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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 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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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 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.

30 review for Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure

  1. 5 out of 5

    Huma Rashid

    Absolutely gorgeous. This book offers a brief survey of important Muslim women, from Ummul Mu'mineen to women like Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, aka Nora Baker, aka Madeline, who was among the first woman to infiltrate occupied France as an Allied spy, and was kept in head to toe chains by the Germans after her capture, and later executed. In addition to the survey of Muslim women, the book offers valuable spiritual insights and tales from the Islamic mystics, including heavy emphasis on one of my p Absolutely gorgeous. This book offers a brief survey of important Muslim women, from Ummul Mu'mineen to women like Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, aka Nora Baker, aka Madeline, who was among the first woman to infiltrate occupied France as an Allied spy, and was kept in head to toe chains by the Germans after her capture, and later executed. In addition to the survey of Muslim women, the book offers valuable spiritual insights and tales from the Islamic mystics, including heavy emphasis on one of my personal favorites, Rabia al Basri. It also includes somewhat shocking (at least to me) support for the fact that in the Prophet (S)'s time, women led prayers, leading both men and women. I also learned that Imam Shafi'i, one of the most important Islamic jurists who founded one of the four schools of jurisprudential thought (madhhab), asked a woman, Lady Nafisa, to lead his janazah. That is, to lead men and women in praying his funeral prayers. Due to her weakness, she was unable to, although she did deliver a eulogy. This is an achingly beautiful text, complete with quotes from ancient texts (the Quran AND the journals of a revered pair of husband and wife Islamic thinkers, among many others), stories from the hadith, gorgeous poetry, and more, and it's earned itself a permanent spot on my bookshelf at home. I can't wait to read more from this author and her husband. Astounding. I jotted down some disjointed thoughts about this here at my book blog.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gwen

    I had a bit of hesitance buying a book that seemed to be written for college classes. I wasn't sure if I could really get myself to read the full thing. Once I began reading the book I couldn't stop. It took a full month, but it was a great month! The use of the women's own writing is really what made this great. There is a difference between reading the poem of a woman mystic from over a thousand years ago and being told about what to see in the poem. This book does a marvelous job of not over I had a bit of hesitance buying a book that seemed to be written for college classes. I wasn't sure if I could really get myself to read the full thing. Once I began reading the book I couldn't stop. It took a full month, but it was a great month! The use of the women's own writing is really what made this great. There is a difference between reading the poem of a woman mystic from over a thousand years ago and being told about what to see in the poem. This book does a marvelous job of not over explaining the women in it. It allows them to tell their own story through their poems, stories about their lives, and in some cases academic writing by them. There were a couple sections that dragged a bit, but none of them dragged so much that I didn't learn something new. Anyone trying to learn about the mystic women of Sufism should have this book in their collection. It really is a wonderful work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    صفية

    To be fair, this was almost a beautiful reminder. My humble opinion is much more biased towards grabbing original texts in Arabic and spending my days repeating noteworthy paragraphs. This might be a beautiful way to get to know Sufism and women for non-Arabic speakers. It introduces the reader to the many women that were found on the path to God. Needless to say that the author did an amazing job by gathering everything and ordering women's biographies chronologically ... In the first chapters t To be fair, this was almost a beautiful reminder. My humble opinion is much more biased towards grabbing original texts in Arabic and spending my days repeating noteworthy paragraphs. This might be a beautiful way to get to know Sufism and women for non-Arabic speakers. It introduces the reader to the many women that were found on the path to God. Needless to say that the author did an amazing job by gathering everything and ordering women's biographies chronologically ... In the first chapters there was a highlight related to Islam's message being sent to both men and women equally but as I you go deeper and learn more -especially about contemporary to late sufi women- there was a clear tendency towards approving that the sufi way is a feminine way of surrender (The Tao of Islam).... All in all, nice reminder, yet would in no way replace Rabiaa Adawiya lines in Arabic, or Qasidahs ... But I would still recommend it !

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pranada Comtois

    What a pleasure to learn about so many women mystics in Sufism! Some of these saints are quite incredible. These lives are a beautiful example of full love of God. It was an inspiration to read. The book is well-researched.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hasanah HM

    Simply captivating. I'm just humbled to know that there were/are quite a number of special, spiritual women who has such an immense love for Allah SWT. Definitely a wonderful compilation of stories and articles worth reading that can help strengthen one's relationship with Allah SWT as well as to unlock the key to such a wonderful hidden treasure...in ourselves.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Yelda Basar Moers

