Idries Shah


Idries Shah
Idries Shah
ادریس شاه
इदरीस शाह
Born 16 June 1924 (1924-06-16)
Simla, India
Died 23 November 1996 (1996-11-24) (aged 72)
London, UK
Occupation Writer, publisher
Ethnicity Afghan, Indian, Scottish
Subjects Sufism, psychology
Notable work(s) The Sufis

The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin

The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin

Thinkers of the East

Learning How to Learn

The Way of the Sufi

Reflections

Kara Kush

Notable award(s) Outstanding Book of the Year (BBC "The Critics"), twice;
six first prizes at the UNESCO World Book Year in 1973
Children Saira Shah, Tahir Shah, Safia Shah


Signature

www.idriesshah.com

Idries Shah (16 June 1924 – 23 November 1996) (Persian: ادریس شاه, Hindi: इदरीस शाह), also known as Idris Shah, né Sayed Idries el-Hashimi (Arabic: سيد إدريس هاشمي), was an author and teacher in the Sufi tradition who wrote over three dozen critically acclaimed books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies.

Born in India, the descendant of a family of Afghan nobles, Shah grew up mainly in England. His early writings centred on magic and witchcraft. In 1960 he established a publishing house, Octagon Press, producing translations of Sufi classics as well as titles of his own. His most seminal work was The Sufis, which appeared in 1964 and was well received internationally. In 1965, Shah founded the Institute for Cultural Research, a London-based educational charity devoted to the study of human behaviour and culture. A similar organisation, the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge (ISHK), exists in the United States, under the directorship of Stanford University psychology professor Robert Ornstein, whom Shah appointed as his deputy in the U.S.

In his writings, Shah presented Sufism as a universal form of wisdom that predated Islam. Emphasizing that Sufism was not static but always adapted itself to the current time, place and people, he framed his teaching in Western psychological terms. Shah made extensive use of traditional teaching stories and parables, texts that contained multiple layers of meaning designed to trigger insight and self-reflection in the reader. He is perhaps best known for his collections of humorous Mulla Nasrudin stories.

Shah was at times criticised by orientalists who questioned his credentials and background. His role in the controversy surrounding a new translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published by his friend Robert Graves and his older brother Omar Ali-Shah, came in for particular scrutiny. However, he also had many notable defenders, chief among them the novelist Doris Lessing. Shah came to be recognised as a spokesman for Sufism in the West and lectured as a visiting professor at a number of Western universities. His works have played a significant part in presenting Sufism as a secular, individualistic form of spiritual wisdom.

Contents

Life

Family and early years

Idries Shah was born in Simla, India, to an Afghan-Indian father, Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, a writer and diplomat, and a Scottish mother, Saira Elizabeth Luiza Shah. His family on the paternal side were Musavi Sayeds. Their ancestral home was near the Paghman Gardens of Kabul.[1] His paternal grandfather, Sayed Amjad Ali Shah, was the nawab of Sardhana in the North-Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,[2] an hereditary title the family had gained thanks to the services an earlier ancestor, Jan-Fishan Khan, had rendered to the British.[3][4]

Shah mainly grew up in the vicinity of London.[5] After his family moved from London to Oxford in 1940 to escape German bombing, he spent two or three years at the City of Oxford High School.[4] In 1945, he accompanied his father to Uruguay as secretary to his father's halal meat mission.[4][5] He returned to England in October 1946, following allegations of improper business dealings.[4][5]

Shah published his first book Oriental Magic in 1956. He followed this in 1957 with The Secret Lore of Magic: Book of the Sorcerers and the travelogue Destination Mecca. Shah married Cynthia (Kashfi) Kabraji in 1958; they had a daughter, Saira, in 1964, followed by twins – a son, Tahir, and another daughter, Safia – in 1966.[6]

Friendship with Gerald Gardner and Robert Graves

Towards the end of the 1950s, Shah established contact with Wiccan circles in London and then acted as a secretary and companion to Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern Wicca, for some time.[4][7] In 1960, Shah founded his publishing house, Octagon Press; one of its first titles was Gardner's biography – titled Gerald Gardner, Witch, the book was attributed to one of Gardner's followers, Jack L. Bracelin, but had in fact been written by Shah.[7][8]

In January 1961, while on a trip to Mallorca with Gardner, Shah met the English poet Robert Graves.[9] Shah wrote to Graves from his pension in Palma, requesting an opportunity of "saluting you one day before very long".[9] He added that he was currently researching ecstatic religions, and that this included experiments with hallucinogenic mushrooms, a topic that had been of interest to Graves for some time.[9] Graves and Shah soon became close friends and confidants.[9] Graves took a supportive interest in Shah's writing career and encouraged him to publish an authoritative treatment of Sufism for a Western readership, along with the practical means for its study; this was to become The Sufis.[9] Shah managed to obtain a substantial advance on the book, resolving temporary pecuniary difficulties.[9]

In 1964, The Sufis appeared,[5] published by Doubleday, with a long introduction by Robert Graves.[10] The book chronicles the impact of Sufism on the development of Western civilisation and traditions from the seventh century onward through the work of such figures as Roger Bacon, John of the Cross, Raymond Lully, Chaucer and others, and has become a classic.[11] Like Shah's other books on the topic, The Sufis was conspicuous for avoiding terminology that might have identified his interpretation of Sufism with traditional Islam.[12] The book also employed a deliberately "scattered" style; Shah wrote to Graves that its aim was to "decondition people, and prevent their reconditioning"; had it been otherwise, he might have used a more conventional form of exposition.[13] The book sold poorly at first, and Shah invested a considerable amount of his own money in advertising it.[13] Graves told him not to worry; even though he had some misgivings about the writing, and was hurt that Shah had not allowed him to proofread it before publication, he said he was "so proud in having assisted in its publication", and assured Shah that it was "a marvellous book, and will be recognized as such before long. Leave it to find its own readers who will hear your voice spreading, not those envisaged by Doubleday."[14]

Graves' introduction, written with Shah's help, described Shah as being "in the senior male line of descent from the prophet Mohammed" and as having inherited "secret mysteries from the Caliphs, his ancestors. He is, in fact, a Grand Sheikh of the Sufi Tariqa ..."[15] Privately, however, writing to a friend, Graves confessed that this was "misleading: he is one of us, not a Moslem personage."[9] The Edinburgh scholar L. P. Elwell-Sutton, in a 1975 article on Shah, opined that Graves had been trying to "upgrade" Shah's "rather undistinguished lineage", and that the reference to Mohammed's senior male line of descent was a "rather unfortunate gaffe", as Mohammed's sons had all died in infancy.[16][17] The introduction was dropped from later editions.

