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Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources
Martin lings

Acclaimed worldwide as the definitive biography of the Prophet in the English language. Martin Lings’ life of Muhammad is unlike any other. Based on Arabic sources of the eighth and ninth centuries, of which some important passages are translated here for the first time, it owes the freshness and directness of its approach to the words of men and women who heard Muhammad speak and witnessed the events of his life. Martin Lings has an unusual gift for narrative. He has adopted a style which is at once extremely readable and reflects both the simplicity and grandeur of the story. The result is a book which will be read with equal enjoyment by those already familiar with Muhammad’s life and those coming to it for the first time. This book was given an award by the government of Pakistan, and selected as the best biography of the Prophet in English at the National Seerat Conference in Islamabad in 1983. In 1990, after the book had attracted the attention of Azhar University, the author received a decoration from president Mubarak.Martin Lings, formerly Keeper of Oriental Manuscript in the British Museum and the British Library, is the author of three works on Islamic mysticism, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, What is Sufism? and The Book of Certainty, all published by The Islamic Texts Society.
‘This is easily the best biography of the Prophet in the English language.’
Dr. Victor Danner (Indiana University)

‘An enthralling story that combines impeccable scholarship with a rare sense of the sacred worthy of his subject.’ The Spectator

A Selection from the Table of Contents

Chapter1: The House of God
Chapter7: The Year of the Elephant
Chapter14: The Rebuilding of the Ka’bah
Chapter31: The Year of Sadness
Chapter 37: The Hijrah
Chapter 43: The Battle of Badr
Chapter 67: A Clear Victory
Chapter 72: The Lesser Pilgrimage and its Aftermath
Chapter 75: The Conquest of Mecca
Chapter83: The Farewell Pilgrimage
Chapter 85: The Succession and Burial

Map of Arabia. Quraysh (Genealogy Tree).

Book Extract
The Farewell Pilgrimage

When the Prophet was in Medina during Ramadan it was his wont to make a spiritual retreat in the Mosque during the middle ten days of the month, and some of his Companions would do the same. But this year, having kept the ten appointed days, he invited his Companions to remain in retreat with him for another ten days, that is until the end of the month, which they did. It was in Ramadan every year that Gabriel would come to him to make sure that nothing of the Revelation had slipped from his memory; and this year, after the retreat, the Prophet confided to Fatimah, as a secret not yet to be told to others: “Gabriel reciteth the Koran unto me and I unto him once every year; but this year he hath recited it with me twice. I cannot but think that my time hath come.”

The month of Shawwal passed; and in the eleventh month of the year it was proclaimed throughout Medina that the Prophet himself would lead the Pilgrimage. The news was sent to the desert tribes, and multitudes flocked to the oasis from all directions, glad of the opportunity of accompanying the Messenger at every step of the way. The Pilgrimage would be unlike any that had taken place for hundreds of years: the pilgrims would all be worshippers of the One God, and no idolater would desecrate the Holy House with the performance of any heathen rites. Five days before the end of the month the Prophet set out from Medina at the head of over thirty thousand men and women. All his wives were present, each in her howdah, escorted by Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf and Uthman ibn Affan.

At sunset on the tenth day after leaving Medina the Prophet reached the pass through which he had entered Mecca on the day of the victory. There he spent the night, and the next morning he rode down to the Hollow. When he came within sight of the Ka’bah he raised his hands in reverence, letting fall the rein of his camel, which he then took up in his left hand, and with his right hand held out in supplication he prayed: “O God, increase this House in the honour and magnification and bounty and reverence and piety that it receiveth from mankind!” He entered the Mosque and made the seven rounds of the Ka’bah, after which he prayed at the Station of Abraham. Then going out to Safa he went seven times between it and Marwah, and those who were with him did their best to record in their memories the exact words of praise and prayer that he uttered at every station.

And on the eighth day of the new moon he rode to the valley of Mina followed by the rest of the pilgrims. Having spent the night there, he rode on after daybreak to Arafah, a broad valley about thirteen miles cast of Mecca, just outside the sacred precinct. Arafah is on the road to Ta’if and is bounded north and east by the mountains of Ta’if. But separate from these, and surrounded on all sides by the valley, is a hill which is also named Arafah or the Mount of Mercy. It is the central part of this pilgrimage station, which extends none the less over most of the lower ground; and it was on this hill that the Prophet took up his station that day.

