Although Sufi characters - saints, dervishes, wanderers - occur regularly in modern Arabic literature, a select group of novelists seeks to interrogate Sufism as a system of thought and language. In the work of writers like Naguib Mahfouz, Gamal Al-Ghitany, Tahar Ouettar, Ibrahim Al-Koni, Mahmud Al-Mas'adi and Tayeb Salih we see a strong intertextual relationship with the Sufi masters of the past, including Al-Hallaj, Ibn Arabi, Al-Niffari and Al-Suhrawardi. This relationship becomes a means of interrogating the limits of the creative self, individuality, rationality and the manifold possibilities offered by literature, seeking in a dialogue with the mystical heritage a way of preserving a self under siege from the overwhelming forces of oppression and reaction that have characterized the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Sufism in the Contemporary Arabic Novel
Edinburgh University Press
Mind, Body & Spirit