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The Handbook of Sufi Studies (HSUF) series serves as the principal reference tool for the field of Sufi studies and an essential forum for theoretically and methodologically sophisticated discussions of the major themes and research methods related to this field.

The goal of HSUF is not just to describe and summarize the findings of the previous scholarship on Sufism but also to engage critically it and to offer new ways to approach it. Special attention is paid to the applicability to Sufi studies of methodological tools developed by sociology, cultural anthropology, subaltern and gender studies, religious studies, literary theory and discourse analysis.

Each volume of the series consists of a general introduction by the editor(s) followed by several general analytic essays on the topics at hand. Each analytical essay, in its turn, introduces several sub-chapters focusing on a particular issue within the overall thematic scope of the chapter. Written by major experts on Sufism, the Handbook of Sufi Studies (HSUF) series is meant to be a standard reference for both specialists in Islamic and religious studies and non-specialists interested in a balanced and academically rigorous discussion of Sufism.
A Critical Edition of Ḥāfiẓ-i Baṣīr’s Maẓhar al-ʿAjāʾib
The Maẓhar al-ʿajāʾib is the devotional work written to expound upon the teachings of Aghā-yi Buzurg, a female religious master active in the early 16th century in Bukhara. The work was produced in 16th century Central Asia, when the region underwent major socio-economic and religio-political changes in the aftermath of the downfall of the Timurid dynasty and the establishment of the Shibanid dynasty in Mavarannahr and the Safavid dynasty in Iran.
In its portrayal of Aghā-yi Buzurg, the Maẓhar al-ʿajāʾib represents a tradition that maintained an egalitarian conception of gender in the spiritual equality of women and men, attesting to the presence of multiple voices in Muslim discourse and challenging conventional ways of thinking about gender history in early modern Central Asia.
Saintly Spheres and Islamic Landscapes explores the creation, expansion, and perpetuation of the material and imaginary spheres of spiritual domination and sanctity that surrounded Sufi saints and became central to religious authority, Islamic piety, and the belief in the miraculous.
The cultural and social constructs of Islamic sainthood and the spatial inscription of saintly figures have fascinated and ignited scholars across a range of disciplines. By bringing together a broad scope of perspectives and case studies, this book offers the reader the first comprehensive, albeit variegated, exposition of the evolution of saintly spheres and the emplacements of spiritual power in the Muslim world across time and place.

Contributors: Angela Andersen, Irit Back, Devin DeWeese, Daphna Ephrat, Jo-Ann Gross, Nathan Hofer, Ayfer Karakaya-Stump, Sara Kuehn, Bulle Tuil Leonetti, Silvia Montenegro, Alexandre Papas, Paulo G. Pinto, Fatima Quraishi, Eric Ross, Itzchak Weismann, Pnina Werber, and Ethel Sara Wolper.
Editor: Alexandre Papas
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
In: Manifestations of a Sufi Woman in Central Asia
In: Manifestations of a Sufi Woman in Central Asia
In: Manifestations of a Sufi Woman in Central Asia
Author: Michael Ebstein


The article discusses various attitudes towards the human intellect (ʿaql) in classical Islamic mysticism, as reflected in key mystical writings composed from the third/ninth century to the rise of Ibn al-ʿArabī in the sixth/twelfth. It begins by presenting the basic challenge that the concept of ʿaql posed for the mystics of Islam and then proceeds to analyze diverse approaches to the intellect in works that were written in both the east (mashriq) and the west (al-Andalus). Special attention is given to the impact of Neoplatonism on mystical attitudes towards the intellect. The conclusion to the article offers general observations on the problem of ʿaql in classical Islamic mysticism, and attempts to explain the tendency of certain sixth/twelfth-century mystics who were exposed to Neoplatonic thought to reduce the role of the intellect in the mystical quest for God.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
Author: Khalil Andani


This study analyzes the development of the theme of the “Light of Muḥammad” (al-nūr al-Muḥammadī) or the “Muḥammadan Reality” (al-ḥaqīqa al-Muḥammadiyya) among several Shiʿi and Sufi thinkers through the seventh/thirteenth century. These thinkers include Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (d. 148/765), Sahl al-Tustarī (d. 283/896), the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ (early to mid 4th/10th century), the Ismaili dāʿīs Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī (d. after 361/971) and Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī (d. after 411/1020), Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111) and ʿAyn al-Quḍāt (d. 526/1131), Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 638/1240), ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Shahrastānī (d. 548/1153), and Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 672/1274). I argue that the “Light of Muḥammad” as a theological and metaphysical idea evolved historically through three distinct but cumulative phases of conceptualization: mytho-cosmological narrative, Neoplatonization, and ontological theophanization. Through these developments, the theological status of the Light of Muḥammad underwent a gradual but decisive shift from being reckoned as the first spiritual creation of God in the early period to being revered as the ontological self-manifestation of God in later periods.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies


This article introduces an approach to analyzing the way in which figurative language interfaces with cognitive, cultural, and spiritual experience in the symbols employed by the Sufis to express their love of God. It relies on the Cognitive Linguistic Approach to reveal the relationship between the Sufis’ thoughts about God, secular language of love, and the idea of divine love. Through a case study analysis of the symbols of love in Ibn ʿArabī’s poetry, the two chief undertakings here are: first, to argue that thoughts and feelings of human love inspired the Sufis to express their ideas about their experience of divine love through secular symbols that create gaps of indeterminacy in their poems, and second, to explain, using Conceptual Metaphor Theory, how these gaps can be closed through mappings of the Sufi symbols, as parts of the target domain of divine love, onto the source domain of secular love.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies