Between 'Jihad' and 'McWorld': Engaged Sufism in Indonesia
Perhaps having in mind the image of Sufism as pacificist and otherworldly, my colleagues have asked that I address the question: 'To what extent is Sufism being used by Muslims to reclaim a sense of spiritual well-being in the face of challenges on two flanks, from the West on one side and Islamic radicals on the other? An earlier generation of Orienalists1 took a dim view of the prospects for Islam's Sufi heritage (tasawuf) having very much, if any, relevance in today's world, and so to speculate on how Sufi spiritualities might help people confront global challenges of any sort, whether of 'jihad' or 'McWorld',2 would have seemed ludicrous. Nonetheless, Sufism has successfully re-established itself among sophisticated urbanities. It has done so in Muslim-majority countries from Indonesia to Morocco, and amongst Muslim diasporas and New Agers from Birmingham to San Francisco.3 Since 'Sufism' is rendered in so many different forms in all these places and must address highly varied social and political imperatives, searching for a single cause for these successful negotiations of social change is unlikely to be a productive exercise. However, by focusing on a limited social field, we may be able to see how in particular circumstances certain institutional potentials carried through Sufi traditions are seized upon and adapted to meet perceived contemporary needs.
Islam and Political Violence, Muslim Diaspora and Radicalism in the West