THE SUFIS by Idries Shah


Email this review


Nearly four millenia of Sufi mystics have transmitted the ""secret"" Sufi lore of individual enlightenment through knowledge and love. Today fifty million international exemplars participate in what Robert Graves calls in his introduction the ""ancient spiritual freemasonry"", a loose stream of gurus, whirling dervishes and ordinary mortals who are said to understand truly the ultimate nature of the universe (and have successfully kept it to themselves). Despite the elaborate enciphered literature, the secret language and the oriental rites, Sufism has the same reputable aim of all transcendent philosophies--the development of human consciousness. Most closely linked with Islam, its authorities and poets (Rumi, El-Ghazali, Averroes, Omar Khayyam), Sufism spreads its ware throughout the literature, institutions and prominent figures of the West. This Sufi author, descendant of Mohammed, mentions Roger Bacon, Chaucer, St. John of the Cross, the Freemasons, Morris dancing, and even (without a reference) Goethe, de Gaulle and Dag Hammerskjold- these last as examples of Sufis combining mystical detachment with practical life. Because ""Sufism is (only) known by means of itself"", this book is not a how-to-do-it manual, but a simple presentation of parables, history, and the general gist of the Sufic Way. As such it is an interesting and extensive compilation by someone on the inside. Even if some parts of it may well be attributed to the meaning of ""Sufi"" as ""spinner of wool"", it should be well-received both by scholars and the modern seekers after mysticism--here are their properly ecstatic forebears.

ISBN: 0385079664
Publisher: Doubleday