7 Sufism in the Modern West: A Taxonomy of Typologies and the Category of “Dynamic Integrejectionism” 180

In: Sufism East and West

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Over the last two and a half centuries, Sufism has enjoyed an increasing presence in the West. Entering the Occident initially by means of literature in the late eighteenth century, it has expanded its domain as a living praxis since the turn of, and intensified its presence since the second half of, the twentieth century. In an effort to present a typology of typologies, the current chapter arranges the major classifications used by scholars to describe this enduring presence into five overlapping divisions, namely typologies based on (a) chronological/generational development, (b) modes of presence, (c) affiliation with Islamic denominations and Sufi orders, (d) migrant-native or East-West binaries, and (e) connection to Islam. It then examines these five-fold typologies in terms of their relevance to, and usefulness for, analyzing the issue of the engagement of Sufism with modernity in the Western context. Arguing for the insufficiency of these classifi­cations for studying the issue despite the beneficial outlooks they may provide, the chapter suggests the construct of “dynamic integrejectionism” (a portmanteau of “integra­tionism” and “rejectionism”) as a useful apparatus for investigating this changing and relative engagement. Finally, the rubric of “modern Sufism” is proposed in reference to those Sufi trends in the West with more adaptive attitudes towards, and greater compatibility with, modern culture. The title points to the second stage of the positive involvement of Sufism with modernity after the claimed first stage of Sufi contribution to the eighteenth-century process of autochthonous modernity, though this time in the Western setting rather than the predominately Muslim environment.