Abstracts of the papers for the conference on
"Sufism and the modern",
Jakarta, September 4-7, 2003

Sufism and Governmentality in Late Ottoman and Republican Turkey

Brian Silverstein
Center for Modern and Contemporary Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

This article examines the practices of a Sufi Order in contemporary Turkey to identify and understand how specifically modern practices and techniques have come to take a role in the constitution of ethical dispositions that are central to the viability of Islamic virtues. Building on recent work that approaches Islam as a discursive tradition, I argue that this work has elided the historicity of Islamic institutions as they have evolved in a global context of encounter with centers of power outside the Muslim world. Attending to the Ottoman/Turkish case of Islamic practices characterized by a historical articulation with modern techniques such as rationalization and normalization - that assemblage Foucault referred to as governmentality - entails a reconceptualization of the relationship between Islam and modernity, for governmentality in the Ottoman lands was not a colonial project as it was in many parts of the Muslim world, but one of sovereign Ottoman reform; the Turkish present is not a postcolonial one. The article considers the 'archaeology' of the present for Turkish Sufis, summarizing the incorporation of the Orders into the 'ilmiye hierarchy in the late Ottoman Empire and their bureaucratization with the establishment of the meclis-i meshayih in 1866; institutional reforms in the 1910s; and the proscription of the Orders in 1925.  The article then examines the contemporary practices of a Naqshbandi order and argues that what they are focused on is not the so-called experience of the divine, but rather the Good as defined by God, and how one can be predisposed to practice it. As such, these practices are within the broader Islamic disciplines of virtue, but are structured around techniques of constitution of a ethical disposition that are orally transmitted, though grounded in the mode by which the textual traditions have themselves been transmitted, namely sohbet [Ar. suhba], or 'companionship-in-conversation.' I describe Naqshbandi sohbet as one of their central devotional practices, and argue that it is an instance of what linguists have called performative or instrumental language in practice. It is not orality per se that is valued here over texts; rather it is the kinds of relationships formed in the act of oral transmission and liable to constitute a moral habitus, or structured disposition, in the devotee that are the object of careful cultivation. Central to these techniques is language not as representation, but as practice. To the extent that the viability of Islamic disciplines is focused on the creation of specific relationships, they are inherently and intimately linked to formal and informal social, political and economic institutions. The historicities of Sufi practice and governmentality are shown in the Ottoman/Turkish case to be coterminous, suggesting that the relationship between Islam and modernity cannot be adequately interpreted in terms of alterity, incommensurability or difference.


Surrogate social: the emergence of neo-traditional Sufism in Iran.

Matthijs van den Bos
ISIM, Netherlands

My paper addresses aspects of (Soltan'alishahi) Ne'matollahi Sufism in modern Iran in relation to questions of
    • traditionalism versus transformations;
    • the construction of Sufism as modern and traditional, and
    • the role of political forces.

It particularly explores the noticeable absence of Shiite Sufism from major social and political arenas, including civil society, in contemporary Iran. Post-revolution quietism in the Islamic Republic had a rationale in Sufis seeking accommodation to the new regime. But Sufism remains virtually absent from the public sphere now that state strictures on Sufism have loosened under Khatami and Sufism even attains a new societal and religious legitimacy. This state of affairs apparently underscores the modernist image of Sufism, famously painted by the nationalist historian Ahmad Kasravi, as a traditionalist and otherworldly religiosity. However, different circumstances prevailed not long ago, in Pahlavi Iran (1921-1979). "Pahlavi Sufism" was marked by a new orientation on the economy, society, the nation (1921-1941), and royal patronage and affiliation by many of the regime's modernist elite (1941-1979). More important, Sufism's continued nation-state orientation is a modern fact that extends to the Islamic Republic. This and new, surrogate religious conceptualisations of the social point to neo-traditionalism as an explanation of Sufism's current state. Neo-traditionalism comes to the fore in a Shiite Sufi's Sociology of Islam that primarily attempts to allocate valayat/velayat doctrine, central to the Soltan'alishahi order, to social realms. Its schemes impose a web of disembodied social science terminology upon Shiite theology to paint the Soltan'alishahi aqtab's embodiment of Shiite Sufism as true Islam. The project inverses Shari'ati's political Sociology of Islam that sought Islamic language to account for a more or less sociological vision.



