Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Contemporary Transnational Sufism in Central Eurasia: hierarchies and charisma  


Oleg Yarosh (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper aims at analyzing contemporary development of Sufism in Central Eurasia within the context of several major transnational Sufi orders. My work is still in progress and I will limit my focus mainly to two regional cases, i.e. Ukraine and Germany.

Paper long abstract:

Institutional structure of Sufi communities encompasses initiative hierarchies of dominance and collective solidarities. The typical model of leadership in Sufi communities is charismatic authority, when religious authority is derived from charisma of Sheikh (Werbner 2003: 282). Sufi hierarchical link can be extended to transcend the life of the Sheikh and become institutionalized and thus serve to attract and guide followers long after his death (Eickelman and Piscatori 1996: 73).

Spiritual genealogies (salasil) of Sufi orders (turuq), which incorporate Sheikhs representing different historical periods and regions, clearly display ideas of their imagined origin, historical development and geographical expansion. Historically trans-regional Sufi cults mediated connections between the different parts of the Islamicate World (Ho 2006, Bang 2014) and still perform some of these functions today in diasporas in the Muslim-minority countries (Raudvere, Stenberg 2009: 5).

I argue that with gradual territorial expansion of Sufi networks mediated connection through the local representatives replaces direct links of loyalty with the network leader.

I argue that locally constructed charisma negotiated by local Sufi community and its spiritual leader can challenge general charisma of Sufi order represented by its founders and current spiritual leaders.

I also address broader scope of issues, including theoretical inquiry into concepts of "charisma", "spiritual capital", and "redemptive sociality".

Present paper is based on the interdisciplinary research that combines historical inquiry into the development of the several Sufi communities and anthropological research that encompass data collected through fieldwork in these communities in Ukraine and Germany.

Panel REL-04
Religion and Identity