Modernity from within: Islamic fundamentalism and sufism

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Islamic fundamentalism is a product of modernity. Its constitution as the hegemonic discourse of modern Islam was accomplished in the course of the twentieth century over against two Others: the external Other of the West and the internal Other of tradition, especially its mystical aspect Sufism. The article claims, however, that the fundamentalists' critique of Sufism as backward, superstitious, and apolitical involved the collective forgetting of the leading role that Sūfī reformist brotherhoods had filled in premodern Islam and in their own upbringing. In this light the Salafī discourse and popular socioreligious movements such as the Muslim Brothers appear as modern transformations rather than negations of Sufism. On the other hand, contemporary Sufism has constituted itself as the modern Other of the hegemonic Islamic fundamentalism. The fundamentalist estrangement from Sufism, and Islamic tradition at large, engendered a dialectics of unenlightenment culminating in the present radicalization of Islam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-170
Number of pages29
JournalIslam - Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Kultur des Islamischen Orients
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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