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  • Date :
  • 4/11/2005

The Tao of Islam:

A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought
Sachiko Murata

Product Details

:
Paperback: 397 pages
Publisher: State University ofNew York Press (March 1, 1992)
ISBN:0791409147Eventhoughthetitleofthebook remindsoneofthepopularand vulgarized treatmentsofvarious subjectsina pseudo-Zenway,thisisaveryseriousandoriginalapproachtothe cosmologyofIslamicthought.TheauthorisaJapanesewithadoctoraldegreefrom TehranUniversityinIslamicPhilosophy.Sheiscurrentlyteachingatthe State University ofNewYork.

Thisunusualbackground bringsoutanunusual --unusualforthetraditionalIslamicstudiesliteratureoftheWestern academics--aspectofIslamicthought:The Yinand Yangofit,toputitsuccinctly.Professor Murata writesthatwhenteachingacourseon"FeminineSpiritualityinWorld Religions"toAmerican students,shefound"thattheonlywaytoovercomethementalobstacles[regardingthestatusofwomeninIslam]inmy studentswastotakea backdoorapproach.HenceIcameatIslamnotfromaWesterncontext,withallthe presuppositionsaboutsexualityandgender rolesthatthis implies,butfromtheEast."Professor Murataiswellqualifiedtoopenthisdoor:AsaJapanesesheiswellversedinthetraditionsthatsprangfromancientChina;asanacademicinIslamicstudiessheiswell groundedinthesourcematerialofIslamicmysticismandphilosophy;andasaMuslimwomanshehasthepropersensitivitytowardshermaterial.

RelationshiporcomparisonofIslamicthoughttotheJewishandChristiantraditionsismorecustomaryandobvious.Butthisbook illustratesinquitedetailthe commonalitybetweentheseeminglydistanttraditionsofEastAsiaandIslam,butthisshouldnotbesurprisingsinceeverytraditionhas glimmersoftheSacredhoweverdistantitmaybefromtheorigin.

Thebook consistsofanIntroductionandfourparts.Thefirstpart dealswithGod,macrocosm(cosmos),andmicrocosm (human being).Thesecondpart,titledTheology, discussesthecomplementarydualpolarityinIslamicthought,drawingheavilyuponthe sufitheological textssuchas Ibn Arabi's.Thethirdpart,Cosmology, startswiththediscussionoftheverse"AndofeverythingWe createdapair."It movesto macrocosmicimplicationsandtothehumanmarriageandgender relationships.Thefourthpart,titledSpiritualPsychology, discusseswhatwecancallthe "mattersoftheHeart."

Many readersmayfindthesubsectionaboutthehumanmarriageinCosmologyveryinteresting.HerethegenderrelationsinIslamare examinedinawaythat transcendsthelegalisticframeworkorthesociological apologetics.Thisdoesnotmeanthattheauthorignoresthe preceptsoftheshari'a,sheplacesthemwithinthebigpictureofthewholecreation.

Selections from Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu; English by Witter Bynner

Reviewed

by Tanjuاataltepe
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