Islamic Mysticism: A Secular Perspective

Al-Rawandi, Ibn

Published by Prometheus Books
ISBN 10: 1573927678 / ISBN 13: 9781573927673
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Synopsis: Beneath the battle cries of the jihad and an Islamic politics that draws attention to a religion of rigid rules and obsessive devotion, lies the mystical Islam, known as Sufism. What attracts so many Westerners to the faith, says former convert Ibn al-Rawandi, is its "heart made of poetry and art, vision and devotion, that can only be known fully from within." Enchanted by the metaphysics of Sufism, Rawandi studied and worshiped in Cyprus, convinced he had found the answers to life's questions. When doubts emerged for which the traditionalist authors had no answers and the Salman Rushdie affair divided Islam, Rawandi sought to critically evaluate Sufism by reviewing its origins and the best arguments for its views.
In Islamic Mysticism, Rawandi contends that unreliable sources seriously undermine the classical account of Islam and Sufism. His detailed study of the philosophy of religion -especially the work of traditionalists such as RenT Guenon and Frithjof Schuon - helps to develop a critical analysis of Islam from the inside out. Particular attention is given to great Islamic mystic Ibn Arabi, who is taken as representative of Sufism in its highest development. Rawandi offers a critical, secular perspective on Sufism and concludes that mystical experience is not a trustworthy validation of religion.

From the Inside Flap: Beneath the battle cries of the jihad and an Islamic political system that draws attention to a religion of rigid rules and obsessive devotion lies the mystical form of Islam known as Sufism. What attracts so many Westerners to this particular Islamic sect is its "heart made of poetry and art, vision and devotion, that can only be known fully from within." Enchanted by the metaphysics of Sufism, author Ibn al-Rawandi,a former convent, studied and warshiped in Cyprus, convinced he had found the answers to life's questions. But when doubts emerged about the faith for which the traditionalist authors had no answers, and the Slman Rushdie affair focused world attention on the need to critically evaluate Islam, Rawandi began his own assessment of Sufism. In Islamic Mysticism, Rawandi examines the traditional Muslim story of the origin of Islam in detail, taking full account of the work of contemporary Western scholars, revealing the unreliable nature of Muslim sources, and undermining the conventional picture of the life of Muhammad and the origin of the Koran. The collapse of these classical accounts takes with it the conventional story of the origin of Sufism.

Rawandi's detailed study of the philosophy of religion-especially the work of traditionalists such as Ren Gunon and Frithjof Schon-helps him to develop a critical analysis of Islam from the inside out. Particular attention is given to the great Islamic mystic Ibn Arabi, a representative of Sufism in its highest development. Also included is an examination of a little-known controversy in the Islamic world surrounding the occurance of the number nineteen in Koran, shedding new light on that document.

In tandem chapters in each of the book's four parts, Rawandi presents first the traditional Islamic interpretaion, drawn from original sources and sympathetic contemporary interpreters; next he presents a critical view of the same material from a secular perspective. In the end, Rawandi's critical examination of Sufism leads to the conclusion that mystical experience is not a trustworthy validation of religion.

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Title: Islamic Mysticism: A Secular Perspective
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine

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