Idries Shah

The Sufis

When it first appeared in 1964, The Sufis was welcomed as the decisive work on the subject of Sufi Thought. Rich in scope, author Idries Shah explained clearly the traditions and philosophy of the Sufis to a Western audience for the first time.In the five decades since its release, the book has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and has found a wide readership in both East and West. Containing detailed information on the major Sufi thinkers, and literary characters, such as Nasrudin, it is regarded as a key work on both Sufism and Eastern Philosophy. A text in scores of leading universities around the world for courses on Sufism, Eastern thought and Islamic philosophy, The Sufis has been used by psychologists and physicists, by school teachers, lawyers, social workers, and by ordinary members of the public.
547 printed pages
Original publication
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  • Nastya Richterhas quotedlast year
    ‘The sublime love poetry of the Sufi saints, the wholly practical nature of their teachings, the fervour allied with a deeply underlying sense of mission, of attainment of needs, both spiritual and physical, the confidence of the message and the future of the human race: these are some of the outstanding contributions of this wonderful body, admission to whose numbers conveys the undoubted and abiding sensation of membership of an ancient elect.’
  • Nastya Richterhas quotedlast year
    I was present one day when a Sufi Sheikh in the Near East was being closely questioned by a foreign student of the occult who was desperate to know how he could recognise a Sufi teacher, and whether the Sufis had any Messianic legends foreshadowing the possibility of a Guide who would bring people back to metaphysical awareness. ‘You yourself are destined to be a leader of this sort,’ said the Sheikh, ‘and Eastern mystics will be prominent in your life. Keep faith.’ Later he turned to his disciples and said, ‘That was what he came here for. Do you refuse a child a sweetmeat, or tell a lunatic that he is insane? It is not our function to rehabilitate the ineducable. When a man says, “How do you like my new coat?” you must not say, “It is horrible”, unless you can manage to give him a better one, or teach him better taste in dress. Some people cannot be taught.
    ‘Rumi said: “You cannot teach by disagreement.”’
  • Nastya Richterhas quotedlast year
    The Czech Professor Erich Heller, in his preface to a book which rapidly became a classic of teaching in the mid-twentieth century, touches on the problem of studying literature, and especially of teaching it. He says that the teacher ‘is involved in a task which would appear impossible by the standards of the scientific laboratory — to teach what, strictly speaking, cannot be taught, but only “caught”, like a passion, a vice, or a virtue’ (The Disinherited Mind, London, 1952).

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