- Paperback: 527 pages
- Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1st edition (April 1, 1978)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807812714
- ISBN-13: 978-0807812716
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mystical Dimensions of Islam 1st Edition
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Students of Islam and of comparative religion--as well as those who respond to mysticism--are deeply in the author's debt for giving us what will surely be the standard treatment of Sufism for a long time to come.--America
Beautifully written. The best and most comprehensive study on Islamic mysticism in the English language.--Religious Studies Review
Mystical Dimensions of Islam, from its first appearance in 1975, has become the standard English-language handbook on the subject of Sufism. . . . No scholar in the last half of the twentieth century had a greater impact on the study of Islamic mysticism than Annemarie Schimmel.--Carl W. Ernst, from the foreword
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
It is a very rewarding book. However, it is worth noting that in recent decades, these expressions within Islam are increasingly viewed as heresy, and even as non Islamic, especially since the hardening of attitudes within Islam as a result of being attacked by Western crusaders. The rapidly growing movement towards Wahhabi and Salafi ways of life and belief are putting paid to much of the expression that Schimmel describes in her book. It is accurate to say that many Salafi and Wahhabi adherents would consider much of what Schimmel describes in her research as un- Islamic, and would label it as haram and the lifestyle of the Kaffir, whilst other contemporary scholars might view it as orientalist.
It is a beautiful, insightful book that Schimmel has written -- but, it is also somewhat poignant - if one is at all aware of socio political changes of the past decade, one cannot help but get the impression that the Islam she describes is no longer fully accepted in most of the Islamic world. The relentless Western attacks on Muslim society have made Islam far more austere, rigid, and wary of outside influences and free, controversial expressions of spirituality. Read Nir Rosen and Robert Fisk to learn more about the Muslim world's reaction to the savage Western attacks since the late 40's to the present time, and it will be clear why more and more Muslims are turning to an arguably more intolerant, conservative form of religious expression. Nir Rosen( a journalist of Iranian Jewish Mizrahi origin ) reports that before the American led attack on Iraq, a number of ancient religions existed and even thrived, together, in harmony. Mandeans, Shia, Sunni, Christian, and other Gnostic sects had lived side by side, with a degree of freedom and respect,that was indeed, sometimes brutally compromised but for the most part, had lasted for centuries.
Schimmel's beautiful work seems to represent forms of Islamic expression that have largely decreased now, or, certainly have been put under pressure.
I loved reading it. It is an amazing combination of significant content and beautiful English.
I recommend start reading from the 3rd chapter.
A friend of mine started reading and said: "Sometimes you read a book and say 'Aha!', while reading this book you go 'Aha!... Aha!...Aha!... ...'
A must read for those interested in Islam and Muslim culture, and also for those who are from a Muslim background.
Unlike some scholars today who pay more attention to differences than continuity, Schimmel's book outlines the many, many currents of Islamic thought without coming to conclusions such as "Well, it is really impossible to say what is or is not Islamic mysticism". Instead, she looks at the historical development of mystical Islamic thought, noting both consistencies and deviations, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, the noble and the shameful. The ability to walk the fine line between excessive praise and excessive criticism of a given religious tradition - in this case Islam - is walked with great care and balance by Schimmel. She recognizes that the basic goal of the mystics of Islam was to be true witnesses to Islam's central claim but that this was not always achieved.
One of the most fascinating streams of mystical Islamic thought is the understanding of the soul. This topic is discussed many times as Schimmel notes the views of different mystics; for those looking for a way out of the dead end that much of secular psychotherapy has given us, the understanding of people as containing both higher and lower natures - as well as a fundamental need for God - is something that is worth chewing on. That this view is the same as that held by classical Christianity is worth noting (and Schimmel regularly notes similarities to other religious traditions throughout her work).
This book is a thick read - in fact, it is highly detailed and can become a bit confusing at points, especially when Schimmel begins to discuss yet another person by the same name; it will take time to get through. Nonetheless, it is a highly rewarding read and, for those that seek to understand the religion of Islam better, this book will help to paint *some* of that picture in a more detailed manner.