Realizing Islam: The Tijaniyya in North Africa and the Eighteenth-Century Muslim World (The University of North Carolina Press 2020) by Zachary Valentine Wright (Associate Professor in Residence in History and Religious Studies at Northwestern University in Qatar) maps the intellectual history of the largest Sufi order in West and North Africa, the Tijaniyya. Using diverse primary and archival sources, Wright locates the life, teachings, and legacies of Ahmad al-Tijani (d. 1815) within broader 18th century Islamic scholarly milieu of jurisprudence and theology and reformist and revivalist discourses, as well as the social and political climate of European colonialism and Ottoman control. Here, it was the methodology of tahqiq, or verification, as it was formulated through visionary encounters of the Prophet Muhammad and al-Tijani, that led to the formative epistemologies that defined the Muhammadan Path (tariqa Muhammadiyya) of the Tijaniyya. This path which is centered on the living legacy of Prophet Muhammad then defined Tijaniyya conceptualizations of the human condition and the shaykh-murid (master-disciple relationship), but also metaphysical, esoteric, and theological ideas and practices, such as notions of sainthood. Overall, the book offers fresh insights into the wide intellectual and networked traditions that led to the development of Tijaniyya, Sufism, and Islam in North Africa. The book will be of interest to those who work and think on Islam in West and North Africa, but also scholars of Sufism generally. The book is open-access and available online, and so will be a useful and accessible resource for courses on Islam and Sufism.
Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. Her research areas are on contemporary Sufism in North America and South Asia. She is the author of Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism (Bloombsury Press, 2018) and a co-author of Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at [email protected]
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