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In the Name of God بسم الله


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About Amir-Husayn

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  1. Modarresi's book is very good and another useful book may be Andrew Newman's, The Formative Period of Twelever Shi'ism. Also, for an alternative perspesctive you may want to read Amir-Moezzi's, The Divine Guide in Early Shi'ism as well as his Spirituality of Shi'i Islam​.
  2. Im sure there probably are some, but the chances of them also being able to teach others and for us to find them seems remote. In any case, I am convinced it is not necessary. Most of the work we can do ourselves and it is a lot easier to find someone who can give us a little help pointing us in the right direction when we have problems. As for your last post I agree with most of what you say, but personally don't have the time to help you out with it. I also don't see it as all that important if historical Suufis were Ithna Ashari Shi'a or not. The important point is that they were true lover of the Ahl Bayt and this is still true today of many outwardly Sunni Sufis. I think sometimes we try to do too much enclosing things in tidy little boxes when history, and life, is anything but tidy.
  3. Perhaps wasn't the most accurate in what I said. I believe that there are Shaykhs out there that are beneficial for people, but I don't think that, at least in the West, the paradigm of the Shaykh you go to and surrender to is very helpful. One reason is that I think there is too much potential and actual abuse in these types of relationships and also because I think most of us aren't of that kind of mentality. That is, we are actively questioning and investigative and intellectual and these are things that should be nurtured and utilized, not crushed. I have really been supportive of some iniatives to move beyond the traditional tariqa system which was a historical development that was useful, but may not be best for our times. Just my opinion however.
  4. There are different branches of the Nimatullahi, the most prominent being the Gonobadi's primarily in Iran who have strictly maintained the outer practices of Islam and are definately Shi'a and the followers of the Nurbakhsh family primarily on the West who have a lot less firm commitment to Islam although my understanding is that it varies from center to center and person to person. As to the final point I think that it is fair to say that the days of the perfect Shaykh are over; I think that a new paradigm is needed to help people where and how they are today.
  5. The Nimatullahi's have a very unique history in that they were originally Sunni, are now Ithna Ashari, and at certain points in their history the Ismaili Imam's attached themselves to the Nimatullahi's to avoid persecution. As far as I am aware the order was never fully Ismaili however.
  6. This intrigues me. I know next to nothing about Taoism. Are there any books that are good introductions to Taoism? Can you expand upon how you combine the discipline of Taoism with Islam? If you want to you can pm me or open a new topic if that is better. Thanks.
  7. You are probably correct. To use an anachronism these Sufi's were something like khalifa's of the Imam, figured as the Shaykh. In this way one could argue that not much has changed as they are now the representatives of Imam Mehdi. What is nonsense is accepting people and then telling them that they must change their beliefs, not through arguments and intellectual persuasion, but through authoritarian command. When the Qur'an says that there is no compulsion in religion it is not just giving a command, but stating a reality. You can force conformity of action, but you cannot compel someone to believe anything. One of the problems the sufis have often suffered from is a form of group think and I think it is important for people to live and act and believe as individuals. I don't want to go into this more and I understand what you are saying, but I have seen too many problems in this regard amongst some sufi orders. Others allow almost complete freedom of thought as well and I think, at least in the West, that is the only way forward.
  8. There is a good book by Reza Shah-Kazemi on the Islam and Buddhism: Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism
  9. AlMuttaqi, I would recommend the essay, Shi'ism and Sufism: their Relationship in Essence and in History, by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr that is in his book Sufi Essays. You may be able to find it online as well. Less directly relevant, but more substantial is Haydar Amuli's Inner Secrets of the Path which is now translated into english, but not with a major publisher. My own quick thoughts, which are not a direct relation to the works I suggested are that, quite frankly, a lot of the conflict between Shi'ism and Sufism was due to power struggles and political activity that was going on at particular times. There were always conflict between different schools of thought in Shi'ism and no side is likely free of forging narrations painting their erstwhile opponents in a negative light. It is perhaps easier for me to pass of some of this because I have less trust in the corpus of narrations from the Imams than many other people, but I largely agree with Saintly-Jinns comments about the negative comments being directed towards certain activities of certain sufis, not a blanket condemnation. I also think that it is important to note that it is no doubt true that during the time of the Imam's it would be incorrect to go to the sufis when the manifest Imam was the Sufi Shaykh par excellence. Our situation, however, is different and it may be true, as Haydar Amuli wrote that the Sufi's are the true Shi'a. I think that we should not tie the title of Shi'a into some narrow sectarian box, but understand that all the true lovers of the Ahl Bayt are Shi'a and, further, that the Sufi's have been great lovers of the Ahl Bayt; the modern Ithna Ashari are not the be all and end all of Shi'ism. It is also helpful to remember that the activity of jurists is heavily criticized by the Imam's as well and as a friend of mine said, Sufism is not more of a Persian innovation than jurisprudence is a Jewish Rabbinical innovation. I know that those comments are brief, but hope they are of benefit. Please at least look into Dr. Nasr's essay. Maybe it is because of the particular orders that I have contact with, but my experience has been that the overwhelming majority of Sufi orders have no centralized leadership. Some are more decentralized than others, as you mentioned, but other than the Bektashi's, Tijani's, Mouridi's and maybe to a lesser degree the Mevlavi's I don't know of any centralized Sufi orders. As I have said before, my experience has been that geography is more important of an indicator of attitudes than tariqa. Bosnian Qadiri's and Naqhabandi's have more in common with each other than those Qadiri's and Moroccan Qadiri's. In terms of having to believe in a certain orthodoxy it really depends on the particular Shaykh. For example, there are some hyper-sunni Shadhili's that require their murids to adhere to particular schools of jurisprudence and theology while the two branches I have an association with have no such requirements. In the end you cannot mandate someone to believe something that they do not really believe so I think that these requirements are a touch of nonsense.
