Cover image for Teachings of Sufism
Teachings of Sufism
Ernst, Carl W., 1950-
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Shambhala : Distributed in the United States by Random House, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvi, 217 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm
Subject Term:
Added Author:
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BP189.3 .T38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The prose and verse readings in this book were chosen to interest the many people who have become attracted to Sufi teachings through their exposure to popular Sufi poetry, music, and dance. The selections--mostly from the Middle East and India, ranging from the tenth to the twentieth century--provide a sampling of Sufi thought on some of the basic aspects of this spiritual path.

Most of the readings are published here in English for the first time. Brief introductory remarks place each selection into its historical and religious context, and an index of Qur'anic passages helps the reader to trace the extensive allusions to the Islamic holy scriptures.

The topics covered include:

* The nature of mystical love
* Meditation
* Listening to music as a spiritual practice
* Ethical teachings of Sufism
* Pitfalls on the spiritual path
* Spiritual companionship and the master-disciple relationship
* The importance of the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad
* Biographical accounts of great mystics, including the poet Rumi as well as several female saints

Author Notes

Carl W. Ernst, Ph.D., is professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

With only a few exceptions, the mystical tradition of Sufism has received little attention outside Muslim countries. Ernst's carefully constructed anthology and Barks and Green's entertaining volume are among the best recent examples of new interest in--and improved publications about--the subject. Ernst (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina) uses translations from primary sources and his own fine connecting material to shed crucial light on topics such as ethics, music, the mystical understanding of the Qur'an, and saints. (He is especially good on the lives of Sufism's women saints.) This book, which does not dilute or Westernize the originals, should become an essential introduction. Barks and Green's work is more popular in approach and limited in scope, but it is a delightful, skillfully written, and imaginatively illustrated book; it too seems indispensable for a beginner in the mystical traditions of Islam. For most collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Abu Nasr al-Sarrajal-Husayn ibn Mansur al-HallajAbu Nasr al-SarrajNajm al-Din Kubra'Isa Jund Allah'Isa Jund AllahIsma'il Ibn Mahmud Sindhi ShattariMuhammad al-SanusiRuzbihan BaqliRuzbihan BaqliRuzbihan BaqliAbu al-Qasim al-Qushayri'Ala' al-Dawla SimnaniJamiJamiAbd al-Haqq Muhaddith DihlawiAbu Muhammad Al-WitriJahanara
Prefacep. ix
1. Mystical Understanding of the Qur'anp. 1
The Book of the Elect: On Understanding and Following the Book of Godp. 2
2. The Character of the Prophet Muhammadp. 15
The Prophet Muhammad as Primordial Lightp. 15
The TS of the Lampp. 17
The Prophet Muhammad as Moral Exemplarp. 20
The Book of the Example and Imitation of the Messenger of Godp. 21
3. Spiritual Practicep. 40
Conditions of the Spiritual Pathp. 40
from The Bewildered Travelerp. 41
Meditations of the Shattari Orderp. 53
The Treatise on Meditationp. 55
The Treatise on the Intermediate Statep. 65
Ascension through the Planetary Spheresp. 71
The Nine Lodgesp. 72
Practices of the Ordersp. 76
from The Clear Fountainp. 77
4. Divine and Human Lovep. 82
On the Courtesy of the Lover and Belovedp. 84
5. Listening to Musicp. 95
On Listening to Musicp. 97
The Practices of Listening to Musicp. 103
from The Melodies of Listening to Musicp. 105
6. Ethical Practicep. 118
The Errors of Wayfarersp. 120
7. Mastery and Discipleshipp. 148
The Testament to Disciplesp. 150
On Sainthoodp. 159
from The Clarification of Virtue for the People of Divine Knowledgep. 161
8. Lives of the Saintsp. 170
The Life of Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumip. 172
Lives of Women Saintsp. 179
Early Women Saintsp. 182
Rabi'a al-'Adawiyyap. 182
Fiddap. 183
Indian Women of the Chishti Orderp. 185
from Reports of the Righteous on the Secrets of the Piousp. 185
Bibi Sarap. 185
Bibi Fatima Samp. 186
Baghdadian Women of the Rifa'i Orderp. 189
from The Garden of the Guardians and the Extract of the Deeds of the Uprightp. 190
Rabi'a bint Abi Bakrp. 190
Zaynab bint al-Rifa'ip. 191
A Sufi Princess, Jahanarap. 194
from The Confidant of Spiritsp. 196
Notes on Sourcesp. 201
Index of Qur'anie Passages and Prophetic Sayingsp. 205