Sufism and Society: Arrangements of the Mystical in the Muslim World, 1200-1800, edited by John J. Curry and Erik S. Ohlander

Jonathan P. Allen


(First paragraph)

In this timely and ambitious volume, the editors, John Curry and Erik S. Ohlander, have undertaken to collect and edit material dealing with one of the most historiographically fraught topics and periods in Islamic history: the history of Sufism from the so-called “Middle Period” up to the cusp of modernity. As the editors note in their introduction, while the early centuries of Sufism have been relatively well served by historians and others, and the period after 1800 has been treated extensively by historians, anthropologists, and religious studies scholars, the intervening centuries have been studied in a much more haphazard, discontinuous manner, when they have been studied at all. Pernicious paradigms of Sufi “decline” and “corruption,” particularly in light of the rise of so-called “ṭarīqa Sufism,” have yet to be completely extirpated. Large gaps – chronological, thematic, and geographical – remain, with entire periods, places, and figures from the later medieval to early modern periods remaining virtual terra incognita. Yet this situation, as the editors argue, has begun to change. In addition to this volume, one calls to mind, for instance, Nile Green’s Sufism: A Global History, also published in 2012; the recent flurry of monographs on early modern Ottoman Sufism are also positive signs of change in the historiographic field. While this volume of twelve papers obviously cannot resolve the above field-wide problems, it does fill in some lacunae, offer many provocative jumping-off points for further research, and, perhaps most importantly, demonstrates awareness on the part of many scholars of the problems and potential solutions within the field.

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Ilahiyat Studies: A Journal on Islamic and Religious Studies, 2009-2019 eISSN 1309-1719

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