Sufi Healing Practices in Berlin

Nasima Selim

Sufi healing, and other secularized techniques of family resemblance, for example, Yoga, Vipassana and Qi-Gong, have entered the everyday life of the contemporary “West”. In Germany, approximately 200,000 people are claimed to be practicing Sufism. The multi-cultural city of Berlin is home to about 20 Sufi groups. Sufi healing is rarely examined in societies where Muslims are minorities, Sufis even more so. My ethnographic study addresses this gap to explore the Sufi healing practices in Berlin with a set of queries: What are the techniques, body-mind concepts and epistemologies of Sufi healing circulating in the city neighborhoods? What makes Sufism a viable alternative in this global/local marketplace of spirituality and healing? How do Sufi healing practices affect individual lives? How do they connect to other practices of family resemblance in the post-unification city? How does a practice-oriented ethnography of Sufi healing add to our understanding of linkages between religion and medicine? Mobilizing Actor-Network-Theory, Cultural Phenomenology and Critical-Interpretive frameworks, I shall trace the actors and networks of Sufi healing to document/analyze their practices and discourses, the localized histories of Sufi groups and the healing narratives of individuals participating in these practices. The findings hope to contribute to the medical anthropology literature on body, healing and well-being practices in contemporary globalized societies.

Funding: DAAD

PhD supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger