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Toward a New History of Sufism: The Turkish Case Author(s): Alexandre Papas Reviewed work(s): Source: History of Religions,

Vol. 46, No. 1 (August 2006), pp. 81-90 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/09/2012 16:07
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Toward a New History of Susm: The Turkish Case

Cities and Saints: Susm and the Transformation of Urban Space in Medieval Anatolia. By Ethel Sara Wolper. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003. Pp. xvii+134, 42 plates. A Culture of Susm: Naqshbandis in the Ottoman World, 14501700. By Dina Le Gall. Albany: State University of New York Press. SUNY Series in Middle East History, 2004. Pp. xii+285. Osmanlda Mceddidlik XII/XVIII. Yzyl. By Halil Ibrahim VimVek. Istanbul: Sf Yaynlar, 2004. Pp. 414. For about twenty years, Susm (tasawwuf ) has been one of the main interests of Islamic studies. Although prior to this Susm was obviously not ignored, islamists then studied it as Islamic mysticism, working principally on the classical texts and their medieval authors such as Kalabadhi, Hujwiri, or Ibn Arabi. As early as 1971, J. Spencer Trimingham opened a new eld of research when he published The Su Orders in Islam, submitting an overview of the various Su schools or paths (tariqa) considered as the socioreligious bases of Susm, comparable (though not identical) to religious orders in other contexts.1 More recently, during the 1980s and 1990s, several huge collective publications on the tariqas, pursuing the effort of Trimingham, opened the study of Susm to history and the social

J. Spencer Trimingham, The Su Orders in Islam (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971).

2006 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0018-2710/2006/4601-0003$10.00


Toward a New History of Susm

sciences.2 For instance, the ethnologist and historian Marc Gaborieau developed the concept of sociabilities to describe the Su groups and circles, in order to include Sus as part of Islamic social life and structure.3 (This concept of sociability covers the social dimensions of Susm: camaraderie, a collective way of life, and activity in public life.) Furthermore, Sus, thanks to their collective practices and public activities, have proven to be agents of sociability. Such sociability clearly demonstrates the way in which Susm inuences historical realities. It is also the sign of larger processes, maybe less visible than social behaviors, through which Susm integrates into a given society. One could mention many examples of this integration.4 From a theoretical point of view, it seems that a new historiography can now emerge with the ambition to think Susm as a whole culture. In other words, Susm is no longer to be conceived as conned to esoteric speculations and the secret brotherhoods that teach them. Susm, from this perspective, includes the involvement of mysticism in worldly concerns, that is, not only in political, legal, and theological issues but also in, among other things, rituals, intellectual productions, ne arts, material culture, and social facts. The history of Susm is thus the history of the Su features of Muslim civilizations. By Su features, I mean the impact and inuence of the culture of Susm on the history of Muslim societies, such as the popularity of mystical poetry and music or the numerous historical Su gures involved in important events. Such perspective does not suppose secularization or even a decline of religion, nor does it separate theoretical and practical or religious and social aspects of Susm. On the contrary, Susm affects profane spheres and imbues Muslim societies with its mysticism. Therefore, what we historians have to do is maintain Susm as a historical object and observe it outside of the strict Su circle, in order to consider the real extent of Susm, to get the measure of its impact. Recently, three publications have shed new light on the history of tasawwuf in Turkey (Anatolia).5 These three books cover a span of time beginning in the

