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Pious Muslims in the Making: A Closer Look at Narratives of Ascetic Conversion

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This article examines conversion narratives of some Sufi ascetics by looking closely at their life-stories as expounded in Sufi biographical traditions. How is the ascetic conversion told in the Sufi biographical sources? What kind of purpose do the ascetic conversion narratives serve? In what sense can we see the ascetic practices as an intentional language of protest and opposition? and against whom/what? These questions form the major concern of this article. Different narratives of ascetic conversion will be discussed with the intention of demonstrating the larger context of setting the boundaries of an Islamic piety within which the portrait of idealized pious Muslims is framed in the main traditions of Sufi hagiography. It is, therefore, hoped that this article will shed light on the transformation of individuals from ordinary people to idealized pious Muslims.

Affiliations: 1: Divinity School, University of Chicago


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