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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 Distribution of Wealth and the Making of Social Relations in Northern Nigeria
In ‘They Love Us Because We Give Them’ Zakāt, Dauda Abubakar describes the practice of Zakāt in northern Nigeria. Those who practice this pillar of Islam annually deduct Zakāt from their wealth and distribute it to the poor and needy people within their vicinity, mostly their friends, relatives and neighbours.
The practice of giving and receiving Zakāt in northern Nigeria often leads to the establishment of social relations between the rich and needy. Dauda Abubakar provides details of the social relationship in the people’s interpersonal dealings with one another that often lead to power relations, high table relations etc. The needy reciprocate the Zakāt they collect in many ways, respecting and given high positions to the rich in society.
Volume Editor:
In The Critique of Religion and Religion’s Critique: On Dialectical Religiology, Dustin J. Byrd compiles numerous essays honouring the life and work of the Critical Theorist, Rudolf J. Siebert. His “dialectical religiology,” rooted in the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, especially Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Leo Löwenthal, and Jürgen Habermas, is both a theory and method of understanding religion’s critique of modernity and modernity’s critique of religion. Born out of the Enlightenment and its most important thinkers, i.e. Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, religion is understood to be dialectical in nature. It contains within it both revolutionary and emancipatory elements, but also reactionary and regressive elements, which perpetuate mankind’s continual debasement, enslavement, and oppression. Thus, religion by nature is conflicted within itself and thus stands against itself. Dialectical Religiology attempts to rescue those elements of religion from the dustbin of history and reintroduce them into society via their determinate negation. As such, it attempts to resolve the social, political, theological, and philosophical antagonisms that plague the modern world, in hopes of producing a more peaceful, justice-filled, equal, and reconciled society. The contributors to this book recognize the tremendous contributions of Dr. Rudolf J. Siebert in the fields of philosophy, sociology, history, and theology, and have profited from his long career. This book attempts to honour that life and work.

Contributors include: Edmund Arens, Gregory Baum, Francis Brassard, Dustin J. Byrd, Denis R. Janz, Gottfried Küenzlen, Mislav Kukoč, Michael, R. Ott, Rudolf J. Siebert, Hans K. Weitensteiner, and Brian C. Wilson.
In Damascus Life 1480-1500: A Report of a Local Notary, Boaz Shoshan offers a microhistory of the largest Syrian city at the end of the Mamluk period and on the eve of the Ottoman conquest. Mainly based on a partly preserved diary, the earliest available of its kind and written by Ibn Ṭawq, a local notary, it portrays the life of a lower middle class who originated from the countryside and who, through marriage, was able to become a legal clerk and associate with scholars and bureaucrats. His diary does not only provide us with unique information on his family, social circle and the general situation in Damascus, but it also sheds light on subjects of which little is known, such as the functioning of the legal system, marriage and divorce, bourgeois property and the mores of the common people.
In The Shīʿīs in Palestine Yaron Friedman offers a survey of the presence of Shīʿism in the region of Palestine (today: Israel) from early Islamic history until the contemporary period. It brings to light many pieces of information and interesting developments that are not widely known, in addition to the general point that, contrary to common belief, the Shīʿī community has played a significant role in the history of Palestine. The volume includes a study of Shīʿī shrines in Palestine, as well as showing the importance of these Muslim sites and holy towns in Palestine in the Shīʿī religion.
Sittī ‘Alawiyya, the Uncrowned Queen
In Islam and Gender in Colonial Northeast Africa, Silvia Bruzzi provides an account of Islamic movements and gender dynamics in the context of colonial rule in Northeast Africa. The thread that runs through the book is the life and times of Sittī ‘Alawiyya al-Mīrġanī (1892-1940), a representative of a well-established transnational Sufi order in the Red Sea region. Silvia Bruzzi gives us not only a social history of the colonial encounter in the Eritrean colony, but also a wider historical account of supra-regional dynamics across the Red Sea, the Ethiopian hinterland, and the Mediterranean region, using a wide range of fragmentary historical materials to make an important contribution towards filling the gap that currently exists in women's and gender history in Muslim societies.
In Ästhetik, Politik und schiitische Repräsentation im zeitgenössischen Iran zeigt Christian Funke die Verflechtungen von Politik, Protest und schiitischer Materialität in der Islamischen Republik auf. Das Buch legt anschaulich und vielschichtig dar, wie die Proteste von 2009 und die ›Grüne Bewegung‹ mit umfassenderen Diskursen über Demokratie, Identität, Geschichte und Gegenwart sowie Religion und Politik verknüpft waren.