John G. Bennett and the Gurdjieff connection

In June 1962, a couple of years prior to the publication of The Sufis, Shah had also established contact with members of the movement that had formed around the mystical teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.[16][18] A press article had appeared,[nb 1] describing the author's visit to a secret monastery in Central Asia, where methods strikingly similar to Gurdjieff's methods were apparently being taught.[18] The otherwise unattested monastery had, it was implied, a representative in England.[4] Shah was introduced to John G. Bennett, a noted Gurdjieff student and founder of an "Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences" located at Coombe Springs, a 7-acre (28,000 m2) estate in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Shah gave Bennett a "Declaration of the People of the Tradition"[19] and authorised him to share this with other Gurdjieffians.[18] The document announced that there was now an opportunity for the transmission of "a secret, hidden, special, superior form of knowledge"; combined with the personal impression Bennett formed of Shah, it convinced Bennett that Shah was a genuine emissary of the "Sarmoung Monastery" in Afghanistan, whose teachings had inspired Gurdjieff.[18][20]

Whose Beard?
Nasrudin dreamt that he had Satan's beard in his hand. Tugging the hair he cried: "The pain you feel is nothing compared to that which you inflict on the mortals you lead astray." And he gave the beard such a tug that he woke up yelling in agony. Only then did he realise that the beard he held in his hand was his own.

Idries Shah[21]

Wishing to support Shah's work, Bennett decided in 1965, after agonising for a long time and discussing the matter with the council and members of his Institute, to give the Coombe Springs property to Shah, who had insisted that any such gift must be made with no strings attached.[4][18] Once the property was transferred to Shah, he banned Bennett's associates from visiting, and made Bennett himself feel unwelcome.[18] After a few months, Shah sold the plot – worth more than £100,000 – to a developer and used the proceeds to establish himself at Langton House in Langton Green, near Tunbridge Wells.[4] Along with the property, Bennett also handed the care of his body of pupils to Shah, comprising some 300 people.[18] Shah promised he would integrate all those who were suitable; about half of their number found a place in Shah's work.[18]

Some twenty years later, the Gurdjieffian author James Moore suggested that Bennett had been duped by Shah.[4] Bennett gave an account of the matter himself in his autobiography (1974); he said that Shah's behaviour after the transfer of the property was "hard to bear", but also insisted that Shah was a "man of exquisite manners and delicate sensibilities" and considered that Shah might have adopted his behaviour deliberately, "to make sure that all bonds with Coombe Springs were severed".[18] He added that Langton Green was a far more suitable place for Shah's work than Coombe Springs could have been and said he felt no sadness that Coombe Springs lost its identity; he concluded his account of the matter by stating that he had "gained freedom" through his contact with Shah, and had learned "to love people whom [he] could not understand".[22]

Sufi studies

In 1965, Shah founded the Society for Understanding Fundamental Ideas (SUFI), later renamed the Institute for Cultural Research (ICR) – an educational charity aimed at stimulating "study, debate, education and research into all aspects of human thought, behaviour and culture".[10][23][24][25] He also established the Society for Sufi Studies (SSS).[26] Over the following years, Shah developed Octagon Press as a means of publishing and distributing reprints of translations of numerous Sufi classics.[27] In addition, he collected, translated and wrote thousands of Sufi tales, making these available to a Western audience through his books and lectures.[26] Several of Shah's books feature the Mulla Nasrudin character, sometimes with illustrations provided by Richard Williams. In Shah's interpretation, the Mulla Nasrudin stories, previously considered a folkloric part of Muslim cultures, were presented as Sufi parables.[28]

Omar Khayyam controversy

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Shah came under attack over a controversy surrounding the 1967 publication of a new translation of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, by Robert Graves and Shah's older brother, Omar Ali-Shah.[10][29] The translation, which presented the Rubaiyat as a Sufic poem, was based on an annotated "crib", supposedly derived from a manuscript that had been in the Shah family's possession for 800 years.[30] L. P. Elwell-Sutton, an orientalist at Edinburgh University, and others who reviewed the book expressed their conviction that the story of the ancient manuscript was false.[29][30]

Shah's father, the Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, was expected by Graves to present the original manuscript to clear the matter up, but he died in a car accident in Tangier in November 1969.[31] A year later, Graves asked Idries Shah to produce the manuscript, but Shah replied in a letter that doing so would prove nothing – the manuscript's authenticity could still be contested.[31] It was time, Shah wrote, "that we realised that the hyenas who are making so much noise are intent only on opposition, destructiveness and carrying on a campaign when, let's face it, nobody is really listening."[31] He added that his father had been so infuriated by those casting these aspersions that he refused to engage with them, and he felt his father's response had been correct.[31] Graves, noting that he was now widely perceived as having fallen prey to the Shah brothers' gross deception, and that this affected income from sales of his other historical writings, insisted that producing the manuscript had become "a matter of family honour".[31] He pressed Shah again, reminding him of previous promises to produce the manuscript if it were necessary.[31]

