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The regular seminar "Migration studies": Mikkel Rytter “The Power of Love: Visibility and Mobility among Sufi Muslims at the Margins of the Danish Welfare State”

On October 9, 2018 was held a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies" together with the “International Seminar Series in Sociology” organized by the Higher School of Economics School of Sociology and the Institute of Social Policy. Mikkel Rytter, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology (Aarhus University, Denmark) presented her recent research “The Power of Love: Visibility and Mobility among Sufi Muslims at the Margins of the Danish Welfare State”.  

This paper explores contested notions of visibility among the followers of the Danish branch of the global Sufi tariqa called Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Saifi. On one hand being visible (in acts and physical appearance) in specific ways, is a necessary element in the spiritual progression and transformation of the devoted Sufi murids. On the other hand, the visible Muslim (wearing niqab or growing a beard) has in recent years been the target of political contestation and intervention. Islam and Muslims are in many respects cast as the usual suspects, referred to the margins of the secular Danish welfare state and the social imaginary of the nation. Despite these developments, the Saifis have their own agenda, a revolutionary project where they strive to transform themselves and their surroundings by the power of divine love. This paper discusses the connection between contested visibility and emic notions of spatial and spiritual mobility among the Saifiyya tariqa in Denmark.