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Zebiri, Kate (2012) '“Holy Foolishness” and “Crazy Wisdom” as Teaching Styles in Contemporary Western Sufism.' Religion and Literature, 44 (2). pp. 93-122.

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Abstract

This article explores the phenomena of "holy foolishness" and "crazy wisdom" in the literature of three contemporary Sufi teachers who have taught mainly in Western contexts. The teaching stories of Idries Shah and the autobiographical accounts of Reshad Feild and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee serve as paradigms of a teaching style that embodies holy madness. The article seeks to explore lines of continuity and discontinuity with classical Sufi notions of holy foolishness, and also to evaluate the source material in the light of paradigms of crazy wisdom that have emerged more recently, particularly in relation to "gurus." To this end, it begins by examining both the classical Sufi precedents for such teaching styles and more contemporary formulations of crazy wisdom, including the example of G. I. Gurdjieff, who was active in the first half of the twentieth century. It is posited that Gurdjieff had a significant though not exclusive role in the introduction of such paradigms into contemporary Sufism.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East
ISSN: 08883769
Date Deposited: 07 May 2013 08:28
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/15931

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