Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review Wed: The Book of Sufi Healing

Title: The Book of Sufi Healing
Author: Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chisti
Publisher: Inner Traditions, 1991
Content: 189 Pages including Appendices and Index

I randomly found "The Book of Sufi Healing" in a Borders in the late 90's. It was one of those moments where I had to carefully weigh my desire for this book, and my desire for food that day. Since we are having this review, you know the path that I chose.

"The Book of Sufi Healing" is written by an honest to goodness Sufi Shaykh of the Chisti order, who are some of the most egalitarian Sufis you'll find among the major orders. He is also a doctor of Unani Medicine. For those of you who don't know Unani medicine is the traditional medicine of the middle east, and many parts of Africa. Also known as Humoral Medicine it was once upon a time the major medicine of Europe as well. Unani is the Arabic word for "Greek" thus it is the Greek medical wisdom that we lost during the dark ages and only started to get back during the Renaissance. Not only was it preserved, it was developed. This may be an explanation why Unani is still practiced in Arabia, Africa, and especially India with great success, while it was much less effective in Europe generally.

Now, this book is not about Unani specifically, though Shaykh Moinuddin does have a book devoted to that: "The Traditional Healers Handbook", it is about SUFI Healing, which has a great overlap, but is not the same.

The subject of bodily Health itself is looked at from a Sufi point of view, as is both emotional and mental health. We have sections of diet, and various compounds and recipes you can make for specific ailments. Those more magically inclined will be jazzed to see sections on meditation, dikr (The Magic of Divine Names), and the Sufi concept of the divisions of the soul. The esoteric aspects of the position of prayer, and a brief section on "The Science of Letters" complete with talismans for healing.

For those of you who may be Muslim, there are selections of Hadith in regards to healing, as well as a selection of Suriat from the Koran that are common healing remedies.

It's a detailed work, but there isn't a lot of depth in each topic. It's like an appetizer sampler of not just the practices, but the world view of a Sufi healer. For me, it was quite interesting, but unless you already work in the vein of Sufism or Ruhaniat, it may be of limited utility. It does get a bunch of points for being THE authoritative intro to the subject in English. It's quite a good book, but very, very niche.

Next Week: We'll see if I can get the book review done while it's still daylight out!

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