – another Turkish Sufi group in Toronto, Canada. Many of those present came from varied backgrounds. There were South Asian and Iranian Muslims, in addition to non-Muslim European Canadians who were spiritually interested in Sufism.The Helminskis hold similar whirling events as a way of teaching the public about Sufism and Islam. These events are coordinated with larger networks, such as the Salaam Network, an interfaith group that works to combat Islamophobia in Louisville.111 In such instances, Rumi becomes a means of dissolving fear and difference, and of working toward unity, while many who participate in these workshops have their own personal spiritual, religious, and cultural connections to Sufism. Whirling has also become part of a larger fusion of mystical dance. For instance, the Iranian dancer Banafsheh, who was introduced above as a co-director of Harvey’s Sufism course in Spain, is an example of a dancer who has fused whirling, Flamenco, Tai Chi, Gurdjieff movements, and other Persian dance with what has been referred to as the synthesis of “ancient forms with postmodern punch.”112 Banafsheh has been called an “innovator” of Sufi dance, due to her blend of spirituality and the modern, a blend that has been limited neither to the East nor to the West. Harvey says of her dance the following: “As an embodied mystic of the Divine Feminine, Banafsheh’s presentations are not performances but transmissions which transform your vision of dance forever. Dancer and dance become one initiatory flame of grace.”113 She has performed her fusion dance from Los Angeles to New York City, to Canada, Europe, and Turkey. With Harvey, Banafsheh produced a documentary that “traces Rumi’s journey of the Soul in Dance.”114 Additionally, Banafsheh offers many workshops across the globe, such as “Dance of Oneness: Body of Light,” “Call to Love: Workshop and Performance at House of Religions,” and even a session on tantric dance. But she is not the only one. Tanya Evanson is a Montreal based poet, performer, producer, educator, and program director of Banff Centre Spoken Word. She tours internationally, has released records and books of poetry, and has won recognition and awards for many of her works of spoken word. Evanson is also a student of Sufism, and has been classically trained and initiated since 2002. She studied for fifteen years under the Turkish Rifa’i Marufi Sheikh Sherif Baba Catalkaya and the Canadian sama’ master Raqib Brian Burke. Evanson performs her whirling with IranianAmerican/Canadian group Niyaz and the Turkish DJ Mercan Dede, as well as Rumi Canada and the Vancouver Rumi Society. Evanson also regularly hosts “Sema Space,” Sufi whirling meditation sessions in Montreal, Canada, along with

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 157

workshops such as “Sacred Steps: Sufi Whirling Meditation” with fellow PersianCanadian semazan (whirling dervish) Farzad AttarJafari. Both Evanson and AttarJafari are regulars on the whirling dervish circuit across Canada, especially in Toronto, where they perform and teach at public centers such as the Aga Khan Museum and Harbourfront Centre, and Sufi centers such as the Jerrahi Sufi Order, mentioned above.

Musical expressions of Rumi Today, in Montreal’s Festival du monde arabe, mystical Sufi music of Iran and whirling dance are part of public performances that also honor Sufi poets like Rumi and Khayyam. The performance is an exchange of Sufi and indigenous traditions, known as OktoEcho and Nistamikwan. The event description states the following: “A true hymn to life, Transcestral express[es] the common and everlasting quest for harmony between man and nature, inspired by sacred dances drawn from the ancestral traditions of Sufis of the Arab world and indigenous people of Canada.”115 This show featured Métis vocalist Moe Clark, Moroccan singers Anouar Berrada and Laila Gouchi, indigenous pow-wow group Eye-Hey Nakoda, Innu throat singer Nina Segalowitz, Innu poet Joséphine Bacon, and whirling from Evanson and Barbara Diabo. Here again, one begins to see the intersection of Sufi dance rituals as performances that fuse with new local cultural traditions and heritages, such as Canadian indigenous traditions and music. A similar trend is evident in Green’s artistic works described above, which integrated the religious traditions of rural Pennsylvania with Rumi. Rumi is not only being transmitted through various media, but in the process, he is also woven into the language of the local spiritual, artistic, and cultural traditions. Another way that Green has impacted the spread of Sufism into popular culture is through the creation of the Illumination Band. Green explained the origins of this Rumi-inspired band: We decided once upon a time to do a special Coleman concert in Philadelphia. And they had a big hall I think at the University of Pennsylvania and Coleman had developed a routine which is pretty close to the way that … any evening all across South Asia there are groups of Sufi musicians that meet and do Rumi poetry, they sing it and it was drawing on that, so he always reads with music. And the quality of Coleman’s rendition of Rumi, which is American, and the emotional – there’s a longing quality in Rumi – it just completely meshed …. Rumi meets gospel bluegrass. I mean I took the poem and then it had to rhyme.116 Green went on to express that “If Allah wills, I still want to hear their music in a west Texas tavern and then somehow it gets out that it’s a Muslim!”117 This idea of putting Barks’s Rumi to music has resulted in another format, but one that, as Green explains above, is what happens in Sufi shrines in South Asia and beyond:

158 Contemporary Sufism in the West

concerts of Sufi music.These practices have also taken root in the American context. However, instead of being accompanied by South Asian instruments or singing in Persian or Urdu, now the songs are sung in English to American style music. And, as Green points out, what could be more American than bluegrass and gospel music? Chopra collaborated on an album to set to music a selection from the “arousing” Rumi poetry translations by Barks, with his verses mouthed by such American Hollywood stars as Madonna, Goldie Hawn, and Demi Moore.118 The CD includes thirty-six tracks, with titles including “Valentine to Rumi,” “Dying to Love,” and “The Privileged Lovers.” The cover blurb of this CD describes it as all about “Passion. Music. Romance. Transcending the boundaries of ecstasy, it creates a musical tribute to the Act of Love.” Other celebrities have also been apparently inspired by Rumi, such as Sarah Jessica Parker who is reported to do her aerobics to rock ’n’ roll arrangements of Rumi. Rumi’s poems are not just voiced over to music. Rumi has also been the muse for many musicians. Accomplished Canadian composer and educator Raymond Murray Schafer is one such example. In the 1960s and 1970s, he started expanding his musical horizons, and the sources of his inspirations were described as a “rich and unorthodox diversity,” especially as they were deeply affected by “eastern thought.”119 This led to a Canada Council-sponsored visit to Persia and Turkey in 1969, and the resulting Part 1 Lustro of Divan i Shams i Tabriz from Rumi’s poetry, which was composed in 1970.120 He would be inspired by others for later compositions, including verses from Rabindranath Tagore (Beyond the Great Gate of Light, Part 3 of Lustro), while sounds of the sea and poetry of Hesiod, Homer, Melville, and Pound in Okeanos and The Tibetan Book of the Dead have become part of other Lustros.121 Charles Lloyd, the famous saxophonist and jazz artist, is another example of a musician who has paid tribute to Rumi. The first track of his Canto, released in 1997 and over sixteen minutes long, is entitled “Tales of Rumi.”122 Newer versions of this composition have included collaborations with Zakir Hussain, the Indian music producer and tabla player. Other concerts featuring Rumi have also taken place. For instance, in September 2008, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed a show at the Hollywood Bowl called “A Celebration of Rumi, The Sight and Sound of Mystic Persia.” Special guests of the show included the celebrated cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Silk Road Ensemble. The show included Persian musicians and vocalists, whirling dervishes from Syria and Iran, and Rumi’s poetry recited to calligraphic “projections.”123 Chris Martin, lead singer of the British award-winning band Coldplay, explained that the fourth single from the band’s 2015 album, A Head Full of Dreams, was inspired by Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House.” Martin explained that this particular poem by Rumi helped him through his breakup with partner and Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow. He was “depressed and overwhelmed” and the poem offered him a solution. Martin says, It kind of changed my life. It says that everything that happens to you is OK … It’s about every feeling that you have being a gift. Self-doubt and

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 159

depression as well as all the joyful feelings are all useful if you can harness them.124 Part of the lyrics to the song also evokes a classical Sufi image of the conference of the birds who go on a journey to find a guide who in the end turns out to be their own innermost selves. One of the album’s tracks, “Kaleidoscope,” actually features Barks reading Rumi’s “The Guest House.” Barks’s voice appears on the track, as he reads Rumi’s poem over a “loft piano-led instrumental.” The imagery of the “Kaleidoscope” points to the “experiences a human being has in their lifetime. Rumi tells the reader to welcome all the ‘guests’ and to be grateful for them, however good or bad they may be.”125 The short track then blends into then-US President Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace,” with audio from the funeral of Charleston, South Carolina shooting victim and state senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Elsewhere, Martin has said his reading of Rumi has led to more serious interest in Sufism, including reading other Sufi sources, such as Attar’s The Conference of the Birds, to which the lyrics from the Guest House allude.126 He is even seeking Sufi teachers to continue on his journey of spirituality. The reviews of Coldplay’s newest release have said that Martin is on a “hippie” trip.127 This popularity of Rumi among bestselling musicians is not unique. Perhaps one of the earliest musicians who assisted such crossovers of sacred music and poetry into the popular imagination was none other than the famous Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (d. 1997). Qawwali music, which emerged uniquely in the South Asian context, was inspired by Sufi poets, such as Amir Khusrow (d. 1325), Hafiz, Rumi, Bullah Shah (d. 1757), and many more. It became the language of popular devotion, even for non-Muslims. Khan introduced Qawwali to many Westerners, and was highly criticized for using Qawwali songs for a Coca-Cola advertisement. However, the criticism did not stop him. He produced two soundtracks with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam for the Hollywood film Dead Man Walking in 1995 and worked with Peter Gabriel on the soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. When asked about his entry into a commercialized world, Khan said that such platforms only presented the opportunity to spread the universal message of Sufism to larger and more global audiences. Music and dance have long been present in Sufi spaces. On Thursday nights they can be experienced at the shrine of the 13th-century saint Nizam al-din Awliya (d. 1325) in New Delhi, India. Sufi forms of musicality have proliferated in the South Asian context, notably with the singer and songwriter A. R. Rahman, a practicing Sufi and a Grammy Award-winning musician. He has produced Sufi music and Qawwali for numerous films, especially in Bollywood and now in Hollywood. What is happening, then, with Sufi music – specifically of Rumi’s poetry and its articulation through jazz and popular music, such as with Lloyd and Coldplay – is a vernacularization of Sufism in the American context. This can be seen as a continuity of the ways in which Sufism has historically existed in social and economic contexts, and continues to exist in many Muslim societies today.

160 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Turkish DJ Mercan Dede has been performing Sufi music with whirling dervishes, including Evanson and Canadian Sufi group Niyaz, alongside techno music across Turkey, Europe, and North America. Using traditional Turkish music, especially the nay, and readings of Rumi’s poetry, Mercan Dede has created tracks such as “Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi” and “Dream of Shams.” A quick search for “Rumi” on the music application Spotify results in numerous albums, from Rumi Symphony Project: Untold by Hafez Nazeri128 to Chopra’s two albums on A Gift of Love – Music Inspired by Love Poems of Rumi. The search also brings up categories of music, including “Rumi inspired instrumentals,” “Persian fusion music,” “Rumi dancing,” and “Rumi music.” Spoken word poetry is another expression of this performative art and music scene. Spoken word poets such as Evanson and the Toronto-based Sheniz Janmohamed are examples of spoken word artists who have performed at Sufi poetry events. This again truly captures the traditions and practices of Sufi poetry and art in cultures such as Iran,Turkey, India, and Pakistan, where Sufi poetry is recited and shared in the public sphere. Rumi is no longer a Persian or a Turk, or even a Muslim or a Sufi; he is the voice of longing, one that dialogues with new voices resulting in new registers and tones in the local language – in this case, American music. The question and problem of commodification of the sacred has been historically present, but the use of the vernacular register to disseminate the Sufi message has also been embraced, especially by those who are practicing Sufis. However, the problem begins to arise when Rumi is not fully contextualized – an issue that has come up in recent news with his biopic set to hit Hollywood.

#RumiWasntWhite: Rumi on the big screen Rumi’s proliferation throughout American popular culture is not limited to music, but includes Hollywood films, such as the 2010 star-studded film Valentine’s Day.129 The film follows numerous love stories as the characters try to make it through Valentine’s Day. One character, Alfonso Rodriguez, played by the American comedian George Lopez, is regularly quoting from Rumi throughout the film. In his advice to his friend Reed Bennett, played by the American actor Ashton Kutcher, Alfonso quotes wisdom from Rumi to help him navigate love and its meaning on this particular Valentine’s Day. Rumi’s popularity among Hollywood superstars has also made him a spokesperson for new forms of commodities. For instance, with fragrance brand Etat Libre d’Orange, British actress Tilda Swinton created a fragrance inspired by Rumi. “Like This,” a perfume named after the title given by Barks to a translation of one of Rumi’s poems, has notes of “yellow mandarin, ginger, pumpkin accord, immortelle, Moroccan neroli, rose de Grasse, vetiver, heliotrope, and musk.”130 Swinton describes the perfume on the website as follows: I have never been a one for scents in bottles. The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote:

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 161

“If anyone wants to know what ‘spirit’ is, or what ‘God’s fragrance’ means, lean your head toward him or her. Keep your face there close. Like this.” This is possibly my favorite poem of all time. It restores me like the smoke/ rain/gingerbread/greenhouse my scent sense is fed by. It is a poem about simplicity, about human-scaled miracles. About trust. About home. In my fantasy there is a lost chapter of Alice in Wonderland – after the drink saying Drink Me, after the cake pleading Eat Me – where the adventuring, alien Alice, way down the rabbit hole, far from the familiar and maybe somewhat homesick – comes upon a modest glass with a ginger stem reaching down into a pale golden scent that humbly suggests: Like This…131 The release of the new perfume was accompanied by a promotional video of Swinton reading Barks’s translation of Rumi’s “Like This.”132 In June 2016, news came out from Hollywood that David Franzoni, the scriptwriter of the award-winning film Gladiator and producer Stephen Joel Brown were at work on a script about the 13th-century Muslim poet and scholar, with Leonardo DiCaprio in talks to play Rumi and Robert Downey Jr. as Shams. Since the news of the Hollywood filmmaker’s plans have been released, criticism has come from numerous filmmakers, journalists, and activists about the continued issue of diversity and “whitewashing” that has plagued Hollywood, and the lack of knowledge on the topic by filmmakers. Franzoni explained that Rumi is “like a Shakespeare. He’s a character who has enormous talent and worth to his society and his people, and obviously resonates today. Those people are always worth exploring.”133 Still, online petitions were signed (reputedly over 14,000 signatures) and calls were made directly to Franzoni and Brown indicating that their casting choices were “ludicrous and offensive,” especially as Muslim actors are typecast in Hollywood for roles as terrorists or angry Arabs, while a film about Rumi would be played by a white male actor.134 The Iranian journalist and film critic Reza Sedigh told Al-Monitor: Perhaps a figure such as [medieval Persian poet] Omar Khayyam might have been of more interest for Hollywood, since his poems and manner are closer to modern times. For instance, Khayyam said, “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” So when faced with the question of why Hollywood has gone after Molana: Do Western producers comprehend Eastern mysticism? What understanding do they have of Masnavi [one of Rumi’s most prominent works of poetry]? And can they reach the necessary understanding [of these things]? Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”135 With news of Franzoni’s plans to make the film of Rumi, the “cultural tug of war” over Sufism had taken to the big screen. People took to Twitter, Facebook, and many other social networks, creating the hashtag #RumiWasntWhite. At the heart of most of these posts were concerns of authenticity over Rumi’s national and

162 Contemporary Sufism in the West

ethnic identity, more than his religious one, and they came from all corners. Some tweets included: Rumi was born in Balkh, Afghanistan. He was Afghan. Hollywood, get it right if you are gonna make a film. #RumiWasntWhite (@mariamanini, June 2016). White people ruin Ramadan 2016 by announcing their “Rumi” movie. #RumiWasntWhite. (@aamer_rahman, June 2016).136 The identity of Rumi was not being contested only through the lens of Hollywood and its “whitewashing,” but it was also one of national politics. Iranians, for instance, called out Turkey for its “appropriation.” The film was also in talks to be shot in Turkey, which has further worsened ongoing contestations over the legitimate nationality and ethnicity of Rumi. Recently, Tehran and Ankara reputedly sought to register Rumi’s Masnavi Ma’navi, as a “joint national heritage” with UNESCO, which then resulted in “outrage” in Kabul.137 The Afghan government then “appealed” the claim to UNESCO and sent a further message to Ankara through the Afghan Foreign Minister and called for protests to reclaim Rumi’s true national and ethnic identity.138 Rumi has been declared the national poet of Iranians, Turks, and Afghanis. Thus, between Hollywood and Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iran, Rumi’s identity was being contested, culturally, ethnically, nationally, and religiously, while ten years earlier when the Year of Rumi was announced by UNESCO, there were worldwide celebrations in places like Canada and Iran. At the heart of the initial social media outcry was that it again signaled issues of diversity and lack of representation in Hollywood casting. Rumi, like other poets before him, became a symbol of a larger societal issue. He became the voice and platform from which change was called for.The question was then not about commodification (or “Rumification”) of Rumi and his life. In fact, the amount of films and mini-series on Rumi in Turkey and Iran alone are hard to count.139 For filmmakers from South Asia to the Middle East, engagement with Sufism and key Sufi personalities like Rumi are quite common.140 So, the issue at the heart of the Rumi biopic was not simply if DiCaprio was the right lead, but one that has been unfolding for centuries: Where is Rumi from, or better yet, to whom does he belong? Now, instead of just Iranians, Afghanis, Turks, and other Muslim (Persian-speaking) nations claiming him as their own, Hollywood has also thrown in their own bid to reflect him in their own image.

Rumi: An icon of LGBTQ activism Rumi’s name also appeared in the Netflix series The Get Down by Baz Luhrmann, framed as the story behind the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx. The character played by Jaden Smith is an aspiring graffiti artist who tags his work with “Rumi.” However, the character in the show actually claims the tag “is about an alien with a top hat who wants to go to the opera but never does.”141 What is additionally interesting

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 163

about the character of Smith (i.e., Rumi) is his relationship with another graffiti artist by the name of Thor, with whom he has a special connection.These two characters engage in sexual and gender experimentation, which was received positively by the LGBTQ community. Now, whether the show’s writers meant for the characters of Rumi and Thor to model spiritual (and not necessarily sexual) intimacy Rumi and Shams is hard to say. However, it does signal another significant way in which Rumi has been framed in the 21st century in the West, particularly in terms of his relationship with his master and teacher Shams. Rumi and Shams reportedly engaged in an intensive sohbet, or spiritual conversation, and shared presence.They spent long periods of time together, which historically was interpreted as a shared experience of spiritual, metaphysical intimacy. However, among contemporary members of the LBGTQ community, this intimacy has been interpreted as physical as well. Rumi has even been hailed as one of the torchbearers (according to one book on the subject) “of homoeroticism and spirituality.”142 On blogs such as “5 Queer Muslims in History,” Rumi is often featured with Shams, while Rumi and Shams appear on the list of “5 Queer Couples in Islamic History.”143 Similarly on the “Gay Community Forum” on Beliefnet, many post about Rumi as empowering LGBTQ identity, rights, and spirituality.144 Similar blogs are written on “The Wild Reed: Thoughts and Reflections from a Progressive, Gay, Catholic Perspective.”145 Other forums, such as “Maulana Rumi Online: Rumi on Gays and Lesbians” and “thepersiancloset” also focus on Rumi as a means to affirm diverse identities.146 These forums regularly quote from Barks or Harvey’s translations of Rumi. Rumi is featured on websites like “LGBT History Month,” and the “Jesus in Love Blog,” which is a space for “LGBTQ spirituality and the arts. Home of gay Jesus and queer saints. Uniting body, mind and spirit. Open to all.”147 On September 30, 2016, in honor of Rumi’s birthday, this site posted a blog entitled, “Rumi: Poet and Mystic Inspired by Same-sex Love.”148

Some tea with your Rumi? Culinary delights and architectural inspirations Rumi has also been the inspiration for a number of cafes and restaurants, such as the Rumi Rose Garden Cafe & Market in Vancouver, British Columbia, described as a “Sufi tea house and so much more …”149 The cafe has more than fifty custom blended teas, speciality Turkish coffees, and traditional Middle Eastern foods and sweets. The market also has regular grocery and other household items.You can go in to meet a friend, work on your laptop, or grab a drink. Most of those who work at the cafe are volunteers. It is a space for anyone, who may enter for “tea, meditation and the Sufi light force.”150 As the website elaborates, Our mystic theme allows you to feel the warmth and positive energy of traditional Middle Eastern culture with beautiful aroma, music, books & food. No need to travel the distance to the Middle East, you have a Café like this, right in your back yard!151

164 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Though as you explore further, you find that the space is not only for food and good tea; it is a “Rumi Rose Garden” or a “spiritual oasis”: Take a seat in the Sufi Tea House and nurture your heart and nourish your soul with a cup of aromatic coffee or tea while listening to the soothing rhythms of Sufi mystical music. Browse the Sufi bookstore and find treasures for the spirit including a comprehensive selection of titles, CDs, oils, incenses, meditation, and healing gift items and much more.152 The cafe’s brand of Rumi Rose Teas promotes wellness and healing, and the teas are aromatically pleasing.They have teas for colds & flu, weight loss, boosting of the metabolism, and much more. All are part of ancient herbal and Sufi traditions of tea making and traditional medicine, according to the Rumi Rose tea official website: Our Specially Blended Sufi Healing Teas, are in the Names of The Most Holy and Most Celebrated Names in the Divinely Presence.We hope that by mentioning their names and drinking in their honor you will be filled by the All Mightys Grace, Majesty and Blessing of these Holiest of Holy Souls.153 The tradition of teas and coffee is deeply embedded within the history of Sufism and the Middle East. The website provides historical articles that map these uses of tea and coffee in Sufism.154 The cafe is affiliated with and run beside the Naqshbandi Nizamiyya Sufi Way. The website also includes a “Rumi prayer”: Giving Thanks: Praising the devine [sic] is sweeter than the bounty itself. One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift. Giving thanks is the true meet [sic] of Gods bounty; the bounty is its shell. For giving thanks carries you to the heart of the beloved. Abundance alone brings heedlessness, Giving thanks gives birth to alertness … The bounty of giving thanks will satisfy and elevate you and you will bestow a hundred bounties in return. Eat your fill of Gods delicacies.155 This particular Rumi establishment is unique in that it is part of a Sufi order and the larger institutional spaces of the Naqshbandi Sufi tariqa. Most other Rumithemed cafes and restaurants in Canada and the United States do not have such connections. Rumi and Sufi themed restaurants are also found in America, such as Café Rumi in California and Rumi restaurants in Illinois and Colorado. In Atlanta, Georgia, Rumi’s Kitchen is a popular Persian restaurant. On the website of the restaurant, the following description is provided: Welcome to Rumi’s Kitchen, the premiere Atlanta location for Persian cuisine. We are named after one of the most famous and well-read poets in the world, Jelaluddin Rumi. Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet whose

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 165

visions, words and life teach us how to reach inner peace, happiness and love. We invite you to Rumi’s Kitchen where fresh, healthy food, attentive Persian hospitality, and an atmosphere with love await you.156 Similar restaurants called Rumi can be found in New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Pakistan, and India. In Montreal, Canada, the menu of Rumi, a restaurant that specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine, is graced with a poem of Rumi’s: “I am drunk and you are insane.”157 The owners write the following about the restaurant: Rumi was founded and created with the inspiration that in our world what people desire the most is to return to the essential. The poetry of Rumi calls people back to Organic and to the authentic. In this spirit Rumi invites guests to experience the authentic cuisine and ambience of the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa – known by many today as the cuisine of the Sufis.158 Just as Rumi has inspired food and restaurant culture, so too have Rumi’s words led to inspiration among designers and architects. Walter Knoll, a German design company, even has a chair named “Rumi” because of the armchair’s design resonance with the flow of a whirling dervish.159 In 1961, this chair made its debut and was meant to link tradition with modern lines.160 The California Institute for Earth Architecture (CalEarth) has also been inspired in its architectural design by the poetry of Rumi. The “Rumi Dome,” named after the Iranian-born architect Nader Khalili’s (d. 2008) favorite poet, Rumi, was built by students with no masonry experience, while the Rumi Dome at Hesperia Lake was built as part of a Museum and Nature Center project planned by the city of Hesperia in the mid-1990s. This Rumi Dome is larger than the one that is part of CalEarth. Khalili calls his structures “tangible poetry.”161 However, more than food, architecture, film, and music, Rumi’s true popularization is indicated by his presence on social media.162

There is an app for that! Rumi on social media The proliferation of Rumi has taken a social media turn. Rumi’s enthusiasts can follow him on Instagram. Kieron Monks, in a CNN article on the whirling dervishes, writes that “the ecstatic poetry of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi could have been written for the social media age, rather than the 13th century, such is its pithy and quotable nature.”163 Rumi’s presence on social media has exploded. For instance, the Instagram accounts “rumi.quotes” and “rumi_poetry” have over 125,000 followers and nearly 50,000 followers, respectively.164 The Facebook account “Rumi Quotes” has close to 700,000 likes, while the main page dedicated to Rumi (@ melvana) has over two million “likes.” “Rumi Hugs” has almost 140,000 likes, and “Rumi the Master of Love” has 40,000 likes.165 These Facebook groups employ memes in which images of whirling dervishes, Rumi, or other nature-based photographs are superimposed with a quotation attributed to Rumi, such as: “Be humble

166 Contemporary Sufism in the West

for you are made of earth, Be noble for you are made of stars.” The owner of the page has included the following quotation in the “short description”: Come, come again, whoever you are, come! Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come! Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times, Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are.166 Such attributed quotations (likely from various renditions by Barks) constantly appear and reappear alongside beautiful pictures. Rumi also has a number of English Twitter accounts, with owners tweeting Rumi quotations.These quotations also appear on numerous blogposts, such as yourtango.com, which included “20 Love Quotes from Ancient Mystic [sic] that Are Crazy BEAUTIFUL.”167 Others include “Five Inspirational Rumi Statements to Say Every Day”168 and “35 Rumi Quotes From His Poems About Love and Life.”169 Additionally, all of the restaurants and cafes, such as the Rumi Café mentioned above, are on the main social media platforms. Rumi’s quotations further appear as captions on individual Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages alongside engagement and wedding photographs, and on wellness, mental health, and spiritual and religiously oriented groups – it is endless. Now one can also easily download the many Rumi-related smartphone applications, which directly provide you with daily Rumi quotations. For instance, a quick search on the Apple store results in apps such as “Rumi Quotes: A Selection” or “Rumi Love Quotes: A Selection” (Appricot Limited), which are collections of over a hundred quotations by Rumi from E. H. Whinefield’s translations. “Rumi & Mathnawi” by Konya Metropolitan Municipality gives you access, from your iPhone or iPad, to the Mathnawi in twenty-one different languages. Rumi has been retweeted and reposted on many social media accounts. There is often criticism that online affiliation and activities do not always reflect offline lived practices. It is difficult to fully assess the degree to which many of those who are active followers of Rumi are aware of his religious and cultural backgrounds, and how they are incorporating Rumi into their personal lives. However, we can conclude that Rumi has become a shared commodity and source of inspiration.Though, like previous examples, there are a range of ways in which social media adds another dimension for some who are active in Sufi communities. For instance, the Facebook group Rumi Poetry Club held its seventh annual Rumi Festival in 2016 at a library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The following was included as the event description: The 13th-century Persian poet and spiritual master Jalaluddin Rumi is an inspiring voice for a life based on love, peace, cooperation, good heart, and open mind. This festival will feature recitations of Rumi’s poems, Rumiinspired photographs, a special talk titled “What You Seek is Seeking You,” and Sufi whirl dance. Come and celebrate the poetry and spiritual path of Rumi, letting his words and wisdom serve as a guide to awakened living and compassionate culture.170

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 167

Rumi’s presence on social media highlights the extent to which everyone has heard of Rumi, but many are not quite sure about who he really is. This trend is comically captured in Jesse Ball’s sixth novel, a coming of age thriller entitled How to Set a Fire and Why.171 Ball has published both novels and poems, and this sixth publication incorporates Rumi into the storyline, at least in passing. In it, the main character Lucia, an adolescent girl, responds thus when her high school psychologist starts quoting a poem from Rumi during a therapy session: We sat there for a while, and then she said she wanted to read me something. She got some shitty poem by Rumi and read it to me. There is a candle in your heart … I laughed, and she asked me why I was laughing. I said, you small-minded bitch, you think that is poetry? Of all Rumi’s goddamned poems, you pick that one? Did you find it in some psych-nonsense anthology? That has to be his worst poem, and it isn’t even translated well. How does it feel to wade around in life so hopelessly? You are just mired in shit.You’re so limited. I laughed some more. Of all the poems, that one. She was looking at me in shock. I think she was actually speechless, so I gave her some more. Whoever’s calm and sensible is insane. What? I said, that’s Rumi. Or didn’t you know?172

Conclusion In an era in which dervish culture, cave-dwelling hermits, and mendicancy, especially in Muslim-majority nations, are disappearing, it is curious that elements of Sufi culture and practice are being transformed and manifesting in new spheres. Traditions have changed, but as Shahab Ahmed has shown in his study What is Islam?, the assumption that traditions such as Islam have merely existed in a neat singularity maintained by “legitimate” authority is not actually representative of the tradition as a whole.173 In particular, Sufism’s role in Islam’s complex process and ongoing development has been overlooked. Rather than reduce Islam to particular legal traditions or discourses of orthodoxy, Ahmed points out that Islam has also been counterculture, it has been deviance, it has been heterodoxies, it has included not only those who speak from the pulpit but also those who have spoken from the margins.174 As noted, orthodoxy is a moving target. Sufism was mainstream Islam for centuries, but in modern times Sufi traditions are associated with heresy. Religious traditions then, be they Islam or Sufism, have shifted, changed, and transformed over time. Such shifts are exactly what have taken place in the contemporary dissemination of Rumi’s poetry. These shifts in interpreting Sufi poets are a part of a broader historical process, which includes Hafiz and Khayyam. These patterns of transformation raise challenging questions: has the spirit of classical Sufism

168 Contemporary Sufism in the West

been saved or lost in the West? How much is the West contributing to or detracting from global Sufism and its preservation? What is your relationship to Sufism when you sit in a Rumi chair, or wear “Like This,” or retweet a Rumi poem? Historically, Rumi’s spirituality and poetry impacted a variety of social spheres during his life and long after his death. He embodied Muslim culture, but opened it to Jews and Christians, as evidenced by their participation in his funeral. At the same time, Rumi was seen as a deviant figure. He defied social norms. His relationship with his teacher Shams of Tabriz caused controversy and startled religious scholars and juristic sensibilities. Rumi’s complex life, as a theologian, jurist, husband, father, student, and more, indicates not a linearity but rather a multiplicity, including both orthodoxy and heterodoxy. His work has been central to Muslim literary traditions and social norms, but it has also been marginalized. His followers, especially in Turkey during its secular nation-building process, were banned, and only recently have Rumi’s teachings been accepted as part of Turkey’s cultural heritage, but not necessarily as a spiritual or religious one. Rumi, in many ways, represents every aspect of Sufism as it has historically developed. Rumi was Muslim. He was a trained scholar and a preacher, which he inherited from his father. He was a father and husband. His early life was not defined by mendicancy and antinomian habits. However, an encounter with an enigmatic Shams altered it all in a matter of seconds, as the stories are told. An intimacy developed between the two of them that cannot be fully captured by labels. This intimacy has inspired a number of contemporary expressions. For example, it has appealed to the members of the LGBTQ community, who have transformed Rumi into a social activist for Queer Muslims and non-Muslims. He is the social outcast they seek – one who knows the language of love but also of pain, suffering, and deep longing, both of the human and divine sort. Social deviancy has been the claim of many Sufis across time and space, from Arabia to the Middle East to Asia. Sufis have defied religious, class, gender, and sexual norms, challenging the conventions of respectable society. Rumi’s mystical experience with Shams and the divine opening provided by him also led to artistic expressions. Rumi, as one narrative goes, was walking through the bazaar and found himself entranced by the noises of the hammer molding the iron sword. He began to see a reality around him that was different from the one he formerly knew and was overtaken by the beauty and love of God that manifested everywhere around him. He began to turn. Music, especially of the nay, captured in sound the deep longing he felt within his being. Words and rhyme manifested through Rumi were captured by his son Sultan Walad (d. 1312), and with his growing number of students. In the generations following Rumi’s death, his students would codify his teachings into the spiritual path of the Mevlevi Sufi order. Groups like the Mevlevi danced. They listened to music. They wrote poetry to express their deepest longing of their Beloved. Historically, Sufi poetry and music were performed at court palaces under the Mughals and the Ottomans. Coffeehouses in the streets of Istanbul also attracted similar figures and forms of performances.Traders experienced the same as they stopped for rest at caravanserais.

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 169

Some of these practices were exclusive and restricted only to the initiated, but other times such was not the case. Sufi poetry, music, and movement permeated all aspects of society. What is happening then with the expression of Rumi poetry through contemporary musical forms like jazz is in many ways a vernacularization of Sufism in the Western context. As the famous early Sufi Junayd al-Baghdadi (d. 910) was reported to have said, water takes on the color of its container. Rumi’s mystical Persian Islamic poetry has thus been colored by a contemporary Western literary, cultural, and spiritual hue. As such, this can be seen as a continuity of the ways in which Sufism has historically existed in social and economic contexts. From food to architectural spaces, to poetry, music, and dance, Sufis have utilized these spheres. The question, then, is not whether these manifestations are new, but whether they reflect a continuity, and whether the message of Sufism is being diluted. On the one hand, the answer is no. Sufism did develop historically in Islamic culture and society. It was framed by the Qur’an and the experiences of the Prophet Muhammad. Figures who defined classical Sufism were all Muslims, at least from a theological, cultural, and legal perspective. That being said, the message of Sufism and the mode in which it has been transmitted have not been historically uniform, especially as Sufism spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. For classical Sufi thinkers, such as Ibn al-‘Arabi, the goal of Sufism transcended particular Sufi practices and conventional Islamic religiosity. Sufis, like Ibn al-‘Arabi, drew from the Qur’an and its teachings on tawhid, a universal paradigm embracing religious plurality. The language of universality was employed by Sufis, such as by Hafiz and Rumi, even though they arrived at that language through Islamic sources and their Muslim identity. It is this language of universality that has drawn Westerners to Rumi, and which has led to a particular commodification of Rumi in many spheres of society. This commodification is one aspect of the translation process of Sufism into American culture. If we treat this as the only way in which Sufism has entered the Western religious and cultural landscape, then there is definitely a reductive understanding of the broader presence of Sufism in the West. Diminishing Rumi’s presence in the West purely to commodification limits the full understanding of what Sufism in the West actually entails. Western Sufism includes immigrant Muslims, American converts to Islam via encounters with Sufi teachers, and non-Muslim Sufis committed to Sufi teachers from Muslim-majority contexts, to name a few. Western Sufism also manifests in public intellectuals and scholars of the traditions, pilgrimages to Sufi shrines and the popular consumption of Rumi. Taken as a whole, these various expressions are reflective of the diversity of Western Sufism and its contribution to contemporary Sufism. Rumi, then, can be interpreted as both a gate to the broader phenomenon and also the essence of it. Many agents vernacularizing Sufism in the West are active members of Sufi orders, like the Threshold Society and the whirling dervishes, who participate in interfaith community events, though the audience is diverse and may not have formal affiliations.What is certain with the popularity of Rumi is that he is not just the best-known Sufi in the West, but he is also a representative of contemporary Western spirituality.

