Saturday 21 September 2019

Special issue on Islamic Esotericism

The (open-access) journal Correspondences: Journal for the Study of Esotericism has just published a special issue on Islamic Esotericism (available here), edited by Liana Saif.

It covers

In detail, the special issue contains the following articles:

Liana Saif, "What is Islamic Esotericism?"

This article serves as an introduction to the special issue, and proposes "a theoretical framework for what can be called Islamic esotericism based on etymological and historical justifications." It covers both the tenth to thirteenth centuries and the Traditionalist understanding of Islamic esotericism.

W. Sasson Chahanovich, "Ottoman Eschatological Esotericism: Introducing Jafr in Ps. Ibn al-ʿArabī’s The Tree ofNuʿmān (al-Shajarah al-nuʿmāniyyah)."

Jafr fuses eschatology and esotericism, and the article takes the example of an Ottoman text that was pseudepigraphically attributed to Ibn al-ʿArabī. Chahanovich argues that "eschatological predictions were central to bolstering Ottoman imperial claims to universal sovereignty."

Keith Cantú, "Islamic Esotericism in the Bengali Bāul Songs of Lālan Fakir." 

Lālan Fakir was a nineteenth-century Bengali Sufi poet, and Cantú's article presents, translates and discusses five of his songs. The article ends by arguing that esotericism has "explanatory power outside of domains that are perceived to be exclusively Western."

Michael Muhammad Knight, "'I am Sorry, Mr. White Man, These are Secrets that You are Not Permitted to Learn': The Supreme Wisdom Lessons and Problem Book."

The Supreme Wisdom Lessons are part of the Nation of Islam tradition, and have been used in various ways. Knight places them and a related text, the Problem Book, "within their context of 1930s U.S. esoteric movements, thinkers, and themes."

Biko Gray, "The Traumatic Mysticism of Othered Others: Blackness, Islam, and Esotericism in the Five Percenters."

Gray develops the concept of "traumatic mysticism," and argues that the Five Percenters' "understanding of Islamic terminology, the meaning of the word 'god,' and their dissemination of their thought all articulate radical refusals of categorical distinctions."

Francesco Piraino, "Esotericisation and De-esotericisation of Sufism: The Aḥmadiyya-Idrīsiyya Shādhiliyya in Italy."

The Italian Aḥmadiyya-Idrīsiyya Shādhiliyya owes its origins to the Traditionalist Movement of René Guénon. Piraino shows the ways in which it was originally esoteric, and then argues that in recent years it has been undergoing "de-esotericisation," and that its "sectarian dimensions are gradually fading, allowing a dialogue with other Islamic communities."

Mark Sedgwick, "Islamic and Western Esotericism."

The article argues that there is an Islamic esotericism that matches Western esotericism very closely in terms of discourse and historical sources, but not in terms of structure--of relations with established religious and political power structures.