Sufism and Islamic Reform in Egypt: The Battle for Islamic Tradition

One of the most important sects in the Islamic world, Sufism has had a long and active history. Yet it has been no stranger to controversy. This has been particularly pronounced in modern times, as radical Islamic groups and modernist reformers have sought to identify Sufism as a source of either unwelcome innovation or reactionary superstition. This book focuses on the efforts of the Sufis of Egypt, expressed in the writings of one of the order's sheikhs, to meet the critical challenge. The sheikh offers a vigorous defence of Sufism in the context of controversial issues such as festivals, processions, congregational invocation, and the principle of guidance by the sheikh. He also touches on broader issues such as the metaphysical status of the Prophet and the question of miracles, considering these in a characteristically Sufi light. However, he also downplays or reworks certain key elements of Sufi belief and practice in an attempt to forestall hostile criticism. In this book Dr Johansen discusses these ideas and places them in a broader context, basing his analysis on material recorded at Sufi gatherings in Cairo between 1988-90, as well as published and unpublished texts.