The Thoughtful Guide to Sufism by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri, Bhavan Books & Prints, New Delhi, India, 2007; 127 pages, ISBN 978-8186505793, paperback $32.95.
Many people in Western countries have a negative view of Islam based on fear of militant Islamic fundamentalists. The images of 9/11 are etched deep into the psyche of the West. How refreshing and much needed, therefore, to have a book which clearly shows the great depth and mystical understanding possessed in the Islamic tradition known as Sufism. Sufism is the generic name for a movement that arose 200 years after the coming of the prophet Mohammed in reaction to the decline in the moral and ethical tone of Islamic rulers. Since then Sufis have been known as the keepers of the mystical inner ‘law’ of Islam. In plain language the Sufi author explains the way of the Sufi in almost theosophic terms: “Sufism is primarily concerned with the ‘heart’ that reflects the truth which exists within it, beyond time and in time. The Sufi is the whole human being. He recognizes that his reality is beyond time and space and yet he understands that he himself is caught in his body in order to experience the duality of time and space in this world. The Sufi is the one who realizes the courtesy due to the prison of his body which has been given to him on loan for a few years. He is aware of the fact that he is returning to the abode of infinite bliss from which he originally emerged. Sufism is an art of ‘Beingness’ through the attainment of divine knowledge. It is not an intellectual exercise for scholarly investigations and postgraduate studies…” – p. 36. This book is thoroughly recommended for those seeking a greater understanding of the inner spirit of Islam. – Andrew Rooke