Sufism's Ambivalent Publics

Words of Experience - Translating Islam with Carl W. Ernst - Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst

Katherine Pratt Ewing [+-]
Columbia University
Katherine Pratt Ewing is Professor of Religion and Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia University. She has done ethnographic fieldwork in South Asia and among Muslims in Europe and the United States focused on debates among Muslims about the proper practice of Islam in the modern world, including current ACLS-funded research in northwest Africa.


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.

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Ewing, Katherine. Sufism's Ambivalent Publics. Words of Experience - Translating Islam with Carl W. Ernst. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2020. ISBN 9781781799109. Date accessed: 04 Jun 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38426. Oct 2020

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