Magic and the Occult in Islam and Beyond

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Sufi magic

Sufism is a religious movement that involves belief in mystical experiences, which are believed to enable Muslims to attain nearness to God, or Allah. This is a fundamental component of Islamic beliefs, although it can also be practiced by non-Muslims.

Sufi magic  is an art of focusing the human mind to an extreme intensity, often by using props and ritual. However, the mental focus required for magic is extremely dangerous and can have severe consequences on the body and soul.

The occult has been associated with terrorism and violence. Sufi leaders, communities, and sites have been targeted by extremist groups in different regions of the world. Sarah Feuer (Yale) argues that Islamic Sufism is one of the antidotes to these violent extremist ideologies and acts.

Sufi Magic and the Law of Attraction: Creating Your Own Reality

Mysteries of nature, modern enchantments, and the curse words of colorful incantations were among the many topics addressed in the two-day symposium “Magic and the Occult in Islam and Beyond,” held March 2-3 at Yale University. Organized by Travis Zadeh, the event brought together an international array of scholars with diverse areas of expertise.

The papers and discussions that ensued addressed the place of the occult in Islamic thought and the modern challenges of thinking in scholarly terms with alternative and contested epistemologies. The symposium was held in conjunction with an exhibition of archival materials that explore the history of occult learning, including the codicological traditions associated with shamanic practices and spells. These codicological sources, Zadeh argued, provide crucial resources for addressing major lacunae in contemporary historiography of Islamic thought.

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