Sufism in an Age of Transition

ʿUmar al-Suhrawardī and the Rise of the Islamic Mystical Brotherhoods


Although the early thirteenth century was a critical period in the development of Sufism, it has received little scholarly attention. Based on heretofore unexplored sources, this book examines a pivotal figure from this period: the scholar, mystic, statesman, and eponym of one of the earliest ṭarīqa lineages, ʿUmar al-Suhrawardī. In situating Suhrawardī’s life work in its social, political, and religious contexts, this book suggests that his universalizing Sufi system was not only enmeshed within a broader economy of Muslim religious learning, but also furnished social spaces which allowed for novel modes of participation in Sufi religiosity. In doing so, this book provides a framework for understanding the increasingly ubiquitous presence of intentional Sufi communities and institutions throughout the late-medieval Islamic world.
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EUR €151.00USD $186.00

Biographical Note

Erik S. Ohlander, Ph.D. (2004) in Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, is Assistant Professor of Religious studies at Indiana University - Purdue University, Fort Wayne. He has published on Sufism, Qur'anic studies, and medieval Islamic intellectual and social history.

Review Quotes

" Sufism in an Age of Transition is a work of extensive and solid scholarship.[...] Ohlander is to be commended for his contribution to the study of Islam and its mystical tradition." Th. Emil Homerin, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 42 (2010)

“Ohlander is to be commended for his deep analysis, rigorous scholarship, and important contribution to the area of mystical Islam and the understanding of the Islamic world during the thirteenth century.”
Hend Gilli-Elewy, Religious Studies Review, 2010

“This is in every way a very good book. […] … a welcome addition to the scholarly literature on the history of Sufism.”
Oliver Leaman in Journal of Shiʿa Islamic Studies 5.2 (2012), 214-215.


All those interested in Sufism, Islamic social and intellectual history, history of religion, and mystical and ascetical movements.


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