Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics

Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics

Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics

Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics

Synopsis

Islamic mysticism was contested from the formative period of Islam till the present. Criticism of and opposition to mystical conceptions of Islam and their adherents constitute an integral part of an ongoing debate inside the Islamic tradition. Controversies and polemics concerning Islamic mysticism often shaped and coincided with socio-political configurations. This volume results from a collective effort by a group of Islamicists and area specialists with a variety of disciplinary orientations to arrive at a comprehensive view of these controversies and polemics wherever and whenever found. The thirty-five contributions and the introduction are united in their historicising approach, while taking into account the wider socio-political context. Detailed indexes facilitate consultation of the work and give it an added value as work of reference and research tool.

Excerpt

The present volume originates in the international symposium on “Sufism and its Opponents” which was convened by Frederick De Jong and Bernd Radtke at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, in early May 1995. The idea to organise a symposium with this particular focus was born in a discussion on research priorities in the field of the history of Islamic mysticism which De Jong had with Avram Udovitch and Frank Stewart in Princeton over a decade ago. Although some initial thought was given to issues pertaining to the organisation of such a symposium at Princeton, no concrete plans materialised. Several years later, when De Jong was visiting the University of Bergen in Norway, in another discussion on the state of the art in the study of Islamic mysticism, in this case with Séan O'Fahey and his colleagues, the idea to organise a symposium on Sufism and its opponents came up again. It was developed to the stage of a funding proposal for such a meeting to be held at Bergen. However, the funding request was turned down, and plans were shelved until 1994 when Bernd Radtke joined the Department of Oriental Languages and Cultures in Utrecht University. We formulated a proposal for a scholarly meeting at Utrecht with a distinct focus on inner-Islamic polemics concerning Sufis and Sufism wherever and whenever found, and we secured the necessary funding allowing us to proceed.

The Symposium was conceived as one in an ongoing series of international scholarly meetings on Islamic mysticism and the Sufi orders, which started in Paris in 1982. Later meetings were held in Sèvres (on the Naqshbandiyya) in 1985, in Strasbourg (on the Bektashiyya and related groups) in 1986, in Istanbul (on the Melami and Bayrami traditions) in 1987, in Belgrade (on Sufi orders in the Balkans) in 1989, and in Bamberg (on the Mevleviyye) in 1991. These meetings resulted in a number of publications, such as Les ordres mystiques dans I'Islam. Cheminements et situation actuelle (eds. A. Popovic & G. Veinstein; Paris 1986), Naqshbandis. Cheminements et situation actuelle d'un ordre mystique musulman (eds. M. Gaborieau, A. Popovic & T. Zarcone; Istanbul 1990), Bektachiyya. Études sur l'ordre mystique des Bektachis et les groupes relevant de Hadji Bektach (eds. M. Gaborieau, A. Popovic, T. Zarcone; Istanbul 1995), Melâmis-Bayrâmis. Études sur trios mouvements mystiques musulmans (eds. N. Clayer, A. Popovic, T.

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