The Reformist Sufism of the Tablighi Jama'at: A Case Study of the Meos of Mewat

Yoginder Sikand
ISIM, Netherlands

The Tablighi Jama'at (TJ) is believed to be the largest Islamic movement in the world today, in terms of numbers of followers and geographical spread. It would not be wrong to say that the TJ is present in almost every country with a significant Sunni Muslim population.
The TJ has its roots in the reformed Sufism as represented by the founders of the Dar ul-'Ulum madrasa at the north Indian town of Delhi. The founder of the TJ, Maulana Muhammad Ilyas (d.1944) had studied at the madrasa, and counted among his teachers numerous spiritual preceptors, one of whom, Mahmud al-Hasan, had initiated him into the Chishti Sabri order, with which many of the teachers of Deoband were also closely connected. Deoband represented a form of reformed Sufism, aiming at reconciling the shari'at and the tariqat, attacking what were seen as 'un-Islamic' and 'Hindu' customs among the Muslims and exhorting them to closely follow the model of the Prophet. The madrasa also represented a creative response to the challenges of colonial modernity. Thus, while it insisted that Muslims should steer clear of the 'irreligious' influences of Western culture, it did not hesitate from taking advantage of new inventions that the British had introduced, from methods of bureaucratic management and organization to the printing press and other new forms of communication.
The TJ itself grew out of the rapidly changing context of early twentieth century colonial north India, characterized by fierce, and often violent, competition between Muslim and Hindu elites. It was in response to the challenge of Hindu revivalist efforts to bring to the fold large numbers of neo-Muslims that Maulana Ilyas actually launched his movement, in the area of Mewat, to the immediate south of Delhi in the early 1920s, among a group of neo-Muslims known as the Meos. Ilyas saw himself as conveying the message of reformed Sufism of the Deoband school, but using his own method of communication (tariqa-i tabligh). The focus of his efforts was on cultivation of faith (iman), instructing the Meos in the basic Islamic rituals and the abandoning of 'un-Islamic' customs.
Despite its vast geographical spread, the TJ continues to consider Mewat its most successful experimental ground, and most Meo Muslims continue to identify, to varying degrees, with the movement. Among the issues that this paper seeks to explore are the following:

1. The form and content of the reformist Sufism of the TJ in Mewat
2. Reasons for the spread of Tablighi-type reformism in Mewat
3. The ways in which Tablighi reformism has sought to negotiate with earlier forms of Islam (mainly centred on the cults of the shrines of Sufis and Hindu deities) and Meo social institutions.
4. The reinterpretation of the role and function of the Sufi shaikh and the 'alim, as represented in the TJ and the manner in which these are perceived by the Meos.
5. Re-conceptualisation of 'Islam' and 'Hinduism' in Tablighi discourse and what this has meant for inter-communal and inter-caste relations in Mewat
6. Tablighi responses, first to the colonial state and then to the 'Hindu' state of post-1947 India and how these have impacted on the Meos.
7. Tablighi responses to the challenges of modernity, with specific reference to 'modern' education, women's rights and secular politics.
8. The impact on Meo self-understandings of global Tablighi activism and its advocacy of Islamic scripturalism.
9. The impact of urbanization, modernization and the activities of the modern state on Meo attitudes towards the TJ.
10. Selective adaptations and negotiations of the Tablighi message by Meos to creatively engage with the demands of 'modernity', including modern education and political involvement.


Rational charisma:  Indonesia's living saints in the closing years of the Suharto era

Martin van Bruinessen
ISIM, Netherlands

Not many countries have recently had a living saint as the head of state. Abdurrahman Wahid was widely recognized as a saint by both educated and uneducated members of the organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which he led from 1984 to 1999, the year of his election as president. During those fifteen years, which were a period of modernization and fierce political struggles, the concept of sainthood became of much more central importance in the NU than it had been before. Significantly, Abdurrahman's grandfather, Hasyim Asy'ari, who had been one of the founders and the leading religious authority in the NU, had been fiercely opposed to Sufi orders and favoured a strict concentration on fiqh. Under Abdurrahman, 'spiritual' activities became more conspicuous in the NU, and various men known as 'saints' (wali) - none of them regular Sufi teachers, however, and at least some of them seemingly lax in formal religious obligations - came to prominence and gained political patronage.
      The rise of saints in the NU had a parallel in other circles. A remarkable case is that of Kadirun Yahya, a chemistry teacher turned Naqshbandi shaykh cum miracle worker and propagator of  'scientific' metaphysics, who found himself powerful patrons and a large following. Kadirun Yahya followed in the tracks of his father-in-law, an equally remarkable man, who cultivated (and cleverly used) good relations with President Sukarno and who invented a correspondence course in Naqshbandi discipline to spread his network of authority over the entire country, but who never developed saint-like traits and was more of a bureaucrat. In this branch of the Naqshbandiyya too, sainthood emerged in an organizational context that appeared to have done away with the concept.
      The resurgence of sainthood in Muslim circles where it used to be relatively rare coincides in time with, and may be directly related to, the gradual shift in cultural and religious orientation (as well as political alliances) of Suharto and other key members of the elite away from abangan syncretism to more explicitly Islamic forms of spiritualism. The growth of Sufi orders at the expense of syncretist kebatinan movements is another aspect of this shift.



