Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Writing and Rhetoric

Second Department

Middle East Studies

Reader 1

Glenn Simshaw

Reader 2

Heather Ferguson

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

2023 Maryam F Khan


Sufism, a practice dating back to early Islam and formalized in the twelfth century, still exists today. Adherents of Sufis often organize into orders called tariqas. My thesis serves both as a personal memoir and a case study into the role of tradition in the practice of Sufi tariqas today. As someone who grew up in a community that adhered to the practices of the Shadhili tariqa, I explore the way in which tradition was invoked by the Sufi shaykh as a form of control over his students. Reference to tradition, to the practices of Sufis of old, was integral to granting legitimacy to the Sufi shaykh's actions and his status as divinely connected. The result was a repressive system in which the shaykh's actions could not be questioned, nor his word disobeyed. More generally, the community I grew up in demonstrates the intersection between history and modernity and the fine line between community and cult.

Available for download on Monday, April 28, 2025

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.