Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism: Vincent Cornell, Emory University

Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism ...Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism: Vincent Cornell, Emory University

Vincent Cornell's Realm of the Saint is a masterly work, indisputably authoritative, the result of more than twenty years of research on Sufism in Morocco and Al-Andalus. Drawing on a critical reading of a vast array of textual sources, including hagiographies, histories, didactic treatises, devotional works, and poetry, this book brings to light material that has been virtually untouched in academic studies on Moroccan Sufism. As Cornell points out, Morocco has become a paradigm for the anthropological analysis of Sufism, but the vast archival resources of Morocco had been hitherto largely untouched by academicians. Through detailed analysis of the lives of many Sufi saints as presented in hagiographical literature, exploring both the ideological and sociological dimensions of sainthood in the Moroccan context, he convincingly argues that the “doctor” versus “saint” topos that prevails in the anthropological literature does not do justice to the reality of pre-modern Moroccan Sufism. He also deconstructs the centrality of “maraboutism” and rurality in Moroccan Sufism. Cornell compares his findings with studies of saints in Europe by scholars such as Peter Brown and Thomas Heffernan, as well as with the Weberian theories of charismatic leadership that have prevailed among social scientists, displaying an extraordinary range of competence in the literature of several academic disciplines. It is a rarity to find a scholar of Cornell's deep understanding of Arabic and Islamic tradition who also places his research within the broader context of the study of religion. Nevertheless, scholars outside Islamic studies are unlikely to read this book because of its length, excessive detail, and frequent use of Arabic terms, despite the presence of a glossary of technical terms at the end of the book -Review by Dr.Valerie Hoffman, University of Illinois,Urbana-Champaign


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