Sufism without tasawwuf: A Naqshbandi-related Response to the Islamist Critique in India and the Middle East

Itzchak Weismann
University of Haifa

Naqshbandis have always regarded themselves as belonging to the most orthodox and activist Sufi tradition. During the twentieth century they were also in the forefront of Sufi reactions to the multi-faceted challenge of modernity. Drawing on their inner spiritual and organizational resources, various Naqshbandi branches adopted diverse strategies to coop with their formidable opponents: Western rationalism, the secularized State, and Islamic fundamentalism. These responses were formulated at times within the traditional Sufi framework, but at other cases they amounted to its transformation into new religious ideas and structures.
This paper focuses on one Naqshbandi-related response to the 'modern', namely, the attempt to avert the Islamist critique by relinquishing the specific Sufi terminology, and even the term tasawwuf itself. My aim is to analyze the discursive meaning of this idea and its organizational implications against the sociopolitical context of the two major countries in which it was employed, India and Syria. I will begin by observing its use by two opposing Naqshbandi-related Syrian thinkers, the State-backed Grand Mufti Ahmad Kuftaru and the Muslim Brothers' mouthpiece Sa'id Hawwa. I will then trace the origins of this idea to the Indian scholar Abu al-Hasan 'Ali al-Nadwi, head of Nadwat al-Ulama who also had roots in the Naqshbandi tradition.
The idea of Sufism without tasawwuf provides us with one more example of the remarkable ability of those trained in the Naqshbandi tradition to adapt to the 'modern', while it also points out to the continuing importance of India, homeland of its most pervasive Mujaddidi offshoot, in disseminating innovative religious ideals.



Crisis and Representation: Sufi and Sabili

Michael Laffan
IIAS, Leiden

As Indonesia seems to lurch from one crisis to another, Sufis and Sufism appear, at least on the surface, to be obscured by the smoke and confusion. In this short contribution, I shall try to extract competing visions of Sufism by comparing the content of a journal that once enjoyed the support of Indonesia's first ulama-president (Sufi) and a Salafi periodical that has risen to become, it is claimed, the most-read news journal in Indonesia, and which is often frank in its distrust of State motives (Sabili). Such a comparison will, I hope, serve to address the research questions raised by this project. Namely: what does (or should) Sufism mean to a largely urbanized and educated readership in Reformasi Indonesia? How is Sufism presented as either something modern or anti-modern in relation to the current climate of crisis - whether in terms of the widely challenges of globalisation, modernity or violence? What role to Sufis have to play in resolving Indonesia's problems? And is Sufism presented as something eternal or novel in the process? Still, rather than concentrating solely on the incidences of dicursive conflict between the journals, in my paper I will attempt to read between the lines to determine how their respective messages may be read together, and indeed by a shared audience.


Debating modernity in contemporary Senegal: Religious dynamics in a Sufi-dominant society