Some of the Meccans expressed surprise that lie had gone so far, for while the other pilgrims went on to Arafah Quraysh had been accustomed to remain within the sacred precinct saying: “We are the people of God.” But he said that Abraham had ordained the day on Arafah as an essential part of the Pilgrimage, and that Quraysh had forsaken his practice in this respect. The Prophet stressed that day the antiquity of the Pilgrimage, and the words “Abraham’s legacy” were often on his lips.

When the sun had passed its zenith the Prophet preached a sermon which he began, after praising God, with the words: “Hear me, O people, for I know not if ever I shall meet with you in this place after this year.” Then he exhorted them to treat one another well and gave them many reminders of what was commanded and what was forbidden. Finally he said: “I have left amongst you that which, if ye hold fast to it, shall preserve you from all error, a clear indication, the Book of God and the word of His Prophet. O people hear my words and understand.” He then imparted to them a Revelation which he had just received and which completed the Koran, for it was the last passage to be revealed:This day the disbelievers despair of prevailing against your religion, so fear them not, but fear Me! This day have I perfected for you your religion and fulfilled My favour unto you, and it hath been My good pleasure to choose Islam for you as your religion.

He ended his brief sermon with an earnest question: “O people, have I faithfully delivered unto you my message?” A powerful murmur of assent, “O God, yea!” arose from thousands of throats and the vibrant wordsAllahumma na’m rolled like thunder throughout the valley. The Prophet raised his forefinger and said: “O God, bear witness!”

The ritual prayers were then prayed and the rest of the Day of Arafah, as it is called, was spent in meditation and supplication. But as soon as the sun had set the Prophet mounted his camel, and bidding Usamah mount behind him he rode down from the hill and across the valley in the direction of Mecca, followed by his fellow pilgrims. It was the tradition to ride quickly at this point, but at the first signs of excess he cried out: “Gently, gently! In quietness of soul! And let the strong amongst you have a care for the weak!” They spent the night at Muzdalifah, which is within the sacred precinct, and there they collected small pebbles with which to stone Satan, who is represented by three pillars at ‘Aqabah in the valley of Mina.

The Prophet himself prayed the dawn prayer in Muzdalifah, and then led the pilgrims to Aqabah, with Fadl mounted behind him on his camel…After the stoning, the animals were sacrificed, and the Prophet called for a man to shave his head. The pilgrims gathered round him in the hopes of obtaining some locks of his hair. “O Messenger of God, thy forelock! Give it unto none but me, my father and my mother be thy ransom!” And when the Prophet gave it him he pressed it reverently against his eyes and his lips.

Hadith Literature

Its Origins, Development & Special Features

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Thehadith, the sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, form a sacred literature which for the Muslims ranks second in importance only to the Qur’an itself. As a source of law, ethics and doctrine, the vast corpus ofhadith continue to exercise decisive influence. Islamic scholarship has hence devoted immense efforts to gathering and classifying thehadith, and ensuring their authenticity. This book is the only introduction in English which presents all the aspects of the subject. It explains the origin of the literature, the evolution of theisnad system, the troubled relationship between scholars and the state, the problem of falsification, and the gradual development of a systematic approach to the material. This edition is a fully revised and updated version of the original, which was first published in 1961 to considerable scholarly acclaim. Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi was Professor of Islamic Culture in the University of Calcutta.

‘A well-informed and commendable thesis...a valuable contribution to Hadith scholarship.’ Mohammed Yusufuddin (Islamic Culture)

‘An excellent introduction to the subject, presenting it with considerable detail.’
James Robson (The Muslim World)

‘Professor Siddiqi is to be congratulated on this richly documented and highly readable book.’ S. D. Goitein (Journal of the American Oriental Society)

Table of Contents

The Event of the Hadith
The Companions
After the Companions
Categories of Hadith Collections
Some Special Features of the Literature
The Biographical Dictionaries
The Disciplines of Formal Criticism
Appendix 1. Women in Hadith Scholarship
Appendix 2. The Hadith and Orientalism
Appendix 3. The Leiden Edition of Ibn Sa‘d

