Pumas 4 Palin

Sufism, at last, and thank God!

Posted on: September 22, 2008

Most Americans know very little about Islam. Some know a little bit about ideas such as Haj,  Jihad or Halal. A few have heard of Sunni and Shi branches of muslim practice. But how many have heard about Sufi.

Sufi Islam is akin to mysticism, a sort of native mohammedan spiritual practice steeped in ideas of Aesthetic joy, Ecstasy, and experiential pluralism. India has millions of Sufi practitioners. North Africa does, and has drawn foreigners (Paul Bowles).

In the movie Hideous Kinky, the character played by Kate Winslet goes off to North Africa and takes up with a young sufi muslim man. Several countries of middle east have sufi tribes and clans. But thanks to Stephen Schwartz now all Americans can get a crash-course primer on Sufism.

Now, Stephen Schwartz is one of the most amazing people you are likely to know of. Born to a Christian-Jewish liberal couple in the American heartland, raised agnostic, Schwartz discovered religion and spirituality on his own, and while researching Sephardic Jews in the Balkans, he was moved by Sufi Islam and never looked back.

I recall that Schwartz became something of a sought after ‘cable tv celebrity’ for while in the years following 9-11 due to his masterly opus, The Two Faces of Islam.  His views on Islam were much sought after. His devout personal example makes him eminently estimable.

Now, he has another book, The Other Islam: Sufism and the road to global harmony.  You can listen to him talk about the book with John Miller of NRO, at this link.  Or click on the player (with luck, embed will work)

This very short audio presentation is packed with information, veiwpoints and attitudes that I guarantee every listener will take something worthwhile. A real gem of a clip. All due to Schwartz’s big heart.

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