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The Silence of the Sufi,by Sabit Madaliev

  • The Silence of the Suf
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The Silence of the Sufi                                                           by Sabit Madaliev
 Paperback - 174 pages  

 

The Silence of the Sufi is a devotional work. Its author has called it a spiritual journey, or stranstvie, using a Russian word for wandering that is laden with literary, religious, and historical nuance. Madaliev is an Uzbek, but his education is Russian, as is his chosen language of expression. Anyone familiar with the spiritual content of the works of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy will find deep affinities in the attitudes expressed by him in this book. Whether these are the result of the author's long proximity to things Russian — he lived in Moscow for twenty years before returning to Uzbekistan after its independence from the USSR — or from a longer, more troubled intermingling of spirituality that links the great Russian novelists to the religious teachings of Central Asia and beyond, is a question that scholars may ponder. What is certain is that the ideas of love, sacrifice, and absence of self, as well as of divine and human purpose, which both underlie and find explicit expression in every part of this book, continue to strike a chord in our frequently confused and apparently purposeless modern or post-modern lives.

This is a work of history, too, history the book serves to preserve and validate. In discreet segments — "On Listening Attentively," "On Gentle Words," "On Proper Posture" — it records and ruminates on Sufi Islam as practiced in Central Asia across the centuries. In this it resembles works such asThe Cloister Walk or Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris, except that Sufism is a world virtually unkown to outsiders. Madaliev leads us into its historical and present-day practice among theNaqshbandiya with grace and elegance. Indeed, the historical and devotional aspects of the book —which could simply become dogmatic in the hands of another writer — are made beautiful and compelling here, partly by the author's poetic idiom, partly by his own uncertainty and sense of unworthiness in the search for God.


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