Shadows of the Prophet

Martial Arts and Sufi Mysticism

  • D. S. Farrer

Part of the Muslims in Global Societies Series book series (MGSS, volume 2)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XX
  2. Reflections

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. D. S. Farrer
      Pages 43-84
  3. Echoes

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 85-85
    2. D. S. Farrer
      Pages 87-132
    3. D. S. Farrer
      Pages 133-172
  4. Doubles

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 173-173
    2. D. S. Farrer
      Pages 175-198
    3. D. S. Farrer
      Pages 199-221
  5. Shadows

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 223-223
    2. D. S. Farrer
      Pages 225-250
    3. D. S. Farrer
      Pages 251-270
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 271-311

About this book


This is the first in-depth study of the Malay martial art, silat, and the first ethnographic account of the Haqqani Islamic Sufi Order. Drawing on 12 years of research and practice in Malaysia, Singapore, and England, social anthropologist and martial arts expert D.S. Farrer considers Malay silat through the transnational Sufi silat group called Seni Silat Haqq, an off-shoot of the Haqqani-Naqshbandi Sufi Order.

This account combines theories from the anthropology of art, embodiment, enchantment, and performance to show how war magic and warrior religion amalgamate in traditional Malay martial arts, where practitioners distance themselves from “becoming animal” or going into trance, preferring a practice of spontaneous bodily movement by summoning the power of Allah. Silat and Sufism are revealed through the social dramas of 40-day boot-camps where Malay and European practitioners endeavor to become shadows of the Prophet, only to have their faith tested through a ritual ordeal of boiling oil. The unseen realm and magical embodiment is further approached through an account of Malay deathscapes where moving through the patterns of silat summons the spirits of ancestral heroes.

Those interested in Malaysia, Sufism, transnational Islam, and the study of religion, conversion, magic, sorcery, theatre and martial arts will find this book indispensable.

"the eagerly awaited monograph on the practice of silat" Joel S. Kahn

"No other work on silat has achieved this level of inside understanding" Roxana Waterson


Anthropology Europe Haqqani-Naqshbandi Islam Martial arts Nation Performance studies Phenomenology Religion Silat Sociology of religion Southeast Asia Sufism Transnational War magic

Authors and affiliations

  • D. S. Farrer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GuamMangilaoUSA

Bibliographic information