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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

ARA2145: Sufism and Islamic Devotional Life

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Leonard Lewisohn (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This course is intended to provide you with a basic historical overview, intended to help you  appreciate and come to understand the various dimensions of Sufism in both historical and spiritual contexts. The textbook of the course will be Annemarie Schimmel’s Mystical Dimensions of Islam, accompanied by readings from representative primary sources in translation of (a) the classical spiritual writers and literatures associated with ‘Sufism’; (b) the history and typical structures and practices of the later Sufi orders (tarÄ«qas); and (c) a survey of some music and devotional practices associated with the Sufis in Islam. The Sufi tradition (tasawwuf) is the most profound aspect of Islamic spirituality. Sufism has had a far greater impact on Islam than Christian monasticism and mysticism has had on Christianity. In many Islamic countries today, over 60% of the population still count themselves as Sufis whether terms of spiritual self-identity or institutional affiliation. All of Islamic philosophy, ethics and metaphysics are all deeply steeped in Sufi doctrine and theory. Many of the greatest figures of the classical Sufi tradition are today best-selling poets in the West (Rumi, d. 1273, being the foremost example of this today) and in their native countries, some are considered as the founding fathers of modern nation-states. Persian Sufi poetry represents the greatest mystical poetic tradition in any of the worlds’ literatures. This class will introduce the student into these and many other salient aspects of the Sufi tradition. By the time the course is through, she or he will obtain an excellent insight into the deepest reaches of the philosophy, literature, spiritual disciplines and metaphysical theories of Islamic mysticism.

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