Pilgrims of Love

Pilgrims of Love

The Anthropology of a Global Sufi Cult
Pnina Werbner
Distribution: North America
Publication date: 12/19/2016
ISBN: 978-0-253-02885-3
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“ . . . will be of interest not only to those concerned with Pakistan and the new Muslim presence in Europe, but also to those interested in an anthropological study of religion.” —Barbara Metcalf, University of California, Davis

Pnina Werbner traces the development of a Sufi Naqshbandi order founded by a living saint, Zindapir, whose cult originated in Pakistan and has extended globally to Britain, Europe, the Middle East, and southern Africa. Drawing on 12 years of fieldwork in Pakistan and Great Britain, she elucidates the complex organization of Sufi orders as regional and transnational cults, and examines how such cults are manifested through ritual action and embodied in sacred mythology and global diasporas. A focus of the study is the key event in the order’s annual ritual cycle, a celebration in which tens of thousands of people gather at the saint’s lodge in Pakistan and in the streets of Britain. Werbner challenges accepted anthropological and sociological truths about Islam and modernity, and reflects on her own role as ethnographic observer. Pilgrims of Love is a major contribution to our understanding of disaporic Islamic practices, highlighting the vitality of Sufi orders in the postcolonial world.

Author Bio

Pnina Werbner is Professor of Anthropology at Keele University. She is author of The Migration Process: Capital, Gifts, and Offerings Among British Pakistanis and co-editor of Embodying Charisma: Saints, Cults and Muslim Shrines in South Asia, The Politics of Multiculturalism in the New Europe: Racism, Identity and Community, Debating Cultural Hybridity: Multi-Cultural Identities and the Politics of Anti-Racism, and Women, Citizenship, and Difference.


"This text is a much-needed examination of both the European and South Asian branches of a contemporary, Naqshbandiyya-affiliated group focused on the 'Sufi cult' of Zindapir (d. 1999), which spread from its original location in the Northwest Frontier region of Pakistan throughout both Pakistan and England and beyond." —Journal of the American Oriental Society

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Table of Contents

Preliminary :

Introduction: Sufism as a transnational religious movement

1. Stamping the earth with the name of Allah: zikr, julus, and the sacralising of space

2. Karamat: the legendary constitution of a living saint

3. Wilayat: axis of the world

4. Langar: pilgrimage, sacred exchange and perpetual sacrifice

5. Murids of the Saint: migration, occupational guilds and redemptive sociality

6. Khalifas: lifeworks on the Sufi Path—the Poet, the Structuralist and the Organisation Man

7. Nafs: the journey of the soul and the quest for mystical revelation

8. Sukun: demonic migrations, personal affliction and the quest for healing

9. Du'a: popular culture and powerful blessing at the 'urs

10. Ziyarat: words and deeds—the death and rebirth of a living saint

Conclusion: geographies of charisma and the limits of postmodern anthropology