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The chapter discusses certain exponents of “traditional Islam” who are organized in an informal network spanning both the Arab world and the West and who are referred to as “Neo-traditionalists,” since the chapter argues that their traditionalism is, in fact, modern. The key figures are Muhammad Saʿid Ramadan al-Buti in Syria, ʿAli Gomaa in Egypt, ʿUmar bin Hafiz in Yemen, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and Nuh Keller in Jordan, Abdal Hakim Murad in England, and Hamza Yusuf Hanson in the usa. It is argued that Neo-Traditionalism is a product of what Peter Wagner would call a “crisis of modernity,” the reaction against one stage of modernity that gives rise to a new stage of modernity.

In: Muslim Subjectivities in Global Modernity
In: Constructing Tradition
In: Sufi Institutions


The interaction between Sufism and the movement established by the spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff (1866–1949) has been one of the most complex interactions between Sufism and Western culture. Firstly, Gurdjieff was an Armenian Greek, and his movement derives from Russia, involving us in areas that do not fit the neat binary division between East and West. Secondly, the role and importance of Sufism for the Gurdjieff movement varied over time. Initially, Central Asian Sufism played an essentially mythic role: the early Gurdjieff movement was thought to be of Sufi origin, but in fact drew only very little on Sufism. Then, between the 1950s and 1970s, Turkish Sufism played an increasingly important instrumental role, as those parts of the Gurdjieff movement that were associated with John G. Bennett drew more and more on Sufi sources. At this stage, not only was Sufism important for the Gurdjieff movement, but the Gurdjieff movement became important for Sufism. Then, after the 1980s, the importance of Sufism for the Gurdjieff movement has faded. For the Free University of Samadeva, an increasingly important group, Sufism plays much the same mythic role that it originally played for Gurdjieff, but the rest of the Gurdjieff movement now ignores Sufism. The developers of the enneagram, a personality analysis tool derived from Gurdjieff’s teaching, first emphasized Sufism but then de-emphasized it, and the attempt to popularize a “Sufi enneagram” has had little success. Tracing these multiple itineraries shows how the role of Sufism expanded and was amended. This chapter also asks why the role played by Sufism in the Gurdjieff movement first increased, and then decreased. The influence of individual biographies, it is suggested, is important, but even more important may be the decline in the value of the Sufi “brand” in a time of conflict between the West and the Muslim world.

In: Sufism East and West
The Making and Remaking of the Rashīdi Aḥmadi Sufi Order, 1799-2000
This first history of the Rashīdi Aḥmadiyya argues for a new explanation of the great Sufi revival of the eighteenth century, and also defines a new paradigm of development and change in Sufi orders. In his study of one widespread Sufi order over two centuries and three continents, the author identifies a repeating cycle in which a section of an order rises under a great shaykh, splits, and stabilizes. Though each great shaykh seems to remake the order with little reference to what has gone before, there are in fact two constants through all cycles: the written literature of the order, and the limiting effect on even the greatest shaykhs of their followers’ expectations.