Shah never did produce the manuscript, leading Graves' nephew and biographer to muse that it was hard to believe – bearing in mind the Shah brothers' many obligations to Graves – that they would have withheld the manuscript if it had ever existed in the first place.[31] According to his widow writing many years later, Graves had "complete faith" in the authenticity of the manuscript because of his friendship with Shah, even though he never had a chance to view the text in person.[32] The scholarly consensus today is that the "Jan-Fishan Khan" manuscript was a hoax, and that the Graves/Shah translation was in fact based on a Victorian amateur scholar's analysis of the sources used by previous Rubaiyat translator Edward FitzGerald.[4][29][33][34]

Later years

Shah wrote around two dozen more books over the following decades, many of them drawing on classical Sufi sources.[4] Achieving a huge worldwide circulation,[23] his writings appealed primarily to an intellectually oriented Western audience.[12] By translating Sufi teachings into contemporary psychological language, he presented them in vernacular and hence accessible terms.[35] His folktales, illustrating Sufi wisdom through anecdote and example, proved particularly popular.[12][23] Shah received and accepted invitations to lecture as a visiting professor at academic institutions including the University of California, the University of Geneva, the National University of La Plata and various English universities.[36] Besides his literary and educational work, he found time to design an air ioniser and run a number of textile, ceramics and electronics companies.[37] He also undertook several journeys to his ancestral Afghanistan and involved himself in setting up relief efforts there; he drew on these experiences later on in his novel Kara Kush.[10]

In late spring 1987, about a year after his final visit to Afghanistan, Shah suffered two successive and massive heart attacks.[25][38] He was told that he had only eight per cent of his heart function left, and could not expect to survive.[25] Despite intermittent bouts of illness, he continued working and produced further books over the next nine years.[25][38] Idries Shah died in London on November 23, 1996, at the age of 72. According to his obituary in The Daily Telegraph, Idries Shah was a collaborator with Mujahideen in the Afghan-Soviet war, a Director of Studies for the Institute for Cultural Research and a Governor of the Royal Humane Society and the Royal Hospital and Home for Incurables.[25] He was also a member of the Athenaeum Club.[4] At the time of his death, Shah's books had sold over 15 million copies in a dozen languages worldwide,[5] and had been reviewed in numerous international journals and newspapers.[39][40]

Teachings

Sufism as a form of timeless wisdom

Shah presented Sufism as a form of timeless wisdom that predated Islam.[41] He emphasised that the nature of Sufism was alive, not static, and that it always adapted its visible manifestations to new times, places and people: "Sufi schools are like waves which break upon rocks: [they are] from the same sea, in different forms, for the same purpose," he wrote, quoting Ahmad al-Badawi.[26][41] Shah was often dismissive of orientalists' descriptions of Sufism, holding that academic or personal study of its historical forms and methods was not a sufficient basis for gaining a correct understanding of it.[41] In fact, an obsession with its traditional forms might actually become an obstacle: "Show a man too many camels' bones, or show them to him too often, and he will not be able to recognise a camel when he comes across a live one," is how he expressed this idea in one of his books.[41][42]

Shah, like Inayat Khan, presented Sufism as a path that transcended individual religions, and adapted it to a Western audience.[27] Unlike Khan, however, he deemphasised religious or spiritual trappings and portrayed Sufism as a psychological technology, a method or science that could be used to achieve self-realisation.[27][43] In doing so, his approach seemed to be especially addressed to followers of Gurdjieff, students of the Human Potential Movement, and intellectuals acquainted with modern psychology.[27] For example, he wrote, "Sufism ... states that man may become objective, and that objectivity enables the individual to grasp 'higher' facts. Man is therefore invited to push his evolution ahead towards what is sometimes called in Sufism 'real intellect'."[27] Shah taught that the human being could acquire new subtle sense organs in response to need:[26]

Sufis believe that, expressed in one way, humanity is evolving towards a certain destiny. We are all taking part in that evolution. Organs come into being as a result of the need for specific organs (Rumi). The human being's organism is producing a new complex of organs in response to such a need. In this age of transcending of time and space, the complex of organs is concerned with the transcending of time and space. What ordinary people regard as sporadic and occasional outbursts of telepathic or prophetic power are seen by the Sufi as nothing less than the first stirrings of these same organs. The difference between all evolution up to date and the present need for evolution is that for the past ten thousand years or so we have been given the possibility of a conscious evolution. So essential is this more rarefied evolution that our future depends upon it.

Idries Shah, The Sufis[44]

Shah dismissed other Eastern and Western projections of Sufism as "watered down, generalised or partial"; he included in this not only Khan's version, but also the overtly Muslim forms of Sufism found in most Islamic countries.[27] The writings of Shah's associates implied that he was the "Grand Sheikh of the Sufis" – a position of authority undercut by the failure of any other Sufis to acknowledge its existence.[27]

Shah frequently characterised his own work as really only preliminary to actual Sufi study, in the same way that learning to read and write might be seen as preliminary to a study of literature: "Unless the psychology is correctly oriented, there is no spirituality, though there can be obsession and emotionality, often mistaken for it."[45][46] "Anyone trying to graft spiritual practices upon an unregenerate personality," he argued, "will end up with an aberration."[45] For this reason, most of the work he produced from The Sufis onwards was psychological in nature, focused on attacking the nafs-i-ammara, the false self: "I have nothing to give you except the way to understand how to seek – but you think you can already do that."[45] Shah was frequently criticised for not mentioning God very much in his writings; his reply was that given man's present state, there would not be much point in talking about God.[45] He illustrated the problem in a parable in his book Thinkers of the East: "Finding I could speak the language of ants, I approached one and inquired, 'What is God like? Does he resemble the ant?' He answered, 'God! No indeed – we have only a single sting but God, He has two!'"[45][47]

Teaching stories

Shah used teaching stories and humour to great effect in his work.[41][48] Shah emphasised the therapeutic function of surprising anecdotes, and the fresh perspectives these tales revealed.[49] The reading and discussion of such tales in a group setting became a significant part of the activities in which the members of Shah's study circles engaged.[28] The transformative way in which these puzzling or surprising tales could destabilise the student's normal (and unaware) mode of consciousness was studied by Stanford University psychology professor Robert Ornstein, who along with fellow psychologist Charles Tart[50] and eminent writers such as Poet Laureate Ted Hughes[51] and Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing[26][52] was one of several notable thinkers profoundly influenced by Shah.[49][53]

