The essays in Refractions of Islam in India: situation Sufism and Yoga, explore Sufism as it developed in the Indian subcontinent, including translations of previously unavailable texts, and revealing unexpected insights into the lives, practices, and teachings of Indian Muslims over nearly a thousand years. They also trace remarkable moments in the history of Muslim engagement with Indian religious and cultural practices. This includes not only Muslim participation in Indian art and literature, but also the extraordinary role that Sufis have played in the practice of yoga. Employing new approaches to religious studies that avoid essentialism and ideological concepts of religion, and shorn of unnecessary jargon, these compelling essays will be easily accessible to a larger audience.
Author Archives: charlez
Islamophobia in America offers new perspectives on prejudice against Muslims, which has become increasingly widespread in the USA in the past decade. The contributors document the history of anti-Islamic sentiment in American culture, the scope of organized anti-Muslim propaganda, and the institutionalization of this kind of intolerance.
Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam (Shambhala, 2011)
Original Issue: The Shambhala Guide to Sufism (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1997).
The Sufis are as diverse as the countries in which they’ve flourished—from Morocco to India to China—and as varied as their distinctive forms of art, music, poetry, and dance. They are said to represent the mystical heart of Islam, yet the term Sufism is notoriously difficult to define, as it means different things to different people both within and outside the tradition. With that fact in mind, Carl Ernst in Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam, explores the broadest range of Sufi philosophies and practices to provide one of the most complete and comprehensive introductions to Sufism available in English. He traces the history of the movement from the earliest days of Islam to the present day, along the way examining its relationship to the larger world of Islam and its encounters with both fundamentalism and secularism in the modern world.
- Spanish translation by Joan Carles Guix Sufismo, Guías de Sabiduría Oriental, 4. Barcelona: Oniro, 1999.
- Italian translation by Laura Franco: Il grande libro della sapienza sufi. Milan: Oscar Saggi Mondadori, 2000.
- Greek translation by Sophia Leibadopolou: Souphismos. Athens: Ekdoseis Archetypo, 2001.
- Russian translation by A. Gorkavago: Sufizm. Moscow: Fair-Press, 2002. Complete online Russian version here.
- Indonesian translation: Ajaran dan Amaliah Tasawuf. Pustaka Sufi, 2003
For anyone, non-Muslim or Muslim, who wants to know how to approach, read, and understand the text of the Qur’an, How to Read the Qur’an offers a compact introduction and reader’s guide. Using a chronological reading of the text according to the conclusions of modern scholarship, Carl W. Ernst offers a nontheological approach that treats the Qur’an as a historical text that unfolded over time, in dialogue with its audience, during the career of the Prophet Muhammad.
Rethinking Islamic Studies upends scholarly roadblocks in post-Orientalist discourse within contemporary Islamic studies and carves fresh inroads toward a robust new understanding of the discipline, one that includes religious studies and other politically infused fields of inquiry.
Editors Carl W. Ernst and Richard C. Martin, along with a distinguished group of scholars, map the trajectory of the study of Islam and offer innovative approaches to the theoretical and methodological frameworks that have traditionally dominated the field. In the volume’s first section, the contributors reexamine the underlying notions of modernity in the East and West and allow for the possibility of multiple and incongruent modernities. This opens a discussion of fundamentalism as a manifestation of the tensions of modernity on Muslim cultures. The second section addresses the volatile character of Islamic religious identity as expressed in religious and political movements at national and local levels. In the third section, contributors focus on Muslim communities in Asia and examine the formation of religious models and concepts as they appear in this region. This study concludes with an afterword by accomplished Islamic studies scholar Bruce B. Lawrence reflecting on the evolution of this post-Orientalist approach to Islam and placing the volume within existing and emerging scholarship.
Avoiding the traps of sensational political exposes and specialized scholarly Orientalism, Carl Ernst in Following Muhammad introduces readers to the profound spiritual resources of Islam while clarifying diversity and debate within the tradition. Framing his argument in terms of religious studies, Ernst describes how Protestant definitions of religion and anti-Muslim prejudice have affected views of Islam in Europe and America. He also covers the contemporary importance of Islam in both its traditional settings and its new locations and provides a context for understanding extremist movements like fundamentalism. He concludes with an overview of critical debates on important contemporary issues such as gender and veiling, state politics, and science and religion.
