From Shamanism to Sufism: Women, Islam and Culture in Central Asia

Bloomsbury Publishing
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Women have traditionally played a vital part in Islam throughout Central Asia - the vast area from the Caspian Sea to Siberia. With this ground-breaking and original study, Razia Sultanova examines the experiences of Muslim women in the region and the ways in which religion has shaped their daily lives and continues to do so today. 'From Shamanism to Sufism' explores the fundamental interplay between religious belief and the cultural heritage of music and dance and is the first book to focus particularly on the role of women. Based on evidence derived from over fifteen years of field work, 'From Shamanism to Sufism' shows how women kept alive traditional Islamic religious culture in Central Asia, especially through Shamanism and Sufism, even under Soviet rule when all religion was banned. Nowhere was the role of women more important than in the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan, the cradle of female Islamic culture and a centre for women's poetry and music.
This area is home to the 'Otin-Oy', a sisterhood of religiously educated women and members of Sufi orders, who take a leading part in rituals, marking the pivotal moments in the Islamic calendar and maintaining religious practices through music and ritual dances. Sultanova shows how the practice of Islam in Uzbekistan has evolved over time: long underground, there was a religious resurgence at independence in 1991, boosting national Uzbek identity and nationalism - 500 new mosques were built - only to be followed by a return to persecution by a repressive state under the banner of the 'war against terror'. Now events have come full circle, and once again covert worship by women remains crucial to the survival of traditional Muslim culture. Ritual and music are at the heart of Central Asian and Islamic culture, not only at weddings and funerals but in all aspects of everyday life. Through her in-depth analysis of these facets of cultural life within Central Asian society, 'From Shamanism to Sufism' offers important insights into the lives of the societies in the region.
The role of women has often been neglected in studies of religious culture and this book fills an enormous gap, restoring women to their rightful historical and cultural context. It will be essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in the History or Religion of Central Asia or in Global Islam.
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About the author

Razia Sultanova is Fellow at Cambridge Central Asia Forum, University of Cambridge and Director of the Centre for Central Asian music. She graduated from Uzbek State Conservatory and was awarded her PhD by Moscow State Conservatory, where she is Visiting Professor. She has also worked as a Research Fellow at Goldsmith's College and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her interests extend from Russian and Central Asian to Middle Eastern culture and music. Razia Sultanova was the editor of a special issue of the "Journal Ethnomusicology Forum," entitled "Music and Identity in Central Asia" (2005); a special issue of the journal Cahiers de musiques traditionelles entitled "Entre Femmes" (2005) and the book "Sacred Knowledge: Schools or revelation? Master-Apprentice System of Oral Transmission in the Music of the Turkic Speaking World" (2009).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing
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Published on
Jan 30, 2011
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780857719461
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Islam / Sufi
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Rumi's masterpieces have inspired countless people throughout the centuries, and Coleman Barks's exquisite renderings of the thirteenth-century Persian mystic are widely considered the definitive versions for our time. Barks's translations capture the inward exploration and intensity that characterize Rumi's poetry, making this unique voice of mysticism and desire contemporary while remaining true to the original poems. In this volume readers will encounter the essence of Sufism's insights into the experience of divine love, wisdom, and the nature of both humanity and God.

While Barks's stamp on this collection is clear, it is Rumi's voice that leaps off these pages with a rapturous power that leaves readers breathless. These poems express our deepest yearning for the transcendent connection with the source of the divine: there are passionate outbursts about the torment of longing for the beloved and the sweet delight that comes from union; stories of sexual adventures and of loss; poems of love and fury, sadness and joy; and quiet truths about the beauty and variety of human emotion. For Rumi, soul and body and emotion are not separate but are rather part of the great mystery of mortal life, a riddle whose solution is love. Above all else, Rumi's poetry exposes us to the delight that comes from being fully alive, urging us always to put aside our fears and take the risk of discovering our core self:

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