Professor Ricardo Rene of Binghamton University at IIIT: Muslim Scholars Should Focus on the Study of Sufi Orders
Professor Laremont noted the scarcity of recent scholarly writings on Sufi orders in the West, particularly in English. He indicated the need for more current research, especially by Muslim scholars. In terms of new approaches in the study of Sufi orders, he called –as a first step- for a global perspective that would account for the international and transnational nature of many Sufi orders such as the Tijaniyya and their operations in dozens of countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America.
He also called for an examination of the dialectic of mysticism and legalism in the positions and operations of Sufi orders and whether there is a contradiction in these dimensions. He observed the highly sophisticated and integrated systems of thought and action of many Sufi orders in relations to the social, cultural and political constraints they frequently encounter.
Professor Laremont called for an exploration of the relationship of Sufi orders to the State, particularly in the context of contemporary politics (since colonial rule). He also called for an examination of the ideological and political tensions between Sufi orders and other movements in the Muslim world - particularly the Salafi movement - and pointed to the tensions between the Tijaniyya and the Yani Zala in Nigeria.
He pointed to the significance of the socio economic dimension of Sufi orders and the implications of their social activity and commercial operation on their followers and society at large.
Finally, Professor Ricardo suggested a consideration of Sufi mystical writing as a bridge to connect Muslim-Christian and Muslim-Jewish dialogue, with a focus on the essential unity that transcends religious and institutional differences and barriers.