170 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Notes 1 “800th Anniversary of the Birth of Mawlana Jala-ud-Din Balkhi-Rumi,” UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), http:// portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=39343&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_ SECTION=201.html. 2 Ibid. 3 William Dalrymple, “What Goes Round …,” The Guardian, November 4, 2005, www. theguardian.com/books/2005/nov/05/featuresreviews.guardianreview26. 4 Eli Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi (New York: Penguin Books, 2013). 5 “How Rumi’s Teachings Saved Karen Cavanagh’s Life,” Belief, Oprah Winfrey Network, October 23, 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=YysO4-KO8H0. 6 “Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey & Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee,” Super Soul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey Network, April 26, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=ZjYnthG36f8&list=PLFD5424BCA355123A. 7 Franklin D. Lewis, Rumi – Past and Present, East and West:The Life,Teachings and Poetry of Jalal Al-Din Rumi (Oxford: Oneworld, 2000); Sadie Bell, “What to Know about Rumi the Poet Beyoncé and Jay-Z Named Their Baby After,” Billboard, July 14, 2017. 8 Michael Axworthy, A History of Iran (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 115–116. 9 Ibid., 116. 10 Ibid. 11 Quoted in Alexandra Marks, “Persian Poet Top Seller in America,” Christian Science Monitor, November 25, 1997. 12 Amira El-Zein, “Spiritual Consumption in the United States: The Rumi Phenomenon,” Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations 11, no. 1 (2000): 73.The New Age movement has roots in the American counterculture of the 1960s but took shape in the 1980s as a generation of seekers mobilized around various spiritualities. Scholarship is divided on whether there were coherent aims during the New Age movement, and whether there was even a New Age religion, while others have called attention to the lack of institutionalization and authority as being the common denominator of this era. 13 Lewis, Rumi – Past and Present, East and West. 14 Paul Heelas, The New Age Movement: Religion, Culture, Society in the Age of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996). 15 Robert Wuthnow, After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000). 16 Catherine Albanese, A Republic of Mind and Spirit. A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion (New Haven, CT:Yale University, 2008). 17 Robert Bly, “Reading Rumi in an Uncertain World,” Wings Press, n.d., www.wingspress.com/book.cfm?book_ID=18. 18 Ibid. 19 Marks, “Persian Poet Top Seller in America.” 20 Robert Bly, Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2004). 21 Rumi: Poet of the Heart, film, directed by Haydn Reiss (New York: Magnolia Films, 1998). 22 His (Barks’s) publications of Rumi include, but are not limited to, Delicious Laughter (Athens, GA: Maypop, 1990), Like This (Athens, GA: Maypop, 1990), Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion (Putney,VT: Threshold Books, 1991), The Essential Rumi (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1995), and The Hand Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia (New Lebanon, NY: Omega: 1993). 23 Robert Bly, The Winged Energy of Delight: Selected Translations (New York: HarperCollins, 2004). 24 Bly, “Reading Rumi in an Uncertain World.” 25 Ptolemy Tompkins, “Rumi Rules!”Time, September 30, 2002. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid.

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 171

28 Elena Furlanetto, “The ‘Rumi Phenomenon’ between Orientalism and Cosmopolitanism: The Case of Elif Shafak’s ‘The Forty Rules of Love,’” European Journal of English Studies 17, no. 2, (2013): 202. 29 Ibid., 203. 30 Tompkins, “Rumi Rules!”; Ali Rozina, “The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi,” The New Yorker, January 5, 2017, www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/ the-erasure-of-islam-from-the-poetry-of-rumi. 31 Coleman Barks, Rumi: Bridge to the Soul, Journeys into the Music and Silence of the Heart (New York: HarperCollins, 2007). 32 Tompkins, “Rumi Rules!” 33 Jerome W. Clinton, “Review Article: Rumi in America,” Edebiyát 10 (1999): 149–154. 34 Ibid., 153. 35 Ibid. 36 Muriel Maufroy, Rumi’s Daughter (London: Rider Books, 2004). 37 Connie Zweig, A Moth to the Flame:The Story of the Great Sufi Poet Rumi (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). 38 Nahal Tajadad, Rumi:The Fire of Love (New York: Overlook Books, 2008). 39 Roger Housden, Chasing Rumi: A Fable about Finding the Heart’s True Desire (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2002). 40 Manoucher Parvin, Dardedel: Rumi, Hafez, & Love in New York (New York: Permanent Press, 2015). 41 Ibid. 42 Rabisandkar Bal, A Mirrored Life: The Rumi Novel, trans. Arunava Sinha (New York: Vintage Books, 2015). 43 Shafak, Forty Rules. 44 Elif Shafak, Pinhan (Istanbul: Dogan Kitap, 1998). 45 Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul (New York:Viking, 2007). 46 “The Forty Rules of Love: An Interview with Bestselling Author Elif Shafak,” n.d. www.elifsafak.us/en/roportajlar.asp?islem=roportaj&id=26. 47 Alevi Adil, “The Forty Rules of Love, by Elif Shafak,” The Independent, July 8, 2010, www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-forty-rules-of-loveby-elif-shafak-2021678.html. 48 Furlanetto, “Rumi Phenomenon,” 204. 49 Elif Shafak, “The Politics of Fiction,” TED, July 2010, www.ted.com/talks/elif _shafak_the_politics_of_fiction. 50 Ibid. 51 Mina Javaherbin, Elephant in the Dark: Based on a Poem by Rumi, illustrator Eugene Yelchin (New York: Scholastic Press, 2015). 52 Mina Javaherbin,The Secret Message, illustrator Bruce Whatley (New York: DisneyHyperion, 2010). 53 These are by Nefise Atcakarlar: The Camel and the Mouse (Minneapolis, MN: Daybreak Press, 2015); The Lion and the Rabbit (Minneapolis, MN: Daybreak Press, 2015); Three Pieces of Advice (Minneapolis, MN: Daybreak Press, 2015). 54 Lilian Kars, More Than a Me, illustrator Steffie Padmos (Chelmsford: Matthew James, 2015). 55 Anthony, “Spotlight: Rumi – How a 13th Century Poet Inspired More Than a Me,” Matthew James Publishing, July 26, 2016, http://matthewjamespublishing.com/ spotlight-rumi-13th-century-poet-inspired/. 56 Ibid. 57 Demi, Rumi:Whirling Dervish (New York: Marshall Canvendish Children, 2009). 58 Ali Furat Bilkan, Tales from Rumi: Mathnawi Selections for Younger Readers (Clifton, NJ: The Light, 2011). 59 Mohammed Arif Vakil and Mohammad Ali Vakil, Wise Fool of Baghdad (Bangalore, India: Sufi Studios, 2012). 60 Mohammed Ali Vakil and Mohammed Arif Vakil, Sufi Comics: Rumi Begin that Long Journey into Yourself (Bangalore, India: Sufi Studios, 2014).

172 Contemporary Sufism in the West

61 Priti Salian, “In Sufi Comics: Rumi the Persian Poet’s Life and Verse Get the Comic-Book Treatment,” The National, September 9, 2014, www.thenational.ae/ arts-lifestyle/books/in-sufi-comics-rumi-the-persian-poets-life-and-verses-get-thecomic-book-treatment. 62 Ibid. 63 “Sufi Comics: Rumi,” Sufi Comics: Comics for the Soul, n.d., www.suficomics.com/rumi/. 64 “Islamic Holdem,” Existential Comics, n.d., http://existentialcomics.com/philosopher/ Rumi. 65 Gav, “190. Rumi: The Guest House,” Zen Pencils, February 18, 2016, http://zenpencils. com/comic/rumi/. 66 Andrew Harvey, Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Putnam, 1999). 67 Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2013). 68 Andrew Harvey, A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000). 69 Andrew Harvey, The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi (New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001). 70 Ibid., 2. 71 Ibid. 72 Andrew Harvey, The Teachings of Rumi (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1999), xiii–xiv. 73 Harvey, Teachings of Rumi, xiv; Harvey, Way of Passion, 2. 74 Harvey, Teachings of Rumi, xiv–xv. 75 Ibid., xv. 76 Ibid., xv. 77 Ibid., xv–xvi. 78 “Mystical Andalusia: Garden amidst the Flames,” The Wisdom School, n.d., http://wisdomuniversity.org/Andalusia2017.htm. The “required readings” for this course includes Barks, The Essential Rumi, 1995; Harvey, The Teachings of Rumi; Stephen Hirtenstein, The Unlimited Mercifier: The Spiritual Life and Thought of Ibn ‘Arabi (Oxford: Anqa Publishing, 1999); and Banafsheh Sayyad’s The Dance of Oneness (Andrew Harvey and Sayyad Banafsheh. In the Fire of Grace: Dancing Rumi’s Journey of the Soul. DVD. AR: Banafsheh Dance. Self- published, 2011.) 79 Andrew Harvey, “A Year of Rumi,” Daily OM, n.d., www.dailyom.com/cgi-bin/ courses/courseoverview.cgi?cid=35&aff=92&ad=2016041313&img=4. 80 Ibid. 81 Andrew Harvey, Dancing in Rumi’s Footsteps, n.d., http://theshiftnetwork.com/ DancingInRumisFootsteps. 82 Shahram T. Shiva and Deepak Chopra, Rumi – Thief of Sleep: 180 Quatrains from the Persian (Chino Valley, AZ: Hohm Press, 2000). 83 Joseph Arouet, A Beginners Guide to Rumi: Truth, Happiness, and the Path of Peace (Selfpublished, 2016). 84 Joseph Arouet, Stress Free Living & Sufism: The Journey Beyond Yourself (Self-published, 2015b). 85 Joseph Arouet, Stress Free Living & Buddhism:Your Guide to Mindfulness (Self-published, 2015a). 86 Yahiya Emerick, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Rumi Meditations (Royersford, PA: Alpha, 2008). 87 Dalrymple, “What Goes Round….” 88 Rumi Returning: The Triumph of Divine Passion, film, directed by Kell Kearns (Philadelphia, PA: A Heaven on Earth Presentation, 2007). 89 Rumi: Poet of the Heart, film, directed by Haydn Reiss (New York: Magnolia Films, 1998). 90 Coleman Barks and Michael Green, The Illuminated Rumi (New York: Broadway Books, 1997).

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 173

91 Michael Green, interview with Merin Shobhana Xavier, March 4, 2016, Coatesville, PA: Michael Green Barn Studio. 92 Examples of greetings cards and calendars made by Amber Lotus Publishing Press (n.d.), can be found at: www.amberlotus.com/sufi/. 93 Michael Green, One Song: A New Illuminated Rumi (Philadelphia, PA: Running Press, 2005). 94 For more, please see: “Rumi Hooded Sweatshirts T-Shirts,” Pixels, n.d., http://pixels .com/shop/sweatshirts/rumi; and “Rumi Art iPhone 5 Cases,” DesignerPrints, n.d., http://designerprints.com/shop/iphone+5+cases/rumi+art. 95 For more, please see “Rumi,” Etsy, n.d., www.etsy.com/ca/search?q=Rumi. 96 “The Rumi Festival,” Art Aware, June 12, 2013, http://aidaforoutan.blogspot. ca/2013/06/the-rumi-festival_17.html. 97 “Oslo International Rumi Festival,” 2015, www.rumi.no/english/. 98 Scott Stockdale, “Toronto’s Rumi Fest,” Canadian Charger, November 10, 2010, www. thecanadiancharger.com/page.php?id=5&a=669. 99 Ibid. 100 “Whirling Dervish,” Urban Dictionary, n.d., www.urbandictionary.com/define.php? term=Whirling%20Dervish. 101 Shems Friedlander, The Whirling Dervishes (Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1992), 22. 102 Kevin Gould, “Konya, in a Whirl of its Own,” The Guardian, April 10, 2010, www. theguardian.com/travel/2010/apr/10/konya-turkey-jelaluddin-rumi-dervish. 103 Ibid. 104 Kashfi Halford, “Whirling Dervishes at the Rumi Festival in Konya – A Photo Essay,” The Guardian, December 18, 2015, www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2015 /dec/18/whirling-dervishes-at-the-rumi-festival-in-konya-a-photo-essay. 105 Kieron Monks, “Lord of the Dance: The Sufi Mystic Who Has Got the World Whirling,” CNN, November 30, 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/11/30/travel/rumi-revival/ index.html. 106 Josh Bruce Allen, “Rumi in Modern Times,” Istanbul the Guide, June 23, 2015, www. theguideistanbul.com/article/rumi-modern-times. 107 “How Rumi’s Teachings Saved Karen Cavanagh’s Life,” Belief, Oprah Winfrey Network, October 23, 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=YysO4-KO8H0. 108 Ibid. 109 Ibid. 110 “Before & After Belief: How ‘Turning’ Continues to Help Karen Heal,” Belief, Oprah Winfrey Network, October 23, 2015. 111 Anna Rohleder, “Sufis Show Mystical Side of Islam,” LEO Weekly, December 7, 2016, www.leoweekly.com/2016/12/sufis-show-mystical-side-islam/. 112 Victoria Looseleaf.“A Steaming Hot Stew of Music and Moves,” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2003, http://articles.latimes.com/2003/apr/14/entertainment/et-looseleaf14. 113 Facebook page of Sayyad Banafsheh. https://www.facebook.com/BanafshehSayyad/. 114 “In The Fire of Grace,” DVD, Banafsheh Sayyad, http://banafsheh.org/index.php/ product/in-the-fire-of-grace-dvd/; Andrew Harvey and Banafsheh Sayyad, In the Fire of Grace: Dancing Rumi’s Journey of the Soul, DVD (AR: Banafsheh Dance, 2011). 115 For more on the Festival du Monde Arabe de Montreal, n.d., please see: http://festivalarabe. com/event/14-ads-transcestrale/. 116 Michael Green, interview with Merin Shobhana Xavier, March 4, 2016, Coatesville, PA: Michael Green Barn Studio. 117 Ibid. 118 Deepak Chopra and Friends, A Gift of Love, CD (New York: Rasa Music, 1998). 119 “R. Murray Schafer: Biography,” Canadian Music Centre/Centre de Musique Canadienne, www.musiccentre.ca/node/37315/biography. 120 Ibid.

174 Contemporary Sufism in the West

121 Ibid. 122 Charles Lloyd, Canto, CD (Oslo, Norway: Rainbow Studio, 1997). 123 Iraj Gorgin, “Rumi Live at the Hollywood Bowl,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, September 27, 2008, www.rferl.org/a/Rumi_Live_At_The_Hollywood_Bowl/1292078. html. 124 Larry Bartleet, “Coldplay – 15 Revelations from Chris Martin’s Recent Interviews Ahead of ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ Release,” NME, November 20, 2015, www. nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/coldplay-15-revelations-from-chris-martins-recentinterviews-ahead-of-a-head-full-of-dreams-release-767334. 125 “Kaleidoscope by Coldplay,” Songfacts, n.d., www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=38774. 126 Farid-Ud-Din Attar, Conference of the Birds: A Seeker’s Journey to God (Boston, MA: Weiser Books, 2001). 127 Bartleet, “Coldplay.” 128 Hafez Nazeri, Rumi Symphony Project: Untold, CD (New York: Sony Music, 2014). 129 Garry Marshall, Valentine’s Day, film (Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers Pictures, 2010). 130 Angela, “Etat Libra d’Orange Like This Fragrance Review,” Now Smell This, April 26, 2010, www.nstperfume.com/2010/04/26/etat-libre-dorange-like-this-fragrance-review/. 131 Tilda Swinton, “Like This,” Etat Libre D’Orange, n.d., http://etatlibredorange.com/ en/boutique/like-this-en/. 132 Tilda Swinton, “Like This,” Etat Libre d’Orange, n.d., uses translations from The Essential Rumi by Barks. This promotional video can be accessed on Youtube via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKVRJj7aVOk. 133 Zahra Alipour, “Why Iranians Are Turning against Leonardo DiCaprio,” Al-Monitor, June 27, 2016, www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/rumi-molanahollywood-film-leo-dicaprio-iran-reactions.html. 134 Ibid. 135 Ibid. Interestingly, there is already a Hollywood film on Khayyam, entitled, The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam, directed by Kayvan Mashayekh (Springdale, AR: Hannover House, 2005). 136 Quoted in Chiara Palazzo, “Leonardo DiCaprio as Persian Poet Rumi: Gladiator Screenwriter Faces Cries of Hollywood Whitewashing,” The Telegraph, June 8, 2016, www. telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/08/leonardo-dicaprio-as-persian-poet-rumi-gladiator -screenwriter-fa/. 137 Frud Bezhan, “Cultural Tug-of-War Erupts over Persian Poet Rumi,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, June 10, 2016, www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-rumi-poet-turkey-iran-unesco /27791137.html. 138 Ibid. 139 International filmmakers, such as Iranian filmmakers Dariush Mehrjui and Mojtaba Raei, have been working on a film on Rumi and Shams since 2009 in English, based on Saeedeh Ghods’s novel Kimia Khatoon (Tehran, Iran: Cheshmeh Publications, 2004).The project was halted because of their inability to draw investors and money to the project. Several attempts to revive this particular project through different avenues, such as with the Cinema Organization of Iran along with Turkey, also failed because of lack of funds. 140 For instance, Nacer Khemir, a Parisian-Tunisian, is an example of a filmmaker, with films such as Bab’Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated his Soul (Tehran, Iran: Behnegar, 2005). Similarly, films like the Bollywood historical epic on a Mughal emperor named Jodha Akbar, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker (Mumbai, India: UTV Motion Pictures, 2008) also captured much of Akbar’s relationship with Sufism, and featured Qawwali music by A. R. Rahman and whirling dervishes. 141 Bill Bradley, “Jaden Smith is Playing a Time-Traveling Jaden Smith in ‘The Get Down,’” Huffington Post, August 31, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jaden-smith-is-playing-a-time-traveling-jaden-smith-in-the-get-down_us_57b22d61e4b0a8e15024dc69. 142 Dalrymple, “What Goes Round ….” 143 Afdhere Jama, “5 Queer Muslims in History,” LGBT Muslims: Information on Sexual Diversity in Islam, February 5, 2015, http://islamandhomosexuality.com/5-queer -muslims-history/.

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 175

144 LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer, and is used by members of the community as self-identification but also for rights-based discourses and movements. This acronym has been quite fluid in recent years, and has become more and more nuanced. Variations of this acronym include other letters in efforts to be more inclusive of the diverse gender and sexual identities of human beings; for example, “I” stands for intersex; or an additional “T” for Two-Spirited, an identity used by indigenous communities (i.e., LGBTQIT or LGBTQ+). 145 Michael J. Bayly,“Rumi and Shams: A Love of Another Kind,” The Wild Reed, December 17, 2011, http://thewildreed.blogspot.ca/2011/12/rumi-and-shams-love-of-anotherkind.html. 146 “Rumi,” The Persian Closet, April 1, 2013, https://thepersiancloset.wordpress. com/2013/04/01/rumi/; “Rumi on Gay and Lesbians,” Maulana Rumi Online, n.d., http://sologak1.blogspot.ca/2013/04/rumi-on-gays-and-lesbians.html. 147 “Jalal al-Din Rumi,” LGBT History Month, n.d., http://lgbthistorymonth.com/ jalal-al-din-rumi?tab=biography; “Rumi: Poet and Sufi Mystic Inspired by Same-sex Love,” Jesus in Love Blog, September 30, 2016, http://jesusinlove.blogspot.ca/2016/09/ rumi-poet-and-sufi-mystic-inspired-by.html. 148 “Rumi: Poet and Sufi Mystic Inspired by Same-sex Love,” Jesus in Love Blog, September 30, 2016, http://jesusinlove.blogspot.ca/2016/09/rumi-poet-and-sufi-mystic-inspired-by.html. 149 Official website of the Rumi Rose Garden Café & Market, n.d., www.rumirose.com/. 150 Ibid. 151 Ibid. 152 Ibid. 153 Rumi Rose Teas official website, www.rumiroseteas.ca/. 154 Coffee has long been associated with Sufi ritual practices, on par with smoking tobacco and drinking wine, which garnered Sufis a bad reputation. Ralph S. Hattox, in his Coffee and Coffeehouses: Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East (Seattle, WA: University of Washington, 1988) argues that some of the earliest instances of coffee use were by Yemeni Sufis for dhikr, who treated it as a “sacred drink” for aiding in their meditative discipline (74). 155 Official website of the Rumi Rose Garden Café & Market, www.rumirose.com/. 156 For more, please see Rumi’s Kitchen, n.d., www.rumiskitchen.com. 157 Sarah Musgrave, “Casual Dining: Rumi,” Montreal Gazette, October 18, 2011, www. montrealgazette.com/life/Casual+Dining+Rumi/5569430/story.html. 158 “Restaurant Rumi,” Resto Montreal, n.d., www.restomontreal.ca/en/1982/Rumi. 159 “Rumi,” Walter Knoll, n.d., www.walterknoll.de/en/products/rumi-chair. 160 Ibid. 161 Nader Khalili, “Calearth Superadobe Structures,” CalEarth (California Institute of Earth Architecture), n.d., www.calearth.org/superadobe-structures-calearth/. 162 In Islamic societies, architecture has been deeply influenced by metaphysical cosmologies and philosophies of Sufism and Islam at large. For instance, architects like Hassan Fathy, known for his experiment of reconstruction of a rural town in Egypt (captured in his book Architecture for the Poor [Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1973]), is one such example. Fathy has gleaned heavily from Sufi poets such as Rumi. For more, please see Nader Ardalan, “From Within: On the Spiritual in Art and Architecture,” in Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality, eds. Thomas Barrie, Julio Bermudez, and Phillip James Tabb (Surrey: Ashgate, 2015). 163 Monks, “Lord of the Dance.” 164 Rumi.quotes, “The Art of Knowing Is Knowing What to Ignore,” Instagram, April 29, 2017, https://www.instagram.com/rumi.quotes/?hl=en; rumi_poetry, “He also made the key”Instagram, June 10, 2016, www.thepicta.com/user/rumi_poetry/462085622. 165 Rumi Quotes, Facebook post, July 16, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/RumiQuotes/; Rumi Hugs, Facebook post, July 14, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/RumiHugs-232019736889590/; Rumi the Master of Love, Facebook post, July 16, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/Rumi-The-Master-of-Love-1632689780290780/; Rumi, Facebook post, February 24, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/RumiPage/.

176 Contemporary Sufism in the West

166 “Rumi” Facebook post, July 16, 2017. 167 Kathryn Brown Ramsperger, Your Tango, “20 Love Quotes from Ancient Mystic Rumi That Are Crazy Beautiful,” July 27, 2016, www.yourtango.com/2016 293238/20-beautiful-love-quotes-from-ancient-mystic-rumi. 168 Sameena Mughal,“Five Inspirational Rumi Statements to Say Every Day,” Her Daily, September 12, 2016, http://herdaily.com/life/25809/five-inspirational-rumi-statements/. 169 Jeffrey I. Moore, “46 Rumi Quotes from His Poems about Love and Life,” Everyday Power, March 16, 2014, http://everydaypowerblog.com/2014/03/16/rumi-quotes/. 170 “2016 Rumi Festival,” Now Playing Utah, www.nowplayingutah.com/event/2016rumi-festival/. 171 Jesse Ball, How to Set a Fire and Why: A Novel (New York: Pantheon, 2016). 172 Ibid., 96–97. 173 Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017). 174 Ibid.

Bibliography “2016 Rumi Festival.” Now Playing Utah. www.nowplayingutah.com/event/2016-rumifestival/. “800th Anniversary of the Birth of Mawlana Jala-ud-Din Balkhi-Rumi.” UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), n.d. http://portal.unesco. org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=39343&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201. html. Adil, Alevi. The Forty Rules of Love, by Elif Shafak. Independent, July 8, 2010. www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-forty-rules-of-love-by-elif-shafak-2021678.html. Ahmed, Sahab. What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017. Albanese, Catherine. A Republic of Mind and Spirit. A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion. New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 2008. Alipour, Zahra. “Why Iranians Are Turning against Leonardo DiCaprio.” Al-Monitor, June 27, 2016. www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/rumi-molana-hollywood-film -leo-dicaprio-iran-reactions.html. Allen, Josh Bruce. “Rumi in Modern Times.” Istanbul the Guide, June 23, 2015. www.theguideistanbul.com/article/rumi-modern-times. Angela. “Etat Libra d’Orange Like This Fragrance Review.” Now Smell This, April 26, 2010. www.nstperfume.com/2010/04/26/etat-libre-dorange-like-this-fragrance-review/. Anthony. “Spotlight: Rumi – How a 13th Century Poet Inspired More Than a Me.” Matthew James Publishing, July 26, 2016. http://matthewjamespublishing.com/ spotlight-rumi-13th-century-poet-inspired/. Ardalan, Nader. “From Within: On the Spiritual in Art and Architecture.” In Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality, edited by Thomas Barrie, Julio Bermudez, and Phillip James Tabb, 221–238. Surrey: Ashgate, 2015. Arouet, Joseph. Stress Free Living & Buddhism: Your Guide to Mindfulness. Self-published, 2015a. Arouet, Joseph. Stress Free Living & Sufism:The Journey Beyond Yourself. Self-published, 2015b. Arouet, Joseph. A Beginners Guide to Rumi: Truth, Happiness, and the Path of Peace. Selfpublished, 2016. Atcakarlar, Nefise. The Camel and the Mouse. Minneapolis, MN: Daybreak Press, 2015a.

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 177

Atcakarlar, Nefise. The Lion and the Rabbit. Minneapolis, MN: Daybreak Press, 2015b. Atcakarlar, Nefise. Three Pieces of Advice. Minneapolis, MN: Daybreak Press, 2015c. Attar, Farid-Ud-Din. Conference of the Birds: A Seeker’s Journey to God. Boston, MA: Weiser Books, 2001. Axworthy, Michael. A History of Iran. New York: Basic Books, 2010. Bab’Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated his Soul. Film. Directed by Nacer Khemir. Tehran, Iran: Behnegar, 2005. Bal, Rabisandkar. A Mirrored Life: The Rumi Novel. Translated by Arunava Sinha. New York City:Vintage Books, 2015. Ball, Jesse. How to Set Fire and Why: A Novel. New York: Pantheon, 2016. Barks, Coleman. Delicious Laughter. Athens, GA: Maypop, 1990a. Barks, Coleman. Like This. Athens, GA: Maypop, 1990b. Barks, Coleman. Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion. Putney,VT: Threshold Books, 1991. Barks, Coleman, trans. The Hand Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia. New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications, 1993. Barks, Coleman. The Essential Rumi. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1995. Barks, Coleman. Rumi: Bridge to the Soul, Journeys into the Music and Silence of the Heart. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. Barks, Coleman, and Michael Green. The Illuminated Rumi. New York: Broadway Books, 1997. Bartleet, Larry. “Coldplay – 15 Revelations from Chris Martin’s Recent Interviews Ahead of ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ Release.” NME. November 20, 2015. www.nme.com/ blogs/nme-blogs/coldplay-15-revelations-from-chris-martins-recent-interviews-aheadof-a-head-full-of-dreams-release-767334. “Before & after Belief: How ‘Turning’ Continues to Help Karen Heal.” Belief, Oprah Winfrey Network, October 23, 2015. Bell, Sadie, “What to Know about Rumi the Poet Beyoncé and Jay-Z Named Their Baby After,” Billboard, July 14, 2017. www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/7866032/ beyonce-twins-names-rumi-carter-sir-poet. Bezhan, Frud. “Cultural Tug-of-War Erupts over Persian Poet Rumi.” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, June 10, 2016. www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-rumi-poet-turkey-iran-unesco/27791137.html. Bilkan, Ali Furat. Tales from Rumi: Mathnawi Selections for Younger Readers. Clifton, NJ: The Light, 2011. Bly, Robert. Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2004a. Bly, Robert. The Winged Energy of Delight: Selected Translations. New York: HarperCollins, 2004b. Bly, Robert. “Reading Rumi in an Uncertain World.” Wings Press, n.d. www.wingspress .com/book.cfm?book_ID=18. Bradley, Bill. “Jaden Smith is Playing a Time-Traveling Jaden Smith in ‘The Get Down.’” Huffington Post, August 31, 2016. www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jaden-smith-is-playing-a-time-traveling-jaden-smith-in-the-get-down_us_57b22d61e4b0a8e15024dc69. Chopra, Deepak, and Friends. A Gift of Love. CD. New York: Rasa Music, 1998. Clinton, Jerome W. “Review Article: Rumi in America.” Edebiyát 10 (1999): 149–154. Dalrymple, William. “What Goes Round ….” The Guardian, November 4, 2005. www. theguardian.com/books/2005/nov/05/featuresreviews.guardianreview26. Demi. Rumi:Whirling Dervish. New York: Marshall Canvendish Children, 2009. Dickson, William Rory. Between Tradition and Transformation: Living Sufism in North America. New York: SUNY, 2015.

178 Contemporary Sufism in the West

El-Zein, Amira. “Spiritual Consumption in the United States: The Rumi Phenomenon.” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 11, no. 1 (2000): 71–85. Emerick,Yahiya. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Rumi Meditations. Royersford, PA: Alpha, 2008. Fathy, Hassan. Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1973. Festival du Monde Arabe de Montreal. n.d. http://festivalarabe.com/event/14-ads-transcestrale/. “The Forty Rules of Love: An Interview with Bestselling Author Elif Shafak.” www.elifsafak. us/en/roportajlar.asp?islem=roportaj&id=26. Friedlander, Shems. The Whirling Dervishes. Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1992. Furlanetto, Elena. “The ‘Rumi Phenomenon’ between Orientalism and Cosmopolitanism: The Case of Elif Shafak’s ‘The Forty Rules of Love.’” European Journal of English Studies 17, no. 2 (2013): 201–213. Gav. “190. Rumi:The Guest House.” Zen Pencils, February 18, 2016. http://zenpencils.com/ comic/rumi/. Ghods, Saeedeh. Kimia Khatoon. Tehran, Iran: Cheshmeh Publications, 2004. Gorgin, Iraj. “Rumi Live at the Hollywood Bowl.” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, September 27, 2008. www.rferl.org/a/Rumi_Live_At_The_Hollywood_Bowl/1292078.html. Gould, Kevin. “Konya, in a Whirl of Its Own.” The Guardian, April 10, 2010. www.theguardian.com/travel/2010/apr/10/konya-turkey-jelaluddin-rumi-dervish. Green, Michael. One Song: A New Illuminated Rumi. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press, 2005. Green, Michael. Interview by Merin Shobhana Xavier, March 4, 2016. Coatesville, PA: Michael Green Barn Studio. Halford, Kashfi. “Whirling Dervishes at the Rumi Festival in Konya – A Photo Essay.” The Guardian, December 18, 2015. www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2015/dec /18/whirling-dervishes-at-the-rumi-festival-in-konya-a-photo-essay. Harvey, Andrew. Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999a. Harvey, Andrew. The Teachings of Rumi. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1999b. Harvey, Andrew. A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Harvey, Andrew. The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. Harvey, Andrew, and Banafsheh Sayyad. In the Fire of Grace: Dancing Rumi’s Journey of the Soul. DVD. AR: Banafsheh Dance. Self-published, 2011. Harvey, Andrew. The Return of the Mother. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2013. Harvey, Andrew. “A Year of Rumi.” Daily OM. n.d. www.dailyom.com/cgi-bin/courses/ courseoverview.cgi?cid=35&aff=92&ad=2016041313&img=4. Harvey, Andrew. Dancing in Rumi’s Footsteps. n.d. http://theshiftnetwork.com/ DancingInRumisFootsteps. Hattox, Ralph S. Coffee and Coffeehouses: Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, 1988. Heelas, Paul. The New Age Movement: Religion, Culture, Society in the Age of Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996. Hirtenstein, Stephen. The Unlimited Mercifier: The Spiritual Life and Thought of Ibn ‘Arabi. Oxford: Anqa Publishing, 1999. Housden, Roger. Chasing Rumi: A Fable about Finding the Heart’s True Desire. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2002. “How Rumi’s Teachings Saved Karen Cavanagh’s Life.” Belief. Oprah Winfrey Network, October 23, 2015. www.youtube.com/watch?v=YysO4-KO8H0. “Islamic Holdem.” Existential Comics. n.d. http://existentialcomics.com/philosopher/Rumi.

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 179

Jama,Afdhere.“5 Queer Muslims in History.” LGBT Muslims: Information on Sexual Diversity in Islam. February 5, 2015. http://islamandhomosexuality.com/5-queer-muslims-history/. Javaherbin, Mina. Elephant in the Dark: Based on a Poem by Rumi. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015. Javaherbin, Mina. The Secret Message. Illustrated by Bruce Whatley. New York: DisneyHyperion, 2010. Jodha Akbar. Film. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. Mumbai, India: UTV Motion Pictures, 2008. “Kaleidoscope by Coldplay.” Songfacts. n.d. www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=38774. Kars, Lilian. More Than a Me. Illustrated by Steffie Padmos. Chelmsford: Matthew James 2015. The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam. Film. Directed by Kayvan Mashayekh. Springdale, AR: Hannover House, 2005. Lewis, Franklin D. Rumi – Past and Present, East and West:The Life,Teachings and Poetry of Jalal Al-Din Rumi. Oxford: Oneworld, 2000. Looseleaf,Victoria. “A Steaming Hot Stew of Music and Moves.” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2003. http://articles.latimes.com/2003/apr/14/entertainment/et-looseleaf14. Marks, Alexandra. “Persian Poet Top Seller in America.” The Christian Science Monitor, November 25, 1997. Maufroy, Muriel. Rumi’s Daughter. London: Rider Books, 2004. Monks, Kieron.“Lord of the Dance:The Sufi Mystic who has got the World Whirling.” CNN, November 30, 2016. www.cnn.com/2016/11/30/travel/rumi-revival/index.html. Moore, Jeffrey I. “46 Rumi Quotes from His Poems about Love and Life.” Everyday Power, March 16, 2014. http://everydaypowerblog.com/2014/03/16/rumi-quotes/. Mughal, Sameena. “Five Inspirational Rumi Statements to Say Every Day.” Her Daily, September 12, 2016. http://herdaily.com/life/25809/five-inspirational-rumi-statements/. Musgrave, Sarah. “Casual Dining: Rumi.” Montreal Gazette, October 18, 2011. www.montrealgazette.com/life/Casual+Dining+Rumi/5569430/story.html. “Mystical Andalusia: Garden amidst the Flames.” The Wisdom School. n.d. http://wisdomuniversity.org/Andalusia2017.htm. Nazeri, Hafez. Rumi Symphony Project: Untold. CD. New York: Sony Music, 2014. “Oslo International Rumi Festival.” 2015. www.rumi.no. Parvin, Manoucher. Dardedel, Rumi, Hafez, & Love in New York. New York: Permanent Press, 2015. Palazzo, Chiara. “Leonardo DiCaprio as Persian Poet Rumi: Gladiator Screenwriter Faces Cries of Hollywood Whitewashing.” The Telegraph, June 8, 2016. www.telegraph.co.uk/ news/2016/06/08/leonardo-dicaprio-as-persian-poet-rumi-gladiator-screenwriter-fa/. Parvin, Manoucher. Dardedel: Rumi, Hafez, & Love in New York. New York: Permanent Press, 2015. “R. Murray Schafer: Biography.” n.d. Canadian Music Centre/Centre de Musique Canadienne. www.musiccentre.ca/node/37315/biography. Ramsperger, Kathryn Brown. “20 Love Quotes from Ancient Mystic Rumi that Are Crazy BEAUTIFUL.” Your Tango, July 27, 2016. www.yourtango.com/2016293238 /20-beautiful-love-quotes-from-ancient-mystic-rumi. “Restaurant Rumi.” Resto Montreal. n.d. www.restomontreal.ca/en/1982/Rumi. Rohleder, Anna. “Sufis Show Mystical Side of Islam.” LEO Weekly, December 7, 2016. www.leoweekly.com/2016/12/sufis-show-mystical-side-islam/. Rozina, Ali.“The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi.” The NewYorker, January 5, 2017. www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-erasure-of-islam-from-the-poetry-ofrumi.

180 Contemporary Sufism in the West

Rumi: Poet of the Heart. Film. Directed by Haydn Reiss. New York: Magnolia Films, 1998. Rumi Returning: The Triumph of Divine Passion. Film. Directed by Kell Kearns. Philadelphia, PA: A Heaven on Earth Presentation, 2007. “The Rumi Festival.” Art Aware, June 12, 2013. http://aidaforoutan.blogspot.ca/2013/06/ the-rumi-festival_17.html. Rumi_poetry, “He also Made the Key.” Instagram, June 10, 2016. www.thepicta.com/user/ rumi_poetry/462085622. “Rumi: Poet and Sufi Mystic Inspired by Same-sex Love.” Jesus in Love Blog, September 30, 2016. http://jesusinlove.blogspot.ca/2016/09/rumi-poet-and-sufi-mystic-inspired-by. html. Rumi, Facebook post, February 24, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/RumiPage/. Rumi.quotes, “The Art of Knowing Is Knowing What to Ignore.” Instagram, April 29, 2017. https://www.instagram.com/rumi.quotes/?hl=en. Rumi Hugs, Facebook post, July 14, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/Rumi-Hugs -232019736889590/. Rumi the Master of Love, Facebook post, July 16, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/ Rumi-The-Master-of-Love-1632689780290780/. Rumi Quotes, Facebook post, July 16, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/RumiQuotes/. “Rumi Art iPhone 5 Cases.” DesignerPrints. n.d. http://designerprints.com/shop/iphone+ 5+cases/rumi+art. “Rumi.” Etsy. n.d. www.etsy.com/ca/search?q=Rumi. Rumi Hooded Sweatshirts T-Shirts.” Pixels. n.d. https://pixels.com/shop/sweatshirts/rumi. “Rumi’s Kitchen.” Rumi’s Kitchen. n.d. www.rumiskitchen.com. “Rumi Rose Garden Café & Market.” Rumi Rose Garden. n.d. www.rumirose.com/. “Rumi Rose Teas.” Rumi Rose Teas. n.d. www.rumiroseteas.ca/. “Rumi.” Walter Knoll. n.d. www.walterknoll.de/en/products/rumi-chair. Salian, Priti. “In Sufi Comics: Rumi the Persian Poet’s Life and Verse Get the Comic-Book Treatment.” The National, September 9, 2014. www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/books/ in-sufi-comics-rumi-the-persian-poets-life-and-verses-get-the-comic-book-treatment. Shafak, Elif. Pinhan. Istanbul: Dogan Kitap, 1998. Shafak, Elif. The Bastard of Istanbul. New York:Viking, 2007. Shafak, Elif. “The Politics of Fiction.” TED, July 2010. www.ted.com/talks/elif_shafak_ the_politics_of_fiction. Shafak, Elif. The Forty Rules of Love. New York: Penguin Books, 2011. Shiva, Shahram T., and Deepak Chopra. Rumi – Thief of Sleep: 180 Quatrains from the Persian. Chino Valley, AZ: Hohm Press, 2000. Stockdale, Scott. “Toronto’s Rumi Fest.” The Canadian Charger, November 10, 2010. www. thecanadiancharger.com/page.php?id=5&a=669. “Sufi Calendars, Cards, Journals & Books.” Amber Lotus Publishing, n.d. www.amberlotus .com/sufi/. “Sufi Comics: Rumi.” Sufi Comics: Comics for the Soul. n.d. www.suficomics.com/rumi/. “Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey & Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.” Super Soul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey Network, April 26, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= ZjYnthG36f8&list=PLFD5424BCA355123A. Swinton, Tilda. “Like This.” Etat Libre D’Orange. n.d. http://etatlibredorange.com/en/ boutique/like-this-en/. Tajadad, Nahal. Rumi:The Fire of Love. New York: Overlook Books, 2008. Tompkins, Ptolemy. “Rumi Rules!” Time, October 29, 2002. www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,356133,00.html.

