Shah and the origins of Sufism
From On Idries Shah, 2008/09/01 at 9:26 AM
* On page 14 of his book The Sufis, Shah provides the only citation for his controversial claim that “it is authoritatively on record” that Sufi predates Muhammad, Islam and the Qur’an: the Kitab el-Luma. Although Shah does not reveal the full title or author, almost certainly he is referring to the oldest and most definitive written work on Sufi, the Kitab al-luma‘ fi ’l-tasawwuf (The Book of Lights; The Quintessence of Sufism), written by Abu Nasr al-Sarraj al-Tusi (?-988 or 989 A.D.), which in fact traces Sufi exclusively to Muhammad, Islam and the Qur’an.
* Shah generally dealt with the frequent problem of being caught in a fib by stating his First Rule of Esoteric Systems: “Misleading information is included in order to divert unsuitable people. This is a ‘filter’. It includes behavior on the part of the esotericists designed to annoy or otherwise deflect the unsuitable.”
MBFM comments: I met a delightful person whom I hoped would become a friend. Buto one evening, this lady, a professed Sufi, proceeded to state the same argument as the one attributed to Shah: that false teachers serve a purpose by ensnaring foolish people. Anyone who can be led astray by a false teacher is not ready to study with a true teacher anyway.
I didn’t bother to argue with her. This courteous callousness chilled me to the bone. She wanted to see me again but I deflected her attentions and stayed away.