This work is unique in that it is one of the few works in English that have been written biographing the life of a contemporary Sufi master who famousThis work is unique in that it is one of the few works in English that have been written biographing the life of a contemporary Sufi master who famous in the East, but almost unheard of in the West. Due to the influence of the Perrenialist Philosophical School and their connection to Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi (Allah be well pleased with him) and many earlier Shadhili masters is well-known.
Because of this and the spiritual charisma of Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi, I have noticed that unfortunately a man equally as compelling and influential is almost unknown in English-speaking academic world. Shaykh al-Hashimi created a similar renaissance of spirituality in Greater Syria paralleling Shaykh al-Alawi's efforts in Algeria. Perhaps the only difference is that after moving to Damascus, Shaykh al-Hashimi did not have to deal with the burgeoning Salafi Movement that sought to deny the legitimacy of tasawwuf and the orthodox tariqas (along with their practices).
He instead found himself in a largely friendly environment and thus was able to focus more of his energies on teaching and he became a major figure in the re-education of the Syrian people. His influence was so great that virtually all of the Shadhilis in Greater Syria are his spiritual successors, he was publicly declared by Shaykh al-Alawi to be his sole successor in the region (even though he was not directly his student - a testimony to Shaykh al-Hashimi's spiritual rank) and he became the unofficial Shaykh al-Islam of the Sufis in Damascus during his lifetime.
In terms of the work itself, not only is it a biography, but it is also an explanation and exposition of the basic method of Shaykh al-Hashimi, elucidating the pure Orthodoxy upon which he stood. By emphasizing both Shaykh al-Hashimi's personal life and environment, along with his spiritual training of his students and published works, Sidi Mokrane establishes the uncompromising Orthodoxy and Islamic character of the Shadhili Order - wresting it from the grips of those who seek to implant their own philosophical leanings upon the teachings and personality of its exponents (friends and foe alike). For that, all those who love Shaykh al-Hashimi are obliged to love Sidi Mokrane for his service. This is a must have for anyone interested in contemporary Sufism, particularly of the Shadhili persuasion.
This, like Sidi Mokrane's other translation (The Adab of the True Seeker) only left me wishing that more would have been translated from Shaykh al-Hashimi's original works. Sidi Mokrane is 2 for 2 in my scorecard and is easily one of my favorite translators....more
This is the premiere biography of Ibn Arabi in the English language. Despite some minor mistakes, Claude Addas has a clear respect and veneration forThis is the premiere biography of Ibn Arabi in the English language. Despite some minor mistakes, Claude Addas has a clear respect and veneration for Ibn Arabi that is perhaps not found with others. For that reason, Claude Addas plays the role as a narrator, instead of the usual interpreter that we usually get with respect to Shaykh Muhyi al-Din. I loaned this book out to a friend to read and I regret not replacing it. ...more
This is the conversion story of a man who would eventually become one of the first authorized spiritual masters at the hands of Shaykh Abd al-Rahman aThis is the conversion story of a man who would eventually become one of the first authorized spiritual masters at the hands of Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri and one of the re-eminent scholars of classical Islam in the English-speaking world. I don't think it would be appropriate for me to give a rating or typical review....more
This is the autobiography of one of the most influential women in the Black Power Movement. Though Elaine Cleaver and Angela Davis are famous due to tThis is the autobiography of one of the most influential women in the Black Power Movement. Though Elaine Cleaver and Angela Davis are famous due to their outspoken natures and media attention they were able to garner as feminine spokespersons of the movement, Assata Shakur was a grassroots leader in New York who stayed out of the limelight - until the FBI attempted to portray the Black Panther Party as a criminal organization and the emergence of the Black Liberation Army. Being an active member during the decline of the Party, her story is one of what happened to the movement when the FBI waged a war on the Black community, which lead to the erasure of what was perhaps the last phase of positive grassroots leadership in the Black community (a void which was filled by the street gangs of the later 70s that are at present an inseparable aspect of youth culture). Her story is the story of Black feminism and its contribution to the community.
Though it has been a while since I read it, what I do recall is her criticism, both of the system and the movement she herself was apart of. I do also vividly recall her descriptions of what life on the run actually looks like - how isolating and depressing such a lifestyle actually is - as well as her prison experience, an experience which seems all too familiar for some in the post-Patriot Act America.
How one understands the history of that time is heavily dependent upon the social context which is often forgotten and the story of Assata is the story of the gross injustice, inequality and racism that plagued the North which lead to the emergence of something as seemingly radical as the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. While the Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army, Communist and related "radical" organizations are looked upon with contempt and disdain in our times. People often neglect how the murder of Fred Hampton was reflective of race relations between the Black working class and the state apparatus. While the Klan was lynching people in Mississippi, the FBI, police and state troopers were outright murdering folks - including the attempt on Assata that made her famous.
