How "god becomes a lover": Sufi poetry and the finitude of desire in Kurdistan

J. Andrew Bush

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, this article tracks the imbrication of ordinary and mystical desire in the life of a Muslim man who disavows pietistic forms of ethical striving. It examines the way tropes of desire from Sufi poetry affect everyday life and desire in ordinary relationships with friends and kin. Revising the notion of the "infinity of desire, " which explains the traction of the paradigmatically mystical figures of lover and beloved in pious frameworks, the article argues that the finitude of desire in relation to intimate others in everyday life provides one context in which these figures, and Sufi poetry more generally, may become attractive to contemporary Muslims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-87
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Middle East Women's Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Desire
  • Kurdistan
  • Sufi poetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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