Sufism's Ambivalent Publics
Katherine Pratt Ewing [+]
Sufism has been swept up into globalized debates that are increasingly framed as an opposition between Sufis and Salafis. Carl Ernst has reflected on how scholarly approaches to Islam have historically been filtered through Protestant Christian understandings of religion, arguing that such approaches contribute to the Islamophobia so evident in public discourse today. I reconsider how and why Muslim ambivalence toward Sufism, which continues to grow along with the rise of Salafism, is the product of a new semiotic ideology linked to this global public discourse, often taking the form of what could be called “Sufiphobia.” Focusing on transnational flows of public discourse on Sufism, my goal is to trace some of the roots of this Sufiphobia among modern Muslims and to consider what is happening to Sufism as a result.