Leo Villalon
University of Florida

Senegalese Islam, to which 94% of the West African country's population adheres, is distinguished by being overwhelmingly Sufi in orientation; over 90% of the Muslim population declares an allegiance to one of the major Sufi orders (turuq) which have dominated religious organization in the country.  A distinctive feature of Senegalese Sufism is its high degree of formal organization and the public and political character of Sufi institutions in the country. While the basic forms of this organization--and especially the associations known as daaras and da'iras--were originally rural and agricultural in origin, the Sufi orders in Senegal have over the course of the post-colonial period managed to transform themselves into highly effective means of socio-economic organization in urban and international settings.
      In the process of this evolution, and linked to the country's political history in the post-colonial period, the Sufi orders have engaged in debates and discussions with representatives of new forms of "reformist" and "arabizing" Islam which have gradually gained in importance.   While in many African  (and other) contexts such encounters between "African Islam" and "Islam in Africa" have been described as conflictual and mutually incompatible, in the Senegalese context I will argue that debates about what it means to be "Muslim," "African" and "Modern" have blurred these distinctions and produced new and hybrid forms of religious modernity, rooted deeply in Sufism but borrowing from other elements of the Islamic tradition.
      The paper will examine these dynamics by focusing on the case of the Mouride Sufi order, considered in the broader Senegalese religious context.  As a point of departure and a means of examining notions of Mouride modernity, the paper will examine the ideology of the Mouride Students' Association at the Université Gaston Berger de St. Louis in Senegal, as well as the official presentation of the order offered by MICA, the Murid Islamic Community of North America.



Sufism, Spiritual Debates and Social Implications in Contemporary Egypt: The Case of the Khalwatiyya

Rachida Chih
IREMAM, Aix-en-Provence

My paper examines contemporary Egyptian Sufism in three areas, of which the first is a study of the basis of the Sufi shaykh's authority: how is a shaykh recognized? Michael Gilsenan's anthropological work on Egyptian Sufi started a debate on the adaptation of Sufism to the modern world, and while his prognosis of the irremediable decline of Sufi orders has been rightly criticized, his analysis of the means of transmission of shaykhly charisma-- which draws on the Weberian concept of routinization--has influenced many later researchers. Routinization of charisma cannot, however, be relevant to the study of Sufism, since the shaykh--whether or not he heads an order--is not a canonical superior as in Christian congregations, but is instead even more than a spiritual director--he is a saint. This thesis will be supported by specific examples.
      The second part of the paper considers the factors that contribute to the success or decline of Sufi orders. Except for the Burhamiyya, scholars working on Egyptian Sufism have generally studied the Shadhiliyya, an order whose branches illustrate a Sufism that is urban, institutionalized, organized, hierarchical, and official--that benefits from the support of the state. Their shaykhs are public persons, integrated into the state machinery. Such orders are not, however, typical of Egyptian Sufism, and the institutionalization of an order may even bring with it the germs of its later decline and extinction. The support of the state, contrary to F. De Jong's view, is very far from being a central factor in the survival or decline of an order, if only because most Egyptian orders have no official existence and enjoy no political patronage.
      The third part of my paper shows how Sufism and the orders today are intertwined in the social and political structures of the country. I will proceed from the example of the Khalwatiyya. Both the present minister of Waqfs and the present mufti of the republic are members of the Khalwatiyya, but while in the eighteenth century this allegiance would have been prominent, today it is almost unknown to the general public. 



Muslim Saints in the Age of Neoliberalism

Benjamin F. Soares
African Studies Centre, Leiden

Drawing on research in two different and sometimes competing Islamic religious centers and among three lineages of Islamic religious specialists in Mali, I trace transformations in the nature of the religious authority that have accompanied the period of neo-liberal reforms. I examine some of the ways in which the world of commodities has come to permeate the largely ritualized "visits" with exceptional Muslim religious leaders considered saints. I argue that certain processes of commodification-the exchange of blessings and prayers for commodities-have intensified around Sufi saints in the neoliberal era. Such processes of commodification have facilitated the personalization of religious authority in certain provincial saints, to whom many have turned for succor in these times of political and economic uncertainty. These living saints are exemplars for ordinary people though clearly not the puritans or ascetic world-renouncers that Weberian models would lead one to expect. Through their great wealth, very large families, and large entourages, certain saints exhibit the capacity for successful social reproduction, that is, precisely what has become much more difficult for the vast majority, who face an increasingly precarious existence in the era of neo-liberal reforms, declining real wages, cutbacks in public services and education, and recurring political crises. I argue that such saints have become more privatized religious figures-effectively free-floating sanctifiers-in a religious economy that has come to be more like a market.