The era of Rumi: Popular culture 181

Vakil, Mohammed Ali, and Mohammed Arif Vakil, Sufi Comics: Rumi Begin that Long Journey into Yourself. Bangalore, India: Sufi Studios, 2014. Vakil, Mohammed Arif, and Mohammad Ali Vakil. Wise Fool of Baghdad. Bangalore, India: Sufi Studios, 2012. “Whirling Dervish.” Urban Dictionary. n.d. www.urbandictionary.com/define.php? term=Whirling%20Dervish. Wuthnow, Robert. After Heaven: Spirituality in America Since the 1950s. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000. Zweig, Connie. A Moth to the Flame: The Story of the Great Sufi Poet Rumi. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.

PART III

Gendering Sufism Tradition and transformation

6 PERFECTING THE SELF Female Sufi saints in Islamic history

Some have argued that the globalization of Sufism, which has been discussed in the previous chapters, has meant greater opportunities for women’s involvement in the tradition. Contemporary Mevlevi Sufi master Sulayman Loras (d. 1985), for example, began teaching women to whirl in North America, breaking with centuries of tradition limiting this ritual to men. However, this idea that Sufism offers more opportunities for women in the West has also been exaggerated, overlooking the historical precedents of feminine involvement and leadership in Sufism, and the ways in which women are taking leadership roles in non-Western contexts. To make sense of these historical precedents, this chapter first explores the classical Sufi concepts of insan al-kamil (perfected human) and awliya’ (friends of God) and their relationship to gender. Thereafter, the chapter offers representative examples of the ways in which these ideal principles were actualized by Sufi women. This chapter is not meant to be comprehensive but rather offers brief examples of female Sufi personalities in each distinct period of Muslim history as a means of contextualizing the contemporary. The contemporary era has offered women opportunities to take on public roles within Sufism that were previously the preserve of men, and yet contemporary women’s activities in many ways perpetuate the rich history of women saints, teachers, and practitioners of Sufism. Sufi female personalities were influential in the development of the various aspects of the Sufi tradition, from developing its principles and practices to transmitting knowledge, and being recognized as saints, spiritual teachers, and authorities.The ways in which “women” are discussed in the history of Sufism rest on two theoretical approaches: (1) a metaphysical one; and (2) an historical and anthropological one. In comparing the conclusions drawn from these theoretical frameworks to the study of Sufi women, historically there is a consistent trend that the feminine, as an ideal principle, does not necessarily equate with the feminine as a social subject in the societies women occupied.

186 Gendering Sufism

Where the ideal feminine, especially as a saintly and perfected manifestation of the divine, is elevated in Sufi metaphysical and philosophical thought by male Sufi writers, this positionality did not necessarily equate to gender egalitarian access to spaces (public or private) and rituals in the day to day life of Muslim women. That being said, women, as many recent studies have unearthed, negotiated this complex positionality that relegated them on a biological level to the margins but elevated them on a spiritual level. Sufi women’s social and familial gender expectations were negotiated in their performance of leadership roles. Thus, where Sufi men’s stories did not necessitate that their spiritual identity be gendered as masculine, Sufi women’s stories did. Despite these complexities and the intersections at which Sufi women engaged in spiritual and pious work, they maintained roles as leaders and were seminal in the development of Sufi institutions, teachings, and devotion. They were a part of the story of Sufism much as their male counterparts. Yet, it is precisely their ability to occupy saintly and leadership positions that challenged the social and gender norms of the day, that further attracted criticism of Sufism as an Islamic spiritual tradition. Sufi women’s roles historically and in contemporary contexts attracted further vitriol from anti-Sufi camps. At the same time, it was one of the qualities that appealed to non-Muslims, including Orientalists, as a tradition that was contrary to the stereotyped vision of women as lacking agency or a voice in Islam.

Insan al-Kamil: The perfected human being Like the Bible and the Torah, the Qur’an states that humans are created in the image (surah or form) of God. Relating this idea of manifesting the divine form to Quranic teachings about God’s Ninety-Nine Names (asma al-husna), Sufis have long understood the core of their practice to involve each person’s conscious cultivation of their capacity to fully reflect all of the divine qualities present within the Names. For every spiritual virtue and existential principle there is a corresponding divine name, because all of creation reflects its Creator. Unique among the created beings, however, humans have the capacity to comprehensively reflect God’s nature in all its fullness, encompassing qualities as diverse as majesty, beauty, patience, strength, wisdom, firmness, gentleness, love, subtlety, and peace, among many others. Although God alone possesses these qualities in their fullness, human beings have the potential to manifest them in an integrated manner through assiduous spiritual practice and divine grace. While direct knowledge of God (‘ilm al-laduni) is ultimately a divine gift that cannot be attained through devout practice alone, full spiritual realization requires constant awareness of God’s presence and can be reached by any practitioner, whether male or female, through the cultivation of sensitivity to God’s immanent (tashbih) and transcendent (tanzih) presence. Significantly, the Sufi goal of becoming a complete or whole and perfected human being (insan al-kamil) is not understood to be a gender-specific state of being, and indeed requires

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 187

integration of divine qualities that might be considered “feminine” as well as “masculine.” Sufi personalities like Ibn al- ‘Arabi described the process of aspiring toward divine perfection by taking on God’s qualities as takhalluq bi akhlaq Allah, which translates literally as “characterizing oneself with the characteristics of God” or “becoming perfect in God’s perfections.”1 This is certainly one way to understand the entirety of the Sufi path: a gradual process of embodying more and more of God’s qualities, like generosity, justice, forgiveness, patience, wisdom, love, etc. As one invokes and more importantly lives and embodies these qualities, the aspirant fulfills more of the original human disposition (fitra) of innate goodness, which is a function of being created in the image or form of God. The fully realized human being or insan al-kamil (perfected human), manifests all of God’s qualities, reflecting God’s wisdom, compassion, and guidance into the world. To reach this station of perfection, however, the human has to be emptied of all created qualities, annihilated (fana‘ ) with respect to egoic characteristics, to clear the ground for God’s qualities to manifest and subsist (baqa‘) and thereby permit a contingent sense of identification with the Divine. Gender is notably absent within the Sufi understanding of the perfected human. In other words, being male or female is no more relevant to being described as the perfected human than is identity linked to culture, nationality, ethnicity, economic status, or any other social qualifier. An interesting example of this genderless aspect of insan al-kamil is found in the writings of Ja‘far al-Sadiq (d. 765), one of the most important early commentators on the Qur’an, as well as a renowned mystic, a scholar of religious sciences, a descendant of the Prophet, and, for Shi‘a Muslims, the sixth Imam. According to al-Sadiq, insan al-kamil is connected to the idea of the al-haqiqa al-muhammadiyya (“the Muhammadan Reality”) or nur muhammadiyya (“the light of Muhammad”) as inspired by a Quranic passage known as “the Light verse” (24:35): Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His Light is as a niche wherein is a lamp – the lamp in a glass, the glass as if it were a glittering star – kindled from a Blessed Tree, an olive tree that is neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil well nigh would shine, even if no fire touched it: Light upon Light; Allah guides to His Light whom He will. And Allah strikes similitudes for man, and Allah has knowledge of everything. Early Muslim scholars such as al-Sadiq suggest that the lamp (misbah in Arabic) in this verse is actually a symbol for Muhammad. Schimmel describes this reading of the text in the following terms: Through him the Divine Light could shine in the world, and through him humankind was guided to the origin of this Light. The formula “neither of the East nor of the West” was then taken as a reference to Muhammad’s comprehensive nature, which is not restricted to one specific people or race and which surpasses the boundaries of time and space.2

188 Gendering Sufism

It is with this more universal meaning of Muhammad that we find al-Sadiq explaining why other prophets like Mary, Moses, Joseph, and Abraham are also “muhammad.” In this case, they are described as such based on the meaning of the name, as “one who is praised” and not by gender. Thus Nur Muhammad can be conceived as the light of prophetic guidance manifest not just in the historical Prophet Muhammad but also among the other prophets, who, like Muhammad and indeed Mary, are praised (muhammad) for their state of total submission to God and transmission of the divine word.3 From a Sufi perspective, Islamic conceptions of divine as well as human perfection transcend the qualities and conceptions of masculinity and femininity that can be ascribed to the universe of created things. Reality in its many-ness is replete with differences and distinctions, and many of God’s Ninety-Nine Names can themselves be categorized as taking on a masculine or feminine character. God as such, however, surpasses such characterizations in his all-inclusive nature, despite the use of a masculine pronoun to refer to his transcendent reality. Similarly, individuals who, whether male or female, come to realize God’s oneness through recognition of his presence within the many-ness of his manifestation, arrive at a state of completion that is beyond a gender binary.

Gendered qualities encompassed by the perfected human While God’s perfection (kamil) integrates all of the diverse qualities manifest within God’s many names, the Names themselves have traditionally been divided into two specific categories associated with gender: transcendent or jalal (majestic and incomparable) names and qualities, on the one hand, and immanent or jamal (beautiful and loving) qualities, on the other. By characterizing names of God as being jamaliyya and jalaliyya and associating these qualities with creation and with God’s relational presence in lived reality, commentators developed a cosmology in which jalal names and qualities were connected to the masculine principle and jamal names and qualities were linked to the feminine. Jalal names included characteristics of strength, firmness, inaccessibility, bringer of humility, abasement, and death. In contrast, jamal names encompassed love, peace, forgiveness, subtlety, gratitude, and life. Placing contemplation of God’s beautiful names at the center of Islamic spirituality underscored the link between worship of a transcendent God and discovery of his immanent presence in a world where the names of God are quite literally scattered throughout creation, so these principles are found everywhere. Significantly, Sufi personalities emphasized contemplating both jalal and jamal qualities of God, and thereby encouraged cultivation of “masculine” as well as “feminine” ways of relating to the all-inclusive divine reality. Influential Sufi writers such as Ibn al-‘Arabi criticized the “jalal only” perceptions of divinity found in theological frameworks that excluded feminine and beautiful principles present within the Qur’an, and went so far as to state that “the Kalam [exoteric theology] stresses God’s incomparability so much that it negates the possibility of love between human beings and God.”4

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 189

To counterbalance the “jalal only” tendency that sometimes took root within outwardly focused forms of religiosity (forms that were often the most male-oriented), many Sufi personalities sought to develop the feminine or jamal aspect of spirituality, both as a creative and theophanic principle through which a spiritual aspirant becomes receptive to the divine, and ultimately as a necessary aspect of cosmological creation.5 Ibn al- ‘Arabi, for example, suggested that all souls are feminine, and that all of creation in fact is female in relation to God, in a state of total receptivity.6 Other Sufis characterized saints as “brides of God,” and referred to death as their soul’s wedding night. Traditions stating that “my soul is a woman”7 similarly embellished on this theme in ways that idealized the receptive quality as present within idealized figures such as the Virgin Mary. Such positive valuations of the feminine principle were further developed by Ibn al-‘Arabi in his commentary on a prophetic Hadith concerning love for women, and explained that loving women is itself a highly refined way of contemplating God. His poetic works such as Tarjuman al-Ashwaq (“Interpreter of Ardent Desires”) made extensive use of the feminine principle when describing moments of spiritual realization. The next chapter (Chapter 7) will explore similar invocations of the feminine, as seen in the thought of many contemporary Sufi female leaders.

Gendered “Friends of God” Even while describing a spiritual path for which both masculine and feminine principles are indispensable, Sufi characterizations of the complete or perfected human being imply a state within which jalal and jamal qualities become integrated. As the individual comes to manifest all of God’s Names, they become marked by comprehensiveness and perfection and are thereby able to act as a representative of God on earth. This means carrying out tasks of guardianship and protection of life, as envoys of God or as what the Qur’an qualifies as “Awliya’ Allah” or “Friends of God.”8 The intensive spirituality required to reach such an elevated state has been understood as nothing less than the perfection of the Islamic faith and its very core, hence later Sufis could lay claim to being the true “Heirs of the Prophet,” or inheritors of the fullness of prophetic knowledge. Sufi traditions ascribe to the “Friends of God” responsibility not just for preserving the purity of Islam but indeed the spiritual integrity of the world itself. In Arabic, the singular term “walī ” suggests qualities not just of friendship but also of guardianship, and the integration of these qualities is at the core of Islamic conceptions of sainthood. Even as they act as “friends” of God, the awliya’ (plural form) are also differentiated from other people in their capacity for “guardianship” (walaya/wilaya) in relation to the created world. Al-Junayd described this role in the following manner: God has select ones among His worshippers and pure ones among His creatures. He has chosen them for friendship, selected them [for] His graciousness

190 Gendering Sufism

and [thus] set them aside for Himself. He has made their bodies to be of this world, their spirits of light, their ideas of spirit, their understanding of the throne of God, and their intellects of the veil.9 According to al-Junayd, the awliya’ “are the instruments of God through whom God guides humanity to Himself and the springs with which He showers His mercy on His creatures.”10 Later Sufis would insist that their entire path was premised on the existence of this select group of guides brought close to God, who in turn share their knowledge, light, and blessing with their close disciples, with Muslims, and with all people and creation in general. Those who respond to God’s guidance and draw closer to Him are given commensurate responsibilities to carry out on His behalf, in a manner similar to that suggested by the Quranic concept of khilafah, or vicegerency (2:30), according to which the purpose of human life is to act as a custodian of the created world on behalf of God. Early Sufi writers reflected extensively on the concept of walaya. Generally articulated as a dual trajectory – one toward God, whereby the walī is brought close to God and experiences nearness and intimacy, and one toward creation, through which the walī helps in carrying out God’s tasks on earth, as a caretaker, protector, and transmitter of grace and wisdom. Significantly, Sufis did not see sainthood as an exclusively masculine spiritual station and maintained that the quality of wilaya could be bestowed by God upon anyone. In particular, anyone who undertakes moral purification and spiritual discipline of the Sufi path can experience an unveiling of esoteric knowledge, including access to the hidden meanings of the Qur’an, transmission of blessing (baraka), and even experience of miraculous gifts. At least in principle then, anyone can be a walī, even if only a select few find within themselves the spiritual discipline and dedication required to make the journey. It is these qualities of the walī, their ability to access the inner meanings of the Qur’an, miraculous gifts, and baraka that anti-Sufi interpreters have questioned or denied (as discussed in Chapter 2). In light of this last point, classical Sufi writers described a hierarchy of differently ranked saints watching over the world, and it was Ibn al-‘Arabi who further specified that this saintly hierarchy consisted of both men and women. With respect to the different ranks within this hierarchy, he stipulated that “each category that we speak of contains both men and women,” such that any of the saints, from the highest qutb (spiritual or axial pole) to the lowest of the thirty-five levels of sainthood, could be occupied by women as well as men. As Ibn al-‘Arabi affirmed in multiple instances, “There is no spiritual quality belonging to men to which women do not have equal access.”11

A brief historical overview of Sufi women Paradoxically, the elevation of femininity as an ideal in Islamic cosmology and the widespread affirmation of female “Friends of God” did not erase conventional understandings of gender in Islamic societies. Women’s contributions often took

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 191

place behind the scenes, and women infrequently assumed public roles. The public sphere, with its religious and political institutions, tended to be male dominated. Why? One theory to explain this concerns the institutionalization of Sufism and its increasing ties to government and the ‘ulama. As Sufism transitioned from informal social and spiritual networks to more institutionalized forms, we see a general pattern of male domination of these institutions. Organized Sufism thereby tended to follow patterns that were also present in fiqh and kalam, and largely fell into line with premodern gender norms whereby men were associated with the public sphere and women with the private. Scholars such as Laury Silvers and Amila Buturovic attribute the lack of formative and classical literature on Sufi women to sociopolitical norms that restricted women’s leadership within the public sphere. Rather than take on formal leadership of Sufi orders, women asserted themselves within prescribed female roles as mothers, wives, and daughters connected to Sufi males. This does not mean, however, that women were passive or completely marginalized from Sufi practice. As Silvers notes: Pious, mystic, and Sufi women were engaged socially with one another.They visited each other at home, met at gatherings, travelled to spend time with each other, passed along accounts of each other’s knowledge and practices, worshipped with one another, and caught up with each other’s news.12 Though not nearly so well documented as men’s activities, Sufi women’s engagement with one another was a vital part of Sufi culture and practice. As Buturovic states,“Sufi women’s participation in the mystical path has never been simple: rather, it has been predicated on their ability to navigate through social constructions – Sufi and non-Sufi alike – of gender and public/private space.”13 Despite the institutionalized tendency to amplify men’s voices, women had a continuous presence in Sufi orders and in the living and teaching of Sufism. As stated by Schimmel: Women played a positive role in Sufism. Even though the early ascetics were rather negative in their statements about women, it was a woman who introduced the concept of pure love into Islamic mysticism, and has been venerated for this reason throughout the centuries. One meets women in almost every avenue of Sufism. They act as patrons of Sufi khanqahs and as shaykhas of certain convents. They have been venerated as saints and accepted as spiritual guides. This symbol of the woman-soul who embodies the highest ambition of the God-seeking human being, has been popular in the Sufi tradition of Indo-Pakistan. As mothers, many mystically inclined women have deeply influenced their sons who in turn became leading masters of the Path thanks to their early education.The role of women for the expansion of mystically tinged Islamic thought in the countryside and down to the lowest levels of population cannot be overrated; they were the most important

192 Gendering Sufism

depositories of mystical lore and the simple, unassuming faith in God and the Prophet.14 In what follows, we point to specific examples from the formative, medieval, and colonial periods of Muslim history that help illustrate Schimmel’s observations.

Formative period: Female ascetics and male biographers The first four centuries after the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 are commonly described as the formative period of Sufism. During this period, Islam transitioned from its status as a seemingly minor new Arabian religious movement to a major force in world history – the basis for the polycultural and wide-ranging empires of the Umayyads (661–750) of Damascus and the Abbasids of Baghdad (750–1258). Although Sufi thought and practice were not absent from major urban centers of these empires, many early developments are understood to have transpired along the margins of empire among ascetics and mystics who sometimes preferred the isolation of the desert to the luxuries and temptations of cities. Over time, however, a widespread and diffuse culture of Islamic spirituality and esoteric thought developed coherence, in no small part through work of great Sufi biographers who traveled extensively to gather, compile, and record stories and teachings of exemplary Sufi masters. The manuals produced by these Sufi biographers, often in the form of encyclopedic guidebooks, preserved records of the early Sufi way of life as well as accounts of essential practices, and became catalysts for molding the future of classical Sufi traditions. From these works the authors were able to convey a variety of themes as well as genres, including descriptions of Sufi rules of conduct and norms of pious behavior, accounts of Sufi rituals and terminology, and hagiographic stories of leading Sufi personalities, both men and women. Scholarship exploring the presence as well as absence of Sufi female figures in Sufi biographies and compendiums has helped us to understand how women were included and at times neglected in these early, defining works. For instance, Silvers points out the stark difference between biographical collections wherein one or two notable Sufi female figures are depicted (e.g., al-Qushayri’s al-Risala or al-Hujwiri’s Kashf al-mahjub) versus that of other collections which offer a diversity of figures, male and female, who represent different Sufi inclinations and regions of the Muslim world (e.g., Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami’s [d. 1021] Dhikr al-niswa al-muta’abbidat as-sufiyyat and Abu al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi’s [d. 1201] Sifat al-safwa, as well as Muhammad Ibn Sa’d’s [d. 845] Tabaqat al-kubra).15 One female Sufi saint who is mentioned in most Sufi biographical collections is Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya. Due to the advanced nature of her spiritual states many Sufis held that there were none who were equal to Rabi‘a. Biographers like Attar considered her to be far above her contemporaries and later Sufis and hence she was given the title the “Crown of Men” (Taj al-Rajal). This “reverse genderization” is found in many of the biographers’ works in which women were said to have reached a state of perfection that transcended their “woman-ness” through rigor in

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 193

mystical devotion.16 Sufi authors articulated the courage necessary to go through the trials of the spiritual path and the rigors of self-denial as a form of manliness – to be a true man, or a manly and masculine man, was to be one who faced these challenges. By this logic, a woman who undertook the spiritual path successfully could be considered more masculine than the vast majority of men. Attar’s praise for Rabi‘a exemplifies this tendency to celebrate distinguished Sufi women as “more manly than men.” In his famous work Mantiq at-tayr (Conference of the Birds), Attar offers the following ecstatic praise for Rabi‘a’s status:“No, she wasn’t a single woman. But a hundred men over … From foot to face, immersed in the Truth, effaced in the radiance of God, and liberated from all superfluous excess.”17 Attar expands on the rationale for this praise of Rabi‘a in his Memoirs of the Saints: That noble recluse who dwelled behind the cloisters of God’s elect, a matron of sanctity beneath sincerity’s veil, on fire with love, totally consumed with yearning, arduously enraptured by God’s proximity, that apostle of Mary’s purity, acknowledged by all men was Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyyah, God’s mercy rest upon her.18 Associating Rabi‘a with the Virgin Mary, Attar portrays her as having achieved a spiritually active or “masculine” state of ascetic world-renunciation – of complete and loving dedication to the realization of God. He affirms her spiritual station by attesting that, “Both in terms of her spiritual transactions and gnosis of God, Rabi‘a was unexcelled in her time and was accredited by all great men of her age.”19 Offering similar praise, ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami (d. 1492), a famous Persian Sufi poet and commentator on Ibn al-‘Arabi, said the following about Rabi‘a: “If all women were like the one we have mentioned, then women would be preferred to men.”20 Such statements are very telling. In conferring upon Rabi‘a titles such as “The Crown of Men,” Sufi authorities who celebrated her spiritual excellence as an exponent of divine love alluded to another tradition that states, “When a woman walks in the way of God, she cannot be called a ‘woman.’”21 Though society may have favored men over women in conventional understandings of status and presumed capacity for leadership, Sufi Muslims granted exemplary spiritual women an “honorary male” or “more masculine than men” status. In the relevant Arabic and Persian literature, such women were often referred to respectfully as “men” – as rajul and mard. Such designations underscore the complex role of women in the theory and practice of mysticism, particularly considering the manner in which the noun “man” was often used normatively to designate any individual who earnestly strove toward God, without making any direct reference to the gender identity of the person in question. Nevertheless, this “reverse genderization” can be critiqued from a contemporary standpoint as perpetuating the valorization of the masculine as representing the pinnacle of spirituality, while the feminine is something that is in a sense shed on the spiritual path, despite the fact that male Sufi authorities aspired to the “feminine ideal” or the spiritual state of the bride in their approach to seeking God’s love. In contrast, Rabi‘a’s status as a spiritually realized woman was affirmed in terms

194 Gendering Sufism

of the feminine as she was described as a “second spotless Mary.”22 This links Rabi‘a to the notion of the insan al-kamil, which, as we discussed above, is a genderless notion of human perfection. This linkage to Mary is made as Mary was considered both the insan al-kamil and the Nur Muhammad, highlighting one of the ways in which medieval Islamic metaphysics transcended the dualities of gender categorizations. As we will see in Chapter 7, contemporary female Sufi leaders invoke Mary and continue to be inspired by her as a feminine archetype of spiritual perfection. Though Rabi‘a took on archetypal status and appears to have set a pattern for spiritually realized women, she was not the only Sufi woman to receive praise as an exemplar whom wise men ought to emulate. One of these early Sufi women was Fatima of Nishapur (d. 849), of Khurasan. Her famous student Abu Yazid al-Bistami (d. 874) once said of her: In all of my life, I have only seen one true man and one true woman. The woman was Fatima of Nishapur. There was no station (on the way) about which I spoke with her, but that she had already experienced it herself.23 Like few other exceptional women, she received elevation to the ranks of honorary men by being called ustadh (meaning “teacher” or “master” in the masculine form, as opposed to the ustadha). As related by the prominent Sufi scholar Dhu’-Nun al-Mesri, “I have never seen anyone more excellent than a woman I saw in Mecca who is called Fatima of Nishapur … She is a saint from among the friends of God, the Glorious and Mighty.”24 She also is known for stressing upon Dhu’l-Nun that the life of a Sufi is not to be found in supernatural states but in living spirituality through pious practice and thought. Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya and Fatima of Nishapur are among the eighty-four women recognized in one of the most interesting Sufi biographical collections, Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Sulami’s Tabaqat as-Sufiiyya (Categories of the Sufis). Intriguingly, these Sufi women are detailed in the book’s appendix, Dhikr an-niswa al-muta’abbidat as-sufiyyat (The Book of Sufi Women), which offers an account of Sufi women famous for their sanctity, miracles, and wisdom. Rkia E. Cornell, translator of al-Sulami’s statements concerning these Sufi women, points out that the appendix was separated from the original work soon after al-Sulami’s death and was thought lost until rediscovered in 1991. As one of the earliest manuscripts on Sufi women, the book contains descriptions of women from Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and begins with an introduction attesting that these women were spiritual exemplars: Masters of the realities of the divine oneness, recipients of divine discourses, possessors of true visions and exemplary conduct, and followers of the ways of the prophets.25 Other women mentioned in al-Sulami’s work are Mu’adha al- ‘Adawiyya, Hafsa bint Sirin, and Hukayma or Halima of Damascus. Mu’adha founded the first school of female asceticism in Basra and was credited with initiating the way of disciplined

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 195

servitude to God.26 She was praised by Hasan al-Basri (d. 728), who reportedly deemed her an authority on the spiritual path.27 Her method stressed the principle of servitude through “prayer, fasting, and the performance of night-vigils.”28 Tawakkul (trust in/reliance on God) “was also a central part of her doctrine.”29 She further “used to pray six hundred prostrations (rak‘at) every day and night and would read her nightly portion of the Qur’an in the standing position.”30 Desirous of meeting death while in prayer, she refrained from sleeping during the night and wore “only thin garments” to enable the cold to keep her awake.31 When overcome by the need for sleep, she would get up and wander around the house, saying, ‘Oh Self! Eternal sleep is ahead of you. If I were to die, your repose in the grave would be a long one, whether it be sorrowful or happy!’32 She once said to a woman whom she had nursed as a child: Oh daughter, be cautious and hopeful of your encounter with God, the Glorious and Mighty, for I have seen that when the hopeful person meets God, he is made worthy by his devoted servitude, and I have seen the God-fearing person hoping for safety on the day when humanity stands before the Lord of the Worlds!”33 Hafsa bint Sirin (8th century) had memorized the Qur’an by the age of twelve34 and was known for “her unique ability to interpret” its teachings.35 She would say to her young students: “Give of yourselves while you are still youths. For I see true spiritual practice only among the youths!”36 Her spiritual practice included an emphasis on prayer, fasting, and Quranic recitation, and she spent most of the hours of her day in her private place of worship leaving only upon the “full light of day”37 (in the morning) and returning in time for the noon prayer. “She would recite half of the Qur’an every night and would fast every day,”38 except for certain holidays (e.g., the Eid).39 It is related that although the oil of her lamp would sometimes go out while she was praying in the night, it “would continue to illuminate her house until daylight.”40 Hukayma or Halima of Damascus (9th century) was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad and an important Sufi figure in Syria. As with Rabi‘a, some biographers conferred the masculine title for a teacher, “ustadh,” upon her, as she was considered as having transcended the social limitations of her femininity with her renowned expertise in the formal Islamic sciences and matters of doctrine.41 Attesting to the wisdom implied in her name, which means “Dear Sage” or “Dear Philosopher,” Rabi‘a bint Isma’il related the following story about a visit with her: I entered Hukayma’s room while she was reading the Qur’an and she said to me, “Oh, Rabi‘a! I have heard that your husband is taking another wife.” “Yes,” I said. “How could he?” she replied. “Given what I have been told about his good judgment, how could his heart be distracted from God by

196 Gendering Sufism

two women? Have you not learned the interpretation of this verse: ‘Except one who comes to God with a sound heart.’”42 “No” I said. Hukayma said, “It means that when one encounters God, there should be nothing in his heart other than Him.”43 As I left Halima, I was so deeply moved by her words that I rocked back and forth as I walked in a kind of trance, but felt embarrassed at my condition – that a passerby might think me drunk.44 Taken together, these early Sufi female personalities were recognized as individuals who were steeped in the ways of gnosis (ma‘rifa), and in Sufi principles and practices of renunciation, moral conduct, spiritual motivation, love, and strict ascetic practices, which garnered notoriety that their male counterparts preserved their narratives in compendiums of Sufi lives. Some narratives of Sufi women interestingly worked within given gender constraints, but subverted them by challenging the purported masculinity of men, suggesting that there were few, none, or even only “half ” a real man among them. Husayn Ibn Mansur has a sister who laid claim to manliness on his path. She was also beautiful. She would come into Baghdad with half of her face covered by a veil and the other half exposed. A great one came to her and said, “Why do you not cover your face entirely?” She replied, “You show me a man, and I will cover my face. In the whole of Baghdad there is only half a man, and that is [my brother] Husayn. Were it not for him, I would leave this half uncovered also.”45 In contrast to some of the perspectives articulated above, Sachiko Murata invokes the metaphysics of submission and femininity, in observing that “when people recognize themselves for what they truly are,” they “will have no choice but to surrender to God willingly” and that, “male or female,” those who submit will become “a woman of light.”46 Hence the various metaphysical orientations offered by the Islamic tradition include a play of gendered possibilities, not only the genderless perfected human, the masculine woman, or emasculated man but also the man as woman, in a state of surrender.

Medieval period: Female teachers and Sufi orders The female Sufi personalities of the formative period inspired generations of classical Sufi women and the development of Sufi piety in the medieval period from the 12th to 16th centuries. This period witnessed the crystallization of the various ’ulum, or sciences, of Islam. By this time, diverse aspects of Islamic learning were formalized within coherent schools of thought, and institutionalized within private and publicly funded centers of learning. For Sunnis, Islamic law was now accessed through the four established schools of legal methodology (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i, and Hanbali), while Islamic theology was taught according to the Ash‘ari and Maturidi creeds. These established schools of law and theology were increasingly disseminated

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 197

through networks of madrasas (endowed colleges of Islamic higher learning), which trained the ‘ulama (the religious scholars who now staffed administrative hierarchies). By the medieval period, Sufism too had become accepted as one of the sciences of Islam, the science of the inward, of spirituality and psychology (‘ilm al-batin), as we discussed in Chapter 2. In this age of increasingly institutionalized Sufi orders, there was a tendency for Sufi spirituality to permeate mainstream Islamic practice. While the vast majority of women influenced by Sufism will remain unknown to history, the lives of a variety of Sufi female personalities have nonetheless been recorded. Some followed ascetic ways isolated from society, while others became recognized as teachers while also fulfilling their roles as mothers, daughters, and sisters. During the formative period of Sufism, many leading male Sufi personalities had female teachers; this phenomenon did not cease in the medieval period. Like al-Basri and Dhu’l-Nun before him, the great metaphysician Ibn al-‘Arabi also claimed to have benefitted from female spiritual mentors. As described in his Ruh al-Quds (“The Spirit of Holiness”) and al-Durrat al-Fakhirah (“The Precious Pearl”), Ibn al-‘Arabi was influenced by two of his most venerated teachers in al-Andalus (medieval Muslim Spain): Shams, “Mother of the Poor,” and Nunah Fatima Bint Ibn Al-Muthanna. While studying with numerous Sufi teachers, Ibn al-‘Arabi specifically mentions that some of the most realized of souls were his female teachers. With respect to Shams, he is known for stating that “among people of our kind I have never met one like her with respect to the control she had over her soul.” The following is also an account by Ibn al-‘Arabi about his female teacher, Shams: In her spiritual activities and communications she was among the greatest. She had a strong and pure heart, noble spiritual power and a fine discrimination … She was endowed with many graces. I had considerable experience of her intuition and found her to be a master in this sphere. Her spiritual state was characterized chiefly by her fear of God and His good pleasure in her, the combination of the two at the same time in one person being extremely rare among us.47 Ibn al-‘Arabi ends the biographical section of his Ruh al-Quds with another female teacher, Nunah Fatima Bint Ibn al-Muthana, whom he met in her nineties. She was said to have had a particular relationship with the opening chapter of the Qur’an, the Fatiha, whereby she related to the chapter as a living being that could quite literally be sent to follow and guide those who were in danger of wandering astray.48 Upholding her as a spiritual exemplar, Ibn al-‘Arabi described Nunah Fatima in the following terms: Although God offered to her His Kingdom, she refused, saying, “You are all, all else is inauspicious for me.” Her devotion to God was profound. Looking at her in a purely superficial way one might have thought she was a simpleton, to which she would have replied that he who knows not his Lord is the real simpleton. She was indeed a mercy to the world.49

198 Gendering Sufism

In Ibn al-‘Arabi’s account, self-control and awareness of God were among Nunah Fatima’s foremost qualities. He relayed a story in which she prayed for an individual who had struck her with a whip and left her in a state of anger. Recognizing the spiritual danger of this state, she sought refuge from her anger in prayer and asked for God to “not censure him because of [her] feeling against him.”50 Ibn al-‘Arabi went on to describe how the Sultan had intended to punish this same individual for other wrongdoings but Fatima’s prayer interceded with this wish and he was spared execution.51 These early experiences with profound women must have influenced Ibn al-‘Arabi not only to proclaim that the experience of walaya is fully available to both women and men without gender restrictions but also to encourage women in their pursuit of spiritual reality. As reflected in Ibn al-‘Arabi’s magnum opus, Futuhat al-Makkiyya (The Meccan Openings), he is known for stating that women could attain any spiritual station, including the hierarchy of the saints. It is also reported that fourteen out of the fifteen students to whom Ibn al-‘Arabi conferred the khirqa (or the patched frock of dervishes on the spiritual path) were women. In Teachings of Sufism, Ernst shares how Jami’ wrote an appendix entitled, “On the Remembrance of the Women Knowers of God Who Attained the Levels of the Men of God,” in which he recollected a passage from Ibn al-‘Arabi’s Futuhat al-Makkiyya concerning the number of “Substitutes,” one of the highest levels in the world’s spiritual hierarchy of divinely realized persons.52 Upon reporting that “Forty souls” have attained this rank, Ibn al-‘Arabi was asked to clarify his answer in terms of gender. He then answered that he had not used a masculine pronoun “Because there are women among them.”53 Another prominent medieval example of a female Sufi ascetic teacher was Lala ‘Aziza of Seksawa, whose tomb is still a place of pilgrimage in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. As recorded in Uns al-faqir wa ‘izz al-haqir (The Convivial Company of the Wandering Poor and the Honorable Strength of the Contemptible) by Ibn Qunfudh (d. 1407), ‘Aziza, who was his teacher, was known for her saintly presence and power: ‘Aziza blessed me with her goodness. I studied with her awhile … She was a teacher and had a number of followers, both men and women; they were involved in worship and in search for the divine … ‘Aziza was eloquent in her speech, in her knowledge of the Qur’an and Arabic … People were always crowded around her. I never saw her but that she was doing good. She is filled with God’s generosity.54 Ibn Qunfudh also described an encounter between ‘Aziza and al-Hintati, the governor of Marrakesh and a commanding general who was attempting to conquer south Morocco with his 6,000 men: ‘Aziza walked out of the safety of the foothills and onto the harsh Marrakesh plains and stood—alone—before the great general and his army. She confronted al-Hintati with her words and her own faith. She spoke of God’s demands for justice, the pull of the good, the wrong of harming God’s

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 199

creation. The general was overwhelmed by her. He later described the event to Ibn Qunfundh: “O religious teacher! This one—she is a wonder. She answered me before I could ask anything of her. She knew what was going on inside of me … my internal thinking, my ideas. I was not able to counter her argument, to reject her requests.”55 Elaine Combs-Schilling affirms how this story of ‘Aziza is still retold after six hundred years and how ‘Aziza’s tomb is a sanctuary and it is still used as a space for mediating conflicts. Even during the colonial age and the independence war with France, her tomb was a safe haven where many people would seek peace and calm in the midst of the conflict. ‘Aziza talked the general out of his conquest. She convinced him to leave the people of Seksawa unharmed. He marched his army back to Marrakesh, and she returned to the mountains. The story of a woman who dared to stand up to a general and his army, armed only with her faith. Down through the centuries people have sought refuge there, people fleeing the excesses of central power or local conflicts, people falsely accused of crimes, people who have done great harm.56 In addition to great female ascetic Sufi personalities who preferred the deserts to imperial cities, there also were scholarly personalities who left their legacy not through stories and aphorisms but through metaphysical poetry and writings. Perhaps the most well-known Sufi female mystic and scholar as well as prolific poet and writer in the medieval era was ‘Aishah al-Ba‘uniyah (d. 1517) who “composed more works in Arabic than any other woman prior to the 20th century.”57 Having been born into a family of religious scholars and poets, many of whom were devout Sufi members of the Qadiri Sufi order in southern Syria, al-Ba‘uniyah also studied with Sufi male leaders and some of the well-known scholars of her time. In particular she was known as a copyist, and in the process of her work she was influenced by the famous Sufi treatises by Yahya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (d. 1277), Kitab al-Adhkar (The Book of Recollections), and ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Jurjani’s (d. 1414) Kitab al-Ta‘rifat (The Book of Definitions). Similar to the biographical works of al-Kalabadhi, al-Qushayri, and al-Sulami – all of whom she quotes from their collections – al-Ba‘uniyah’s own book of reflections was composed, entitled al-Muntakhab fi Usul al-Rutab fi ‘ilm al-Tasawwuf (Selections on the Fundamentals of Stations in the Science of Sufism). In this work, al-Ba‘uniyah “compares Sufism to a tree with many branches, yet having four essential roots or principles: repentance (tawba), sincerity (ikhlas), recollection (dhikr), and love (mahabba)” (Homerin 2014, xvii).The following is an excerpt which ends her book of Sufi principles: God looked with favor on a folk, So they stayed away from worldly fortunes.

