Sufi Studies: East & WestSufi Studies: East and West contains a wealth of information about Sufis and their special practices from a diversity of cultures and viewpoints.

In 1973, a major symposium was held in honor of Idries Shah’s work in the area of Sufi studies. This corresponded with the 700th anniversary of the death of the Persian Sufi Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273). 24 eminent scholars with an interest and knowledge of Sufism, hailing from countries in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, Europe and North America, presented papers at the event.

The presentations, which looked at Shah’s work as well as manifestations of Sufism through the ages, were published in a book that same year entitled Sufi Studies: East and West. The book was edited by one of the participants, Professor Laurence Frederic Rushbrook Williams, a British historian and civil servant who had an abiding interest in Eastern culture.

Some of the topics addressed by the writers in the book are: the purposes and methods of the Sufis; Sufi saints, authors, exercises; Sufi psychology; manifestations of Sufism in Eastern and Western cultures; and the relevance of Sufi thought and action to contemporary society.

‘Sufism is universal and timeless in its appeal, though the local form taken varies, being adapted to work within the local culture and mental set,’ wrote Leonard Lewin in a review of Sufi Studies: East and West in International Philosophical Review. ‘Hence, quite different external formulations have often not been recognized by some scholars as stemming from the same ultimate source. A corollary to this is the (mistaken) attempt to use an outdated formulation designed for peoples of another culture and another period and to try to apply it to a present-day situation. In contrast, Shah’s formulations are specifically adapted to Western twentieth century ideas and methods.’

The Idries Shah Foundation is re-publishing this title in hardback and paperback to mark the 100th anniversary of Idries Shah’s birth.