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Sufism: A Global History



Sufism: A Global History

Nile Green

ISBN: 978-1-405-15765-0 February 2012 Wiley-Blackwell 286 Pages

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Since their beginnings in the ninth century, the shrines, brotherhoods and doctrines of the Sufis held vast influence in almost every corner of the Muslim world. Offering the first truly global account of the history of Sufism, this illuminating book traces the gradual spread and influence of Sufi Islam through the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and ultimately into Europe and the United States.

  • An ideal introduction to Sufism, requiring no background knowledge of Islamic history or thought
  • Offers the first history of Sufism as a global phenomenon, exploring its movement and adaptation from the Middle East, through Asia and Africa, to Europe and the United States of America
  • Covers the entire historical period of Sufism, from its ninth century origins to the end of the twentieth century
  • Devotes equal coverage to the political, cultural, and social dimensions of Sufism as it does to its theology and ritual
  • Dismantles the stereotypes of Sufis as otherworldly 'mystics', by anchoring Sufi Muslims in the real lives of their communities
  • Features the most up-to-date research on Sufism available
List of Maps and Illustrations ix

Preface and Acknowledgments xi

Maps xiv

Introduction 1

1 Origins, Foundations and Rivalries (850–1100) 15

2 An Islam of Saints and Brothers (1100–1400) 71

3 Empires, Frontiers and Renewers (1400–1800) 125

4 From Colonization to Globalization (1800–2000) 187

Glossary: A Sufi Lexicon of Arabic Terms 239

Further Reading 243

Index 245

“Green has indeed fulfilled the goal he set himself, to present a ‘global history of Sufism’ … The books offers a singularly global historical-analytical perspective on Sufism and the manner in which its ideas, rituals and institutions grew out of the religious, cultural and social fabric of the Muslim world. It is therefore as welcome an addition to the upper-division Islamic studies classroom as it is to graduate seminars that focus on the history of Sufism. However, its argument reaches far wider than scholarly library and classroom: anyone interested in social psychology or anthropology as the science of the human soul and its states and the manner in which they resonate within the social milieu in which we live today will find this work of immense value.”  Journal of Islamic Studies (1 September 2015)

“How Green has managed this considerable feat is nearly as interesting as the contents of this engaging volume. Adequately annotated chapters encompassing four large chronological eras stretched across increasingly expansive swaths of geography represent an interesting and not entirely predictable 'periodization'.” Journal of the American Oriental Society (1 October 2014)

“Green’s history is well organized and offers a number of clear themes and theses.” The Journal of The Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies (1 August 2013)

“A must read not only for those interested in Islamic studies but also for those interested in world history. Summing Up: Essential. Most levels/libraries.” Choice (1 September 2012)