Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Essential Sufism

Essential Sufism Cover

Book: Essential Sufism by Robert Frager

A welcome addition to the literature on Islam, this small volume offers sayings, religious quotes, poems, aphorisms, and prayers from many Sufi masters. Reading through the many entries, one gets a feeling for the beauty and deep wisdom of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam. The book includes the necessary discussions of the major Sufi teachers, history, culture, and beliefs to aid the reader in Understanding the vitalness of the sayings and meditations but is not meant as a fully encompassing investigation of Sufism. Instead, it is a wonderful appetizer that tantalizes the reader to seek other works that further celebrate and elucidate the relatively obscure world of Sufism.

This book does an excellent job of explaining the Sufi path. Prior to reading this book I knew literally nothing about the subject. Now I understand Sufism to be a deeply personal path and one that is based on love of God, a dedication to service, a search for spiritual knowledge, and uncovering one's pure self. The wisdom of Sufism is learned through art, prayer, poetry, stories, readings and rituals, all of which is guided by a Sufi teacher.

The history of Sufism is traced in this book and the beliefs and path of the faith are thoroughly explained. Discussed are: Sufism's four great books (Jesus' Gospels, the Quran, Moses' Torah and David's Psalms), the Five Pillars of Islam, the four stages of Sufi practice, transforming the self, the importance of a Sufi teacher and much more. After reading this book I feel I have a sound knowledge of the basics of this faith and an Understanding of why my friend has found such peace in following it. I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn about Sufism or who is on a Spiritual Path that is open to new discoveries.

Sufis are celebrated in the West for their joy, humor, and devoted worship. Two students of Sufism, James Fadiman and Robert Frager, have collected some of the jewels of Sufic literature, polished them up a bit, and organized them for ready contemplation. Rumi's poems, Attar's stories, Mohammed's terse sayings, and even some moving pieces from contemporary Western devotees make Essential Sufism a treasury of Sufic literature. The extensive introduction provides practical context, and preambles to each section set the tone for what's to come. If you haven't encountered the wisdom of Sufi mysticism, the material in this book is a good place to start; if you have, it's a comfortable place for return.

This book takes qoutations from many different sufi "dervishes", some are ancient and some contemporary. Nonetheless the wisdom in this book is largely timeless. From Sheik Muzaffer and Rumi and as far back as Muhammad himself. this book does not limit its spiritual wisdoms to only muslims (I am not really a muslim) but to any person who seeks the spiritual side of themselves. These wisdoms are arranged in short quotes and small fable-like stories making it extremely easy to read. In short, it is a very interesting and enlightening book. The broad spectrum of material in this book ranges from such lofty concepts as spiritual experience, contemplation and knowledge, love, God and Satan yet also has such worldly concerns as Sufi humour. Even the sections not directly concerned with humour show that the Sufis have always been masters of irony and mirth. The one thing I think impressed me the most about this book was the incredibly intricate and beautiful calligraphy. The readability of this book is excellent. All these "Essential..." books are great, read them.

Buy Robert Frager's book: Essential Sufism

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