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Cover for Light of the Sufis

Light of the Sufis

The Mystical Arts of Islam

Ladan Akbarnia, Francesca Leoni


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Light of the Sufis introduces the complex and multilayered topic of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, by concentrating on its expression in the visual arts and offers new insights into the integrative and fluid nature of the Sufi experience that has solicited strong reactions—both negative and positive—in Muslims and non-Muslims alike for several hundred years.

Sufism became well established in the 9th to 10th century and reached its height in the 12th to 13th century. From its inception, Sufism recognized the traditions and practices of other faiths and cultures with which it came into contact, adapting and incorporating elements of Greek philosophies, Christian mysticism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Buddhism. This diversity has been reflected not only in the words and the lives of celebrated Sufi mystics but also in some of the finest literature, music, performance, and visual arts produced in the Islamic world. Lavishly illustrated, this exhibition catalogue presents exceptional works in various media from diverse areas of the Islamic world, including North Africa, Turkey, Iran, and India, and dating from the ninth century to the present.

Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 9780300164640, 160pp.

Publication Date: June 15, 2010

About the Author

Ladan Akbarnia is Hagop Kevorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Executive Director of the Iran Heritage Foundation, London. Francesca Leoni is Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Islamic World at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.