Sufism in Europe and North America

Sufism in Europe and North America

Sufism in Europe and North America

Sufism in Europe and North America

Synopsis

Today there is a substantial and rapidly growing Muslim population in Europe and North America. Here, as elsewhere, many of the Muslims are Sufis. This book focuses mainly on issues of inculturation or contextualisation of Sufism in the West. It shows that, while more traditional forms of Sufism exist too, many radical changes have taken place in this part of the world. For instance, there are in some groups female sheikhs and a far-reaching pluralistic attitude to other religions. Hence Sufism is sometimes seen as something that transcends the boundaries of Islam

Excerpt

Due to the increased political significance of Islam, there has recently been a growing research interest in this world religion, focusing especially on Islamism. Likewise, it is above all the Islamist movements and organisations that have attracted media attention. By contrast, the fact that important changes have recently also taken place within Sufism, which is a most important movement within - as well as partly outside - Islam, has often been overlooked. Among the Western public at large, Sufism is largely associated with medieval thinkers like Ibn Arabi and Jalal al-Din Rumi, i.e. the Sufism of great philosophers and poets. Many of the intellectual Western converts to Islam have been attracted by this type of religion, and there are many books in Western languages, written by academic 'outsiders' as well as by Sufi 'insiders', on classical Sufism of this kind. Mainly due to research carried out by social scientists, there are now also a considerable number of works that focus on political and socio-economic aspects of Sufism in predominantly Muslim parts of the world.

Hitherto, however, the presence of Sufism in the West has not been the object of much research. The aim of this book, which focuses primarily on modern changes associated with the inculturation or contextualisation of Sufism in Europe and North America, is to contribute to remedying this deficiency. The contributions are written in an essayistic style, and the volume is intended not only for scholars and students but for a wide circle of readers. Some of the essays here have previously been published in Swedish in a book entitled Levande sufism (2001). These contributions have been

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