cover image Embattled Saints: My Year with the Sufis of Afghanistan

Embattled Saints: My Year with the Sufis of Afghanistan

Kenneth P. Lizzio. Quest (PGW, dist.), $18.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-8356-0923-4

After years of interest in Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, Lizzio had found the Western anthropological interpretation of this religious tradition stale and inadequate, treating it as a dead faith at best and as mere folklore at worst. When a Fulbright Commission research project provided an opportunity to visit South Asia, the author seized the chance to study the practices firsthand, converting from outside observer to initiate of a Sufi sect in Afghanistan. Now a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies, Lizzio uses his own experiences of the everyday practice of Sufism to connect the historical origins of the order with its present-day political concerns. The book’s memoir material is complemented by historical research that serves to explain Sufism’s place within the history of Islam and contextualizes the latter in relation to Judaism and Christianity. Through a blend of historical research, journalism, and autobiography, the book serves as an excellent starting point for a new understanding of contemporary Sufism. (May)