This book aims at outlining the fundamental tenets of Sufi mysticism, which derived its inspiration from the teachings of the Quran and developed as ‘a process of spiritual culture’ within the framework of Islam. The discussion opens with an introduction acquainting the readers with various attempts at a definition of Sufism and an appreciation of what it holds out for its adherents. Chapters are then devoted to delineations of Sufi concepts of God in immanence and transcendence; the worship of God and the descent of the absolute; inward and outward experience of divine presence; the concepts of good and evil, free will and determinism.
The author’s arguments are put forward convincingly. The exposition is lucid and scholarly. References supplementing the text are from original Arabic sources. Indexes cover names of persons and places, and technical terms.
The Quranic Sufism is highly acclaimed. It fills the void felt by researchers and scholars as well as general readers.
A Sufi Master Answers (On the Suffi Message of Hazat Inayat Khan) DR. Elisabeth Keening
Inayat had a rare gift to distribute his knowledge and experience in such parcels and in such a way as those before him needed and could understand. This method of lecturing, and his own strong personality, gave everything he said an extra dimension which a mere exposition of ideas would lack.
Putting this objection into words showed the way to its solution. The author cites Inayat’s answers, and those questions which she could arrange systematically, thus sketching an outline of his philosophy and aims, at the same time showing as much of his personality and the way he spoke as the written word can convey.
Sufism or Tasawwuf is variously defined. But whatever the variations in definition, its essential role, as recognised on all hands, is to set in motion a process of spiritual culture, operating in one form or another, for spiritual tranquility. The mystic tendency in human nature which Tasawwuf treats of has been characteristic of serious minds in all ages and among every section of humanity. The experience in individual cases has varied both in scope and intensity, according to the vision caught of the Ground of things in life. Indeed long before the advent of Islam, it had been subjected to a searching analysis particularly in societies given to metaphysical speculation such as the Greeks and the ancient Indo-Aryans, and reduced to a system of spiritual training.
Mysticism as practised by the followers of Islam has had a chequered history. In its earliest manifestation, it meant nothing but living from moment to moment, so to say, in the eyes of God, implicitly following the lines of thought and conduct as the Prophet had laid both for himself and his followers. The primary aim was to transform every spiritual flight in the realm of self-perfection into an urge for the spiritual perfection of human society at large. But as Islam expanded into a widening political power, drawing into its fold people born to other modes of life and thought, the mystic tendency among Muslims underwent a kaleidoscopic change. The change was marked by the rise of a bewildering variety of mystic schools influenced chiefly by the Neo-platonism of Alexandria and the Vedantism of India, promoting in the mystic mind the mood for self-negation. A feeling of alarm was therefore felt in serious minds. As a way out, attempts were made at important stages in the history of Sufism to reconcile the early approach to the new forces at work. But the purists among the Sufis, though resolved into several orders themselves by the pressure of time and factors of geography, and though unable to dispense altogether with the terminology of the innovating heterodox schools, have struggled hard to keep to the original way of thought and living. It is the ideology of these and their practices which form the subject of this monograph.
The task, it may be observed, has been discharged not by a student of research interested in the subject only at the intellectual plane, but by a scholar who is not only an ardent believer in the ideology, but who has tried to practise it in his own personal life. As a student of philosophy and as a professor of that subject for years at the Osmania University, it was open to Dr. Mir Valiuddin to have spread the subject on a wide metaphysical canvas and instituted comparisons. He has, however, very rightly confined himself to presenting the view, as it has appeared to him, of the mystic heritage which, undisturbed by the disturbance of history, has continued from the earliest times to mould and shape the life of many a godly man and woman in Islam.
The work is intended to present, what the author believes to be, the contribution of the Quran to Mysticism, and has therefore a value to all seekers of knowledge on that subject.
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