Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure


The luminous presence of women who follow the Sufi Way—the mystical path of Islam—is brought to life here through their sacred songs and poetry, their dreams and visions, and stories of their efforts as they witness the Truth in many realms. These writings reflect the honor and respect for the feminine in the Sufi worldview, and they are shared in the spirit of inspiration and hope for the flourishing contributions of women to the spiritual development of humanity.

Spanning the ...

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Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure

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The luminous presence of women who follow the Sufi Way—the mystical path of Islam—is brought to life here through their sacred songs and poetry, their dreams and visions, and stories of their efforts as they witness the Truth in many realms. These writings reflect the honor and respect for the feminine in the Sufi worldview, and they are shared in the spirit of inspiration and hope for the flourishing contributions of women to the spiritual development of humanity.

Spanning the centuries, from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the present day, the selections are by or about an array of Sufi traditions in different parts of the world, from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to Europe and America—from beloved members of the Prophet's family to the mystic Rabi'a al-Adawiyya to the modern scholar Annemarie Schimmel. Biographical anecdotes and personal memoirs provide a glimpse into the experience of great saints and contemporary practitioners alike, while providing an introduction to the principles and practices of Sufism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A rich and varied resource for understanding women of 'The Way.'"—Publishers Weekly

"The intensity and the eclectic range of the material is impressive. . . . Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure reveals the depth and breadth of spiritual riches within this mystical tradition."—Spirituality & Health

"An admirable job of bringing history to life . . . a book that can be read with rapture, browsed, used for scholarly reference, or as an inspiring source to deepen our knowledge of Sufism by the examples and teachings of these beautiful and wise Sufi women."—Sufism

"A great resource for understanding women's ongoing search for the Divine."—Ascent

"Women of Sufism is a valuable addition to Sufi literature and women's spiritual studies. Camille Helminski awakens us to the important contribution of women to this mystical tradition."—Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Ph.D., author of Sufism: The Transformation of the Heart

Publishers Weekly
Helminski was the first woman to publish an English translation of the Qur'an and has built a career out of reprinting classic Sufi materials. This collection of primary sources casts a spotlight on the roles women have played in Sufi history: because Sufism sheds hierarchical and social distinctions in favor of a total consummation with the Beloved (Allah), women have always held an important position, says Helminski. The collection opens with early writings about Sufi women, most of which were written by men, and some of which have only recently been made available in English. Here we learn of Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, an eighth-century saint about whom many legends were composed, and the ninth-century healer Lady Nafisa, who was renowned for her Qur'anic knowledge and whose tomb is still a sacred destination for spiritual pilgrims of many religious traditions. Helminski goes on to offer writings by and about Sufi women up to the present day, including poetry (Rumi has some competition!), folklore, prayers, songs and journal entries. Helminski does a fine job of introducing each subject, placing each shaykha (female teacher) in her historical context and explaining why she should be remembered. Some of the contemporary women are particularly interesting, such as Russian-born Sufi author Irina Tweedie, who describes her gradual path toward Sufism. This collection of women's voices is a rich and varied resource for understanding women of "The Way." (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
With this selection of writings from different women and places throughout Islamic history, Helminski-cofounder and codirector of the Threshold Society, a Sufi organization-offers a history of women in Sufism, Islam's mysticism. Chapters are arranged by time and region, spanning from the time of Muhammad (the seventh century) to the present and including poems, journals, scholarly essays, and more. In her introduction, Helminski describes contemporary women's involvement with Sufism as it developed from the early centuries of Islam. Throughout the stories and experiences gathered here, readers learn about women's place and voice in the Sufi experience, showing their participation in a long line of traditions, teachers, and study. More personal than analytical, this book is appropriate for readers interested in women's religious experiences and for those wishing to learn about this mystical tradition, whose customs few are familiar with. For larger public and academic libraries.-Naomi Hafter, Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570629679
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/25/2003
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 939,807
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Women and Sufism
In the Heart of the Prophet 1
Khadija 5
Fatima 8
'A'isha 13
Early Sufi Women 19
A Doorkeeper of the Heart 25
Poems and Stories of Rabi'a 30
Sufi Women of Syria 35
Halima of Damascus 35
Rabi'a bint Ismail 35
Lubaba al-Muta 'Abbida 36
Fatima of Damascus 37
Those Who Weep 38
Tears of Devotion 40
The Enraptured Ones 44
Dhakkara 44
Fatima al-Barda'iyya 45
Sufi Women of Nishapur 46
'A'isha 46
Fatima 47
Futayma 48
Al-Wahatiyya 49
Going Home 51
A Maiden of the Desert
Sufi Sisters 53
Zubda and Mudgha: Essence and Embryo 53
'Abda and Amina: Servant And Faith 54
Be There for God, Today 55
'Unayza of Baghdad
A Jewel of Knowledge 56
Waters of Blessing 56
Hidden Ways 60
Dream Lessons 61
The Unfolding Universe 73
Toward the Heart 89
The Path of Sufism 90
My Soul Is a Woman 98
Women in Mystical Islam 99
Women in the Life of Ibn al-'Arabi 109
Sublime Companions 110
Wherever You Turn, There Is the Face of God 115
Mevlevi Women 117
A Princess of Piety 128
Confidant of Spirits 129
The Wine of Love 133
Our Intoxicating Beloved 135
The Night of Power 135
From a Qadiri Heart of Nigeria 137
Sufi Women 140
Lamentation for Aisha I 145
So Verily ... 146
Yashrutis of Palestine 148
Journey to Reality 150
The Light of Womanhood 153
A Woman of Valor 155
Serving Peace 160
Reflections on Retreat 161
A Window into Forty Days 169
In the Lion's Presence 170
Zhikr 174
The Way of the Soul 177
Soul Bridges 180
The Soul as Virgin Mother 183
Mother Love 186
The First Goal of Sufi Mothers 187
First Lessons of Love 188
Etheric Body Massage 190
The Fragrance of Prayer 192
Fresh Jasmine 193
An Essential Language 196
Real Love Means Surrender 197
The Soul's Longing 199
Mother of Compassion 215
Songs of Praise and Supplication: The Munshidin of Egypt 222
O Allah! 226
Musical Remembrance: Sufi Women of Fez 229
In Praise of the Prophet 231
Inner Vision 233
Vision of the Truth by Meeting of the Sun and Moon 234
Principles of Sufism 244
Patience (Sabr) 246
A Child of the Moment 254
Purifying the Heart 257
Essential Zhikr for a New Murid 259
A Daughter of Fire 264
Yearning for Truth 265
Bektashi Breaths 280
Unfolding Light 282
I Rubbed My Face upon Your Feet 282
Today, I Reached My Pir 283
A Rose Garden of Love 285
You Have to Love People 285
Let Us Ask Permission of the Mature Ones 296
Erler Demine 297
Sharing the Treasure 299
Awakening 300
Bibliography 304
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