Shah and Ornstein met in the 1960s.[53] Realising that Ornstein could be an ideal partner in propagating his teachings, translating them into the idiom of psychotherapy, Shah made him his deputy (khalifa) in the United States.[49][53] Ornstein's The Psychology of Consciousness (1972) was enthusiastically received by the academic psychology community, as it coincided with new interests in the field, such as the study of biofeedback and other techniques designed to achieve shifts in mood and awareness.[53] Ornstein has published more books in the field over the years.[53]

In their original historical and cultural setting, Sufi teaching stories of the kind popularised by Shah – first told orally, and later written down for the purpose of transmitting Sufi faith and practice to successive generations – were considered suitable for people of all ages, including children, as they contained multiple layers of meaning.[26] Shah likened the Sufi story to a peach: "A person may be emotionally stirred by the exterior as if the peach were lent to you. You can eat the peach and taste a further delight ... You can throw away the stone – or crack it and find a delicious kernel within. This is the hidden depth."[26] It was in this manner that Shah invited his audience to receive the Sufi story.[26] By failing to uncover the kernel, and regarding the story as merely amusing or superficial, a person would accomplish nothing more than looking at the peach, while others internalised the tale and allowed themselves to be touched by it.[26]

Olav Hammer, in Sufism in Europe and North America (2004), cites an example of such a story.[5] It tells of a man who is looking for his key on the ground.[5] When a passing neighbour asks the man whether this is in fact the place where he lost the key, the man replies, "No, I lost it at home, but there is more light here than in my own house."[5]

Peter Wilson, writing in New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam (1998), quotes another such story, featuring a dervish who is asked to describe the qualities of his teacher, Alim.[54] The dervish explains that Alim wrote beautiful poetry, and inspired him with his self-sacrifice and his service to his fellow man.[54] His questioner readily approves of these qualities, only to find the dervish rebuking him: "Those are the qualities which would have recommended Alim to you."[54][55] Then he proceeds to list the qualities which actually enabled Alim to be an effective teacher: "Hazrat Alim Azimi made me irritated, which caused me to examine my irritation, to trace its source. Alim Azimi made me angry, so that I could feel and transform my anger."[55] He explains that Alim Azimi followed the path of blame, intentionally provoking vicious attacks upon himself, in order to bring the failings of both his students and critics to light, allowing them to be seen for what they really were: "He showed us the strange, so that the strange became commonplace and we could realise what it really is."[54][55]

Views on culture and practical life

Shah's concern was to reveal essentials underlying all cultures, and the hidden factors determining individual behaviour.[23] He discounted the Western focus on appearances and superficialities, which often reflected mere fashion and habit, and drew attention to the origins of culture and the unconscious and mixed motivations of people and the groups formed by them.[23] He also pointed out how both on the individual and group levels, short-term disasters often turn into blessings – and vice versa – and yet the knowledge of this has done little to affect the way people respond to events as they occur.[23]

Shah did not advocate the abandonment of worldly duties; instead, he argued that the treasure sought by the would-be disciple should derive from one's struggles in everyday living.[26] He considered practical work the means through which a seeker could do self-work, in line with the traditional adoption by Sufis of ordinary professions, through which they earned their livelihoods and "worked" on themselves.[26] Shah's status as a teacher remained indefinable; disclaiming both the guru identity and any desire to found a cult or sect, he also rejected the academic hat.[23] Michael Rubinstein, writing in Makers of Modern Culture, concluded that "he is perhaps best seen as an embodiment of the tradition in which the contemplative and intuitive aspects of the mind are regarded as being most productive when working together."[23]

Reception

Idries Shah's books on Sufism achieved considerable critical acclaim. He was the subject of a BBC documentary ("One Pair of Eyes") in 1969,[56] and two of his works (The Way of the Sufi and Reflections) were chosen as "Outstanding Book of the Year" by the BBC's "The Critics" programme.[29] Among other honours, Shah won six first prizes at the UNESCO World Book Year in 1973,[56] and the Islamic scholar James Kritzeck, commenting on Shah's Tales of the Dervishes, said that it was "beautifully translated".[29]

The reception of Shah's movement was also marked by much controversy.[26] Some orientalists were hostile, in part because Shah presented classical Sufi writings as tools for self-development to be used by contemporary people, rather than as objects of historical study.[10] L. P. Elwell-Sutton from Edinburgh University, Shah's fiercest critic, described his books as "trivial", replete with errors of fact, slovenly and inaccurate translations and even misspellings of Oriental names and words – "a muddle of platitudes, irrelevancies and plain mumbo-jumbo", adding for good measure that Shah had "a remarkable opinion of his own importance".[57] Expressing amusement and amazement at the "sycophantic manner" of Shah's interlocutors in a BBC radio interview, Elwell-Sutton concluded that some Western intellectuals were "so desperate to find answers to the questions that baffle them, that, confronted with wisdom from 'the mysterious East,' they abandon their critical faculties and submit to brainwashing of the crudest kind".[29] To Elwell-Sutton, Shah's Sufism belonged to the realm of "Pseudo-Sufism", "centred not on God but on man."[26][58]

