Shems Friedlander, Author, Annemarie Schimmel, Foreword by, Nezih Uzel, Other , foreword by Annemarie Schimmel, intro. by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, music section b Parabola $19.95 (167p) ISBN 978-0-930407-59-9

The popularity of the legendary Sufi poet and mystic Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi (1207–1273) continues to grow in the West even as Islam has come under critical scrutiny because of radical Islamic terrorism. Much is known about Rumi, of course, as well as about the Mevlevis, the Sufi order he founded. So the essays here, while useful to a beginner and of interest to cognoscenti for their pedigree (Schimmel, who died earlier this year, and Nasr are arguably the world's two foremost scholars of Islam, while Friedlander, himself a Mevlevi dervish, is a senior lecturer at the American University in Cairo) carry less import than what really sets this book apart from others on Rumi and the Mevlevis: the illustrations. Myriad b&w photographs by Friedlander, numerous additional historical illustrations and the splendid color cover photo of whirling dancers capture the longing, the rapture and the God-graced mindfulness of the Sufis in contemplation, at prayer and at dance. The text itself is popular yet authoritative, detailing the life of Rumi, the evolution of his thought and poetry, the history of the Sufis and of Rumi's legacy, and—in the rarer contribution by Uzel—the history of and thinking behind dervish music. Words plus photos work together to make for an unusual, informed and remarkably appealing introduction to Rumi and his astonishing celebrations of the Divine. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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