WOMEN CALLED TO THE PATH OF RUMI: The Way of the Whirling Dervish

Shakina Reinhertz, Author . Hohm Press $23.95 (300p) ISBN 978-1-890772-04-8

First-time author Reinhertz offers not only a history of the Mevlevi Sufi order but also a distinctly personal journal of her life and the lives of other women initiates. Although Reinhertz, a self-described "American housewife/part-time graduate student," attempts to explain how the early participation of women in Sufi tradition was later forbidden for political reasons, she fails to establish that women were ever truly embraced by the Sufism of Rumi's time. Nonetheless, historical explanations and translations of Sufi poetry are quite effectively juxtaposed against transcribed interviews of contemporary women in the author's religious community. As expressed in their words, religious insights are not only illustrative of Sufism, but are also poignant moments of triumph in lives filled with searching and hardship. Mary, a victim of childhood polio, could not endure the hours of sitting still that she says most spiritual practices require. In the practice of Sufism, she discovered an interaction with the divine in the sema (turning). "When I found the turn, it met both of my requirements: to move and to embody what I was experiencing, the devotional and the relational sense of it." In describing their experiences, the women of Rumi's path frequently combine the language of Sufism and Islam with the language of other religions. Not only do these interviews constitute valuable records of the development of Sufism, but they also form a compelling argument for the syncretic and inclusive character of contemporary Sufism. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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