200 Gendering Sufism

In love and devotion, they worshipped Him; They surrendered themselves with the best intention. They gave themselves up to Him in love And passed away from existence with nothing left behind. Then with kindness and compassion, he turned to them And revealed to them His essence, And they lived again gazing at that living face As His eternal life appeared.58 Al-Ba‘uniyah’s scholarship and mastery of Sufi lexicography can also be experienced through her works of mystical poetry which have been collected in her writings: Diwan ‘Aishah al-Ba‘uniyah and Fayd al-Fadl wa-Jam‘ al-Shaml (The Emanation of Grace and the Gathering Union). A variety of key Sufi concepts, such as dhikr (remembrance of God), fana‘ (annihilation of lower self) and baqa‘ (subsistence in God), are explored in the 370 poems in Emanation of Grace to penetrate different mystical states and stations as well as highlight significant Quranic themes. As is witnessed in the works of al-Ba‘uniyah, the predominant tendency during the medieval period was for a Sufi aspirant to adhere to the teaching of particular male Sufi personalities within a specific Sufi order, and to reverentially follow the traditions of that teacher and order. While most hagiographic literature concerns narratives about male Sufi masters like ‘Abd al-Qadir Jilani and Nizam al-Din ’Auliya (d. 1325), one also finds stories about the great women in their lives, particularly mothers, daughters, and sisters. Some of these stories involve women stepping beyond their expected social roles. Most Sufi orders, for example, are organized around spiritual lineages that pass from fathers to sons or male devotees.The Rifa‘i Sufi order, however, diverges from this tendency by tracing its spiritual chain of transmission to Zaynab bint al-Rifa‘i and Fatima bint al-Rifa‘i – the daughters of its founder, Ahmad al-Rifa‘i (d. 1178). Zaynab and her mother, Rabi‘a bint Abi Bakr, are both mentioned in the biographical collection, The Garden of the Guardians and the Extract of the Deeds of the Upright, by Abu Muhammad al-Witri (d. 1512). Rabi‘a bint Abi Bakr was described as “the perfect knower of God” and was given the title by Ahmad Rifa‘i of “mother of the faqirs [the humble servants].”59 As for Zaynab bint al-Rifa‘i, al-Witri offers the following description: [A]mong the saints was the patient, humble lady, the one who recollected God, the perfect woman saint, the pure knower of God, the pious God-fearing one, the hopeful luminous one, the one who took precedence over saintly men, through her lofty qualities and her illustrious spiritual states, the mistress of sublime degrees, the mother of men, my lady Zaynab.60 As previously discussed about earlier female Sufi mystics like Rabi‘a and Fatima of Nishapur, Zaynab too was described as “though she had been created a man” by her own father, Ahmad Rifa‘i.61

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 201

Another very well-known example of an influential Sufi female medieval figure can be found beyond the Middle East, in Mughal India. A member of the royal family, Lady Jahanara (d. 1681), was the daughter of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (d. 1666) and of Empress Mumtaz Mahal (d. 1631) (for whom the Taj Mahal was built). The brothers of this “Sufi princess” were Dara Shikoh (d. 1659), himself a significant Sufi personality, and Aurangzeb Alamgir (d. 1707), who would eventually rise to the Mughal throne. A devout and pious disciple of the Chishti Sufi order, Jahanara’s writings attest to her devotion as an imperial princess to the Sufi path and way of life.62 In contrast to followers of mendicant orders who took a vow of poverty to pursue their spiritual practice, Jahanara maintained her elite status while engaging in the dervish practice of using dhikr to connect with the divine. In her collection entitled The Confidant of Spirits, Jahanara conveys her personal commitment to Sufi living. Utilizing the term faqira (spiritual poverty and humility), Jahanara acknowledges her spiritual calling as a Sufi. This term was eventually invoked in the inscription at her tomb, which reads: “The annihilated faqir Lady Jahanara …”63 In this work, she acknowledges that it was “with the aid of fortune and ascendant victory”64 that she was able to make her pilgrimage “from the capital Agra in the company of my great father toward the pure region of incomparable Ajmer”65 – where the tomb of Mu’in al-Din Chishti (d. 1236) was located – during Ramadan in 1643. She evocatively describes her mystical experience of visiting the tomb as follows: Having entered the dome, I went around the light-filled tomb of my master seven times, sweeping it with my eyelashes, and making the sweet-smelling dust of that place the mascara of my eyes. At that moment, a marvelous spiritual state and mystical experience befell this annihilated one, which cannot rightly be written. From extreme longing I became astonished, and I do not know what I said or did … If the sincerity, love and spiritual concentration of this annihilated one demanded that I should not go back home after having gone all the way to that blessed and gracious place, the corner of security – what can be done? The Beloved has placed a noose on my neck, And he pulls me wherever he wishes …66 Significantly, medieval India produced female spiritual masters (known as “Bibis”) and men (referred to as “Babas”). The gender-inclusive aspects of this spiritual culture have not necessarily unfolded progressively over time. It is ironic that in this day and age no women are allowed to enter the inner sanctum of Nizam al-Din ‘Auliya’s shrine in New Delhi, given that Nizam al-Din himself was known for frequently visiting the Sufi female shrine of Bibi Fatima Sam. To him, she was “a man sent in the form of woman.”67 Lives of women in medieval periods, such as above, convey how women subverted public and private realms and cultivated metaphysical principles of masculinity and

202 Gendering Sufism

femininity in their interactions and disciplines. For instance, Lalla, a 14th-century yogini and poetess of Kashmir “used to walk around naked because there were no men before whom she could feel embarrassed.”68 Lalla, then, came upon Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani (d. 1385), a Kashmiri Muslim saint, and “then she put on clothes. She had never before met a man, only people in masculine form who were in fact women.”69 Although many scholars have focused on the piety of antinomian women, their pious dress and behavior can be understood as forms of social deviance. Many dervishes, particularly those known as qalandars, expressed pious protest not only through the self-denial of renouncing property and material wealth but also through a rejection of institutions, employment, marriage, and family. Such non-conformism included seemingly “deviant” forms of behavior and appearance, associated with a peripatetic homeless life of “voluntary poverty and mendicancy.”70 Just as Lala ‘Aziza of Seksawa practiced civil disobedience by confronting a military force, so too did Lalla and al-Hallaj’s sister challenge gender norms by subverting expected feminine attire. Thus, the “anti-establishment” conduct of many dervishes earned both praise and blame, and in some cases dervishes were regarded as the “mouthpiece of social criticism.”71 These forms of civil disobedience and social critique of Islamic law and society garnered critique from anti-Sufis, as discussed in Chapter 2. Simultaneously, as these negotiations were unfolding within Muslim societies between orthodoxy and heresy – at the helm of which were often women – Orientalist encounters with dervish culture72 created a culture of fascination and exoticization which further propelled Sufism toward a non-Islamic context. In his examination of saints’ bodies and legacies of piety, Scott Kugle also explores the life of the North African saint Sayyida Amina bint Ahmad Ibn al-Qadi in 16th-century Fes.73 In particular, Kugle reflects on the legacy of this majdhub (“attraction to god”) as her devotion unfolds in what has been labeled “popular” and “official” Sufism (or “good” and “bad” Sufism).74 Sayyida Amina, for instance, negotiated her practice of Sufism within her relationships with her family (private) and also among jurists and scholars (public). Kugle writes: This symbiosis might mean that all saints, women and men, break patriarchal norms, since the goal of sainthood itself is to cultivate an integrated personality that transcends gender divisions.We should pay as much attention to the “effeminacy” of male saints as we do the “empowerment” of female saints, for it may well be that in each male saint is an inner woman, such that the man is a walī, not a man like other men.75

Age of colonization: Sufi females and the call of resistance Whereas in Europe the coming of the modern age is primarily associated with the intellectual discoveries and social dynamism of the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, the same period brings different associations to mind in traditionally Muslim lands. For Muslims, the advent of modernity meant the beginning of colonization rather than emancipation, as virtually all traditionally Muslim territories

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 203

fell under European occupation and imperial administration by the end of the First World War. Political subjugation to countries such as Britain and France marked a great historical as well as existential rupture, and created a fundamental change in the basic terms of reference for Muslim culture and politics. Muslims found themselves entering a new era with an historically unfamiliar, subordinate status; they were now forced to “catch up,” reform, and undertake adjustments in all areas of life – political, legal, economic, intellectual, and social. In the colonial period from the 17th to 20th centuries, as traditions of Sufism were being reshaped by anti-Sufism and Orientalism, women continued to be present in all walks of Sufi life and practice. In some cases, Sufi women even served as leaders of anti-colonial resistance. Two prominent Sufi women were Nana Asma’u (d. 1864) and Lalla Zaynab bint Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abi al-Qasim (d. 1904). Asma’u was one of West Africa’s most important religious teachers and community leaders. She was the daughter of Usman dan Fodio (d. 1817), a Sufi shaykh of the Qadiri order and the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate – the capital of which was located in what is today northern Nigeria. Dan Fodio, known as a reviver of Islam, preached an integral Islam based on the Qur’an, the Sunnah of Muhammad, Islamic law, and the practices and doctrines of the Sufi path. He was heavily influenced by the works of the medieval synthesizers of the Sufi tradition, such as al-Ghazali and Ibn al-‘Arabi.76 Though also a political and indeed military leader, dan Fodio came from a family of religious scholars in the Fulani clan, and his scholarly and saintly reputation were such that he became known simply as the Shehu or Shaykh. Although the local Hausa kings were Muslim, dan Fodio openly preached against their corruption, abuse of the poor, and deviance from Sunnah. In 1804, he was exiled with his family for this political stance.The Shehu came to envisage his task like that of the Prophet Muhammad: first to escape the oppression of those resisting the establishment of Islam, and then to fight to secure a realm safe for the religion’s practice. To this end dan Fodio launched what would become known as the Sokoto Jihad, a struggle against local colonial and Muslim rulers to eradicate corruption and idolatry, and to establish the teaching and practice of Islam in a large region that is now divided among several modern African states. Like her father, Asma’u was well-versed in the breadth of the Islamic tradition, including the Qur’an (which she had memorized as a child), the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Hadith), and the doctrines and practices of the Sufi path. She was fluent in the local Hausa, Fulfulde, and Tamashek languages, as well as Arabic.77 Although traditions of Islamic scholarship were frequently the preserve of men, the dan Fodio family made sure that male and female members alike were thoroughly educated. Her father set an important precedent for African Muslim women, in critiquing the cultural resistance to female education in the region.78 Counting her father and grandmother among her teachers,Asma’u was tutored in the many handwritten books that the dan Fodio family carried with them in goatskin satchels. She would eventually become a well-known religious scholar, holding popular classes for both men and women. Increasingly, Asma’u would draw students

204 Gendering Sufism

from all over the region, particularly women, who knew they had a welcoming but rigorous teacher they could approach. Although women did not customarily travel alone, Asma’u argued that they be allowed to do so for the sake of religious study.79 Educating women would become one of Asma’u’s lifelong causes. For those women who could not travel due to the demands of marriage and young children, Asma’u pioneered a distance education model, whereby she personally trained older women and younger girls (those without family duties) in a series of religious lessons including Qadiri Sufi values and the basics of Islamic doctrine and practice. These women, known as the Yan Taru (“The Associates”) would then travel in small groups to remote rural areas, bringing education to women who would otherwise be totally isolated from such opportunities: The Yan Taru organization was comprised of women who were past their child-bearing years, and thus freed from domestic responsibilities, as well as socially free to travel on their own. It was customary in the region for girls to move to their husbands’ homes at the start of puberty, settle in, and finish maturing in their new homes, even before consummation of the marriage. This meant that they were focused on their new domestic roles and unavailable to attend education classes outside their homes. For the majority, who lived in rural areas, there were no schools to attend in any event. To address this need, which was made more severe in the aftermath of jihad battles as society was beginning to mend, Asma’u began to prepare mature women to act as extension teachers for rural women. The lesson plans through which she taught them were her poems.80 Asma’u’s reputation for learning grew, and she comfortably engaged with other, usually male, scholars of renown across Africa. Asma’u’s Yan Taru model of distance education outlived not only herself but even the Sokoto Caliphate. This model of traveling religious educators remains active in contemporary West Africa, and is still used by Qadiri women.81 Asma’u was also famous for her poetry and prayers, written in Hausa, Fulfulde, and Arabic, which elegantly expressed religious teachings, the history of her family and the Sokoto movement, her grief over lost loved ones, and her longing for God. In the following excerpt of her prayer Tawassuli Ga Mata Masu Albarka, she eulogizes famous Sufis, and particularly Sufi women, for the inspiration they provide in her own life: My aim in this poem is to tell you about Sufis To the great ones I bow in reverence. I am mindful of them while I am still alive So that they will remember me on the Day of Resurrection. The ascetic women are all sanctified For their piety they have been exalted … I remind you how they yearn for God. I swear by God that I love them all

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 205

In the name of the Prophet, the Messenger of God. The scent of their yearning engulfs me.82 In the prayer, Asma’u continues to describe the virtues of the Prophet’s mother, wives, and daughters, as well as female Sufi figures from early and later periods of Islamic history. In her book, Sufi Women, she includes the names of Sufi women who are cited in a 10th-century biographical work by al-Sulami. Asma’u would translate the lives and sayings of these historical Sufi women into all three languages (Arabic, Fulfulde, Hausa), to make them accessible to all groups.83 Asma’u herself would become an exemplar of female piety, learning, mystical acumen, and communal leadership in the age of colonization and in contemporary times, especially as Africans were moved by transatlantic crossing for use as slaves in the Americas; their religious practices, such as Sufism, were transmitted during their forced migration. Jean Boyd and Beverly Mack, in their 2011 study, highlight how the same model of education that “inspired” Asma’u was transmitted among Muslim American women via the transatlantic slave trade route.84 For instance, by the late 20th century, an African-American community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, reclaimed their ties to the Sokoto Fodio family by studying works of Shehu dan Fodio and following the rituals of the Qadiri order.85 Another prominent daughter of a Sufi shaykha in the era of colonization was Lalla Zaynab bint Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abi al-Qasim (d. 1904) of the Rahmaniyya Sufi Order in Arab-Berber Algeria. Rahmaniyya Sufi Order was established by M. Ibn M. Ibn Mas’ud b. ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Fasi (d. 1878), who traveled to Mecca in 1850 and built a Sufi shrine (zawiya) there. In 1897, Lalla Zaynab would succeed her father, Shaykh Sidi Muhammad b. Abi al-Qasim, as the order’s leader. Similar to Asma’u, Lalla Zaynab was supported by her father to also receive advanced religious education that transferred Sufi teachings, doctrines, and traditions to her. Politically, Julia A. Clancy-Smith describes Lalla Zaynab’s position – along with that of her father – as follows: In a war of cultures, cultural weapons – and not militant opposition – proved the most formidable defense. And one of the most intrepid warriors in this bloodless battle was a woman, precisely because the colonial edifice was conceived of as an imperial man’s world … Contrary to what is frequently asserted – that colonized women lost power and status – it can be argued that the contradictions of the French regime offered opportunities, under certain conditions, for women to offer nonviolent resistance. Thus, Zaynab’s confrontation with French authorities indicates that women could be political agents as well as social actors even in a system of dual patriarchy. “But it is principally her audacity that renders this woman remarkable,” observed Zaynab’s main opponent within French officialdom.86 Led by Captain Crochard, the French colonial administration attempted to displace her from her leadership position. Increased Bureau Arabe interference

206 Gendering Sufism

occurred because of her gender, which resulted in the installation of her male cousin, Muhammad bin al-Hajj Muhammad, as her father’s successor. Just as Zaynab’s father was being prepared for his funeral, her cousin, Muhammad b. al-Hajj Muhammad, along with a group of supporters, went to the zawiya of the shaykh, where they were “confronted by a resolute and hostile Zaynab, who refused to acknowledge his moral and spiritual authority.”87 Zaynab “forbade” the students and caretakers of the zawiya “from obeying her cousin’s orders, denied him entry to the center’s library, books, and buildings, and imposed a sort of lockout by taking possession of the keys.”88 Clancy-Smith suggests that Zaynab’s “objections” to her cousin was likely a result of his impiety – which made him an unsuitable inheritor of her father’s authority – and the suspicious nature of the “apocryphal” letter that was presented by Captain Crochard to support her cousin’s succession.89 Despite this conflict over succession, Zaynab still received her father’s baraka, which was “fused [with] grace, blessings, supernatural powers, and charisma.”90 Nile Green points out that Sidi Muhammad, Lalla Zaynab’s father, significantly challenged “the old Sufi patterns of patriarchy” by having Lalla Zaynab succeed him as the head of the Rahmaniyya Sufi Order zawiya.91 She also then was known for transmitting Sufi teachings to the Swiss woman Isabelle Eberhardt (1877–1904), whose short stories in French formed the European counterpart to Qut al-Qulub (Nourishment of the Hearts) by Abu Talib al-Makki (d. 996).92 Eberhardt, known as a “passionate nomad,” similar to the Traditionalist scholar Guénon, was studying Arabic and Islam in Algeria. She eventually married an Algerian Muslim soldier, converted to Islam, and was initiated into the Qadiri Sufi order by Lalla Zaynab.93 Eberhardt’s propensity to cross-dress and transgress sociocultural norms likely found resonance with Lalla Zaynab, who too was fighting patriarchal authority and colonial structures. These two women, one a female Sufi saint and the other a Western convert, and their relationship with Sufism in Algeria during the colonial era, capture the complex intersection of Sufi tradition, colonial milieus, and gender dynamics.94 The common understanding of spiritual transmission of a Sufi lineage is usually from a male teacher to a male student. However, Lalla Zaynab’s reception of her father’s baraka challenges this traditional model of transmission, and is further problematized with her own decision to transmit this baraka to another woman despite her European descent and convert status. Last, it is important to note that, unlike Asma’u, Lalla Zaynab was celibate. As an unmarried woman, she was regarded as an ascetic, and from this acquired a status which ultimately provided spiritual authority, the ability to move freely, and social autonomy: The choice to remain unmarried can increase a woman’s power over herself, making her equal in status to a man.This issue in part explains the celibacy of women such as Rabi‘a and others, who are shown interacting as equals with men in early Sufi narratives. A case for this comes also from the story of a Sufi woman named Lalla Zainab … Women’s celibacy is indexed also to the

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 207

preservation of virginity as a marker of purity, which does not have a similarly valorized male equivalent.95 Devoted to caring for those in need, Lalla Zaynab led her order’s social and educational services.Venerated for religious devotion and humility as well as sophisticated knowledge, she became an icon of female spirituality and leadership within her Arab–Berber context. Some even attributed to her the capacity to work miracles, and even in postcolonial Algeria, Clancy-Smith reports, “Zaynab endures as the stuff of pious legends and lore.”96

Conclusion As we will see in Chapter 7, modern social formations, which have largely dissolved the gendered division of the public and private social spheres, have opened up public teaching roles to women, to an extent not possible in premodern contexts, where male control of public life was assumed as normative, and public roles, especially leadership ones, were largely perceived to be socially inappropriate for women. However, as this chapter has illustrated, male dominance of public life did not translate into male dominance of Sufi spiritual hierarchies: women have long been thought of as having exactly the same spiritual potential as men, or even more, with the same capacity for human perfection, and for occupying the various positions of spiritual guardianship and authority in the hierarchy of saints. This theoretical spiritual egalitarianism translated into the actual presence of women in the biographies of Sufi luminaries. Women have been recorded as being among the foundational figures of the Sufi tradition as a whole, and as acting spiritual guides to some of Sufism’s most renowned male masters. Their spiritual accomplishments earned them “honorary male” status, or even superlative maleness, speaking both to a (at least theoretical) gender fluidity and at times superiority, and to the ways in which Muslim women navigated the conventional valorization of maleness. Despite the widespread assumption of female privacy in premodern Muslim contexts, notable Sufi women emerged as public leaders, transcending gender divisions. Even for those women who functioned within socially sanctioned roles of mother or daughter, their spiritual authority and accomplishment were recognized as forming an integral part of the historical transmission of Sufism. Additionally, Sufi women’s hagiographies, some of which have been conveyed above, indicate the transgressive nature of their piety and spiritual disciplines. Historically, these figures and their narratives have been presented in terms of their gender and spirituality. However, their lives can also be conceptualized in terms of social critique. A Sufi woman not only aspired for a spiritual transformation of the inner self, but also ultimately of the outer world, as espoused in the ideal of insan al-kamil, which defined the path of Sufism for men and women. After outlining the metaphysical understanding of the feminine ideal within Sufism, this chapter has considered how this ideal manifested among various

208 Gendering Sufism

historical Sufi female personalities in several premodern periods. However, in the end the insan al-kamil is a genderless category, being expressed in different forms of Sufi authority, including sainthood, which both women and men manifested. This examination showcases the complex relationships and spheres that Sufi women negotiated, be it in ascetic self-renunciation, in familial and court cultures, or through metaphysical and biological forms. The stories of these Sufi women illustrate the contradictory and complementary nature of Sufism which continues to be lived among female shaykhas in the contemporary world.

Notes 1 William C. Chittick, “Worship,” in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, ed. Tim Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 235. 2 Annemarie Schimmel, And Muhammad is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety (Lahore, Pakistan:Vanguard Books, 1987), 124–125. 3 Farhana Mayer, Spiritual Gems: The Mystical Qur’an Commentary Ascribed to Ja‘far al-Sadiq as Contained in Sulami’s Haqa’iq al-Tafsir from the text of Paul Nwyia (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2011), liii. 4 Sachiko Murata, The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992), 78. 5 Jamal Elias, “Female and the Feminine in Islamic Mysticism,” The Muslim World 78, nos. 3–4 (1988): 209–224; Murata, The Tao of Islam; Annemarie Schimmel, My Soul Is a Woman: The Feminine in Islam (New York: Contiuum Publishing, 1997); Sa’diyya Shaikh, Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn ‘Arabi, Gender and Sexuality (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012). 6 Murata, The Tao of Islam. 7 Schimmel, My Soul Is a Woman. 8 “The friends of God – for them there is no fear, neither do they grieve” (Qur’an 10:62). 9 Ahmet T. Karamustafa, “Walayah According to al-Junayd.” In Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Theology, Philosophy, and Mysticism in Muslim Thought, ed. Todd Lawson (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005), 65. 10 Karamustafa, “Walayah According to al-Junayd,” 69. 11 Michel Chodkiewicz, Seal of the Saints: Prophethood and Sainthood in the Doctrine of Ibn ‘Arabi (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1993), 98. The concept of qutb (literally meaning “pole” or “axis”) symbolizes the idea of a spiritual center and higher state of reality, which in Sufism is associated with a specific human being. 12 Laury Silvers, “Early Pious, Mystic Sufi Women,” in The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, ed. Lloyd Ridgeon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 48. 13 Amila Buturovic, “Between the Tariqa and the Shari’a: The Making of the Female Self,” in Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Creative Suspicions, eds. F. Devlin-Glass and L. Mcredden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 135. 14 Annemarie Schimmel, “My Soul is a Woman,” in Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure, ed. Camille Adams Helminski (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publishers, 2003), 99. 15 For more about the absence of Sufi women from early biographical writings, refer to Silvers, “Early Pious, Mystic Sufi Women.” 16 Elias, “Female and the Feminine in Islamic Mysticism”; Buturovic, “Between the Tariqa and the Shari’a,” 144; Arezou Azad, “Female Mystics in Mediaeval Islam:The Quiet Legacy,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 56, no. 1 (2013): 81. 17 Javad Nurbakhsh, Sufi Women (New York: Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi Publications,1990), 15. 18 Margaret Smith, Muslim Women Mystics (Oxford: Oneworld Publishers, 2001), 21. 19 Nurbakhsh, Sufi Women, 16.

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 209

20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

Schimmel, My Soul Is a Woman, 78. A. J. Arberry, The Seven Odes (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1957), 40. Smith, Muslim Women Mystics, 21. Camille Adams Helminski, ed., Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publishers, 2003), 47. Rkia E. Cornell, trans., Early Sufi Women: Dhikr an-Niswa al-Muta’abbidat as-Sufiyyat (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), 144. Ibid., 48. Ibid., 61. Ibid., 268. Ibid., 61. Ibid. Ibid., 264. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., 266. Ibid., 270. Ibid., 62. Ibid., 270. Ibid. Ibid., 274. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., 59. Qur’an 26 [ash-Shu’ara’], 89. Cornell, Early Sufi Women, 126. Adams Helminski, Women of Sufism, 35. Murata, The Tao of Islam, 326. Sachiko Murata, “Women of Light in Sufism” (paper presentation, Congreso Internacional sobre Mistica Femenina “Mujeres de Luz,” Avila, Spain, November 1999). Ibn al-‘Arabi, Sufis of Andalusia (The Ruh al-Quds and al-Durrat al-Fakhirahi), trans. R. W. J. Austin (Sherborne: George Allen & Unwin, 1971), 142. Ibid., 143. Ibid., 143–144. Ibid. Ibid. For an overview of conceptions of the spiritual hierarchy within Sufism, refer to Carl W. Ernst, The Shambhala Guide to Sufism (Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 1997). For a detailed account of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s cosmological hierarchy, refer to Chodkiewicz, Seal of the Saints. Carl W. Ernst, Teachings of Sufism (Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 1999), 180. M. Elaine Combs-Schilling, “Lalla Aziza,” October 20, 2008, http://lallaazizasante. unblog.fr/. Ibid. M. Elaine Combs-Schilling, “Sacred Refuge: The Power of a Muslim Female Saint,” Fellowship: Islam, Peace, and Nonviolence 60, nos. 5–6 (1994): 17. Th. Emil Homerin, trans. Emanations of Grace: Mystical Poems by ‘A’ishah al-Ba‘uniyah (d. 923/1517) (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2011), 7. ‘A’ishah Al-Ba‘uniyah, The Principles of Sufism, ed. and trans. Th. Emil Homerin (New York: New York University Press, 2014), 159. Abu Muhammad Al-Witri, “The Garden of the Guardians and the Extract of the Deeds of the Upright,” in Teachings of Sufism, ed. and trans. Carl W. Ernst (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publishers, 1999), 190. Ibid., 191. Ibid.

210 Gendering Sufism

62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74

75 76 77 78

79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89

Ibid., 194. Ibid. Ibid., 197. Ibid. Ibid., 198. Ibid., 187. Murata, The Tao of Islam, 326. Ibid. Ahmet T. Karamustafa, God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Middle Period 1200–1550 (Oxford: Oneworld Publishers, 1994), 14–16. Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975), 111. As discussed in Chapter 3, in the works of Edward W. Lane and John P. Brown. Scott A. Kugle, Sufis and Saints’ Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 81. Dervishes who were believed to be particularly inspired, through an all-consuming absorption in divine contemplation and loss of conventional awareness, frequently earned the title majdhub (“utterly attracted to God”) or majnun (roughly, “possessed by divine madness”). Such terms were applied to a dervish who lived in union with God, experiencing the “ecstatic rapture by losing himself in God” (see Shems Friedlander, The Whirling Dervishes [Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1992], 156). Sufi poets such as Nizami (d. 1209) used symbolic narratives in which losing one’s own identity through intense preoccupation with a beloved figure led to the ultimate state of union with the divine Beloved. Others spoke of hayra, an experience of bewilderment or mystical perplexity, and similarly affirmed the loss of ordinary “sanity” as a basis for deeper spiritual realization. Kugle, Sufis and Saints’ Bodies, 120. Beverly Mack, “Nana Asma’u: Nineteenth Century West African Sufi,” in The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, ed. Lloyd Ridgeon (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 190. Adams Helminski, Women of Sufism, 137. Mack, “Nana Asma’u: Nineteenth Century West African Sufi,” 192. As also mentioned in Jean Boyd and Beverly Blow Mack, One Woman’s Jihad: Nana Asma’u: Scholar and Scribe (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000), 185: “Asma’u’s father is known for having admonished men for preventing their wives and daughters from leaving their homes to pursue their studies, stating explicitly that a man who did not educate the women in his family was not a good Muslim.” Adams Helminski, Women of Sufism, 139. O. N. Ukpokodu and P. Ukpokodu, eds., Contemporary Voices from the Margin: African Educators on African and American Education (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2012), 101. Mack, “Nana Asma’u: Nineteenth Century West African Sufi,” 194. Adams Helminski, Women of Sufism, 140–141. Ukpokodu and Ukpokodu, Contemporary Voices from the Margin, 100–101. Jean Boyd and Beverly Mack, “‘Be Sure of God’s Truth’: Nan Asma’u,” in Feminist Writings from Ancient Times to the Modern World: A Global Sourcebook and History, ed.T. K.Wayne (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011), 158–159. Ibid. Julia A. Clancy-Smith, Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters (Algeria and Tunisia, 1800–1904) (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994), 216. Clancy-Smith, Rebel and Saint, 235–236. Ibid. Ibid.

Female Sufi saints in Islamic history 211

90 Ibid., 243. 91 Nile Green, Sufism: A Global History (Chichester; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 201. 92 A foundational collection of Sufi practices that would inspire such early medieval Sufi figures as al-Ghazali (see Green, Sufism, 201). 93 Clancy-Smith, Rebel and Saint, 244. 94 Ibid. 95 Shahzad Bashir, “Islamic Tradition and Celibacy,” in Celibacy and Religious Traditions, ed. Carl Olson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 135–147. 96 Julia A. Clancy-Smith, “The ‘Passionate Nomad’ Reconsidered: A European Woman in l’Algerie Francaise (Isabelle Eberhardt, 1877–1904),” in Genealogies of Orientalism: History, Theory, Politics, eds. Edmund Burke and David Prochaska (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 2008), 203, 265.

Bibliography Adams Helminski, Camille, ed. Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publishers, 2003. Ibn al- ‘Arabi. Sufis of Andalusia (The Ruh al-Quds and al-Durrat al-Fakhirahi. Translated by R. W. J. Austin. Sherborne: George Allen & Unwin, 1971. Al-Ba‘uniyah, ‘A’ishah. The Principles of Sufism. Edited and translated by Th. Emil Homerin. New York: New York University Press, 2014. Al-Witri, Abu Muhammad. “The Garden of the Guardians and the Extract of the Deeds of the Upright.” In Teachings of Sufism, edited and translated by Carl W. Ernst, 190–194. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publishers, 1999. Arberry, A. J. The Seven Odes. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1957. Azad, Arezou. “Female Mystics in Mediaeval Islam: The Quiet Legacy.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 56, no. 1 (2013): 53–88. Bashir, Shahzad. “Islamic Tradition and Celibacy.” In Celibacy and Religious Traditions, edited by Carl Olson, 133–150. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Boyd, Jean, and Beverly Blow Mack. One Woman’s Jihad: Nana Asma’u: Scholar and Scribe. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000. Boyd, Jean, and Beverly Mack. “‘Be Sure of God’s Truth’: Nan Asma’u.” In Feminist Writings from Ancient Times to the Modern World: A Global Sourcebook and History, edited by T. K. Wayne, 43–57. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Buturovic, Amila. “Between the Tariqa and the Shari‘a: The Making of the Female Self.” In Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Creative Suspicions, edited by F. Devlin-Glass and L. Mcredden, 135–150. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Chittick, William C. “Worship.” In The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, edited by Tim Winter, 218–236. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Chodkiewicz, Michel. Seal of the Saints: Prophethood and Sainthood in the Doctrine of Ibn ‘Arabi. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1993. Clancy-Smith, Julia A. Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters (Algeria and Tunisia, 1800–1904). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994. Clancy-Smith, Julia A. “The ‘Passionate Nomad’ Reconsidered: A European Woman in l’Algerie Francaise (Isabelle Eberhardt, 1877–1904).” In Genealogies of Orientalism: History, Theory, Politics, edited by Edmund Burke and David Prochaska, 61–78. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 2008. Combs-Schilling, M. Elaine. “Sacred Refuge: The Power of a Muslim Female Saint.” Fellowship: Islam, Peace, and Nonviolence 60, nos. 5–6 (1994): 17.

212 Gendering Sufism

Combs-Schilling, M. Elaine. “Lalla Aziza.” October 20, 2008. http://lallaazizasante.unblog. fr/. Cornell, Rkia E., trans. Early Sufi Women: Dhikr an-Niswa al-Muta’abbidat as-Sufiyyat. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae Publishers, 1999. Elias, Jamal. “Female and the Feminine in Islamic Mysticism.” The Muslim World 78, nos. 3–4 (1988): 209–224. Ernst, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publishers, 1997. Ernst, Carl W. Teachings of Sufism. Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 1999. Friedlander, Shems. The Whirling Dervishes. Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1992. Green, Nile. Sufism: A Global History. Chichester; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Homerin, Th. Emil, ed. and trans. Emanations of Grace: Mystical Poems by ‘A’ishah al-Ba‘uniyah (d. 923/1517). Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2011. Karamustafa, Ahmet T. God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Middle Period 1200– 1550. Oxford: Oneworld Publishers, 1994. Karamustafa, Ahmet T. “Walayah According to al-Junayd.” In Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Muslim Thought, edited by Todd Lawson, 62–68. London: I.B. Tauris, 2005. Kugle, Scott A. Sufis and Saints’ Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007. Mack, Beverly. “Nana Asma’u: Nineteenth Century West African Sufi.” In The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, edited by Lloyd Ridgeon, 183–211. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Mayer, Farhana. Spiritual Gems: The Mystical Qur’an Commentary Ascribed to Ja‘far al-Sadiq as Contained in Sulami’s Haqa’iq al-Tafsir from the text of Paul Nwyia. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2011. Murata, Sachiko. The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought. Narrated by Najm al-Din Razi (13th century). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992. Murata, Sachiko. “Women of Light in Sufism.” Paper Presentation at Congreso Internacional sobre Mistica Femenina “Mujeres de Luz,” Avila, Spain, November 1999. Nurbakhsh, Javad. Sufi Women. New York: Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi, 1990. Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975. Schimmel, Annemarie. And Muhammad Is His Messenger:The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. Lahore, Pakistan:Vanguard Books, 1987. Schimmel, Annemarie. My Soul Is a Woman: The Feminine in Islam. New York: Contiuum Publishing, 1997. Schimmel, Annemarie. “My Soul Is a Woman.” In Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure, edited by Camille Adams Helminski, 98–108. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publishers, 2003. Shaikh, Sa’diyya. Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn ‘Arabi, Gender and Sexuality. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Silvers, Laury. “Early Pious, Mystic Sufi Women.” In The Cambridge Companion to Sufism, edited by Lloyd Ridgeon, 24–52. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Smith, Margaret. Muslim Women Mystics. Oxford: Oneworld Publishers, 2001. Ukpokodu, O.N., and P. Ukpokodu, eds. Contemporary Voices from the Margin: African Educators on African and American Education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2012.

