Author: Abu 'l-Qasim al-Qushayri; Professor Alexander D. Knysh (translator); Dr. Muhammad Eissa (reviewer)
Publisher: Garnet Publishing Limited (2007)
Pages: 460 Binding: Paperback
Description from the publisher:
Written in 437/1045, Al-QushayriÆs Epistle on Sufism has served as a primary textbook for many generations of Sufi novices down to the present. It gives us an illuminating insight into the everyday lives of Sufi devotees of the eighth-eleventh centuries C.E. and the moral and ethical dilemmas they were facing in trying to strike a delicate balance between their ascetic and mystical convictions and the exigencies of life in a society governed by rank, wealth, and military power.
In al-QushayriÆs narrative, the Sufi æfriends of GodÆ (awaliyaÆ) are depicted as the true, if uncrowned, ækingsÆ of this world, not those worldly rulers who appear to be lording it over the common herd of believers. Yet, even the most advanced Sufi masters should not take salvation for granted. Miracle-working, no matter how spectacular, cannot guarantee the Sufi a æfavorite outcomeÆ in the afterlife, for it may be but a ruse on the part of God who wants to test the moral integrity of his servant.
In the Epistle, these and many other Sufi motifs are illustrated by the anecdotes and parables that show al-QushayriÆs fellow Sufis in a wide variety of contexts: suffering from hunger and thirst in the desert, while performing pilgrimage to Mecca, participating in æspiritual concertsÆ, reciting the QurÆan, waging war against the æinfidelÆ enemy and their own desires, earning their livelihood, meditating in a retreat, praying, working miracles, interacting with the æpeople of the market-placeÆ, their family members and peers, dreaming, and dying.
About the translator
Alexander Knysh is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests include Islamic mysticism and Islamic theological thought in historical perspective as well as Islam and Islamic movements in local contexts (especially Yemen and the Northern Caucasus). He has numerous publications on these subjects, including four books.