Unveiling Sufism: From Manhattan to Mecca in Winnipeg

Dr. W. Rory Dickson, photo courtesy of UWinnipeg

Dr. W. Rory Dickson, photo courtesy of UWinnipeg

UWinnipeg’s Dr. William Rory Dickson (Religion and Culture) is launching his new book Unveiling Sufism: From Manhattan to Mecca with co-author Dr. Meena Sharify-Funk (Chair, Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University) on Thursday, March 15 at 7:30 pm at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue.

Unveiling Sufism looks into Sufism, which is Islam’s popular tradition of spiritual transformation, art, and philosophy and is little known in the West. The authors take the reader on a journey from the present through the past. Beginning with Sufism in contemporary North America, each chapter moves closer to the heart and ancient origin of Sufism, unveiling its many complexities.

Unveiling Sufism: From Manhattan to Mecca, book cover

Unveiling Sufism: From Manhattan to Mecca, book cover

In contrast to most introductory texts on Sufism, this work begins not with the historical past, but with the contemporary present. Each chapter unveils a variety of historical, political, and cultural contexts, moving deeper into the past. This genealogical framework will enable the reader to understand the patterns of connection between contemporary manifestations of Sufism and past realities.

To ensure that the full range of Sufism’s varied expressions are taken into account, each chapter is divided into four sections: politics and power, philosophy and metaphysics, arts and culture, and an overview of historical developments. Dividing chapters into these four broad categories enables the book to highlight some of the ways in which Sufism has influenced Muslim politics, philosophy, art, and culture in each historical period. In each category the relevant issues are illustrated through detailed case studies, whether of a particular Sufi figure, place, artistic expression, or philosophical view. This allows the reader to develop a genuinely three-dimensional appreciation of Sufism, neither reducing it to a private mystical experience divorced from social expression, nor limiting the tradition to historical names and dates.

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