Sufism. Carl Ernst Reli 180, Introduction to Islamic Civilization. Outline . Problems of definition Modern European and fundamentalist concepts of Sufism Quick vocabulary check on Sunni/Shi`I Ibn Khaldun on Sufism Institutional development of Sufism, post 1200.
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Introduction to Islamic Civilization
Problems of definition
Modern European and fundamentalist concepts of Sufism
Quick vocabulary check on Sunni/Shi`I
Ibn Khaldun on Sufism
Institutional development of Sufism, post 1200
Spirituality, experience, mysticism: loaded terms from European/Christian history
Early Europeans like Sufi poetry (love and wine), thought it couldn’t possibly be Islamic – must be from somewhere else?
Recent colonial/postcolonial reformations of Islamic identity (“fundamentalism”) reject Sufi saints, intercession, Sufi lineages and practices, as evil innovations
Sunni Sufis, and Shi`i Sufis
Sufism “belongs to the sciences of the religious law that originated in Islam”
Divine worship, devotion to God, aversion from the world, abstinence from wealth, retirement into solitude for worship – all common among early Muslims
Special name “Sufi” developed a couple of centuries later [compare special technical terms of Islamic law and hadith]
Intuitive perception of psychological states and stations
Self-scrutiny and quest for knowledge and unity with God
Special language for inner experience, parallel to other fields of religious knowledge
Philosophical psychology as an explanation of Sufi experiences
“Removal of the veil” as a key metaphor for perception that goes beyond the senses
Different views on God as separate or one with creatures (p. 362); alleged similarity with philosophical and Christian views
Disapproval of Sufis by legal scholars (muftis, who give anti-Sufi fatwa decrees)
Theories of absolute oneness: only God exists
Theory of God’s imagination as source of the cosmos
-- Ibn Khaldun dismisses these views as contrary to both reason and experience
“pious exertions” of meditation and worship
Removal of the veil, perception of supernatural realities
The operation of divine grace in the world
Ecstatic expressions that arouse suspicion (“I am the truth” – Hallaj) These are the primary problem; they should be disapproved or reinterpreted
Seeking inner experience is fine, but it’s better not to discuss them publicly!
Ajmer receives 1.5 million pilgrims at the annual festival
Touba receives over 2 million pilgrims
Neither pilgrimage center is aware of or connected to the other
Both challenge the hajj to Mecca in size
To what extent should they be considered marginal in modern Islam?
Chanting the Arabic names of God as a ritual of remembrance (dhikr)
Rituals of music, recitation of poetry
Sometimes arms-length from politics, sometimes tightly involved
Abolition of Sufism in Turkey by secular govt., in Saudi Arabia by fundamentalists
Modern phenomenon of Sufism for non-Muslims
-- Abu al-Hasan Fushanja (11th century)