"Shah-school" writings

Another hostile critic was James Moore, a Gurdjieffian who disagreed with Shah's assertion that Gurdjieff's teaching was essentially sufic in nature and took exception to the publication of a chronologically impossible, pseudonymous book on the matter (The Teachers of Gurdjieff by Rafael Lefort) that was linked to Shah.[4] In a 1986 article in Religion Today (now the Journal of Contemporary Religion), Moore covered the Bennett and Graves controversies and noted that Shah was surrounded by a "nimbus of exorbitant adulation: an adulation he himself has fanned".[4] He described Shah as supported by a "coterie of serviceable journalists, editors, critics, animators, broadcasters, and travel writers, which gamely choruses Shah's praise".[4] Moore questioned Shah's purported Sufi heritage and upbringing and deplored the body of pseudonymous "Shah-school" writings from such authors as "Omar Michael Burke Ph. D." and "Hadrat B. M. Dervish", who from 1960 heaped intemperate praise – ostensibly from disinterested parties – on Shah, referring to him as the "Tariqa Grand Sheikh Idries Shah Saheb", "Prince Idries Shah", "King Enoch", "The Presence", "The Studious King", the "Incarnation of Ali", and even the Qutb or "Axis" – all in support of Shah's incipient efforts to market Sufism to a Western audience.[4]

Peter Wilson similarly commented on the "very poor quality" of much that had been written in Shah's support, noting an "unfortunately fulsome style", claims that Shah possessed various paranormal abilities, "a tone of superiority; an attitude, sometimes smug, condescending, or pitying, towards those 'on the outside', and the apparent absence of any motivation to substantiate claims which might be thought to merit such treatment".[59] In his view, there was a "marked difference in quality between Shah's own writings" and the quality of this secondary literature.[59] Both Moore and Wilson, however, also noted similarities in style, and considered the possibility that much of this pseudonymous work, frequently published by Octagon Press, Shah's own publishing house, might have been written by Shah himself.[59]

Arguing for an alternative interpretation of this literature, the religious scholar Andrew Rawlinson proposed that rather than a "transparently self-serving [...] deception", it may have been a "masquerade – something that by definition has to be seen through".[60] Stating that "a critique of entrenched positions cannot itself be fixed and doctrinal", and noting that Shah's intent had always been to undermine false certainties, he argued that the "Shah myth" created by these writings may have been a teaching tool, rather than a tool of concealment; something "made to be deconstructed – that is supposed to dissolve when you touch it".[60] Rawlinson concluded that Shah "cannot be taken at face value. His own axioms preclude the very possibility."[60]

Assessment

Nobel-prize winner Doris Lessing was profoundly influenced by Shah.

Doris Lessing, one of Shah's greatest defenders,[4] stated in a 1981 interview: "I found Sufism as taught by Idries Shah, which claims to be the reintroduction of an ancient teaching, suitable for this time and this place. It is not some regurgitated stuff from the East or watered-down Islam or anything like that."[26] In 1996, commenting on Shah's death in The Daily Telegraph, she stated that she met Shah because of The Sufis, which was to her the most surprising book she had read, and a book that changed her life.[61] Describing Shah's œuvre as a "phenomenon like nothing else in our time", she characterised him as a many-sided man, the wittiest person she ever expected to meet, kind, generous, modest ("Don't look so much at my face, but take what is in my hand", she quotes him as saying), and her good friend and teacher for 30-odd years.[61]

Arthur J. Deikman, a professor of psychiatry and long-time researcher in the area of meditation and change of consciousness who began his study of Sufi teaching stories in the early seventies, expressed the view that Western psychotherapists could benefit from the perspective provided by Sufism and its universal essence, provided suitable materials were studied in the correct manner and sequence.[43] Given that Shah's writings and translations of Sufi teaching stories were designed with that purpose in mind, he recommended them to those interested in assessing the matter for themselves, and noted that many authorities had accepted Shah's position as a spokesman for contemporary Sufism.[43] The psychologist and consciousness researcher Charles Tart commented that Shah's writings had "produced a more profound appreciation in [him] of what psychology is about than anything else ever written".[62]

The Indian philosopher and mystic Osho, commenting on Shah's work, described The Sufis as "just a diamond. The value of what he has done in The Sufis is immeasurable". He added that Shah was "the man who introduced Mulla Nasrudin to the West, and he has done an incredible service. He cannot be repaid. [...] Idries Shah has made just the small anecdotes of Nasrudin even more beautiful ... [he] not only has the capacity to exactly translate the parables, but even to beautify them, to make them more poignant, sharper."[63]

Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney, writing in Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (2006), pronounced Shah's The Sufis an "extremely readable and wide-ranging introduction to Sufism", adding that "Shah's own slant is evident throughout, and some historical assertions are debatable (none are footnoted), but no other book is as successful as this one in provoking interest in Sufism for the general reader."[64] They described Learning How to Learn, a collection of interviews, talks and short writings, as one of Shah's best works, providing a solid orientation to his "psychological" approach to Sufi work, noting that at his best, "Shah provides insights that inoculate students against much of the nonsense in the spiritual marketplace."[64]

Ivan Tyrrell and social psychologist Joe Griffin, in their book about innate emotional needs, Human Givens: A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking, wrote that Shah "more than anyone else, understood and appreciated the real significance of the givens of human nature".[65] In another book, Godhead: The Brain’s Big Bang – The explosive origin of creativity, mysticism and mental illness, they said that Shah’s stories, "when told to young and old alike [...] lay down blueprints in the mind, not only for living and overcoming everyday difficulties but also for travelling the spiritual path. Their impact may not be recognized or felt for months or years after first hearing or reading them, but eventually the structural content they contain will exploit the pattern-matching nature of the brain and make it possible for students to observe the functioning of their own emotionally conditioned responses to changing life circumstances. It then makes it easier for them to take any action required by reality, and for their minds to connect to higher realms. Teaching stories should be read, told and reflected on, but not intellectually analysed, because that destroys the beneficial impact that they would otherwise have had on your mind." Shah, they added, was "a great collector and publisher of tales and writings that contain this ‘long-term impact’ quality. He understood the vital importance for humanity of the ‘mental blueprint’ aspect of them and his books are full of nourishing examples."[66]

