Sufi Bodies: Religion and Society in Medieval Islam by Shahzad Bashir

By Shahzad Bashir

Between 1300 and 1500 C.E. a brand new kind of Sufi Islam took carry between primary Islamic peoples, becoming a member of participants via common networks such as ultra-modern famous paths and orders. figuring out modern Sufism calls for a cosmopolitan research of those youth. relocating past a directly account of leaders and pursuits, Shahzad Bashir weaves a wealthy background round the depiction of physically activities by way of Sufi masters and disciples, basically in Sufi literature and Persian miniature work of the period.

Focusing at the Persianate societies of Iran and critical Asia, Bashir explores medieval Sufis' perception of the human physique because the fundamental trip among inside (batin) and external (zahir) realities. Drawing on literary, old, and anthropological methods to corporeality, he reports representations of Sufi our bodies in 3 own and communal arenas: non secular job within the kind of ritual, asceticism, ideas of etiquette, and a common hierarchy of saints; the deep imprint of Persian poetic paradigms at the articulation of affection, hope, and gender; and the acceptance of Sufi masters for operating miracles, which empowered them in all domain names of social job.

Bashir's novel viewpoint illuminates complicated relationships among physique and soul, physique and gender, physique and society, and physique and cosmos. It highlights love as an overarching, robust emotion within the making of Sufi groups and situates the physique as a serious challenge in Sufi idea and perform. Bashir's paintings eventually bargains a brand new method for extracting historic info from spiritual narratives, specifically these depicting impressive and excellent events.

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Sample text

It was unacquainted with tasting and desire, affection and love, and all the stations and degrees. It had no sense for witnessing itself. It needed a mirror in which to witness its own beauty and a secluded place where it could do spiritual exercises and acquire perfection. The heart was made its mirror and the body was made its seclusionary chamber.  . Then [the expectation was that] it would shun this world, have no regard for anyone, become a seeker after its point of return and true end, and enter the state of servanthood.

Chapters 6 and 7 also highlight the significance of the fact that although hagiographic stories portray masters as supremely powerful beings, these personas are disciples’ projections rather than masters’ own propaganda about themselves. We must see the stories as idealized and wishful portraits of the masters, whose social logic pertains to the interests and concerns of disciples and successors rather than the masters who are proclaimed as heroes. I address the significance of this inversion of roles between masters and disciples in greatest detail when concentrating on narratives about masters’ deaths and their commemoration through enshrinement and the production of hagiographic compilations.

Both habitus and formalized texts are societal products and are crucial for shaping and continuing societal practices over time. It is to be granted, of course, that texts convey a small slice of social data in comparison with the scope Bourdieu assigns to habitus. Nevertheless, as Gabrielle Spiegel has argued: “All texts occupy determinate social spaces, both as products of the social world of authors and as textual agents at work in the world, with which they entertain often complex and contestatory relations.

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