An introduction to Sufism…

I’m currently reading a book called ‘The Writing on the Water: Chronicles of a Seeker on the Islamic Sufi Path’ by Muhyiddin Shakoor. It’s the author’s personal account of his spiritual journey as a Sufi disciple.

The style of writing has taken some getting used to, but the book is really growing on me. I only know the gist of what Sufism is about from other books I’ve read, but this book makes me want to learn more. It is about Shakoor’s everyday experiences as spiritual seeker, his relationship to his Shaikh (spiritual teacher and mentor) and lessons he learns as he goes along. It doesn’t really go into the philosophy or details of what Sufism is or what its about, but I think the experiences described in this book have relevance for anyone who is interested in spirituality or who considers themselves to be on a spiritual path of some kind.

It seems from this book that the main object of Shakoor’s spiritual practice is to overcome or take apart the ‘ego’. Through little, seemingly insignificant events and tasks, such as finding a replacement needle for a record player, or in trying to revive a dying house plant, the author learns lessons about trusting his ‘instincts’ or ‘intuition’ or ‘God’ (depending on your interpretation), or about clinging to life, relationships, things, ideas and learning to let go and accepting that everything in this life is like a dream and will pass away. Even in failures, such as his attempt to travel to various holy places under the instruction of his Shaikh that ends in failure and feelings of depression, the disciple learns to have greater humility and to see his own weaknesses in a more honest light.

I enjoy the simplicity of the story. It isn’t all metaphysical or preachy. It is just simple life experiences, but it shows that even the simplest or most mundane of activities can teach us a lot about ourselves, the world and the reality of life. It is easy to digest, but even though the style of the book is simple and clear, there is a lot to mull over and contemplate.

Anyway, it’s an interesting book and gives a unique perspective on spiritual Islam. I’m only about half way through it, but I like what I’ve read so far. If you can find it, I recommend giving it a try.

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