Thursday, 24 September 2009


Dear Readers, I am moving this blog across to WordPress as I simply feel able to do more with it there. Please come on over and continue reading there. I am gradually transferring as much content as possible over there. See you there.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Dictionary of Sufism

John Renard has written several good works on Islam and Sufism, this should make for good and instructive reading.
clipped from
With more than 3,000 entries and cross-references on the history, main figures, institutions, theory, and literary works associated with Islam's mystical tradition, Sufism, this dictionary brings together in one volume extensive historical information that helps put contemporary events into a historical context.

Historical Dictionary of Sufism (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies and Movements)
By John Renard

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Sufi Reading List 3

Rumi is one of the greatest poets of Sufi Islam known and loved worldwide. Annemarie Schimmel, the author of this book, is an excellent scholar and a Sufi practitioner herself. She writes from the inside about the life and work of this great Sufi saint.
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Monday, 20 April 2009

A Reading List for Sufi Beginners 2

Conference of the Birds by Fariduddin Attar is one of the first classics I read about Sufis. It is a wonderful allegory of the Sufi journey and the difficulties and tests faced.

Composed in the twelfth century in north-eastern Iran, Attar's great mystical poem is among the most significant of all works of Persian literature. A marvellous, allegorical rendering of the Islamic doctrine of Sufism an esoteric system concerned with the search for truth through God"

A Reading List for Sufi Beginners 1

Many people who become interested in the Sufi path are looking for good reading material so they can find out more, so I thought I would put together a list of books that I have found helpful. The list includes books about Sufism by contemporary Sufis as well as translations of the classical Sufi masters. I have benefitted a great deal from reading many of these books and some of them bring their own barakah with them, but my motto is nevertheless, To read is good but to practice is better. Just click on any of the books to find more information.

"The Prayer is a drawing of the curtain, an invitation to a secret place that is discovered and explored. . . .
According to tradition and the testimony of Sufi mystics, The Prayer--or Salat--was first taught by the angels, who themselves practiced it in celestial adoration. The Prayer is God's gift to all humankind, and in this gorgeously illustrated volume, its simple, archetypal practice unfolds like a fragrant, many-petaled flower, joining words and movements into a single luminous event that engages our entire being.

Walking the Sufi path is about being a traveller (salik) on a journey that will break all your expectations, crush your egoistic desires, and according to your sincerity, will bring you to a land without borders where love abounds. The journey hurts, love is often painful, but the heart needs cleansing before the soul is liberated and flies to the Beloved.

Maryam Kabeer Faye set out on this journey, both in the inner sense but also in the outer sense as she travelled both spiritually and physically around the world. In this book she shares her adventures and her sense of the interconnectedness of all things.

"Born in a Jewish family, she was led to live in India and Nepal, and in monasteries in Europe, and then guided to embrace Islam at the hands of an ancient Sufi Master a few minutes away from the tomb of the Prophet Abraham. She then was guided to study intensively with Sufi Masters around the world. Her journey to the holy places and people of the earth, led her finally to Africa and the deep truth that all lives are totally interconnected and united with our own."

The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

Maria Rosa Menocal writes a gripping and colourful story of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) in a style that makes it difficult to put down this book. Meticulously researched it nevertheless reads like a good novel. It is not a dry history but a series of vignettes that illustrate the amazing diversity and extraordinary juxtapositions of life in Andalusia. Often ignored by medievalists, this history is one to which Europe owes a great debt. A culture of convivencia (living together) that produced immense progress in science, the arts, medicine, literature, and philosophy, as well as some of the most important writings from both Jewish and Muslim philosopher-mystics and led the way for the renaissance in Europe. It is full of nostalgia for a time past but for one that can still speak to a modern world in crisis.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Qur'an Interpretation by Laleh Bakhtiar

This is the first edition of the Qur’an translated by an American woman. Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar has translated the original Arabic into clear English that emphasizes the universal message of the Qur’an. For example she translates ‘Allah’ as ‘God’ in the same way that ‘God’ would be translated as ‘Allah’ for Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Arabic speaking world. A customer review says the following:

Encountering this translation represented a real personal breakthrough for me regarding Islam, or at least any kind of Islam one approaches through an English approximation of the Quran. The translator's internal consistency and attempted avoiding of subjective interpretation worked well for me: and as I read more and more, what normally strikes the English only reader as disjointed and theologically fragmented in translations of the Quran gave way to a kind of majesty, a kind of excitement (and unique sadness) I'd never encountered before in any other translation. I felt that at last I'd received a tiny glimpse of what the Quran means, or at least what it could mean, on a very personal, psychological level.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Read About the Dialogue Between Jews and Sufis

A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue: Philosophy and Mysticism in Bahya ibn Paquda's Duties of the Heart by Diana Lobel

Duties of the Heart was written by Bahya Ibn Paquda in eleventh century Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). In this study Diana Lobel examines the original Arabic to discover the close alignment of Paquda's work with the Sufi mystic path. The product description says the following of this study:

"Written in Judeo-Arabic in eleventh-century Muslim Spain but quickly translated into Hebrew, Bahya Ibn Paquda's Duties of the Heart is a profound guidebook of Jewish spirituality that has enjoyed tremendous popularity and influence to the present day. Readers who know the book primarily in its Hebrew version have likely lost sight of the work's original Arabic context and its immersion in Islamic mystical literature. In A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue, Diana Lobel explores the full extent to which Duties of the Heart marks the flowering of the "Jewish-Arab symbiosis," the interpenetration of Islamic and Jewish civilizations.

Lobel reveals Bahya as a maverick who integrates abstract negative theology, devotion to the inner life, and an intimate relationship with a personal God. Bahya emerges from her analysis as a figure so steeped in Islamic traditions that an Arabic reader could easily think he was a Muslim, yet the traditional Jewish seeker has always looked to him as a fountainhead of Jewish devotion. Indeed, Bahya represents a genuine bridge between religious cultures. He brings together, as well, a rationalist, philosophical approach and a strain of Sufi mysticism, paving the way for the integration of philosophy and spirituality in the thought of Moses Maimonides."

Friday, 16 January 2009

The Love Story of Layla and Majnun

Nizami gathered several versions of the folktale of Layla and Majnun before writing this beautiful version. Majnun's longing for his beloved Layla has also been seen as a metaphor of the Sufi longing for union with the divine Beloved. Click on the image or here to buy this book and to see similar ones.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Alpha Inventions

I discovered this amazing website by accident. It is very clever and I don't pretend to understand how it works but basically you can read blogs in real time as posts go up. You can also register your own blog and every time you update others will see it straight away. One improvement that is intended is the choice to filter the kind of blogs you want to read. It helps increase your traffic and a few of your new visitors may become regulars.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Sufi Films

There is now a section in the Sufi Book Store that contains films with a Sufi theme. Click here and take a look.

Rumi: Turning Ecstatic seen on the left, is one example of the DVD's available

Welcome to a Treasure Trove of Sufi Books and Music

Dear Friends and Readers,

Welcome to the Sufi Book and Music Blog. Step in and look around the many sections here that all relate to an aspect of Sufism. There are also DVD's of music from master musicians. If you know of any books that are not here then you are welcome to write and let me know so I can add them. The idea of this site is to bring together in one place as many books on the subject of Sufism as possible so that it is easier for you to discover what is available without doing long searches. So take your time and browse as you would in any library or book store. As I speak of the books available in the store so it is also an opportunity to look at different aspects of the Sufi path and the many friends who have trodden this path in the past and in the present day.