Olav Hammer notes that during Shah's last years, when the generosity of admirers had made him truly wealthy, and he had become a respected figure among the higher echelons of British society, controversies arose due to discrepancies between autobiographical data – mentioning kinship with the prophet Muhammad, affiliations with a secret Sufi order in Central Asia, or the tradition in which Gurdjieff was taught – and recoverable historical facts.[5] While there may have been a link of kinship with the prophet Muhammad, the number of people sharing such a link today, 1300 years later, would be at least one million.[5] Other elements of Shah's autobiography appeared to have been pure fiction.[5] Even so, Hammer noted that Shah's books have remained in public demand, and that he has played "a significant role in representing the essence of Sufism as a non-confessional, individualistic and life-affirming distillation of spiritual wisdom."[5]

Peter Wilson wrote that if Shah had been a swindler, he had been an "extremely gifted one", because unlike merely commercial writers, he had taken the time to produce an elaborate and internally consistent system that attracted a "whole range of more or less eminent people", and had "provoked and stimulated thought in many diverse quarters".[62] Moore acknowledged that Shah had made a contribution of sorts in popularising a humanistic Sufism, and had "brought energy and resource to his self-aggrandisement", but ended with the damning conclusion that Shah's was "a 'Sufism' without self-sacrifice, without self-transcendence, without the aspiration of gnosis, without tradition, without the Prophet, without the Qur'an, without Islam, and without God. Merely that."[4][41]

Legacy

Idries Shah considered his books his legacy; in themselves, they would fulfil the function he had fulfilled when he could no longer be there.[67] Promoting and distributing their teacher's publications has been an important activity or "work" for Shah's students, both for fund-raising purposes and for transforming public awareness.[28] The ICR continues to host lectures and seminars on topics related to aspects of human nature, while the SSS has ceased its activities. The ISHK (Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge), headed by Ornstein,[68] is active in the United States; after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for example, it sent out a brochure advertising Afghanistan-related books authored by Shah and his circle to members of the Middle East Studies Association, thus linking these publications to the need for improved cross-cultural understanding.[28]

When Elizabeth Hall interviewed Shah for Psychology Today in July 1975, she asked him: "For the sake of humanity, what would you like to see happen?" Shah replied: "What I would really want, in case anybody is listening, is for the products of the last 50 years of psychological research to be studied by the public, by everybody, so that the findings become part of their way of thinking (...) they have this great body of psychological information and refuse to use it."[69]

Shah's brother, Omar Ali-Shah (1922–2005), was also a writer and teacher of Sufism; the brothers taught students together for a while in the 1960s, but in 1977 "agreed to disagree" and went their separate ways.[70] Following Idries Shah's death in 1996, a fair number of his students became affiliated with Omar Ali-Shah's movement.[71]

One of Idries Shah's daughters, Saira Shah, became notable in 2001 for reporting on women's rights in Afghanistan in her documentary Beneath the Veil.[6] His son Tahir Shah is a noted travel writer, journalist and adventurer.

Works

Magic

Sufism

Collections of Mulla Nasrudin Stories

Studies of the English

Travel

Fiction

Folklore

For children

Notes

  1. ^ Augy Hayter, a student of both Idries and Omar Ali-Shah, asserts that the article, published in Blackwood's Magazine, was written by Idries Shah under a pseudonym. When Reggie Hoare, a Gurdjieffian and associate of Bennett's, wrote to the author care of the magazine, intrigued by the description of exercises known only to a very small number of Gurdjieff students, it was Shah who replied to Hoare, and Hoare who introduced Shah to Bennett. Shah himself according to Hayter later described the Blackwood's Magazine article as "trawling". (Hayter, Augy (2002). Fictions and Factions. Reno, NV/Paris, France: Tractus Books. pp. 187. ISBN 2-909347-14-1. )

