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Oxford University Press

Western Sufism: From the Abbasids to the New Age

Mark Sedgwick

Hardback

9780199977642

 

Western Sufism is sometimes dismissed as a relatively recent "new age" phenomenon, but in this book, Mark Sedgwick argues that it actually has very deep roots, both in the Muslim world and in the West. In fact, although the first significant Western Sufi organization was not established until 1915, the first Western discussion of Sufism was printed in 1480, and Western interest in some of the ideas that are central to Sufi thought goes back to the thirteenth century. Sedgwick starts with the earliest origins of Western Sufism in late antique Neoplatonism and early Arab philosophy, and traces later origins in repeated intercultural transfers from the Muslim world to the West, in the thought of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, and in the intellectual and religious ferment of the nineteenth century. He then follows the development of organized Sufism in the West from 1915 until 1968, the year in which the first Western Sufi order based on purely Islamic models was founded. Later developments in this and other orders are also covered.

 

The work shows the influence of these origins, of thought both familiar and less familiar: Neoplatonic emanationism, perennialism, pantheism, universalism and esotericism. Western Sufism is a product not of the New Age but of Islam, the ancient world, and centuries of Western religious and intellectual history. Sedgwick demonstrates that the phenomenon of Western Sufism draws on centuries of intercultural transfers and is part of a long-established relationship between Western thought and Islam. 

 

Contents

 

Part I | Premodern Intercultural Transfers

 

1. Neoplatonism and Emanationism

    Plotinus: The Key

    Emanation Explained

    Neoplatonism Spreads

 

2. Islamic Emanationism

    Arab Neoplatonism

    The First Sufis

    Sufi Classics

 

3. Jewish and Christian Emanationism

    Jewish Neoplatonism

    Jewish Sufism

    Latin Emanationism

    

Part II | Imagining Sufism, 1480-1899

 

4. Dervishes

    Angels and Deviants

    The View from France

    Sufism as Mystical Theology

 

5. Deism and Pantheism

    The prisca theologia in the Renaissance

    Universalism: Guillaume Postel and the Jesuits

    Deism Demonstrated by Arab and Turk

    Pantheism and Anti-Exotericism

 

6. Universalist Sufism

    Sufism as Esoteric Pantheism

    Perennialism and Universalism in India

    The Dabistan and After

 

7. Dervishes Epicurean and Fanatical

    Dervishes in Drama, Painting, and Verse

    The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

    Fighting Dervishes

    

Part III | The Establishment of Sufism in the West, 1910-1933

 

8. Transcendentalism, Theosophy, and Sufism

    Transcendentalism and the Missouri Platonists

    The Theosophical Society and Carl-Henrik Bjerregaard

    Ivan Agueli, the Western Sufi

 

9. Toward the One: Inayat Khan and the Sufi Movement

    Inayat Khan Visits America

    The Sufi Message is Spread

    The Continuation of the Sufi Movement

 

10. Tradition and Consciousness

    Rene Guenon and the Traditionalists

    George Gurdjieff and Consciousness

    The Early Years of John G. Bennett

    

Part IV | The Development of Sufism in the New Age

 

11. Polarization

    Toward Islam

    Reorientation with Meher Baba

    The Travels of John G. Bennett

    The Maryamiyya and the Oglala Sioux

 

12. Idries Shah and the Sufi Psychology

    Shah and the Gurdjieff Tradition

    Shah’s Sufism

    Followers and Opponents

 

13. Sufism Meets the New Age

    Traditionalism and the New Age

    The Sufi Movement Conserved

    Sufi Sam in San Francisco

    Vilayat and the Sufi Order International

    Fazal and the Mystical Warfare

 

14. Islamic Sufism

    Ian Dallas and the Darqawiyya

    Ibn Arabi and Beshara

    The Murabitun and Sufi Jihad

    John G. Bennett at Sherborne

    

15. Conclusion