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SUFISM AND ISLAM
 
 
 
 

Leonardo Arena, Il canto del derviscio (The Chant of the Dervish), Milan, Mondadori, fourth printing, 1998.


 
 

Sufism, a relevant stream of Islamic mysticism, aims at recovering the original spirit of Muhammad's teaching, blaming externals and a mere homage to religious dogmas in order to attain another dimension, which is specifically inner. "The Chant of the Dervish" (Parables of Sufi wisdom) is a collection of the most significant stories from the work of Jalaluddin Rumi's, a great poet and one of the most relevant Sufi masters as well. He hopes for a world without books or tutors, where man can attain the truth simply, by seeing inside himself. Rumi's ideal man is perfect and does not need to look for anything outside: this is the kind of awareness he must develop; if he manages to do it, he will understand that he includes the most authentic core of all religious teachings inside himself. In fact, God is not to be found on the Cross, nor in a Hindu temple, nor in a mosque, but only in our own heart, as it is obvious to he who knows how its abysses can be fathomed. We cannot look for Him elsewhere.

"These stories are dedicated to the Friends, so that they can learn to see; and in order that they may begin to move, if they are not already on the path."

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Leonardo Arena, Il Sufismo (Sufism), Milan, Mondadori 1996.


 
 

This book analyzes the main characteristics of Sufism, its essential relationship to Islam, a historical outline of the movement, the Sufi doctrine as it was spread throughout the ages and world regions; Sufi psychology, which is surprisingly similar to the latest tendencies in Western Psychology; methods and techniques used and recommended in pedagogy; and, finally, an outline of the various Orders and principal teachers, such as Ibn Arabi, Jalaluddin Rumi, Attar, Bistami, Al-Hallaj, and Al-Ghazali. Reference has also been made to present developments of Sufism. This book, which consists of five articulated chapters and an introduction, is provided with a bibliographical note as well, regarding basic books and essays. According to the author's opinion, Sufism does not turn out to be a philosophy, a religion or a cult. It is a modern system of psycho-pedagogy or training of the mind, which presents a way of life, that everyone of us can evaluate and put into practice. The author hopes that he has remained faithful to the eloquent Sufi assertion: "Words are confined to the shore". The ocean of understanding is, decidedly, elsewhere. In sum, God is not only a name.

Ponder on Rumi's words: "I am sincerely seeking for He who cannot be found".

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 Leonardo Arena, Il bimbo e lo scorpione (The Child and the Scorpion), Milan, Mondadori 1997.
 
 

Sufism is a very special kind of mysticism, which does not address itself to he who lives outside the world, but, on the contrary, to he who lives in the world and is continuously engaged in daily life matters. Be it an appendix of Islam, or even something prior to Muhammad's teaching, Sufism allows man to reach eternity and to realize himself. Many Sufi masters use teaching stories, so that their interlocutors may be enlightened by pondering on them. That was Rumi's method, and Attar's and Sa'di's as well. The author draws on these three masters and others, re-elaborating the stories and adapting them to modern man's mentality. It is a "therapy of fiction" that these stories allow one to practise. Readers make their journeys inside themselves, thanks to these tales and parables, according to the best Sufi tradition. At the dawn of the third millennium, the task of seeing inside oneselves is necessary. Readers can start from all points in the book. In different periods of their life, they can come back to the same tales, in order to review them in a new light. Thus, they will be able to learn from time to time a new fruitful lesson.
 
 

"When you seek for contacting men, you may imitate the sun, and give the whole world your light, without preferences."

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