Translations and foreign editions
Arabic translation by Hamza Halayqa, `Ala Nahj Muhammad: I`adat al-tafkir fil-Islam fil-`alam al-mu`asir. Beirut: Arabic Scientific Press, 2008.
German translation by Kurt Maier, Mohammed folgen: Der Islam in der modernen Welt. Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht GmbH & Co., 2007.
Turkish translation by Cangüzel Güner Zülfikar: Hz. Muhammed’in Yolunda: Günümüz Dünyasında İslâmiyeti Yeniden Düşünmek. Istanbul: Okuyan Us, 2005.
Sufism is a religion which emphasizes direct knowledge of the divine within each person, and meditation, music, song, and dance are seen as crucial spiritual strides toward attaining unity with God. Sufi paths of mysticism and devotion, motivated by Islamic ideals, are still chosen by men and women in countries from Morocco to China, and there are nearly one hundred orders around the world, eighty of which are present and thriving in the United States. The Chishti Sufi order has been the most widespread and popular of all Sufi traditions since the twelfth-century. Sufi Martyrs of Love offers a critical perspective on Western attitudes towards Islam and Sufism, clarifying its contemporary importance, both in the West and in traditional Sufi homelands. Finally, it provides access to the voices of Sufi authorities, through the translation of texts being offered in English for the first time.
The prose and verse readings in Teachings of Sufism were chosen to interest the many people who have become attracted to Sufi teachings through their exposure to popular Sufi poetry, music, and dance. The selections—mostly from the Middle East and India, ranging from the tenth to the twentieth century—provide a sampling of Sufi thought on some of the basic aspects of this spiritual path.
Most of the readings are published here in English for the first time. Brief introductory remarks place each selection into its historical and religious context, and an index of Qur’anic passages helps the reader to trace the extensive allusions to the Islamic holy scriptures.
The topics covered include: The nature of mystical love Meditation Listening to music as a spiritual practice Ethical teachings of Sufism Pitfalls on the spiritual path Spiritual companionship and the master-disciple relationship The importance of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad Biographical accounts of great mystics, including the poet Rumi as well as several female saints
Turkish translation by Cangüzel Güner Zülfikar, in preparation.
The Unveiling of Secrets: Diary of a Sufi Master is a visionary diary of astonishing intensity, written by one of the outstanding figures in Persian Sufism, Ruzbihan Baqli. Ruzbihan, who died nearly a century before Rumi, was known throughout the Middle East and India as one of the most profound authors in the Sufi tradition. Nevertheless, by the early 1900’s, his name had become almost forgotten. It is only within the past few decades that his works have been rediscovered and printed. This translation by Carl W. Ernst from the original Arabic is the first complete translation of any of his writings into English. Comparable to St. Augustine’s Confessions or St. Teresa’s Interior Castle, The Unveiling of Secrets is one of the most powerful documents in the history of mysticism. In it Ruzbihan recorded intimate visions in which he saw God appear to him in human form, in overpowering manifestations of divine qualities. He portrays his spiritual encounters with remarkable poetic descriptions that testify to his extraordinarily rich inner life. As he observed in the diary, “Not a day or night has gone by me, by God, during all the time extending up to now, when I am fifty-five years old, without an unveiling of the hidden world.” The Unveiling of Secrets is a rare document that displays the elemental mystical experiences which form the basis for Sufi descriptions of the spiritual path. This classic of spiritual autobiography by one of the greatest visionaries in the realm of mystical love will appeal to anyone seriously concerned with the life of the spirit.
Ruzbihan Baqli is a full-length study devoted to the life and mystical experiences of one of the outstanding figures in Persian Sufism. Although Ruzbihan Baqli (d.1209) was long recognized within the Sufi tradition, it is only within the past few decades that his works have been rediscovered and printed. This study introduces and analyzes the most important sources for the life of Ruzbihan, his own visionary diary (The Unveiling of Secrets) written in Arabic, and two Persian hagiographies written by his great-grandsons a century after his death; and extensive excerpts from these works are presented here in translation.
Persian translation by Majdoddin Keyvani, Ruzbihan Baqli: `irfan va shath-i awliya’ dar tasawwuf-i islami. Tehran: Nashr-i Markaz, 1999.
Revised Persian translation and notes by Kurus Divsalar: Ruzbihan Baqli, tajriba-i `irfani va shath-i vilayat dar tasavvuf-i irani. Tehran: Amir Kabir, 2004.