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Besnik Sinani (Alumnus BGSMCS)


The Ba Alawi Sufi Order in Saudi-Arabia: State, Orthodoxy, and Deviance in Contemporary Islam

Before coming to Berlin I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. Prior to that, I received a BA in International Studies and History from City University of New York, and a MA in Near East Studies from New York University.

Research Interest

Modern Islam; Sufism; Salafism; Sectarianism


In my dissertation I focus in the study of Sufi discourses, practices and communities in Saudi Arabia. I explore texts, scholarly genealogies, practices and communities in the context of Saudi state religious policies that deemed Sufism deviant and alien to Islam. I am interested in the study of Sufism in Saudi Arabia through the prism of the relationship between establishment dogma, and state power; how state sponsored religious institutions are employed to censor practices, police communities, and prosecute scholars. I seek to explore how religiously marginalized communities like the Sufis negotiate their presence in the spaces where the state at times enforces, at times resists, and at times attenuates the application of Wahhabi dogma.

Contributions to Edited Volumes:

‘In the Path of the Ancestors: The Ba ‘Alawi Sufi Order and the Struggle for Shaping the Future of Islam.’ in Global Sufism: Boundaries, Structures, and Politics, Mark Sedgwick and Francesco Piraino eds., (London: Hurst, 2019).

‘The Return of Islam in South East Europe: Debating Islam and Islamic Practices of Family Law in Albania and Kosovo.’ in Applying Sharia in the West. Maurits S. Berger ed., (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2013).


‘Das Konigshaus mit neuer Mission’, Welt-Sichten, 21. 08. 2019. pp. 24-27. (The Royal Family with a New Mission). (in German) https://www.welt-sichten.org/artikel/36580/das-koenigshaus-mit-neuer-mission

‘Entertainment as a Marker of Religious Reform in Saudi Arabia’, CRSI Blog – University of Oxford, 13. 07. 2019. https://crsi.theology.ox.ac.uk/article/entertainment-as-a-marker-of-religious-reform-in-saudi-arabia

‘Stresstest für Salafisten’, Zenith, 06.06.2019. pp.74-77. (Pressure-test for Salafis). (in German). https://magazin.zenith.me/de/politik/saudi-arabien-und-das-wahhabiten-netzwerk-0

‘Albania’, in European Islamophobia Report 2016, Enes Bayrakli and Farid Hafez eds., (Istanbul: SETA, 2017).