I am usually somewhat annoyed when authors simplify their writing style to speak to a general audience, but it did not bother me here. The message isI am usually somewhat annoyed when authors simplify their writing style to speak to a general audience, but it did not bother me here. The message is straight forward and Dr. Leonard Sax gives some very practical advice to parents on how to help their sons overcome the five key problems he identifies. It puts ink to some things I've believed about myself and my own educational experience in particular and as such, I would recommended it to men ages 35 and below for the sake of self-knowledge. However, this book is even more essential reading for parents and those who hope to have children in the future....more
Due to the nature of this book and my relationship to the translator, I do not think that a review is fitting. However, I can state without hesitationDue to the nature of this book and my relationship to the translator, I do not think that a review is fitting. However, I can state without hesitation that this is by far the superior translation of the Kitab al-Tanwir (of which three are apparently available in English). The baraka of this particular translation is palpable and I enjoyed it cover to cover. This is not a book that should be read in a single sitting. Rather, the reader should take their time and slowly let the mu'dhakara take root in their heart. And it is indeed a mu'dhakara: this is "practical" Sufism at its finest. I can testify to the fact that this book brought about a certain hal and I found something similar after reading it that I find after reciting making dhikr. In addition, I often found myself unable to read it unless I gave it the same respect that I would have given to the original author were I in his presence at the time of its initial exposition. The only translation I have read thus far that is analogous is Mukhtar Holland's translations of Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani's works. Beyond that, I do not think there is a greater praise that I can give...
In addition to the translation, our good friend Dr. Ibrahim Hakim only did us a further service by sourcing all of the hadith that he was able to find. And even though I know the translator personally, I do not believe it has biased my opinion. The one criticism I have of the book is that it needs a professional editor, as some of the formatting is not standard. Be that as it may, I eagerly look forward to anything else that Sidi Ibrahim may be commissioned to translate in the future....more
Professor Ehrman writes in a highly accessible and entertaining style. The message is profound: forgery was a widespread practice in Early ChristianitProfessor Ehrman writes in a highly accessible and entertaining style. The message is profound: forgery was a widespread practice in Early Christianity - so widespread that in one way or another, it found its way into almost half of the books of the New Testament. But as it is not a new claim, I got the book to serve as a comparison between the canonization of Christian scripture and hadith authentication. With that aim in mind, I appreciate Ehrman's focus on the discipline of textual criticism and how it applies to Christian religious literature. He purposely avoided duplicating his previous works, only mentioning their content as needed to provide examples to demonstrate his contentions.
Having not entirely read his previous works (this is all the local library had in stock at the time), I would imagine it is not as profound or have the shock value of something like Jesus Interrupted or Misquoting Jesus for a general audience. I would also assume that it was written in part as an answer to his critics and for that reason, it will probably not be as well received.
All I can think of when reading this book is the Prophetic curse, "Whoever lies on me, let him take his seat in the Hell-fire" and how fearful the early Muslim community was of making even unintentional mistakes. Much could be said on that topic... Giving the more academic nature of this particular work, I would recommend this as a companion piece to his previous publications. It would be more readily appreciated by people concerned with methodology and jurisprudence - two subjects which bore most people. ...more
Reads like a textbook, probably because it is one... Extremely dry and factual. There are some contentions with some of the information here and thereReads like a textbook, probably because it is one... Extremely dry and factual. There are some contentions with some of the information here and there, but the author attempted to be as unbiased as she could while recognizing that she is in fact an outside observer. I read the book to get a grasp on the effects of the global and internal slave trade upon Africa during the time period, along with the forms that slavery took internally amongst the Muslim and animist populations. She did do an excellent job with the subject overall. She also does an good job with the effects of the climate (which is extremely relevant given the affects of climate change on the poorer nations of the world), as well as Christian and Muslim movements upon the populace.
I struggled through the first half of the book, putting it down several times and nearly gave up on it. The second half read a little easier, mostly because I paced myself and read only a few pages at a time. It hence took me four months to complete it. It isn't something that you can just read in a few sittings: it literally put me to sleep several times and I had to stop reading it before driving any considerable distance. This is a decent college textbook, but I would not recommend it as a casual read....more
Awrad al-Tariqa al-Shadhiliyya is a critical edition of the most popular of the litanies of the Shadhili tariqa. It is a color print in the Mughal scrAwrad al-Tariqa al-Shadhiliyya is a critical edition of the most popular of the litanies of the Shadhili tariqa. It is a color print in the Mughal script which makes it extremely easy to read for non-native Arabic speakers - similar to the Pakistani Qur'ans that can be found in most mosques. It has a flexi-cover which is extremely durable and is printed upon a very thick and glossy paper. Like the other editions, a master calligrapher was commissioned to hand-write each litany as to avoid the repetitiveness of digital script.
