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A Culture of Sufism: Naqshbandis
A Culture of Sufism: Naqshbandis
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Details: A Culture of Sufism - Naqshbandis in the Ottoman World, 1450 -- 1700.
Hardback - 297 pages,
by Dina Le Gall.

Description :

A Culture of Sufism opens a window to a new understanding of one of the most prolific and enduring of all the Sufi brotherhoods, the Naqshbandiyya, as it spread from its birthplace in central Asia to Iran, Anatolia, Arabia, and the Balkans between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Drawing on original sources and carefully aware of the power of modern paradigms to obscure, Le Gall portrays a Naqshbandiyya that was devotionally sober yet not demysticized and rigorously orthodox without being politically activist. She argues that the establishment of this brotherhood in Ottoman society was not the product of political instrumentality. Instead the Naqshbandi dissemination is best explained in reference to a series of little-appreciated organizational and cultural modes such as proclivity to long-distance travel, independence of specialized Sufi institutions, linguistic adaptability, commitment to writing and copying, and the practice of bequeathing spiritual authority to non-kin.


Dina Le Galls book fills a gap in our knowledge of a major phenomenon in Muslim societies Drawing on an impressive range and breadth of primary sources (mystical treatises, biographical dictionaries, travel literature, chronicles, etc.), the author touches on the political, social and cultural aspects of tariqa activity in order to analyze its dynamics, changes and internal varieties. Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam.

The research presented by Dina Le Gall, the first of its kind in English, demonstrates her command of the intellectual and social history of the early Ottoman period. She overturns prevailing conceptions of this tariqa with an exhaustive survey of the primary literature. Jonathan Katz, author of Dreams, Sufism, and Sainthood: The Visionary Career of Muhammad al-Zaww.

Intellectually sophisticated and rigorous, this study demystifies the Naqshbandis and points the way toward a greater appreciation of the complexity and diversity of Sufi practice. Jane Hathaway, author of A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen.

Review quote :

"Intellectually sophisticated and rigorous, this study demystifies the Naqshbandis and points the way toward a greater appreciation of the complexity and diversity of Sufi practice."

Table of Contents :


---Note on Transliteration,


Part One: Dissemination

1. From Transoxania to the Ottoman Lands

--The Birth of a Tariqa: From Khwajagan to Naqshbandiyya,
--Agents of Transmission,
--In the Shadow of Safavid Persecution,
--Safavid Power and Changing Patterns of Communications,

2. Istanbul

--Establishing a Presence,
--Spiritual Lines and Continuity,
--Tekkes and Institutional Arrangements,
--Penetrating Society,
--Waqf-Making and the Women of the Tariqa.

3. Anatolia and the Balkans

--Capital and Province, Town and Countryside,
--The Balkans,
--A Charismatic Shaykh and His Demise,

4. Arabia

--Constraints on Early Transmission,
--An Indian Transplant and His Arabian Disciples,
--Teaching in Multiple Tariqas,

Part Two: The Politics and Culture of a Tariqa

5. Devotional Practice and the Construction of Orthodoxy

--"Acting with Strictness",
--Sobriety in Devotional Practice,
--Communicating with the "Friends of God",
--Teaching Ibn al-'Arabi,
--Bakri Genealogy: From a Spiritual to a Political Marker?

6. Politics of Sunnism, Battles over Orthodoxy

--Ahrarian Politics and the Ottoman Environment,
--"Bringing the Heterodox to Heel",
--A Thesis Revisited,
--A Naqshbandi Kadizadeli.

7. Organizational and Cultural Modes

--"The Shadow of the Shaykh is Better than Dhikr"
--Bequeathing Spiritual Authority and Sending off Khalifas,
--Tariqa, Silsila, and Pride of Affiliation,
--Travel, Language, and the Tariqa as Interregional Network.


Dina Le Gall
is Assistant Professor of History at Lehman College, The City University of New York.

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This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 11 December, 2012.