Living Sufism in North America

Between Tradition and Transformation

By William Rory Dickson

Subjects: Religion, Islam, Sufism, American Religion, American Culture
Paperback : 9781438457567, 290 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438457574, 290 pages, October 2015

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Table of contents

Part I
1. Tracing Sufism’s Relation to Islam
2. The Genesis of Sufism in the West
3. Currents of Sufi Teaching in Twentieth-Century North America
Part II
4. Adapting Sufism in North America
5. North American Sufi Teachers on Sufism and Islam

Offers an overview of Sufism in North America.


In this book, William Rory Dickson explores Sufism as a developing tradition in North America, one that exists in diverse and beguiling forms. Sufism's broad-minded traditions of philosophy, poetry, and spiritual practice infused Islamic civilization for centuries and drew the attention of interested Westerners. By the early twentieth century, Sufism was being practiced in North America. Today's North American Sufism can appear either explicitly Islamic or seemingly devoid of Islamic religiosity. Dickson provides indispensable background on Sufism's relation to Islamic orthodoxy and to Western esoteric traditions, and its historical development in North America. The book goes on to chart the directions that North American Sufism is currently taking, directions largely chosen by Sufi leaders. The views of ten North American Sufi leaders are explored in depth and their perspectives on Islam, authority, gender, and tradition are put in conversation with one another. A more detailed picture of North American Sufism emerges, challenging previous scholarly classifications of Sufi groups, and highlighting Sufism's fluidity, diversity, and dynamism.

William Rory Dickson is Assistant Professor of Islamic Religion and Culture at the University of Winnipeg.


"This is a God-sent book, particularly for Muslims in North America, given its focus on the teaching of Sufism in the current United States. " — Muslim World Book Review

". ..Dickson takes a risk by making himself a trendsetter in this emerging field, and he succeeds admirably. " — New Books Network

"…thoroughly informed and informative. " — Midwest Book Review

"Living Sufism in North America is the first book of its kind to bridge the gap between Sufi studies and the study of North American contemporary religious movements. As such, it is a comprehensive, pioneering work of potential interest to a wide array of scholars in the field of contemporary religion. " — Patrick Laude, author of Pathways to an Inner Islam: Massignon, Corbin, Guenon, and Schuon