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Through short, historical vignettes on spiritual teachers and brief stories, this narrative examines the Zen-like spiritual practices of Central Asian Sufism and provides a personal account of the seeker’s own entry into the traditions of the Naqshbandiya of Uzbekistan. Part history, part devotional work or stranstvie (a literary, religious, and historical wandering), this book seeks to explore, preserve, validate, and through discreet segments—"On Listening Attentively", "On Gentle Words", "On Proper Posture"—record and ruminate on Sufi Islam as practiced in Central Asia across the centuries. The book’s historical and devotional aspects are made beautiful and compelling through the seeker’s poetic idiom, his own uncertainty, and his sense of unworthiness in the search for God. Core ideas of love, sacrifice, absence of self, and divine and human purpose find expression in every part of this account, attempting to strike a chord in modern or postmodern lives.
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About the Author
Sabit Madaliev is the author of 14 books of poetry and fiction published in the former USSR and his native Uzbekistan. Russell Scott Valentino is the translator of Materdada, Persuasion and Rhetoric, Between Exile and Asylum: An Eastern Epistolary, and A Castle in Romagna and has translated fiction in journals such as The Iowa Review, Poroi, Two Lines, and 91st Meridian. A recipient of two Fulbright research awards to Croatia, he currently teaches in the master of fine arts in translation program at the University of Iowa. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.