The Moroccan saint and his masks
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The Moroccan saint and his masks book
Suﬁsm designates the inner, experiential aspects of Islam known as Islamic mysticism. Since Suﬁsm is known as the esoteric or the mystical path of Islam, a deﬁnition of mysticism becomes an important for an understanding of Islamic mysticism. By looking up the deﬁnition of “mysticism” in the dictionary, we get three “hits.” First, mysticism is deﬁned as the doctrine or belief that direct knowledge of God is attainable through immediate insight rather than logical reasons. Second, mysticism is described as any type of theory asserting the possibility of attaining knowledge through faith. The third deﬁnition equates mysticism with vague speculation. All three deﬁnitions share the idea that experience should be favored over theoretical insight in the experience of looking for God. As for mystical experience, the American philosopher William James wrote the following passage in his classic book, The Varieties of Religious Experience:
Our normal waking consciousness … is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the ﬁlmiest of screens; there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely diﬀerent. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are all there in all their completeness, deﬁnite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their ﬁeld of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be ﬁnal which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question, for they are so discontinuous with ordinary
consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map. At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality.