Understanding Sufism: Reflections From Manuscripts & Popular Culture

Rituparna Ray's picture
Call for Papers
October 20, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Islamic History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

Understanding Sufism:  Reflections From Manuscripts & Popular Culture


-Sufism’  is  a worldwide  phenomenon that emerged and expanded   as a parallel  trend  of  canonical Islam-   In a narrow sense, it is considered as an off shoot of mainstream Islam centering around mysticism while,  in a wider perspective, it is a broad-based spiritual and cultural  movement with diverse  manifestation of eclectic movement  and an intense soul searching in quest for attaining divine  communion. In India, the inroad of Sufi movement and rise and growth of different schools of Sufism had developed at large within or alongside the presence and prevalence of institutional Islam under the powerful stronghold of the Ulemas. However, in India, moreover, the Sufi traits had wonderful co-incidences with the rising tide of Bhakti , a widespread eclectic movement,  as against exclusivist mainstream Hindu institutionalism The two most interesting and intriguing part of Sufism was its use of music and dance as a dynamic  path to attain spiritual ecstasy  ,  where it had transgressed  the  boundaries of canonical Islam . Orthodox Islam abhors the idea of indulging music. The other particular way highlighted the one to one communication and understanding between the leader-disciple relations within each groups for aspiring towards the finality of a divine embrace. The institutional Islam, although providing regular communications between the valid interpreters and the common followers, never ever allowed any romanticism about approaching the Almighty through emotionalism or ecstasy. Orthodox Islam had therefore, often denounced Sufis and their ways. Understanding about Sufism had also fallen beneath the trance of secret cults and pursuit of un-scientific activities.  Religion becoming an issue of private concern lost their presence from mainstream education and took back seats in the cultural domain. As a result, ignorance, degeneration, misinterpretation and vagueness came to prevail in the common understanding of religion that remained subject to mishandling, misinterpretations, parochialism and further dangerous outcomes.

At present, none other than Islam remains the most misunderstood and misinterpreted religion of the world. And this became possible due to wide spread ignorance about the scope and limitations of the religion and its multidimensional   perspectives. In the present epoch of endless ‘clash of civilizations’, maybe, it is again extremely relevant and meaningful to look back into the scope and richness that Sufism entailed within its doctrinal notions and popular practices.

Research papers for presentation in the seminar are invited on the following subthemes, but not limited to:

  • Evolution of Sufism as a worldwide Phenomenon: The Commonalities & Variations
  • Sufism in India – the contexts, texts and popular  culture
  • Sufism & its Musical   Resonance
  • Islam and Sufism: Manifestation in Manuscripts
  • Both abstract & full text papers are to be submitted by e-mail and in word format only.
  • October 1st -20th, 2017: due dates for receipt of Abstracts, with title, his/her affiliations. (Word limit 300 words)
  • October 30th, 2017: Notification of acceptance of selected papers via e-mail.
  • Completed full text papers to be submitted by e-mail by 15th November. (Word limit 3500 words)
  • Abstracts should be sent by email to hist.cgc17@gmail.com
  • No registration fees for paper presenters. But the organisers are unable to provide any accommodation facilities. However, Kolkata, a metro- city has logistic options of various ranges.
  • For further enquiries please feel free to contact Dr. Nandini Bhattacharya, Associate Professor in History, Calcutta Girl's College

            Email- nandini70@gmail.com

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