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'Stringing Coral Beads': The Religious Poetry of Brava (c. 1890-1975)

A Source Publication of Chimiini Texts and English Translations

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Edited by Alessandra Vianello, Lidwien Kapteijns and Mohamed Kassim

This book presents fifty-one didactic and devotional Sufi poems (with English translations) composed by the ulama of Brava, on Somalia’s Benadir coast, in Chimiini, a Bantu language related to Swahili and unique to the town. Because the six ulama-poets, among whom two women, guided local believers towards correct beliefs and behaviours in reference to specific authoritative religious texts, the poems allow insight into their authors’ religious education, affiliations, in which the Qādiriyyah and Aḥmadiyyah took pride of place, and regional connections. Because the poems refer to local people, places, events, and livelihoods, they also bring into view the uniquely local dimension of Islam in this small East African port city in this time-period.

The Mystery of Prayer

The Ascension of the Wayfarers and the Prayer of the Gnostics

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Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Edited by Sayyid Amjad Hussain Shah Naqavi

Sayyid Amjad Hussain Shah Naqavi’s introduction and annotated scholarly translation of Ayatollah Khomeini’s The Mystery of Prayer brings to light a rarely studied dimension of an author better known for his revolutionary politics.

Writing forty years before the Islamic revolution, Khomeini shows a formidable level of insight into the spiritual aspects of Islamic prayer. Through discussions on topics such as spiritual purity, the presence of the heart before God, and the stations of the spiritual wayfarer, Khomeini elucidates upon the nature of reality as the countenance of the divine. Drawing upon scriptural sources and the Shīʿah intellectual and mystical tradition, the subtlety of the work has led to it being appreciated as one of Khomeini’s most original works in the field of gnosis.


The Ocean of the Soul

Men, the World and God in the Stories of Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār

Ritter

Edited by Bernd Radtke

The Ocean of the Soul is one of the great works of the German Orientalist Hellmut Ritter (1892-1971). It presents a comprehensive analysis of the writings of the mystical Persian poet Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār who is thought to have died at an advanced age in April 1221 when the Mongols destroyed his home city of Nīshāpūr in the north-east of Iran. The book, which resulted from decades of investigation of literary and historical sources, was first published in 1955 and has since remained unsurpassed not only as the definitive study of ‘Aṭṭār's world of ideas but as an indispensable guide to understanding pre-modern Islamic literature in general.
Quoting at length from ‘Aṭṭār and other Islamic sources, Ritter sketches an extraordinarily vivid portrait of the Islamic attitude toward life, characteristic developments in pious and ascetic circles, and, in conclusion, various dominant mystical currents of thought and feeling.
Special attention is given to a wide range of views on love, love in all its manifestations, including homosexuality and the commonplace sūfī adoration of good-looking youths. Ritter's approach is throughout based onprecise philological interpretation of primary sources, several of which he has himself made available in critical editions.

This book is also available as paperback.

Islamic Mysticism

A Short History

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Alexander Knysh

The book provides a general survey of the history of Islamic mysticism (Sufism) since its inception up to the modern time. It combines chronological and personality-based approaches to the subject with a thematic discussion of principal Sufi notions and institutions. Sufism is examined from a variety of different perspectives: as a vibrant social institution, a specific form of artistic expression (mainly poetic), an ascetic and contemplative practice, and a distinctive intellectual tradition that derived its vitality from a dialogue with other strands of Islamic thought. The book emphasizes the wide variety of Sufism's interactions with the society and its institutions from an ascetic withdrawal from the world to an active involvement in its affairs by individual Sufi masters and organizations.

Islamic Mysticism by Knysh is a comprehensive survey of the interesting and fascinating world of Islamic Mysticism.