God's unruly friends: dervish groups in the Islamic later by Ahmet T. Karamustafa

By Ahmet T. Karamustafa

Wandering dervishes shaped a favourite characteristic of such a lot Muslim groups good into the trendy interval, surviving in a few areas even at the present time. stunning in visual appeal, habit, and speech, those social misfits have been respected by means of the general public, but denounced by way of cultural elites. God's Unruly associates is the 1st in-depth and accomplished survey of this enigmatic form of piety, tracing the heritage of different dervish teams that roamed the lands in Western, critical and South Asia, in addition to the center East and Southeast Europe.

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Ca. 630/1232-33), and the Haydariyah, which took shape in Iran as a result of the activities of its eponymous founder Qutb al-Din Haydar (d. ca. 618/1221-22). Both movements rapidly spread from their respective places of origin to India and to Asia Minor. Already before the end of the seventh/thirteenth century, other Page 4 dervish groups similar to the mendicant Qalandars and Haydaris began to appear in different regions of Islamdom. The followers of Barak Baba in newly conquered Asia Minor and western Iran were the earliest and most prominent representatives of this wave of locally contained religious renunciation.

Celibacy, in this context, meant primarily the refusal to participate in the sexual reproduction of society and did not exclude unproductive forms of sexual activity. It is likely, therefore, that antisocial ways of sexual gratification came to be included in the deliberately rejectionist Page 21 repertoire of some dervishes. The existence of a distinct group of youths known as koçeks (from Persian kuchak, ''youngster'') among the Abdals is certainly suggestive in this regard. 20 The penchant of the dervishes for distancing themselves from the established social and religious order is also visible in their adoption of controversial and extremist beliefs and doctrines.

That there was a substantial degree of continuity between pre-Islamic and Islamic religious belief and practice in all the relevant cultural spheres is itself not in dispute here. 22 Yet their reconfiguration into a visibly Islamic mode of religiosity occurred as a result of social dynamics internal to Islamic societies. Neither "survivals" nor "traces," these originally extraneous beliefs and practices became the building blocks of a new Islamic synthesis. Therefore, the explanation for the emergence and entrenchment of this mode of Islamic piety should be located within, rather than without, Islamic societies.

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