Contents: Dedication. Foreword. Prologue: Unification and the end of religion. 1. Sufism in today's Islamic world and Iqbal. 2. The seed and the split: the origins of Islamic spirituality. 3. The origin and development of sufism: the first phase. 4. The origin and development of sufism: the second phase. 5. Sufism in India: the third phase. 6. The contemporary Indian spiritual traditions. Abbreviations and bibliography. Index.
"A learned and intricate study of human spirituality, this work covers comprehensively a vast panorama of human thought, aspiration and experience, and brings forth a fresh, unorthodox, original, and unbiased view to some of the great questions of our time.
"A fascinating and thought provoking study, it is going to be a breakthrough in the history of religion. Each one of us is used to living in a single religious tradition. But if any one gets weary of this and longs to drink from all the great religious traditions of mankind, he is told, 'No, you can study whatever tradition you may like, but you can live in only one of them'. This is what Dr. Alhaq challenges. There is a way to unity of all religions, he explains, but to reach to unity we shall have to grasp the essence, which is common to all, and let go the form, which divides religion. In other words, it is the essence alone which is absolute, all religious forms being relative. The author authenticates his vision drawing especially from the rich spiritual content of the Indian and Islamic civilizations. In his study of the latter he goes on to provide an analytical, historical study of sufism from its origin to modern times.
"The quest for unity, however, is not merely a matter of personal faith, but an important step towards the unity of mankind and peace among the varied peoples of our increasingly shrinking world. More importantly, the author takes pains to underline, the past history of spirituality of all great religions shows that unity is not merely an intellectual endeavour. It is rather the profound consequence of transcendence from ego/self centred, property oriented culture in which each of us is born, and which shapes what we call human nature, the given horizons of our thought, behaviour and relationships. The history, or the life and work of a great many spiritual teachers of the past teachers us that we can go beyond our nature, it being the only way leading to God or reality, the ultimate essence of all things. Only by such transcendence can the true individual, endowed with humane and universal consciousness, born and a new era, post-religious but profoundly spiritual, usher in.
"The book is meticulously researched, the author delves deep in history to get to the very root of the problem posed at the very outset. The author is sensitive and unpresuming about his readers whom he neither patronises nor underestimates. He writes as clearly as is possible about a complex subject using a lucid literary style to put forward his facts and theories, by which an intelligent reader will not feel alienated." (jacket)