    I truly looked forward to reading this book as I know virtually nothing about the notable Sufi women of the past. I think the author here tried to do too much too fast and this compendium is both overwhelming and too confusing. The writing is very difficult for a lay reader, as it is not easy on the eyes, and the book as a whole needs a very good editor to break the language down and make it easier to process and digest. Also there is no continuum from chapter to chapter, it is too much a hodgep I truly looked forward to reading this book as I know virtually nothing about the notable Sufi women of the past. I think the author here tried to do too much too fast and this compendium is both overwhelming and too confusing. The writing is very difficult for a lay reader, as it is not easy on the eyes, and the book as a whole needs a very good editor to break the language down and make it easier to process and digest. Also there is no continuum from chapter to chapter, it is too much a hodgepodge of items, too many different facets of Sufism and its women. The topic is fascinating, and the Sufi women of the past deserve attention and notice, but unfortunately this book did not do this topic justice. I would recommend that the author and their publisher revisit it, re-edit it, and bring it out again for a general readership. I still give it three stars because there is a voluminous amount of information here and could serve a researcher well and I commend the author for trying to do this topic justice. Alternatively for those interested in Sufism, this author's husband wrote a beautiful, brilliant book, The Knowing Heart, about Sufism, and I highly recommend this book to those interested in learning more about Sufism. Both the author herself and her husband founded an organization that tries to teach and bring Sufism, especially Rumi's sect of Sufism, to Americans. It is amazing to see that there is a growing Sufi movement and interest in the U.S. Sufism is what bridges the East to the West, it is as Coleman Barks, the famous Rumi translator and poet, says, the Bridge to the Soul.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Great information about women and their role in mysticiam and early Islamic faith communities. It was a bit dry in parts as it is written in a very academic manner.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian Griffith

    Helminski introduces many female Sufis, mostly giving brief descriptions and then letting them speak at length. The collection is a strong tribute to the wisdom, compassion, beauty and power of Sufi women through the ages, and in nations from Indonesia, to Nigeria, or the USA. These women speak in many ways, sometimes in poetic songs, sometimes in riddles, sometimes with perceptive scholarly insight, and sometimes with a common-sense compassion of almost overwhelming power.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fusun Dulger charles

    Another gem from Camille Helminski. So wonderful to read that so many women have had amazing Spiritual Journeys. One always hears about “Men sheikh, gurus, teachers”. It is so encouraging, refreshing and inspiring that there are so many Women Teachers. So helpful on my personal Journey.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Larissa Olinda

    This booklist a treasure I earned so much with this book. It really touches every single dimension of the subject. A true fountain of knowledge.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jaine

    5 stars because of the subject matter. But wow, the way Helminski organized each chapter irked me. I needed more structure. As I read the book, I found myself thinking: "CAH has to know that this is confusing" or "CAH has to know that this isn't working." GAH! If this were any other book, I probably would've stopped reading it on account of how annoying the organization of the book is/presentation of material. I wanted to read the book. I should check out the publisher. I've read some horridly wri 5 stars because of the subject matter. But wow, the way Helminski organized each chapter irked me. I needed more structure. As I read the book, I found myself thinking: "CAH has to know that this is confusing" or "CAH has to know that this isn't working." GAH! If this were any other book, I probably would've stopped reading it on account of how annoying the organization of the book is/presentation of material. I wanted to read the book. I should check out the publisher. I've read some horridly written books about Islam. Helminski, by far, doesn't fall into the category of horrid, but gosh. Kind of mediocre writing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lubna

    If you are looking for spiritual inspiration, this is a very helpful book. I felt very humbled in reading about the awesome spiritual lives of such a varied number of Muslim women - the book contains biographies, stories, and poetry & covers Sufi women from the Indian subcontinent to the Western world. Its not a book to read in 1 sitting but is probably best read slowly, with contemplation, and interspersed with other reading. If you are looking for spiritual inspiration, this is a very helpful book. I felt very humbled in reading about the awesome spiritual lives of such a varied number of Muslim women - the book contains biographies, stories, and poetry & covers Sufi women from the Indian subcontinent to the Western world. Its not a book to read in 1 sitting but is probably best read slowly, with contemplation, and interspersed with other reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amelie

    Interesting information and quotations from Sufi women. Some prior knowledge of Sufism might be useful, but this book is fairly accesible to general readers, and feels comprehensive, though not exhaustive.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ayesha Sabir

    i think this book is related to my course .

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maria Amir

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jane Humboldt

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shameer A

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Mayhem

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shabir Mamodraza

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lala Hakima

  23. 4 out of 5

    Faatimah

  24. 4 out of 5

    Agnes Marton

  25. 5 out of 5

    Furkhanhaq

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Farhana Yunus

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  29. 5 out of 5

    Saboora Miyanath

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liza

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