The Divine Flood Ibrahim Niasse and the Roots of a Twentieth-Century Sufi Revival

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-08-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Until recently, academic studies of Sufism have largely ignored the multiple ways in which Islamic mystical ideas and practices have developed in the modern period. For many specialists, Sufism was "on the way out" and not compatible with modernity. The present study of a twentieth-century Sufi revival in West Africa offers overdue corrections of this misconception. Seesemann's work evolves around the emergence and spread of the "Community of the Divine Flood," established in 1929 by Ibrahim Niasse, a leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order from Senegal. Based on a wide variety of written sources and encounters with leaders and ordinary members of the movement, the book analyzes the teachings and practices of this community, most notably those concerned with mystical knowledge of God. It presents a vivid and intimate portrait of the community's formation in Senegal and its subsequent transformation into a flourishing transnational movement in West Africa and beyond. Drawing on letters, poetry, hagiography, and testimonies of opponents of the movement, the book traces Niasse's spectacular ascension as the widely acclaimed "Supreme Saint of His Era" and shows how the various stages of his career intersect with the development of his mystical teachings. Seesemann makes a compelling case for studying Sufis and their literary production in their social and historical contexts, throwing light on a little-known chapter of the intellectual and social history of Islam.

Author Biography

RĂ¼diger Seesemann teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Northwestern University and specializes in the study of Islam in Africa. He has done fieldwork in various West and East African countries and has published extensively on Sufism, Islam and politics, Islamism, Islamic education, as well as theories and practices of Islamic knowledge.

Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. xiii
Note on Transliterationp. xv
Prologue: "A Flood Shall Come Upon My Companions"p. 3
Introduction: Studying Sufism in Contextp. 6
Perceptions and Interpreters of Sufismp. 8
Islam and Africap. 11
Sufism in Contextp. 15
The Settingp. 12
Scope and Structure of the Bookp. 24
Beginnings: Ibrahim Niasse and the Advent of the Floodp. 29
Birth, Childhood, and Adolescencep. 31
Early Careerp. 37
Fayda: A Short History of the Terminologyp. 42
Niasse as Bringer of the Floodp. 47
Reception and Resonancep. 58
Spiritual Training: The Way to Mystical Knowledgep. 67
Tarbiya: An Overviewp. 71
Spiritual Energy and the Mystical Statep. 79
Justifying Tarbiyap. 82
The Three Stations of Religionp. 87
Annihilationp. 94
The Special Litaniesp. 99
"The Cup Makes Its Round"p. 104
Seeing God: The Nascent-Communityp. 110
Internal Tensionsp. 112
Discord in L?onap. 120
Hijra to Medinap. 124
New Attacksp. 128
The Rejoindersp. 134
Visions and Ecstatic Utterancesp. 139
Crossing Borders: Expansion in Senegal and Beyondp. 144
Consolidation in Senegalp. 146
The Supreme Saintp. 149
Spiritual Authority and Social Inequalitiesp. 153
Passage to Mauritaniap. 159
Redrawing Gender Boundariesp. 164
"The Supreme Saint of His Time": A Prophecy Fulfilledp. 171
Consequential Encountersp. 173
First Visit to Kanop. 188
The Conakry Tripp. 191
The Reception of "The Conakry Trip"p. 202
Returning to Kano and the Hijazp. 207
Epilogue: After the Floodp. 217
Niasse's Legacyp. 219
Patterns of Expansion and Conflictp. 225
Glossaryp. 231
Sources and Bibliographyp. 233
Archival Sourcesp. 233
Interviews Citedp. 234
Writingsp. 234
Primary Sources in Arabic and African Languagesp. 236
Secondary Literaturep. 239
Notesp. 257
Indexp. 303
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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