This unusual book focuses on the "Most Beautiful Names" or qualities of God referenced in the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam. It is part poetry, part praise, and part prayer. Most of all, it is a testimony to how the Divine can be encountered in daily life.
Camille Helminski is the co-founder and co-director, with her husband Kabir, of The Threshold Society, a nonprofit organization rooted in the Mevlevi tradition of Sufism, which traces its inspiration to Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. For more than 30 years, through books, workshops, and local groups, she has helped to facilitate direct personal experiences of the Divine. She has increased awareness of the integral contribution of women to the spiritual path of Islam with her book Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure, Stories and Writings of Mystic Poets, Scholars, and Saints. She has also published to books of Rumi's poetry, the teachings of Rumi's spiritual companion Shams of Tabriz, and stories from and about Rumi's contemporaries. She is the first woman to translate a substantial portion of the Qur’an into English. The Quranic selections included in this new book are excerpted from that translation, The Light of Dawn, Daily Readings from the Holy Qur'an.
Perhaps the translated book that has the most resonance to this one is The Mevlevi Wird, a collection of prayers recited daily by dervishes in the order. It includes, as does this book, the "Awakening Prayer of Muhammad" and the "Prayer of Light" recited daily by Rumi. This volume also includes "St. Francis of Assisi's Prayer in Praise of God," written after Francis's journey to Egypt where he was exposed to Islam's 99 names of God.
In the preface, Helminski shares her take on the value of the names:
"The Divine is so generous with the qualities of Being that in any moment they may be perceived in new ways, in varied intermingled resonances, with different hues, to touch our hearts and minds and souls and bodies, and awaken us in awe. God willing (Inshallah), more windows and doors might open every day for us to witness the Beauty and Magnificence of this Creation, both outwardly and inwardly, bestowed by that One who continually sustains us in every moment, with such an immense outpouring and in-pouring of Love."
What follows are ninety-nine explorations of the Names. Helminski suggests we might zhikr (repeat/remember, call upon) one of the Names with our voices and hearts, and in doing so also commit to express them with our actions in the world. The two — three pages devoted to each Name can be used for daily meditation, "perhaps to inspire one's own relationship with a Name in that moment unfolding."
Each of Helminski's poetic tributes to a name (see the excerpt for an example) is followed by related passages from the Qur'an. This book is a wonderful gateway for your personal experiences with:
Ar Rahman, The Infinitely Compassionate
Ar Rahim, The Infinitely Merciful
Al Ghaffar, The One Who Loves to Forgive
As Sami, The All Hearing
Al Basir, The All Seeing
Al Latif, The Infinitely Subtle
Al Karim, The Infinitely Generous One
Al Wadud, The Infinitely Loving
Al Wali, The Friend and Protector
Al Barr, The Bestower of Beneficence
An Nur, The Light
As Sabur, The Most Patient, Inspirer of Patience
and more …