on 29 August 2001
There are some poetry books that you may pick up from time to time, they may raise a smile or even a move you somewhat but this book will take you far beyond superficial emotions. The sheer cross section of poetry and poets is truley amazing, there is something in this book for everyone. From the sections on Sufi humour to the heart pulling poetry by those Sufi Saints who are powerlessly devoted to the divine. This book is a must for all lovers of Sufi poerty.
The Sufi practitioner is a mystic. Sufi practices are the mystical practices of Islam. Many of those whom Islam heralds as saints and sages were Sufi masters. For nearly 1500 years, Sufi practices have co-existed with a diversity of other practices and cultures in which Islam has survived and thrived.
'According to many Sufis, the essential truths of Sufism exist in all religions. The foundation for all mysticism includes the outer forms of religious practice, plus a life based on moral and ethical principles. The roots of the tree of religion are founded in religious law.... The branches of the tree are mysticism.... The fruit of the tree is the Truth, or God.'
Edited by James Fadiman and Robert Frager, this book reaches from the very beginnings of Sufi practice to the present, and pulls together materials that are luminous and spirit-provoking, from prayers that have survived a millennium to contemporary poetry. Writers such as Ibn al-Arabi, Ahmad al-Ghazzali, Hafiz, Rumi and Attar fill this book with an enchanting sense of a divine presence in the curiously distant yet all-to-present reality.
Many of the teachings of Sufi are very basic and practical, much moreso than one would think a mystical framework would be. And yet, God is practical in many ways. God particularly expects those with wisdom to impart the wisdom, and this is best done practically for many hearers. Action is the final essential component of wisdom.
The task of the Sufi is to recognise the Truth, to learn and remember it, and secondly, to help others to the Truth as well. As the task evolves, it becomes one process, which infiltrates daily life, worship, and all of existence. Nothing is apart from God. The Sufi strives to recognise this wholeness.
'Oh heart, sit with someone
who knows the heart;
God under the tree
which has fresh blossoms.'
For many of the Sufi, the path to Truth is the path of Love. 'Whatever we wish to know well, we must love.' Yet, there is resistance and fear in this love. Love can transform us, make us unrecognisable even to ourselves, and this is worrisome. Yet God will always know who we are.
Sufi literature also has a humourous aspect to it; the Hodja stories of Turkish collections is illustrated here. These are interesting, because they always illumine more upon closer examination.
'I can see in the dark,' boasted Hodja one day while sitting in a tea shop.
`If that's true,' said his friends, `why do we sometimes see you carrying a light at night?'
`Well,' he replied, `I only use that lamp to prevent other people from bumping into me.'
Ultimately the goal of all mystical practice, and perhaps most especially the Sufi, is the experience of knowing God. The paths to God are as numerous as the seekers, the Sufi believe, which is why the path through other religious faith is not discounted. Through prayer, remembrance and service, the Sufi comes to know God, and join with God.
One day a man asked a sheikh how to reach God. `The ways to God,' the sheikh replied, `are as many as there are created beings. But the shortest and easiest is to serve others, not to bother others, and to make others happy.' - Abu Sa'id
The call of God is powerful, and Sufi practice is one of the most powerful responses to this call in the world. Sufi are an impatient lot, who long to see God now. May your journey be enlightened by walking some of their paths.
on 16 December 2012
I love this book! It provides a very laid back and beautiful introduction to Islam, with its use of poetry, anecdotes and humour. Great for beginners to the subject. Each chapter also begins with a nice introduction - nothing too heavy. This book is to be digested slowly - one you would want to read in the comfort of your own bedroom on a gloomy, rainy day, with a warm cup of sweet tea in hand. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't hesitate to say that this book pretty much explains the essence of Islam. The only drawback is that I have some doubts over the authenticity of some of the information quoted in the text, but the message is what really matters anyway, so it didn't bother me that much.
All in all, a FANTASTIC read. Now go click 'add to basket' :)
This is a lovely introduction to Islam told in much the same way as traditional Sufi books, that being in the way of thought provoking story telling designed to make you think about your actions, the world around you and how you perceive the world you live in.
The author is from the Jerrahi Sufi order and the book follows much the same pattern as the story telling method of the late Sheikh of the Jerrahi Sufi order Muzaffer Ozak. The book is very well structured and would seem to be designed for the western audience to read and enjoy. If you wish to have a book that gives you an introduction to Islam then this is an excellent start.