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The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways of the Heart for the Modern Dervish

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Part meditation book, part oracle, and part collection of Sufi lore, poetry, and stories, The Sufi Book of Life offers a fresh interpretation of the fundamental spiritual practice found in all ancient and modern Sufi schools—the meditations on the 99 Qualities of Unity. Unlike most books on Sufism, which are primarily collections of translated Sufi texts, this accessible g ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 22nd 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 2005)
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Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. Introduces the 99 traditional Muslim names, or energetic qualities, of God, as vehicles for meditation, prayer, inner work, whatever your spiritual/religious persuasion. (Actually there are hundreds of different names, but there are 99 "official" or "standard" names used.) Douglas-Klotz describes the names, gives their etymology and links to other names, and gives practices invoke the qualities and to deepen our understanding and relationship to them. I use this book as an orac ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've gone through three editions of this book because I keep sharing it with friends. This book is an excellent introduction to Sufism. The use of the divine names, Mullah Nasruddin stories, and meditations are all done well. The book is deep enough to get me thinking, without being so in depth that I get exhausted just looking at it. I keep a copy with me to just open up at random and see what wisdom there might be for the day. There's something in it for dervishes just starting on the path, an ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
When you read on a book for four months, you know that something good is there.

If you are anything like me, you probably know nothing about Sufism. Perhaps you have heard of dervishes, but see them as some sort of odd practitioner.

Look again.

Let's let the author define it for us: "Sufism, is, first of all, a series of 'not's'---not a religion, not a philosophy, not even a mysticism....It's best to call Sufism a way of experiencing reality as love itself."

The book is a series of short essays i
Barbara Samuelson
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
After I read and fell in love with the writings of Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz, I became more curious about the Sufi religion and its practices.

Unlike our Western robotic march from first page to last, this book is designed to be read randomly, either by browsing or by trusting that you'll be guided to the selection you need at that point in your life.

Douglas-Klotz defines "dervish" as "one who sits in the doorway, or on the threshold of something, ready to move on and transform him- or herself."
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in meditation
I started reading this back in June, in the way the author recommends, which is to just randomly open the book and read about one of the 99 names of God. Each chapter/name includes a mystical interpretation of the name, a little story or commentary on how that quality/name may play a role in our lives, a commentary on the linguistic roots of the name that relates it to Aramaic and Hebrew (showing connections between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), and then a short meditation one can do using ...more
Faiza Tariq Qureshi
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's funny how things, ideas and people you need find their way to you in their own mysterious ways! I picked this book recently and the fact that it entirely banked on the Divine Names of Allah which I as a muslim have been aware of from birth was what mesmerized me most about the book.

Without a doubt this book is proving to be a beacon for me and it's readings and learning's are something I hold very close to the heart.
Huma Rashid
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mystical and incredible. There is surely something in here that will inspire you (likely, many, many things), and surely something in here that will change the way you view your life.
Mariam Al N.
Oct 10, 2020 rated it did not like it

A hodgepodge of quotes from Sufi poetry, the Quran, Bible, etc. the book felt like it was all over the place.

The only thing I took away from this is the amount of wine sufis seem to drink and that everything in life is comparable to being drunk.

As a person who doesn’t drink, none of these poems or short lessons made any sense to me.

I think a book on how to become/ feel wabi sabi would be more useful.
Update: I'm giving up on this for now. Yeah, I know I was rhapsodizing earlier. I guess I can't get into the state of mind required. Trying not to feel disappointed in myself.


