Denison Journal of Religion


This article considers the ways in which Sufism has altered since entering the American context. While in Islamic countries, Sufism's atypical rituals and interpretations of the Qur'an often made it a target of mainstream Islam. Once Sufism arrived in the United States, however, it rapidly began to change as practitioners no longer had to consider the pressures of a largely Islamic community. This does not mean, however, that there is no pluralism within Sufism in the United States. While early generations of immigrant Sufis remain more strongly tied to a traditional Islamic heritage, many of the Euro-American converts claim no connection to Islam. In the U.S., Sufis have frequently altered many traditional rituals to embrace some kind of Western scientific thought. For instance, while dream interpretation has long been a spiritual matter in the Sufi faith, it now has strong overtones of psychotherapeutic thought. The author makes it clear that this development cannot be perceived as a value judgment. The changes that have occurred in Sufism since its arrival to America have neither improved nor destroyed the faith. Very simply, the American context is vastly different than the contexts in which Sufism initially developed, and this new context will continue to shape and reshape Sufism today.