7 “WOMEN OF LIGHT” Contemporary female Sufi leaders

One of the significant discussions unfolding among scholars and practitioners of contemporary Sufism is the extent to which women are actively involved in Sufism. Whether as leaders or through their participation in rituals and spaces, the “rise of women” in a number of Sufi-related contexts has been observed by scholars and Sufi leaders. Historically and today, the role of women in Sufism is often positioned against the place of women in Islam at large, where women are stereotypically reduced to silent and passive agents in predominately patriarchal Muslim cultures. For instance, Sufism has been thought of as a means by which women may access religious spaces (e.g., shrines) in ways they have been unable to in other contexts (e.g., mosques). Although in some cases, Sufi contexts have facilitated the greater participation of women, this statement can be exaggerated to suggest by contrast that “Islam” in general marginalizes women. In many ways, these portrayals of Islam have been influenced by Orientalist scholarship, which at the same time transmitted a universal form of Sufism to the West, which then attracted non-Muslim interest, especially among women. Thus, these popular understandings in the contemporary context tend to presume an essential oppression of women in Islam, and an elevation of women in Sufism, which further polarizes Sufism and its relationship to Islam. The notion that Sufism offers greater agency to Muslim women than more conventional Islamic contexts (a notion both partially true and false) is another example of a contradiction that is being examined throughout this chapter. Chapter 6 highlighted ways in which considering the status of women within Sufi and Muslim contexts is not simply a matter of marginalization or “empowerment,” but is far more nuanced, as women negotiate and occupy a spectrum of spheres in their enactment of Sufi traditions. To speak of Sufi women in contemporary contexts, then, is not to foreground an anomaly but to capture the continuity of women’s participation in the formation and transmission of Sufism.

214 Gendering Sufism

Contemporary Sufi leaders, such as the ones discussed below, evoke and transmit classical metaphysical teachings. This chapter captures four Sufi female leaders who are having an impact as global authorities of contemporary Sufism. Two are from Istanbul, Turkey, and two are from America. Despite their different Sufi lineages and cultural contexts, these four Sufi leaders evoke similar classical Sufi principles and practices, while maintaining their own particular understandings of them.We explore these principles in light of three crosscutting themes: (1) their definitions of Sufism; (2) the teacher– student relationship (murshid–murid); and (3) their responsibilities as female leaders in the contemporary context.The voices of these female leaders and practitioners of Sufism suggest that although the ways in which women’s roles are being expressed are changing in some respects, the nature of leadership within Sufi communities continues to revolve around the transmission of spiritual blessing (baraka) and the sharing of a worldview that seeks unity beyond the polarities of male and female, heaven and earth. Whereas the previous chapters offer historical contexts of contemporary Sufi phenomena, this chapter offers readers a visceral sense of what contemporary female Sufi leaders themselves think of their tradition through their own voices and rare testimonies. These particular leaders were chosen as they represent a spectrum of approaches to Sufism, they come from a diverse array of lineages and cultural contexts, and they are actively shaping contemporary Sufi traditions through their varied experiences of leadership. These different leaders offer windows into the broader phenomenon but are not meant to comprise a comprehensive overview. The following biographies introduce these leaders and set the stage for considering their respective responses to our questions on defining Sufism, teaching Sufism, and the role of gender in Sufism. Nur Artiran is a current master (shaykha)1 of the Mevlevi order founded by Jalal ad-Din Rumi, having succeeded her teacher, Şefik Can (d. 2005).2 Daniel Dyer, writing about his trip to the Şefik Can International Mevlana Education and Culture Foundation in September 2013, which was led by Kabir Helminski and Camille Adams Helminski, described Nur Artiran as “one of Turkey’s most respected spiritual teachers.”3 She is President of the Şefik Can International Mevlana Education and Culture Foundation (based in Istanbul), and a board member of the Universal Sufi Council (based in Wassenaar, the Netherlands). Fascinated with mysticism since she was a child, Nur Artiran has written scholarly articles and contributed to Şefik Can’s book, Cevahir-i Mesneviyye.4 She has also presented at local and international conferences (e.g., Zenith Institute Sufi Summer Camp, International ’Alawiyya Sufi Association, International Congress of Turkish Culture), and on radio and television programs. Fariha Friedrich co-founded a branch of Halveti-Jerrahi Tariqah in 1983 with Nur al-Anwar al-Jerrahi (also known as Lex Hixon) (d. 1995) after receiving a transmission from Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak (1916–1985, Istanbul). Together, al-Jerrahi and Friedrich have developed a branch of the Jerrahi order known for its liberal openness to adaptation and change, alongside its emphasis on the importance of traditional forms of practice and relationship. Friedrich is the current spiritual leader

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 215

(shaykha) of this branch, known as the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order (NAJSO), based in New York City. The NAJSO traces its heritage to Pir Nureddin al-Jerrahi (b. 1678, Istanbul), who established the Halveti-Jerrahi order in 1704. Cemalnur Sargut Hoca is a prominent Sufi teacher (Hoca) of the Rifai-Jerrahi order. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and taught chemistry for two decades. She also received her religious education from Samiha Ayverdi (d. 1993, founder, Turkish Women’s Cultural Association), who encouraged her to give lessons on Rumi’s famous work the Masnavi and whom she succeeded as the association’s current president. Cemalnur publishes works on Sufism and Quranic commentary compilations (which include the writings of famous Sufi figures from the classical tradition). A list of her selected works can be found in her biography (www. cemalnur.org). She sees Sufism as a “common language” that people of various cultural and religious backgrounds can share.To further this humanistic vision of Sufism, Sargut has established academic Chairs of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and at Peking University, Beijing. Additionally, in March 2017, the Kenan Rifai Center of Sufi Studies was inaugurated at Kyoto University in Japan. Devi Tide is former Executive Director of the North American Secretariat of the Inayati Sufi order and is currently Head and Vice President of the Sufi Healing Order of North America, Australia, and New Zealand.5 Tide has contributed to workshops in India, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America, participating in programs in such organizations as the United Nations and the Harvard Mind Body Institute. Each of these leaders responded to questions about women and Sufism in a distinctive way. While their testimonies did not exhaust the potential range of positions on women and Sufism – voices could have been found, for example, arguing in favor of more traditional forms of gender segregation and separate spaces for female leadership – the women interviewed provided fascinating insights into ways in which women have found opportunities for leadership in contexts shaped by multiple cultural currents. In North America, for example, early Sufi spaces were primarily constituted by people who had adopted Sufi practices and worldviews while still moving within the framework of the majority culture. This reality began to change as immigrant communities from traditional Islamic contexts established a presence on the continent. This presence introducing new discussions and a culturally varied set of Sufi experiences has included the explicitly universalist Inayati Order associated with the Chishti Sufi lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan and a culturally mixed Sufi order of Turkish origin, the Jerrahis, whose lineage was introduced to the United States by Muzzafer Ozak in the 1970s. Though practicing in lands where Sufism has been rooted for hundreds of years, female Sufi leaders in Turkey also engage diverse currents of thought and cultural orientation – some modernist and secular in character, and others Traditionalist or revivalist. This gives Sufism in metropolitan centers such as Istanbul a distinctive character – situated as it is upon the boundary between Europe and Asia. The experience of negotiating between modernity and tradition nonetheless resembles experiences in many other settings where Sufism is practiced.

216 Gendering Sufism

Living Sufism today As we have noted in previous chapters, tasawwuf or Sufism can be defined in a variety of ways. Because the term has multiple meanings, questions about the nature of Sufism elicit different answers. When asked to comment on the meaning of Sufism, most of the contemporary female Sufi leaders who were surveyed for this chapter represented their own unique understandings and experiences while also evoking beliefs and practices that are widely shared. Crosscutting themes in their descriptions included: a strong emphasis on the importance of actually living and embodying Sufi ideals and practices; characterization of coming to know deeper or higher levels of one’s own spiritual self as a moral imperative; affirmation of the aspiration to realize the oneness and unity of being; and a belief that ultimately Sufism is the path of love. Though the female leaders consulted for this chapter did not hesitate to offer interpretive reflections on contemporary issues, most were also quite active in articulating the bases for their understandings of Sufism in traditional sources. In essays entitled, “Tasawwuf (Sufism),” and “Tasavvuf: The Way to Acquire the Art of Being Human,” Cemalnur Sargut Hoca’s style and aphoristic sayings about Sufism mirror those of early Sufi biographers (see Figure 7.1).6 Like al-Sulami or al-Qushayri, Sargut of the Rifai-Jerrahi Sufi order7 shares different definitions of Sufism offered by classical Sufi personalities (e.g., Junayd al-Baghdadi, Beyazid Bestami [d. 849], Suhrawardi, and Ibn al-‘Arabi) while also weaving in her own commentary about particular aspects of Sufism.8 Thus, Sufism for Sargut is not only equivalent to “eternal life and adab (good manners) in every kind of avhal (state)” but it can be “morality” itself as well as “real freedom.”9 Ultimately for Sargut, “Sufism is not something to talk about but rather; it is an inner journey which requires to be practiced.”10 Sargut adds to this statement in another essay by stating, “Tasawwuf is not teaching but a way of living and this is explained by insan-y-kamil [Perfect Human: spiritually complete, highly enlightened and matured human being].”11 As previously mentioned in Chapter 6, insan al-kamil is a genderless concept and is frequently used by most Sufis as the ideal model toward which to strive in becoming a Sufi. This emphasis on Sufism as “a way of living” is also found in the thoughts of Shaykha H. Nur Artiran (see Figure 7.2)12 of the Mevlevi Sufi Order13 in her response to a question about how she would describe Sufism: Countless books on Sufism have been written over the centuries by experts approaching the topic from both inner and outer perspectives. Naturally, this research spans a very large domain because Sufism is indeed a very deep and a mysterious topic. In addition to this, everybody comprehends according to his or her own capacity. But in the simplest terms, in language everybody can understand, we can say: Sufism means a human being’s recognition and knowledge of his/her own Self, with the consequence that he/she lives his/her life with awareness, experiencing the depth of life and being conscious of the purpose of creation [emphasis added].14

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 217

FIGURE 7.1

Cemalnur Sargut Hoca at one of her many public speaking events

FIGURE 7.2

Shaykha Nur Artiran at the Şefik Can International Mevlana Education and Culture Foundation

218 Gendering Sufism

FIGURE 7.3

Devi Tide, Head and Vice President of the Sufi Healing Order of North America, Australia, and New Zealand

This choice to define Sufism in existential terms, in relation to realizing one’s own true self and dimensions of human experience, resonates with classical and contemporary articulations about Sufism that underscore essential realities and realization more than outward forms and specific rituals or methods. Traditional Sufi conceptions of the self are expressed in language that resonates with contemporary psychology. Scholars of contemporary Sufism have noted the interface of Sufism and psychology, as Sufi teachers have embraced psychological models as contemporary tools for expressing traditional teachings.15 When asked the same question about what Sufism is, Devi Tide (see Figure 7.3) of the Inayati Order16 affirmed similar themes, while adding that the Sufi way is awareness that is connected to “awakening”: I do not think there is an “ism” here.The Sufi path is one of awakening. Awakening does not have a curriculum or a body of rules. For some, awakening takes on a spiritual dimension – the perennial philosophy that is as old as the striving of the human heart.There are some people who call Sufism the religion of the heart. Its secret certainly lies within the opened and awakened heart.17 In speaking of the “awakened heart,” Tide alludes not just to teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, the founder of the Inayati Order,18 but also to widespread Sufi traditions that describe cultivation of the heart as the basis for accessing and comprehending spiritual realities. Tide rejects expressing Sufism within the modern strictures of ideology (“ism”) and systematization (“curriculum”), and invokes the perennial philosophy, a concept that we have seen in previous chapters has been central to the Western framing of Sufism.

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 219

Many classical Sufi traditions liken spiritual practice to the “polishing” or purification of the heart, with some likening this process to the removal of rust from a mirror. Thus, in many spiritual teachings, this idea of an awakened heart is connected to the process of purification. For Sargut, this “cleansing of one’s nature” is essential when defining Sufism: “Once you are cleansed of the desires of your animal soul (nafs), your dead body gets quickened and acts as mirror where Allah the Truth (Haqq) becomes manifest.”19 In including this teaching within her definition of Sufism, Sargut establishes a connection with teachings about different levels of the human soul, which might be likened to steps upon a spiritual ladder that leads from a dominance of coarse sense-perceptions and egocentric desires toward much higher levels of spiritual refinement wherein the soul finds peace. At these higher levels the heart becomes purified from outward distractions and desires, and becomes the center from which the soul mirrors and perceives God. Sufi teachers have long taught that this process of purification or awakening is advanced by processes of remembering God and one’s own true nature. Purification through remembrance of God ultimately enables a practitioner to experience the unity of being, wherein consciousness of oneself as an entity existing in separation from God disappears and God is seen reflected in all of reality. Historically, many Sufis have connected this realization with unity and wholeness – an idea that the respondents echoed when describing Sufism as a way of living that enables us to remember that we all are parts of a greater whole. The following testimonies demonstrate the consistency of themes concerning an all-encompassing oneness or wholeness that embraces all of existence: Sufism means realizing the truth and essence of all things, independent of their external appearances, shapes and features. It is to see the single principle, within multiplicity in this world. (Artiran)20 Its secret certainly lies within the opened and awakened heart. Sufism sees all religions as part of one faith, the faith that we share in the Divine, described carefully by each religion – one God – no matter how each religion describes it. To the student of Sufism each person is part of one human family, no matter the amount of pigment in their skin, or their location in the world. We are all part of one living whole, sharing in the same breath. The Sufi sees the world as precious, an expression of the Divine, the Beloved, the Source. To the student of Sufism we are all part of one living Universe, one vibrant Whole. (Tide)21 Sufism is the art of becoming human (who is created with the attributes of metals, plants and animals). Today, if the religions can be viewed through the unifying glasses of Sufism, it becomes apparent that they complete one another. It then can be realized that everything consists of One. From this point of view, the differences are accepted as the mirrors which reflect the beauty of the One. The warless societies which are cried for are only secured by the people who have completed their inner struggles. (Sargut)22

220 Gendering Sufism

FIGURE 7.4

Shaykha Fariha Friedrich leads dhikr at the Masjid al-Farah in Manhattan, NY

Shaykha Fariha Friedrich (see Figure 7.4) of the Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order23 emphasizes that this tradition of the encompassing oneness of divine reality – a unity that embraces diversity – is the heart of the message her teacher helped to nurture in America: a tradition that in itself embraces “the plurality of traditions,” in accordance with the visionary synthesis of the 13th-century Sufi personality Ibn al-‘Arabi: You have the great gnostics: someone like Ibn ‘Arabi, who says that the more different points of view you have about the Supreme Reality the more mature you are. He speaks of the different traditions. This entire tradition is the tradition of all the prophets. We say that there are 124,000 at least, prophetic beings, representing both East and West. If you really start to think about it you realize this is a universal tradition.24 This idea that the oneness of God embraces both the multitude of existent things and the many different religious standpoints for comprehending God’s oneness was a major theme of classical Sufism, and received much emphasis in the teachings of the female Sufi leaders consulted for this chapter. Sargut articulates a resonant point by stating that Sufism’s “ultimate goal … is to practice the concept of unity, or oneness (tevhid or tawhid in Arabic), which signifies respect for differences.”25 From a Sufi perspective, divine unity both transcends and includes the many-ness of creation, and is best affirmed through the capacity to perceive harmony amid diversity of things and perspectives. Such a unifying perspective, many Sufis propose, is not possible without divine love. As stated by Friedrich, “Love refines our soul and draws it deeper into awareness of its eternal mystic union with God.”26 As a culmination of thought about

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 221

Sufism, all of the Sufi female teachers surveyed mentioned that Sufism is, in its essence, divine love. The following quotations are illustrative: Sufism is the place where mind has left and love has arrived. The Sufi is one who sees without looking, understands without being told and advances without walking. Sufism is not a science, but a way of life. Everything in the outer world can be learned through scientific study, but Sufism can only be learned experientially, by living. Most deeply, Sufism is Divine Love. It is to die before dying. It is to become nothing, nonexistent – and to reach real existence within that nonexistence. (Artiran)27 Tasavvuf [tasawwuf] is to burn with the fire of love; in other words, to be in love with the Creator. Such divine love teaches us the fact that He is the only existent being, the ultimate. He is the oneness of being (vahdet-i vujud) [wahdat al-wujud]. All beings belong to Him. (Sargut)28 This is why Sufism is called the Path of love. We approach God, Who is love, and Who is already closer to us than our own life vein although we do not see Him, through love. (Friedrich)29 Even while articulating that Sufism is a way of love and that God’s essential qualities can be understood through love, classical Sufis have also taught that the path to realizing and becoming a channel for God’s love is a demanding one – a path that requires the sacrifice of one’s own sense of independent, ego-directed existence in addition to an inward death and rebirth of the self. In this spirit, several of the teachers invoked the traditional Sufi injunction to “die before death” as a prerequisite for spiritual realization, freedom from the lower ego, and awareness of higher reality: Tasawwuf is freedom. Real freedom is being freed from the self/ego (nafs). A human being can by no means be considered as free while he is a slave of his inner self. (Sargut)30 Sufism is the place where mind has left and love has arrived. The Sufi is one who sees without looking, understands without being told and advances without walking. Sufism is not a science, but a way of life. Everything in the outer world can be learned through scientific study, but Sufism can only be learned experientially, by living. Most deeply, Sufism is Divine Love. It is to die before dying. It is to become nothing, nonexistent – and to reach real existence within that nonexistence. (Artiran)31 For centuries, Sufis have maintained that humans are capable of knowing God, and yet veiled from divine reality by gross and subtle layers of self-identity that must be shed to realize divine love. To “die before death,” then, is to submit oneself to spiritual disciplines and to the demands of an inward path. In foregrounding this teaching, the Sufi women teachers reaffirm what they regard as the heart of the traditional Sufi worldview.

222 Gendering Sufism

The significance of living Sufism: Transmission, teachers, and role models Besides defining Sufism in relation to unity, divine love, and realization of God through a path that requires effacement of the ego, another prominent theme that emerged among these four Sufi female leaders was the significance of receiving spiritual transmission and blessing from teachers who embody living Sufism in principle and practice. Sufis believe that the blessing of teachers, known in Arabic as baraka, has the power to spiritually transform those who encounter it. In Sufism, transmitting knowledge from one person to another is connected to the idea of silsila or the lineage of the order, a lineage of spiritual authority and blessing traced back to the Prophet Muhammad and finally to Allah, as the lineage’s baraka ultimately comes from God.The earliest example of a silsila goes back to the 10th century, when Ja‘far al-Khuldi (d. 959) suggested al-Junayd had inherited his teachings from previous generations going back to the companions of Muhammad and the Prophet himself.32 By the medieval period, the role of the shaykh/a in relation to his/her students was being compared to that of the Prophet in relation to his followers. ’Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamadhani (d. 1131) reportedly said that “one who does not have a shaykh does not have a religion.”33 Within the Naqshbandi Sufi order, it was believed that before the Sufi practitioner can be annihilated from God (fana‘ fi’l Allah), they must be first annihilated from their master (fana‘ fi’l Shaykh).34 When asked about their training, most of the female leaders evoked the traditional Sufi relationship between a teacher and a student. Framing the principle of “dying before dying” as a culminating step of the spiritual path that becomes possible through cultivating a deep and trusting relationship with a spiritual teacher or shaykh, Friedrich emphasized that the transformative work of Sufism is not solitary. Rather, it unfolds through commitment to work with an advanced practitioner in service to God: We approach God through coming near to the Shaykh. The Shaykh is the magnet and the doorway to God. Through the Shaykh we come to our self and we come to God. The final step is the “dying before dying.” We die to our self in order to find our Self.Then we abide in Allah with the qualities of Allah, the diamond within the water, the light within the light. [T]he foremost “training” on the Sufi path is the heart to heart connection between Shaykh and Disciple. When we receive initiation into a Sufi order we take the hand of the Shaykh, which in reality is the Hand of Allah. Through this “re-commitment” to Allah, this saying “Yes!” to Allah, as we did in Pre-eternity, we are re-born into the life of the spirit. Our breath becomes praise, our life becomes service, and our heart becomes a rose-garden for the lovers. We receive the teachings and guidance inwardly, even though the outer teaching is also given. As soon as we take hand our heart is subtly connected to all the Shaykhs of the lineage, and to the heart of the Shaykh of shaykhs, the beloved Muhammad, and to his blessed family and noble companions and followers,

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 223

peace be upon them all. From that moment on, goodness flows ceaselessly to us.35 For Friedrich, the “Shaykh-Disciple relationship is the backbone” of Sufism.36 From this one relationship, a whole “mystic community of lovers of God who share the radical desire for complete union with God” is formed and experienced.37 Friedrich goes into considerable depth in sharing her experience with her Sufi teachers – first Ozak, a teacher of Turkish origin who brought Sufi teachings to the United States in the 1970s, and then with Hixon, a fellow disciple of Ozak who took the spiritual name Nur al-Jerrahi. She describes how spiritual fellowship with a teacher and other seekers reminds the student of Sufism’s goal: divine love and union with God, as quoted at length in what follows: My experience in the Sufi path began with meeting Shaykh Muzaffer in 1978, may the Beloved reward him with the highest stations of love. It actually came just before the outer meeting, when a new kind of spiritual love began flowing in my soul – which I attribute to his radiance reaching out to me. Or we could say that it was Allah preparing me for the great journey of return with my Shaykh. At that time I was drawn to read the Gospels of Jesus which were familiar to me as I was born into a French Catholic family, but I had never before felt the intensity of love radiating from the spiritual presence of Jesus, may he be embraced in Divine peace. I experienced Jesus as the Prophet of love, drawing souls back into the Source through the power of love.When I actually met Shaykh Muzaffer in the body, surrounded by his dervishes, I felt that I had met Jesus and his disciples, literally. Jesus was present before me. Here began the training of my soul. It was awakened by love and refined by love, and polished by the fire of hardship in separation from the Shaykh, even by the fear of separation. What was offered by Muzaffer Effendi was nothing less than the majestic generosity and beauty of Divine love, which healed all wounds and fed all hearts. Everything was in that love. I would gaze at his face and his noble body and imbibe the subtle Divine teachings through every gesture and expression – how he sat, how he walked, how he spoke, how he prayed, how he loved. All the guidance one needed was there in him. Keeping companionship with the beloved of the Beloved is the true training. And within this tent of love our love for the Beloved grows, and our love for the beloveds of the Beloved increases. Our love and compassion for humanity grows from this root of Divine Love experienced personally and directly in a perfected human being. After Shaykh Muzaffer Effendi passed into the Realm of beauty in 1985, the guiding position of the American lineage came to Lex Hixon, Nur alJerrahi, an equally astonishing being, a radical saint of modern times. He conducted a radio program on WBAI for 13 years in which he interviewed

224 Gendering Sufism

spiritual guides. For many of those years he drove an old VW bus, distributing his magazine, In the Spirit, leaving stacks of them with the doormen of apartment buildings of NYC. After Effendi passed, I and a core group of other American dervishes renewed our beyat [oath of allegiance] with him and became his community, which eventually evolved into the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Community. Nur was a Western mystic, fresh and deeply inspired, with overtones of Jesus and his blessed mother Maryam, Maria Magdalena, Ramakrishna and the tradition of the Divine Mother, Gaudapada, Kierkegaard, Theresa the “Little Flower,” Mevalana Jelaludin Rumi, and other radical mystics. He empowered women in every tradition he became involved in. In our Tariqa we have many women leaders, the fruit of his love to the Divine Mother. Upon meeting his Shaykh, Muzaffer Effendi, he became completely devoted to the Prophet of Allah and his blessed family with all of his being. His initiation into Sufism gave Nur the keystone for his immense spiritual vision of unity and multiplicity, radical and absolutely necessary for modern humanity if we want to find peace with each other. He was also the one who said that the definition of the “dervish” is “the other”.38 The Nur Ashki Jerrahi Tariqat is modeled on his and Muzaffer Effendi’s vision and “meshreb” [teaching style]. We – myself, Shaykha Amina and the other Guides in our Order – are really following Nur and Effendi, as radical new vessels of the Nur Muhammad and of the light of Pir Nureddin Jerrahi, may his soul be sanctified. We have been given great spiritual freedom through the himma [spiritual aspiration] of our Pirs, and through the fact that our Tariqat is growing in American soil. We inherit the spiritual freedom of the Americas together with the innate but often untapped freedom of Sufism. Freedom is essential for spiritual development.39 As this narrative makes clear, expressions of Sufism in a North American context exhibit both traditional and innovative characteristics. Friedrich’s discourse offers a synthesis of classical Sufi teachings filtered through the values and motifs of Western cultural traditions. In her invocation of a “spiritual freedom,” we can see echoes of Romanticism and Transcendentalism, movements that emphasized the importance of the individual’s freedom to stake out their own identity and spiritual life as against dry conformity and conventionality. Even as effort is made to construct spiritual communities for teaching and fellowship in accordance with longstanding Sufi concepts such as murshid (teacher or guide) and murid (seeker), the forms of practice reflect aspects of the larger context and often seek a fuller manifestation of past Sufi tendencies to affirm spiritual diversity and provide scope for the feminine principle. For Friedrich, the Americas offer a context particularly suited to fostering spiritual diversity and the expressions of the feminine. In addition to noting Hixon’s esteem for multiple currents of mystical thought and practice, Friedrich also stresses the fact that her teachers sought to advance the role of women in the public life of her community:

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 225

Nur [Hixon] appointed women. Nur had more women responsible for the tariqa than men. He was very conscious about that. He felt that women were… more like Mary Magdalene. They were more present. They were more receptive to the message and more capable of actually representing it. I guess what he found in men was a certain resistance and rigidity, more of an adherence to the outward form, to the law, and a kind of stiffness that didn’t make them as adaptable as woman – at that time – to flow with the mystery of love. After all, this is the path of love. It is not a path of rites and rituals and laws. It’s the path of love. That is what Shaykh Muzaffer brought and really made very clear.40 Friedrich offers an alternative gendering of Sufism to the “reverse genderization” discussed in Chapter 6, where Sufi women were considered to be “real men.” In contrast to this premodern play on gender, Friedrich suggests that men must, in a sense, become “real women,” if femininity is defined as receptivity, flexibility, and an ability to embrace the path of love. Friedrich’s approach connects more with Murata’s invocation of all as “women of light,” and Ibn al-‘Arabi’s suggestion that all are feminine in relation to God. She further articulated this confluence between Sufism and femininity as follows: “See the mystical traditions are a wonderful place for the feminine temperament. They are – they’re more receptive, more intuitive, more spontaneous. A lot of qualities associated with women are part of the mystical path.”41 In comparison to Friedrich, who came to embrace Sufism as an adult, Artiran describes her training as “a way of life” into which she was born. Although her path toward a Sufi teacher progressed from within a Turkish Islamic cultural context, her description of a profound spiritual relationship with her teacher mirrors Friedrich’s account in many respects: I never wanted to be a Sufi leader, and I never received special training to become one. Sufism is my way of life; moreover, one does not become a Sufi to become a leader. Sufism is a path to nonexistence, not to existence. But we can talk about some of the obvious factors that brought me to my present situation. I am so grateful that my ancestors were Sufis for many generations, consequently I was born and raised in a Sufi family. Have you heard of those Sufi manners that some people try to acquire at a later age? I was taught those manners from birth. Imagine a child who does not live a daily life like other children, but receives a spiritual education starting from the age of three or five. Of course at that age I did not know this was a special kind of education, my life consisted of the things I was taught and what I saw around me. Because there were Sufis all around me, I did not know that there was any other way of life.This education was natural to me as a child, it had its foundation in what I mentioned before: complete surrender, faithfulness and unconditional love, leading to sincere service and to Divine Love.

226 Gendering Sufism

After my childhood, my role models were my first Shaykh, whose disciple I became at a very young age. After his death, I am very proud to have become the spiritual daughter of my beloved teacher Şefik Can Dede. Although my beloved Şefik Can Dede is my second teacher, in reality that great human being is my beginning, my end, my seen and my unseen. No words can describe this spiritual way of life. For this poor one my beloved Şefik Can Dede was a sacred mirror: whatever image I saw in his mirror, I wished to realize sincerely and bring to the full in my life. Although he was a priceless treasure, he was deeply humble. He showed unlimited tolerance and he was full of love that embraced all. He was compassionate and merciful, soft and subtle. His gracious presence was an important role model for us all, not just for me.42 Both Friedrich and Artiran describe the profundity of their relationship with their shaykh, referring to their spiritual master as a “prophet,” “mirror,” and as a being within whom one’s own being is dissolved (fana’ fi’l shaykh), illustrating the ways in which the classical Sufi model of the master–disciple takes form in the contemporary context. This master–disciple relationship, and the transmission of authority, was not modified due to gender. Both Friedrich and Artiran received the transmission of spiritual authority from Turkish Muslim men, neither of whom saw gender as any sort of barrier to the highest forms of Sufi practice, knowledge, and mastery. Alongside Friedrich and Artiran’s formal training and inclusion in the order model, Artiran further describes the informal teaching role that women have so often played in Sufism classically, as we discussed in Chapter 6. Here, she describes her mother as someone who functioned in this capacity: My late beloved mother was my first role model. She was indeed an important Sufi lady. Initially, it was in my mother that I saw and learned the essential virtues in Sufism that I continually repeat: surrender, faithfulness and service. Other members of my family also helped these virtues take root and deepen in me, because these virtues were naturally visible in their natures.43 In her own response to a question about key Sufi principles and practices that help a person become a leader, Tide chose to emphasize specific teachings of her Inayati Order’s founding teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and placed less emphasis on her personal relationship with spiritual teachers from within that order. However, Tide was the personal secretary for many years to Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (son and successor of Hazrat Inayat Khan). She has commented during seminars about the importance of this relationship in shaping her spiritual journey. In the process, she sought to foreground essential principles of her teacher’s Sufi vision of divine unity and the path to realization:

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 227

These 10 Sufi Thoughts are a great help to me: 1. 2.

There is one God, the Eternal, the Only Being; none else exists save God. There is one Master, the Guiding Spirit of all souls, who constantly leads his/ her followers towards the light. 3. There is one Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader. 4. There is one Religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction towards the ideal, which fulfills the life’s purpose of every soul. 5. There is one Law, the Law of Reciprocity, which can be observed by a selfless conscience together with a sense of awakened justice. 6. There is one Family, the human family, which unites the children of earth indiscriminately in the parenthood of God. 7. There is one Moral Principle, the love which springs forth from self-denial, and blooms in deeds of beneficence. 8. There is one Object of Praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its worshipper through all aspects from the seen to the Unseen. 9. There is one Truth, the true knowledge of our being within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom. 10. There is one Path, the annihilation of the false ego in the real, which raises the mortal to immortality and in which resides all perfection. These “10 Sufi Thoughts” are found in the first volume of writings by Hazrat Inayat Khan, in which he describes them as “compris[ing] all the important subjects with which the inner life of man is concerned.”44 While Inayat Khan’s formulation of the essentials of the Sufi worldview is unique, it reflects a range of Sufi teachings that have long been emphasized within Sufi communities. Principle 1, for example, evokes the previously discussed principle of divine unity (in Arabic, wahdat al-wujud), while Principle 2 suggests the Sufi practice of seeing God in one’s teacher and, by extension, in all teachers, messengers, and prophets. Principle 3 reflects a Sufi understanding of nature as God’s self-manifestation through his creation (“Wheresoever you turn there is His face”45) and Quranic themes to look upon nature and reflect. Principles 4, 5, and 9 reflect the Sufi understanding of universalist themes within the Qur’an that underscore God’s generosity in sending messengers to all peoples,46 and the tendency of many Sufis to prioritize essential principles over legalism and honor truth wherever it can be found. Principles 6 and 7 reflect teachings about humanity as a single community (ummatun wahidun, an expression found in Qur’an) and love as a moral and metaphysical principle. The final principle, concerning the “annihilation of the false ego in the real,” communicates core Sufi teachings concerning the basis for spiritual transformation, including the previously mentioned idea of “dying before death.” In discussing her spiritual role models and teachers, Tide emphasizes a hallmark theme of her Inayati Order – the spiritual harmony of world religions and wisdom

228 Gendering Sufism

traditions – while offering what might be framed as a modern perspective on spiritual leaders: that ideals of perfected spiritual realization notwithstanding, they are still incarnated in human form, capable of mistakes and misjudgments despite their maturity and inspiration, and continually seeking to grow: My role models come from many areas in the world. They are people who have lived in harmony with the 10 thoughts above. Some are Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, the Dalai Lama, Great Grandmother Rose Pere (a great Maori healer and Elder), Pir Vilayat Khan, Mother Theresa – there are many more. What all the people who inspire me have in common is the desire to continue to grow throughout their life, to be open to all ideas and paths.They have respect for all, they lead with love and kindness. They all make mistakes and yet it doesn’t hold them back. They are willing to grow and evolve from mistakes. They care.47 Tide’s inclusion of models from a variety of religious traditions reflects a universalism that is characteristic of the Inayati Order and longstanding Western understandings of Sufism, going back to Orientalist framings of the tradition. However, as we have also discussed thus far, the universalism of Western framings of Sufism is in many respects a vernacularization of the universalism present within the classical Sufi tradition. As classical Sufi universalism has traditionally been framed in Islamic terms, it appears to be something different from “Western” or “neo” or even “New Age Sufism,” when in fact Western and classically Islamic forms of Sufism share a universal, pluralistic ethos – one that simply gets expressed using different ideational and cultural frameworks. The close teacher-to-student relationships cultivated in Sufism, and understandings of spiritual grace mediated through lineages of teachers spanning generations, are comparable to frameworks for spiritual mentorship and growth in many religious cultures, including those found in Hinduism, Buddhism, mystical Christianity, and Kabbalistic Judaism. Such relationships differ significantly, however, from expectations surrounding moral or spiritual growth in most secular, religious modernist, and revivalist contexts. In addition to signaling an ecumenical approach to acquiring spiritual wisdom that honors truth in many different forms and articulations, Tide also speaks to a rather delicate issue that arises when Sufism is practiced in Western contexts where there is a focus on the potential misuse of traditional authority, and religious frameworks for social organization are subjected to greater scrutiny. For Tide and many other contemporary participants in Sufi spiritual culture, acknowledging the potential for leaders to make mistakes is an important consideration even in relations with revered spiritual teachers. This perspective highlights the need for teachers to enable growth in autonomy, maturity, and personal responsibility among those who come to them in search of a spiritual path. Though Tide was the only leader who signaled a need to respect the limits of teachers in addition to their virtues and spiritual integrity, all of the respondents

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 229

shared how their teachers become role models for communities of people who seek to walk upon paths of saints – understood in Sufi and Islamic traditions as “friends of God” (awliya’; singular walī). Artiran emphasized this central importance of role models – both contemporary and classical: After the training I received from my venerable teacher Şefik Can Dede, my role models became our beloved Master Hazrati Mevlana Celaleddini Rumi and our exalted Prophet. I mentioned my beloved teacher Şefik Can first because if a person does not take his or her Shaykh as a role model first, it is difficult to know our Master Hazrati Mevlana’s path and to take one’s place in our exalted Prophet’s community, and consequently to know our Lord. First we try to be close to our Shaykh and be like our Shaykh. Then through his maturity and sincere spiritual friendship, we can learn to come into relationship with the saints, and find a path to our Sustainer. Our ultimate goal is to attain the ethical and moral standards and the character of our Exalted Creator. Our teachers are the important role models and special guides that propel us towards this state.48 Sargut echoes this point, emphasizing that “the ultimate point in tasavvuf [Sufism] is sainthood or being Allah’s friend (walī).”49 To this end, she places herself in conversations with classical Sufi personalities such as Junayd al-Baghdadi, Beyazid Bestami, Suhrawardi, Ibn al-‘Arabi, and Rumi by evoking sayings of these renowned teachers and drawing sustenance from their life stories and writings. Offering a distinct interpretation of this practice of relating oneself to exemplars past and present, Friedrich comments on her personal embrace of wisdom from many sources, and on the transformative capacity of mystical love to break down rigid barriers that are associated with gender and sectarian allegiance: The Prophets, friends and lovers of God who are helping to guide me in the Islamic tradition are mostly men who have been feminized by Divine love – as there is very little record of the women friends of God. The closest are my Shaykhs Effendi and Nur, then Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi and Ibn ‘Arabi and ‘Abd al-Qadir Jilani and Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya and Beyazid Bestami and Attar and Ruzbihan Baqli, and other beautiful inspiring beings not mentioned here. I love all the mystics from every sacred tradition – they all are guides into the Heart. More recently I have been delving into women Christian saints and contemporary Christian visionaries such as Mathew Fox. Over all whom I love is the Prophet of Allah and his blessed family, ‘Ali, Fatima, Khadija, Hasan and Huseyn, and Hazreti Maryam, may they all be eternally embraced in mystic union.50 Again here, Friedrich offers a play on gendered conceptions of Sufism, both acting within a longstanding Islamic tradition of genderizing Sufi practitioners in a variety of ways, and offering her own take on it. Just as female Sufi saints

230 Gendering Sufism

are masculine in their courageous victory over the lower self, so too are the “prophets, friends, and lovers of God,” men who are feminine in terms of their love of God. Friedrich’s reference to the feminine nature of the Sufi path is captured in Ibn al-‘Arabi’s principle of “feminine superiority” in human creation.51

Contemporary female Sufi leadership: Responsibilities and the role of the feminine The examples set by these female Sufi leaders signify continuity and change in religious culture. Although change is easily recognized in the form of increased prominence for women in public roles that have been predominantly held by men, the points of continuity are also striking: the honoring of spiritual teachers, the discussions of long-established spiritual principles, the convening of meetings and rituals around which traditional Sufi life was organized.While broad generalizations about the impact of women’s leadership on Sufism would seem untenable, given the small number of leaders consulted and the diversity of cultures, the testimonies of these women suggest that growth in women’s roles within contemporary Sufi communities often implies renewal and expansion in understandings that guide collective practice. The following commentary by Friedrich, concerning responsibilities as a teacher and leader, illustrates this point: My primary responsibility as a Sufi teacher is to love – to love Allah and Allah’s family, which is constituted by all created beings. To love His Messengers and Friends and Servants from every sacred tradition, peace be upon them all. Primarily to love the Messenger Muhammad, together with his wives and family and companions, and to follow his way to the small degree that I am capable of. My responsibility is to see the Divine within the being of every dervish, and also to detect where they are hindered by their limited self, their ego. My responsibility is to support and encourage the dervishes on their way and in their spiritual struggle. My responsibility is to remind them to turn to Allah for all their needs and to praise and thank Allah for the ceaseless good of their existence. My responsibility is to interpret their dreams in a way that elevates their soul and hastens their way. My responsibility is to support their mutual love for each other. My responsibility is to pray for them. My responsibility is to work on my own spiritual growth and deepening, and to maintain prayer and tasbih [immanence of God]. My responsibility is to study the Quran and Hadith to the small degree that I am able, and to find the deeper interpretations and the more universal application, both for dervishes and for peace within our human family.

