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The Popularisation of Sufism in Ayyubid and Mamluk Egypt, 1173-1325$
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Nathan Hofer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694211

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694211.001.0001

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Sufi Activists and Enforcers

Sufi Activists and Enforcers

(p.202) 8 Sufi Activists and Enforcers
The Popularisation of Sufism in Ayyubid and Mamluk Egypt, 1173-1325

Nathan Hofer

Edinburgh University Press

The Sufis of Upper Egypt had a troubled relationship with the state and its representatives. As we have seen, Ayyubid and Mamluk military elites typically sought the support of the ʿulamāʾ– Including Sufis–as part of a broader strategy of legitimation and rule. This was true as much as of the Sufis at the Saʿīd al-Suʿadāʾ as of the nascent Shādhilīya, although the latter were less amenable to outright sponsorship. However, these state-funded efforts seem to have been restricted primarily to the urban centres of Cairo and Alexandria. Upper Egypt lacked state-sponsored organisations such as madrasas and khānqāhs during this period, and the Sufis and their allies in the region filled the ideological vacuum. Both Jean-Claude Garcin and Linda Northrup have pointed to the relative independence from the state of pious movements in Upper Egypt.1 It was this independence that allowed them to take on ‘the role of critics of [the state’s] moral behavior’.2 Indeed, part of what seems to have drawn the Sufis of Upper Egypt together and precipitated their particular articulation of Sufi authority was their dissatisfaction with and critique of the state’s inability to regulate the moral economy of the Íaʿīd. The resultant collectivity of Upper-Egyptian Sufis shared five interrelated qualities that clearly set them apart from other contemporary Sufi groups.

Keywords:   Sufi Activists, Enforcers, Upper Egypt, State

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