The Sufis are as diverse as the countries in which they've flourished—from Morocco to India to China—and as varied as their distinctive forms of art, music, poetry, and dance. They are said to represent the mystical heart of Islam, yet the term Sufism is notoriously difficult to define, as it means different things to different people both within and outside the tradition. With that fact in mind, Carl Ernst explores the broadest range of Sufi philosophies and practices to provide one of the most complete and comprehensive introductions to Sufism available in English. He traces the history of the movement from the earliest days of Islam to the present day, along the way examining its relationship to the larger world of Islam and its encounters with both fundamentalism and secularism in the modern world.
"Ernst gives us one of the most complete and accessible guides to Sufism available."—Publishers Weekly
"Ernst succeeds admirably in completing our understanding of Sufism. He covers its beginnings, its basic philosophies, and its place in Islam, keeping the discussion at a basic level so that anyone can read and understand his work. Recommended for all libraries."—Library Journal
"Displays a clarity and an intellectual rigor that elucidates the many mysteries of the Sufi traditions—taking the reader on a serene journey through the fragrantly spiritual gardens which permeate the Sufi tradition."—Parabola
"If you were to read only one book on Sufism, this would be the leading candidate."—Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney, authors of Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions
"Not only a welcome introduction to the key tenets of Sufism—it also offers an impartial perspective on the important question of how Sufism relates to Islam and the broad sociopolitical realities of our time."—Kabir Helminski, author of The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation