May 07, 2011
n Sufism, the "Way of Blame" refers to an emphasis on uncovering and exposing one's own egoism, hypocrisy, and false piety, an approach which often renders the practitioner vulnerable to condemnation from others who see their own faults thus exposed by a kind of reflection, as it were. Although the "Way of Blame" is initially an individual predisposition, it has led to the formation of "schools" and groups who make it their defining feature. Known alternately as qalandars and malami, these individuals and groups often convey the impression of flouting the laws of Islam, often at their peril, even when the antinomian behavior is only apparent and not real. (The author makes it clear that the "Way of Blame, in the hands of an unscrupulous practitioner, can merely be an excuse for license and unbridled egoism.) At their best, however, these groups merely try to strip religion of the various trappings and conceits which feed an unconscious but powerful sense of entitlement and vanity.
The book is roughly divided into three sections: (1) a discussion of the "Sufi mystique", of claims of the existence of "hidden masters" and secret brotherhoods, and of the arrival of Sufism in the West; (2) a discussion of the history and lineages of individuals and groups claiming to practice the "Way of Blame"; and (3) a discussion of the "Seven Stations of Wisdom", the stages towards God-realization, and Sufi psychology. The author concludes with a brief discussion of Sufism's possible future and role in the West, particularly the United States.
This is a valuable book on a misunderstood topic, and although I thought the middle, historical section lagged a bit, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Sufism, particularly as it has been presented in the West.
Stephen J. Triesch, amazon Reviewer