Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca - William Rory Dickson

Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca - William Rory Dickson

Sources of Sufism: Transmission of the Prophetic Word

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.


In Chapter Seven we conclude our journey back through history to consider Sufism’s origin during the 7th and 8th centuries. The many principles and practices of Sufism explored in the book can be traced back to the Qur’an, the revelatory experience of the Prophet Muhammad. To understand the roots of Sufi hermeneutics and concepts such as kashf, we take a closer look at the interpretive approach of Ja‘far al-Sadiq, one of Islam’s early polymaths and mystics. His suggestion that kashf revealed deeper layers of meaning in the Qur’an would shape Sufi approaches to the text thereafter. We further consider those verses of the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad that have shaped later Sufism. Sufi understandings of the Qur’an were controversial, and their claim to have access to the Qur’an’s deepers meanings was contested by scholars who rejected the possibility of esoteric interpretation. This started a debate that continues to this day among Muslims over how to understand the Qur’an. We then explore Muhammad’s life and spiritual practices, which are exemplary for Sufis, and further consider the Prophet’s metaphysical status and meaning for Sufi practitioners. Attention also be given to Sufi use of Quranic calligraphy to beautify expression of the Divine word, and to the development of Sufi thought about the mystical significance of Arabic letters. Finally, we consider Sufism in larger world historical context. Although Sufism may not have originated outside of Islam, it has undoutedly integrated various mystical and philosophical systems prevalent in the Near East. As such, we look at the influence of some of these, including Christian mysticism, Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, and Zoroastrianism.

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Sharify-Funk, Meena ; Dickson, William. Sources of Sufism: Transmission of the Prophetic Word. Unveiling Sufism - From Manhattan to Mecca. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 221-256 Aug 2017. ISBN 9781781792445. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=26333. Date accessed: 18 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.26333. Aug 2017

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