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  • 7/9/2003

1-Unveiling Islam

Roger Du Pasquier

Translated from the French by T. J. Winter

The Islamic Text Society (1992); paperback 157 pp.

Unveiling Islam is a book written for those with little or no prior understanding of Islam by providing a thorough introduction to Muslim belief, history and culture. Not only are issues such as "Fundamentalism" and the status of Muslim women presented, but it also provides an overview of the Qur’an, the Prophet, Islamic history, the development of sects and the nature of Muslim art and literature. The author, Roger DuPasquier, a Swiss journalist awarded the coveted French Authors’ Association prize 1988, shows Islam not merely as a system of beliefs and rituals, but as an entire way of life which succeeds in being at once confident and serene. Unbiased yet passionate, the book offers an "unveiling" which must be heeded if the present mutual incomprehension between East and West is to be overcome.

2-Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence

Mohammad Hashim Kamali
The Islamic Texts Society (1991)

This book offers the only detailed presentation available in English of the theory of Muslim law(usul al-fiqh). Often regarded as the most sophisticated of the traditional Islamic disciplines, Muslim jurisprudence is concerned with the way in which the rituals and laws of religion are derived from the Qur’an and theSunna — the precedent of the Prophet.Principles avoids the use of unnecessary technical expressions and endeavors to use Western legal terms whenever these are appropriate, while remaining close to the Arabic sources.

n xstyle="font-family: tahoma">3-Me and Rumi
The Autobiography of Shems-i Tabrizi
Introduced, Translated, and Annotated by William Chittick
Preface by Annemarie Schimmel
(Forthcoming Fall 2003)

"Imagine that you could go somewhere each morning, say to a corner of the sugar merchants' caravanserai, and hear Shams Tabriz talk about the veiling of the heart, the nature of exertion, or how to move beyond the agitated state of question and answer.  This book gives entry into that astonishing presence. Go there for an hour a day, however long it takes. Then read Rumi's poetry and feel their opening Friendship in you. Bless William Chittick." Coleman Barks

 The astounding autobiography of the man who transformed Rumi from a learned religious teacher into the world’s greatest poet of mystical love.

 "William Chittick’s masterful translation of theMaqalat of Shamsi Tabrizi moves Rumi’s beloved mentor from the shadows into the light, and restores Shams to the central position of prominence that he so richly deserves.  This work immediately joins the indispensable short list of scholarly works on Rumi and his community.  Highly recommended for all scholars and students of Sufism, Islamic Philosophy, Persian literature, and of course for all the legions of Rumi fans." Annemarie Schimmel

 Now that Rumi has become one of the best-selling poets in North America, interest in his life and times has increased dramatically.  Practically every collection of his poetry provides a thumbnail biography, highlighting his encounter with Shams-i Tabrizi, the wandering mystic who became Rumi’s beloved companion.  Rumi had been a sober scholar, teaching law and theology to a small circle of students, but the coming of Shams turned him into a devotee of music, dance, and poetry.  Three years after Shams’s appearance out of nowhere, he abruptly vanished, never to be seen again.  It was Rumi’s longing for the lost Shams that transformed him into one of the world’s greatest poets. Rumi immortalized Shams’s name by constantly celebrating him in his poetry as the embodiment of the divine beloved.
Very little is known about the historical Shams—indeed, some have even doubted that he was a real person.  Everyone interested in Rumi’s poetry has been curious about him, and beginning with Rumi’s own son and other hagiographers, a great deal of legend was built up.  Over the centuries Shams became a trope of Persian, Turkish, and Urdu literatures.  Modern scholarship has made little headway in explaining who Shams was or how he was able to play such a decisive role in Rumi’s life, though a good number of theories have been advanced.
Me and Rumi represents a true milestone in the study of this enigmatic figure.  It makes available for the first time in any European language first-hand accounts of Shams that have never been studied by Western scholars.  When Rumi and Shams sat and talked, one or more members of the circle took notes.  These were never put into final form, but they were preserved and sometimes copied by later generations, ending up in various libraries scattered around Turkey.  Fifteen years ago an Iranian scholar completed the long process of collating and editing the manuscripts.  The book that he published, calledMaqalat-i Shams-i Tabrizi, “The Discourses of Shams-i Tabrizi”, provides us with an extraordinary picture of an awe-inspiring personality.

InMe and Rumi William C. Chittick has translated about two-thirds of the Discourses into English and arranged them in a manner that clarifies their meaning and context.  He provides notes and a glossary, which will go a long way toward helping readers decipher the more obscure passages.  The net result is an exciting and readable book that brings Shams to life.  For the first time in Western sources we are given access to him without the intermediary of Rumi and the myth-makers.  Shams appears as raucous and sober, outspoken and subtle, harsh and gentle, learned and irreverent, and above all as an embodiment of the living presence of God.  The book destroys the stereotypes that have been set up by the secondary literature, and it gives access to a far more fascinating and vivid personality than we have any right to expect from what hagiographers and scholars have written.

