Photo: Portrait of women from Bamako, Mali by Seydou Keitas; 1956
Oh, her beauty--the tender maid! Its brilliance gives light like lamps to one travelling in the dark.
She is a pearl hidden in a shell of hair as black as jet,
A pearl for which Thought dives and remains unceasingly in the deeps of that ocean.
He who looks upon her deems her to be a gazelle of the sand-hills, because of her shapely neck and the loveliness of her gestures.
(Muhyiddin ibn Arabi)
Quote Reference and Recommended Reading:
'The Mystics of Islam'
By Reynold A. Nicholson
Sufism is the heart of the Islamic tradition. Its teachings, which synthesize the ways of knowledge and love, are founded upon many of the most beautiful verses of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Through an unbroken succession of wise and ecstatic voices - many of whom were among the greatest poets of both the Arabic and Persian languages - the doctrine of Sufism has been a constant fountain of spiritual illumination throughout its long history for seekers both within and outside Islam. 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.