A comparative study of the workings of a branch of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order in Lebanon and the UK.
The thesis studies two groups of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order.
One is in Tripoli, north Lebanon, and has a loose membership
of about 60 people. The other is based in London and has
about 100 members, most of whom are Western Muslim converts.
Sufism is Islamic mysticism. Sufis claim to emulate the
mYbtical practices of the Prophet Muhammad which they believe
were transmitted in their complete form to his first and
fourth Caliphs. Sufi Orderb were first formalibed in the 9th
c e n t u r ya . do and by -the- I-3th c en tu ryh-ad- gained an l.J ne a 5 y
acceptance by orthodox Islam. They rapidly became an
integral part of the Muslim world. The Naqshbandi Order
c I a j m 5 tot r ace its des c e n t tot he fir s t Ca lip h and re g a r d s
itself as the premier Sufi Order.
The pro c e s se s 0 f model insation and industrial is ation led to
drastic reduction in the influence of the Orders. Associated
with this was the growing domination of a fundamentalist
interpretation of Islam which denied the orthodoxy of Sufism
and today dominates Muslim religious expression.
The thesis examines the contemporary role of a branch of a
Sufi Order in the West and the East. The discrepancy between
the values of Sufism and those of the modern world are
considered, as is the influence of politics on the survival
of the Sufi Orders in the Middle East.
Both groups contain elements of Mahdism which is a type of
Muslim millenarianism. This is considered as well as the
different ways in which the two groups interpret and react to
Throughout the thesis attention is paid to the internal logic
of Sufism's beliefs and practices.