Sufism: Belief and Practice

Department of Theology and Religion, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion

College of Arts and Law


Code 25106

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 10

Semester 1

Pre-requisite modules None

Other pre-requisites None

Module description

This module aims to exam the beliefs and practices of Sufi movements and tariqas. It will examine the historical context and development of Sufism as a unique esoteric and devotional movement within Islam, focussing particularly on institutional Sufism. It will examine the metaphysical teachings of the tradition, including metaphysical psychology, as they pertain to and inform the varieties of Sufi practical methodologies in the quest for authentic selfhood and a direct experience of the Divine. The relationship of Sufi teacher to initiates will be studied in this process together with how this relates to the social structure and authority of tariqas and their place in wider society. The differing esoteric perspectives and spiritual practices of a range of tariqas will be examined, within their specific geographical and historical perspectives, including both mainstream and heterodox orders, providing students with an understanding of the variety of traditions and teachings. The impact of Sufism on popular culture within Muslim contexts will also be studied. The module will provide students with the necessary knowledge and understanding to have a firm grounding in studying Sufism in the contemporary context.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, student-led seminars, class discussion.