Abah Anom's responses to current Islamic issues in Indonesia

Sri Mulyati
Universitas Islam Negeri, Jakarta

K.H.A. Shohibulwafa Tajul 'Arifin (Abah Anom) is one of leading murshids (spiritual masters) of the Tariqa Qadiriyya Naqshbandiyya (TQN) and a very well known personality in Indonesia. Following his success in adapting a regime of Sufi devotions to a program for the treatment and rehabilitation of young drug addicts, he has developed a set of speeches, announcements or maklumat, in which he responds to current issues.
      He also continuously refers to the Tanbih (a kind of wasiyya, meaning advice) that he received from his murshid, K.H. Abdullah Mubarok (Abah Sepuh d. 1956). In the Tanbih there is a short poem called the chain of pearls which has a special position in Abah Anom's repertoire. The Tanbih best reflects the daily practical life of faith for the tariqa members and Muslims in general, as well as the nation. It explains how the ikhwan/akhawat (members of TQN) should behave one another, and how to establish a good relationship with fellow members of other tariqa (in particular), and with Muslim brothers (in general), and how to be a good citizen of the nation. It also implies a positive attitude towards the government in power. It does not explicitly mention the name of any country and so it can also be applied to other national questions.
      In spite of his advanced age, Abah Anom shows a lively interest and concern with the current political situation of the country and such issues as the emergence of numerous new political parties, violent disturbances and ethnic conflicts in various part of the country, problems of juvenile delinquency, the widespread drug problems, the issue of "reformasi" (as the transition to a post-Suharto order is called), as well as his responses to the disaster (musibah) of Iraq.
       I believe that he is quite well-informed as to the latest developments in the country, and he speaks publicly on these matters on certain occasions such as Indonesian Independence day, general election etc. However, his tacit endorsement of his followers' right to vote as they pleased, for example, in the general election of 1999 was much appreciated, because prior to the previous election in 1997, he was explicit in advising them to vote for a specific party. The concerns of Abah Anom are continuously printed and read in public by his representative in Suryalaya area, while for the far-off region, it is sent by mail. 


Intimate Disciples in the Modern World:
Difference and Resemblance in Local and Global Sufism

Pnina Werbner
Keele University

The paper analyses the nature of sociality and intimacy among saintly murids in South Asia and Britain, with a special focus on younger disciples. It begins from the question of difference and resemblance in global and local Sufism; the fact that in any locality in South Asia, there is a wide range of Sufi saints and cults, from major shrines of great antiquity, managed by descendants of the original saintly founder or guardians of his tomb, to minor pirs with a highly localised clientele. In any generation, only some outstanding living saints succeed in founding major regional cults which extend widely beyond their immediate locality. The paper begins by discussing an instance of one such major cult, which has extended into Britain.
      The same variability found in South Asia is also found in Britain, the paper shows. Analysing several Pakistani Sufi saints and groups based or with branches in Manchester, it discloses that while Sufi groups differ a good deal in their religious orientation and practice - from very strict Naqshbandi Mujaddidiya and more traditional Sufi orders at one end of the spectrum to, at the other extreme, somewhat eclectic and hence idiosyncratic groups - all the different Sufi groups in the city have developed voluntary networking and mutual visiting throughout Britain and transnationally, to Pakistan. A striking feature of Sufi groups in the city is their remarkable vitality, evidenced by the deep faith and love people feel for their saint and their willingness to devote their lives to him or her. This vitality needs to be considered, the paper proposes, against the background of a more general debate about the 'decline' of Sufi cults and of charisma more generally in the context of secular modernity. Against this view the paper shows that British-based Sufi groups forge new national and international networks that bridge towns and cities in Britain and Pakistan and incorporate members of different kinship, regional and caste groups in relations of amity and quasi-kinship. These translocal ties of amity throw light on emergent processes of voluntary sociality of British Pakistanis in the UK.
      The different cases, seen together, show that for young people in Britain of Pakistani origin Sufism is grasped in social and ethical rather than merely 'magical' terms; it is also perceived to lead to an experience of transcendence and to a deeper, more real, form of knowledge. In all the groups, being a disciple leads to a broader exposure to like-minded Pakistanis living in different towns and cities in Britain, and to new kinds of links with Pakistan and Islam.


