Women and Sufism in South Asia: A Survey of Historical Trends
Keywords:Women Sufis, Sufism, South Asia, Gender, Historical Trends, Hagiographical Silence, Tasawuff, Sufi Literature
The historical evidence suggests that women and men have been considered equal in the path of Tasawuff (Sufism). However, there are few studies that documents and analyse women's presence in South Asian Sufism. This "hagiographical silence" (historically) about Sufi women in South Asia raises questions and needs scholarly attention to address the gaps in the literature. The article explores some of the trends present and related to women and Sufism in South Asia in the existing literature. Drawing on historical sources (secondary material) and employing thematic analysis, the article examines significant trends in women and Sufism in South Asia. These multiple trends include lack of historical evidence, less documentation about Sufi women, paradoxical imagination about women, and gendered roles, all of which point out to the specific context and history of South Asian Sufi culture. The paper problematizes the assumption that Sufism (in general) has been open, inclusive, and accommodative to women and issues of gender. This study also analyses the data and the historical context of how women have been imagined and treated within South Asian Sufism. However, this research is not constructing any generalization and is presenting the analysis within a specific historical and cultural context–South Asia.
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