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This volume describes the social and practical aspects of Islamic mysticism (Sufism) across centuries and geographical regions. Its authors seek to transcend ethereal, essentialist and “spiritualizing” approaches to Sufism, on the one hand, and purely pragmatic and materialistic explanations of its origins and history, on the other. Covering five topics (Sufism’s economy, social role of Sufis, Sufi spaces, politics, and organization), the volume shows that mystics have been active socio-religious agents who could skillfully adjust to the conditions of their time and place, while also managing to forge an alternative way of living, worshiping and thinking.

Basing themselves on the most recent research on Sufi institutions, the contributors to this volume substantially expand our understanding of the vicissitudes of Sufism by paying special attention to its organizational and economic dimensions, as well as complex and often ambivalent relations between Sufis and the societies in which they played a wide variety of important and sometimes critical roles.

Contributors are Mehran Afshari, Ismail Fajrie Alatas, Semih Ceyhan, Rachida Chih, Nathalie Clayer, David Cook, Stéphane A. Dudoignon, Daphna Ephrat, Peyvand Firouzeh, Nathan Hofer, Hussain Ahmad Khan, Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, Richard McGregor, Ahmet Yaşar Ocak, Alexandre Papas, Luca Patrizi, Paulo G. Pinto, Adam Sabra, Mark Sedgwick, Jean-Jacques Thibon, Knut S. Vikør and Neguin Yavari
The Ṣāliḥiyya Quarter from the Twelfth to the Twentieth Centuries
Author:
This book presents a new perspective on Islamic urban society: a dynamism of social networking and justice which caused both rapid development and sudden decay in the Ṣāliḥiyya quarter. Founded in the northern suburbs of Damascus by Hanbali ulama who migrated from Palestine to Syria in the mid-12th century, the quarter developed into a city through waqf endowments. It has attracted the attention of historians and travelers for its unique location, popular movements and religious features. Through the study of local chronicles, topographies and archival sources and through modern field research, Toru Miura explores the history of the Ṣāliḥiyya quarter from its foundation to the early 20th century, comparing it to European, Chinese and Japanese cities.

A History of Islamic Philanthropy in Indonesia
Author:
Faith and the State offers a comprehensive historical development of Islamic philanthropy--zakat (almsgiving), sedekah (donation) and waqf (religious endowment)-- from the time of the Islamic monarchs, through the period of Dutch colonialism and up to contemporary Indonesia. It shows a rivalry between faith and the state: between efforts to involve the state in managing philanthropic activities and efforts to keep them under control of Muslim civil society.
Philanthropy is an indication of the strength of civil society. When the state was weak, philanthropy developed powerfully and was used to challenge the state. When the state was strong, Muslim civil society tended to weaken but still found ways to use philanthropic practices in the public sphere to promote social change.
Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige
Author:
In Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia Allen Frank examines the relationship of Tatars and Bashkirs with the city of Bukhara during the Russian Imperial era. For Muslims in Russia Bukhara’s prestige was manifested in genealogies, fashion, and in the elevated legal status of Bukharan communities in Russia. The historical relationship of Russia’s Muslim communities with Bukhara was founded above all on Bukhara’s reputation as a holy city of Islam, an abode of great Sufis, and a center of Islamic scholarship. The emergence of Islamic reformism critiquing Bukhara’s sacred status, led by Tatar scholars who were trained in Bukhara, created a number of paradoxes. The symbol of Bukhara became an important feature in theological and political debates among Russia’s Muslims.