Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca - William Rory Dickson

Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca - William Rory Dickson

Commanding Sultans to Wandering Dervishes: Sufism in the Late Medieval Era

Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca - William Rory Dickson

Meena Sharify-Funk [+-]
Wilfrid Laurier University
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Meena Sharify-Funk, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor for the Religion and Culture Department at Wilfrid Laurier University who specializes in Islamic studies with a focus on contemporary Muslim thought and identity. Sharify-Funk has written and presented a number of articles and papers on women and Islam, Sufi hermeneutics, and the role of cultural and religious factors in peacemaking. Her current research focuses on the construction of contemporary North American Muslim identity in a post 9/11 world. It is a continuation of her first manuscript, Encountering the Transnational: Women, Islam, and the Politics of Interpretation (2008) which examined the impact of transnational networking on Muslim women’s identity, thought, and activism. She also has co-edited two books, Cultural Diversity and Islam (2003) and Contemporary Islam: Dynamic, Not Static (2006).
William Rory Dickson [+-]
University of Winnipeg
William Rory Dickson, PhD is an Assistant Professor for the Religion and Culture Department at the University of Winnipeg, with a specialization in Islamic Studies. His research focuses on contemporary Islam and Sufism in North America. Dickson's recent book Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation (2015) explores the ways in which Sufi leaders in North America relate to Islamic orthodoxy, authority, and gender. Dickson has published articles on contemporary Muslim thought and Sufism in the Journal of Contemporary Islam and Studies in Religion and has presented his research at a number of national and international conferences.


The diversity of contemporary Sufism and its dynamism during the colonial era can be traced to shared roots, which we explore in Chapter Four, considering Sufism’s role during the height of the Muslim “Gunpowder” empires between the 15th and 18th centuries: the Ottoman, Safavid, andMughal dynasties. In terms of politics and power, this chapter delves into the close relations some Sufis had with Muslim dynasties. The Safavid political dynasty itself emerged out of a Sufi order, while Sufi orders were integral to the social and political structures of Ottoman life. In Mughal India, Sufism was closely associated both with efforts to dissolve boundaries between Muslims and Hindus, and with movements to reassert the superiority of Islam and to entrench the boundaries between Muslims and non-Muslims. In contrast to Sufism’s relationship with imperial elites, we discuss the wandering mendicants of Islam, the dervishes, representing a counter-cultural Sufism that rejected social norms and conventions. Regardless of their position in society, Muslims in general during this period congregated in Sufi shrines, seeking the blessings of the saints. The Sufi shrine then brought together all elements of Muslim society, being honored by imperial courts, venerated by dervishes, and respected as focal points of local devotion. As we illustrate, in contrast to the contemporary period, Sufism during this era was integral to almost every facet of life in Muslim societies, infusing government, commerce, and industry as well as the arts and sciences.

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Sharify-Funk, Meena ; Dickson, William. Commanding Sultans to Wandering Dervishes: Sufism in the Late Medieval Era. Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 95-136 Aug 2017. ISBN 9781781792445. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=26330. Date accessed: 15 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.26330. Aug 2017

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