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The Way of the Sufi (Compass) Paperback – September 1, 1991


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The Way of the Sufi (Compass) + The Sufis + Learning How to Learn: Psychology and Spirituality in the Sufi Way (Compass)
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Product Details

  • Series: Compass
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140192522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140192520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Dominion of the earth from end to end is worth less than a drip of blood upon the earth." Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam that teaches love, humility, poverty, pragmatism and wisdom. In his timeless introduction, Idries Shah presents selections of lyric poems, fantastic tales, humorous anecdotes, and insightful maxims straight from the writings of revered Sufi masters. Originally a reaction against the increasing worldliness of Islam, Sufi wisdom still hits home in a modern world obsessed with pleasure and material wealth.

Review

"(It) will give both pleasure and some insight into Sufi ideas." -- Carluke Gazette, July 12, 1974

"A present for anyone who, though religious, finds the current orthodoxies unpalatable." -- Times Literary Supplement

"Highly educative, basic course of study; intrinsic relevance to all." -- The Hindu

"I wish I could have the experience of reading this book again for the first time ..." -- Doris Lessing, The New York Times Book Review, May 7, 1971

"Idries Shah's book is, in a real sense, a key-book." -- Theoria to Theory, April, 1969

"More wisdom than ... in any other book this year." OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR -- BBC's The Critics --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 19 customer reviews
Many of the stories read like fables.
D. Burwell
Read with energy and an open (but not glib) mind, it can be an avenue for experiential learning.
Caroline Harkins
This book is a great source of information and history on Sufism.
Quaker Annie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Quaker Annie on June 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a great source of information and history on Sufism. A scholarly work, published first in 1970, it is still pertinent to today.

It opens with an important chapter on the study of Sufism in the Western world -- and its limitations.

Shah raises questions about how much one can learn and understand about Sufism, using books and writings which may not fully understand how Sufism works. As one example, he uses modern Western debates on the meaning of the word "Sufi". Westerners, with our determination that there is an understandable and intellectual explanation for everything, often cannot accept that there may not be a 'logical' explanatin.

As explained in the eleventh -century Revelation, the earliest Persian writings on Sufism by Hujwiri, the term 'Sufi' has no etymology.

But for decades, a common explanation by Westerners is that
'Sufi' is similar to the Arabic word pronounced soof which means 'wool'. Those practicing Sufism wore wool, therefore this is the logical explanation.

(Shah submits that the reason common among Sufis is that the effects of sounds are important in Sufism -- and the sound of the Arabic letters which bring out the sounds of S U F are significant to the Sufis in their practices).

This short chapter is full of useful thoughts for modern day Western "Sufis" , with cautions and thoughts about what Sufism is, how it is understood and much more. He ends the chapter with a list of requirements for Western students studying Sufism -

1. Understand the bulk of translations available are unsuitable 2. seek authorative written and oral information and activities designed by Sufis to operate in the student's own culture and times
3.
Read more ›
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Denise Nessel (denisen524@aol.com) on October 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The opening essay of this fascinating book provides a clear, concise tracing of the Sufi influence on human thought and action through the centuries. That's followed by sections on the great Sufi masters of the past, including background information and selections from their most influential teachings. The book also includes a wide assortment of teaching stories, lectures, and themes for contemplation, which, taken together, provide a panoramic view of the Sufis and the impact they have had--and continue to have--on society. This is essential reading for those who wish to learn what it means to be "in the world but not of it" from the authentic Sufi perspective.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Doris E. and Wyman Harrison on July 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My title for this review consists of a quote from Shah's introduction to a number of El-Ghazali's quotes, observations, and admonitions. In a society like ours in which "information" is so often used interchangeably with "knowledge," we suddenly come upon an author (Shah) who uses words in a special, precise fashion that sharpens both his message and our understanding. After Ghazali, Shah introduces us to the works of seven other classical Sufi authors. He then moves on to a consideration of the four major orders, showing us their deficiencies as well as their strengths for raising the consciousness of men and women, primarily in the East. Teaching stories and themes for solitary contemplation are presented toward the end of the book, followed by some revealing "Letters and Lectures," and a Q & A section with two contemporary Sufi masters. The density of Shah's prose, as well as his offerings from other Sufi teachers in later sections of the book, leaves one's mind and heart in awe of the majesty of the Sufi source of Knowledge. I feel that almost anyone can benefit from this book, which is full of material that covers a range from the contemporary and practical to the uplifting and sublime.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book provides a good collection of sufi sayings - the words of wisdom - e.g.
------The Answer ---
We wrote a hundred letters, and you did not write an answer. This, too, is a reply.
--- Zauqi
---------Remedy------
Your medicine is in you, and you do not observe it.
Your ailment is from yourself, and you do not register it.
-----Hazrat Ali
--------- The State ----
Justice and fairness, not religion or atheism,
Are needful for the protection of the State.
------Hakim Jami
------ The Science -------
The Science of Truth disappers in the Sufi's knowledge.
When will mankind understand this saying?
----Jalaludin Rumi
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Harkins on November 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Humour! History! Stories! Mental teasers! Here are challenges to habitual and defensive thought. We must turn the stone over and examine its several sides.
Shah can be compared to Socrates in his benevolent probing into our cherished but unexamined patterns of thought and action.
Here Idries Shah has translated and assembled a most considerate introduction to Sufi literature and practice. The Way of the Sufi Includes chapters on Sufism in the West, classical authors, Sufi masters, teaching stories and other topics. But this book is not just about the Sufi way, it forms a part of the Sufi Way in our time. Read with energy and an open (but not glib) mind, it can be an avenue for experiential learning.
Enlightening, entertaining, engrossing, The Way of the Sufi just might affect the way you look at things and what you do.
Exerpts:
The Seed of Sufi Knowledge
The true seed was made in Adam's time. The miracle of life, existence.
It germinated in the period of Noah. The miracle of growth, rescue.
By the time of Abraham it had sent forth branches. The miracle of spreading, maintenance.
The epoch of Moses saw the making of the grapes. The miracle of fruit.
The time of Jesus was that of the ripening of the yield. The miracle of tasting, joy.
Mohammed's time saw the pressing of clear wine. The miracle of attainment, transformation. Bayazid Bistami
What Looks After You
Knowledge is better thatn wealth. You have to look after wealth; knowledge looks after you. Ali
The Thief and the Blanket
A thief entered the house of a Sufi, and found nothing there. As he was leaving, the dervish perceived his disappointment and threw him the blanket in which he was sleeping, so that he should not go away empty-handed.
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