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Khatun, Amina (2020) Muslim Women Mystics: The faith stories of contemporary British Muslim women in the Ba’ Alawī Ṭarīqa. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis surveys a Sufi tarīqa that has a wide and expanding outreach in the British context and globally. The key aim of this thesis has been to represent and privilege the life histories of some British women in this tarīqa. The methodology utilised in the study is an ethnographic inquiry into the women’s lives using the life-history approach. The research involved following the lives of six women across the country and from all walks of life to provide a nuanced and rich picture of life in the ṭarīqa in Britain and its global connectivity. The conceptual framework deployed engaged the work by Saba Mahmood (2005) on agency and piety, her critics and arrives at its own position. Post-colonial and diaspora studies were used for analysis on identity and integration, namely those by Homi Bhabha. Global Sufism and Sufi revivalism are also relevant theories for understanding the missionary activity of the Sufi ṭarīqa and its ability to remain relevant in the modern world. Islamic and Muslim feminist discourses are also examined against the women’s narratives in order to represent and privilege the feminine voice in the tarīqa. The study reports that the Ba’ Alawī ṭarīqa was selected by the women mainly due to the charisma of the shaykhs, who display a warm, gentle and emotional orientation, particularly towards women. The alignment with a traditional Sufi order is problematised and it is shown that the women in the thesis share diverse perspectives on feminism and empowerment. Present day injustices and marginalisation of Muslim women show that they experience two patriarchies, the first from mainstream British society and secondly, from that of Muslim men. An alternative conception of Muslim masculinity is, thus, called for in this study.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Katherine Zebiri
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2021 17:25

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