This book offers an examination of the sources and evolution of personal authority in one Islamic society. Sufi Heirs of the Prophet explores the multifaceted development of personal authority in Islamic societies by tracing the transformation of one mystical sufi lineage in colonial India, the Naqshbandiyya. Arthur F. Buehler isolates four sources of personal authority evident in the practices of the Naqshbandiyya - lineage, spiritual traveling, status as a Prophetic exemplar, and the transmission of religious kwledge - to demonstrate how Muslim religious leaders have exercised charismatic leadership through their association with the most compelling of personal Islamic symbols, the Prophet Muhammad. Buehler clarifies the institutional structure of sufism, analyzes overlapping configurations of personal sufi authority, and details how and why revivalist Indian Naqshbandis abandoned spiritual practices that had sustained their predecessors for more than five centuries. He looks specifically at the role of Jamacat cAli Shah (d. 1951) to explain current Naqshbandi practices.
Arthur F. Buehler is a senior lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is senior editor of the Journal of the History of Sufism.