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Sacred Spaces

Sacred Spaces

A Journey with the Sufis of the Indus

Samina Quraeshi

ISBN 9780873658591

Publication date: 03/31/2010

Sufism, the mystical path of Islam, is a key feature of the complex Islamic culture of South Asia today. Influenced by philosophies and traditions from other Muslim lands and by pre-Islamic rites and practices, Sufism offers a corrective to the image of Islam as monolithic and uniform.

In Sacred Spaces, Pakistani artist and educator Samina Quraeshi provides a locally inflected vision of Islam in South Asia that is enriched by art and by a female perspective on the diversity of Islamic expressions of faith. A unique account of a journey through the author’s childhood homeland in search of the wisdom of the Sufis, the book reveals the deeply spiritual nature of major centers of Sufism in the central and northwestern heartlands of South Asia. Illuminating essays by Ali S. Asani, Carl W. Ernst, and Kamil Khan Mumtaz provide context to the journey, discussing aspects of Sufi music and dance, the role of Sufism in current South Asian culture and politics, and the spiritual geometry of Sufi architecture.

Quraeshi relies on memory, storytelling, and image making to create an imaginative personal history using a rich body of photographs and works of art to reflect the seeking heart of the Sufi way and to demonstrate the diversity of this global religion. Her vision builds on the centuries-old Sufi tradition of mystical messages of love, freedom, and tolerance that continue to offer the promise of building cultural and spiritual bridges between peoples of different faiths.


  • Sacred Spaces is an ambitious attempt at proposing religious tolerance in today’s Pakistan by recalling to the core values of Sufism, which is all-inclusive in nature. Quraeshi delves into history to allay the nationalist and fundamentalist contentions of the country’s hard-line elements, prescribing sermons of the thirteenth century poet Jalaluddin Rumi, among other saints from foregone eras… It includes a dramatic collection of photo montages and calligraphic work of the shrines, the architecture and the people who inhabit these religious centres, with a handful of essays introspecting on the centuries-old traditions of the mystical messages of the Sufis.

    —Jaideep Sen, Time Out Bengaluru


  • Samina Quraeshi is Gardner Fellow and Visiting Artist, Peabody Museum, Harvard University.
  • Ali S. Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, with a joint appointment in the Committee on the Study of Religion and the Departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Sanskrit and Indian Studies; and African and African-American Studies, at Harvard University.
  • Carl W. Ernst is William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Kamil Khan Mumtaz is an architect living in Pakistan.

Book Details

  • 296 pages
  • Peabody Museum Press
  • With Ali S. Asani, Carl W. Ernst, and Kamil Khan Mumtaz