The Sufis by Idries Shah

‘Perhaps the best introduction to the body of Shah’s work, the most comprehensively informative. And one is immediately forced to use one’s mind in a new way.’

The New York Times

Available worldwide in all formats – including ebook and audio – on Amazon. In the USA go to, in the UK, in India You can also order The Sufis in paperback and hardback from your local bookstore — and in the UK and USA we also recommend; and in Australia and New Zealand Booktopia. ISF also publishes an edition in Spanish.

The Sufis, a modern classic that has been translated into over two dozen languages, has attracted the praise of such famous authors as Robert Graves, Ted Hughes, J.D. Salinger, and Doris Lessing.

Idries Shah’s The Sufis is the most authoritative book about Sufism ever produced for a modern audience. This definitive work explores an immemorial wisdom tradition best-known for its connections with Islam, but which both predates and goes beyond it.

Sufis espouse a mystical teaching and way of life that have had an immeasurable, though little-known, impact on East and West for thousands of years. Core to this 'practical philosophy' is the cultivation of intuition and experience as a guide to life — rather than overreliance upon logic and the intellect. Its members believe that theirs is the secret tradition behind all religious and philosophical systems.

Shah’s remarkable book includes accounts of the lives and work of the best-known Sufi masters, encompassing many of the world's greatest thinkers, including the Eastern luminaries: Jalaluddin Rumi, Omar Khayyam, Ibn Arabi, Al-Ghazzali, Saadi Shirazi, and Farid Al-Din Attar.

Many of the greatest traditions, ideas and discoveries of the West are connected to the teachings and writings of Sufi savants working centuries ago. The astonishing impact of Sufism on the development of Western civilization, especially from the seventh century onwards, is traced through the work of Roger Bacon, St. John of the Cross, Raymond Lully, The Templars, Rosicrucians, Chaucer, Sir Richard Francis Burton, and others.

But more than a history, The Sufis is a dynamic book of instruction for modern times, reflecting the idea that living Sufism is never a static artefact of the past, but adapts to the current time, place and people.

‘A seminal book of the century, even a watershed... In our reference books Sufis are likely to be described as Islamic mystics; at best as “the inner truth of Islam”. But this book explains that Sufism predates both Islam and Christianity, and that it is a mistake to equate it with any particular culture or phase of a culture.’

Doris Lessing, The Washington Post

‘This book is not addressed to intellectuals or other orthodox thinkers or to anyone who will fail to recognise it at once as addressed to himself.’

Robert Graves

‘The Sufis must be the biggest society of sensible people ever to have been on earth.’

Ted Hughes

‘[Sufi stories] offer a working blueprint of the mind.’

Robert Ornstein, author of The Psychology of Consciousness & The Evolution of Consciousness

Additional information

The Sufis Audiobook: The complete audiobook of The Sufis, by Idries Shah. Read by David Ault