Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sufism in South Asia

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Historians: write like this

I guess it would be boring if everyone wrote alike; but the world could certainly use more scholars like Patricia Crone, author of God's Rule, and many other works on Islamic history. The clarity and grace with which she explains complicated phenomena are a joy to see. for instance, this passage from page 340 of God's Rule:

To a greater or lesser degree, all Sufis stepped out of the social rules for a realm of freedom, permanently, temporarily, or just momentarily, to escape the endless demands of family and friends and the rigid rules of social etiquette, seeking to find a deeper meaning to life. Originally, they did not form a hierarchy themselves. But all places of escape fill up as news of their attractions spreads, and all develop organization in the process. By the end of our period, the Sufis were no longer back-packing tourists in an untouched and exotic world. The great Sufi orders were under formation and there were now Sufi hierarchies in this world reflecting angelic hierarchies in the next. The leaders of such hierarchies, though wealthy and influential, still did not have actual political or military power, but that too was to come, especially in tribal areas, if only after our period.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Iraq, early summer 2007

Those of you interested in the history of Sufism and its connection with current events may want to look at this background blog post on Sufism in connection with the bombing of a Sufi shrine in Iraq. This is exactly what Cole is expert in, so it's worth a look.

Meanwhile over at The Vanity Press, Chester Scoville has this right-on-the-button critique of the American delusions that lead to bad foreign policy winning popular support. I won't excerpt -- I'm hoping people will read what Scoville has to say.

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