2 See notably: Alexandre Popovic and Gilles Veinstein, eds., Les ordres mystiques dans lIslam: Cheminements et situation actuelle (Paris: EHESS, 1985); Marc Gaborieau, Alexandre Popovic, and Thierry Zarcone, eds., Naqshbandis. Cheminements et situation actuelle d un ordre mystique musulman (Istanbul: Isis, 1990); M. M. Khayrullaevar, ed., Iz Istorii suzma: Istochniki i socialnaja praktika (Tashkent: Fan, 1991); Leonard Lewisohn, ed., The Legacy of Medieval Persian Susm (London: Khaniqahi Nimatullahi, 1992), and Classical Persian Susm: From Its Origins to Rumi (London: Khaniqahi Nimatullahi, 1993); F. De Jong and Bernd Radtke, eds., Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics (Leiden: Brill, 1999). 3 Among Gaborieaus numerous publications, see Les modes dorganisation, in Les voies d Allah: Les ordres mystiques dans le monde musulman des origines aujourd hui, ed. Alexandre Popovic and Gilles Veinstein (Paris: Fayard, 1996), 20612. 4 About dance and music, for example, see my Dansez et chantez: le droit au sam selon fq Khwja, matre naqshband du Turkestan (XVIIe sicle), Journal of the History of Susm 4 (2004): 16980. 5 One of these three publications is in Turkish; this conrms the need, for specialists but also for a larger public, to be attentive to the scholarly work produced in non-Western countries. The three books reviewed here take Eastern academic production into account. Since Turkey publishes many articles and books on Susm, and since it has academic

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thirteenth and ending in the eighteenth century; they complement each other in scope as well as in methodology. Indeed, by thinking in terms of the longue dure, the historian of religions is able to recognize not merely long-term facts but also historical processesthe worldly commitments of mysticism, to be specic. In the present case, we shall see how successive Su groups and orders progressively settled and disseminated in Anatolia, giving a unique religious and cultural identity to the region. The fact that Turkey, today, is frequently associated with the famousif a bit touristic, nowadayswhirling dervishes is not a coincidence. The clich, as usual, hides a complex history. This identication is deeply rooted in the past, more precisely as early as the thirteenth century, when the rst whirling dervish so to say, Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi, arrived in Konya from Central Asia.

aspects of susm in anatolia from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century

Bearing in mind that modern scholarship, in its effort to understand the religious milieu of medieval Anatolia, sometimes forgets the complex historical, religious, and cultural developments that shaped it (1), Ethel Sara Wolper offers to reconstruct the world of medieval dervishes and their lodges, which ourished between the second half of the thirteenth century and the second half of the fourteenth century, in her book Cities and Saints: Susm and the Transformation of Urban Space in Medieval Anatolia. Wolper argues that not only did these dervish lodges provide each community with a geographical and spiritual center, they also became the physical structures around which new urban formations were organized (2). Based on specic cities treated as case studies (Amasya, Tokat, and Sivas, all located in central Anatolia, which is on the trade route between Central Asia and the Ottoman western provinces), this fully illustrated volume is composed of three parts: the rst covers the status of the dervish lodges as visual markers of religious prestige, as mediation places between Christian residents and Trkmen immigrants, and as patronage objects for rulers; the second is about the integration of the buildings into the visual and social environments of the city and the changes it effected in the experience of residents; the last involves the patrimonial dimension of the lodges, which marks the foundation of Su communities through their literary representation and their recollection in history. While the dervish lodge is basically a gathering building for dervishes that sponsors communal activities, from food distribution to spiritual exercises, its historical impact has been multifaceted. It is this impact that Wolpers study endeavors to evaluate. Such a reappraisal also affords her the opportunity to reconsider Turkish historiographyor, more precisely, the thesis advanced by Fuad Kprl (d. 1966) about the role of shaman dervishes in the Islamization and Turkication of Anatolia. Thinking the lodge

sections of Susm in every department of religious studies, Turkish is now an essential working language for scholars in the history of Susm. A single though signicant example is the recent publication of a 861-page special issue of the Turkish journal Tasavvuf entirely devoted to Jalal al-Din Rumi: Mevln. zel Says, special issue, Tasavvuf: Ilmi ve Akademik Aravtrma Dergisi 14 (2005).


