Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca - William Rory Dickson

Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca - William Rory Dickson

Synthesizers and Saints: Sufism in the 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.


Moving deeper into history, in Chapter Five, we consider those Sufis who integrated Islamic law, theology and philosophy with the aesthetics and practices of Sufism to forge a holistic paradigm in the medieval era. It was between the 11th and 13th centuries that Sufism crystalized as a comprehensive worldview, one that would define Islam for centuries to follow, shaping the culture of Muslim societies and empires. The great synthesizers of Sufi thought, figures such as Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1240) and Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111), played paramount roles in drawing the outlines of classical Sufism. Some Sufi scholars like al-Ghazali worked within government instutions, seeking to reconcile Sufism with both Islamic jurisprudence and the political powers of his day. Philosophically, Ibn al-‘Arabi articulated a metaphysics of oneness alongside a conception of human perfectibility, leading to a cosmology of unity and sainthood. Socially, Sufism was institutionalized during this period as a series of religious orders, four of which will be explored in this chapter (the Shadhili, Qadiri, Naqshbandi, and Chishti orders), each representing a different cultural region within Islamic civilization. With Sufism’s institutionalization in a system of orders, Sufi practices became more codified, with each order developing its own particular forms of devotion, meditation, and contemplation. We see during this time the development of a sound mysticism, as Sufi devotion was integrated with musical traditions, and Sufi chanting coordinated with breath and body, producing spiritual practices of song, dance, and ecstasy.

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Sharify-Funk, Meena ; Dickson, William. Synthesizers and Saints: Sufism in the Medieval Era. Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 137-178 Aug 2017. ISBN 9781781792445. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=26331. Date accessed: 15 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.26331. Aug 2017

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