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 231

My responsibility is to offer the communal Zikrullah [communal prayer and chanting] once a week on Thursday for the dervishes and for all those who wish to drink from the divine Love manifesting there. My responsibility is to greet all those who come to our gatherings, from whichever spiritual background, with love. And to answer their basic questions about the nature of Islam and Sufism. And insha’allah [God-willing] give them a taste of the Way of unity and love. My responsibility is to strive to be a true human being and a grateful servant of Allah and humanity, and a vessel for the light of Shaykh Muzaffer and Shaykh Nur. My responsibility is to remain aware that all the miracles of transformation that happen in the dervish hearts comes from Allahu ta‘ala [God, Most High] through the grace of our Pirs. (This is an important addition because without this awareness one can become proud. It is also an article of faith in the Shahada [first pillar of Islam recognizing God as One and Muhammad as His Messenger] – All good comes from Allah.) My responsibility is to remain humble and to listen.52 Virtually all of the responsibilities cited by Friedrich connect to traditional roles, preoccupations, and principles of Sufi practice. At the same time, the manner in which these roles, preoccupations, and principles have been articulated also communicates what might be described as a universalist or inclusive sensibility, particularly with respect to open affirmation of wisdom and spirituality in other traditions and the need “to find the deeper interpretations and the more universal application” in traditional sources such as Qur’an and Hadith. This imperative to find the more universal interpretations of Islamic source texts is a reflection of Friedrich’s spatial and temporal contexts. Based in the Tribeca neighborhood in Manhattan, Friedrich teaches Sufism in one of the world’s great multicultural cities, a nexus for the global flow of people, under conditions often referred to as globalization. Hence this imperative reflects this time, this era of global convergence, and the need for resources that enable us to understand our diverse backgrounds in a context of unitary mutuality. The female Sufi teachers answered the question of responsibilities in a variety of ways, of course, with Tide offering the following succinct perspective: I am a Kafayat (senior teacher and healer). I oversee the work of the Healing Order throughout North America, Australia and New Zealand. I travel the world reminding people of our interconnectedness with each other and all life, and I offer retreats and teach healing practices that awaken the innate healing capacity within each of us.53 As a leader within a community that places high value on the most universal and inward teachings of Sufism and the lineage of teachers such as Hazrat Inayat

232 Gendering Sufism

Khan and his son Pir Vilayat Khan,Tide and other members of her community also feel little pressure to embrace or adapt to social norms from their root teacher’s original cultural milieu. As discussed in Chapter 1, Hazrat Inayat Khan came out of a South Asian context, and conscientiously reframed Sufism to fit with the discourses that were already in place in the West, such as perennialism and especially its Theosophical mode. For Tide and other members of the Inayati Order, most of whom are based in Western cultural contexts, ideas of gender equality are firmly established. One of the most important criteria for spiritual practice concerns the capacity to recognize truth in many different names and forms. Tide emphasized these universal themes: Not all Sufi schools are the same. Ours has a universal teaching that celebrates the golden thread of truth running through all the world’s faiths, and ways of harmonious living, without giving precedence to any one of them. I don’t find my gender a problem with my brothers and sisters of any faith. To me it does not matter what a person’s religion or gender or country or philosophy is – or how much pigment is in their skin. If they live from that awakening that comes deep within the heart, they will recognize another who is doing the same. There will be love and respect. There will be kindness. There will be interest in the unique way that the Divine has manifested through this person. The awakened heart is the key to a peaceful world, a world in harmony. To joy in life.54 From the earliest days of the Inayati Order, women’s participation has been central to the social development and organizational advancement of the spiritual community. Women are actively involved, playing leadership roles in matters of worship and institutional decision making. Hazrat Inayat Khan occasionally stated that women were destined to lead the way in the evolution of society and spirituality. He acted on that conviction by conferring high initiations on his women students; the inner circle of students to whom he gave the most responsibility for the unfoldment of the order were virtually all women (murshidas). Pir Vilayat affirmed his father’s approach, as does Pir Zia. (The contemporary Inayati Order, at least since Pir Vilayat assumed leadership in the 1950s, does not publicly use the titles conferred in higher initiations. Pir Vilayat felt that the use of such titles gave unnecessary weight to hierarchical concerns.) Hazrat Inayat Khan’s early women students made noteworthy contributions to Sufism in the West. A few dedicated women took careful notes of virtually all of the lectures that he gave during the intensive summer schools, usually held in Suresnes, now a suburb of Paris. Such notes formed the basis for the first twelve volumes of his teachings. Several women wrote books about Inayat Khan that are still treasured. Mevrouw N. Egeling (Murshida Fazal Mai) played a pivotal role in helping Inayat Khan and his family became settled in Suresnes in 1922. She was initiated as a cheraga (ordained leader of the Universal Worship) in 1922 and started

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 233

the first Sunday Universal Worship service in the same year. She was also initiated as a Shefayat andKefayat, higher positions in the Healing Order, and led healing services. Kismet Dorothea Stam assisted Inayat Khan in many ways. She accompanied him and took notes during many of his lecture tours in Europe and America, and served as a reporter for various European and American newspapers. Kismet handled much of Inayat Khan’s correspondence and explained the practices he gave to initiates. She was the sole person to accompany him on his last journey to India, where he died. Shortly after the Inayat Khan’s death, she wrote Rays, a meditative book that offers anecdotes about Inayat Khan’s personality and his interactions with others.55 Kismet lived at Suresnes for ten years after Inayat Khan’s death, and worked on notes from his 1926 American lecture tour. Other Sufi books that she wrote include Fragrance from a Sufi’s Garden, Sufi Lore and Lyrics, and Musings from a Sufi.56 Perhaps the woman who has had the most enduring and powerful influence upon the Inayati Order is Noor-un-nisa (translated as “the Light of Womanhood,” but often simply known as Noor) Inayat Khan, Inayat Khan’s daughter and Pir Vilayat’s sister.57 Born in 1914 while Inayat Khan and his family were in Russia, Noor watched over her three younger siblings, became an accomplished musician like her father (she played the harp), and wrote children’s stories. Her book, Twenty Jataka Tales, published in England in 1939, is a poignant retelling of traditional Indian stories of the Buddha’s past lives as self-sacrificing animals.58 Hazrat Inayat Khan’s death in 1927 had a devastating impact on her mother and the entire family, and Noor virtually took over the care of her young sister and brothers. When the Second World War broke out and Europe was in extreme danger, Pir Vilayat and Noor, who had always been close, had intense conversations about what their moral duty was. They decided that, despite their belief in nonviolence, they had to do something to support the fight against the Nazis. While Pir Vilayat became a minesweeper on a ship (a dangerous job), Noor joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and eventually was accepted for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), an intelligence group. Shy by nature, Noor was sent to occupied Paris as a radio operator, an extremely perilous mission. Eventually the only SOE radio operator left in Paris, Noor refused to be evacuated because she believed it was her duty to stay and maintain crucial communications for the Allied forces. She had to constantly change locations for transmitting her messages, which meant carrying her heavy equipment from place to place and assuming disguises from time to time. After many courageous acts, Noor was eventually betrayed, captured by the Nazis, and finally was sent to Dachau, where she was tortured and interrogated. Noor refused to reveal anything to the Nazis, despite her horrendous treatment. Her final exclamation before being shot to death in September, 1944 was “Liberté!” Noor has been given numerous posthumous recognitions by many European countries.Visitors can find a plaque at Dachau that commemorates the sacrifice of

234 Gendering Sufism

Noor and those who were executed with her. Commemorations for Noor can also be found in the Remembrance Hall in the Museum at Dachau, St. Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, the Memorial Gates to the Commonwealth in London, the agricultural school in Gringnon where she began transmitting, and at her childhood home in Suresnes.59 On November 8, 2012, a commemorative statue was also placed in Gordon Square in London. It stands near the house in which Noor and her family lived and was unveiled by Princess Anne. In addition to books written about her, Shrabani Basu’s Spy Princess60 and Jean Overton Fuller’s Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan,61 a docu-drama about the life of Noor entitled Enemy of the Reich was released in February 2014.62 Saida Henriette Willebeek le Mair, an early Dutch initiate, attended virtually all of Inayat Khan’s summer schools, in addition to other lectures. After his death, she captured the atmosphere of his presence in delicate, evocative paintings that she paired with selected texts from his lectures. She painted these illustrations from memory in 1930; a few of them are allegorical.63 Nargis Jessie Dowland (Khalifa Nargis) was a distinguished English student of Inayat Khan. She handled much of the Sufi organizational work in England, and he entrusted her with editing and publishing many of his lectures. Nargis wrote several books, some of which have been republished in two volumes as Path of the Seeker, Book One and Path of the Seeker, Book Two.64 Incisively written, they touch on a number of themes that are relevant to issues facing today’s spiritual seekers. Looking at a cross section of the contemporary leadership of the Inayati Order, one sees at least as many women as men in responsible positions. The current Executive Director of the Order is Jennifer Alia Wittman, who comes with an organizational background. Wittman assumed this position at a time when the order was looking at structural changes to assist the organization in moving effectively into the future. Chair of the Board of Directors for several years during this planning period was Linda Amina Hall, a business owner with a social-work educational background. Amina has recently assumed the role of Head of the Universal Worship,65 one of the major activities of the order. Taj Inayat, a long-time spiritual leader of the order (and mother of Pir Zia), serves as Vice President of the Board. Taj pioneered the organization of retreat centers for the order and continues to lead both individual and group retreats, in addition to online training courses, seminars, and workshops. Aziza Scott served as Director of Retreat Guide Training and was Vice President of the Esoteric School for decades; she continues to lead spiritual retreats internationally. Sarida Brown, based in England, is another contemporary woman who is taking an active role in the Inayati Order. She is Vice President of the international Sufi Healing Order and plays a significant role in its work. Gulrukh Patel, who currently serves as the International Coordinator for the Inayati Order, facilitates communication networks and organizes such large projects as the Inayati Order’s Zenith summer camp in the Alps. Anna Less has done much work through the Healing Order, and earned a doctorate in Chinese medicine in China. She is currently an International Executive Director of the Abrahamic Reunion, a peacemaking group

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 235

that works to bring together people from the four major religions (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Druze) of Israel and Palestine.The leader of the Ziraat activity, which focuses on the cultivation of consciousness using symbolism from the natural world, is Kainot Sharifa Norton. She leads seminars and workshops that focus on the need to support ecological work along with spiritual development. Saphira Linden, a long-time leader in the realm of theater and the arts as tools for psychological healing, continues to offer cutting-edge workshops. Many of these women (and others, too numerous to mention) have published scholarly articles and books. Sandra Yasodara Lillydahl has, for many years, led Omega Publications/Suluk Press in publishing spiritual works based on the writings of Inayati leaders alongside classical Sufi works. Zarifa Mangold was Co-Leader of the Kinship Activity of the Order for many years, and works to develop initiatives to bring people together on many levels. In addition to these women and many others, the list of leaders of the Inayati Order shows a strong presence of women. In comparison, as a Turkish Sufi leader, Artiran engages a cultural context in which women have made significant strides in recent decades, even as less progressive attitudes toward women’s leadership persist. Her answer to a question about women’s leadership roles reflects this context and makes active references to Islamic principles and sources: Actually it is very easy to find the answer to this question but for some reason people do not want to see and attain the truth, preferring to view the exalted religion of Islam only within the confines of tradition and culture. The creation of the human being is very clearly described in the Holy Qur’an in the Baqara Surah, Ayah [verse] 30 in the following way: “I am going to create a representative.”The Exalted Creator is not saying, I am going to create a man or a woman. The Exalted Creator says, “I am going to create a representative.” The Exalted Creator calls this created human being “honored creation” (eşref-imahlukat), without assigning a gender. Further, men and women are held as being completely equal in all spiritual responsibilities. If men only were created as the honored creation, then it would be possible to think that women are different, and to believe that there is something lacking in women. But it is not possible to see any fault in any of Allah’s creation, particularly not in a human being who is the essence and the Truth of all the Universes. To think that woman could be lacking or inadequate as regards to spiritual status is not to acknowledge Allah’s creative powers, and the truth and the real value of the human being. There are certain women in the world whose level of spiritual attainment men could not reach. This is very widely known. Closeness to Allah is not limited to just men. To live as a servant of God a life full of Love, is not confined to men or to women. If women are still viewed differently from men fourteen hundred years after Islam began, this simply indicates that opinions and thoughts, traditions and cultural practices from ignorant times in the past are being carried over to today.

236 Gendering Sufism

It is quite the reverse in our elevated religion of Islam, which in its essence is such a noble tradition! Such a noble culture! Islam has two meanings: one is surrender and the other is equality and balance. How is it possible for a religion which acknowledges equality and balance in everything in the entire creation, to see inequality and imbalance between men and women who are the most sacred among all of God’s creation? The truth lies in the fact that the problem is not that the religion of Islam is deficient or wrong, but that people are lacking and misled in their interpretation and understanding of Islam.66 Artiran’s reflection above, on the egalitarianism found in creation, captures the ongoing negotiations enacted by women in Sufism. On the one hand, Quranic principles such as the creation narrative of the first humans indicates the genderless nature of God’s representatives on earth, which is further highlighted in metaphysical ideals of the insan al-kamil and the awliya’. However, as captured in the historical examples relayed in Chapter 6, the sociocultural milieu in which women practiced Sufism affected the ways in which they were able to participate in the tradition. Thus, where metaphysical notions of the feminine elevated the feminine ideal, women as a biological and social category simultaneously relegated them to the margins of Sufism. This dual conceptualization of the feminine formed the complex terrain wherein Sufi women lived out their identity and leadership, a contemporary reality within which leaders like Artiran further exist. In summary, Artiran articulates an Islamic argument for recognizing the equality of women and appropriateness of the roles they increasingly play within Turkish Sufi communities such as her own. The traditional Mevlevi whirling ritual (the sema‘ ), for example, was for centuries the exclusive preserve of men.67 This changed, however, in the 1980s, when a Mevlevi master from Istanbul named Shaykh Suleyman Loras Dede (d. 1985)68 first authorized women to participate in this iconic ritual of the Mevlevi Sufi order. As discussed in Chapter 6, Loras was part of the UNESCO event in Paris that invited whirlers for the first time in 1964. He then taught whirling to American students during his visit in 1976 to the Institute for Conscious Life in Los Angeles. Two of Loras’s students, Kabir and Camille Helminski, were initiated into the Mevlevi order in 1980 and have sought to carry forward his understanding of the tradition in Western contexts. In 1990, Kabir was designated as one of the first Mevlevi shaykhs in North America by the head of the Mevlevi order in Istanbul. Kabir and Camille established the Threshold Society to transmit Mevlevi teachings; it now has branches in six countries, with approximately 200 active members. Continuing the trajectory established by Loras, the Helminskis have maintained elements of traditional Mevlevi Sufism while adapting others to better fit with North American norms. Women and men are both taught the whirling practice, and some of the gender divisions found in more traditional contexts are not maintained. Although the practice of women whirling is something new in the contemporary era, the role

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 237

of women as practitioners and teachers of Sufism is something that is continuous throughout Sufism’s history. For instance, both Friedrich and Artiran use whirling during their dhikr ceremony.Though whirling, as discussed in the previous chapters, has been popularized in the global context, the ritual of whirling also remains a central feature of Sufi traditions and is evoked by women and men.69 Sargut offered another unique answer to the question of women’s leadership roles in Sufism: I think the guide can be neither a woman nor a man. The guide must be someone who has surpassed the gender … of course, the woman will not lose their femininity and the man won’t lose from their masculinity, but … the guide can only be the one who does not bring their gender to the fore, the one who doesn’t remember it. The one who knows their student as their child … even if they are of the same age, the one who knows the student as a child and struggles for them … in truth, I believe that a guide is one who serves their student.70 Sargut’s response can also be in reference to what she regards as the most essential issue: the capacity for sainthood. As Sargut has stated elsewhere, “The ultimate point in tasavvuf is sainthood or being Allah’s friend (walaya) … everyone can be a walī, or have that proximity and sincerity.”71 In making this point, Sargut implicitly points to the acknowledged presence of women saints in Islamic history who were not judged according to their gender but according to their spiritual devotion and presence, including decisive figures, such as Rabi‘a, who left her legacy upon the whole tradition.72 Given this established point that women can be saints, questions about women’s capacity for leadership appear unnecessary per her understanding. Sargut’s understanding of female leadership reflects what we explored in Chapter 6 about the Rifa’i order and how it traces its spiritual chain of transmission not to the sons of the founder but to the daughters, Zaynab bint al-Rifa’i and Fatima bint al-Rifa’i, both revered spiritual leaders and mystics. Additionally, Sargut mentions that her female teacher, Samiha Ayverdi (d. 1993), was “the greatest student” and “the one who resembled [Kenan Rifai, the founder of her Sufi order] most.” Despite counter-trends of religious fundamentalism and associated efforts to reassert exclusive male authority in many different cultural and religious milieus, the tendency of women to take increasingly prominent roles within Sufi communities appears likely to continue. Friedrich offered extensive reflections on the significance of “feminine wisdom” within contemporary Sufism and mystical practice more generally: It is great to be a woman guide at this time when the feminine wisdom is essential to help our human family out of its conflicts and conundrums. So many of our challenges can only be resolved with the inclusivity, compassion, wisdom, tenderness, humbleness and spontaneity natural to the feminine soul.

238 Gendering Sufism

Women and men working together, joining their strengths and their visions, is absolutely necessary to save the human family from self-destruction. Within the Islamic tradition, we as women can help to overcome the terrible sectarianism ruled by ego that has damaged the beautiful seamless tapestry of the Prophet’s teachings. Today, to continue maintaining the divide between Shi‘a and Sunni, men and women, East and West, Muslim and non-Muslim (as though we knew), believer and non-believer (as though we knew) is absolutely harmful to the Divine consciousness invested in the human being. It undermines faith and it can bring us to the destruction of the human race. Yes, women guides in all walks of life are absolutely needed at this time. And we need Sufism, the Mother of all wisdom traditions.We are entering a new time, the time of the Mother, the era of love.73 While it is possible to stake out passionate positions on the topic of female leadership, Artiran adds that keeping the spotlight on Sufi spirituality and practice should remain the primary concern: First I would like to sincerely say that I do not define myself as a leader. All I know is that I would like to take the infinite love, respect and friendship in my heart, with which God has honored me, and share it with these beautiful people around me without asking anything in return. I would like to be a friend that they can trust in this world; a soul, a mother, a father or a brother or sister when they need one. Apart from this, of course, there are very special moral perfections that I would like my students to acquire. First, I would like them to be free spirits in both the material and spiritual realms. I would like my students to acquire inner depth and become representatives of individual and societal peace, love, and respect. I would like them to see without looking and understand without being told anything. I would like them to become individuals with high moral standards, to become role models. This is a very significant spiritual journey, therefore it is important to have these character traits, to act with patience and calm, and to apply what they hear and see to their own lives. Like I humbly expressed at the beginning of our interview, it is not possible to learn Sufism from books or from listening or watching. One can only acquire the morality of Sufism by living, through experience, not from how much we hear, how much we see, or how much we read, but by how much we feel, how much we live – that is how these high moral accomplishments become ours.74 Here in Artiran’s response, she even evades the epithet of being a leader, and rather sees her position as espousing a holistic approach that is in complete service to her students. Aside from wanting her students to acquire key moral training, her main objective is to be a friend, the same ideal of awliya, or the friends of God, a state women have occupied historically.

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 239

Conclusion While the emergence of tendencies toward greater scope for women’s leadership promises to have an impact on the Sufi tradition, all of these female Sufi leaders emphasize that this is not something that should be regarded as alien or contrary to the spirit of Sufism and Sufi ideals, or to the heart of Islamic teachings. Just as we see a notable shift in women’s roles as public representatives of Sufism, we also find these same women highlighting the continuity that their contemporary leadership maintains with premodern Sufi teachings, practices, and representatives. Perhaps, then, the growing prominence of women will only serve to underscore what is most enduring and genuinely distinctive about this tradition of contemplative engagement with life and its individual and communal aspirations toward transcendence.

Notes 1 There are different variations of the term shaykha, some being sheikh and cheikha. 2 Hülya Küçük, in “Female Substitutes and Shaykhs in the History of Sufism: The Case of the Mawlawiyya Sufi Order from Its Early Phase to the Eighteenth Century,” Mawlana Rumi Review 4 (2015): 106–131, notes that Artiran is an exception to the general rule that women are only allowed to enter the Mevlevi order as novices. Esin Celebi Bayru, the twenty-second generation descendant of Rumi mentioned in Chapter 5, similarly signals a revival of women’s leadership in the Mevlevi order, as she serves as the unofficial head Mevlevi shaykha, aside from taking part in state-sponsored Rumi commemorations (see Küçük, “Female Substitutes and Shaykhs in the history of Sufism,” 127). 3 Daniel Dyer, “A Day with Nur Atriran,” September 2013, http://sufism.org/articles/aday-with-nur-artiran. For more information about Camille Adams Helminski, see Hülya Küçük, “A Brief History of Western Sufism,” Asian Journal of Social Science 36 (2008): 314. 4 Şefik Can, Cevahir-i Mesneviyye (Self-published, 2001). 5 See information about this branch of the Inayati Order at “Sufi Healing Order North America,” http://sufihealingorder.org/. 6 Cemalnur Sargut, “Tasawwuf (Sufism),” in Sufism: A Celebration of Love, eds. Ajita Kaura, Nur Zahir, and Refaqat Ali Khan (Bhopal, India: SAARC Writers in Literature, 2012a). These two essays and all essays by Sargut were given to the co-authors to use for this chapter. Unless references are provided, most essays by Sargut are unpublished works. 7 Cemalnur Sargut is a devotee of Kenan Rifai (d. 1950), who was initiated into four Sufi orders: the Rifaiyya, the Qadiriyya, the Mawlawiyya, and the Shadhiliyya. 8 In addition to her writings, Cemalnur gives spiritual lectures on Rumi’s Masnavi and Ibn al-‘Arabi’s (d. 1240) Fusus al-Hikam. Her lecture at the Baraka Institute can be found at: Trent T. Gilliss, “Living Tassawuf with Cemalnur Sargut,” On Being, May 24, 2012, www.onbeing.org. She has also led groups of women followers to take part in Rumi Festival in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 9 See Sargut, “Tasawwuf (Sufism).” Sargut would also share in an email message with the authors on June 23, 2017, that “Tasawwuf means to live the beautiful conduct of the Prophet Muhammad, which is the beautiful conduct of Islam, and to be a living example. The person who lives this faith and beautiful conduct heads toward their own reality (haqiqa) and learns, through their own vessel, to respect and love all of the created that are each names of Allah.” Sargut explores this particular definition of Sufism in an unpublished essay entitled, “Akhlaq (Moral Virtues).” 10 Cemalnur Sargut, “How to Apply ‘Tasavvuf ’ Sufism in Ordinary Human Life” (personal unpublished essay, 2012b), 4.

240 Gendering Sufism

11 Sargut, “Tasawwuf (Sufism),” 26. 12 H. Nur Artiran served as the assistant to her spiritual master, Şefik Can (1909–2005), who was “Sertarik,” the head of the Mevlevi Shaikhs, and “Mesnevihan,” who was officially authorized to teach on Mathnavi. Her first Islamic mysticism work was in 1983, based on Niyaz-i Mısri’s Diwan (collection of poems). She has prepared “Cevahir-i Mesneviyye” (The Ore of Mathnavi), “Mesneviden Hikayeler” (Stories from Mathnavi), “Okullar icin Mesnevi’den seçmeler” (Selections of Mathnavi for Schools), and “Mevlana’nın Rubailerinden Secmeler” (Selections of Mevlana’s Rubaiyat) for publishing. Her past publications are “Asq Bir Davaya Benzer” (Love Needs Proofs) in 2011, “Herkes Seni Terk Etse Asq Terk Etmez” (Everyone Can Leave You, But Not Love) and “Nun Kapisi” (The Door of “Nun”) in 2014. They consist of spiritual talks from Rumi and other great Sufi Masters. She continues her global work as the founding President of the Şefik Can International Mevlana Education and Culture Foundation. She is also founding member of the World Disability Union, and a member of the Scientific Committee of the International Mevlana Foundation, Board of Directors of the Universal Sufi Council based in the Netherlands, and Advisory Board of the Global Future College based in Paris. 13 Mevlevi Sufi Order was first established by Jalal ad-Din Rumi’s son, Sultan Walad, in Konya, and then would expand with appointed leaders in various regions of the Middle East. It would flourish under the Ottoman Empire with over 114 tekkes (Sufi gathering places) in cities such as Mecca, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo,Tabriz, and even Belgrade and Athens.Throughout the order’s history, and especially in its early years before state interference restricted women’s participation, female saints and shaykhas have been appointed and have occupied leadership positions (for more on this, see Küçük, “Female Substitutes and Shaykhs in the History of Sufism,” 126). With the fall of the Ottomans and the rise of the secular republic under Ataturk, in 1925, all Sufi organizations, including the Mevlevi order, were declared illegal. Many tekkes were converted into mosques, museums (i.e., the main tekke [or Mevlevihane] in Konya [where Rumi is buried] is a museum and tourist destination), or dialogue centers. In the 20th century, a number of individuals were initiated to be leaders of the Mevlevi Sufi Order, one being Şefik Can, the teacher of Artiran. The Şefik Can International Mevlana Education and Culture Foundation is one of the better known dialogue centers in Istanbul and is the place where most activities take place under the leadership Artiran. 14 Nur Artiran, email message to authors, November 23, 2016. The authors would like to thank Selcuk Cemoglu and the Mevlevi community of Şefik Can for their kind assistance in translating Artiran’s original Turkish answers into English. 15 Robert Frager, or Regip al-Jerrahi (a Jerrahi shaykh based in California) for instance, has been a key figure in the development of transpersonal psychology in America. 16 According to information in Pir Zia Inayat Khan’s latest book, Mingled Waters: Sufism and the Mystical Unity of Religion (New Lebanon, NY: Suluk Press, 2017), “The Inayati Order is an international organization dedicated to spreading the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, who introduced Sufism to the Western world in 1910. Its objective is to realize and spread the knowledge of unity, the religion of love and wisdom, so that the human heart may overflow with love, and all animosity caused by distinctions and differences may be rooted out.”The Inayati Order, previously known as the Sufi Order International and before that as the Sufi Order of the West, has centers throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. These centers offer a variety of activities, including the Universal Worship (a worship service celebrating many of the revealed religions of the world on one altar), the Esoteric school, the Healing Order, Ziraat (an activity that focuses on the cultivation of consciousness using symbolism from the natural world), and activities promoting the kinship of all humans. Spiritual retreats and intensive seminars are offered in many locations. The Suluk Academy, founded by Pir Zia, is an intensive spiritual school with a two-year curriculum. For more information about this order, see “The Inayati Order: A Sufi Path of Spiritual Liberty,” http://inayatiorder.org/. 17 Devi Tide, email message to authors, December 10, 2016.

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 241

18 Born into a distinguished musical family in Baroda, India in 1882, Hazrat Inayat Khan was an accomplished musician and mystic by the time he was a young man. His spiritual teacher, Abu Hashim Madani Chisti, encouraged him to go to Europe and America to “harmonize the East and the West” through his music and the wisdom of Sufism. From 1910 until 1926, Inayat Khan traveled throughout North America and Europe, teaching what has been called the “quintessence of Sufi teachings.” He believed that humanity was on the cusp of awakening to the inherent divinity of the human heart and the underlying unity of spiritual paths. After establishing many Sufi centers in North America and Europe, Inayat Khan returned to India in the fall of 1926. He left behind many initiates and a significant body of spiritual teachings that blended traditional Sufi teachings with a new vision of a potential human realization of the oneness of the collective human heart. Inayat died in India in February 1927; his dargah may be found in the neighborhood of Nizamuddin al-’Awliya in New Delhi. 19 Sargut, “Tasavvuf: The Way to Acquire the Art of Being a Human,” 4. 20 Artiran, email message to authors, November 23, 2016. 21 Tide, email message. 22 Cemalnur Sargut, “How to Apply ‘Tasavvuf ’ Sufism in Ordinary Human Life” (personal unpublished essay), 4. 23 Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order is a branch of Halveti-Jerrahi Sufi order of Istanbul, Turkey. It was founded in the 1980s by Nur al-Anwar al-Jerrahi (Lex Hixon) and Fariha Friedrich. They were disciples of Shaykh Muzzaffer Ozak (Ashki) al-Jerrahi (1916– 1985), who was the nineteenth successor to Hazreti Pir Muhammad Nureddin al-Jerrahi (1678–1720), the founder of the Halveti-Jerrahi Sufi Order. The Nur Ashki Jerrahi branch has its headquarters in New York City. For more information about this order, see “Nur Ashki Jerrahi Community,” http://nurashkijerrahi.org/. 24 Fariha Friedrich, interview by William Rory Dickson, November 18, 2010, Masjid al-Farah, New York City, NY. 25 Sargut, “Tasavvuf: The Way to Acquire the Art of Being a Human,” 2. 26 Fariha Friedrich, email message to authors, September 20, 2016. 27 Artiran, email message. 28 Sargut, “Tasavvuf: The Way to Acquire the Art of Being a Human,” 1. 29 Fariha Friedrich, email message.The authors would like to thank Abdul Rahim for all of his assistance in facilitating our email communications with Friedrich. 30 Sargut, “Tasawwuf (Sufism),” 25. 31 Artiran, email message. 32 Ahmet T. Karamustafa, Sufism:The Formative Period (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007), 116. 33 Ibid., 117. 34 Annemarie Schimmel, Pain and Grace: A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth-Century Muslim India (Leiden: Brill, 1976), 70–71. 35 Fariha Friedrich, interview by William Rory Dickson, November 18, 2010, at Masjid al-Farah, New York City, NY. 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid. 38 Friedrich, email message. Friedrich, in her correspondence, also suggested that those interested can “explore Shaykh Nur’s vision in his book,” Atom from the Sun of Knowledge (New York: Pir Press, 1993). 39 Friedrich, interview by William Rory Dickson 40 Ibid. 41 Ibid. 42 Artiran, email message. 43 Ibid. 44 Inayat Khan, H. The Inner Life,Volume 1 in The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan (Geneva: International Headquarters Sufi Movement, 1979), 13.

242 Gendering Sufism

45 46 47 48 49 50 51

52 53 54 55 56 57

58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65

66

Qur’an 2:115. Qur’an 16:36. Tide, email message. Artiran, email message. Sargut, “Tasavvuf: The Way to Acquire the Art of Being a Human,” 9. Friedrich, email message. Ibn al-‘Arabi’s metaphysics have proved to be a resource for contemporary interpreters, not all of whom read him in the same way. Whereas some Traditionalist interpreters read Ibn al-‘Arabi as offering a vision of stabilized gender complementarity as reflective of cosmic duality and ultimately God’s Names, more progressive interpreters like Sa’diyya Shaikh read Ibn al-‘Arabi as offering a strikingly contemporary understanding of gender that challenges gender essentialism. See Sa’diyya Shaikh, Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn ‘Arabi, Gender, and Sexuality (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 202; Sachiko Murata, The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992). Friedrich, email message. Tide, email message. Ibid. Kismet Dorothea Stam, Rays (The Hague: East-West Publications, 1927). Kismet Dorothea Stam, Fragrance from a Sufi’s Garden (London: Luzac & Co., 1934); Kismet Dorothea Stam,Sufi Lore and Lyrics; Musings from a Sufi (London: Luzac & Co., 1936). Taj Inayat, Pir Zia’s mother and spiritual leader in the Inayati Order, commented in The Crystal Chalice (New Lebanon, NY: Sufi Order Publications, 1978), 47: “The real meaning of purity is not washing something away, but returning to one’s original condition which is light.The effect of Noor-un-Nisa’s spirit is like having a bath of light.” A refrain of a poem to Noor written by Sufi Elizabeth Rechtschaffen, quoted in The Crystal Chalice, 54–55, suggests the sublime experience of her presence: Noor-un-nisa, I have seen you Veiled in starlight with your father, You have shown my soul a thousand times The ecstasy of pain. And I bow before your beauty, Yes, I bow before your beauty Like a white rose in the rain. Noor Inayat Khan, Twenty Jataka Tales (London: Inner Traditions, 1985). Shrabani Basu, Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan (New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications, 2007), 4117. Basu,Spy Princess. Jean Overton Fuller, Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan (Rotterdam: East-West Publications, 1971). Enemy of the Reich:The Noor Inayat Khan Story, film, directed by Rob Gardner (February 2014; Paramount Pictures). Published as The Flower Garden of Inayat Khan by East-West Publications (1978). Nargis Jessie Dowland, Path of the Seeker, Book One; Path of the Seeker, Book Two (New Lebanon, NY: Suluk Press, 2015a and 2015b). The Universal Worship emerged as the religious framework of the Inayati Order (formerly Sufi Order of the West). Beginning in 1921 as the Church of the All, the Sunday service involved a candle being lit for each of the world’s religions, with passages of diverse religious scriptures being read. The Church of the All was developed by Hazrat Inayat Khan and Sophia Saintsbury-Green (d. 1939), a senior member of the Theosophical Society in England. Alongside Theosophical influences, the Church of the All was inspired by the League of Nations and the model of pluralism and universal cooperation it represented. For more, see William Rory Dickson, Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation (New York: SUNY, 2015). Artiran, email message.

Contemporary female Sufi leaders 243

67 After the 17th century, women’s performance of sema’ was permitted, but only as a way to console their exclusion from leadership positions (see Küçük, “Female Substitutes and Shaykhs in the History of Sufism,” 126). 68 Artiran’s teacher, Şefik Can, was recognized as a Mesnavi Han, a Shaikh of the Mathnavi. He was a close friend of Suleyman Dede and inherited his precious copy of the Mevlevi Wird, which Kabir Helminski, in turn, inherited from Şefik Can. Celalettin Çelebi, the head of the Mevlevi Order, would have been the one to give them ijazets. 69 If interested in learning more about Sulayman Loras and his Mevlevi community, see Shakina Reinhertz, Women Called to the Path of Rumi: The Way of the Whirling Dervish (Prescott, AZ: Hohm Press, 2001). 70 Cemalnur Sargut, email message to authors, June 23, 2017. 71 Cemalnur Sargut, “Tasavvuf: The Way to Acquire the Art of Being a Human” (personal unpublished essay), 9. 72 As Hülya Küçük points out in “Female Substitutes and Shaykhs in the History of Sufism,” 125, Rabi‘a “was deemed a model for female Sufis.” For more information about Rabi‘a, see also Hülya Küçük, “Menakibu’l-Arifin’de Rabia ve Rabia Timsali,” Kubbealtı Akademi Mecmuası 144, no. 4 (2007): 87–93; and Margaret Smith, Rabi‘a the Mystic and Her Fellow Saints in Islam, 2nd rev. ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). 73 In a November 18, 2010, interview with William Rory Dickson, Friedrich added: “The tariqa is a wonderful place for women to come forward. In the Islamic culture, you get Amina Wadud leading prayer in St. John the Divine, in that little chapel on the side, and there were death threats. She had to hide away in her home. That’s the nice thing about Sufism. It’s kind of protected. It’s within its own walls. It will take time, but I have no doubt that women will have all the functions that men do.” 74 Artiran, email message.

