About the Book :
Islam is often described as abstract, ascetic, and uniquely disengaged from the human body. The author refutes this assertion in the first full study of Islamic mysticism as it relates to the human body. Examining Sufi conceptions of the body in religious writings from the late fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries AD, the author demonstrates that literature from this era often treated saints' physical bodies as sites of sacred power. Sufis and Saints' Bodies focuses on six important saints from Sufi communities in North Africa and South Asia. The author singles out a specific part of the body to which each saint is frequently associated in religious literature. The saints' bodies, the author argues, are treated as symbolic resources for generating religious meaning, communal solidarity, and the experience of sacred power. In each chapter, the author features a particular theoretical problem, drawing methodologically from religious studies, anthropology, studies of gender and sexuality, theology, feminism, and philosophy. Bringing a new perspective to Islamic studies, the author shows how an important Islamic tradition integrated myriad understandings of the body in its nurturing role in the material, social and spiritual realms.