Modernity and the Borderlands of Islamic Spirituality in Indonesia's New Sufi Networks

Julia Day Howell
Griffith University

Whilst scholars have quite appropriately taken exception to Gellner's association of Sufism with heterodoxy and an outmoded traditionalism, Indonesian urbanites in social strata most intensely engaged with processes of modernization in the last thirty years have had to grappled with just such stereotyping of 'Sufi' practices and orders (tarekat). This paper traces those stereotypes to the legacies of colonial administrative strategies, currents in the early twentieth century Muslim Modernist movement, and constructs of religion articulated in mid-twentieth century social science and religious studies discourses of  'religion.' It is argued that these influences combined to shape the legal and administrative structures that defined 'proper' religiosity for Indonesian citizens of the Republic in New Order Indonesia (1968-1998) in 'high modern' terms as scripturalist, 'rational,' congregational and exclusive, thereby devaluing experiential religiosity and eclecticism as superstition and violations of orthodoxy. It further argues that the increasingly intense experiences of globalisation and 'late modernity' into which Indonesia's new Muslim middle and upper classes have been drawn have prompted such cosmopolitan Muslims to rework 'high modern' constructions of religiosity in general and Islamic spirituality in particular in what has been called 'late-' or 'ultra-modern' terms. In this process contemporary constructions of 'Sufism,' encountered and shaped through novel Muslim educational institutions and progressive exponents of Sufi orders, have facilitated a broadening of Indonesian conceptions of 'religion' (agama) signaled by the recovery of positive valences for autonomy, eclecticism and experiential religiosity. Evidence for this is found in the declining salience of 'kebatinan' (I. inwardness; the mysticism of groups outside 'religion') in cosmopolitan discourse and the increasing salience of 'spiritualitas.' It is also found in the willingness of highly committed cosmopolitan Muslims educated in the new adult Muslim education institutions to patronize a broad range of 'spiritual' groups, both clearly identified with Islam and otherwise (traditional Sufi orders, modern 'workshopped' programs on tasawwuf,  international New Age therapies and New Religious Movements, Sufi orders 'hot-housed' in the West on the model of Indic NRMs, home-grown post-kebatinan spiritual groups, etc.), all in the name of a broadly 'Sufi' spirituality.


Mysticism and personal development in Casablanca's elite :
affirmation of the self and spiritual pluralism

Patrick Haenni
CEDEJ, Cairo

The ideological repositioning of the Arab world got us used to the conversion from leftist pan-arabism to Islamism. This political center approach neglected more discrete paths of recentring of the religious reference in the Arab world. A similar process to what happened in the political field is occurring in the spiritual field in Morocco during the nineties : "imported" spiritual products or personal development therapies (yoga, zen, sophrology, rebirthing) loose their hegemony or are leading to a new interest for local mysticism, that is to say to Sufism. The order who benefited the most of this change is the Budshishiyya, a branch of the Qadiriyya, leaded by Sīdī Hamza, and present now both in the Moroccan bourgeoisie as well as in the West (France, USA, Spain, but also Brazil). Nevertheless, in this case, the conversion process is less dictated by an identitarian process (reappropriation of modernity, identity claims, etc.) than by a "new age" type of spiritual development : multi-belonging (either "external pluralism" that is to say belonging to Sufism and other spiritual techniques, or "internal", that is to say belonging to several Sufi orders), vision of religion as a personal realization, individualization, marginalization of legal aspects of religion and insertion of faith in highly internationalized networks (Zen monks belonging to Sufi orders developing their particular Zen teaching, nominating their disciples who will then export back their teaching to the West through western converts living previously in Morocco, penetration of Sufism in the Moroccan bourgeoisie through western converts to Islamic mysticism).
As a result,  a certain kind of syncretism developed at both the level of practices (persons realizing their zikr in the zazen position, ecstatic states reach through yoga practice, psychological preparation to the zikr through Zen meditation, etc.) and theories (all masters of Asian spiritual traditions adapt them to the Islamic context : search of local equivalents or substitutes, emancipation from direct affiliation to foreign spiritual masters, separation between spiritual traditions and their Buddhist philosophical background; one of them considered Sufism as the ultimate stage of the yoga development).
Nevertheless, this postmodern indistinctive use of different spiritual traditions is criticized by a certain kind of "Sufi dogma", that is to say, the refusal of multi-belonging. As a result, all persons engaged in this multi-referential spiritual quest have to compose with the challenge of pluralism. Responses differs from a person to another, but reflect in a quite clear way both the expansion and the limits of new age styles of faith in the Arabic world.


