In the Garden of Myrtles

Studies in Early Islamic Mysticism

By Staffan Andrae
Translated by Birgitta Sharpe
Introduction by Eric Sharpe

Paperback : 9780887065248, 182 pages, August 1987
Hardcover : 9780887065231, 182 pages, August 1987

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Table of contents

Annemarie Schimmel

Tor Andrae
Eric Sharpe

Preface to Original Swedish Edition


I. Islam and Christianity

II. Asceticism

III. Solitude and Fellowship: The Believer and the World

IV. The Life of the Soul

V. God the Only God

VI. Trusting and Loving God

Index of Proper Names
Index of Books and Articles
Index of Technical Terms


Here are the early Sufis themselves. Here are their ascetic practices; their attitudes toward women and marriage, toward food and drink, and toward music and poetry; and here is their ecstatic experience. This is a study in holiness and the love of God, but it is even more a study of men and women overcome by that holiness and love, and locked in the paradox of loving a God who makes vast demands on them. The early Sufis were not seeking consolation. Who they were and what they were after, the reader will discover here.

Topics discussed include the historical background of early Muslim mysticism and the relations between Muslim and Christian ascetics. Andrae suggests parallels drawn from his vast reading in the literature of religious experience, both East and West.

Tor Andrae was Professor of the History of Religion at the University of Uppsala. Birgitta Sharpe is a translator and broadcaster, living in Sydney, Australia. Annemarie Schimmel is Professor of Islamic Studies at Harvard University and author of The Mystical Dimension of Islam.


"Using the words of the Sufis themselves, it offers comparative judgments integrating aspects of known Western mystical experiences into the unknown Sufi experiences. "—Victor Danner

"I had long heard of Tor Andrae's sensitive treatment of early Sufism. But as I cannot read Swedish, I had no access to this work until now. It has lived up to its billing and surpassed my expectations. His sympathy for and sensitivity to the psychological states of the early Sufis are of great importance. " — W. M. Thackston

"An important contribution to the search for the major themes of early Sufism. " — William C. Chittick

"This is a thoroughly first-class work by one of the leading students of Islam of his generation. The book is impressive for its authenticity and for the depth of the author's knowledge. " — Charles J. Adams