Middle Eastern Spirituality

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The Garden of Truth:

Sufism, Doctrines, Practices and Historical Manifestation

March 10

Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Venue: Meeting Room, Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh.

Time: 9.30am-10am: Registration. 10am-2.30pm: Day Workshop.

Cost: 40/30 (Concessions). 15 (Students).

Contact: Neill Walker, mesp2008@hotmail.co.uk, 0131 331 4469.

"I have seen the most beautiful gardens in the world, and Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr's new book, The Garden of Truth reads like the archetype of those gardens. This is truly a beautiful book."

--Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions

"If the goal of the Sufi path is to remind us of what we as human beings have been all along, shaped and nurtured by God, then this book can serve as a lovely road map for those who are eager to find their destination back to their celestial home."

--Omid Safi, editor of Progressive Muslims


This workshop presents a unique opportunity to study aspects of Sufism with one of the world’s authorities in this subject area.

The meaning of the term Sufi is discussed along with the relation between Sufism and the Islamic tradition as a whole including the Quran, Hadith and the Shariah as well as the status of Sufism within Islamic orthodoxy in its totality.

Sufism is based on certain doctrines concerning God, man and the cosmos. Each of these will be elucidated, including the doctrines of “the oneness of Being” (wahdat al-wajud), Universal Man (al-insan al-kamil) and the cosmos as theosophany all in light, the doctrine of tawhid and the Divine Name and Qualities and the interplay of their theosophanies in various combinations, in the cosmos as well as within the soul of human beings.  

As for Sufi practices, they will be described to the extent that they can be made public. These practices include initiation into a Sufi order, guidance by a master, various forms of meditation and invocation, contemplation of Divine realities, spiritual retreat, spiritual gatherings and the practice of virtues. The role of Sama or the sacred concert in Sufi gatherings, comprised of music and often sacred dance is also discussed.

Although in essence above all historical contingences, Sufism does have its own history. This is outlined briefly from the early Sufi circles to the establishment of organized Sufi orders from the 12th century onward and their later development.

Sufism has also had immense influence on Islamic art. There will be brief treatments of Persian, Arabic and other forms of Sufi poetry as well as Sufi music and some reference to the impact of Sufism on Islamic architecture and calligraphy.

Finally, something will be said about the influence of Sufism on the economic and political life of the Islamic community and of ethics in Islamic society.

In conclusion, we shall discuss opposition in modern times to Sufism in the Islamic world by modernists as well as so-called reformists and fundamentalists, and the revival of Sufism in the past few decades in the Islamic world and the spread of Sufism into the West in recent times.

For further information on Prof Nasr, please see the biography in the 11 March 2008 entry under the 2008 Middle East Festival Lecture, and please also refer to: http://www.nasrfoundation.org/

Register Now for this Workshop:


Please also download the registration form, which contains all venue and workshop information.