The Tarekat Kadisiyyah: An Example of Neo-Tarekat Searching for Sympathy of Urban People in Bandung

Adlin Sila
Research Desk, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Jakarta, Indonesia

Until recently, tarekats were predominantly linked with rural people. Tarekats were declared to be traditionalist and the main cause of the backwardness of the Muslim community throughout the world. It was also said that tarekats had made a historical distortion of Islamic teachings, isolating their followers from social interaction; they are old-fashioned traditionalists opposing progress and modernity. In many other areas, however, tarekats demonstrate a remarkable flexibility. At present, several tarekats surfaced in the urban centers of Indonesia and their rapid spread shows that tarekats continue to perform as a vehicle of social and cultural cohesion. In the early decades of the 20th century an increasing number of Muslim intellectuals and activists questioned the position of tarekats in Indonesian society.
      In general, these reformist Muslims propagated rational reference to the sacred texts and Islamic law. Particularly, they rejected the close association between tarekats and the veneration of saints and holy places. The critical posture introduced by the so-called neo-Sufi mystical orders (neo-tarekats), which originated from the Middle East. They disassociated themselves from existing mystical tradition by the use of very short silsilah (chain of initiation and transmission of mystical knowledge) in which entire generations of mystical teachers were omitted. A recent example of the so-called neo-Tarekats is Tarekat Kadisiyyah, located in central Bandung city of West Java. The presence of this tarekat met with the strong opposition from the established (mu'tabar)
      Nevertheless, Tarekat Kadisiyyah continued to attract adherents, both among the rural and urban population of Bandung. They, consisting of a number of top officials in the bureaucracy, university students, businesspersons, executives and other high-wage earners, are now fond of affiliating themselves with Tarekat Kadisiyyah. Yet, this tarekat comes with a modified face, it is somewhat different from that of the traditional one. There is neither such veneration of holy persons nor construction of a version of Sufi order, tarekat, (in an orthodox manner) aimed at obtaining closeness with Allah. It is to the study of such 'traditional' Sufism that they now turn.
      What needs to be stressed is that adherents of this tarekat have spread out more apparently among the educated people. An over-abundance of material wealth has led them to the state of existential emptiness. Life is full of uncertainty. Their political downfall and loss of wealth can happen at any time. Thus, everyone is in the state of uncertainty. In that condition, people feel downhearted, anxious and suffer mental stress. As a consequence, they no longer indulge themselves in food and drink. They no longer compete for promotion, because these are already fulfilled. Instead, they want to make life more meaningful, and they find this in Sufism. They turn to study tarekats in the pursuit of tranquility in the knowledge that they can avoid anxiety.
      According to my findings, members of Tarekat Kadisiyyah until August 1999 number 136 people (68 males and 68 females). From educational level, the majority of them are university students and graduates (80%). The rest (20%) are graduates of the maximum of secondary school. Most of them (91%) no longer experience the state of disappointment (neurosis noogenic), and feel better, after attending the spiritual gatherings of Tarekat Kadisiyyah for certain period of time, while 7% are mediocre and 2% do not feel any better. This data shows that Tarekat Kadisiyyah proves to be meaningful for those who need to reduce symptoms of disappointment in their life. The questions that this article will raise are:
* Do they really join the Tarekat Kadisiyyah in order to gain closeness to Allah?
* Do they just regard joining the Tarekat Kadisiyyah as a matter of psychological escape?
* Is the Tarekat Kadisiyyah a kind of creative adaptation of a traditional tarekat that meets the needs of Modern Muslims and prove adaptive with social contexts of Bandung city? So, what does tasawwuf mean to urban members especially those involved with the modern life?



Said Nursi's Search for Meaning in the Age of Science

Redha Ameur
Melbourne Institute of Asian Languages and Societies, University of Melbourne

