Islam, Christianity and the Mystic Journey: A Comparative Exploration

Islam, Christianity and the Mystic Journey: A Comparative Exploration

Islam, Christianity and the Mystic Journey: A Comparative Exploration

Islam, Christianity and the Mystic Journey: A Comparative Exploration

Synopsis

This distinctive comparison of Islamic and Christian mysticism focuses on the mystic journey in the two faith traditions - the journey which every believer must make and which leads to the Divine.The author clears away misconceptions and highlights similarities and differences in the thought and lives of six key mystics: Al-Kalabadhi, Al-Daylami, Al-Qushayri, Julian of Norwich, Thomas A. Kempis and Teresa of Avila. He considers the ways of Perfection on the Mystic Path and asks in what ways these authors have embarked on the mystic journey. He looks at the themes they have in common, as well as their differences, and asks how they envisage the concept of 'union' with the Deity.Readers will gain a broad understanding of the interdisciplinary and intertextual nature of the subject, as well its the diverse intellectual and historical contexts.Key Features Highly interdisciplinary: embraces both Eastern and Western mystical traditions Surveys themes as diverse as secular chivalry and union with the Divine Examines the role of al-Khidr/ al-Khadir/ Elijah/ Elias/ St George in both the Islamic and Christian mystical traditions Considers the negative and positive articulations of each tradition Assesses and compares three major Islamic and three major Christian mystics A companion volume to Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration by Ian R. Netton (978 0 7486 2392 1)

Excerpt

1.1 The Sacred Way

In one of her sublime mystical poems, Annemarie Schimmel evokes the quiet of the night and envisages the ‘purple wing’; of the archangel which covers ‘the eyes’; of her heart. Only God remains. In the depth of feeling conveyed by the poem and the aura of transcendence which illuminates it, these verses bear comparison with the famous Noche Oscura poem of the Spanish mystic, Juan de la Cruz, to which we will have occasion to refer in considerable detail later in this text.

And perhaps it is only in poetry that the essence of Sufism, Islamic mysticism, may truly be captured and evoked. Professor Schimmel's magisterial volume Mystical Dimensions of Islam, however, also captures in a rare, lucid and profound manner her almost boundless knowledge of Sufism, drawing on her skills in diverse relevant languages. But, like the great Persian mystical poet, Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (AD 1207– 73), before her, Schimmel expresses the essence of Sufism best in her poetry. The verse cited above captures one of the most commonplace, and yet deepest, of all sufi themes, the yearning of the terrestrial-bound soul for communion, intimacy and ultimate union (whatever that might mean!) with the Divine ‘Object’; and focus of sufi love, God Himself.

Yet these perennial themes of yearning and love are but two in what is an ‘ocean of themes’;. As the Qur'ān puts it in another context:

And if all the trees
On earth were pens
And the Ocean (were ink)
With seven oceans behind it
To add to its (supply),
Yet would not the Words
Of God be exhausted
(In the writing) …

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