Toward a New History of Susm

differently can suggest new ways of conceptualizing the historical process of Islamization and the development of Susm. Under the rule of the Seljuk, whose capital was Konya, sultans developed religious institutions such as palaces and madrasas (colleges), which produced a Muslim code regulating social life and administration. Later, when the Seljuks were the vassals of the Mongols, independent principalities appeared, led by local military leaders and other administrators, who patronized Su lodges with waqf (pious endowments). These lodges functioned as centers for the support, identication, and denition of religious communities formed around charismatic gures (13). The peak of Seljuk power in Anatolia took place under Kay-Qubads rule (121937), during which the Mongol invasion drove many religious gures and popular leaders (like Trkmen Baba) from Iran and Central Asia to Anatolia. These new elites needed to settle and mark their places on the territory; toward this end, they favored the production of hagiographical texts (manaqib) and other writings. These texts (including futuwwa-name [accounts of craftsmen guilds] and waqf documents) are the corpus of primary sources used by the author to reconstitute interpretative communities (dened as a social milieu organized around a common understanding of a script). From Wolpers study of the evolution of urban space before and after the key event of 1240the Baba Rasul revoltand from the detailed architectural description of the dervish lodges, we come to understand how Su building in the period under consideration modied structures of the previous era, during which Christian and Trkmen populations lived outside the city walls. We learn how the Sus formed educational or charitable institutions inside the city, institutions restricted to the members of the new Seljuk urban elite and visiting dignitaries. Further, we observe a general evolution in the arrangement of the city, from a single center to multiple centers. As these dervish lodges attracted more and more street trafc, they began to create and control their own market region, leaving the market near the main mosque and the lower citadel simply as the shadow of a centralized Seljuk city that no longer existed, Wolper writes (48). Through several examples, the author shows the way in which the architecture of the dervish lodges increased their attendance and popularity, not to mention their socioreligious role in the city; they gradually gained in independence, size, and complexity. Dervish lodges and dervish textsbecame places and opportunities of Muslim-Christian interactions, notably through merchants and craftmens associations forming new types of communities (see the case of the akhis [traditional craftsmen guilds in Anatolia]). The volume ends with an interesting evocation of the Danishmendname epic, in which religious buildings play both narrative and symbolic roles. Wolpers book clearly delineates the creation of a Su urbanity, that is, the progressive transformation of both urban space and urban life. Scattered throughout the city, Su places became truly inseparable from the city and its dwellers. This is, I believe, a valuable conclusion, contributing to what I would call a new history of Susm. Nevertheless, I will express two regrets: one regarding Wolpers sources, the other her case studies. Regarding sources, Wolper restricts herself to defter (register) excerpts and disregards other archive materials such as local chronicles. I would have expected more comparisons between hagiographical legends and historical testimony from chronicles, but this does not seriously affect the thesis

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of the book. More problematic is the lack of attention to smaller, secondary buildings and institutions, especially madrasas and khanqahs (Su lodges), which were numerous and played an important role. Then as now, a number of smaller religious institutions took prominent positions in the spiritual market alongside their larger counterparts, and the historian of Susm cannot dispense with meticulous analysis and detailed examination of these smaller institutions. Such is the method favored by Dina Le Gall in A Culture of Susm: Naqshbandis in the Ottoman World, 14501700. The author applies a microhistorical model, attentive to small facts and gures; she considers Susm as a prism for broader historical phenomena such as geopolitics, teaching styles, intellectual tastes, and patronage. The neglected early Ottoman Naqshbandiyya (ca. 1450 1700) appears as a key issue; it shows that premodern Susm is not identiable with its manifestation in the nineteenth century and that to regard the two as fundamentally alike implies a vision tainted by retrospect. The books argument is drawn from a huge and varied corpus of primary sources mostly manuscripts in Ottoman, Persian, and Arabic. The rst part deals with the geographical expansion of the Naqshbandi Sus from their homeland in Central Asia to Ottoman lands (especially Istanbul) and eventually to the Balkans, Anatolia (with the case of Shaykh Mahmud Urmavi), and Arab lands. The second part of the book examines three different issues: the Naqshbandi construction of orthodoxy; their propensity for political activism in defense of the sharia-based order; and the network of transmission and integration of a Perso-Islamic literary and intellectual culture. To describe the process of the Naqshbandi dissemination from Central Asia to the Ottoman provinces, the author evokes several gures and describes their concrete circumstances. Rather than being due to changing geopolitical circumstances, this dispersal reveals a grand missionary ambition by the Samarkandi shaykh Khwaja Ubaydullah Ahrar, who brought to the tariqa new political and organizational features. Consequently, the question of the reasons and motivations of the Western movement of the Transoxianian Naqshbandiyya from Ahrar proves to be very interesting. The author explains that pilgrimage, study, and propagating the tariqa (23) do not explain everything; the choice of a western direction toward Ottoman lands remains somehow mysterious, and further research will be necessary. Istanbul represents one of the main geographical sites for the development of the Naqshbandis. There, under the patronage of the Ottoman sultans, Transoxianian shaykhs and their Ottoman successors (such as Mahmud elebi and Hekim elebi) directed tekkes (Su lodges) and gained numerous disciples from the different strata of Istanbulite society. They also undertook their activities in private residences or mosques. Here again, Le Gall provides us with detailed descriptions. The order appears as an urban and intellectual one: among the Naqshbandi followers, one nds, with different levels of afliation, clerics, low- or mid-ranking professors, judges, and law students but also sultans, Ottoman ofcials, members of the court, and representatives of the broader urban population. The author explains how the order established itself principally in cities rather than in rural areas: in the Balkans, for example, Abdullah Ilahi and his disciples settled in large cities like Edirne, Skopje, and Sarajevo. Although the author focuses on just one lineage in Anatolian Kurdistan, the Urmavis, the Naqshbandi was a spectacularly widespread movement there making that place an exception. In Arabia, Mecca,