Table of Contents

 Translator’s Introduction
1.  My Years Without Mawlana
     My Teaching Career
     My Travels
     Teachers and Shaykhs I have Met
2.  My Path to God
     The Profit and Loss of Study
     Following Muhammad
     The Religion of Old Women
     The Guidance of the Shaykh
     Avoiding Caprice
     The Companion of the Heart
     The Saints
     My Interpretations of Scripture
3.  My Time with Mawlana
     Our Encounter
     My Spiritual Mastery
     Mawlana’s Exalted Station
     Our Companionship
     My Instructions to the Circle
     My Critics
     My Harshness with Friends
     My Return from Aleppo
Notes to the Passages
Index of Passages
Index and Glossary of Proper Names
Index and Glossary of Terminology

n xstyle="font-family: tahoma">4-Islam in Tibet
Preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Contributing scholars: Marco Pallis, Professor José Cabézon, Abdul Wahid Radhu (translated by Jane Casewit) and William Stoddart. Edited by Gray Henry

Including 'Islam in the Tibetan Cultural Sphere'; 'Buddhist and Islamic Viewpoints of Ultimate Reality'; and The Illustrated Narrative 'Tibetan Caravans'

This book is the most complete and definitive work on the subject of Islam in Tibet to date. It will be of interest to both scholars in the field and general readers interested in the Islamic community at large, as well as those interested in Buddhist and Muslim spirituality. It features numerous photographs of the present Muslim community in Lhasa today, as well as photographs from the past.
Included in its entirety is Tibetan Caravans by Abdul Wahid Radhu, describing his family’s centuries-old trading business between India, Central Asia and Tibet – focusing especially on the fascinating interplay between the traditional cultures of Islam and Buddhism. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written a preface for this captivating, illustrated narrative. The renowned authority on Buddhism, Marco Pallis, a dear friend of the author, has written an introduction to this work.
This unique account provides us not only with a taste of traditional human life before the incursions of the modern world, but also enters us into a first-hand experience of life within a totally sacred society. What is most precious is that we see this through the lens of Abdul Wahid Radhu - a man of great spiritual depth who had a direct knowledge of Sufism. We come to see that special place where those participating in the spiritual life of two very different traditions recognize one another at a level behind external forms. Radhu’s relationship with the Dalai Lama’s family is described, as well as the arrival of the Chinese and his own escape. He was privy to the plans made for the Dalai Lama’s departure through his friendship with His Holiness’ brother. We also see Henrich Harrer’s life from an additional perspective.
Islam inTibet opens with a fascinating scholarly essay, "Islam in the Tibetan Cultural Sphere," by Professor José Cabézon. This is followed with a much needed clarification, "Buddhist and Islamic Viewpoints of Ultimate Reality," byDr. William Stoddart.

"On the significant (but little recognized) presence of Islam in Tibet, this is the best book that has appeared."

—Huston Smith, Author of The World’s Religions

"Traditional Tibetan life was a rich tapestry woven of several strands, of which one was Islam. This is the first work in the English language to make this as yet little recognized aspect of Tibetan culture and society known through a narrative that rings with the highest degree of authenticity and is, at the same time, of great general appeal. This work is also a stark reminder of how religions as diverse as Islam and Buddhism lived in peace at the matrix of a traditional society such as that of Tibet."

—Seyyed Hossein Nasr,GeorgeWashingtonUniversity

"A great disservice was done to the relations between Buddhism and Islam by the error Western scholars made in the 19th century when they misinterpreted Buddhism as being atheism. Buddha not only believed in God, he knew God. There were numerous atheists in Buddha’s time — the Charvaka materialists — and the Buddha specifically critiqued their lack of belief in any spiritual reality.

"The God of Abraham insisted that He, YAHWEH, was inconceivable by human minds. Therefore, the proper response of humans before this inconceivability is Islam, i.e. surrender of mind as well as body. Buddhism is likewise based on the transcendence of self-centeredness, on surrender of self-aggrandizing energies released by the surrender of selflessness. Thus, for both Buddhism and Islam, love and mercy, the energies released by the surrender of selfishness, are the supreme energies of the universe, all good, all creative, all wise, all trustworthy. The true Buddhist and the true Muslim should embrace once and for all. Let them only be intolerant of intolerance, in the name of their own or any other’s religion. Let religion never again be a cause of harm to beings. Let it only be the road to the inconceivable sea of bliss for all!"

—Professor Robert F. Thurman, Director of Religion, Columbia University

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