Sea Without Shore is a practical manual for those travelling the path of Sufism or Islamic mysticism, which strives, in Junayd’s words, “to separate the Beginninglessly Eternal from that which originates in time,” in a word, to be with the Divine without any relation.
The book opens with narratives of five Sufis met by the author in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey whose lives exemplified the knowedge and practice of the Sufi path. The second part is a complete handbook of the method and rule of the Shadhili order of Sufism, transmitted to the author by his spiritual mentor, Sheikh ‘Abdal-Rahman al-Shaghouri – from devotions, dhikr or ‘invocation,’ and metaphysical doctrine, to how a Sufi lives, marries, and earns a living in the modern world. A third part treats wider theological questions such as other faiths and mysticisms, universalism and the finality of Islam, the promise of God to Jews and Christians, evolution and religion, and divine Wisdom and Justice in the face of human suffering. The book provides an indelible portrait of a vibrant mystical tradition spanning seven and a half centuries of endeavor to know the Divine face-to-face.
The summons of the divine presence extends across time and place through all heaven-sent revelations. At the core of every heart it reaches it creates a desire to lift the veil between the human and the Divine, not merely to believe and worship and practice, but to see, know, and be with the One who is greater than all. Sufism is a way of worship of the Divine through such direct knowledge, in the Prophetic phrase, “as though you see Him.”
Sea Without Shore describes five remarkable men the author met and knew in his own Sufi path, and what he heard and learned from them first hand while living in the Near East over several decades. It is a Sufi manual taken from hearts, because God looks at them first, and they matter to the work of the Sufis more than books or literature. It offers a window upon a living tradition of experiential knowledge of the highest Reality. It is a handbook as valuable for its inside view of a centuries-old Islamic mystical order, as for its solution to the greatest mysteries at the heart of human existence: you, God, and your fate beyond the grave.
Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller was born in the northwestern United States in 1954. He read philosophy and classical Arabic at the University of Chicago and UCLA, and became a Muslim in Cairo in 1977. He was a disciple in the Shadhili order of the Sufi master and poet Sheikh ‘Abdal-Rahman al-Shaghouri of Damascus from 1982 until the latter’s death in 2004, and was authorized as a sheikh in the order by Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman in 1996. He has studied Shafi‘i and Hanafi jurisprudence, hadith, and other subjects with traditional scholars in the Middle East, and in the 1980s, under the tutelage of Islamic scholars in Syria and Jordan, produced Reliance of the Traveller, the first translation of astandard Islamic legal reference in a European language to be certified byal-Azhar, the Muslim world’s oldest institution of higher learning. Among his other works and translations are Becoming Muslim, Sufism in Islam, al-Maqasid: Imam Nawawi’s Manual of Islam, Invocations of the Shadhili Order, Port in a Storm: A Fiqh Solution to the Qibla of North America, and an illuminated calligraphic edition of Dala‘il al-Khayrat. He has travelled and lectured on Islam extensively, and he writes and teaches in Amman, where he has lived since 1980.
About the Author
Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, American Muslim translator and specialist in Islamic Law and an authorised Sheikh in tasawwuf is widely accepted as the leading exponent of traditional orthodox Sunni Islam. Born in 1954 in the north-western United States, he was educated in philosophy and Arabic at the University of Chicago and UCLA. He entered Islam in 1977 at al-Azhar in Cairo, and later studied the traditional Islamic Sciences of hadith, Shafi’i and Hanafi jurisprudence, legal methodology ( usul al-fiqh ), and tenets of faith ( `aqidah ) in Syria and Jordan, where he has lived since 1980.
His English translation of `Umdat al-Salik [The Reliance of the Traveller] (1250 pp., Sunna Books, 1991) is the first Islamic legal work in a European language to receive the certification of al-Azhar, the Muslim world’s oldest institution of higher learning. The book which has become a modern classic is a bestseller and has had numerous print runs. It is the best example in the English language of a complete orthodox Sunni work on the Shariah. The book which took eight years to complete has become a byword for excellence and compulsory reading for all interested in Islamic jurisprudence.
His other translations and works include: Al-Maqasid : Imam Nawawi’s Manual of Islam; A Port in the Storm –A fiqh solution to the Qibla of North America, a detailed and complex study of the true jurisprudential position on which direction North American Muslims should face to pray. The Sunni Path: A Handbook of Islamic Belief ; Evolution theory in Islam, and Tariqa Notes (handbook for those on the Shadhili path of tasawwuf). He has written numerous articles on traditional Islam as well as current issues and is presently a regular contributor to Islamica magazine. He is currently translating Imam Nawawi’s Kitab al-Adhkar [The Book of Remembrance of Allah], a compendium of some 1227 hadiths on prayers and dhikrs of the prophetic sunna.
Aside from being a best-selling translator and author, Sheikh Nuh Keller also possesses ijazas or “certificates of authorisation” in Islamic jurisprudence from sheikhs in Syria and Jordan. He was authorised as a Sheikh in the Shadhili Tariqa by the late Sheikh AbdarRahman Shagouri (Allah be well pleased with him) in Damascus . He has students throughout the world and has annual retreats (suhba’s) with his students where he teaches the traditional science of tasawuff in Canada, USA, UK, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Australia and UAE.