Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Meena Sharify-Funk

Advisor Role



The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship is a community that formed in relation to the Tamil teacher Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (d. 1986). Bawa’s teachings attracted diverse followers- those with Islamic inclinations, those from Jewish, Hindu and Christian backgrounds, and those seeking to transcend religious creeds. With his passing and no appointed successor, the communities that developed during Bawa Muhaiyaddeen’s lifetime rely now on the institutions and spaces established by him. These include a mosque and burial shrine (mazar) in Pennsylvania and an ashram and shrine in Sri Lanka. This case study of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship and its parallel institutional developments in Sri Lanka known as the Serendib Sufi Study Circle maps the flows and networks of people between these sacred spaces of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. The movements between lands, spaces, cultures and religions signal to the dialogical encounters between Sufism in a non-religious and non-creedal form of universalism, concurrently with its development as a reality of Islamic mysticism. In mapping these ebbs and flows, this study critically illuminates the diverse manifestations of Sufism, not only in North America, but also in a global context.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season