Bibliography Artiran, H. Nur. Niyaz-i Mısri’s Diwan (Collection of Poetry). Self-published, 1983 Artiran, H. Nur. Asq Bir Davaya Benzer (Love Needs Proofs). Self-published, 2011. Artiran, H. Nur. Herkes Seni Terk Etse Asq Terk Etmez (Everyone Can Leave You, But Not Love). Self-published, 2014a. Artiran, H. Nur. Nun Kapisi (The Door of “Nun”). Self-published, 2014b. Artiran, H. Nur. Email message to authors. November 23, 2016. Basu, Shrabani. Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan. New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications, 2007. Can, Şefik. Cevahir-i Mesneviyye. Self-published, 2001. Dickson, William Rory. Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation. New York: SUNY, 2015. Dowland, Nargis Jessie. Path of the Seeker, Book One. New Lebanon, NY: Suluk Press, 2015a. Dowland, Nargis Jessie. Path of the Seeker, Book Two. New Lebanon, NY: Suluk Press, 2015b. Dyer, Daniel. “A Day with Nur Atriran.” September 2013. http://sufism.org/articles /a-day-with-nur-artiran. Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story. Film. Directed by Rob Gardner. 2014. Paramount Pictures. The Flower Garden of Inayat Khan. The Hague: East-West Publications, 1978. Friedrich, Fariha. Interview by William Rory Dickson, November 18, 2010, Masjid al-Farah, New York City, NY. Friedrich, Fariha. Email message to authors. September 20, 2016. Fuller, Jean Overton. Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan. Rotterdam: East-West Publications, 1971.

244 Gendering Sufism

Gilliss, Trent T. “Living Tassawuf with Cemalnur Sargut.” On Being, May 24, 2012. www. onbeing.org. Inayat, Taj. The Crystal Chalice: Spiritual Themes for Women. New Lebanon, NY: SufiOrder Publications, 1978. Inayat Khan, Hazrat. The Inner Life, Volume 1 in The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Geneva: International Headquarters Sufi Movement, 1979. Inayat Khan, Noor. Twenty Jataka Tales. London: Inner Traditions, 1985 [1939]. Inayat Khan, Pir Zia. Mingled Waters: Sufism and the Mystical Unity of Religion. New Lebanon, NY: Suluk Press, 2017. “The Inayati Order: A Sufi Path of Spiritual Liberty.” 2017. http://inayatiorder.org/. Karamustafa, Ahmet T. Sufism: The Formative Period. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007. Küçük, Hülya. “Menakibu’l-Arifin’de Rabia ve Rabia Timsali.” Kubbealtı Akademi Mecmuası 144, no. 4 (2007): 87–93. Küçük, Hülya. “A Brief History of Western Sufism.” Asian Journal of Social Science 36 (2008): 292–320. Küçük, Hülya. “Female Substitutes and Shaykhs in the History of Sufism: The Case of the Mawlawiyya Sufi Order from Its Early Phase to the Eighteenth Century.” Mawlana Rumi Review 4 (2015): 106–131. Murata, Sachiko. The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992. “Nur Ashki Jerrahi Community.” 2016. http://nurashkijerrahi.org/. Reinhertz, Shakina. Women Called to the Path of Rumi: The Way of the Whirling Dervish. Prescott, AZ: Hohm Press, 2001. Sargut, Cemalnur. “Tasawwuf (Sufism).” In Sufism: A Celebration of Love, edited by Ajita Kaura, Nur Zahir, and Refaqat Ali Khan, 22–34. Bhopal, India: SAARC Writers in Literature, 2012. Sargut, Cemalur. Email message to authors. June 23, 2017. Sargut, Cemalnur. “How to Apply ‘Tasavvuf ’ Sufism in Ordinary Human Life.” Personal unpublished essay, 2012a. Sargut, Cemalnur. “Tasavvuf: The Way to Acquire the Art of Being a Human.” Personal unpublished essay, 2012b. Schimmel, Annemarie. Pain and Grace: A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth-Century Muslim India. Leiden: Brill, 1976. Shaikh, Sa’diyya. Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn ‘Arabi, Gender, and Sexuality. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Smith, Margaret. Rabi‘a the Mystic and her Fellow Saints in Islam. 2nd revised Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Stam, Kismet Dorothea. Rays. The Hague: East-West Publications, 1927. Stam, Kismet Dorothea. Fragrance from a Sufi’s Garden. London: Luzac & Co., 1934. Stam, Kismet Dorothea. Sufi Lore and Lyrics; Musings from a Sufi. London: Luzac & Co., 1936. “Sufi Healing Order North America.” 2015. http://sufihealingorder.org/. Tide, Devi. Email message to authors. December 10, 2016.

8 CONCLUSION Discourses of authenticity and complementary contradictions in contemporary Sufism

The terms “contemporary” or “modern” connote – in the broad sense given to them by the regnant liberalism of Western societies today – the “latest and greatest”: if the arc of history is understood to be one of improvement, development, and linear progress, then what is modern and contemporary is by definition superior to what came before.1 There is, then, a positive evaluation built into the term “contemporary.” There have also been reactions to this bias in favor of what is new or novel. The 19th-century Romantic movement, for example, tended to value the ancient, the classical, and the traditional as bastions of authenticity, virtue, and beauty, in contrast with the shallow, systematized, and ugly modern. Interestingly, interpretations of contemporary Sufism have been, in many cases, framed by these dichotomous evaluations of the opportunities and limitations offered by modernity. The anti-modernism of the Romantic movement has influenced both Orientalists and Western Sufi Traditionalists.Western Sufi Traditionalists tend to view the modern era as increasingly closed off from spiritual possibility, and primarily an era of materialism, destruction, and decline. Correspondingly, Orientalists tended to see Sufism as something that was waning, and was best accessed in classical texts of philosophy and poetry. Thus, Traditionalists and Orientalists both limit the possibilities of contemporary expressions of Sufism, with a sense that Sufism’s time is long past, or that modernity cannot offer a vehicle for the expression of sacred principles. On the other hand, female Sufi leaders engaged within this study felt that the modern era was the era of the Feminine, a temporality toward which humanity has progressed, within which traditions unfold new possibilities that are compatible with their underlying essence. From their perspective, modernity is not an era only of morbidity and dismay, but – at least potentially – also the dawn of a new time whose gender realignments reflect the Sufi tradition’s deeper reality as experienced in the cosmic primordial era.2

246 Gendering Sufism

In general, scholars need to be critical of modern tendencies to read history through a singular lens. This modern historical tendency toward singularity can foster a correspondingly monolithic sense of Islam, and in so doing it also singularizes the narrative of Sufism. In this book, we have sought to avoid such singular narratives, whether progressive or traditionalist in nature. We have tried to resist the temptation either to idealize the contemporary as an advancement of or improvement upon the past, or to romanticize the past as a lost golden age without its own limitations and failings. Contemporary Sufism, then, is conceptualized neither as a shadow of its former self nor as its truest and most advanced expression, but as a manifestation of enduring ideals in relationship with the particularities of current global dynamics and contexts. Hence, to address the phenomenon adequately, we need to appreciate the way in which contemporary Sufism is simply Sufism, with the same ideals and practices that it has always had. However, it is contemporary in that these ideals and practices are taking a particular form in relation to the dynamics shaping global cultures today. Within the framework used in this book, we have explored key themes in terms of their historical and recent manifestations, to highlight the ways in which contemporary Sufism represents both continuity with and contradiction of the past.The explicit and implicit ways that Sufism today represents past ideals and contradicts them is precisely what makes contemporary Sufism “contemporary.” As we have seen throughout the different sections, the core of the dynamics framing the varied expressions of Sufism today is the question of authenticity. For instance, the contemporary debate over Sufi and anti-Sufi understandings of Islam manifests longstanding debates among Muslims over the most authentic way to interpret and express the teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad, and concerns core definitions of Islamic legitimacy and identity. As we explored in Chapters 2 and 3, this debate hinges on the deepest questions of the Islamic tradition, including the nature of God (transcendent, immanent, or both?), the Qur’an (a text made up of apparent or hidden meanings?), and the form of sacred knowledge (experiential or textual?). These contrasting understandings of Islamic authenticity are playing themselves out today in a global debate over Sufism, with some protagonists maintaining that Sufi modes of knowledge and practice represent the heart of Islam, even as others argue that Sufism represents a foreign interpolation that must be erased to preserve Islam’s authenticity. Contemporary Sufism is uniquely defined by having to negotiate this questioning of its Islamic authenticity to an unprecedented degree, including in many cases the active erasure of Sufism from history and the destruction of Sufi sites and bodies. Perhaps ironically, just as Sufism finds itself marginalized in many contemporary Muslim contexts, it emerges as a source of “authentic” Eastern or “Oriental” spirituality in the West, an ancient wisdom tradition that transcends religion and the particularity of Islam. Especially during the colonial period, Western intellectuals and officials saw in Sufism an appealing form of poetry, philosophy, and mysticism that could be reframed as a universalistic resource for Western artists and spiritual seekers, a process that led to the de-Islamification of Sufism in the West. However,

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 247

this is not to say that universalism is something foreign to Sufism, as in fact universalistic perspectives have long been central to Sufi conceptions of religious truth, though this universalism has traditionally been framed using Islamic rather than Western esoteric or Theosophical terminology. Either way, seekers and scholars in the West engage with the question of what Sufism authentically is (universal, Islamic, or both?) and whether or not Western engagements with Sufism (e.g., Barks’s translations of Rumi) are authentically Sufi. Another way in which Sufism is vetted in contemporary contexts is in consideration of whether it is a textual or a contextual tradition. When Sufi textual traditions are treated as more legitimate than contextual practices such as shrine veneration or whirling, a hierarchy of cultures and privileged types tends to follow. For instance, historically, Persian poetry was deemed far worthier of engagement by Orientalists than literary productions from other Islamic languages, as the Persian language had administrative value in varying colonial contexts and was further privileged as an Indo-European language. These dynamics in the privileging of certain languages of Sufism in non-Muslim textual engagements can be contrasted with Ibn Taymiyya’s attention to an Arab-only form of Islam that rids Islam of any other cultural residue in its practice. Modern ethnic and linguistic nationalists have also engaged in such debates over authenticity, with Persian nationalists celebrating the literature and spirituality expressed in Persian, transforming Rumi and Hafiz into national figures, and Arab nationalists laying claim to their own Sufi literature – for instance, that of Ibn al-Farid – as an expression of a larger national soul. Such ethnolinguistic identity issues have preoccupied not just Orientalists and Islamic revivalists as they considered the status of Sufism, but also thinkers involved with nation- and state-building projects that continue to unfold today. It is necessary, then, to move beyond these ethnolinguistic fields to capture the different locales of Sufism, especially in the modern era. Sufism is not the preserve only of Arabs and Persians, just as Islam is not the preserve of these regions where it historically originated. Rather, as Schimmel has indicated, shifts have unfolded in the development of Islam historically, including the emergence of diverse traditions such as “Mecca oriented” and “India oriented” approaches to Islam in South Asia.3 We might now add “America oriented” and “Europe oriented” as categories which need not be treated as dilutions and therefore less legitimate forms of Islam or Sufism. Historically and in current times, Sufism has taken on the hue of the many different regions into which it has entered. These adaptations and transformations within the tradition have in turn been vetted to determine their authenticity. Thus, the theme of authenticity and who has the power to vet this authenticity continue to be seen throughout varying geographical, religious, and structural forms of Sufism.Though concerns about authenticity have taken on added salience in modern times due to processes such as colonialism, the emergence of nation-states, and globalization, the question of authenticity is by no means an exclusively modern concern. Rather, it has followed Sufism throughout its development. Whereas the first two themes identified in this book, concerning the unprecedented spread of anti-Sufi understandings of Islam and the development of Sufism

248 Gendering Sufism

in the West in new forms, frame powerful dynamics affecting contemporary Sufism, the selection of gender and Sufism as our third theme may seem less obvious to some readers. However, questions of gender have been foregrounded in the modern or contemporary period with an urgency and prevalence not always found in prior periods, and questions of gender have unsurprisingly been engaged not only by contemporary scholars of Sufism but by Sufis themselves. These questions too hinge on the issue of authenticity. Although some Muslim authorities have questioned women’s religious acumen, Sufi teachers like Ibn al-‘Arabi have suggested that the highest forms of human realization are equally and authentically available to women.The gendering of human spirituality within Sufi discourse has provided textual resources for champions of both positions, in distant and recent historical periods. Insofar as holistic religious expression is generally understood to be one informed by such gendered perspectives, engagement with them is a dynamic component of the contemporary politics of authenticity, and underpins claims to religious authority. As we can see, the three overarching themes of Sufism and anti-Sufism (Chapters 2 and 3), European and American (non-Muslim) encounters with Sufism (Chapters 4 and 5), and female authority and presence (Chapters 6 and 7) are framed by questions of authenticity that lie at the heart of contemporary Sufism. Each of these sections offers a snapshot of contemporary Sufism, highlighting the historical tensions, moods, and processes that are shaping the global phenomenon. These are not (and cannot) be exhaustive, but rather are illustrative, acting as windows onto contemporary Sufism. Sufis have long held that the sacred manifests in a profound plurality of ways, and this book has attempted to shed light on a few of the ways in which sacred Sufi principles have manifested, whether in countering anti-Sufi discourses and movements, in shaping the arts, material culture, and social media, or in contemporary explorations of gendered realities.

Key findings of chapters Chapter 1 Chapter 1 situates this work within the broader history of knowledge production on Sufism that has taken place in Western contexts, both academic and otherwise. We began by providing an historical outline of European encounters with Sufi texts and traditions, focusing on the formative role played by Western forms of knowledge on Sufism that developed during the early colonial period (late 18th and early 19th centuries). It was during this period that Western study of the East crystalized as an intellectual discipline (and broader cultural phenomenon) known as Orientalism.The Orientalist framing of Sufism tended to filter it through a Western perennialist lens, largely separating Sufism from Islam.This separation, rooted in racialized theories of mysticism and the limited number of Persian texts to which early Orientalists had access, would help foster a broader Western embrace of Sufism as a perennial wisdom transcending religion and Islam, allowing a de-Islamicized

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 249

Sufism to find a place in Western spiritualities, art, and literature. By the early 20th century, however, scholars like Nicholson and Massignon, with greater access to Sufi sources, revised earlier theories of Sufism and acknowledged its Islamic origins and character. During this period, we also saw the development of lineages of Sufi practice in the West. Just as early academic treatments of Sufism were shaped by perennialism, so too were the first forms of Sufi practice: whether we think of Inayat Khan’s Theosophically framed universal Sufism or Guénon’s Traditionalist understanding of Sufism as the esoteric aspect of Islam, Western Sufism tended to be premised on a conception of universal truth shared across religious traditions. Academically, Islamic and Sufi Studies took shape in the mid-20th century, shifting to North America with the establishment of area studies departments and later religious studies departments, a trajectory represented in part by Schimmel. The later 20th century would see a turn in scholarship to studying lived Sufism, as opposed to an exclusive textual focus, one inherited from Orientalist approaches. It is out of this turn that the field of contemporary Sufism emerges, which then set the scholarly backdrop to situate the three broader themes addressed by the subsequent chapters.

Chapter 2 In Chapter 2, we offered a genealogical overview of the roots of one of the most profound and far-reaching developments within the historical Islamic tradition. The rise of anti-Sufi movements in almost every Muslim context within the past 200 years has set off a global debate among Muslims concerning the place of Sufism within Islam. This has largely resulted in an historically unprecedented marginalization of Sufi modes of thought, practice, scriptural interpretation, and religious association. Although unprecedented in its scope, anti-Sufism has been a significant aspect of the Sunni Islamic tradition since its coalescence in the 10th and 11th centuries. Followers of Ibn Hanbal perpetuated a suspicion of esoteric readings of the Qur’an, innovative rituals of remembrance, and theologies of love, intimacy, and the omnipresence of God. The anti-Sufi elements of Hanbali thought were brought together acutely in the 14th century by Ibn Taymiyya, who directed many of his polemics toward the school of Ibn al-‘Arabi, which had come to represent for Ibn Taymiyya a pernicious, transgressive force threatening the coherence of Islamic doctrine. Combining a suspicion of interpretive pluralism, non-Arabs, and un-Islamic contaminations, Ibn Taymiyya created a body of work that would be resurrected and amplified in the 18th century by the progenitor of contemporary anti-Sufism: Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. Unlike any prior thinker, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab sought not to reform or limit Sufism, but to erase it completely from Islam. The Wahhabi movement presented an exclusivist, puritan Islam devoid of poetry, philosophy, and most significantly and vehemently, Sufism. Tones of Wahhabi antiSufism were picked up by Salafi reformers like ‘Abduh and more strongly Rida. Their use of print technology and international networking helped spread and normalize Wahhabi theological critiques of Sufism, alongside their own suggestions

250 Gendering Sufism

that everyday Sufism was a retrogressive force holding Muslims back from civilizational revival countering European dominance.

Chapter 3 Chapter 3 built upon this historical overview by delving deeper into the ways in which anti-Sufism contrasts with Sufi modes of theology, scriptural interpretation, pedagogy, and religious practice, and breaking down these opposing “grammars” of religiosity as the underlying structure of this debate over Sufism within contemporary Islam. Following this, we offered an account of how the grammar of antiSufi Islam was mobilized as part of a global movement to change the face of contemporary Muslim thought and practice. The British–Saudi alliance of the late 19th and early 20th centuries allowed for the Wahhabi tradition to gain political traction within Islam’s heartland in Arabia, and the discovery of oil in the 20th century allowed for Wahhabism to be not only consolidated within Arabia but also promoted and disseminated throughout the world.This spread of anti-Sufi Islam in places like Nigeria,Yemen, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Europe and North America has put Sufis on the defensive in the 20th century. This defensive footing and marginalization has been one of the most significant dynamics of contemporary Sufism, affecting its presentation and practice globally. Contemporary dislocations inspire a search for a singular, authentic, stable Islam, and Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn ‘abd al-Wahhab’s promotion of just such a variety of Islam has a timely appeal. This, combined with the financial resources in the Gulf needed to promote such a perspective, means that supply and demand correspond, and hence the spread of a monolithic, Arabic-oriented Islam as the only real or authentic version. This allows for little in the way of diversity, contradiction, or ambivalence, and little room for Sufism – whether expressed in Arabic, Persian, or any other language. Sufism is seen as the quintessential “other” to this pure Islam, something inevitably local and cultural in manifestation, disconnected from the textual tradition. Public and private backing, supported by oil wealth, has further propelled anti-Sufi sentiments. In their most extreme manifestations, anti-Sufi sentiments have been expressed in the destruction of Sufi shrines by Islamist jihadi movements, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Chapter 4 Just as Sufism was being pushed from the center of Islamic societies to their margins, it was gaining momentum as a non-Islamic tradition among non-Muslims. Chapter 4 captures this historical engagement with Sufis, especially through encounters with textual and lived traditions by non-Muslims, many of whom were Orientalists. Though early historical interactions prior to Orientalism were also highlighted, including those of Llull and travelers to the Ottoman lands, the era of the most systematic engagement with Sufis was signaled by Jones, whose engagement with Sufism was defined by the textual legacy of Persian poets, such as Hafiz.

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 251

Orientalists’ interest in Sufi poetry (by Jones and Malcolm) captures some of the dynamics of non-Muslim Europeans’ relation to Sufism. For instance, figures such as Jones and Clarke found an affinity with the literary and philosophical traditions of Sufism because of its themes of universalism, love, and unity. At the same time, travelogues, such as those of Lane, showcased another trend emerging among these early encounters of Europeans with Sufis, that is, the exoticization of Sufis for ascetic practices which garnered them labels such as “howling dervishes.” These early representations of Sufis permeated the broader imaginary of European culture which was then influential in the literary and artistic productions of the era, especially of the Romantic movement. Exemplary here are the figures of Hammer-Purgstall and Goethe. Both figures were dynamically inspired by Hafiz’s poetry, thus indicating, as was the case with Jones, that the reception of the literary traditions of Sufism by non-Muslims did not simply transform Sufism in the West but also transformed Western interpreters of it. Eventually, these same literary traditions made their way to America, further influencing movements such as the Transcendentalists. Figures like Emerson and Whitman were enamored with the works of Hafiz. For instance, Emerson placed Hafiz on par with other writers such as Homer and Milton, and praised him as the prince of Persian poets. In America, poets such as Hafiz, Khayyam, and Rumi were receiving much positive reception in literary and spiritual circles to the extent that clubs were formed; the Omar Khayyam Club even sold chocolates and tobacco, an early example of commercialization of Sufism in the West. The reception of Sufi literary figures by an American audience, just like the European and Orientalist examples, illustrates the role of European and American audiences in not only the reception of Sufism but also its redefinition. This conceptualization of Sufism by non-Muslims took place within a universal framework wherein Sufism was not solely an Islamic tradition but one that existed beyond the confines of Islam. Framed as a universal tradition beyond Islam, Sufism provided a ready source of influence for European and American spiritual and literary movements. Sufism was not only passively received in the West but also actively embodied and transformed by its Western enthusiasts and practitioners. The preeminent example of this active reception and vernacularization of Sufism today is the ever-growing popularization of Rumi in the West.

Chapter 5 Chapter 5 contextualized this Western popularization of Rumi as part of the broader trajectory of the historical reception of Sufism by non-Muslims.This chapter examined the expansive popularization of Rumi through film, music, architecture, cafes, social media, and much more, and in so doing it critiqued the perception that the commodification of Rumi in the global West has adulterated Sufism’s purity. Instead of this commonly held critique of the popularization of Rumi, this chapter illustrates how, as was historically the case, Sufism was not relegated only to the private mystical experience but permeated public spheres. In the process, it was also commodified and vernacularized in diverse cultural milieus. As such, the

252 Gendering Sufism

example of Rumi’s popularity in the West is representative of the historical and sustained role that Sufi poets (Hafiz, Khayyam, and Sa’di) have played in various contexts, including in the construction of a contemporary plural spiritual landscape in America. Movements like Theosophy and Transcendentalism, in addition to some of their New Age successors, have all engaged with Sufi poetry as a spiritual resource. Thus, the question of Rumi and of Sufism in the West is not simply of whether these manifestations are new, but how they reflect a continuity of translation, transmission, and transformation of Sufi texts, philosophies, and traditions. Still, is that which is being translated and commodified Sufism? As much of this chapter indicated, the answer to this question is not simple, but captures a complementary contradiction. On the one hand, the proliferation of a de-Islamicized and commercialized Rumi in the West is not Sufism, because Sufism developed in Islamic culture and society, where it grew out of the traditions of the Qur’an and the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad, and it developed as a critique of materialism in the formative period of Islam. On the other hand, the message of Sufism and the modes in which it has been transmitted have not been uniform; figures like Ibn al-‘Arabi, Hafiz, and Rumi embraced a universal paradigm of religious pluralism which was rooted in their interpretation of Islam. It is this language of universality that has drawn Westerners to Rumi, which has led to the commodification of and devotion to Rumi discussed in this chapter. What Rumi’s popularization in the West captures are competing discourses of authenticity, especially as they relate to who can authentically claim Rumi (i.e., based on ethnic and religious identities). What is happening, then, with the expression of Rumi poetry through contemporary musical forms like jazz is in many ways a vernacularization of Sufism in the Western context. As the famous early Sufi al-Junayd reputedly said, water takes on the color of its container; Rumi’s mystical Persian Islamic poetry has thus been colored by a contemporary Western literary, cultural, and spiritual context. As such, this can be seen as a continuity of the ways in which Sufism has always historically existed in social and economic contexts. From food to architectural spaces, to poetry, music, and dance, Sufis have entered and used these spheres. These shifts in interpreting Sufi poets are part of a broader historical process, which includes Hafiz and Khayyam. These patterns of transformation raise challenging questions: has the spirit of classical Sufism been saved or lost in the West? How much is the West contributing to or detracting from global Sufism and its preservation? What is your relationship to Sufism when you sit in a Rumi chair, or wear the “Like This” Rumi perfume, or retweet a Rumi poem?

Chapter 6 In Chapter 6, we explored women’s involvement and leadership in Sufism through examples of how Sufi women throughout history have actualized the classical principles of insan al-kamil (perfected human) and walaya (friendship of God).We began our discussion by describing each principle, noting aspects of both the absence of gender from these concepts and gendered qualities expressed by them. We went

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 253

on to provide a brief historical overview of Sufi women. This overview observed that while institutions and literature about Sufism tended to amplify men’s voices, women actively participated in Sufi culture and practice – albeit, often within the socially sanctioned roles of their times. We then offered short biographies of Sufi female saints and ascetics from the formative period, such as Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya, Fatima of Nishapur, Mu’adha al-‘Adawiyya, Hafsa bint Sirin, and Hukayma or Halima of Damascus; Sufi female teachers, mentors, and poets from the medieval period, including Shams,“Mother of the Poor,” Nunaah Fatima bint Ibn Muthanna, Lala ‘Aziza of Seksawa, ‘Aishah al-Ba’uniyah, Zaynab bint al-Rifa‘i, Fatima bint al-Rifa‘i, and Lady Jahanara; and Sufi women who resisted colonial occupation, namely Nana Asma’u and Lalla Zaynab bint Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abi al-Qasim. We concluded that these women illustrate how Sufi ideas about spiritual egalitarianism have also been lived by women who subverted social constraints about gender and became foundational in transmitting Sufism through their leadership and spiritual guidance.

Chapter 7 Chapter 7 followed the historical examples presented in the preceding chapter by introducing four contemporary women Sufi leaders and practitioners, from two countries (Turkey and America) and from different lineages: namely, Nur Artiran, Cemalnur Sargut, Fariha Friedrich, and Devi Tide. These women represent public roles that have, in many cases, been historically held by men. By reflecting on the rare personal testimonies that these women shared with us, we examined definitions of Sufism, the relationship between teacher (murshid) and student (murid), and the responsibilities of female leaders in contemporary contexts. These leaders responded to how women have found leadership opportunities while negotiating dynamic cultural currents and schools of thought.They emphasized the importance of living Sufi ideals, coming to know deeper or higher levels of one’s spiritual self, aspiring to realize the oneness of being, and believing that Sufism is the path of love. Their insights also suggested that amid changing social landscapes, leadership in Sufi communities remains oriented toward transmitting spiritual blessing (baraka) and seeking unity that transcends dualities between male and female.

Complementary contradictions and the making of contemporary Sufism During the 1960s and 1970s, there was something of a consensus among social scientists and scholars of religion that modernization was leading inevitably to secularization: that as societies globally industrialized and developed rationalized forms of government and economy, non-rational forms of human thought and organization (religion) would become redundant.4 This estimation of religion’s inevitable decline formed the broader intellectual context within which we see scholars during this period suggest Sufism’s regression as a living tradition of practice.

254 Gendering Sufism

In an era of rapid globalization and modernization and the resulting permeation of technology into every sphere of life, mid-20th-century scholars suggested that a tradition such as Sufism (one developed by mendicants, ascetics, and contemplatives, especially of the Sufi brotherhoods) would inevitably disappear.5 Sufis and their ritual practices were popularly perceived, by anti-Sufis, Orientalists, and social scientists alike, as backward, rural-based, superstitious, and ultimately antiquated. And thus, the continued proliferation of Sufism in the contemporary era, writes John O.Voll, “in general is neither expected nor predicted.”6 Predictions of Sufism’s imminent demise have proven premature, as Sufi orders, groups, and informal networks have shown substantial resilience in modern, globalized contexts, making use of earlier organizational structures, such as the brotherhoods or orders, while effectively engaging in the tools offered by social media and popular culture. Thus, the question is not to determine if Sufism is alive and well. In many ways, this book has captured how it is thriving throughout literary, economic, and social spheres. Rather, the question is to determine some of the broader tendencies that are apparent within Sufism on a global scale – tendencies that can be better understood, we suggest, by framing them in terms of complementary contradictions. The concept of complementary contradiction highlights the complexity of competing discourses of authenticity within Sufism and Islam, and allows us to consider the various discourses of authenticity together without dismissing some of them. The phrase “complementary contradiction” is an English translation of a term found within the Wird of Ibn al-‘Arabi, a formula of daily invocations or private devotional prayers said during the day or evening.7 This phrase is found, in particular, in Ibn al-‘Arabi’s Friday evening prayer. Within this prayer, Ibn al-‘Arabi writes, of God, “You unite the complementary contraries, for you are the Majestic, the Beautiful,” and later writes: I ask of You, by the mystery with which You unite the complementary contraries, that You bring together for me all that is disunited of my being, in such a union that I may contemplate and witness the Oneness of Your Being.8 In these cases, “complementary contraries” is the English translation of the original Arabic phrase, jama‘ta bayna-l mutaqabilati. In Arabic, this phrase literally means the union, gathering, or joining between things facing each other in opposition, hence opposed or opposite from one another, and yet facing each other as in conversation or dialogue – indeed derivatives of qa-ba-la, the trilateral root of the last word, can mean conversation or meeting. Hence, the opposites or contraries are complementary in that they are facing one another and in dialogue with one another, and have in their natures the possibility (or ultimate necessity) of being united or joined. For Ibn al-‘Arabi, this notion of complementary contradiction is a defining feature of God and reality (and for him there is no ultimate difference between the two). God unites opposites: God is the beautiful (jamal) and the majestic (jalal), God is the one (wahid) and the many (kathira), God is the hidden (batin) and the apparent (zahir), God is both changeless essence and ever dynamic, changing form.

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 255

And, as the reality of the human self and the cosmos are expressions of God, they too express complementary contradictions. This concept, rooted in Sufi metaphysical conceptions of God, can be used as an historical and theoretical tool to help capture the plethora of opposing discourses on authenticity that undergird contemporary Sufism, in that where moments of dissonance (contradictions) are readily apparent, what is unfolding simultaneously is also coherence (a complement). Furthermore, the contradiction and the complement sustain each other. In other words, where scholars of Sufism have often seen a contradiction between how Sufism is lived in “classical” or “traditional” times and places and how it is lived today, we suggest in this book that such contradictions are often more complementary than is acknowledged: surface contradictions often reveal deeper patterns of continuity when examined more closely. Thus, difference, newness, and change, alongside continuity and patterns of connection, need to be emphasized for a richer, more accurate picture of the phenomenon to emerge. Contradictions, though seated opposite to one another and hence in some sense opposing, are also facing one another in dialogue and conversation. A helpful illustration of these sorts of contradictions and their relationship to change and continuity is the phenomenon of anti-Sufism within contemporary Islamic thought. In many respects, the opposition to Sufism, its theological critique, historical erasure, and in some cases active repression, is unprecedented.There is truly a confluence of historical circumstances in the contemporary world that foster both (a) a desire for a streamlined Islam easily mastered by nonspecialists, offering a “pure,” “authentic” de-vernacularized Islamic identity; and (b) the funding and political impetus from Wahhabi institutions, private elites, and clergies, to promote an anti-Sufi understanding of Islam. Salafism is in a sense a movement opposing the many vernacularizations of Islam – opposing, that is, the spatial, cultural, and temporal translations of Islam – even as it aspires to shore up a strong sense of corporate Muslim identity in the midst of rapid social, technological, and political change. Both the desire for such an Islam and the well-funded efforts to propagate it have marginalized Sufism to a degree previously unfathomable. However, although there is a noted contradiction here between contemporary Sufism and its classical predecessor, which tended to enjoy a centrality in Islamic thought and practice, there is also great continuity: anti-Sufism, as we have shown, is a paradigm within the Islamic interpretive tradition that goes back to the formative era, with Hanbali opposition to esoteric hermeneutics and innovative spiritual practice, and taking further shape with Ibn Taymiyya’s attempt to forge a hyper-coherent post-Mongol-invasion Islam. Another example of a complementary contradiction is found in the debate among Sufis and scholars of contemporary Sufism over “universal” and “Islamic” Sufism.Within the classical Sufi tradition, we find a universal paradigm espoused by Sufi figures like Rumi and Ibn al-‘Arabi, a universalism that is expressed in Islamic terminology. Although this Islamic expression of Sufism has been contrasted with contemporary universalistic expressions, in light of the concept of complementary contradiction, we can see that it is not so much a competition between universal

256 Gendering Sufism

and particular forms of Sufism, but alternative conceptions or framing of Sufi universalisms. The essential understanding of divine truth as a formless essence that includes and transcends a variety of forms of expression is a universalism shared by both Western Sufis and more classically trained Muslim Sufis; however, the form in which this shared universalism is expressed is different: Sufi universalism is either vernacularized in terms of Western esoteric traditions, renaissance perennialism, and romanticism, or expressed in terms of the Qur’an and Islamic philosophy. Even in the way in which Sufism is perceived as a universal tradition, there is some contradiction. From Traditionalist schools to Sufi movements in America, there is a dissonance in how the universalism of Sufism may be embodied. Yet, it is in this universalism, regardless of the way in which it particularizes, that we find a point of continuity between various expressions of Sufism: the complementary aspect of the contradictory ways that Sufi universalism takes shape. For instance, in the study of Western Sufis, a number of scholars have highlighted a contradiction with Rumi’s thought as embodied in his original Persian poetry. Pointing out that this original poetry is infused with references to Islamic sources, folk cultures, and intellectual traditions, these scholars note that Barks’s contemporary Western renditions of the poetry tend to remove references that would be lost on most non-Muslim readers, simultaneously making Rumi’s poetry more accessible and less Islamic. There is indeed a contradiction here, as scholars rightly point out, yet in this work we also highlight how this contradiction may be more complementary than is usually acknowledged: Barks’s English renditions of Sufi poetry arise out of Barks’s personal engagement with Sufi masters and practice, and he himself is aware of the politics of translation and its limitations. At the same time, his works have been recognized in countries such as Iran, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Tehran in 2006. Another case is seen with the socio-structural changes brought about by modernity and the rise of feminist movements around the world, which have opened new avenues for female leadership in society more broadly, and within religious organizations in particular. Sufism is no exception, and women have assumed some leadership roles in the contemporary era that were rarely held by them in premodern contexts. However, there is a growing body of scholarship recovering the history of female Sufi figures and their impact on the formation and perpetuation of the Sufi tradition during the formative and medieval periods. As we explored in Chapter 6, classical metaphysics offered a number of gendered possibilities, with the perfected human (insan al-kamil) generally conceived of as genderless in essence, something fully available to both women and men, while the feminine was at times valorized as the ideal state for humanity and the spiritual aspirant.Thus, contemporary Sufism exhibits both (a) an opening of possibilities of practice for women with the rise of female Sufi leaders, in contrast with some of the gendered limitations around the roles of women in the premodern period; and (b) a perpetuation of the place of women as formulators and teachers of spiritual transformation. The sense of the contemporary as liberating is consequently partially correct and partially incorrect: the contemporary has offered opportunity, though it is not as though there is no

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 257

continuity between female Sufi leadership in premodern and modern contexts – just as much has changed, much remains the same in this respect. At the same time, conceptions of freedom in modern times (e.g., sexual or gender) do not necessarily equate with the same forms of freedoms in premodern times. Consequently, questioning Rabi‘a or Noor’s liberation within the framework of contemporary forms of gender rights, without the consideration of their full spiritual, social, and cultural understandings of themselves, results in the marginalization of Sufi women according to our limited disciplinary lenses. In terms of the female Sufi leaders interviewed, none of them reinforced easy dichotomies between “traditional” or “classical,” and “modern,” “contemporary,” or “progressive.” The sense of a conflict between the two was largely absent, as each female Sufi leader offered a sort of synthesis of traditional teachings with contemporary sensibilities, in their own way. Accordingly, there is indeed a way in which contemporary female Sufi leaders have perspectives that stand in contrast to earlier understandings, and yet in many cases there is not a sense of conflict with tradition but rather its continuing, organic transmission. Sufi female leaders share a sense of being stewards of tradition, honoring, being shaped by, and transmitting the past, while adapting it to suit the sensibilities and needs of the present.

