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Books to introduce Sufism

From: Haramullah 
Subject: Re: Books to introduce Sufism (9407.intrsuf.h)
Date: 49940728

Do as you please, for this is my Law.
La ilaha illa 'Llah.  Assalam alaikum, my kin.

[regarding books for first-time interest in sufism:]

I recommend the following:

Broad-based, expansive review of the subject of sufism from all sides:

Sufi Review
Pir Publications, Inc.
356 Post Road East
Westport, CT  06880

They review books from very many perspectives.

Books which I have and can recommend as valuable introductions:

_The Sufis_, (and other works, like _Tales of the Dervishes_) 
		by Idries Shah - Liberal overview with few details.

_Seeking Wisdom_, by Stuart Litvak - Liberal and somewhat biased, dry.

_Sufism_, by William Stoddart - Brief, scholarly analysis.

_The Mystics of Islam_ by Reynold A. Nicholson - Fair scholarly analysis.

I also recommend checking into a local university bookstore to see what
texts they have required for classes about Islam.  There is so much Muslim
expression of sufism that any reasonable introduction to the subject must
integrate the very numerous approaches within that religious tradition.

In order to approach this I have spoken with many Muslims in person and
via computer about their religion and read a few books about the tradition
proper.  There is quite a large online community of Muslims and some of
these are familiar with the path of sufism (and/or religious Sufism).

Some books I've got in the library that have been interesting intros 
to Sufism:

_What is Sufism_, by Martin Lings - Conservative, yet very clear.

_The Most Beautiful Names_ by Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti -
		Conservative exploration of the 99 Names of God, which
		includes within it a clear expression of Islam.

_An Introduction to Shi'i Islam_, by Moojan Momen - University text that
		not only gives a brief overview of Islam generally, but
		goes rather into depth in the Shi'ite element of Islam,
		a lesser known grouping (Muslims don't like to be called
		'sects' for it is part of the important mystical teaching
		that 'Islam is One' as is God).

Perhaps most importantly, for reference:

_The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an_, ed. and transl. by 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali -
		Also procured from the local university.  A widely-read
		version of this mystical and religious classic.

For those who know absolutely nothing about world religion I'd pick up 
something by Huston Smith or some other generalist and get a biased yet
brief overview of the various religions of the world.  Seeing islam and
sufism in perspective of the world is a very important aspect to coming
to understand their complexities and particulars.

To note: this is a textual, literalist approach.  Some find that the best
means is social (i.e. through association and practice with groups of
people who do or do not identify as 'sufis') or personal (i.e. by very
specifically developing a relationship with Allah, comparable to the
Christian method of developing a personal relationship with the Christ).

Muhammaddun rasulu'Llah.  Alaikum assalam, my kin.
Free love, right now!


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