The history of the origin, development and criticism ofhadith literature is a subject as important as it is fascinating. It is important because it serves as an astonishingly voluminous source of data for the history of pre-Islamic Arabia and of early Islam, and for the development of Arabic literature, as well as of Islamic thought in general and Islamic law in particular. It also played a decisive role in establishing a common cultural framework for the whole Islamic world, and continues to wield substantial influence on the minds of the Muslim community; an influence which, it seems clear, will continue for the foreseeable future. It is fascinating because it sheds so much light on the psychology of thehadith scholars—the Traditionalists—the devoutly scrupulous as well as the confirmed forgers, and on many of the key political and cultural movements which germinated and developed in the various regions of the Muslim world throughout its complex history. It portrays a brilliant medieval academic world which gave birth to many European scholarly institutions, including the doctorate and the baccalaureate. It also contains many of the basic ideas now current about democracy, justice among mankind and nations, the condemnation of aggression, and the ideal of global peace. All this, moreover, is linked resolutely to the sacred, to a consciousness of man’s exalted meaning and destiny, which seems to mark the Muslims out today more than ever before.

The Muslims (since the Blessed Prophet’s lifetime), and European orientalist scholars (for about the last two hundred years), have hence paid close attention tohadith and to its ancillary sciences. During the time of the Prophet, the Companions were zealous to learn and recall his words and the incidents of his life. Many of them wrote these ‘hadiths’ down, and distributed them for the benefit of their co-religionists. A large number ofhadiths were thus collected in the first century of Islam, and were disseminated throughout the vast Islamic empire, partly in writing, and partly as an extensive oral tradition. During the subsequent centuries, efforts were made to compile more or less exhaustive collections ofhadiths which were considered to be reliable by specific scholarly criteria, and long and arduous journeys were undertaken for this purpose. Thus, partly in the second century after the Prophet’s emigration (hijra) from Mecca to Medina, but largely in the third, important collections of such hadith were compiled and published. As somehadith were known to have been forged—some even during the Prophet’s lifetime—immense care had to be taken to ensure their credentials. To this end, the Muslim scholars introduced the system of theisnad, the chain of authorities reaching back to the Prophet which shows the historical status of a report. This was introduced at an early date, and by the first quarter of the second century was treated as a necessary part of every tradition. In time, too, branches of literature grew up to serve as foundations for the criticism of every individualhadith. As the isnad alone was not considered to be a sole and sufficient guarantee of ahadith’s genuineness, a number of other general principles were laid down as litmus tests for the authenticity of a text. It has hence been generally accepted by the traditionists that the validity of a tradition is sufficiently determined by the rigorous techniques of criticism which have thus been developed by the specialists. All these matters have been touched upon in this book.
Finally, the reader should note that no attempt has been made in this book to deal with the Shi’i traditions, for the author does not consider himself qualified to undertake such a task.

A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century
Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi
‘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 the book. According to theJournal 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 Sufis speak for themselves and, in a series of unusual and absorbing texts 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 the Algerian Shaikh who was head of the order from 1909 until his death in 1934. The last few chapters are mainly devoted to his writings, which include some penetrating aphorisms, and which end with a small anthology of his remarkable mystic poems.Martin Lings, formerly Keeper of Oriental Manuscript in the British Museum and the British Library, is the author of Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, What is Sufism? and The Book of Certainty, all published by The Islamic Texts Society.

‘A masterly study of a man whose sanctity recalled the golden age of medieval mystics. In this well documented book Dr Lings draws on many rare sources...and has made some important original contributions.’ A. J. Arberry

‘What Martin Lings adds by way of commentary is of the greatest significance and may serve as a key to a deeper understanding of Islam as a whole.’ Titus Burckhardt

Table of Contents

Part One: The Path and the Order
Seen from Outside
The Origins of Sufism
Seen from Within
The Spiritual Master
Part Two: The Doctrine
Oneness of being
The Three Worlds
The Symbolism of the Letters of the Alphabet
The Great Peace
The Ritual Purification
The Ritual Prayer
Part Three: Further Dimensions
Selections from his Aphorisms
Selections from his Poetry
Appendix I: List of his Writings
Appendix II: The Spiritual Chain

