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Sufism: Love & Wisdom where it offers little of interest to regular believers), metaphysics is the language of universal spiritual

principles, just as mathematics is said to be the language of empirical sciences. The essays in this book turn often to fundamental principles that might, for example, demonstrate how the Incarnation of Christ and the descent of the Koran derive from similar divine actions; we may thus come to see that metaphysics can be very useful in helping us to understand diverse religious phenomena and that metaphysics is not as inaccessible as we may have previously thought. By the same token, many of these writers will also occasionally depart from formal Islamic or Sufic terminology and use, for example, a Hindu or Christian term to show parallels or to explain a concept that may have been developed more clearly in that other tradition. This is because these traditionalist writers are often as interested in esoterism as such as they are in its specific Sufi garb. Their interest in comparative mysticism is sometimes due to a strong attraction to one or more particular traditions, such as Sufism and its Islamic framework, but more often it seems that as a study of a particular mysticism progresses, the emerging universal principles are of even more interest to traditionalist writers. This is because of what those principles tell us about the very nature of God and about the nature of human being. Finally, unlike many other scholars of Sufism, not one of these writers would presume to say that Sufism is dead, and this for many reasons. It may bear mentioning that many, though not all, of the writers represented in this book are known to have practiced Sufism, with a few even having attained to the station of spiritual master, or shaykh. We will leave it to you, the reader, to judge whether or not Sufism is dead after you have read this book. In closing, the editors wish to thank the many helpful staff at World Wisdom for their long and careful labor upon this volume. It has been the product of several years of work, and we thank you for helping us through it. We thank the various authors and publishers who have permitted us to excerpt materials from their booksdetails are given on the acknowledgments pages at the back of this book. Finally, we must thank our families, who have had to forego our complete attention all too often. Perhaps even more we must thank our spiritual families, those who have been spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters to us. xviii