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Los sufis

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  512 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A fascinating journey through the history of Sufism, this classic volume recounts the spread ofthis religious traditionfrom theseventh century through the present. This history explains how the origin of Sufism is not solely based on Eastern philosophies butrather emergedfrom a mix of Eastern as well as Western religious influences. The study also explores Sufism as arepre ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Editorial Kairos (first published 1964)
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The prodigious Work of the Sufis:

The Sufis by Idries Shah offers a wide overview of the historical development of the Sufi Way, through the works of individual masters (many of whom were highly successful polymaths), schools and orders, and through a whole host of fields in which they were engaged or through which their work was projected, such as religion, ethics, learning, science, the arts, traditional psychology and (not least) humour. Though it came to maturity in the classical Islamic era,
“The Sufis often start from a nonreligious viewpoint” says Idries Shah towards the beginning of this book. Religions after all are nothing more than languages, paths, symbols, collections of forms pointing towards something so real that it is beyond form, yet so intimate that it permeates all. Sufism as a name is perhaps unfortunate just as naming divinity carries its own inherent limitations. When we attempt to name or define “God”, we immediately create a set of conceptions, assumptions that a ...more
To even try to review this seminal book is doomed to fail.
A compass of learning and teaching impossible to encompass.
I remember the impact it had on me in the early seventies.... Attention caught by the `derelict organisations.'

`Since it is this outer shell which is most easily perceptible to the ordinary man , we have to use it to point to something deeper.'

So that was what Chivalry was about; The Legends of the Grail... Elenour of Aquitaine, The Troubadours and Harlequins that had captured a p
Shah's first book, now 50 years old and republished, new jacket, new font, available as a PoD, and soon to be issued as an ebook.

It's challenging to review a book in which the author states, ''... All descriptions are useless distortions of the facts. ...'' but anyway.

Within its covers Shah introduces the reader to Sufism, which some take to mean 'Islamic mysticism' yet the author opines, that while many of its leading lights have been members of the Muslim faith, metaphysics actually precedes r
Rob Springer
The book review has it wrong. It describes Sufis as "A unique and little-known religion..." Sufism is an outgrowth of Islam. I'm not conversant enough with either to say that Sufism is to Islam as Buddhism is to Hinduism, but the historical connection is there.

As for the book, I read it in 1977 and remembered it for the Nasrudin stories. I bought it recently, and as I started reading it, I realized all the wisdom thyat I remembered must have been in the Nasrudin stories. Outside of those, as mu
Mar 27, 2007 James rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the pure of heart
One comes away with the idea of Sufi thought, while now closely associated with Islam, as pre-dating and encompassing all known religious thought. Written from the point of view of an adept, one feels one has touched but a tiny piece of something pure and sacred.
Kevan Bowkett

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of "The Sufis" by Idries Shah -- an event which seems to have clarified a good many puzzles regarding this group of people. A new 50th anniversary edition has just been released by ISF Publishing (

In some ways it seems superfluous to attempt a review of the book. The best thing is to get it and read it. And perhaps reread it, as it includes materials that seem to have meanin
I came to this book primarily because Doris Lessing quotes from it in both "Landlocked" and "The Four-Gated City" and obviously also studied under Indries Shah for many years. Of course, I was already interested in the subject of Sufism, partly through exposure to Traditionalism (which is connected to Sufism primarily through Guenon and Schuon) and partly because spiritual/mystical/esoteric subject matter are drawing more of my attention of late.

If you are looking for a clear, concise study on w
I was really excited to read this book when I first got it. Quite a few people that I know talk about Indries Shah and his writing. The way the book is written wasn't really all that interesting to me and eventually I became bored. I don't want to be offensive here. There are wonderful parts of this book, but there are also a good number of parts in this book where my eyes glazed over a little bit (especially the many parts where the numerical values and many many definitions of words were laid ...more
A massive book in terms of ideas and insight, impossible to reduce the content to soundbites in a short review . I first read this book back in the late seventies and it had a major influence on me. It was a a real gem in a time of peculiar cults and superficial views of spirituality. The book is an experience to read and reread and does lead to glimpses of a different way of seeing and experiencing the world. It clearly has a place now in a time perhaps even more full of pointless distractions ...more
Remember Socrates who used to say: “I only know that I know nothing.” The less one knows the easier it is to judge!??:) So, let me say this: I personally love to see Sufism as an organic and evolutionary school of practical philosophy directed by the Teacher of the Age – the most enlightened human being of any particular moment in time. Idries Shah must have been such a teacher. And The Sufis may well be an example of a book written by the Sufi Teacher of the Age. Go now, judge.
Idries Shah's interesting and sometimes complex book gives a kind of history of Sufism along with some of Christianity's similarities to Sufic thought.
I found this interesting, especially with the introduction by The Classicist R. Graves, but the Marx quote referring to religion as the opiate of the masses made me refuse to embrace this middle eastern mindset.

What also brought caution to approach the languages and cultures immediately south and east of the Mediterranean was an innate fear of foreigners, even if couscous tastes nice and Yury taught me how to write allahu akhbar in Farsi so it's not as scary.

What might help assuage my nerves a
Lenny Hall
One of my favorite books by Idries Shah
I checked out The Sufis by Idries Shah on a whim. I ran across it while looking for his English translations of the “Tales of Nasrudin”.

I’ve long been fascinated by the Sufi. The works of Rumi and Omar Khayyám, of Hafiz, Ibn el-Arabi, Ghazali, and Averroës, all had powerful effects on me when I first read them, and each time I reread them. The Sufi exerted a powerful and largely unappreciated influence over the course of Western culture and history.

