Translations and analyses of three Persian Sufi texts, offering a perspective on Islam that is rarely met in modern works.
William C. Chittick is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at State University of New York, Stony Brook. His other books include A Shi'ite Anthrology; The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination; and The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, all published by SUNY Press.
"In this book, Chittick presents Islam from the inside—from the point of view of Muslims themselves. He first explains Islamic concepts to his readers and then uses these concepts, rather than Western concepts, to discuss Islam. I found the Introduction especially interesting because of the author's skill in presenting Islam to Western readers. I believe the introduction to this work could serve very well as a separate essay introducing Islam as a whole. " — Nicholas Heer, University of Washington
"More than labels like 'Sufi,' this book is about the enduring legacy that has sustained Islam as a great intellectual as well as spiritual tradition. The range and authenticity of this book have no parallel in the list of English-language books on Islamic spirituality. " — Frederick Mathewson Denny, University of Colorado
"A great many books have appeared on Islamic mysticism. I do not know any, however, that accomplish what Chittick has done in this book. He presents Sufism in a way that can be understood by those with little background in Islam, persuasively laying out the doctrines contained in these texts in ways that locate them firmly within the classical Islamic theological world view. At the same time this material is valuable to those who are well versed in Islamic mysticism. I can imagine this being used as a textbook in the study of Islam in general undergraduate courses as well as in programs at the graduate level. " — Jane I. Smith, Iliff School of Theology
"Though very scholarly, this is a book from the heart. Chittick reclaims Islam from the fundamentalists and returns it to the Sufis. The title of the book formally announces this move. It is demonstrated through several leisurely discussions of terms, gently leading the reader to the conclusion that Sufism is simply the full and complete actualization of the faith and practice of Islam. The book provides substantial comparison to Christian and Judaic religious practice and is a valuable resource for scholars and students of comparative religion. " — Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"William Chittick is, in his field of study, the best scholar of his generation. He also has a special gift with which not many scholars are graced: the ability to present even the most complicated and sophisticated patterns of thought in such a way that they can be understood by everybody—always maintaining his high intellectual standards. He shows profound knowledge and a fine sense of the beautiful subtleties of the Arabic and Persian languages. This together with his intellectual brilliance and his clear, lively, and elegant style make him the ideal exponent of the essentials of Islam in general and of Sufism in particular.
"This would be very useful as a textbook for classes on the faith of Islam and on the meaning of Sufism. " — Alma Giese