Citations

  1. ^ Shah, Saira (2003). The Storyteller's Daughter. New York, NY: Anchor Books. pp. 19–26. ISBN 1-4000-3147-8. 
  2. ^ Dervish, Bashir M. (1976-10-04). "Idris Shah: a contemporary promoter of Islamic Ideas in the West". Islamic Culture – an English Quarterly (Islamic Culture Board, Hyderabad, India (Osmania University, Hyderabad)) L (4). 
  3. ^ Lethbridge, Sir Roper (1893). The Golden Book of India. A Genealogical and Biographical Dictionary of the Ruling Princes, Chiefs, Nobles, and Other Personages, Titled or Decorated, of the Indian Empire. London, UK/New York, NY: Macmillan and Co.. , p. 13; reprint by Elibron Classics (2001): ISBN 9781402193286
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Moore, James (1986). "Neo-Sufism: The Case of Idries Shah". Religion Today 3 (3). http://www.gurdjieff-legacy.org/40articles/neosufism.htm. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Westerlund, David (ed.) (2004). Sufism in Europe and North America. New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon. pp. 136–138. ISBN 0415325919. 
  6. ^ a b Groskop, Viv (2001-06-16). "Living dangerously". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2001/06/16/tldisp16.xml&page=2. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  7. ^ a b Lamond, Frederic (2004). Fifty Years of Wicca. Green Magic. pp. 9, 37. ISBN 0954723015. 
  8. ^ Pearson, Joanne (2002). A Popular Dictionary of Paganism. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. p. 28. ISBN 0700715916. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g O'Prey, Paul (1984). Between Moon and Moon – Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946–1972. Hutchinson. pp. 213–215. ISBN 0-09-155750-X. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Cecil, Robert (1996-11-26). "Obituary: Idries Shah". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-idries-shah-1354309.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  11. ^ Staff. "Editorial Reviews for Idries Shah's The Sufis". amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Sufis-Idries-Shah/dp/product-description/0385079664. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  12. ^ a b c Smith, Jane I. (1999). Islam in America (Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series). New York, NY/Chichester, UK: Columbia University Press. p. 69. ISBN 0231109660. 
  13. ^ a b O'Prey, Paul (1984). Between Moon and Moon – Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946–1972. Hutchinson. pp. 236, 239, 240. ISBN 0-09-155750-X. 
  14. ^ O'Prey, Paul (1984). Between Moon and Moon – Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946–1972. Hutchinson. pp. 234, 240–241, 269. ISBN 0-09-155750-X. 
  15. ^ O'Prey, Paul (1984). Between Moon and Moon – Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946–1972. Hutchinson. pp. 214, 269. ISBN 0-09-155750-X. 
  16. ^ a b Elwell-Sutton, L. P. (May 1975). "Sufism & Pseudo-Sufism". Encounter XLIV (5): 14. 
  17. ^ O'Prey, Paul (1984). Between Moon and Moon – Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946–1972. Hutchinson. pp. 311–312. ISBN 0-09-155750-X. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bennett, John G. (1975). Witness: The autobiography of John G. Bennett. Turnstone Books. pp. 355–363. ISBN 0855000430. 
  19. ^ Declaration of the People of the Tradition
  20. ^ Hinnells, John R. (1992). Who's Who of World Religions. Simon & Schuster. p. 50. ISBN 0139529462. 
  21. ^ Shah, Idries (2003). The World of Nasrudin. London: Octagon Press. p. 438. ISBN 0-863040-86-1. 
  22. ^ Bennett, John G. (1975). Witness: The autobiography of John G. Bennett. Turnstone Books. pp. 362–363. ISBN 0855000430.  Chapter 27, Service and Sacrifice: "The period from 1960 (...) to 1967 when I was once again entirely on my own was of the greatest value to me. I had learned to serve and to sacrifice and I knew that I was free from attachments. It happened about the end of the time that I went on business to America and met with Madame de Salzmann in New York. She was very curious about Idries Shah and asked what I had gained from my contact with him. I replied: "Freedom!" (...) Not only had I gained freedom, but I had come to love people whom I could not understand."
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h Wintle, Justin (ed.) (2001). Makers of Modern Culture, Vol. 1. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge. p. 474. ISBN 0415265835. 
  24. ^ Staff. "About the Institute". Institute for Cultural Research. http://www.i-c-r.org.uk/about.php. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  25. ^ a b c d e Staff. "Idries Shah – Grand Sheikh of the Sufis whose inspirational books enlightened the West about the moderate face of Islam (obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2000-05-25. http://web.archive.org/web/20000525070609/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=001301712421770&rtmo=qMuJX999&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/96/12/7/ebshah07.html. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Galin, Müge (1997). Between East and West: Sufism in the Novels of Doris Lessing. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. pp. xix, 5–8, 21, 40–41, 101, 115. ISBN 0791433838. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g Smoley, Richard; Kinney, Jay (2006). Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. Wheaton, IL/Chennai, India: Quest Books. p. 238. ISBN 0835608441. 
  28. ^ a b c d Malik, Jamal; Hinnells, John R. (eds.) (2006). Sufism in the West. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. p. 32. ISBN 0415274079. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f Lessing, Doris; Elwell-Sutton, L. P. (1970-10-22). "Letter to the Editors by Doris Lessing, with a reply by L. P. Elwell-Sutton". The New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/10797. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  30. ^ a b Robert Graves, Omar Ali-Shah (1968-05-31). "Stuffed Eagle - Time". www.time.com. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,844564,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f g Graves, Richard Perceval (1995). Robert Graves And The White Goddess: The White Goddess, 1940–1985. London, UK: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 446–447, 468–472. ISBN 0231109660. 
  32. ^ Graves, Beryl (1996-12-07). "Letter to the Editor". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-idries-shah-1313347.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  33. ^ Aminrazavi, Mehdi (2005). The Wine of Wisdom. Oxford, UK: Oneworld. p. 155. ISBN 1851683550. 
  34. ^ Irwin, Robert. "Omar Khayyam's Bible for drunkards". London: The Times Literary Supplement. http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25336-1947980,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  35. ^ Westerlund, David (ed.) (2004). Sufism in Europe and North America. New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon. p. 54. ISBN 0415325919. 
  36. ^ Campbell, Edward (1978-08-29). "Reluctant guru". Evening News. 
  37. ^ Hall, Elizabeth (July 1975). "At Home in East and West: A Sketch of Idries Shah". Psychology Today 9 (2): 56. 
  38. ^ a b "Idries Shah, Sayed Idries el-Hashimi (official website)". The Estate of Idries Shah. Archived from the original on 2008-01-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20080123095631/http://www.idriesshah.com/. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  39. ^ Archer, Nathaniel P. (1977). Idries Shah, Printed Word International Collection 8. London, UK: Octagon Press. ISBN 0863040004. 
  40. ^ Ghali, Halima (1979). Shah, International Press Review Collection 9. London, UK: BM Sufi Studies. 
  41. ^ a b c d e f Taji-Farouki, Suha; Nafi, Basheer M. (eds.) (2004). Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century. London, UK/New York, NY: I.B.Tauris Publishers. p. 123. ISBN 1850437513. 
  42. ^ Shah, Idries (1970, 1980). The Dermis Probe. London, UK: Octagon Press. p. 18. ISBN 0-863040-45-4. 
  43. ^ a b c Boorstein, Seymour (ed.) (1996). Transpersonal Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. pp. 241, 247. ISBN 0791428354. 
  44. ^ Shah, Idries (1964, 1977). The Sufis. London, UK: Octagon Press. p. 54. ISBN 0863040209. 
  45. ^ a b c d e Wilson, Peter (1998). "The Strange Fate of Sufism in the New Age". In Peter B. Clarke. New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental. pp. 187–188. ISBN 189894217X. 
  46. ^ Shah, Idries (1978, 1980, 1983). Learning How To Learn. New York, NY, US; London, UK; Ringwood, Victoria, Australia; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Arkana. p. 80. ISBN 0140195130. 
  47. ^ Shah, Idries (1972, 1974). Thinkers of the East. New York, NY, US; London, UK; Ringwood, Victoria, Australia; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Arkana. p. 101. ISBN 0140192514. 
  48. ^ Lewin, Leonard; Shah, Idries (1972). The Diffusion of Sufi Ideas in the West. Boulder, CO: Keysign Press. p. 72. 
  49. ^ a b c Malik, Jamal; Hinnells, John R. (eds.) (2006). Sufism in the West. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. p. 31. ISBN 0415274079. 
  50. ^ Wilson, Peter (1998). "The Strange Fate of Sufism in the New Age". In Clarke, Peter B. (ed.) (1998). New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental. p. 195. ISBN 1-898942-17-X. 
  51. ^ Hermansen, Marcia (1998). "In the Garden of American Sufi Movements: Hybrids and Perennials". In Clarke, Peter B. (ed.) (1998). New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental. p. 167. ISBN 1-898942-17-X. 
  52. ^ Fahim, Shadia S. (1995). Doris Lessing: Sufi Equilibrium and the Form of the Novel. Basingstoke, UK/New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan/St. Martins Press. pp. passim. ISBN 0312102933. 
  53. ^ a b c d e Westerlund, David (ed.) (2004). Sufism in Europe and North America. New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon. p. 53. ISBN 0415325919. 
  54. ^ a b c d Wilson, Peter (1998). "The Strange Fate of Sufism in the New Age". In Peter B. Clarke. New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental. p. 185. ISBN 189894217X. 
  55. ^ a b c Shah, Idries (1970, 1980). The Dermis Probe. London, UK: Octagon Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-863040-45-4. 
  56. ^ a b The Middle East and North Africa. Europa Publications Limited, Taylor & Francis Group, International Publications Service. 1988. p. 952. ISBN 9780905118505. 
  57. ^ Elwell-Sutton, L. P. (1970-07-02). "Mystic-Making". The New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/10908. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  58. ^ Elwell-Sutton, L. P. (May 1975). "Sufism & Pseudo-Sufism". Encounter XLIV (5): 16. 
  59. ^ a b c Wilson, Peter (1998). "The Strange Fate of Sufism in the New Age". In Peter B. Clarke. New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental. pp. 189–191. ISBN 189894217X. 
  60. ^ a b c Rawlinson, Andrew (1997). The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions. Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court. p. 525. ISBN 0812693108. 
  61. ^ a b Lessing, Doris. "On the Death of Idries Shah (excerpt from the obituary in the London The Daily Telegraph)". dorislessing.org. http://www.dorislessing.org/on.html. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  62. ^ a b Wilson, Peter (1998). "The Strange Fate of Sufism in the New Age". In Peter B. Clarke. New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental. pp. 195. ISBN 189894217X. 
  63. ^ Osho (2005). Books I Have Loved. Pune, India: Tao Publishing Pvt. Ltd. pp. 127–128. ISBN 8172611021. 
  64. ^ a b Smoley, Richard; Kinney, Jay (2006). Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. Wheaton, IL/Chennai, India: Quest Books. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0835608441. 
  65. ^ Griffin, J; Tyrrell, I. (2004) Human Givens: A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking. HG Publishing.ISBN 1-899398-31-7
  66. ^ Griffin, J; Tyrrell, I. (2011) Godhead: The Brain’s Big Bang – The explosive origin of creativity, mysticism and mental illness. ISBN 978-1-899398-27-0
  67. ^ Shah, Tahir (2008). In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams. New York, NY: Bantam. pp. 215–216. ISBN 0553805231. 
  68. ^ Staff. "Directors, Advisors & Staff". Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge (ISHK). http://ishkbooks.com/ishk_leadership.html. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  69. ^ Hall, Elizabeth (July 1975). "The Sufi Tradition: A Conversation with Idries Shah". Psychology Today 9 (2): 61. 
  70. ^ Hayter, Augy (2002). Fictions and Factions. Reno, NV/Paris, France: Tractus Books. pp. 177, 201. ISBN 2-909347-14-1. 
  71. ^ Malik, Jamal; Hinnells, John R. (eds.) (2006). Sufism in the West. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. p. 30. ISBN 0415274079. 

