By the beard of the Prophet: Imitation, reflection and world transformation among Sufis in Denmark

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This article discusses the significance of growing large beards among the young Danish Pakistani members of a newly established Naqshbandi Sufi brotherhood in Copenhagen, where the beard is not simply an imitation, but a reflection of the Prophet Muhammad. Exploring emic understandings of emulation and embodiment, the article suggests that a conceptual displacement from imitation to reflection enables our analytical framework to move beyond the ‘self-cultivation paradigm’ that has dominated recent writings in the anthropology of Islam, so that it can accommodate the numerous ways in which devoted Sufis are being acted upon; such a change in interpretation opens up for connections between this world and Elsewhere. The article further discusses how the beard is significant in the brotherhoods’ attempts at sacralization and world transformation based on nur (light) and love.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnography
Volume17
Issue2
Pages (from-to)229–249
Number of pages21
ISSN1466-1381
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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