Toward a New History of Susm

Medina, Damascus, and Jerusalem were the main homes for the Naqshbandiyya, though the tariqa remained less developed here than in the other places. Trying to determine the spiritual features distinctive to the early Ottoman Naqshbandiyya (in contrast to its later manifestation, the Mujaddidi movement), Le Gall makes two points about the behavior of Naqshbandi followers: rst, their sober devotional regimen (silent dhikr [recollection of God], rabita [bond between shaykh and disciple], muraqaba [contemplation]) does not imply a demysticized, despiritualized, starkly orthodox tariqa (120). Second, these Naqshbandis developed a great tradition of diffusion and commentary of Ibn al-Arabis thought; they propagated the master works of the Shaykh al-Akbar, commented on them, and composed apologia. From a political perspective, the Ottoman Naqshbandis, in contrast to their Ahrarian model, were not involved in dynastic or factional conicts [and did not] inuence crucial political decisions; they stood within the traditional mold of Su shaykhs, extending spiritual advice, guidance, and sustenance to the powerful in exchange for patronage (139). Here Le Gall challenges the thesis according to which the Naqshbandiyya were instrumentalized by the Ottomans in anti-Shii, anti-Safavid, or anti-Anatolian heterodox campaigns. Rather than focusing on the politics and patronage attributed to the tariqa by the modern mind, the book emphasizes the cultural and organizational patterns of the Ottoman Naqshbandiyya and other premodern tariqas, which appear, consequently, as instruments of cultural transmission and integration. In short, the Ottoman Naqshbandiyya, while preserving tenuous organizational modes (such as the central role of the shaykh, the limited number of disciples, nonhereditary succession, and unique afliation), was as loose, uninstitutionalized, and decentralized as it was widespread (169). Ready to travel long distances, capable of crossing linguistic and cultural barriers to appeal to diverse audiences, well versed in intellectual tasks (copy, translation, composition), the Sus acted as agents of a Perso-Islamic literary culture. Such is the note on which the book ends. To go further, I would add that this prociency at translation hints at many other skills and activities among the Sus. To be a Su meant any number of different things, and we have to be careful not to consider Sus and Su orders from within the narrow paradigm of monks and monastic orders. Of course, there were ascetics, full-time mystics, and Su religious ofciants, but for most, being a Su involved accepting a model or ideal rather than claiming a title or status. Consequently, in early Ottoman Anatolia, Susm represented the most popular model of pious life and as such inuenced deeply the behaviors, ethical commitments, and modes of thought among the masses; indeed, the inuence of Susm reached proportions that we can hardly imagine today, eighty years after the ban of the Su brotherhoods by Mustafa Kemal in 1925. Le Galls monograph achieves its historiographical goals. Thanks to this new research, we know now that early Ottoman Naqshbandiyya history was unlike its later, less political, properly intellectual evolution. However, it seems to me that Le Galls thesis and antithesis share a presuppositionthat the modern history of the Naqshbandiyya is best considered as a two-stage sequence, that is, the spread of the Transoxianian Naqshbandiyya (fteenth through seventeenth centuries) and the revival through the Mujaddidiyya (eighteenth through twentieth centuries). Yet the book opens the possibility of a more complex history, with a continuation