Book Extract

Seen from Outside
The narrative which follows is by Dr Marcel Carret. It speaks for itself and needs no introduction; and having read it, the reader will no doubt understand why I have chosen to begin with it rather than with anything else, although at its outset the Shaikh is already fifty years old.
‘I met the Shaikh Al-Alawi for the first time in the spring of 1920. It was not a chance meeting, for I had been called in to him in my capacity as doctor. It was then only a few months since I had started a practice at Mostaganem.
‘What could have prompted the Shaikh to consult a doctor, seeing that he attached so little importance to the petty misfortunes of the flesh? And why had he chosen me, a newcomer, from among so many others?
‘It was from him himself that I eventually learned the answers to these questions: not long after my arrival at Mostaganem, I had set up a clinic in the Arab town of Tigitt exclusively for the use of Moslems, and three times a week I gave consultations there for a minimum fee. Moslems have an instinctive repugnance for State-organized dispensaries, and my clinic, which was set up in their very midst and arranged to suit their tastes and customs, was a success. Echoes of this came to the ears of the Shaikh.
‘His attention was attracted by this initiative on the part of a newly arrived French doctor who, unlike most Europeans, apparently did not look down on Moslems from the heights of a disdainful pride. Without my knowing it, and without the least attempt at investigation on his part, he was benevolently informed by his disciples as to how I looked, what I did, my movements, my way of treating the sick and my sympathetic attitude towards Moslems. As a result, the Shaikh Al-‘Alawi already knew me quite well when I was still ignorant of his very existence. A rather serious attack of influenza which he had during the spring of 1920 made him decide to send for me.
‘From my first contact with him I had the impression of being in the presence of no ordinary personality. The room I was shown into, like all rooms in Moslem houses, was without furniture. There were simply two chests which, as I found out later, were full of books and manuscripts. But the floor was covered from end to end with carpets and rush mats. In one corner was a rug-covered mattress, and here, with some cushions at his back, sitting straight upright, cross-legged, with his hands on his knees, was the Shaikh, in a motionless hieratic attitude which seemed at the same time perfectly natural.
‘The first thing that struck me was his likeness to the usual representations of Christ. His clothes, so nearly if not exactly the same as those which Jesus must have worn, the fine lawn head-cloth which framed his face, his whole attitude—everything conspired to reinforce the likeness. It occurred to me that such must have been the appearance of Christ when he received his disciples at the time when he was staying with Martha and Mary.
‘My surprise stopped me for a moment on the threshold. He too fixed his eyes on my face, but with a far-away look, and then broke the silence by asking me to come in, with the usual words of welcome. His nephew, Sidi Muhammad, acted as his interpreter, for although the Shaikh understood French well he had some difficulty in speaking it, and in the presence of a stranger he made as if he did not know it at all.
‘I asked for some sandals to cover my shoes, so as not to defile the carpets and the mats, but he said that this was quite unnecessary. A chair was brought for me, but it seemed so ridiculous in such surroundings that I declined it, saying I would rather sit on a cushion. The Shaikh smiled almost imperceptibly, and I felt that by this simple gesture I had already gained his sympathy.
‘His voice was gentle, somewhat subdued. He spoke little, in short sentences, and those about him obeyed in silence, waiting on his least word or gesture. One felt that he was surrounded by the deepest reverence.
‘I already knew something of Moslem ways, and realizing that I had to do something with someone who was not just ‘anyone’, I was careful not to broach too abruptly the subject for which I had been called in. I let the Shaikh question me, through Sidi Muhammad, about my stay in Mostaganem, what had brought me there, the difficulties I had met with, and how far I was satisfied.
‘During this conversation a young disciple had brought in a large brass tray with some mint-flavoured tea and some cakes. The Shaikh took nothing, but invited me to drink when the tea had been served, and himself pronounced the “Bismillah” (in the Name of God) for me as I raised the cup to my lips.
‘It was only after all this usual ceremony was over that the Shaikh decided to talk to me about his health. He said that he had not sent for me to prescribe medicines for him; certainly, he would take medicine, if I thought it was absolutely necessary and even if I thought it would help him, but he had no desire to do so. He simply wanted to know if the illness he had contracted a few days previously was a serious one. He relied on me to tell him quite frankly, and without keeping anything back, what I thought of his condition. The rest was of little or no importance.
‘ I felt more and more interested and intrigued: a sick man who has not the cult of medicines is rare enough as it is, but a sick man who has no particular desire to get better and who simply wants to know where he stands is still a greater rarity.’