Reflections on possible trajectories for future scholarship This study is not intended to be exhaustive in its analysis of contemporary Sufism, but to begin an engagement with contemporary Sufism, particularly to point to its broader historical parameters and its influence in the present time. As such, as all projects go, there are limitations that we hope future scholarship can remedy. First and foremost, we are offering a view of contemporary Sufism from a particular vantage point that has been defined by the available English-language literature and by a North American context.We acknowledge that contemporary Sufism goes far beyond the English-speaking scholarship and teachings, especially considering the range of European, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Southeast Asian (to name a few) traditions of scholarship in a multitude of languages.Thus, this study highlights trends within contemporary Sufism through the lens of Western scholarship on the subject, though there are of course a number of other lenses through which the subject can be (and should be) accessed and understood. What is more, the sections in this study offer broad overviews that capture wider historical shifts but are limited in illustrating the particular contexts in which these processes unfold. For instance, although some discussion of how anti-Sufi movements are taking shape in differing locales is offered, more in-depth case studies on local manifestations of anti-Sufism can considerably flesh out our understanding of this dynamic. Future scholarship grounded in ethnographic studies can help highlight the varying nuances of contemporary Sufism “on the ground” and their relationship to the broader processes as described in our study. Close studies of particular Sufi groups can help illustrate precisely how processes like anti-Sufism,

258 Gendering Sufism

commercialization, or changing gender dynamics influence the trajectory of Sufi thought and practice in particular contexts. Related to this is the role of sectarian interpretations in shaping Sufi practice. Although we did not explore Sunni–Shi‘a dynamics and how they relate to shaping contemporary Sufi practice, there is rich ground for further scholarship to explore this issue. For instance, the growing Ismaili community in North America, especially in Canada, is exemplary here. Institutions such as the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, and the Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa, Canada, have become foremost public intellectual forums in hosting various artistic and cultural concerts, shows, and movies that have highlighted connections with Sufism and Shi’ism, especially Rumi. Ismaili institutional promotion of Sufism is one example that can showcase how contemporary Sufism is manifesting through identity formation and transnational activism within a Shi‘a community. Additionally, though we considered a number of examples of Orientalists and translators, especially non-Muslim Europeans, more historical examples of cross-cultural encounters and transmissions need to be assessed for the complexity of these encounters to be thoroughly examined. While we closely considered the nature of Rumi’s popularity in the West, further study of the lived reality of Rumi cafes and restaurants, and the ways in which the participants who engage in these activities relate to Rumi and Sufism is possible. Researchers can ask, for example: How is Rumi viewed and engaged with in everyday life by his enthusiasts? What is their relationship to Sufism when they perform Rumi yoga or share a Rumi meme? For instance, a discourse analysis of how Rumi manifests in self-help literature or online is possible. How has Sufism (and Rumi) been domesticated to make it comfortable or accessible in North America when otherwise it may be dismissed or feared due to stereotypes of and realities in the Middle East? Though we have pointed to some female voices in the final section of this analysis, these voices are not comprehensive, but rather illustrative. More women’s voices need to be captured to fully represent the nature of women’s roles and authority within contemporary Sufi communities, such as those in non-official capacities, as women have historically held significant influence through these positions. Focusing on alternative sources for scholarship beyond the textual can help unearth previously marginalized presences and influences among women practitioners of Sufism. In particular, we recommend expanding the study of female Sufi voices beyond North America and Turkey, to highlight diverse dynamics at play in the varied contexts within which Sufism is practiced. Another reality brought to the foreground in this book is the transnational and global nature of contemporary Sufism. Sufism, and more generally Islam, has been transmitted to the West. The varying manifestations of Sufism in Western contexts signal how the transnational and global nature of religiosity implicates identity formation, the nature of women’s authority, and the performance of ritual, piety, and spaces, as these are no longer defined by national (territorial) borders but rather transcend them. Sufi philosophies and texts are not only transmitted through human contact but also tweeted via online spaces, and thus age-old binaries of rural

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 259

versus urban or local versus global approaches to Sufism need to be problematized, as transmission and transformation of Sufism are not unfolding within linear trajectories but through multiple waves simultaneously. Finally, more scholarship needs to account for and explore the transnational nature of Sufi orders that encompasses both local distinctions and similarities. Undertaking such comparative case studies may be a productive exercise that will reveal how certain regional forms of Sufism, such as South Asian Sufism or Turkish Sufism, influence American and European forms of Sufism, especially during an era of mass migration and diverse displacement. The field of contemporary Sufism would benefit from more scholarship on refugee experiences of Sufism in Western countries. For instance, how will Sufism be affected by the movement of refugees into European and North American societies? There also needs to be a serious treatment of Sufism as it is already unfolding in America and Europe. American and European Sufism cannot be treated passively but must be seen as actively contributing to the making of contemporary Sufism in the global context.

Concluding thoughts Rumi once wrote about a popular Sufi tale of two international teams of artists vying for the title of the best artists in all the land. The story begins with the sultan summoning them to his palace, and offering them both walls on which to display their artistic mastery. The first team sets to work, getting a hundred different colors of paint from the king, while the second team insists they need nothing but polishing tools to burnish their wall. Both teams work on their masterpieces, and on the day of revelation, the sultan inspects the first team’s wall and is profoundly moved by the kaleidoscope of colors, the likes of which the sultan has never seen before. When it is their time, the second team reveals their wall, and it is simply a mirror reflecting the work of the first team’s myriads of colors. The sultan is even more awed at what he sees. Sufis have suggested that this story illustrates some of the most important metaphysical principles underlying Sufi understandings of reality. The one hundred colors given by the sultan can be seen to represent the endless and perpetual multiplicity of existence, the rich variety of manifestation that characterizes our world.The mirror can represent the heart polished by the remembrance of God, a pure reflective surface that, without distortion, reflects the multiplicity and beauty of each form in existence. As the king, however, finds the reflected image superior to the first, Sufis have proposed that the polished heart not only accurately reflects the beauty of multiplicity, but transcends it, seeing the unitary source of beauty of which the multiplicity is a dynamic manifestation. A number of themes emerge from this popular fable, which can be used to understand the complementary contradictions of contemporary Sufism.The colors and hues of the painting captured in the tale above, and the light which illuminates and reflects onto the burnished mirror, capture the plurality and unicity of contemporary Sufism and its many traditions of piety, politics, and popular culture.The plethora of manifestations of Sufism, whether global or local, offer varied hues of

260 Gendering Sufism

Sufi traditions that have been reflected and refracted over time and space. As seen in different Sufi understandings of reality, this many-ness does not precede or unpin the reality of oneness. Rather, there is an ongoing dynamic of “complementary dimensions of a single reality.”9 The unity of being is intertwined with the perpetual fluctuation and transmutation of an absolute time. This property of time as perpetual transformation is known as taqallub.10 Thus, the burnishing of the wall, like the polishing of the heart, mirrors the endless Self-disclosures of God that can never be experienced in the same form twice – creating an inevitable unpredictability.11 Unpredictability has long been a characteristic and even a valued virtue among Sufis and the larger tradition of Sufism itself. We can think of the teaching tales of Rabi‘a, where she surprisingly upstages a renowned ascetic and scholar, or tries to burn down paradise and put out the fires of hell to secure the worship of God for her own sake. Or we can recall al-Hallaj, whose travels, political engagements, and public statements were so unpredictable as to be considered dangerously shocking, warranting his execution in the minds of political and religious authorities threatened by what he might say or do next. Sufism itself is something that, in small and often marginalized teaching circles of 10th-century Khorasan or Baghdad, would not have seemed much of a contender to define the Islamic tradition for almost a millennium thereafter. And yet the medieval period witnessed just this prominence, the effects of which reverberate to the present day. The second painting team’s method of burnishing their canvas into a mirror also captures the unpredictability that has characterized Sufism. According to Ibn al-‘Arabi, God Himself is by definition totally unpredictable, as God’s Self-disclosures in the cosmos are never repeated, always being totally new – or contemporary. If the essence of reality is by definition beyond the human mind’s capacity to predict, then the forms that spring from this source will be multiple and dynamic. Sufism too can be thought of in this way, historically, as a tradition with an essence that is by definition unpredictable. Change and diversity appear inherent to the tradition itself, and need not be conceptualized as deviations from a stable, unchanging essence. Rather, the essence by nature is engaged in a perpetual pattern of dynamic disclosure. Put otherwise, humans are constantly acting as the nexus where principles are synthesized with circumstances, leading to ever new syntheses that express the same principles in potentially unlimited forms. If Sufism, like the cosmos, can be characterized by unpredictability, then past is precedent: just as Sufism has surprised observers and scholars historically, its future manifestations cannot be easily anticipated, and scholars are arguably best situated to address Sufism if receptive to the ways that this living tradition surprises with its dynamism and variety, without thereby failing to perceive the threads of connection and continuity that remain. Contemporary Sufism is a living tradition, constantly vernacularized by its interpreters in ways that reflect the living dynamism of human reality more broadly. As our shared reality is always escaping categorization, academic frames, no matter how sophisticated, will always fall short of capturing the living dynamism of our world, both external and internal. Scholars of Sufism, like scholars of any field, can best respond to this condition by humbly acknowledging

Conclusion: Discourses of authenticity 261

the inherent limitations of any analytical framework, pointing to rather than defining, suggesting rather than dictating, the meaning of a phenomenon that escapes a final word.

Notes 1 This, in some sense, goes back to the great debate between the “ancients and the moderns” during the Renaissance, when the question of whether the ancients knew better was more pressing than it would be in the Enlightenment period, when the moderns appeared to have won the debate. Today, however, a revival of the religious, indigenous, and ancient in the face of modern ecological and social fallout may lead to revisiting this debate in a more global way. 2 Known as the “Covenant of Alastu” from the Qur’an, this time refers to the moment when God asks his creation (Adam) “Am I not [alastu] your Lord?” To which (he) replies “Yes!” 3 Annemarie Schimmel, The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture (London: Reakton Books, 2004), 107. 4 See for example, Peter Berger’s discussion of secularization in The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New York: Anchor Books, 1967). 5 John Voll, “Contemporary Sufism and Current Social Theory,” in Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam, eds. Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007), 282 [281–298]. 6 Ibid. 7 Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, Awrad al-Usbu (Wird, The Seven Days of the Heart), trans. Pablo Beneito and Stephen Hirtenstein (Oxford: Anqa Publishers, 2000), 115. 8 Ibid., 115. 9 William C. Chittick, Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity (New York: State of University New York Press, 1994), 15. 10 The word taqallub is an intransitive verbal noun derived from the root qalaba, which is also connected to the qalb (“heart”). 11 Self-disclosure comes from tajalli, “Tajalli is the process by which the Absolute, which is absolutely unknowable in itself, goes on manifesting itself in ever more concrete forms” (see Toshihiko Izutsu, Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts [Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983], 152).

Bibliography Berger, Peter. The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New York: Anchor Books, 1967. Chittick, William C. Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity. New York: State of University New York Press, 1994. Izutsu, Toshihiko. Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983. Schimmel, Annemarie. The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. London: Reakton Books, 2004. Voll, John. “Contemporary Sufism and Current Social Theory.” In Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam, edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell, 281–298. London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007.

INDEX

‘Abbasid 42, 192 ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri xv ‘Abd al-Qadir Jilani 200 ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami 193 ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya 11, 12; see also Guénon, René ‘Abduh, Muhammad 50–2, 249 Abdul Rauf, Feisal 20, 87–9 Abi Bakr, Rabi‘a bint 200 Abou El Fadl, Khaled 46–7 Abrahamic Reunion 234 Abu al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi 192 Abu Hanifa 40, 67–8 Abu Hashim 116 Abu Hurayra 39 Acar, Ismail 153 adab 216 Afghanistan 79, 89 Aga Khan Museum 258 Aguéli, Ivan 12; see also Shaykh ‘Abd alHadi Aqili Ahl-i Hadith xviii ‘Aishah al-Ba‘uniyah 199–200 al-‘Adawiyya, Rabi‘a 106, 130, 192–5, 200, 253 al-Afghani, Jamal al-Din 50–2, 115 al-Albani, Nasir al-Din 80 al-Azhar University 51 al-Banna, Hasan 75–6 al-Basri, Hasan 37, 195, 197 al-Ba’uniyah, ‘Aishah 253 al-Bistami, Abu Yazid 194 al-Bushanji, Abu al-Hasan 37

al-Farabi 106 Al-Faruqi, Ismail 77–8 Alger, William Rounseville 129 Algeria 49, 51, 63 al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid 39–41, 47, 106, 149, 203 Algiers 10 al-Hajj Muhammad, Muhammad b. 206 al-Hallaj, Mansur 10–11, 14, 260 al-Hujwiri 192 Ali, Ayaan Hirsi 86 Alighieri, Dante 104 ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib 38 ‘Ali Ufki 107; see also Leopolitanus, Albertus Bobovius; see also Bobowski, Wojciech al-Jerrahi, Pir Nureddin 215 al-Jilani, ‘Abd al-Qadir 39–40 al-Jurjani, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad 199 al-Kabir, Shaykh ‘Ilaysh 12 al-Khuldi, Ja‘far 222 al-Kindi 106 Allah, Shah Wali 45 al-Makki, Abu Talib 206 al-Qaeda 35, 72, 80–1, 88 al-Qunawi, Sadr al-Din 43 al-Qushayri 192, 199, 216 al-Rifa‘i, Ahmad 200 al-Rifa‘i, Fatima bint 200, 253 al-Rifa‘i, Zaynab bint 200, 253 al-Risala 192 al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya 64 al-Sa’ud, ‘Abd al-Aziz 52 al-Shadhili, Abu al-Hasan 40

Index 263

al-Shahid, Shah Isma’il 68 al-Subki, Mahmud Khattab 73 al-Suhrawardi, Abu al-Najib 40, 120 al-Sulami, Abu Abd al-Rahman 192, 194, 199, 205, 216 al-Tirmidhi, Hakim 39 al-Zarqawi, Abu Musab 81 America 140–8, 151–3, 156–8, 160, 164, 169, 220, 223–4, 233, 236 Aminrazavi, Mehdi 7 Andalusia 40, 43 Angha, Nahid 20 anti-Sufism xviii, xxi, 40, 45, 50, 52, 68, 73, 75, 78, 81–2, 248–50, 255, 257 Aqili, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hadi 12; see also Aguéli, Ivan Arabia 111, 118, 121–2, 125 Arabian Nights 112, 120 Arabic xiv, xix, xxi Arberry, Arthur J. 9–11, 14, 20, 143–4, 149 architecture 165 Armstrong, Karen 147 Artiran, Nur 214, 216–17, 253 Aryan 111 Asad, Talal 63 asbab al-nuzul 65 ascetic 37–8, 191–2, 253–4; see also zuhhad Asiatic Society of Bengal 111, 115 Ataturk, Kemal xiii, xiv Attar, Farid al-Din 120, 192–3 Aurangzeb Alamgir 201 avhal 216 awliya’ 185, 189, 190 awqaf 49, 63 ‘Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamadhani 222 Ayverdi, Samiha 215, 237 ‘Aziza, Lalla 198–9, 202 Bacon, Joséphine 157 Baghdad xvi, 10, 37, 39, 42, 48, 192, 196 Bal, Rabisandkar 146 Banafsheh 151, 156 baqa‘ 187, 200 baraka 45, 190, 214, 222 Barks, Coleman 140, 144–7, 149, 151–4, 157–61, 163, 166, 247, 256 Basra 194 batin 46, 66, 254 Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Muhammad Raheem 19, 21, 145, 152 Bawer, Bruce 86 Bayru, Esin Celebi 155

Bazian, Hatem 83 Bektashi 63 Bellamy, Carla 21 Belon, Pierre 5 Berrada, Anouar 157 Beyazid Bestami 216, 229 Beyoncé 141 bida‘a 39, 43, 51; see also innovations Bigelow, Anna 21 Bilkan, Ali Furat 148 Bin Bayyah, Abdullah 84–5, 89 Blake, William 120–1 Bly, Robert 143 Bobowski, Wojciech 107; see also Leopolitanus, Albertus Bobovius; see also ‘Ali Ufki Boko Haram 78 Brahmo Samaj 51 British 3, 6–10, 19 British East India Company 7 Brown, John P. 118–19, 127 Brown, Jonathan A. C. 68, 75 Brown, Sarida 234 Buddha 148, 150, 152 Buddhism 38, 51, 101, 103, 129 Bukhara 42 Bullah Shah 159 Bunt, Gary 79 Burhaniyya 21 Burke, Edmund 7 Burke, Raqib Brian 156 Burkhardt, Titus 13 Burton, Sir Richard 111 Buturovic, Amila 191 Byron, George Gordon 120–1 Café Rumi 164 Cairo 37, 48 CalEarth 165; see also California Institute for Earth Architecture California Institute for Earth Architecture 165; see also CalEarth caliph 52 Can, Şefik 214, 217, 226, 229 Cannon, Garland 112 Cantwell Smith, Wilfred 16 Caucasus 49 Cavanagh, Karen 155 Chishti xx, 13, 75, 79, 201, 215 Chittick, William C. 13, 18, 147 Chopra, Deepak 1, 151–2, 158, 160 Christian xv, xvii, 102 Clancy-Smith, Julia A. 205–7 Clark, Moe 157

264 Index

Clarke, Lieutenant Colonel H. Wilberforce 115–16, 251 classical period xvi Clinton, Jerome W. 145 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor 120–1, 126 colonialism xix, 2, 4–8, 22, 202, 247 Combs-Schilling, Elaine 199 comics 148–9 Concordians 126 Confucius 112 Constantinople 108, 118; see also Istanbul contradictions 245, 253–5, 259 Corbett, Rosemary R. 87 Corbin, Henry 14–15, 18 Cordoba House 88 Cornell, Rkia 17, 194 Cornell,Vincent 17 Crochard, Captain 205–6 Crusades 102 culinary 163 Dabistan 8 Dabistan-i madhahib 113 Dalrymple, William 140 Damascus 37, 192, 194–5 dance xiv, xv Danner,Victor 18 Dara Shikoh 201 dargahs 155 Dede, Mercan 156, 160 de Ferriol, Charles 108 Della Valle, Pietro 108 Demi 148–9; see also Hunt, Charlotte de Nicolay, Nicolas 5 Deobandi xviii, 79 dervish 107–9, 116–19, 122, 125, 130–1, 251 dhikr 105, 108, 118–19, 131, 192, 194, 199–201, 220, 237 Diabo, Barbara 157 DiCaprio, Leonardo 161–2 Divan xix, 112, 115–16, 123, 125–6, 158 Divine Love 220–3, 225, 229, 231 Dowland, Nargis Jessie 234 Downey, Robert Jr. 141, 161 Dozy, Reinhart 9 Dyer, Daniel 214 East India Company 102, 110, 113 Eberhardt, Isabelle 206 Egeling, Mevrouw N. 232; see also Mai, Murshida Fazal Egypt 1, 3, 8, 9–10, 20, 21, 64, 73–4, 76 Eliade, Mircea 15, 17

Eliot, T. S. 129 Elmarsafy, Ziad 124 Eltantawi, Sarah 78 El-Zein, Amira 142, 144 Emerson, Ralph Waldo xix, 103, 106, 111, 126–9, 131 Eranos 15 Ernst, Carl W. 1, 4, 16, 17, 106, 117, 142 Esack, Farid 85 esoteric 247, 249, 255–6 esotericism 11–12, 14–15 Etat Libre d’Orange 160 Europe xiii, xv, xvi, xvii, xix European 2–7, 9, 16, 22 Evanson, Tanya 156–7 exotericism 11 Eye-Hey Nakoda 157 fana‘ 187, 200 faqira 201 Fatima of Nishapur 194, 200, 253 fatwa 80 female ascetics 192 female authority 248 female leaders 215–16, 222, 237–8 female teachers 196–7 feminine 224–5, 230, 236–7 Ficino, Marsilio 106 fiqh 140, 191 fitra 187 Fitzgerald, F. Scott 129 Flaubert, Gustave 3 Florence 4 Flueckiger, Joyce Burkhalter 21 formative period 192, 196–7 Forum for Peace in Muslim Societies 84 Foucault, Michel 3 Franklin, Benjamin 7, 111 Franzoni, David 161 French 3–6, 10–11, 14, 17, 20 French Revolution 119 Friedlander, Shems 154 Friedrich, Fariha 87, 214, 220–6, 229–31, 237, 253 Furlanetto, Elena 144, 147 Geaves, Robert 21 Geertz, Clifford 20 Geller, Pamela 88 Gellner, Ernest 20 gender xvii, xx, xxi Genghis Khan 42 Gentius, Georgius 109 George of Hungary 4, 107, 131

Index 265

Geuffroy, Antoine 5 ghazals 112, 123 Gibbon, Edward 7 Gibran, Khalil 143 globalization 247, 254 gnostic 11 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von xix, 6, 15, 102–3, 106, 122–31, 251 Golden Sufi Center 20, 141 Goldziher, Ignaz 9 Gouchi, Laila 157 Graham, Lieutenant James William 8, 10, 113 Grateful Dead xiv Green, Michael 152–3, 157–8 Green, Nile 21, 206 Grewal, Zareena 83 Ground Zero Mosque 88 Grunebaum, Gustave von 16 Guénon, René 11–14, 17, 22, 206, 249; see also ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya Gumi, Abubakar 78 Hadith 2, 41–2, 46, 48, 65–8, 70–1, 79–80, 189, 203 hadrat 105 Hafiz, Shamsuddin xiii, xv, xix, 102–3, 112–16, 120–9, 131–2, 141, 143, 146, 159, 167, 169, 247, 250–2 Hafsa bint Sirin 194–5, 253 Hajji Imdadullah Muhajir 79 Halveti-Jerrahi Tariqah 214 Hamadani, Sayyid ‘Ali 202 Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von 6, 122–3, 126, 128–9, 251 haqiqi 41, 65 Haqq 219 Haramayn 48 Harvey, Andrew 149–52, 156, 163 Hasan, Noorhaid 79 Hastings, Warren 49 Hausa 78 Hawn, Goldie 158 Heinkstein, Caroline 122 Helminski, Camille Adams 19, 156, 214, 236 Helminski, Kabir 1, 19, 147, 156, 214, 236 Hermansen, Marcia 16, 18, 21 hermeneutics 65–6, 68, 70 Hermeticism 106, 120 Hesiod 158 hijab 86 hijra 81 Hinduism xiv, xvii, 12, 101–2, 120, 129

Hixon, Lex 214, 223–5 Hodgson, Marshall G. S. 6 Hoffman,Valerie 21 Hollywood 158–62 Homer 158, 251 Housden, Roger 146 Hukayma or Halima of Damascus 194–5, 253 Humboldt, Wilhelm von 111 Hunt, Charlotte 148; see also Demi Huntington, Samuel 86 Hussain, Zakir 158 Iberian Peninsula 103–4 Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, xviii, 39, 45–8, 50, 52–3, 249–50 Ibn al-‘Arabi 12, 15, 17–18, 20, 39, 43–5, 48, 51, 105–6, 150, 153, 169, 188–90, 193, 197–8, 203, 216, 220, 225, 229–30, 248–9, 252, 254–5, 260 Ibn al-Farid 247 Ibn al-Mubarak 71 Ibn al-Qadi, Sayyida Amina bint Ahmad 202 Ibn al-Uthaymeen, Muhammad 80 Ibn Baz, Shaykh Abdullah 80 Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad xviii, 39, 50, 249 ibn Musa, Abraham 107 Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi,Yahya 199 Ibn Sina 106, 149 Ibn Taymiyya 39–47, 50, 52–3, 247, 249–50, 255 Ibn Tufayl 120 ikhlas 199 Ikhwan al-Muslimeen 64, 73, 75–6; see also Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan al-Safa 106 ‘ilm 39, 66 ‘ilm al-batin 197 ‘ilm al-laduni 186 Imam 187 Inayat Khan, Hazrat I, 1, 11, 13–14, 19, 215, 218, 226–7, 232–3 Inayat Khan, Noor 19, 233–4 Inayat Khan, Pir Vilayat 19, 226 Inayat Khan, Zia 17, 19 India 7–13, 102, 115, 118 Indonesia 36 innovations 39, 42–3, 51; see also bida‘a insan al-kamil 45, 127, 185–7, 194, 207–8, 252, 256 insan-y-kamil 216 Iraq 35, 37 ISIS xiv

266 Index

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) 76 Islamic revolution 64 Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) 77, 82 Islamic University of Medina 62, 78 Islamophobia 142, 156 Istanbul 214–15, 236; see also Constantinople Izutsu, Toshihiko 18 Ja‘far al-Sadiq 187 Jahanara 201, 253 jalal 188–9, 254 Jama‘at-i-Islami 64, 75, 79, 81 jamal 188–9, 254 Janissaries 63 Janmohamed, Sheniz 160 Jay-Z 141 Jerrahi xx jihad 72, 81, 86–7 jihadi xviii, 250 Joinville, Jean de 106 Jones, Sir William 3, 6–8, 10, 49, 106, 110–13, 115–16, 119–21, 129, 131, 250–1 Junayd al-Baghdadi 216, 229, 252 Jung, Carl 15 Kabbalah 103, 106, 120 Kabbani, Hisham xix Kafayat 231 kalam 105, 188, 191 Kalin, Ibrahim 13 kamil 188 Karan, Donna 141 Karbala 47 kashf 41 Kashf al-mahjub 192 kathira 254 Keats, John 120–1 Khalil, Atif 9 Khalili, Nader 165 Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali 159 khanqah 191 Khayyam, Omar xv, xix, 120, 141, 145, 157, 161, 167, 251–2 khilafah 190 Khorasan xvi, 38–9, 194 Khusrow, Amir 159 King Francois I 108 King, Peter 88 Konya 155, 166 kufr 81 Kugle, Scott 17, 202

Lalla Zaynab bint Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abi al-Qasim 203, 205, 253 Lane, Edward William 116–19, 131, 251 Laude, Patrick 11, 14 Lawrence, Bruce 16–17 legal methodology 196 Leopolitanus, Albertus Bobovius 107; see also Bobowski, Wojciech; see also ‘Ali Ufki Less, Anna 234 Lessing, Doris 19 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim 109 Lewis, Bernard 3 Lewis, Franklin D. 142, 144 LGBTQ 162–3, 168 liberal reformists 72, 85 Lillydahl, Sandra Yasodara 235 Linden, Saphira 235 Lings, Martin 13 literalist 68, 71–2, 76–7, 79–80, 82–5, 87 literature 143, 146–7, 153 Lloyd, Charles 158–9 Llull, Ramon 4, 22, 103–7, 130–1, 250 Loras, Suleyman 154, 185 Luhrmann, Baz 162 Luther, Martin 107 madhhab 83 Madonna 158 madrasa 71, 79–80, 197 Mafi, Maryam 1 mahabba 199 Mahal, Mumtaz 201 Mahavira 148 Mai, Murshida Fazal 232; see also Egeling, Mevrouw N. Maimonides 107 majdhub 202 Malaysia 63, 87 Malcolm, Sir John 8, 10, 110, 113–16, 118, 129, 131, 251 male biographers 192 Mali 89 Malkin, Michelle 87 Mangold, Zarifa 235 mard 193 ma‘rifa 66 Martin, Chris 158–9 Marx, Karl 76 Maryamiyya 17–18, 85 Masjid al-Farah 220 Masnavi 161–2, 215 Masonic 11 Massignon, Louis 4, 10–11, 14–15, 249

Index 267

Mathnawi 128–9 Maududi, Abul Ala 75–6, 79, 81 Maufroy, Muriel 146 mawlid 119 Mayer, Annemarie C. 105 Mecca 73, 75, 79 medieval 40, 46–7, 50, 52, 103–4, 107, 196–7, 200–1 Medina 46–8, 67, 73, 78–9 Melville 158 mendicants 254 Merton, Thomas 19 metaphysics 66, 194, 196 Mevlevi xx, 19, 108–9, 117, 154, 168, 185 Middle East xiii, xvi, xviii, 2–3, 6, 10, 16, 63–4, 74–5, 77–8, 82 Milton 251 Mi’raj 104 Mirandola, Giovannia Pico della 103, 106 misbah 187 Mohammad, Afsar 21 Mongols 42 Moore, Demi 158 Moosa, Ebrahim 44 Morocco 36 mujaddid 64, 75, 79 Murad, Abd al-Hakim 82 Murata, Sachiko 13, 18, 147 murid xx, 214, 224, 253 murshid xx, 214, 224, 232, 253 music 141–2, 146, 148, 150, 152, 154, 157–60, 163–5, 168–9 Muslim Brotherhood 64, 73, 75–7, 81; see also Ikhwan al-Muslimeen Muslim Students Association (MSA) 77 Muslim World League 74, 76, 78, 81; see also Rabitat al-‘Alam al-Islam mystical theology 5 nafs 219, 221 najd 46–7 Nana Asma’u 203, 253 Napoleon 3 Naqshbandi 164, 222 Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya 20 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein xix, 13, 18, 84 neo-Orientalism 86 Neoplatonism 4, 102, 104, 113, 130 New Age 140–2, 145, 150, 252 ney 109 Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne 9–11, 14–15, 249 Nigeria 78

Nishapur 38 Niyaz 156, 160 Nizam al-Din ’Auliya 200–1 North Africa xiii, 2, 3, 10, 17, 22, 75, 104, 108 North America ii, xiii, xvi, xvii, xviii, xix, 77–8, 81–3, 85–6, 89, 249–50, 257–9 Nott, John 112, 119, 121, 125 novels 146–7, 151, 167 Nunaah Fatima Bint Ibn Muthanna 253 nur 45 Nur Ashki Jerrahi 19, 215 nuzul 66 Obama, Barack 159 Ockley, Simon 110 Orientalism 1–6, 12, 22, 101, 103, 110, 123, 143 Orientalist xvii, 245, 247–8, 250–1, 254, 258 Ottomans xiii, 4–5, 63, 101, 107, 109, 154, 250 Otto, Rudolf 15 Ozak, Muzaffer 19–20, 214 Pakistan xiv, xviii, 62, 64, 73, 79, 89 Palmer, Edward H. 9 Paris 10–12, 15 Parker, Sarah Jessica 158 Parvin, Manoucher 146 perennialism xvii, 1–2, 7, 8, 11, 14 Persia 37, 42, 50, 52 Persian 1, 7–11, 16, 20, 102–3, 109–15, 120–1, 123–9, 131, 141, 144–8, 152–3, 156–8, 160–6, 169, 247–8, 250–2, 256 Pétis de la Croix, Francois 5 Plato 7–8, 102, 104, 112, 118, 120 Platonism 106 poetry 102–4, 109–13, 115, 119–21, 123–4, 126–32, 245–7, 249, 251–2, 256 popular culture i, xvii, xx, xxi Postel, Guillaume 107–8 Pound, Ezra 129, 144, 158 precolonial 4 progressive xix Prophet Muhammad 148, 169, 188, 192, 195, 203 Puttenham, George 109 Qadiri 199, 203–6 Qalandar, Lal Shabaz xiv qalandars 202 Qasim-i Anwar 129 Qawwali 159

268 Index

Qur’an 2, 9, 11, 64–8, 70–1, 75, 85, 102–4, 106, 110, 122–6, 129–30, 186–90, 195, 197–8, 203, 246, 249, 252, 256 qutb 190 Qutb, Sayyid 76, 81 Rabitat al-‘Alam al-Islam 74–5; see also Muslim World League Rahman, A. R. 159 Rahman, Fazlur 45 Rahmaniyya 205–6 rajul 193 rak‘at 195 Ramadan, Sa‘id 75 Ramadan, Tariq 71, 85 Reformation 107, 126, reformist xix Reinhart, A. Kevin 65 Renaissance 2, 4, 7, 12 Renan, Ernest 3, 8–9 resistance 202–3, 205 Reviczky, Charles 112 revival 247, 250 Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Convention 82–3 Rexroth, Kenneth 144 Rida, Rashid 50–2, 249, 254 Rifa‘i 200 Ripley, George 126 Romantic xvii, 245, 251 Romanticism 106, 119–20, 141 Rosenthal, Franz 16 Roy, Olivier 75, 80 Rozehnal, Robert 17, 21 Ruba‘iyat 10 Rubenstein, Ella 140, 146 Rumi Dome 165 Rumi, Jalaluddin xiii, xv, xix, xx, 1, 9–10, 18, 109, 114–15, 117, 120–1, 128–30, 132, 140–69, 214–15, 224, 229, 247, 251–2, 255–6, 258–9 Rumi Rose Garden Café & Market 163 Sa‘di 103, 110–12, 114, 120, 125–6, 129, 131 Safi, Omid xix, 85, 142, 145, 155 sahih 67 Said, Edward W. 3–4, 6–7, 10, 22 St. Francis of Assisi 143 St. Teresa of Avila 143 Salafi 62, 64, 70–3, 75–85, 87–9 Salafism 48–9, 51, 72–3, 76, 78–2, 85, 89; see also Salafiyya Salafiyya xvi, xviii, 49–51, 53, 72, 75, 77; see also Salafism

sama‘ 154, 156 Samarkand 42 San Francisco xiv Sanskrit 7, 10, 111–12, 120, 129 Sargut, Cemalnur 215–17, 219–21, 229, 237, 253 Saudi Arabia xviii Sayyad, Banafsheh 151 Schafer, Murray 158 Schimmel, Annemarie 11, 15–17, 19, 106, 147, 187, 191–2, 247, 249 Schuon, Frithjof 17–19 Sedgwick, Mark 4, 21 Sedigh, Reza 161 Segalowitz, Nina 157 self-help books 149, 152 Sells, Michael A. 17 sema‘ 236 Shadhili-‘Alawiyya 17 Shadhili-Qadiri 87 Shafak, Eli 140, 146–7, 149, 155 Shah, Idries 147 Shah Jahan 201 Shaku Kozen 51 Shamil Dagestani 49 Shams 140–1, 146–7, 158, 160–1, 163, 168, 253 shari‘a 49, 51, 63 shaykh/a 191, 205, 214–17, 222–3, 226 Sheikh, Shiraz 9 Shelley, Percy Bysshe 120–1 Shi‘a 37–8, 44, 47, 52, 187 shirk 47, 51, 52, 68, 81 silsila 222 Silvers, Laury 191–2 Sirhindi, Ahmad 75 Six Day War 64 Smith, Huston 18 social media 140–1, 148, 150, 162, 165–7 Sokoto Caliphate 203–4 South Asia xiii, xv, xviii, xix, 3, 16 Spencer, Richard 86 spiritual biographies 149 Stakelbeck, Erik 86 Stam, Kismet Dorothea 233 Steyn, Mark 86 Sufi Healing Order of North America, Australia, and New Zealand 215, 218 Sufi orders 191, 196–7, 200 Suhrawardi 216, 229 Sulayman, Abdulhamid Abu 77–8 Suleiman the Magnificent 108 Sultan ‘Abd al-Majid I 63 Sunna 67, 71, 75

Index 269

Sunni 36–7, 39–40, 46–7, 49–51 surah 186 Suzuki, D. T. 13 Swinton, Tilda 160–1 synthesizing 36 ta‘ayyun 43 tafsir bi-l-ishara 66 Tajadad, Nahal 146 tajalliyat 43 Taj al-Rajal 192 Taj Mahal 201 takfir 47 Tales from the Masnavi 10 Taliban 79 tanzih 44, 186 Tanzimat 63 taqallub 260 tariqa 2, 21, 164 tasawwuf 37–8, 43, 216, 221 tashbih 44, 186 Tawakkul 195 tawassul 51–2 tawba 199 tawhid 37, 47–8, 68–70, 81, 220 theology 67–8, 70–4, 82–4, 89, 188, 196, 250 theosophical 9, 11, 13–14, 143, 247, 249 Tholuk, Friedrich August 8 Thoreau, Henry David 126–7 Threshold Society 156, 169 Tide, Devi 215, 218, 253 Tijani, Ahmad 45 Toderini, Giambattista 109 Topkapi Palace 155 tourism 140, 154–5 traditionalism 71, 83–5, 89 Traditionalists xix, 13, 17–18, 245 Transcendentalism 106, 125–6, 252 travelogues 116, 120, 130–1 Turkey xiii, xiv, xx, 50, 101, 103, 107–8, 117, 122, 130, 140, 147, 154–6, 158, 160, 162, 168 Turkish Women’s Cultural Association 215 Tuzon, Selman 154 Twain, Mark 129 Tweedie, Irina 20 ‘ubbad 37; see also worshippers ‘ulama 5, 40–1, 48, 49, 63–4, 71, 75, 191, 197 ‘ulum 196 Umayyads 192

UNESCO 140, 154–5, 162 universal 36–7, 51 Universal Sufi Council 214 Urdu 67–8 Usman dan Fodio 203 ustadh 194–5 ‘usul al-fiqh 65, 84 Vakil, Mohammad Ali 148 Vakil, Mohammed Arif 148 Vanmour, Jean-Baptiste 108 Vaughan-Lee, Llewellyn 20, 141 Vedanta 1, 9, 12–13 Vietnam War 143 Virgin Mary 189, 193 visual art 152, 154 Vivekananda, Swami 13 Voll, John O. 16, 254 Voltaire 111, 123 Wadud, Amina 85 wahdat al-wujud 221, 227 Wahhabism xvi, xviii wahid 254 walaya 189–90, 198 walī 189–90, 202 Walter Knoll 165 Webb, Gisela 21 Werbner, Pnina 21 whirling dervish xiii, xiv, xvii, 141, 146–8, 153–5, 157–8, 160, 165, 169 Whitman, Walt 126–9, 131 wilaya 189–90 Willebeek le Mair, Saida Henriette 234 Winfrey, Oprah 141, 155 Wittman, Jennifer Alia 234 Wordsworth, William 120, 126 worshippers 37; see also ‘ubbad Wuthnow, Robert 413 Yemen 73, 78 yoga 140, 150, 258 Yohannan, John D. 113, 129 Yusuf, Hamza xix, 13, 83–5, 89 Zahara, Aziz 146 Zahid 116 zahir 41, 46, 66, 254 zawiya 205–6 Zaytuna Institute 83 Zoroastrianism 101 zuhhad 37; see also ascetic Zweig, Connie 146