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The term neo-Sufism was coined by Fazl ur Rahman in 1966 to describe reform movements among Sufi orders (turuq, singular tariqa) of the 18th and 19th centuries. More recently, the term neo-Sufism has been applied to certain 20th-and 21st-century Sufi-inspired groups in the West as well as to movements in Muslim-majority countries among the globally engaged middle and upper classes.

Islamic reform (or “renewal;” in Arabic, tajdid) in Sufi orders in the 18th and 19th centuries responded to a mood of religious conservatism widespread across the Muslim world. While the anti-Sufi Wahhabi movement represents one expression of that conservatism, historians have documented parallel expressions in Sufi orders in Africa (initially in orders inspired by the Moroccan Ahmad ibn Idris) and across the Middle East to South ...

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