Reading this book will be a new process for me. In its opening pages, the author advises us against reading from beginning to end in a linear way but instead to open the book randomly. If something strikes you then you should stay with it. Also, not to stress too much about "getting the point" because your subconsc
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
This is one of the resource books that I turn to over and over. For many years I have opened it at random every day as an oracle, and have always found wonderful guidance. Even if you are not so interested in the arabic root of each pathway (which I am), the life guidance each entry offers is kind and wise. If one used the book as spiritual training, by reading and working with the practices in somewhat of an order, one could definitely grow and develop tremendously. The book also offers an intr ...more
Luisa نور
Very good on any level, except maybe in that the author might not be well versed enough in the wonderful root system of the Arabic language (weird given his background, maybe there's another reason ?) ... Because sometimes it's just confusing for the reader with a linguistic background in Arabic when he equates different roots from different languages together when they don't have the same meaning. Maybe it's done on purpose (he does know a thing or two about Hebrew equivalents), but I find that ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Last year my son took rites into the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi order. We've shared a common love for spirituality, religious studies, and each in our own ways pursued our own understanding of consciousness. This is a "Sufism Lite" kind of meditations book that gives me a daily look into a small piece of my son's world. I love the new insights it's giving me into Kabir, Rumi, Hafiz, Saadi, Arabi, Khayr, and so many others. It's piqued my interest and led me to want a more deep understanding of Sufi ...more
This book adds 3rd dimension to the well-known breath training and techniques for improving consciousness. I can't say this book promotes any religion though one can find references to the Jesus, Prop. Muhammad and the verses of Qur'an. After each name of God, he gives short description, where the name comes from and meditation for that name. "You may recite His names for 1000 times for this, 8000 times for other thing, even you recite this for 50000 times you will not get anything. Why? Because ...more
Oct 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
An introduction to Sufism, including poems and meditations. Not a book to sit down and devour at one sitting; better to sit with it: a paragraph one day, a page another day, time between to live in the words. In his own words, "This pathway invites us to a treasure hunt." A little syrupy at times. ...more
Aug 29, 2009 rated it liked it
An interesting exploration of the 99 names of God and the pathways toward greater spiritual awakening that each name represents. Includes an etymological origin of each name as well as Sufi stories that illustrate the essence of the characteristics embodied in each name.
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Whether you read it at one go or use it as a daily oracle this book is a wonderful support to a heartful practice. I've found that each time I read or practice a particular pathway I find something different. ...more
Gundeep Singh
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Think of this one as a book of which you randomly open a page anytime you feel stuck. It has some great references from sufism which tell you how to lead a happy life and be loving and compassionate. Really liked the book :)
Fazilee Buechel
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Amazing journey through the 99 names.... For those who would like to take a meditative approach to learning more about Sufism and the 99 names.
Julie Turner
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the top five books I've read!! s nightstand book for sure! ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all seekers
Perhaps I am a Sufi, and not a Christian, at heart.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
this is a book I'll read daily! ...more
Farah Vayani
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, amazing read. For that every day goodness, with every page you open, this is the book. Great feel good vibes.
Jalal Karim
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! Full of Sufi allegories and deep wisdom. A book you can pick up at anytime of your life. Each chapter takes a few minutes to read, then you are given a meditation.
Naomi Ayala
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality-zen
Loved this book. My first on this subject and I was grateful for that. Thoughtfully written, concise, and engaging. A magically beautiful work.
Chelsea Greenfield
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
quick and easy tool for those completely new to Sufism!
Page Ellinger
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favorites. I use it as a meditation. Magical. Humbling. Inspiring.
Anouk Timmerman
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Awesome, insightful and applicable. A book for multiple ways of use that has a lot of depth for reading it over and over again.
Ian Napper
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really great book of devotionals, for any seeker.
Sherilyn Powell
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
You have to really be "into" Sufism to understand this; someone interested in Christian mysticism or even interspiritual mysticism might not appreciate the concept of divine names as being very important. Still, I did gain a lot of insight into mysticism as practiced by the ancients; I find it helps me clear out all the "baggage" that comes with current culture. I'm always amazed at how many Sufi writings ignore the Prophet just as in Christianity some of us are tending to downplay "Christ as Ma ...more
Dina Kaidir
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! True to its promise of being a practical guidance for the contemporary seeker. Your journey through His Names :)
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Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz is an internationally known scholar in the fields connecting religious studies and psychology as well as a poet and musician. He is the author of:
*Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus (1990);
*Desert Wisdom: The Middle Eastern Tradition from the Goddess Through the Sufis (1995);
*The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spirituality of the Aramaic Jesus (1

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41 likes · 12 comments
“Once Mullah Nasruddin’s favorite clock stopped working, so he took it for repair. When the repairperson took the back off the clock and turned it over, a dead fly fell out. “So that’s the problem,” said Nasruddin. “The little mechanic who operated it has died!” 3 likes
“Life is cooking us, and we resist because we don’t know our purpose in life, the “meal” that is being prepared. The cook says to the chickpeas, “You were once drinking fresh dew in the garden. That was so you could be a nice meal for the Guest. Don’t dwell on the self you think you are. Let yourself be transformed into something even better—a meal for the” 3 likes
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