John Renard, professor of theological studies at Saint Louis University, has assembled a scholarly anthology of material that reveals the breadth and depth of Muslim religious experience. "In the spacious House of Islam there has always been room for enormous variety," he notes in the preface. "More than a billion people live here, people from scores of ethnic, linguistic, national, cultural, and social backgrounds. . . . Over the centuries and across the globe, Muslim authors and artists have given brilliant and moving testimony to their experience of being members of the Islamic community."
This paperback begins with excerpts from the Qur'an and some interpretations of its texts. It continues with a look at devotion, ritual, and personal prayer; sources of ethical and religious interpretation; the aesthetic appreciation of the religious arts; a survey of community and instruction in Islam; and a glimpse of the communication and interpretation of religious experience itself. In addition, Renard has gathered more than five dozen illustrations which demonstrate the full range of Islamic art including mosques, mausoleums, candlestick holders, and prayer rugs.
An example of the wisdom in this resource is from the great Sufi woman Rabi'a al-Adewiya who was asked when the servant (of God) becomes satisfied. She said, "When trials give us as much delight as blessings."