When it first appeared in 1964, The Sufis was welcomed as the decisive work on the subject of Sufi thought. Rich in scope, author Idries Shah explained clearly the traditions and philosophy of the Sufis to a Western audience for the first time. In the five decades since its release, the book has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and has found a wide readership in both East and West. Containing detailed information on the major Sufi thinkers, and literary characters, such as Nasrudin, it is regarded as a key work on both Sufism and Eastern Philosophy. A text in scores of leading universities around the world for courses on Sufism, Eastern thought, and Islamic philosophy, The Sufis has been used by psychologists and physicists, by school teachers, lawyers, social workers, and by ordinary members of the public.
©1964 The Estate of Idries Shah (P)2016 The Idries Shah Foundation
In my ongoing self-bettering work I have read The Sufis many, many times since the first in 1996. The Sufis is a book about Sufism from an inside perspective and when it first came out in the west 1964 there were no other books like it. What was written about Sufism was written by scholars and orientalists from an outside perspective.
The Sufis records Sufism's influence on human society in Asia, Europe, India, Japan and China, mainly from the 7th century and onwards but Sufism is part of human history right from its beginning. Some periods, like ours, it has been able to work more in the open than others. Important Sufis like Rumi, Ibn el Arabi, Saadi of Shiraz, Ghazzali, Khayyam and many others are presented.
Sufism is not accessible through ordinary rational and logical thinking and so it cannot be understood just by reading books but they can serve as a bridge, leading from the ordinary, attenuated or embryonic human consciousness into greater perception and realization, writes Idries Shah. So I keep on reading. Shah also stresses the necessity for the seeker to find a guide, a task with many pitfalls.
Many thanks to The Idries Shah foundation for relaunching the works of Idries Shah, both in printed form and as eBooks.
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