Photo: A Persian miniature from the “Haft Awrang” (“Seven Thrones”, a classic of Persian literature) commissioned by the Safavid Prince Ibrahim Mirza around 1560, now in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
He perfect is alone, and glorious for evermore,
His Unity supreme above imagining,
His wondrous work beyond analysis.
I do not say, He is the soul’s soul: whatso’er I
say, that He transcends, for He is free of space,
and may not be attained by swiftest thought or
If thou wouldst serve the Friend, and win His
grace, He is thine eye, thine ear, thy tongue, thy brain:
And since through Him thou speakest, and through
Him hearest, before His Being thou art naught;
for so, when shines the sun’s own radiance,
the light of stars is
(Fakhr al-Dīn ʿIrāqī)
'The Mystics of Islam'
By Reynold A. Nicholson (Author)
The Mystics of Islam, first published in 1914, has long been recognized as a classic and definitive introduction to the message of Sufism. In this short but comprehensive work, R.A. Nicholson—who was one of the greatest Islamic scholars of the early 20th century—provides the general reader with an easy approach to the study of Islamic mysticism. He gives a broad outline of Sufism and describes the key principles, methods and characteristic features of the inner life as it has been lived by Muslims of every class and condition from the 8th century onwards. Many quotations are given, mainly in the author's own fine translations from the original Arabic and Persian.
"R.A. Nicholson's Mystics of Islam was the first book in the West to offer a lucid and sympathetic picture of Islamic mysticism, and I believe that many scholars and lay people have received their first introduction to the spiritual aspects of Islam as a result of having read this modest, yet precious book, which has not lost any of its importance to this day."
(Annnemarie Schimmel, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University and author of Mystical Dimensions of Islam)