Seven doors to Islam: spirituality and the religious life of by John Renard

By John Renard

Seven doorways to Islam unearths the spiritual worldview and religious culture of the world's one thousand million Muslims. Spanning the breadth of Islamic civilization from Morocco to Indonesia, this booklet demonstrates how Muslims have used the literary and visible arts in all their richness and variety to speak spiritual values. all of the seven chapters opens a "door" that leads steadily towards the very middle of Islam, from the foundational revelation within the Qur'an to the transcendent adventure of the Sufi mystics. in spite of the fact that, not like such a lot experiences of Islam, which see spirituality because the problem of a minority of mystical seekers, Seven doorways demonstrates its imperative function in each element of the Islamic culture.

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Scholarly compilers of these works employed several very different methods for organizing the material. A cursory glance at tables of contents of two or three of the major collections offers a fair impression of the prevalent themes and of those most germane to the study of Islamic spirituality. Hadiths cover everything from minute details for the performance of ordi- Page 14 nary ritual to the conduct of daily business to the most intimate secrets of the believer's heart and hearth. " 17 Leafing through a several-volume set of hadiths can be a most rewarding experience, like panning for gold.

The study of religious practices is often considered the province of anthropology. However, I am less concerned with ritual behavior as such, than with how Muslims have communicated, recorded, and displayed, both textually and visually, the beliefs and convictions underlying those practices. In other words, spirituality both grows out of and gives rise to religious living. Approaching Islam in this way naturally affects what is included in or omitted from this survey. On the one hand, its seven chapters will scan a broader spectrum of materials than studies of Islamic spirituality typically include; on the other, these chapters do not survey those highly technical sources customarily associated with theological and legal scholarship.

Literary interpreters presume formal continuity within the Qur'anic text until their study convinces them to the contrary. Theological interpreters are more concerned with unity of content than of form: "Under the assumption of [formal] continuity, one looks for links and connections between verses and pages, and only upon failing to find any does one concede that the text is discontinuous.

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