Sufism in America is now a developed sub-field of study that exists at the intersection of Islamic Studies, American religions, and popular spirituality. Varieties of American Sufism: Islam, Sufi Orders, and Authority in a Time of Transition
(State University of New York Press 2020) an edited volume by Elliott Bazzano (Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Le Moyne College) and Marcia Hermansen (Professor of Theology and Director of Islamic World Studies at Loyola University Chicago), captures these complex varieties of Sufism in America. The edited volume is organized around different case studies of Sufi communities in America, which are based on ethnographic studies completed by the contributors to the volume. Some of the Sufi communities discussed include the Inayati Order, the Golden Sufi Center, Mevlevi Order of America, Alami Tariqa, Ansari Qadiri Rifa‘i Tariqa, and the Tijani Order.
Throughout the different chapters various themes emerge, some of which include questions of charismatic authority in an era of transition, as well as gender and racial dynamics amongst individual American Sufi communities. Through these dynamic discussions, the collective chapters de-center easy categories of Sufi communities in America, be they understood or framed as “hippie” or non-Islamic to Islamic ones by scholars and/or practitioners of Sufism. The volumes’ focus on lived and embodied realities of various Sufi communities and the amplification of voices of American Sufis themselves (such as through oral histories) is a fresh and insightful contribution to the growing field of Sufism in America. The book will be of interest to those who write and think about contemporary Sufism, American Islam, American religions and popular spirituality.
Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. Her research areas are on contemporary Sufism in North America and South Asia. She is the author of Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism (Bloombsury Press, 2018) and a co-author of Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at email@example.com