FROM PIETY TO POLITICS: The Evolution of Sufi Brotherhoods

Barbara DeGorge
New Academia Publishing, 2006
156 Pages
ISBN 0-9744934-9-X Paperback

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About the Author

Barbara DeGorge has a doctorate from St. John’s University in history with a specialization in Sufi politics. She has contributed numerous articles to this field. Dr. DeGorge is currently at the American University in Dubai, where she has pursued research on politics and the modernization in the Gulf. She will be returning to the United States to become Director of Education at the Art Institute in Washington.

About the book

The book deals with the evolution of Sufi brotherhoods and their transformation into political vehicles.  It analyzes how and why they became such significant powers in shaping the modern Islamic political scene.

Events of September 11 and the current war with Iraq have brought Islam and Muslim people to the forefront.  To the Western world, especially to Americans, Islam is an enigma. Islam is basically perceived of as a religion that impedes any type of development or modernity. However, the author argues, Islam is much more than a simple religion.  It is an encompassing way of life that addresses all modalities: social, economical and political. The political tone within Islam was one that arose in the formation of the religion.


“This book deals with an important subject—the political roles of popular Islamic associations like mystic brotherhoods and messianic-style movements. Examination of this subject is very important in the current global context where there is a high level of interest in activist Muslim organizations…Dr. DeGorge has undertaken a very ambitious and imaginative task in working to develop generalizations about the relationships between popular Islamic religious associations and politics through comparative analysis. The two cases that she has chosen—Sudan and China —are complex and significant case studies…This book provides important insights into the influence of religious associations in the political arenas of the Muslim world. Dr. DeGorge’s analysis will arouse debates and disagreements but it is carefully presented and defended.”

– John Voll, Professor of Islamic History, Georgetown University

“Dr. Barbara DeGorge demonstrates successfully the interplay between religion, politics and modernity in relation to two contrasting countries: Sudan and China…This volume will interest specialists on Sufism and political scientists interested in the relationships between the state and religious movements of protest.”

– Ahmed Al-Shahi, Research Fellow, St.Antony’s College, Oxford University