Rob Springer's Reviews > The Sufis

The Sufis by Idries Shah
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's review
Aug 23, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: books-read-long-long-ago
Read in January, 1977 — I own a copy

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 much as I got through before putting it back on the shelf, it's just Shah going on about the superiority and elite nature of Sufism. He doesn't tell you anything that would make you want to follow that path — unless you're driven to be one of the elite. Of course, you can't even take this path if you so choose. So elite is it, that you'll be asked to join if the Sufis notice you and think you are worthy.

Contrast that with Christ who said "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
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message 1: by Tyler (new)

Tyler Whether or not Sufism is a religion seems to depend on where you stand, and how strictly you define Islam. There's a big Sufi community in Silver City. Some of them think they're a religion, and some of them think they're a sect of Islam.

I find it also has to do with whether one is speaking of the Sufism of Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes (which seems equivalent to Kabbalistic Judaism) or the Sufism of the contemporary United States (which is more like Unitarian Universalism is to Christianity).

message 2: by Trevor (last edited Sep 29, 2013 08:24PM) (new)

Trevor Skinner Rob Springer thinks Sufis are an 'elite' - odd kind of elite that can include cleaning ladies, housewives, and illiterate muleteers! (according to Shah's material).
His comment reminds me of a Nasrudin tale: the Mulla found a mirror at the roadside, picked it up and looked into it: "Ugh! It's so ugly - no wonder they threw it away!"

message 3: by Trevor (new)

Trevor Skinner Furthermore, on page 133, we find the following: " One of the really Sufic characteristics of Rumi is that,
although he will uncompromisingly say the most unpopular
thing - that the ordinary man, whatever his formal attainments, is immature in mysticism - he also gives the chance
to almost anyone to attain progress toward the completion
of human destiny."

Before commenting on a book, it is wise to make sure you have read it all, or, as Idries Shah never tired of pointing out, that you have not read it selectively. Of course, if one has an underlying dominating prejudice (concealed or otherwise) one is less likely to be able to achieve that!

Mike Might as well give it to someone who might find it useful. Clearly, you aren't ready for it yet.

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