Beneath the battle cries of the jihad and an Islamic politics that draws attention to a religion of rigid rules and obsessive devotion, lies the mystical Islam, known as Sufism. What attracts so many Westerners to the faith, says former convert Ibn al-Rawandi, is its "heart made of poetry and art, vision and devotion, that can only be known fully from within." Enchanted by the metaphysics of Sufism, Rawandi studied and worshiped in Cyprus, convinced he had found the answers to life's questions. When doubts emerged for which the traditionalist authors had no answers and the Salman Rushdie affair divided Islam, Rawandi sought to critically evaluate Sufism by reviewing its origins and the best arguments for its views.
In Islamic Mysticism, Rawandi contends that unreliable sources seriously undermine the classical account of Islam and Sufism. His detailed study of the philosophy of religion -especially the work of traditionalists such as RenT Guenon and Frithjof Schuon - helps to develop a critical analysis of Islam from the inside out. Particular attention is given to great Islamic mystic Ibn Arabi, who is taken as representative of Sufism in its highest development. Rawandi offers a critical, secular perspective on Sufism and concludes that mystical experience is not a trustworthy validation of religion.
About the Author
Ibn al-Rawandi (London, England) has written for Philosophy Now and the New Humanist.