This second edition contains only the most common awrad and includes, after a brief introduction: Wird al-`Amm, Hizb al-Bahr, Hizb al-Kabir, Hizb al-Nur, a collection of brief supplications of Abul Hasan al-Shadhili, al-Wadhifa, Hizb al-Nasr and al-Latifiyya. It then concludes with Sidi Ahmad Zarruq's Usul al-Tariqa and a very brief summary of the spiritual path composed mostly of the wasiya of Sidi Muhammad ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari. And it is sealed by two qasidas of Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri (may Allah sanctify his inner-most soul). al-Yaqutiyya and the ahzab of Abul-Abbas al-Misri have been removed - the former because many people recited it insincerely due to its description and the latter because the author generally recommends a person recite no more than three ahzab per day and no more than one's parallel daily portion of the Qur'an.
Like everything Shaykh Nuh Keller has published, it sets a standard of excellence from cover to cover. I highly recommend it over the blue naskh edition for people like me who are not fluent in Arabic. However, the blue naskh edition is a thing of beauty. The print is slightly larger than the first edition and includes the exact same contents as indicated above....more
What needs to be said about this book? It set a standard for translation and Western Muslim scholarship back in the early 90's that other translatorsWhat needs to be said about this book? It set a standard for translation and Western Muslim scholarship back in the early 90's that other translators and publishers have just begun to match in the past few years. Although principally a Shafi`i text, it is an invaluable reference manual for the English speaking Muslim world. Its introduction and appendices are just as valuable as the main text itself, in that the author has chosen to translate a vast range of topics to supplement information that was not covered by the original author and which should be required reading for all. It's Reliance... The fact that people know it on a first-name-basis is enough of a proof of its merit and acceptance....more
This is perhaps the most authoritative version of the Dala'il al-Khayrat that has been produced in recent times. It is easy to read, yet beautiful andThis is perhaps the most authoritative version of the Dala'il al-Khayrat that has been produced in recent times. It is easy to read, yet beautiful and awe-inspiring. A great deal of care was taken in its presentation and the calligraphy employed is that of Uthman Taha - the official calligrapher of the Saudi Print of the mushhaf that is found in almost every masajid throughout the world. This edition of the Dala'il al-Khayrat has set the bar in every way imaginable....more
This collection is a long over-due, beautifully composed, collection of traditional Arabic qasidas that are frequently sung throughout the Middle-EastThis collection is a long over-due, beautifully composed, collection of traditional Arabic qasidas that are frequently sung throughout the Middle-East and North Africa in the gatherings that the Darqawis have made popular. In the tradition of his teacher, Mustafa Styer has produced an exceptional text which argues for the care and esteem at which its contents are held....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
This is a fascinating look at the chemistry of addiction and a call to a more progressive public policy. Dr. Gabor Mate's style of writing is captivatThis is a fascinating look at the chemistry of addiction and a call to a more progressive public policy. Dr. Gabor Mate's style of writing is captivating and he is masterful at explaining specialized knowledge in laymen's language. My own mother, a recent graduate of medical school, when I summarized some of his arguments, commented on how Dr. Mate made connections for her that she could not quite make herself during her medical training (due to the emphasis on "treatment" over cause with respect to mental disorders) and she agreed with his criticisms of the way in which doctors are educated in the West. She also was amazed at how I was able to explain things to her that she herself had spent the past 8 years of her life learning based on Dr. Gabe's explanations.
Stylistically, Dr. Mate draws you in by giving you the biographies of several of his patients at the harm-mitigation facility that he currently works for. Most, if not all, of the stories are of people who were severely abused as children and as a result of the pain, turned to substance abuse as a form of self-medication (and perhaps more importantly for his purposes: why this self-medication is actually an effective short-term solution) - stories of which I am all to familiar with in my own professional life as a youth counselor. Just as you feel you've been beat over the head one-too-many times with such heart wrenching stories, Dr. Mate switches themes and slowly takes you through the process of addiction and eventual self-recovery. As this is not a propaganda piece - very few of those initial stories have entirely happy endings. People are people and the story which stuck with me the most is of a man who called his sister in Ireland to tell her that he would not be flying home and that he instead would make arrangements for his body to be sent to the family plot. Other stories are perhaps more profound, but this particular one that he more-or-less ends with highlights the unfortunate reality that the lives of most hardcore addicts end in early death - something my family knows all too well.
Far from being a simple tract on addiction, Dr. Mate demonstrates how drug addicts are just an extreme end of a continuum of behavior that applies to large segments of society. By weaving together the connections between early childhood development (in ureto and post-natal) and the effects of trauma on the human psyche, Dr. Mate makes the case not only for a more comprehensive and compassionate health care system, but establishes the fact that the rising levels of addiction among modern (and I would say modernizing nations) is little more than a symptom of a larger social ill that is increasingly becoming more and more malignant: the breakdown of the traditional family and community social structure. That being so, no amount of "tough love" or criminal justice involvement is going to cure the problem. Instead, our approach (the American approach that we have unfortunately successfully forced down the throats of most other nations) only further punishes and ostracizes the same victims of abuse that we all felt compassion for at an earlier point in these same peoples' lives.