Sufi Metaphysics and Qur’anic Prophets
Ibn Arabi’s Thought and Method in the Fusus al-Hikam
TheFusus al-Hikam is acknowledged to be a summary statement of the sufi metaphysics of the “Greatest Master”, Ibn ‘Arabi (d.1240). It is also recognised that theFusus is a work of great complexity both in its ideas and its style; and, over the centuries, numerous commentaries have been written on it. Each of the chapters of theFusas is dedicated to a Qur’an prophet with whom a particular “wisdom” is associated. InSufi Metaphysics and Quranic Prophets: Ibn’ Arabi’s Thought and Method in the Fusus al-Hikam, Ronald Nettler examines ten chapters from theFusus which exemplify the ideas, method and perspective of the entire work. Concentrating on a detailed analysis of the text, the author brings out the profound connection and integration of scripture and metaphysics in the world-view of Ibn Arabi.Sufi Metaphysics and Qur’anic Prophets serves not only as an explication of Ibn Arabi’s thought in theFusus, but is also a great aid in the overall understanding of Ibn Arabi’s thought.

Ronald L. Nettler is university research lecturer in Oriental Studies, Oxford University, and fellow and tutor in Oriental Studies at Mansfield College, Oxford.

Table of Contents

Chpter1: Ibn Arabi: The Man and His ideas and methods
Chapter2: The Wisdom of Divineness in the Word of Adam
Chapter3:The Wisdom of Exaltedness in the Word of Musa
Chapter4: The Wisdom of leadership in the Word of Harun
Chapter5: The Wisdom of Ecstatic Love in the Word of Ibrahim
Chapter6: The Wisdom of Unity in the Word of Hud
Chapter7:The Wisdom of the Heart in the Word of Shu’ayb
Chapter8:The Wisdom of Divine Decree in the Word of Uzayr
chapter9: The Wisdom of Divine Sovereignty in the Word of Zakariyya
Chapter10: The Wisdom of Singularity in the Word of Muhammad
Chapter11: A Lutian Epilogue

Ideals and Realities of Islam

A revised and updated edition of the best-selling introduction to Islam written by one of the foremost scholars in the field.Ideals and Realities of Islam seeks to answer criticism brought against Islam by presenting the point of view of Islam. In six chapters dealing with the universal and the particular aspects of Islam, the Qur’an, the Prophet and the Prophetic tradition, theShari’ah, Sufism, and Shi’ism, Seyyed Hossein Nasr outlines the essential aspects of the Islamic beliefs, making frequent references to other religions in general and Christianity in particular. Drawing mainly on the Qur’an and thehadith, but also on the works of some contemporary Western scholars, the author presents the Islamic spiritual and intellectual tradition in the light of contemporary modern thought. This edition includes a new introduction by the author and an updated annotated bibliography.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr was born in Teheran to a family of traditional scholars and physicians. After receiving his early education in Iran he went to America where he studied physics , and the history of science and philosophy at M.I.T. and Harvard, where he received his doctorate. Nasr was Professor at Teheran University and founder and first President of the Iranian Academy of Philosophy. He is currently Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University and author of numerous books including:Islam and the Plight of Modern Man,A Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World andScience & Civilization in Islam, all published by The Islamic Texts Society.
‘Seyyed Hossein Nasr dominates his subject ... he unites in his person an Islamic structure which encompassed two points of view: that of religious law and contemplation, and a supreme knowledge of modern scientific methods.’ From the Preface by Titus Burckhardt

Table of Contents

Preface by Titus Burckhardt
Foreword by Huston Smith
Introduction to the First Edition
Introduction to the New Edition

1- Islam—The Last Religion and the Primordial Religion—Its Universal and Particular Traits
2- The Quran—The Word of God, the Source of Knowledge and Action
3- The Prophet and Prophetic Tradition—The Last Prophet and Universal Man
4- The Shari’ah—Divine Law—Social and Human Norm
5- The Tariqah—The Spiritual Path and its Quranic Roots
6- Sunnism and Shi’ism—Twelve-Imam Shi’ism and Isma’ilism

Book Extract

Islam—The Last Religion and the Primordial Truth—Its Universal and Particular Traits

Every revealed religion is the religion and a religion, the religion in as much as it contains within itself the Truth and means of attaining the Truth, a religion since it emphasizes a particular aspect of the Truth in conformity with the spiritual and psychological needs of the humanity for whom it is destined and to whom it is addressed. Religion itself is derived from the word religio whose root meaning is to bind. It is that which binds man to the truth. As such every religion possesses ultimately two essential elements which are its basis and foundation: a doctrine which distinguishes between the Absolute and the relative, between the absolutely Real and the relatively real, between that Which has absolute value and that whose value is relative; and a method of concentrating upon the Real, of attaching oneself to the Absolute and living according to the Will of Heaven in accordance with the purpose and meaning of human existence.

