A. J. Arberry
"A masterly study of a man whose sanctity recalled the golden age of medieval mystics."
"What Martin Lings adds...may serve as a key to a deeper understanding of Islam as a whole."
'Almost a prerequisite for any serious study of Sufism in European languages': this was the verdict of Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his review of the first edition of the book. According to the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, it is 'one of the most thorough and intimately engaging books on Sufism to be produced by a Western scholar'. Certainly there is nothing second-hand about it. The author lets Sufis speak for themselves and, in a series of unusual and absorbing texts mainly translated from Arabic, he gives a vivid picture of life in a North African Sufi order. Against this background stands the unforgettable figure of the Algerian Shaikh who was head of the order from 1909 until his death in 1934. The last few chapters are mainly devoted to his writings, which include some penetrating aphorisms, and which end with a small anthology of his remarkable mystic poems.
About the Author
Martin Lings, formerly Keeper of Oriental Manuscript in the British Museum and the British Library, is the author of other works on Islamic mysticism, The Book of Certainty and What is Sufism?, both published by the Islamic Texts Society. He is also the author of Ancient Beliefs and Modern Superstitions, and Symbol and Archetype, published by Quinta Essentia, and the splendidly illustrated The Quranic Art of Calligraphy. His Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, also published by the Islamic Texts Society, has been internationally acclaimed as a masterpiece.