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Soldiers of God

Title: Soldiers of God: Sūfism, Islamist Activism, and the Tradition of Comanding Right and Forbidding Wrong.

Inaccessible until May 8, 2020 due to copyright restrictions.

Corrected title: Soldiers of God: Sūfism, Islamist Activism, and the Tradition of Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong.
Name(s): Houston, John Samuel, author
Kelsay, John, 1953-, professor directing dissertation
Milligan, Jeffrey Ayala, university representative
Boyle, Helen N., committee member
Twiss, Sumner B., committee member
Gaiser, Adam R., 1971-, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Department of Religion, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Doctoral Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2017
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (209 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In this project, I contribute to ongoing debates regarding proper conceptions of “political Islam” or “Islamism” by bringing greater attention to the roles that Islamic mysticism, or Ṣūfism (taṣawwuf), has played in shaping theories and practices of virtue and character formation in Islamist movements. I do so by undertaking a genealogical study of the discourse concerning the practice of “commanding right and forbidding wrong” in classical Islamic thought as well as in that of modern Sunnī Islamism. Figures such as medieval scholarly giant al-Ghazālī (d. 505/111), Ḥasan al-Bannāʾ (d. 1949), founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Saʿīd Ḥawwa (d. 1989), a leading thinker of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and ʿAbd al-Salam Yassine (d. 2012), who established the Moroccan Justice and Spirituality Association, all appropriated the discourse of commanding and forbidding in differing ways and for differing reasons to put forward activist visions of Islam; however, they all stressed the need for spiritual and ethical formation (tarbīya) and relied on Ṣūfism to accomplish this. Attention to the ways in which this “Ghazalian” tradition of Islamist thought and practice adopted Ṣūfī organizational structures and models of ethical formation challenges conceptual frameworks which have described Islamist groups primarily as products of modernity or as political ideologies. Additionally, study of this Ṣūfi-centric Islamist tradition offers a contrast to scholarship which has focused almost exclusively on Islamism’s exoteric scripturalism and fixation on the law. Such insights are crucial when attempting to understand and engage Islamist actors for purposes ranging from scholarly enquiry to cross-cultural understanding to policy formulation.
Identifier: FSU_SUMMER2017_Houston_fsu_0071E_13955 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in partial fulfillment of the 2017.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester 2017.
Date of Defense: March 20, 2017.
Keywords: al-Banna, al-Ghazali, Islamist activism, Sufism, virtue ethics
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: John Kelsay, Professor Directing Dissertation; Jeffrey Ayala Milligan, University Representative; Helen Boyle, Committee Member; Sumner B. Twiss, Committee Member; Adam Gaiser, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Islam and culture
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Houston, J. S. (2017). Soldiers of God: Sūfism, Islamist Activism, and the Tradition of Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong. Retrieved from