Since the emergence of Sufism in the ninth century, the shrines, brotherhoods and doctrines of the Sufis have held vast influence in almost every corner of the Muslim world. Offering the first truly global account of the history of Sufism, this illuminating book traces the gradual spread and influence of Sufi Islam through the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and ultimately into Europe and the United States. Moving beyond the description of doctrine, this book places Sufism in its social, cultural and historical contexts. It dismantles the stereotypes of Sufis as otherworldly "mystics" by anchoring Sufi Muslims in the lives of their communities. It explores Sufism´s cross-cultural links with music, poetry, architecture and folk traditions, and delves into the social and political factors by which Sufi holy men gained followers among not only tribesmen and peasants but also emperors and bureaucrats - alliances that made leading Sufis powerful even at the height of European colonization. Requiring no background knowledge of Islamic history or doctrine, this book provides readers with an ideal introduction to Sufism as a global phenomenon. It explores not only the theology and ritual of Sufism but also its influence in shaping societies and cultures across the world.
"Green's history is well organized and offers a number of clear themes and theses." (The Journal of The Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies, 1 August 2013) "A must read not only for those interested in Islamic studies but also for those interested in world history. Summing Up: Essential. Most levels/libraries." (Choice, 1 September 2012)
Nile Green is professor of South Asian and Islamic history at UCLA. He has travelled and researched widely throughout the Islamic world, and has published extensively on Islamic history and Sufism.