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Unveiling Sufism

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In contrast to most introductory texts on Sufism, this work begins not with the historical past, but with the contemporary present. Beginning with Sufism as it is lived today, each chapter further unveils the complexities of Sufism, journeying through a variety of historical, political, and cultural contexts, moving deeper into the past, and closer to the origin and heart of Sufism. This geneological framework will enable the reader to understand the patterns of connection between contemporary manifestations of Sufism and past realities.

To ensure that the full range of Sufism’s varied expressions is taken into account, each chapter is divided into four sections: Politics and Power, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Arts and Culture, and Overview of Historical Developments. Dividing chapters into these four broad categories enables the book to highlight some of the ways in which Sufism has influenced Muslim politics, philosophy, art, and culture in each historical period. In each category the relevant issues are illustrated through detailed case studies, whether of a particular Sufi figure, place, artistic expression, or philosophical view. This allows the reader to develop a genuinely three-dimensional appreciation of Sufism, neither reducing it to a private mystical experience divorced from social expression, nor limiting the tradition to historical names and dates.

Published: Aug 15, 2017

Section Chapter Authors
List of Figures Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Preface and Acknowledgements Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Introduction Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Chapter 1
The Many Faces of Contemporary Sufism in North America Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Chapter 2
Warriors, Philosophers and Poets: Sufis in the Age of Colonialization Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Chapter 3
Commanding Sultans to Wandering Dervishes: Sufism in the Late Medieval Era Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Chapter 4
Synthesizers and Saints: Sufism in the Medieval Era Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Chapter 5
A Reality without a Name: Early Sufis and the Formation of Tradition Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Chapter 6
Sources of Sufism: Transmission of the Prophetic Word Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
Conclusion Meena Sharify-Funk, William Dickson
End Matter
Bibliography William Dickson
Index William Dickson


This work is an introductory yet extensive text on Sufism intended to be used in the classroom. With an interdisciplinary approach, the authors aim to provide a rich contextualized understanding of Sufism. Strongly recommended for researchers and academicians engaged in field of Sufi studies.
Reading Religion

An interesting read that due to its unique arrangement of topics and selection of content has something to offer to every reader, regardless of their background or prior knowledge on the subject. ...we should thank Dickson and Sharify-Funk for their unique and at a times very attractive contribution.
Religion and Theology