Western Sufism

Western Sufism

Monday, September 26, 2016

New York Sufis profiled in New York Times

The New York Times has just published a long article on the New York Sufi scene, Adela Suliman, “Sufi Sect of Islam Draws ‘Spiritual Vagabonds’ in New York,” New York Times September 23, 2016. The article focuses on the Nur Ashki Jerrahis, but also mentions some other orders, though it gives little space to the larger ethnically-based orders. The article is interesting because it gives a somewhat higher profile to what has previously been fairly low-profile. It also avoids focusing excessively on the angle that is hinted at by the article's URL, which ends "new-york-converts.html."

The article is generally accurate, and only makes one serious error, in stating that Sufism "has been cloaked in secrecy for most of its existence, having been forced underground by Ottoman rulers in the 13th century" and in citing one New York Sufi without comment as saying that Sufism "has never been embraced by mainstream Islam.” Since Osman I did not die until 1326, there were in fact no Ottomans in the 13th century, and when the Ottoman empire did come into being, it generally promoted Sufism, as did the Mamlukes and others. Sufism has, mostly, been embraced by mainstream Islam, then, and has never been cloaked in secrecy, though certain aspects of Sufism have been handled with discretion.

My thanks to Ivan Timonin for drawing my attention to this article.

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