Synopses & Reviews
Over the centuries and across the globe, Muslim authors and artists have given moving testimony to their experience of being members of the Islamic community. Their many vantage points come together in this collection, one that represents major Islamic groups from the past through the present and covers a range of themes essential to understanding Islamic spirituality and religious life.
More than thirty leading Islam scholars present translations originating from a dozen languages, including Arabic, Persian, Chinese, and Indonesian. Texts include samples of virtually every major literary form of significance to the Muslim faith: the Qur'an, hadith, scriptural commentary, letters, treatises, lyric and didactic poetry, hagiography, historical chronicle, aphorism, endowment deeds, and personal diary entries. In addition, over five dozen illustrations thematically document a full range of artistic forms and historical periods, from ritual objects and architecture to manuscripts of religious texts.
This volume and its companion, John Renard's 1996 book, Seven Doors to Islam, are the only books available that integrate such a wide range of Islamic literary and visual forms. Together they offer a superb introduction to the primary religious sources as well as a general understanding of Islamic spirituality and culture.
"A comprehensive tour of the exuberant landscape of Muslim religious life, past and present. With an impressive array of textual and visual works, Renard's kaleidoscopic survey sounds the death toll to the longstanding misconception that Islam is a dry and mechanistic religion devoid of spirituality. This is the best introductory book on Islam currently available."Ahmet T. Karamustafa, Washington University
"Comprehensive and accessible, this book is a richly textured and wide-ranging introduction to Islamic spirituality and a refreshing change from the obsession with current politics that characterizes most approaches of Islam."Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Seven Doors to Islam reveals the religious worldview and spiritual tradition of the world's one billion Muslims. Spanning the breadth of Islamic civilization from Morocco to Indonesia, this book demonstrates how Muslims have used the literary and visual arts in all their richness and diversity to communicate religious values. Each of the seven chapters opens a "door" that leads progressively closer to the very heart of Islam, from the foundational revelation in the Qur'an to the transcendent experience of the Sufi mystics. However, unlike most studies of Islam, which see spirituality as the concern of a minority of mystical seekers, Seven Doors demonstrates its central role in every aspect of the Islamic tradition.
Seven Doors to Islam reveals the religious faith and spiritual tradition of the world's one billion Muslims. Spanning Islamic civilization from Morocco to Indonesia, Seven Doors demonstrates how Muslims have used the literary and visual arts in all their richness and diversity to communicate religious values. Unlike most studies of Islam, which see spirituality as the concern of a minority of mystical seekers, Seven Doors demonstrates spirituality's central role in every aspect of the Islamic religious tradition.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 273-297) and indexes.
About the Author
John Renard is the author of In the Footsteps of Muhammed: Understanding Islamic Experience (1992), Islam and the Heroic Image: Themes in Literature and the Visual Arts (1993), and All the King's Falcons: Rumi on Prophets and Revelation (1994). He is Professor of Theological Studies at St. Louis University.