I am retired from my work as an academic and activist and am writing historical mysteries set in 10th century Baghdad rooted in my work on early Islam, early Sufism, and women’s issues. The first in the series, The Lover: A Sufi Mystery is out now on Amazon. Please visit my website for the book for more. Listen to my podcast interview on New Books in Historical Fiction.
Baghdad, 295 Hijri (907 CE)
Zaytuna just wants to be left alone to her ascetic practices and nurse her dark view of the world. But when an impoverished servant girl she barely knows comes and begs her to bring some justice to the death of a local boy, she is forced to face the suffering of the most vulnerable in Baghdad and the emotional and mystical legacy of her mother, a famed ecstatic whose love for God eclipsed everything. The Lover is a historically sensitive mystery that introduces us to the world of medieval Baghdad and the lives of the great Sufi mystics, washerwomen, Hadith scholars, tavern owners, slaves, corpsewashers, police, and children indentured to serve in the homes of the wealthy. It asks what it means to have family when you have nearly no one left, what it takes to love and be loved by those who have stuck by you, and how one can come to love God and everything He’s done to you.
I worked on Islam in the Formative Period, in particular Sufism, Sufi Metaphysics, and Gender, and Progressive Islam in North America. My book, A Soaring Minaret: Abu Bakr al-Wasiti and the Rise of Baghdadi Sufism was released by SUNY Press in 2010. I am a co-editor of the festschrift A Jihad for Justice: Honoring the Life and Work of Amina Wadud. With Yasmin Amin and Ahmed Elewa, I am preparing translation of the women’s biographies in Ibn al-Jawzi’s Sifat al-safwa with a summary introduction. I am presently writing the chapter on Pious, Mystic, and Sufi Women for the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Sufism edited by Lloyd Ridgeon. My most recent articles are “‘God Loves Me’: Early Pious and Sufi Women and the Theological Debate over God’s Love” in the Journal for Islamic Studies, and “‘I am One of the People’: A Survey and Analysis of Legal Arguments on Woman-led Prayer in Islam” in The Journal of Law and Religion. I am preparing two more articles in a series of 3 about early pious and Sufi women. The next article is a social history of the life of the early pietist Hafsa bint Sirin grounded in an analysis of the efforts of biographers–Sufi biographers and authors in particular–to construct silence and seclusion as the ideal of female piety. The final article will be a social historical analysis of depictions of early pious and Sufi women’s sexuality and bodies in the biographical literature. I helped found the Islamic Mysticism Group at the AAR, served on it’s steering committee for six years and served as co-chair for three years. I teach Islam related courses at the University of Toronto.
Click on the Link to See a PDF of my Curriculum Vitae
Contact me at laury dot silvers at utoronto dot ca