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of the old Ahrari Naqshbandi tradition (via Ahmad Kasani) parallel to the development of a modern, reformed Naqshbandiyya. If a question remains unanswered in Le Galls book, it is whether, in the Ottoman Turkish context, this Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya was as reformed as we might think. Halil Ibrahim Vimveks Osmanlda Mceddidlik XII/XVIII. Yzl (The Mujaddidiyya in the Ottoman Empire, Twelfth/Eighteenth Century) gives us the makings of an answer. This thick volume provides a new image of the Ottoman Mujaddidiyya and focuses on its formative period, the eighteenth century, which is usually obscured by the attention paid to the nineteenth century. The thesis of this erudite Turkish monograph is basically that the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya introduced in Anatolia between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuriesmodied deeply and durably the religious and spiritual landscape of the area.6 Moreover, the author proposes to go beyond the usual historical debate on the Mujaddidis, which admits only two alternatives: either the Mujaddidis are conceived as a passive communityas it is claimed by Suraiya Faroqhi about the eighteenthcentury Mujaddidis, or as a rebel groupaccording to smet Zeki Eyuboglu (25, my translation here and henceforth; see also 8182). Instead of choosing one over the other, the book furnishes us with a view of the Mujaddidiyya from the inside, through what are essentially shaykhs and khalifas bio-bibliographies, emphasizing practical and doctrinal Mujaddidi features (techniques of dhikr, commenting on Naqshbandi texts, etc.). After the introduction recalls the history of the Naqshbandiyya order in four periods (here the absence of references to Fritz Meier, Jrgen Paul, and Devin DeWeese is regrettable), the rst part of the book presents the successive Ottoman Mujaddidi great masters. One must consider, rst of all, the movements founders, Muhammed Murd- Buhr (d. 1720) and Yekdest Ahmed-i Cryn (d. 1708).7 Their biographies are particularly important to understanding the history of the Anatolian Mujaddidiyya. About the rst, we learn that right after his religious formation in Samarkand, he was initiated into the Mujaddidiyya in India; he accomplished the hajj twice, spent some years in Syria, and arrived in Istanbul in 1681, where he attracted lots of disciples from the highest religious clergy. He traveled in Anatolia, led spiritual conversations (suhba), and composed treatises in Arabic and Ottoman Turkish. Here I would add two short comments regarding religious geography: again, Central Asia appears as a native land of Turkish Susm, and Istanbul appears as a starting point for Naqshbandi activities. The author sets out the enormous expansion and inuence of Murd- Buhrs order through two lines of followers, the hereditary one (called by the nisba [family name] al-Murd) and the nonhereditary one. A second important gure of the Ottoman Mujaddidiyyathe major disciple of Yekdest Ahmed-i Crynis Mehmed Emn-i Tokd.8 It is interesting that

6 The Mujaddidiyya is a major branch of the Naqshbandiyya that spread almost all over the Muslim world. It was founded in India by Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624), also called Imam-i Rabbani al-Mujaddid alf-i Thani. 7 For all the Ottoman names cited in Vimveks book, I use the Turkish orthography. 8 Halil Ibrahim Vimvek has just published a monograph dedicated to this gure: Mehmed Emn-i Tokd Hayat ve Risaleleri [The life and the works of Mehmed Emn-i Tokd] (Istanbul: nsan Yaynlar, 2005).