These two elements, the doctrine and the method, the means of distinguishing between what is Real and what appears to be real, and attaching oneself to the Real, exist in every orthodox and integral religion and are in fact the essence of every religion. No religion, whether it be Islam or Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, can be without a doctrine as to what is Absolute and what is relative. Only the doctrinal language differs from one tradition to another. Nor can any religion be without a method of concentrating on the Real and living according to It although the means again differ in different traditional climates.

Every religion is rooted in a transcendent Reality that stands above the world of change and becoming. Yet, no religion has claimed that the world on its own level of existence is completely unreal. Even the Hindu maya is not so much illusion as the “Divine play” or lila which veils and hides the Absolute. Were the world and the soul to be completely unreal, there would be no meaning in trying to attach the soul to the Real, to the Absolute? The doctrine is thus discrimination between the Absolute and the relative and between grades of reality, degrees of universal existence. And the method is precisely the means of attaching the relatively real to the absolutely Real once one realizes that the reality of the soul and the world that surrounds it is not absolute but relative, that both the soul and the world derive their sustenance from a Reality that transcends both the soul and the world.

Now, Islam like every orthodox religion is comprised of a doctrine and a method and it is for us to see how the Islamic revelation deals with these cardinal elements, how it envisages the relation between man and God. It is of course God who is the Absolute and man the relative. And it is for man to come to realize this truth, to know that only God is God, that is, only He is the Absolute, and that man is a relative being who stands before Him given the free choice of either accepting or rejecting His Will.

This relation between man and God, or the relative and the Absolute is central in every religion. Only each religion emphasizes a certain aspect of this relationship, while inwardly it contains the Truth as such in its teachings, whatever the outward limitations of its forms might be. That is why to have lived any religion fully is to have lived all religions and there is nothing more meaningless and even pernicious than to create a syncretism from various religions with a claim to universality while in reality one is doing nothing less than destroying the revealed forms which alone make the attachment of the relative to the Absolute, of man to God, possible. Without the “dictum of Heaven,” without revelation in its universal sense, no religion is possible and man cannot attach himself to God without God having Himself, through His grace, provided the means for man to do so. Every orthodox religion is the choice of Heaven and while still intact contains both the doctrine and the method which “save” man from his wretched terrestrial condition and open to him the gates of Heaven.

In the confrontation of man and God, Islam does not emphasize the descent or incarnation or manifestation of the Absolute, nor the fallen, imperfect and sinful nature of man. Rather, it considers man as he is in his essential nature and God as He is in His absolute Reality. The Islamic perspective is based upon the consideration of the Divine Being as He is in Himself not as He is incarnated in history. It is based on the Absolute and not on the “descent of the Absolute!’ Likewise, Islam considers man not as what he has become after that very significant event which Christianity calls original sin and “fall” but as man is in his primordial nature, in his fitrah, a nature which he bears deep down within his soul.

#017b79">Understanding Islam
ByFrithjof Schuon

Translated from the French, Fwd by Annemarie Schimmel

Pub Date: 1990
Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc.
Binding: Paper, 177pp.

"Islam is the meeting between God as such and man as such.... Islam confronts what is immutable in God with what is permanent in man."

These are the opening words of what has become a classic work on Islam, perhaps the most misunderstood of the great Revelations. And yet the purpose of this book "is not so much to give a description of Islam as to explain . . . why Moslems believe in it." Both Westerners unfamiliar with Islam and Moslems seeking a deeper understanding of the basis of faith will be struck by Schuon's masterful elucidation of the spiritual world of Islam.

Schuon's foundation is always the intrinsic nature of things rather than any confessional point of view. This perspective opens up new avenues of approach and surprising insights into the "five pillars" of faith, the Quran, the Sunna, the Prophet and the esoteric dimension which is the kernel of Moslem spirituality. A hallmark of the author's perspective is an intellectual universality, which in examining a given religious framework readily draws upon parallels and concepts from other traditions, especially that of the Vedanta. For "what is needed in our time, and indeed in every age remote from the origins of Revelation, is . . . to rediscover the truths written in an eternal script in the very substance of man's spirit."

r: #017b79"> Contents

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The Qur'an

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Remarks on the Sunna

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The Prophet

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The Path

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