Historically, the horizontal dimension of life refers to the point in time when Man has forsaken his vertical dimension, the traditionally imagined 'heavenly' utopia, to realize the 'earthly' utopia instead. The horizontal dimension marks the time when human fulfillment was seen as no longer above the cosmos but in time and space. From the end of the 18th century onwards, major scientific studies were devoted to the empirical phenomena with an insatiable interest for everything happening in nature. Nature, however, was not to be contemplated but controlled. The existentialist movement, it is contended, emerged primarily as a reaction against a world determined only by the horizontal dimension, and helped draw our attention to a serious crisis of 'meaning'. 'What is the meaning of my being and of all being which I am a part? Where do we come from and where are we ultimately going? How can I save my self amid the mechanised ways of life? Existentialism showed that questions like these were left utterly unanswered (Tillich). The popularity of the school of logotherapy further vindicated existentialism's negative diagnosis of the modern personality. It is not the will to pleasure of Freudian psychoanalysis, nor the will to power of Adlerian psychology that Man strives for, but it is the will to meaning that is his primary motivational force (Frankl).
      Many theologians argue that the eclipse of the vertical dimension, namely, the transcendental vision or the religious consciousness of the Divine mystery (al-ghayb) has much to do with the perceived 'crisis of meaning'. They also argue that much of the 'crisis of faith' or its perceived irrelevance has to do with the inability of the religious traditions to answer the existential questions mentioned above in the context of its modern setting. Responding to 'existential vacuums', and reconciling Man to God, the ground of Being has been one the major functions of Sufism. In light of the preceding argument, it appears it is the way Sufism carries its function today that will determine whether it remains relevant or not.
      My aim in this paper is to bring out the answers that Said Nursi (1877- 1960) provides to the questions arising both from the modern mind, and from the analysis called existentialism. The paper could, thus, be divided into two parts. Firstly, I discuss Nursi's attempt to re-instate the vertical dimension against claim of positivism, by focusing on his critique of the principle of mechanistic causality. Secondly, I move on to demonstrate how Nursi, by means of this very critique and its outcome conquers 'meaninglessness', answering its feeling of emptiness with purpose, its feeling of radical doubt with the possibility of a 'yes', its feeling of annihilation with reconciliation and the feeling of self-inacceptance with love (teveddud).
Finally, this brief study provides an insight into the way Nursi deals with the nature of Being, and shows that his formulation of this issue represents a significant development in Sufi thought by comparing it with those of Ibn Arabi and Sirhindi. 



Sufism in the Perspective of Contemporary Theory

John O. Voll
Georgetown University

Tasawwuf ("Sufism") is both a dimension of Islamic faith experience and of social organization and identity. The forms of "Sufi" faith experience and organization have changed over the centuries as the historical conditions of the ummah have changed. Analysis of Sufism in modern contexts requires conceptual frameworks that go beyond those utilized by scholars for interpreting Sufism in pre-modern contexts.
Significant developments in contemporary human affairs have produced responses from scholars who are developing some theoretical tools for interpreting them. This paper will identify some of those significant developments and the conceptual frameworks used to analyze them, and then discuss how these frameworks can assist in the study of contemporary Sufism:

1) Globalization and the interaction of cosmopolitan "global" elements with particular/ local identities and traditions. Increasingly, scholars are recognizing that globalization is not simply a one-way process - that it is shaped by local. Roland Robertson utilized the term "glocalization" for this interactive process in which "global" features take on distinctive "local" forms and distinctive particularisms emerge that are comprehensible only as part of a global framework of interaction. Sufi organizations have taken on modern global characteristics and are interregional (and sometimes intercivilizational) in character, while also adapting to specific local conditions that range from suburban "New Age" Sufism in some Western cities to new forms of urban association in Muslim majority societies. However, this "glocal" characteristic of Sufism is not distinctively modern and reflects the historical modes of creating syntheses between the "local" and the "universal" elements of Muslim experiences.

2) De-secularization of modern/ contemporary society. The religious resurgence of the late 20th century has brought rethinking of the older assumptions about the inherently secular nature of modernity. Scholars like Peter Berger and Rodney Stark have been active in redefining the importance of religion. Just as the predictions of the disappearance of religion (especially in the public sphere) in modernity have been proven wrong, that is also the case with predictions by scholars of the disappearance of Sufism.

3) Social movements and their changing nature. In the second have of the 20th century great interest developed in what came to be called "new social movements." This led to the development of a broader field of the study of social movements, and social movement theory can provide important tools for the analysis of Sufism in contemporary society. This is especially true in the area of "framing," especially as analyzed by scholars like David Snow. In this, the continuing vitality of Sufism can be viewed within the framework of the emergence of what Ronald Inglehart identifies as the "shift toward postmaterialist values" in the late 20th century.
      Viewing contemporary Sufi experiences and organizations within the framework of globalization/ glocalization conceptualizations, the understanding of the desecularization of contemporary society, and recent social movement theory can be a way of going beyond the older scholarly perspectives for the study of Sufism that are based on assumptions about Muslim societies that are tied to the conditions of pre-modern societies, the assumptions of modernization theory, and ideas about social organizations that do not take into account developments of the past half century.