Toward a New History of Susm

the shaykh was said to have signicant skills in music, which is supposedly forbidden in the Mujaddidiyya. After his spiritual initiation by Curyn in Mecca, he returned to Istanbul to propagate the tariqa, both practically and intellectually, by numerous initiations and writings. Neverthelessanother interesting point he was initiated into different tariqas and in close relations with their shaykhs. One last instructive detail is that his silsila (spiritual lineage, genealogical chain) contains a double Naqshbandi ascendancy, one Mujaddidi and the other AhrariKasani. In other words, the gure of Tokd encompasses the two major trends of the Turkish Naqshbandiyya and maintains both at the same time. The second part of the book deals with the theoretical system of the Ottoman Mujaddidis. The author succeeds at synthesizing this rich tradition of thought with the help of several explanatory tables. Here there are two main points to mention: (1) Despite the Sirhindi critics of the notion of wahdat-i wujud (unity of existence), who prefer instead the notion of wahdat-i shuhud (unity of witnessing), the author shows that several Ottoman Mujaddidis defended the former due to a long-term respect and use of Ibn al-Arabs speculative teachings; (2) besides considering the classical notions (dhikr, muraqaba, tawajjuh [concentration], rabita), the aforementioned Mehmed Emn-i Tokd elaborated a distinctive theory; the Seven Manners, as it is called (atwar-i saba in Ottoman Turkish, yedi tavr or yedi merhale in modern Turkish), stems from Khalwati Sus and corresponds to a method of spiritual progression. This whole theory, signicantly, concerns the behavior of those engaged in the spiritual path; it suggests that the ambition of Ottoman Mujjadidis was to organize according to a certain model their everyday life and, even more important, the religiosity and the spirituality of their followers. By following [this method] the teachings and the nature of Susm are realized (292), concludes the author. Finally, the great interest of the Turkish Mujjadidis in spiritual dance and music is noteworthy; it inspired important treatises, written by the same Mehmed Emn-i Tokad . We see eventually a Su order that does not absorb others but rather develops relations with them, by means of multiple initiations and doctrinal borrowings, as well as the classical teachings of Ahmad Sirhindi as they were codied in his Maktubat-i Imam-i Rabbani, insofar as this text spread all over the Muslim world and has been used and read by non-Naqshbandi Sus. Supported by a vast documentation in a very large range of manuscript sources, both Turkish and Western literature, an important consequence of this is what I shall call the Su patronage of patrimony and memory. The great variety and enormous quantity of Mujaddidi writings accumulated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries reveal a constant concern to formalize, inscribe, and preserve their tradition and knowledge. In contrast to the taste for intellectual matters that characterized the Naqshbandis, this concern is the sign of a growing awareness of time that urged the Sus to make a mysticism into a patrimony. Far beyond the aforementioned debate on the passivity/activity of the Su order, Vimvekdespite a relatively weak theoretical apparatusreconsiders Susm as a cultural factor making a profound and lasting impact on Turkish civilization.

susm in turkish civilization

In many respects, the three books reviewed here mark a step toward a new history of Turkish Susm. Providing new data, depicting new images, and dealing with

