Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism

Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism

Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism

Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism


Fritz Meier (1912-1998) is one of the most outstanding Orientalists of this century. His publications combine masterful philological method and precision, profound and penetrating textual interpretation, and a wide-ranging familiarity with primary sources which may truly be characterized as phenomenal. Among the numerous fields in which he has undertaken original research, Persian poetry and Islamic mysticism (Sufism) in the widest sense stand out in particular. His work on Sufism covers the whole of the Islamic world and Islamic history from its beginnings up to the 20th century. The present provides for the first time a translation of 15 of Fritz Meiers seminal articles. The selected articles deal with the history of Sufism; Sufi morals and practices such as dhikr and sam ; the historical development of the master-disciple relationship; Ibn Taymiyyas attitude toward Sufism; pious devotional practices such as making use of the tasliya; essential sources for the history of Sufism in the Maghreb and the Almoravids. Extensive indices facilitate the use of this epoch-making work.


Habent sua fata libelli. When, through a series of convoluted circumstances, Bernd Radtke came to take up employment in Norway's northern latitudes at the University of Bergen in the spring of 1989, he was pleased to find himself in scholarly surroundings which proved to be lively and stimulating beyond his expectations. As it turned out, his departmental colleagues were energetically engaged in a variety of research projects to do with the more recent history of Sufism. At the same time they maintained a serious interest in 'classical' and 'post-classical' developments in older Sufism as well, which up until then had been Radtke's major area of study.

On the basis of numerous conversations with Sean O'Fahey in Bergen, it soon became clear to Radtke that one particular shortcoming presently affecting the study of Islamic mysticism is a widespread lack of knowledge of the contribution to research on Sufism published in German. The process of globalization, so it seems, has brought with it the tendency for English to marginalize or replace completely scholarly work done in other languages in the field of Islamic studies. The result is that we now face a situation where one cannot assume that a major work published in German will be read internationally, even by those specialists whose field the work specifically deals with.

It was the merit of Seán O'Fahey to have first suggested to Radtke the idea of having a selection of Fritz Meier's best articles translated into English and thereby to make available to an international readership a part at least of the life's work of a man whom many consider the most important scholar of the twentieth century in the field of Sufism. When Radtke put this proposal before Meier who had been his teacher in Basle, Meier responded very positively.

Similarly, the publishing house Brill immediately expressed its willingness to undertake publication of the projected book. The one problem remaining was how to find a suitable translator and financial support for the work involved. It was only in 1996, seven years later, that a translator and the necessary funding materialized. In the end, the greater part of the funding was to come from a generous donation from a private source. As for the translator, when Radtke took up a teaching position in the Netherlands in 1992, he made the acquaintance of John O'Kane in Amsterdam and entered into a fruitful . . .

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