Reviews

This article is useful in one respect:  It gives a detailed biography of one “traditional” Afghan Naqshbandi shaykh, a Pathan called Saifur Rahman (written like that and called Saifur in much of the text), born 1928 in a village in Nangarhar province, and apparently still alive when the chronology of the article stops in the early 1980s.  We are offered a glimpse into the career of this man, can retrace his dealings with family and friends, and we see how important such figures were even in the second half of the twentieth century.  The latest stages recorded concern Saifur Rahman’s activity in the resistance against the Soviet invasion.  In another respect, the article is quite useless.  Wherever Lizzio addresses more general subjects within the field of the history of Sufi organisations (or just the Naqshbandiyya), he almost invariably errs.  There is no place here to point out all these errors, but a few examples are in order:  There is no basis for the statement that studies of Sufism mostly “concern the North Africa orders to the exclusion of many other regions [. . .] a legacy of French colonial research” (no title in French is quoted in the bibliography).  It is not true that “[a]lmost nothing has been written about Sufism in Afghanistan,” but Lizzio does not read German, otherwise he would know Anke von Kügelgen’s publications. (Both quotes are from the first page of the article, 163).  The bibliography seems erratic, many central works on the Mujaddidiyya, on Afghanistan from the nineteenth century, on Sufism and politics (even those written in English) are missing.  Even the massive volume on Naqshbandis: Cheminements et situation actuelle d’un ordre mystique musulman (edited by M. Gaborieau, A. Popovic and T. Zarcone, Istanbul, 1990) is missing—K. Lizzio could have found many examples of modern Naqshbandi biographies there.

Jürgen Paul, Martin Luther University, Halle
CER: I-5.3.D-478