Faith and Practice of Islam

Three Thirteenth-Century Sufi Texts

By William C. Chittick

Subjects: New Age
Series: SUNY series in Islam
Paperback : 9780791413685, 322 pages, October 1992
Hardcover : 9780791413678, 322 pages, November 1992

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Table of contents

A Note on Dates and Koranic References


Part One
Islam in Three Dimensions


Works, Faith, and Perfection

Faith and Knowledge

Ihsan , Ikhlas , and Taqwa



The Sciences of Unveiling and Practice



Part Two


Style and Content

The Three Principles

The Cosmology of Tawhid



The Rising Places of Faith


I. Faith in God

1. The Essence

2. The Attributes

3. The Acts

II. Faith in Prophecy

1. The Wonders of Prophecy

2. The Prophet Muhammad

III. Faith In The Last Day

1. Human Subsistence

2. The Barzakh and the Other Stages of the Next World


Clarifications for Beginners and Reminders for the Advanced


I. The Creator

1. The Essence

2. The Attributes

3. The Acts

II. Friendship And Prophecy

1. Friendship


2. Prophecy

III. This World And The Next World

1. Benefits And Dangers Of This World

2. The Next World And Its Stages


Part Three


The Easy Roads of Sayf Al-Din

Introduction: Perfecting Character

A Preliminary Remark

I. The Science Of Faith

1. The Essence

2. The Attributes

3. The Acts

4. Prophecy

5. The Next World

II. Ablutions And Purity

1. The Excellence Of Purity

2. Relieving Oneself

3. The Minor Ablution

An Allusion

4. The Major Ablution

5. The Tayammum

III. The Ritual Prayer

1. Its Excellence

2. The Number Of Cycles

3. How To Perform The Prayer

A Hint

4. The Inward Dimensions

IV. Fasting

1. Its Excellence

2. Its Secret And Its Degrees

3. Its Obligations

V. Remembrance And Supplication

1. Imparting Remembrance

2. Transmitted Supplications

3. Supplications For Every Situation

Conclusion: The Journey

Part Four
Sufism And Islam


Orthodox Islam

Mysticism And Discipline

Toward A Narrower Definition Of Sufism





The Rising Places Of Faith

Clarifications For Beginners

The Easy Roads Of Sayf Al-Din




1. The Author

2. Corrections To The Printed Texts



Index of Koranic Verses

Index of Hadiths and Sayings

Index of Names and Terms


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