Alchemy of the heart

Since long i was in search of a non-academic but insightful introduction to Sufism. This booklet, introduced by Dr. M.I Waley, about 60 pages with illustrations on alternate pages turned to be just what i was looking for. The illustrations are forms of art: painting, calligraphy, hand wovencarpets, wood carvings and decorations on walls. These have one thing in common, intricate patterns. Art is a form of meditation and an expression of devotion in Sufism.Sufism is the mystic part of Islam. The teachings of Prophet Mohammed form its basis. Suf has come from Tasawwuf which refers to the wollen garment worn by its practitioners. It could also have come from the more appealing Suffa, the courtyard of the mosque of Prophet Mohammed in Medina. The book also introduces a few words such as the now popular (Thanx to Amir Khan) Fanaa which means ‘self-having-passed-away-in-God’. Sufism produced many mystics-poets. Jalal al din Rumi is one, commonly known, but i wonder how many know of his being a Sufi. As i went through the book, i could’nt but see the similarilty with the Bhakti Marga of hindu philosophy. One of the pictures shows a Sufi meditating with legs folded the hindu way. Another, showing the Dervishes (disciples of Rumi) dancing to the flute with both their hands raised up is so reminiscent of the vaishnavas of bengal (now iskconites). Interesting quotes from the saint-poets make one pause and wonder. Like this one by Javad Nurbakhsh, “I thought of You so often that i completely became You. Little by little You drew near, and slowly but slowly i passed away”.

Even to browse, its a book that one would leave not before picking it up the third time.

One Response to “Alchemy of the heart”

  1. dinanath Says:

    Recently, came across interesting books by Idries Shah on Sufism. There is one on Mullah Nasruddin ‘jokes’ by the same author.

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