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The Subtleties of the Ascension (Fons Vitae Sulami) Paperback – 31 May 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Fons Vitae,US (31 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887752781
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887752787
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,666,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"This book features lucid translations and subtle analysis and is recommended with heart and soul to students of Islamic studies, Sufism, and all who aspire to the Divine Presence in the fashion of the blessed Prophet of Islam." --Omid Safi, professor, Colgate University

"An important document of early Islamic spirituality, revealing the rich tradition of mystical interpretation of the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, this translation will be an important resource for Islamic studies, comparative religion, and mysticism." --Carl Ernst, professor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

About the Author

Frederick S. Colby is an assistant professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Miami University-Oxford. He lives in Oxford, Ohio.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 2.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique n Interesting Book. 7 Oct. 2012
By Istrt - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been always fascinated by the Night Journey as long as I can remember. Even though this is not particularly what I was looking for or expecting, it's still a very interesting book to read. It does not details the Journey itself rather explains the reasons behind the Journey, mainly through Sufi sayings.

Also if you are sensitive towards drawing of Prophets, like Muslim should / would be... please black-out Their faces like I did even though the Translator explained it's not to offend anyone.

PS: If anyone know any good books for Isra - Mir'aj (Prophet (saw)'s Night Journey), please do refer.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please Do not BUY 1 Nov. 2012
By Bilal Wajid - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book happens to be a translation and explanation of the book 'Subtleties of Ascension' compiled by an early Sufi Scholar Abu Abdur-Rahman al-Sulami. The book in Arabic is of great spiritual importance as the book compiles saying by early sufi mystics about the Miraj (the Ascension) from Makkah, to Jerusalem and then to Heaven also called the Night Journey. The book contains about 56 sayings, all that try to explain the Night Journey is a subtle, elegant and profound manner dealing with the spiritual aspects of the journey.

All the above was concerning the book in Arabic by as-Sulami. However, the English version of this book, especially by Fons Vitae, translated and annotated by Frederick S. Colby is nothing short of being a shameless and out rightly worthless book, devoid any any spiritual benefit that could have come out of al-Sulami's work.

The translator S. Colby undoubtedly does a fine job translating the book. His annotations also suggest that Colby is a learned man being well aware of Islam, its intricate details and profound depth. Which renders me even more angry. What Colby has done is that in order to make the book beautiful (in his eyes), but has literally raped the book, by introducing some 9 pictures in which he has shown diagrammatically pictures of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H), sometimes accompanied with other Prophets, Angel Jibrael, sometimes in Heaven while other times bowing down in worship. But these pictures completely remove all spiritual benefits from this book that one could possible hope for in Islam one cannot depict the Prophets in pictures.

As a rule of thumb, is Islam, you cannot get benefit (Sawab or even Tazkiyyah) from doing something Haram or accompanying it with Haram acts. So showing pictures of the Prophets is definitely horrible.

Unfortunately diagrams are the not the only issue. S. Colby happens to completely forget the idea that the mass readership of this title was to come from Muslims, who read such books for intellectual and spiritual insight. In his annotations he freely uses Divine in small letters 'divine', Muhammad without (P.B.U.H), and essentially all references to God in small letters, like divine, deity e.t.c,.

In short if Amazon allowed negative stars I would be very happy to give that because I think that al-sulami's work could not have been raped in a better way as done by Colby.

My suggestions to the author and the publishing company are, if they want this work to be of some worth and possibly be printed in 2nd edition.

1) Remove all pictures of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and replace them with calligraphies of the Quran.
2) Get the annotations checked and Edited by a Muslim Scholar.

Bilal Wajid
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