Funkes Argument fußt auf Interviews und intensiver Feldforschung und umfasst ein breites Themenfeld von Farben über Banknoten bis hin zu städtischer Raumordnung. Funke bietet einen neuen Ansatz zur Theorie und Methodologie von Religionsästhetik und wirft ein neues Licht auf die › Grüne Bewegung‹ , indem er die islamischen Ressourcen freilegt, mittels derer sich ihr Protest artikulierte.

In Aesthetics, Politics, and Shiʿi Representation in Contemporary Iran Christian Funke explores the entangled relationship between politics, protest and Shiʿi materiality in the Islamic Republic. He shows how the post-election protests of 2009 and the ‘Green Movement’ were part of larger discourses on democracy, identity, the present and the past, and religion and politics.

Funke’s argument is based on extensive fieldwork and interviews. He covers a broad array of topics, ranging from the interpretation of colours to the use of banknotes to the emergence of an urban spatial order. Funke offers a novel approach to the methodology and theory of material religion and by revealing the Islamic undercurrents in the ‘Green Movement’, his book provides a new and more appropriate picture of protest and religion in Iran.

In The Byzantine Turks, 1204–1461 Rustam Shukurov offers an account of the Turkic minority in Late Byzantium including the Nicaean, Palaiologan, and Grand Komnenian empires. The demography of the Byzantine Turks and the legal and cultural aspects of their entrance into Greek society are discussed in detail. Greek and Turkish bilingualism of Byzantine Turks and Tourkophonia among Greeks were distinctive features of Byzantine society of the time. Basing his arguments upon linguistic, social, and cultural evidence found in a wide range of Greek, Latin, and Oriental sources, Rustam Shukurov convincingly demonstrates how Oriental influences on Byzantine life led to crucial transformations in Byzantine mentality, culture, and political life. The study is supplemented with an etymological lexicon of Oriental names and words in Byzantine Greek.
Volume Editor:
The volume demonstrates the cultural centrality of the oral tradition for Iranian studies. It contains contributions from scholars from various areas of Iranian and comparative studies, among which are the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian tradition with its wide network of influences in late antique Mesopotamia, notably among the Jewish milieu; classical Persian literature in its manifold genres; medieval Persian history; oral history; folklore and more. The essays in this collection embrace both the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods, both verbal and visual media, as well as various language communities (Middle Persian, Persian, Tajik, Dari) and geographical spaces (Greater Iran in pre-Islamic and Islamic medieval periods; Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan of modern times). Taken as a whole, the essays reveal the unique blending of oral and literate poetics in the texts or visual artefacts each author focuses upon, conceptualizing their interrelationship and function.
In The Gattilusio Lordships and the Aegean World 1355-1462, Christopher Wright offers a window into the culturally and politically diverse late medieval Aegean. The overlapping influences of the contrasting networks of power at work in the region are explored through the history of one of many small and distinctive political units that flourished in this fragmented environment, the lordships of the Gattilusio family, centred on Lesbos. Though Genoese in origin, they owed their position to Byzantine authority. Though active in crusading, they cultivated congenial relations with the Ottomans. Though Catholic, they afforded exceptional freedom to the Orthodox Church. Their regime is shown to represent both a unique fusion of influences and a revealing microcosm of its times.