Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 29, No 2 (2016)

‘This is the age of women’: Legitimizing Female Authority in Contemporary Turkish Sufism

Anna Neubauer
Issued Date: 18 Nov 2016


Although Sufism has generally shown a greater openness to women than other forms of Islam, women in position of power have been relatively rare in its history. It is often in the informal sphere, where authority is linked to sainthood and charisma, that female leadership developed. Drawing on the example of Cemalnur Sargut, a female spiritual guide who is the head of a branch of the Rifāʿiyya in Istanbul, this article examines the possibilities for women to gain access to spiritual leadership with male and female disciples in contemporary Sufism. Sargut’s originality lies in the fact that she claims a semi-formal authority for women. The paper analyses how Sargut and her predecessor, also a woman, have engaged in interpretations of the history of Sufism and of their own group to legitimize their authority.

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DOI: 10.1558/jasr.v29i2.30982


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