Though most of the people who will or have read this book are those with sympathies towards the protagonist, I believe that this book is even more important for Assata's critics and people outside of the community, as the similarities between now and then in respect to the "War on Terror" are striking. It is important for otherwise well-meaning patriots to see what a "domestic terrorist" actually looks like. And with the false imprisonment and unjust conviction of Imam Jamil al-Amin - it would do us a great disservice to forget the lessons of Assata's life to contemporary critics of mainstream society....more
DISCLAIMER: Because of my own personal affinity to the author and what this book means to me practically, I was hesitant to write anything at all. WhaDISCLAIMER: Because of my own personal affinity to the author and what this book means to me practically, I was hesitant to write anything at all. What follows, therefore, is more of a devotional summary than a literary review.
Shaykh Nuh said this book is part of his legacy and that is indeed what it is. It is composed of three parts, which he titles: Men of the Path, The Way and Bearings.
"Men of the Path" is composed of five original biographies of five Sufis that the author personally met and spent much time in the company of. The first is of his own mentor, Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri. He then gives the biographies of three other Shadhilis connected to Shaykh al-Hashimi (Shaykh Abd al-Wakil Durubi, Shaykh Yunus and Shaykh Adel) and concludes with a biography of his wife's shaykh, Hajji Baba, a traditional old school Turkish Naqshbandi whom he affectionately refers to as "The Last Ottoman". Far from being a simple biography, it contains personal insights and reflections that reveal a level of humanity of the author that is quite refreshing and unusual, though just as instructive.
"The Way" is a re-write of Tariqa Notes and serves a general manual of the Sufi life that the author teaches and lives himself. In addition to the previous material, the author included chapters on family life, past times (i.e. internet usage, restaurants, music, etc.) and friends, each giving injunctions relating directly to one's suluk (spiritual progress). That being said, perhaps the most brilliant aspect of the book is a chapter called "The Shadhili Rule" which is an original point-by-point summary of the path along the lines of Sidi Ahmad Zarruq's Usul al-Tariqa and rivals anything like it that has been written. It is in brief, a code of ethics, simplified and refined, summarizing the entire spiritual travel of the author that is able to be penned. As to the importance and practicality of this section, the author states:
These usul are the basis of tawfiq in this path, and whoever exalts them will find they exalt him. Simply put, the tariqa is a means to raise the veil between the slave and Allah. Its condition is the above rule, which comprises the validity of one's Islamic faith and practice; the traditional Sufi method of knowledge ('ilm), practice ('amal), and resultant spiritual state (hal); and the three great aims of suluk: repentance (tawba), nonattachment to other than Allah (zuhd), and tahqiq al-'ubudiyya or realizing one's slavehood. Allah has created the path, the sheikh and the salik to allow this to happen.
This entire section for aspirants delineates the expectations and goals one should have and for those unfamiliar with the Hashimi Order, lays out what exactly this tariqa thing is all about from an insiders perspective.
Lasty, "Bearings" is a collection of articles that answer what are perhaps the most important (and perhaps most controversial) contemporary theological questions relating to the spiritual life. Of this section perhaps the most profound is a 30-page answer to the issue of theodicy (the problem of evil) from a practical perspective.
In summary, anyone who is interested in what Orthodox Sufism looks like in the 20th century, one could do a lot worse. As for those already connected to the author, it is a manual for what we should be doing and a model of what we should eventually become....more
I was first referred to Fethullah Gulen by Sh. Faraz Rabbani during a SunniPath seerah class after previously been completely clueless to his name. ThI was first referred to Fethullah Gulen by Sh. Faraz Rabbani during a SunniPath seerah class after previously been completely clueless to his name. This is one of the best contemporary books that I have read on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is not a work of seerah, rather, it is more along the lines of the Shifa` of al-Qadi `Iyad, in describing the personality of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his functions, as opposed to giving a chronological view of his life.
Gulen gives a literary presentation of the topics discussed in the nubawwat section of any `aqida text and he clarifies a number of issues with a specific audience in mind. This book is a must read for new converts, as it addresses many mistaken notions and intentional lies/distortions that almost everyone is subject to. After discussing the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and a wide array of subjects related to him and his public functions, he then gives a very well written, extremely accessible defense of the hadith corpus AND the necessity of following the Sunna for everyone who claims to love the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
I regret waiting so long to read this book, as the introduction includes a description of Fethullah Gulen's interfaith outreach and I have developed a great deal of skepticism towards such activities, as it typically involves placing Islam on the buffet table of religious ideologies, as someone once put it. Far from that, Gulen not only is someone with complete conviction in the Prophet's (Allah bless him and give him peace) mission, status and rank before God, but he also is clearly a lover of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the entire book is an attempt to instill this love in the minds and hearts of the reader. I also admit that it was rather refreshing to see an author unapologetically and lovingly mention the names of the heads of several Sufi orders in a work about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
I believe it was Sh. Abd al-Hakim Murad who said that the Islamic revival will more than likely be lead by Turkish intellectuals and after reading this book, I can only hope such a prediction comes true. The modern Turks (who are not military secularists) do not seem to have the hang-ups that the modern Arabs have and had it been the former instead of the latter who currently enjoys a leadership role in the religious psyche of the ummah, I would imagine that things would be much different.
It is only because this book is better suited for people who have not had much reading/study in Islamic theology that I have not given it 5 stars. For people whom fit that category, it goes in my required reading list....more