For more than a millennium, Sufism has been the core of the spiritual experience of countless Muslims. As the chief mystical tradition of Islam, it has helped to shape the history of Islamic societies. Although it is the Sufi face of Islam that has often appealed to Westerners, Sufis and Sufism remain mysterious to many in the West, and are still widely misunderstood. In this new, redesigned paperback edition of this bestselling book, a scholar with long experience of Sufism in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe succinctly presents the essentials of Sufism and shows how Sufis live and worship, and why. As well as what Sufism is and where it comes from, the book discusses Sufi orders not only in the Islamic world but also in the West. The political, social, and economic significance of Sufism is outlined, and the question of how and why Sufism has become one of the more controversial aspects of contemporary Islamic religious life is addressed. This book assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. It is a penetrating and concise introduction for everyone interested in Islam and Islamic societies.
The Christians of the Nile
The Christians of the NileChristian Cannuyer
Between the glory of the pharaohs and the grandeur of Islam lies another Egypt: that of the Copts, Egypt’s Christians. This venerable church embraced the teachings of Jesus when they were new, invented monasticism, gave saints and scholars to the world, and has preserved its ancient traditions down to our day. The Copts were famous for their richly colored textiles and figurative paintings: today, the wide-eyed faces of antiquity gaze at us from out of the past, proclaiming the eternity of Egyptian humanity. According to legend, Mark the Evangelist founded the Coptic church in Alexandria in the first century A.D., when Egypt was under Roman rule and practiced polytheistic religions. Though Egypt has been an Islamic nation since the seventh century, the Copts have maintained their traditions and rites at monasteries and villages throughout the country. Beautiful antique textiles, mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, frescoes, book-bindings, and monuments attest to their rich and venerable culture, which drew inspiration from Egyptian, Hellenistic, and Near Eastern art. This lavishly illustrated little book brings the extraordinary artistic and cultural heritage of the Copts to life....read more
164 color photographs
Christianity and Monasticism in Aswan and Nubia
Edited by Gawdat Gabra Hany N. Takla
Hany N. Takla
Christianity and monasticism have flourished along the Nile Valley in the Aswan region of Upper Egypt and in what was once Nubia, from as early as the fourth century until the present day. The contributors to this volume, international specialists in Coptology from around the world, examine various aspects of Coptic civilization in Aswan and Nubia over the past centuries. The complexity of Christian identity in Nubia, as distinct from Egypt, is examined in the context of church ritual and architecture. Many of the studies explore Coptic material culture: inscriptions, art, architecture, and archaeology; and language and literature. The archaeological and artistic heritage of monastic sites in Edfu, Aswan, Makuria, and Kom Ombo are highlighted, attesting to their important legacies in the region....read more
29 April 2013
91 b/w illus.
Cradle of Islam
The Hijaz and the Quest for an Arabian Identity
The Hijaz and the Quest for an Arabian IdentityMai Yamani
In 1932 the Al Saud family incorporated the kingdom of Hijaz, once the cultural hub of the Arabian world, into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The urban, cosmopolitan Hijazis were absorbed into a new state whose codes of behavior and rules were determined by the Najdis, an ascetic desert people, from whom the Al Saud family came. But the Saudi rulers failed to fully integrate the Hijaz, which retains a distinctive identity to this day. Here May Yamani traces the fortunes of the distinctive and resilient culture of the Hijazis, from the golden age of Hashemite Mecca to Saudi domination to its current resurgence. The Hijazis today emphasise their regional heritage in religious ritual, food, dress, and language as a response to the ‘Najdification’ of everyday life. The Hijazi experience shows the vitality of cultural diversity in the face of political repression in the Arab world....read more
Photographs of Sufi Rituals in the Middle East and the Balkans
Photographs of Sufi Rituals in the Middle East and the BalkansNicolaas Biegman
Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, is as far from the strident and often violent fundamentalist strain of the religion that has so captured world attention as it is possible to be. Sufis in all parts of the Islamic world are broad-minded, tolerant, and non-violent, their quest only to find and approach God through all means, including poetry, music, and dance. Historian Nicolaas Biegman has been observing and photographing Sufi practice and ritual in different Muslim lands for many years, and here in this collection of extraordinary photographs he feels the pulse of the Sufi experience, with its enormous variety in discipline and exuberance, intellectualism and spontaneity, in Egypt, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia. In accompanying texts he explores what lies behind the rituals, and explains aspects of Sufi life and practice such as the position of women....read more
1 June 2009
100 color illus.