Author: Martin Lings
Publisher: Islamic Texts Society (UK)
Pages: 242 Binding: Paperback
Description from the publisher:
Almost a prerequisite for any serious study of Sufism in European languages’: this was the verdict of Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his review of the first edition of this book. According to the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, it is one of the most thorough and intimately engaging books on Sufism to be produced by a Western scholar’. Certainly there is nothing second-hand about it. The author lets the Sufis speak for themselves and, in a series of unusual and absorbing text mainly translated from Arabic, he gives a vivid picture of life in a North African Sufi order. Against this background stands the unforgettable figure of Algerian Shaikh who was head of the order from the death of his Master in 1909 until his own death in 1934. The last few chapters are mainly devoted to his writing, which include some penetrating aphorisms, and which end with a small anthology of his remarkable mystic poems which, as one reviewer has remarked, `remain beautiful poetry even in their English translation.
The title promises much, but not too much. For those who place the spiritual above the temporal and who are prepared to except the validity of a religion other than their own, the Shaikh Al-Alawi with Shri Ramana Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai as one of the few truly great men of century.
Martin Lings was formerly Keeper of Oriental Manuscript in the British Museum and in the British Library. In addition to his books, his writings include the article on Sufism in an addition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the chapter of Sufism in the Cambridge University Publication Religion in the Middle East, and numerous articles for the quarterly journal Studies in Comparative Religion.