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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix Transliteration and Dates xi Acknowledgments xiii Introduction 1 1 How and Why Sufism Came to Be 15 2 What's in a Name? How Definitions of Sufism Have Become a Site of Polemical Partis-Pris 35 3 Discourses 62 4 Sufism in Comparison: The Common Ferment of Hellenism 124 5 Practices, Ethos, Communities, and Leaders 137 6 Sufism's Recent Trajectories: What Lies behind the Sufi-Salafi Confrontation? 176 Conclusion 231 Abbreviations 235 Notes 237 Bibliography 341 Index 371

About the Author

Alexander Knysh is professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan. His many books include Islamic Mysticism: A Short History and Islam in Historical Perspective.


Anyone looking for an introduction to the complexities of Sufism should turn to this book by Alexander Knys.--History Today "Alexander Knysh provides an unprecedented account of the history of Sufi movements and the scholarship on Sufism. Western academics and Muslims, elites and masses, outsiders and insiders--all are brought together in this insightful survey of Sufi discourse, practice, community, institutions, and leadership. A tour de force, this should become the defining book on Sufism."--Bruce B. Lawrence, author of The "Koran" in English: A Biography "A thorough rethinking and reframing of one of Islam's central traditions, this is an important and highly original book from a scholar who really knows what he is talking about."--Mark Sedgwick, Aarhus University, Denmark "This groundbreaking and beautifully written book by a towering scholar in Islamic studies is nuanced and convincing. A model of how to approach a world religion such as Islam from inside and outside, it will remain a reference on Sufism for years to come."--Bilal Orfali, American University of Beirut "This is the best study to date of how Sufism has been conceptualized and interpreted by a wide variety of insiders and outsiders down into modern times."--William Chittick, Stony Brook University This groundbreaking monograph is critical not only for understanding the complex phenomenon that is Sufism, but also for gaining insight into the significant methodological issues of modern historiography.---Kamal Gasimov, Voices on Central Asia

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