From the Abbasids to the New Age
Oxford University Press 2017
New Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Islamic StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network January 31, 2018 Shobhana Xavier
In his work, Western Sufism: From the Abbasids to the New Age (Oxford University Press, 2017), Mark Sedgwick maps the ideational processes that have led to the development of contemporary western Sufism. Sedgwick showcases how Neoplatonism influenced Arab philosophy and subsequently Sufism. Pre-modern Sufism then appealed to Jewish and Christian mystics, who framed Sufism as a non-Islamic tradition, in effect emphasizing its universalism. With this historical mapping Sedgwick masterfully showcases how, even in its earliest period, Sufism was engaged with by Muslims and non-Muslims, and thus the fluidities noted in western Sufism in the contemporary context is by no means unique, but rather reflective of an age-old process of textual, philosophical and mystical transmissions. Moving between questions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, universal and Islamic, this study naturally challenges how we think and frame Sufism. This book is a must read for anyone interested in Sufism, especially in modern western Sufism.
M. Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Ithaca College. 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 (Bloomsbury Press, 2018) and a co-author of Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2018). More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.