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neglected periods and aspects of Susm, they refute the common view of a decline of Susm in the modern period. Frequently referred to as nonmysticsor as traditional rather than spiritual authoritiesmodern Sus in fact remained close to their medieval ancestors. Between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, they became organized in different orders and tariqas and organized esoteric and exoteric knowledge under different schools of thought. Yet the Turkish case teaches us not to interpret this evolution as a linear movement from profusion to organization or from spontaneity to stagnation. The historian attentive to long-term processes analyzes such development in terms of a complex phenomenon of integration and accumulation. Thus, in medieval and then in modern Anatolia, Naqshbandi as well as Qadiri Suswithout regard for their tariqa afliation or their own classical corpuscontinuously glossed authoritative texts, such as Ibn al-Arabis Futuhat al-Makkiyya and Fusus al-Hikam, Jalal al-Din Rumis Mathnawi-yi Manawi, or Abd al-Karim al-Jilis Al-Insan al-Kamil. This cumulative tendency is also found in the fact of multiple initiations mentioned above. The same tendency means, in the history of Anatolia/Turkey, not only a geographical but a historical expansion of Susm. Reviewing the three volumes above, I observed how the tasawwuf imbued the Anatolian/Turkish culture to such an extent that the former became inseparable from the latter. The transformation of urban space in the medieval period was essentially the Su groups work; with the support of the local authorities, they adapted the cities organization to their social needs and religious ambitions. This is to say, the Sus adapted the cities to themselves, rather than the other way around. I would venture to add that the Sus created new rhythms, habits, and events within urban life: the city dweller close to the Su milieu in Amasya, for instance, could join its gathering every day; he could participate in its regular sessions and partly or completely follow the Su path. A dervish lodge like the Gk Madrasa lodge was an integral part of the urban landscape and was a sort of hallmark in the spatial representation of urbanites. This Su urbanity suggests a cultural arrangement whereby mysticism is intimately related to common occupations and activities. In this respect, the case of the akhi craftmens corporation perfectly embodies this synthesis: using Su symbols and rituals, the novice was initiated and integrated to the guild for life, and the fulllment of his occupation, from then on, took on a spiritual signicance. Here Susm provided a religious, even an esoteric, dimension to secular practice. Therefore, it is not surprising that, during the fteenth century, in the same city of Amasya, the shaykh Rukn al-Din Bukhari built the rst Anatolian Naqshbandi lodge. Not surprising either is the fact that, in the same place, the Naqshbandi Ya Vadud Tekke, erected in 1453, continued to function into the nineteenth century (see Le Gall, 6364). Across the Seljukid and Ottoman periods, there is a continuity of Susm in Anatolian cities. The example of Amasya suggests that, beyond their thirst for presence and power, Sus sought to take advantage of the exchanges, social diversities, and other distinctive aspects of cities. More than instruments of cultural transmission, SusNaqshbandis in particularwere models of spiritual transmission. By this I mean that mystics, partaking of cities dynamism, represented models of piety and good citizenship. For the masses and the elite as well, notwithstanding the relevant religious controversies, dervishism was an attractive and desirable accomplishment. And if not everyone was Su, everyone


Toward a New History of Susm

knew what a Su was and was, somehow or other, in contact with Sus and Susm. The eighteenth century might correspond to a critical period in the sense that Susmin Ottoman Anatolia and elsewhereexperimented with ways of organization and trends of thought that responded to a changing context. This period has been described by several historians as a general orthodox revival and as the time of neo-Susm. Authors like Fazlur Rahman and John Voll suggested that under the pressure of reform tendencies in premodern Muslim societies, a reformist style of Susm arose, characterized by strong modes of organization, the rejection of popular or ecstatic practices, and a Sunni orthodoxy. Without reopening this old debate, I note that the Turkish case hardly corresponds to this description; rather it affords a specic situation of tasawwuf.9 Certainly, the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya, par excellence, defended an Islamic orthodoxy as well as a sober mysticism. However, the main concern of the Ottoman Mujaddidis seems to be directly related to their own tradition and, more precisely, to its preservation rather than its reformation. Throughout Anatolia, Mujaddidi communities zealously endeavored to integrate not only Naqshbandi and other classical Su knowledge but also local hagiographies, poetry, and legends with their spiritual teachings and experiences. They did this through collectively reading, commenting on, and interpreting texts and also through copying and amassing an enormous number of writings. The great use of the Ottoman language was central to the pursuit of this intellectual passion. The project was to constitute a religious patrimony and to preserve a spiritual memory, almost as though the Ottoman Sus realized how deeply Susm, bringing a whole culture, would inuence Turkish civilization. Far from esoterica for elite circles, Susm was an ordinary fact for nativesnotwithstanding the fact that it would later become a clich for Westerners.

Alexandre Papas cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris

9 On the debate, see John O. Voll, Renewal and Reform in Islamic History: Tajdid and Islah, in Voices of Resurgent Islam, ed. John C. Esposito (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 32 47; Nehemia Levtzion and John O. Voll, eds., Eighteenth-Century Renewal and Reform in Islam (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1987). For critics of the notion of neo-Susm, see R. S. OFahey and Bernd Radtke, Neo-Susm Reconsidered, Islam: Zeitschrift fr Geschichte und Kultur des Orients 70, no. 1 (1993): 5287; Bernd Radtke, Ijtihad and neo-Susm, Asiatische Studien, no. 3 (1994): 90921, and Susm in the Eighteenth Century: An Attempt at a Provisional Appraisal, Die Welt des Islams, no. 3 (1996): 32664.