Sufis in Palestine


"Rare glimpses of two 20th-century Sufi saints are offered in this work: the eminent Shaykh al-Alawi and the lesser-known woman saint Fatima al-Yashrutiyya, both of whom continued on the Sufi path even as they watched their world crumble. Shaykh al-Alawi's influence was pivotal to the spiritual development of Thomas Merton, who looked to al-Alawi's writings and teachings in his own practice. Fatima al-Yashrutiyya is a rare example of a literate Muslim woman living a public spiritual life. Readers will see a new side of the Sufi Path from her uncompromising viewpoint, and can catch an uncommon glimpse of life in the early 20th century for a spiritual seeker, writer, and self-educated woman in the Muslim world. These essays represent Islam in its esoteric dimension and raise issues of regional unrest and colonial intervention that are still relevant. Through the words of these two saints the world of the Sufi brotherhood is opened, revealing an underlying theme of the oneness of Allah."

Fatimah al-Yashrutiyya was born in Acre, Palestine in 1883. The Yashruti Sufi Order in which she grew up and in which her father was a Shaykh (spiritual guide) are a branch of the Shadhili Order, founded in 1258. Fatimah’s father promoted the advance of education for women and in her autobiography she speaks of the many scholars of philosophy and the Sufi path from whom she learnt. Following the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, known to the israelis as the War of Independence, Fatimah and her family had to flee their home to live permanently in Beirut. The book pictured on the left, Two Who Attained contains a translation of her autobiography and is published by Fons Vitae. Just click on the image if you would like to order it. Below is an excerpt from the autobiography. The book also contains translations of the work of Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi, another 20th century Sufi saint.

“The Shadhiliyya Sufi method is founded on the Holy Book and the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad, the search for knowledge, and the frequent practice of invocation in an attitude of worshipfulness and consciousness of the divine. This means of calling upon God is the easiest and most direct of spiritual paths, for it does not entail great hardship or much strenuous effort. The primordial light lying dormant within the soul gains strength through the light of knowledge and through the light of invocation, so that the soul is rid of its defects and impurities. It can then draw nearer to the Divine Presence until it is completely absorbed and the invocation burns away all thoughts of anything other than the One Invoked.”

Photo of Fatima al-Yashrutiyya taken from the Fons Vitae website

Photo of Fatima al-Yashrutiyya taken from the Fons Vitae website


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