The Nimatullahiya and Naqshbandiya Sufi Orders on the Internet: The Cyber-construction of Tradition and the McDonaldisation of Spirituality


  • Milad Milani University of Western Sydney
  • Adam Possamai University of Western Sydney



Sufism, Internet, McDonalidisation, consumerism, Nimatullahi, Naqshbandi


This article is an exploration of the level of integration of Nimatullahi and Naqshbandi Sufi orders in the consumer culture of the West. One reason for comparing and contrasting these two orders is that they have originated in similar socio-political and religio-cultural climates within fourteenth century Iran, and have been affected by similar changes in their historical extension, persecution and migration. Notwithstanding, their relations to the West and to the ‘authenticity’ of their traditions appear to have been differently constructed on the Internet, the basis for which difference is the type of Sufism they each promote. The groups have been chosen because they are two of the most prominent in the West, and are useful in reflecting how Sufi groups in similar contexts can shift dramatically in adapting to a late modern climate. This article will address the Khaniqahi Nimatullahi branch of the Nimatullahiya and the two influential branches of the Naqshbandiya: Khalidi and Haqqani.

Author Biographies

Milad Milani, University of Western Sydney

Milad Milani is a historical sociologist and Adjunct Fellow at the Religion and Society Research Centre at University of Western Sydney. Milad is currently researching Sufi orders in Sydney with an emphasis on the sociology of Sufism in the Australian and the western context. Milad is on the Editorial board of the Religion, Politics and Society Series (ISPCK). Milad has a PhD from the Department of Religious Studies at The University of Sydney titled ‘Sufism in the Secret History of Persia’, and is currently in press with Acumen. Milad is interested in the historical sociological study of religion with an emphasis on the politics of religion, social injustice and conflict resolution.

Adam Possamai, University of Western Sydney

Adam Possamai is Associate Professor in Sociology. He is the current President of Research Committee 22 on the Sociology of Religion from the International Sociological Association and the co Director of the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies at the University of Western Sydney. He has recently published, as an editor, the Handbook of Hyper-Real Religions (2012, Brill) and with J. Barbalet and B. Turner, Religion and the State: A Comparative Sociology (2011, Anthem Press). He is also the author of Sociology of Religion for Generations X and Y (2009, Equinox) and the fiction book, Le XXIe Siècle de Dickerson et Ferra (2011, Asgard).



How to Cite

Milani, M., & Possamai, A. (2013). The Nimatullahiya and Naqshbandiya Sufi Orders on the Internet: The Cyber-construction of Tradition and the McDonaldisation of Spirituality. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 26(1), 51–75.

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