Sufi Orders in Central Asia

Sufism Sufi orders, which assimilated aspects of native religious traditions more readily than more dogmatic versions of Islam, played a major role in the expansion of Islam into Central Asia as it did elsewhere around the world. The Sufi orders, or tariqahs, prevalent in Central Asia were the Naqshbandiyya, Suhrawardiyya and Chishtiyya. Founders Muin ad-Din Chishti in India and Baha ad-Din Naqshband (d. 1390) in central Asia, Shihab ad-Din Suhrawardi.


The Naqshbandi order is one of the most familiar Muslim religious movements 'exported' from Central Asia to other parts of the Islamic world (especially the Indian subcontinent and the Ottoman Middle East), but its history in the region where it originated is less widely known; from its origins as an apparent 'reformist' movement in the context of Mongol-ruled Central Asia to its reemergence in post-Soviet times, however, the Naqshbandiyah has played important roles in Central Asian religious, political, economic, and cultural history.

Introductory lectures will situate the Naqshbandiya's origins in the context of Sufism's history in Central Asia and in the context of Mongol rule and the challenges--as well as opportunities--it presented to Muslim socieyt; the roles of early figures such as Baha' ad-Din Naqshband, Khoja Muhammad Parsa, and Khoja Ahrar will then be considered in depth, as will the Naqshbandiya's profile in terms of Sufi doctrine and practice, and the competitive environments in which the Naqshbandiya came to dominate other Sufi communities in Central Asia. The subsequent history of the Naqshbandi communities centered in various regions of Central Asia will be traced, and special attention will be devoted to the Mujaddidi impact on the Central Asian Naqshbandiya in the 18th century; the fate of the Naqshbandiya in the 19th and 20th centuries will be the focus of concluding lectures.