This is a Spiritual Directors International Series Book from an organization of 6,000 spiritual directors around the world. Out of Darkness Into Light is organized around Quranic verses chosen and commented upon by Jamal Rahman, a Muslim Sufi minister who teaches on the adjunct faculty at Seattle University and is the author of The Fragrance of Faith: The Enlightened Heart of Islam.
For fourteen centuries, wisdom has been derived from the Quran by Islamic sages, mystics, and teachers. Rahman mines the many meanings in this holy book and then turns to passages and commentary from Jewish sources provided by Kathleen Schmitt Elias and Christian sources by Ann Holmes Redding. This ambitious and illuminating three-part focus clearly conveys the similarities between the three Abrahamic faiths who are all "people of the Book."
Rahman sees the Quran as "a wellspring of guidance, discernment, remembrance, and mercy." It is brimming over with spiritual direction and insights for daily life. The author agrees with Rumi, the great Sufi mystic, who said: "The Quran is like a shy bride. Do not approach her directly. Approach her through her friends."
Many of these friends are prophets who preceded Mohammad including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mary. Others came later jurists, sages, and mystics. As we take our first steps on the spiritual journey, it is wise to turn to a spiritual guide for help and inspiration. The teacher has a special place in Islamic spirituality since there is no official priesthood or ordained ministry.
One of the meatiest sections of this paperback is one dealing with "Mysteries of Life" with commentary on God, human existence, the "Other," the invisible world, and death. Here you will find thoughtful material on God's compassion; the problem of forgetting our essential sacred nature; the inner work that must be done on our hearts; the havoc wrought by our egos, tribalism, and conditioning; marriage, children and parenthood; angels, and the wedding with eternity.
Throughout the book, Rahman shares spiritual practices that reflect the truths of the Quran. Here are three examples:
• "A simple way to remind yourself that everything is dependent on God is to say 'Inshallah,' which means 'God willing,' whenever you speak of future events or intentions."
• "When you feel a gnawing dissatisfaction with life, don't seek to deny or avoid it. The ache is rooted in something deeper. Hold the feeling in your consciousness. Give yourself permission to be present with its energy. Embrace it with compassion and bring it into your heart. Pray to the all-merciful God for help as you go deeper with this feeling. In time, this practice will strengthen your primordial connection with God and increase your awareness that your very essence is divine."
• "Make it a habit to send light and love from your heart to the 'essence' of the people you meet and the entities of nature that catch your attention. Pray for those in need both people and the world of nature. These practices will expand your heart and increase your awareness of your connection to all of creation."
The last section of the book covers a wide area of spiritual activity including surrender; compassion; knowledge, wisdom, and awareness; prayer and related spiritual practices; balance; community; and service. Be sure to use the appendix which contains Quranic verses and Hadith for Meditation. As a good Sufi, Rahman also includes many fine teaching stories which add even more richness to the text.