  10. Although I have no interest is wasting my time on the delusions of "salvation history" what do others here think of the utility of modern methods of textual analysis for example? Personally I think we should take these things very seriously and instead of complaining about Orientalists we should acknowledge that they have done some phenomenal research and even if we dispute some of their conclusions they ask good questions and are often fair in their approach. Even in simply asking the "unthinkable and unthought" as Dr. Arkoun mentions is one of their greatest gifts to us. On a related note, would anyone here be overly troubled if the Sana manuscripts were more than just a handwritten copy with some errors in it. That is, if we knew that there were some minor changes that didn't really affect the meaning of the Qur'an would that damage anyones faith? I wouldn't be disturbed in the least, but I think some people might be. I think that it is a good thing to think about even if it is a false hypothetical.
  11. I'm actually glad you brought this topic up as it made me review a few translations I have. In particular the one I mentioned by Nooruddeen Durkee called the Tajwidi Qur'an is much better than I remembered - maybe the best I've seen. The translator is a Shadhili Sufi whose first language is english and the arabic script is large and very clear as well as including a very good and consistent transliteration to help those learning arabic. If you want to suggest a few ayat I can provide it's translation for you to give you an idea.
  12. For a straight translation I would definitely recommend the one by 'Ali Quli Qara'i. I also personally use Muhammad Asad's a lot and think it is very good, but he does have issues with intercession. Tahereh Saffarzadeh's is certainly inclined towards Shi'ism, but I don't think the english is that great and the one with Ayt. Pooya is much worse. There are also a few good Sunni ones, in particular if you are also learning reading arabic then Nooruddeen Durkee's is phenomenal. There are others such as those by the Bewely's and Ali Unal's and one published by the Nawawi Foundation that are good Sunni (not Wahhabi) translations as well. I should add that I have it on good authority that next year there should be published the HapersCollins Study Qur'an that is by a committee of experts headed by Dr. Sayyed Hossein Nasr. These things are often delayed, but it looks extremely promising.
  13. I was told something similar by someone whose knowledge I very much trust. Although distinct now the Bektashi's and Alevi's have a lot of historical links as well. True. There are some subtle clues, but while being Shi'a I think it's fair to say that neither strongly identify with what has become the formal structures of Ithna Ashari Shi'ism. That is, if anything, they criticize the excesses of the outward ulama and their approaches to law and theology for example. A person could say that makes them not Shi'i, but that would be giving the zahiri scholars an authority I don't think they deserve. What you say about what constitutes Shi'ism and Sunnism is perhaps the key to this issue. Most sufis probably do not fit neatly into the boxes that others would like to create for them, but from my experience most have an inclination towards one of the two directions.
  14. I also wanted to know if you could share more about the Mevlevi's? Obviously I have read about them, but have almost no experience with them as they are not particularly active in the areas I have spent most of my time. Are there any active groups that you have contact with? What have been your experiences with them?
  15. I do think think though, Amir, that we are forgetting one important Sufi order that shaped Iranian history, as well as Shia history, and that is the Safaviyyah !True, but they don't really exist anymore. They are interesting as a historical phenomenon and also because of the negative effect their rise had on other Sufi orders in Persia, but they are not useful in terms of investigating contemporary sufism or looking for a path to follow. Personally, I do not think that for people in the West or living in the East, but have been deeply influenced by Western thought, that the way that traditional sufi orders work is all that appropriate. In some places it seems to work ok, but there are a lot of problems with it as well and most people are not going to react well to a traditional murshid-murid relationship. I think in the future we will see more informal groups of people with this interest and less strict hierarchies and there is some of this happening already.
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