In keeping with the themes of his previous works (which I have not had the good fortune to read yet, but have heard numerous interviews Dr. Mate has given in American media), this is a book that should be essential reading for anyone involved in the health care industry - especially mental health and youth behavioral management - as the rate of substance abuse in those communities is incredibly high. I would also recommend this to anyone with young children, victims of abuse and young couples seeking to have little ones. Even more so, this is also a must read for anyone who suffers from any type of addiction. One particular chapter is of vital importance: "A Word to Families, Friends and Caregivers" in which he offers very realistic and practical advice to the families and loved ones' of addicts. The phrase, "Choose guilt over resentment" was profound and likewise was the self-critical analysis Dr. Mate prescribes for this group of people - most notably that we (as family, loved ones or caregivers) often make the process of recovery that much more difficult. The fact that in addition to being a youth counselor who worked with the very same sorts of people that eventually found their way into the Portland "Hotel", that I am also the son of a recovered drug addict and alcoholic made the book that much more meaningful to me.
After Dr. Mate establishes the causes and the physiological factors that lead to addiction - he gives advice on how to achieve sobriety. In terms of my own religious persuasion, I could see clear parallels between Dr. Mate's recommendations and my own religious spiritual tradition. His methods of self-help reflect the techniques recommended by a savant I am affiliated to as the most tried-and-true techniques for the breaking bad habits and removing sin from one's life. This is particularly true is his "Four Steps: Plus One", his adaptation of a self-help program designed by UCLA, which is in lock-step with the tarbiyah of the Darqawi-Shadhili Order and the famed "Muraqaba Durus" one of its contemporary Hashimi branches (which was adopted and expanded as a part of the practical spirituality contained in Agenda to Change Our Condition).
For instance, in regard to the first step, "Relabeling" Dr. Mate gives the following insight,
The point of relabeling is not to make the addictive urge disappear - it's not going to, at least not for a long time, since it was wired into the brain long ago. It is strengthening every time you give in to it and every time you try to suppress it forcibly. (p. 377-8)
Upon reading this, I was reminded simultaneously of the Sufic insights regarding khawatir (thoughts) and how they turn into obsessions (i.e. "behavioral addiction"), Mawlay al-Arabi's elucidations on hawa ("vain caprice" - which is precisely what Dr. Mate is talking about when he identifies addictive behaviors as things we all know are not good for us in the long run, even as they serve some short-term purpose) and of the advice that in respect to spiritual self-discipline intended to rid oneself of such problems, one should not go overboard, "lest the nafs kick-and-scream in revolt".
As another example, on "Refocusing":
Rather than engage the addictive activity, find something else to do. Your initial goal is modest: buy yourself just fifteen minutes. Choose something that you enjoy and that will keep you active: preferably something healthy and creative, but anything that will please you without causing greater harm. (p. 379-80)
I.e. "Ours is not a way of rigorous spiritual struggle. Rather, ours is a way of diplomacy. We give the nafs what it wants within the convinces of the Sacred Law on the condition that it is going to work for us when we need it to." And the entire chapter "Sobriety and the External Milieu" can be summed up with the words of Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, "Do not stir your feet except where you expect the reward of Allah; and do not sit except where you are likely to be safe from disobeying Allah." Or as Dr. Mate put it,
[C]reating an external environment that can support one's move towards conscious awareness is one essential feature of the recovery process. (p. 388)
I could go on and on as I found myself able to fill in the gaps explicitly for Dr. Mate in this part of the book, as he clearly has studied Buddhism and his spirituality is rooted entirely in that world-view. Also being a Jew, he is familiar enough with the Old and New Testament - but seems to have little to no familiarity with Islam and its spiritual teachings (though I do appreciate his referencing of the Qur'an). Due to this, perhaps the only chapter of the book that I was not incredibly fond of was his attempt to relate the religious message of AA's "12 Step Program" to a wider audience - which undoubtedly involved a certain world-view and theological relativism. This is perhaps the weakest chapter of the book, though I would imagine that those who share his philosophy may disagree with me. And as it is fairly short, you do not get the impression that you are being preached to. Rather, Dr. Mate is clearly trying his best to articulate his spirituality to a general audience that may not necessarily agree with his personal theological conclusions. And in that, he succeeded, as I found myself agreeing with the overall message of this particular chapter.
In sum, from cover to cover, this is a fascinating book that I highly recommend to everyone as there are few of us who to one degree or another is not addicted to something - whether it be methamphetamine, prestige, attention or power. Everyone who is honest with themselves will see something of themselves between the covers and will walk away a better person for it. And those who know, love or have loved someone addicted to life-debilitating and/or illegal substances will walk away with a more profound understanding of their struggles.