Mr. Shah is an esteemed author and a Sufi. I th
Ulrika Eriksson
I have read The Sufis by Idries Shah, 1924-1996, many times since the first time 1996 in my ongoing self bettering work. It was thanks to Doris Lessing, who I also admire immensely, that I found my way to Idries Shah. Sufism is not accessible through ordinary rational and logical thinking and so it can not 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 ...more
Skylar Burris
At the half-way point, I’m resigning this title to my unfinished-or-skimmed shelf.

Here Sufism is not regarded as an outgrowth of Islam but as “the religion in all religions,” the sort of mystical heart of religion itself, at home in any religion. I’m not sure how historically accurate this book’s interpretation is, but it is the perspective of a Sufi himself. (The author, says the Introduction, “happens to be in the senior male line of descent from the prophet Mohammed, and to have inherited th
Zain Haider
Some parts of "The Sufis" are nothing less than brilliant; the Moulvi Nasruddin parables, for example, or the story about recognising an elephant in the dark. Shah takes considerable leeway with explaining and expounding the Sufi doctrine and theology but he doesn't miss the mark entirely.
I do not recommend this book or this author anymore. 4 years ago I rated it 5 stars, without going into details but I have discovered far better, clearer, more closer to the source and widely available authors since (when referring to the English and French languages only).

Instead, I would sincerely recommend Martin Lings, Titus Burckhardt and Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

However, I am thankful for his exposition of Nasrudin jokes (Juha in North Africa, Nasrudin in asia minor and to the east) - which som
Ron Krumpos
Idries Shah is one of the most important, albeit controversial, writers on the mysticism of Islam in the 20th century.

"The Way of the Sufi" is one of the books in the primary bibliography of my free ebook on comparative mysticism" at which included many of its quotations of Sufis.
Picked this up after seeing a Sufi mystic dance performance - right here in PQ. Read it all the way through, it was a slow go. Don't remember too much, but that it was very enlightening.
Very thorough introduction to the great sufis of the past and how their wisdom is woven into many alternate spiritual lineages. I discovered much of the description of the characteristics of sufi ritual to resemble what we practice as Kundalini yogis. I highly recommend making notes of all the authors mentioned in the book as a resource. I didn't do it but I wish I had and will probably read this book again so I can make this list, as well as to see what I get out of it in a second read.
An odd book, captivating and bewildering, sometimes on purpose and other times perhaps not. I found the introductory material fascinating, as well as the initial chapters detailing the lives and teachings of the major Sufi teachers. The portion of the book that goes into all the esoteric secret-society connections with Freemasons and Rosicrucians and such, while it would be wonderful for the plot of an Umberto Eco novel, sort of lost me.
The first two hundred pages were great, but then it got bogged down a bit in minutiae such as Arabic word roots that show multiple meanings for words in Sufi stories. I enjoyed learning about the Sufis though as my previous knowledge was fairly limited, but think there are probably a few better books for an introduction to Sufi history and teachings.
ماهر Battuti
A book which can change your life. It changed the life of Doris Lessing !
It treats the idea of Sufism, and the ways of great Sufis from old times and the Mystics of the west. We read about Ibn El-Arabi (ابن عربى) and El-Ghazali and Khayyam. Most important is the valuable introduction of Robert Graves.
A very recommended book.
Steve D
Fascinating and informative, though a bit slow. Always amazing to explore a new topic in such depth and realize how much is out there and how many ways there are to live. Recommended if you already have an interest in the Sufis orif you want to develop an interest, but not airplane novel fare.
Ibrahim Mukadam
It is thought provocateur!!!
The stories from the classical authors are funny, interesting, strange, meaningful. One of the ones I especially remember is "The Heaviest Wave."
Okay, I read it because a movie made me curious about the Sufis, but it was really interesting.
William Roemer
An easy read.... so I hear..... but when was the last time a book spoke to you?
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Other books on sufism 1 2 Dec 23, 2014 11:53PM  
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  • Al-Ghazali on the Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife (Book XL of The Revival of the Religious Sciences)
  • Essential Sufism
  • The Mysticism of Sound and Music
  • The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways of the Heart for the Modern Dervish
  • The Lives of Man: A Guide to the Human States: Before Life, In the World, and After Death
  • The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam's Mystical Tradition
  • Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi
  • The Sufi Path Of Knowledge: Ibn Al ʻarabi's Metaphysics Of Imagination
  • Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure
  • Understanding Islam
  • Journey to the Lord of Power: A Sufi Manual on Retreat
  • The Kashf Al-Mahjub (the Revelation of the Veiled) an Early Persian Treatise on Sufism ('Ali B. 'Uthman Al-Jullabi Al-Hujwiri)
  • The Conference of the Birds
  • Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel
  • دلائل الخيرات
  • Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims
  • Islam and the Destiny of Man
Idries Shah (Persian: ادریس شاه), also known as Idris Shah, né Sayed Idries el-Hashimi (Arabic: سيد إدريس هاشمي), was an author and teacher in the Sufi tradition who wrote over three dozen critically acclaimed books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies.

Born in India, the descendant of a family of Afghan nobles, Shah grew up mainly in England. His ea
More about Idries Shah...
Tales of the Dervishes The Way of the Sufi The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin: The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin Learning How to Learn: Psychology and Spirituality in the Sufi Way

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“It is the message, not the man, which is important to the Sufis.” 64 likes
“The sufis believe that they can experience something more complete.” 29 likes
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