References

  • Archer, Nathaniel P. (1977). Idries Shah, Printed Word International Collection 8. London, UK: Octagon Press. ISBN 0863040004. 
  • Bennett, John G. (1975). Witness: The autobiography of John G. Bennett. Turnstone Books. ISBN 0855000430. 
  • Boorstein, Seymour (ed.) (1996). Transpersonal Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0791428354. 
  • Galin, Müge (1997). Between East and West: Sufism in the Novels of Doris Lessing. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0791433838. 
  • Ghali, Halima (1979). Shah, International Press Review Collection 9. London, UK: BM Sufi Studies. 
  • Graves, Richard Perceval (1995). Robert Graves And The White Goddess: 1940–1985. London, UK: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0297815342. 
  • Lewin, Leonard; Shah, Idries (1972). The Diffusion of Sufi Ideas in the West. Boulder, CO: Keysign Press. 
  • Malik, Jamal; Hinnells, John R. (eds.) (2006). Sufism in the West. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 0415274079. 
  • Moore, James (1986). "Neo-Sufism: The Case of Idries Shah". Religion Today 3 (3). 
  • O'Prey, Paul (1984). Between Moon and Moon – Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946–1972. Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-155750-X. 
  • Rawlinson, Andrew (1997). The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions. Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court. ISBN 0812693108. 
  • Smith, Jane I. (1999). Islam in America (Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series). New York, NY/Chichester, UK: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231109660. 
  • Smoley, Richard; Kinney, Jay (2006). Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. Wheaton, IL/Chennai, India: Quest Books. ISBN 0835608441. 
  • Taji-Farouki, Suha; Nafi, Basheer M. (eds.) (2004). Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century. London, UK/New York, NY: I.B.Tauris Publishers. ISBN 1850437513. 
  • Westerlund, David (ed.) (2004). Sufism in Europe and North America. New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0415325919. 
  • Wilson, Peter (1998). "The Strange Fate of Sufism in the New Age". In Peter B. Clarke. New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam. London: Luzac Oriental. ISBN 189894217X. 
  • Wintle, Justin (ed.) (2001). Makers of Modern Culture, Vol. 1. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0415265835. 

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