Coleman Barks and Michael Green, creators of The Illuminated Rumi, were students of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a Sufi master whom they call "a living Thousand and One Nights." In this teaching book, there is an abundance of riches the poetry of the thirteenth-century mystic Rumi, the devotional ardor of Coleman Barks, the always dazzling illustrations of Michael Green, and the wisdom of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who died in 1986. All of these combine to shed light on the Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis.
According to Barks and Green, no single word in English does justice to the Arabic word Salat it is "a devotional heart-surrender" that incorporates prayer, supplication, grace, and blessing. As Bawa puts it: "For those who have come to know God, the whole world is a prayer mat." Barks, the poet, writes: "Like a waterwheel that ceaselessly catches water out of a stream and spills it into a garden, The Prayer lifts us up again and again out of our preoccupations and sets us into a sacred time." Five times a day, Sufis bow before the boundlessly merciful and boundlessly compassionate God.
The authors present insightful commentary on the Call to Prayer, the Ablutions, The Prayer itself, and the Peaceful Embrace afterward. They help us appreciate the devotional life of Sufis whose spiritual practice of reverence is awesome. At one point in the book we are startled by this epiphany: "Only in embracing all can we become the arms of God." Surely that is the essence of all worship and the lure of all serious prayer.