Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sufism Love And Wisdom

Sufism Love And Wisdom Cover

Book: Sufism Love And Wisdom by Jean Louis Michon

The present work is one of the most valuable anthologies devoted to Sufism in a Western language and is in fact unique in its authenticity combined with diversity. In order to understand the value of this work, it is necessary to turn briefly to the history of the study of Sufism in the Occident. In contrast to the fields of theology, philosophy, and the sciences, there were no translations of Sufi texts into Latin during the Middle Ages. The knowledge received about Sufism in the West by such men as Dante and, somewhat later, St. John of the Cross came from vernacular languages, oral transmission, and personal contact. The first work to use the term "Sufism," as ta'awwuf has come to be known in the West, was in fact written in 1821 by a German scholar by the name of August Tholuck, who wrote a study of the subject entitled Sufismus: sive Theosophia Persarum pantheistica. The later eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries were also witness to the translations of Sufi texts from both Persian and Arabic into English, German, French, and some other European languages. The works of such translators as Sir William Jones, von Hammer Purgstall, and Ruckert began to be read in literary and even philosophical circles and attracted major figures such as Goethe and Emerson. But the influence of Sufism during the Romantic Movement remained for the most part literary, and not philosophical and metaphysical, at least not as these terms are understood in a traditional context.

For hundreds of years, the inner spiritual core of Islam has been the focus of Sufi practitioners and thinkers. Those initiated into its mysteries have sometimes expressed them in ecstatic poetry, in a symbolic language of love, or in reasoned prose. These essays by such contemporary writers on Sufism as Seyyed Hossein Nasr, William Chittick, Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Rene Guenon, and Frithjof Schuon, allow the reader to understand the language, the wisdom, and the beautiful history of classical Sufism. Covering a wide range of topics related to the mystical aspect of Islam, Sufism, this book includes essays on spiritual thought and knowledge, many of which have been translated into English for the first time. Several of the contributions are from a new generation of interpreters and wisdom seekers of Sufism.

This volume comes at a point when Muslims in the West, fatigued by an ideological and sacreligious fanaticism parading itself as Islam, have begun turning in droves back to its spiritual tradition. It is hoped that this volume will assist these Muslims, and non-Muslims who find themselves sensitive to Sufi discourse, in finding their way to the Path. Some of the most important essays contained in this collection are Burckhardt's "Sufi Doctrine and Method", Nasr's "The Spiritual Needs of Western Man and the Message of Sufism", Schuon's "The Quintessential Esoterism of Islam", Kazemi's "Jesus in the Qur'an: Selfhood and Compassion--An Akbari Perspective", Schaya's "On the Name Allah", and Chodkiewicz's "The Vision of God according to Ibn 'Arabi". All in all this is a feast for those inquiring into Islamic spirituality. To quote the back of the book: "These essays go beyond the endless fascination with forms: they always orient and re-orient themselves to the intrinsic Beauty of the Truth, the Truth that lives within the forms of Sufism and within the saints who have lived it."

Find Jean Louis Michon's book in
Sufism Love And Wisdom

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