Book Review – The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson

September 12, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

G. Willow Wilson is honest to the bone, and I laughed and cried by turns at the vivid and poetic account of her life’s journey in The Butterfly Mosque.

From a student’s philosophic interest in Islam to a religious awakening in the hospital while suffering from what she calls adrenal distress, to Egypt, where she accepted a teaching position for a year, to meeting Omar, her adored and adoring soon-to-be Sufi husband and his extended family—all against the backdrop of the Middle Eastern way of life in Cairo, that overcrowded, overhot, overdusty great city of the Nile.

Willow’s descriptive and analytical powers are at once affectionate and insightful. The Middle Eastern way of life, with its emphasis on family and community interdependence instead of independence, its Islamic tradition of courtesy and hospitality,  and its foundation of religion woven into every aspect of daily living, is something few in the secular West seem to appreciate.

Indeed, the Middle East division of the State Department as well as Western Think Tanks and Islamic Studies seminars would benefit greatly if The Butterfly Mosque were required reading.

Her candor is both refreshing and thoughtfully intelligent, and her bravery in forging a common ground, a space in which to live with her husband and within Islam the way her heart beckoned, is to glimpse what is left unsaid, but there between the lines—those that accept their calling and follow their heart are on the Divine path, no matter their religion.

If you have not yet read this wise and intimate memoir, buy a copy now, or order it online here, or check it out of your local library.  Willow’s is a life worth knowing.

Highly Recommended!

Ya Haqq!


Pronunciation

August 23, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related that Habib Ajmi, a Sufi acquaintance of Hasan al-Basri, mispronounced a word during prayer, which caused Hasan al-Basri to move away from him and pray separately.

But in a dream that night, God told Hasan al-Basri, “Your prayer would have earned you Divine approval, and that single prayer would have equaled all the prayers you have said in your life, if you had remained in prayer with Habib Ajmi. You were disapproving of his pronunciation but ignored the purity of his heart. A contrite heart is more valuable than exact pronunciation.”

Hasan al-Basri then asked Habib Ajmi how the latter had achieved his high spiritual rank, and Habib Ajmi replied, “Brightening the heart through prayer is better than darkening paper with writing.”

- Adapted from the forthcoming book, The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony, by Stephen Schwartz.

Ya Haqq!


A Sufi Poem

September 21, 2007

I begged for power and found it in knowledge
I begged for honor and found it in poverty
I begged for health and found it in asceticism
I begged my account be lessened before God
and found it in silence
I begged for consolation and found it in despair

- Ali Sahl Esfahani


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