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Sufi studies


Sufi studies is a particular branch of comparative studies that uses the technical lexicon of the Islamic mystics, the Sufis, to exemplify the nature of its ideas; hence the frequent reference to Sufi Orders. It may be divided into two main branches, the orientalist/academic and the spiritual.

The earliest Europeans to study Sufism were French, associated (rightly or wrongly) with the Quietist movement. They were Barthélemy d'Herbelot de Molainville (1625–1695), a professor at the Collège de France who worked from texts available in Europe, François Bernier (1625–1688), the physician of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who spent 1655-69 in the Islamic world (mostly with Aurangzeb), and François Pétis de la Croix (1653–1713), a diplomat who spent 1674-1676 in Isfahan, where he studied Rumi's Masnavi-ye Manavi and visited the Bektashi order.

D'Herbelot's great work, the Bibliothèque orientale (published posthumously in 1697), included an entry on Sufism (as tasawwuf) and detailed entries on Al-Hallaj, Najmeddin Kubra, and Abd-al-karim Jili. There were a number of references to the Masnavi and to Rumi (as Gellaledin Mohammed al Balkhi), and there may also have been entries on them.



Studies in Early Mysticism in the Near and Middle East. Being an account of the rise and development of Christian mysticism up to the seventh century, of the subsequent development of mysticism in Islam, known as Sufism, and of the relationship between Christian and Islamic Mysticism with references, a bibliography and two indexes
Dedicated to the memory of Thomas Walker Arnold
London, 1931 – The Sheldon Press; reprinted 1973 by Philo Press cv, Amsterdam
Dedicated to the memory of Thomas Walker Arnold
London, 1931 – The Sheldon Press; reprinted 1973 by Philo Press cv, Amsterdam
  • Robin Waterfield: "René Guénon and the future of the West" -Crucible/The Aquarian Press, 1987
  • Abd Al-Qadir: "Lettre aux Français" (=Avis à l'Ignorant) -ed.du Seuil, 1982
  • Martin Lings: "A Muslim Saint of the XXth Century" -Allan and Unwinn, 1962
  • Martin Lings: "Letters of a Sufi Master" -Perennial Books, ?
  • Amadou Hampâté Bâ: "Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar" ed.du Seuil, 1980
  • Ernst Bannerth: "Aspects humain de la Shadhilliya en Egypte" -M.I.D.E.O. 11, le Caire 1972
  • René Guénon: "Aperçus sur l'esoterisme islamique et le Taoisme" -Gallimard, 1973
  • Idries Shah: "The Sufis" -Doubleday New York, 1964 (introduction by Robert Graves)
  • Idries Shah: "Oriental magic" -Paladin, 1973
  • Seyyed Hosseyn Nasr: "Sufi Essays" -London and Albany New York, 1972
  • Prof. L.F.Rushbrook Williams ed. "Sufi Studies: East and West" -The Octagon Press, 1974
  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr: "Islamic Countries" in Handbook of World Philosophy -John Burr ed. London, 1980
  • Laleh Bakhtiar: "Sufi: expressions of the mystic quest" -Thames and Hudson, 1976
  • Thierry Zarcone: "Mystiques, Philosophes et Franc-Maçons en Islam" -Jean Maisonneuve ed. Paris, 1993
  • Butrus Abu-Maneh: "The Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya in the Ottoman lands in the early 19th century" in "Die Welt des Islams XXII (1982 erschienen 1984)
  • Jamal Malik and John Hinnells ed: "Sufism in the West" London and New York: Routledge, 2006
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