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Book Cover for: Sufis in Medieval Baghdad: Agency and the Public Sphere in the Late Abbasid Caliphate, Atta Muhammad

Sufis in Medieval Baghdad: Agency and the Public Sphere in the Late Abbasid Caliphate

Atta Muhammad

This book examines the political and social activities of Sufis in Baghdad in the period 1000-1258. It argues that Sufis played an important role in creating a public sphere that existed between ordinary subjects and the government. Drawing on Arabic sources and secondary literature, it explores the role of Sufis and their institutions including their ribats or lodge houses, from the use of Sufis as political ambassadors to their role in redistributing charity to the poor. The book reveals the role of Sufism in structuring a wide range of social and political arrangements in this period. It also reveals the role of ordinary, non-elite actors who, by taking part in Sufi-affiliated religious or professional associations, were able take part in public life in late-Abbasid Baghdad.

Book Details

  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris & Company
  • Publish Date: May 29th, 2025
  • Pages: 192
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.21in - 6.14in - 1.00in - 1.00lb
  • EAN: 9780755647620
  • Categories: Islam - SufiMiddle East - General

About the Author

Atta Muhammad is Lecturer at Talim-ul-Islam College, Pakistan. He holds PhD from the University of Leeds, UK.

Praise for this book

"A fascinating study and snapshot into civic life in medieval Baghdad." --Middle East Monitor

"In this first comprehensive study of Sufism in medieval Baghdad, Atta Muhammad offers an insightful interrogation of the pivotal role played by Sufis, who worked for the common good alongside members of various segments of society, in the public sphere of the city during the late Abbasid period. Rich in substance and theory, this book advances our understanding of the concept, creation, nature, and operation of a vibrant and inclusive public sphere in medieval Islamic societies and the significance of Sufi agency therein beyond the temporal and spatial specifics." --Daphna Ephrat, Professor of Islamic and Near Eastern History, The Open University of Israel

"This is an interesting and, in many ways, original book. It feeds into the growing body of literature which pushes back against the "orientalist" idea that medieval Muslim rulers were absolute and arbitrary dictators who had no sustained or fruitful interactions with their subjects. Instead Atta Muhammad shows how the Sufis were among a number of groups who articulated and represented popular concerns and, at least on some occasions, stood up to and confronted rulers and their ill-disciplined soldiery." --Hugh Kennedy, Professor of Arabic, SOAS University of London, UK