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.
Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert
Otto F.A. Meinardus
Revised EditionOtto F.A. Meinardus
In the fourth century A.D. the deserts of Egypt saw the birth of Christian monasticism under the tutelage of the desert fathers. Since then the movement has spread around the world. This standard work traces the historical development of all the currently inhabited Coptic monasteries, drawing on a wide variety of sources, including accounts by early Western travelers....read more
1 February 1989
Coptic Saints and Pilgrimages
Otto F.A. Meinardus
The Coptic Christian tradition is one that goes back almost two thousand years to the very beginnings of Christianity: Mark the Evangelist himself is said to have brought the faith to Alexandria. In his Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (AUC Press, 1999), renowned scholar Otto Meinardus reviewed the history of the official church from its earliest days to the end of the twentieth century, with its doctrinal disputes and its long isolation from other world churches. Here in Coptic Saints and Pilgrims, he examines the other side of the coin, the popular traditions and beliefs of the people. While the Coptic Orthodox church is strongly influenced by Hellenistic modes of thinking, many of the folk attitudes and practices by contrast have their roots in the religious heritage of pharaonic Egypt, and while the official faith is by its sacramental nature exclusive, the folk religion is inclusive and touches every aspect of the personal lives of ordinary Copts. It is this popular aspect of Coptic religious devotion that is revealed here, in its many points of focus: biblical saints, martyrs, ascetics, equestrian warriors, ‘silverless’ physicians, women saints, pilgrimage, dreams, visions, and apparitions....read more
15 February 2008
20 color illus.
Reem Al Faisal With text by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
With text bySeyyed Hossein Nasr
The great Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five ‘pillars’ of Islam, required of every Muslim who is fit and able to undertake it. Every year in the month of Dhu al-Hijja, millions of Muslims converge on this desert city on the Arabian Peninsula from all corners of the globe, in one of the world’s greatest and most spiritual human gatherings. Saudi princess and photographer Reem Al Faisal here brings together a portrait of the Hajj in an extraordinary collection of black-and-white photographs that reveal not just the vast scale of the pilgrimage, not just the range of rituals involved, but also the human dimension: the sheer variety of humanity that comes here, the private moments of piety and devotion, the intimate moments of relaxation, and the joy (and sometimes anxiety) of being a part of such an immense community of people in a common purpose....read more
175 b/w photographs
Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes
Shems Friedlander Foreword by Annemarie Schimmel Preface by Sayyed Hossein Nasr Music section by Nezih Uzel
Foreword byAnnemarie Schimmel
Preface by Sayyed Hossein Nasr
Music section byNezih Uzel
Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes is an account of the Mevlevi Sufi order and its founder, the poet and mystic Mevlana Jalalu’ddin Rumi. Rumi danced and sang his famous verses in memory of his friend and teacher Shams Tabriz, who opened to him the way to direct experience of the Divine Beloved. After Rumi’s death in 1273, the whirling dance was introduced as part of the Mevlevi ritual, a statement of a timeless and passionate yearning toward God. Author Shems Friedlander has been doing documentary photography of the whirling dervishes since his first trip to Konya in 1973, and this book features haunting, evocative pictures of the order’s dancers, clad in their traditional white skirts and tall hats that represent their tombstones. Taken within the dervish lodges, known as tekkes, these photographs provide an insider’s view of ceremonies usually closed to the public. Friedlander’s images of the dervishes in mid-whirl evoke the exaltation of union with the divine source. In addition to Rumi’s life story and the accounts of dervishes past and present, the book features excerpts from Rumi’s poetry and the teachings of other Sufi masters, descriptions of the tekke and the symbolism of the dervish ceremony, an overview of the music that accompanies the Mevlevis’ turn, and a concluding section on the universality of Rumi’s message of love. This classic account of the Whirling Dervishes is now presented in a new and revised edition containing additional text and photographs....read more
100 b/w illus.