A convert to Christianity from the Qadiri Order, John A. Subhan is well-known for his seminal work, Sufism: Its Saints and Shrines. Sufism prepared him for faith in Jesus and his Injil. His Sufi background and intimate knowledge of its beliefs and practices enabled him to explain Sufism to others. All ten chapters in Sufism are interesting, including chapter eight, which contains a comparative discussion of Sufism in the broader Hindu context. It is a must read for all, not only because it is a window into the world of a great Sufi convert but also because his insight is still relevant today.
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A convert to Christianity from the Qadiri Order, John A. Subhan is well-known for his seminal work, Sufism: Its Saints and Shrines. The idea that Sufism prepared him for faith in Jesus and his Injil is supported by his life. Subhan’s background enabled him to explain Sufism to others and his insights owed to his intimate knowledge as an insider. His early upbringing and Sufi background with its deep but critical appreciation of devotional faith and diversity perhaps inspired his work. Sufism contains ten chapters. Before moving on to Sufism in India, Subhan dedicates two chapters, five and six, to certain practices that generally characterise Sufism: the role of the Pir in Sufi devotion, veneration of the Saints and their hierarchy, the practice of visiting the tombs of the Saints, celebrations and certain manifestations of Sufi proximity with God such as miracles and ecstasy. His section on Indian Sufism is most instructive. The comparative discussion in chapter eight may seem to some as Subhan reading too much of Hinduism into Sufism. However, this is by far the most interesting and original section in Sufism, seen in Subhan’s reflections on the relationship of Sufi ideas to the Indian thought. It is a must read for all—not only because it is a window into the world of a great Sufi convert but also because it provides us with a view of his world, some or most of which still continues.