Women, pilgrimage and nation building in South Asian Sufism

Came across this interesting abstract of a paper entitled Beyond division: Women, pilgrimage and nation building in South Asian Sufism authored by Pnina Werbner. Can’t wait to read it.

Unlike other religious movements, Sufi orders rarely preach ideologies of either nationalism or religious nationalism. Sufi annual pilgrimages and festivals are open and inclusive: they cut across provincial and even national borders. They gather followers traversing vast distances across the entire country to the order’s centre. This feature of movement in and across space, and of gendered, ethnic, regional and caste mixing, the paper argues, creates networks of devotees criss-crossing Pakistan, connecting villages, workplaces and large organisations. Pilgrims come together in amity, and in doing so create the grounds for nation building. Women take an active part in these pilgrimages and celebrations, and visit the lodge as supplicants seeking help for a variety of afflictions. In connecting people and spaces across the whole of Pakistan, rich and poor, men and women, Punjabis, Sindhis, Pathans, Baluchis and Muhajirs, Sufi orders thus reach out beyond the local to create the performative and embodied experience of moral relations between strangers, arguably the essential pre-condition and grounds of nationhood, without explicitly articulating ideologies of nationalism or of a global.

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