Deciphering the Signs of God: A Phenomenological Approach to Islam
Paperback, 320 pages
"This is one of Schimmel's most important books. It sums up a lifetime of scholarship on Islam and, more importantly, it puts her understanding of Islam into a phenomenological framework that will readily be appreciated by scholars and students of other religious traditions. It will be looked back upon as a landmark in bringing Islamic Studies into the mainstream of religious studies." - William C. Chittick
The Qur'an constantly exhorts people to 'look at the signs of god,' signs that are hidden 'in the horizons and in themselves.' This book examines the mysteries of Islam using a phenomenological method to come closer to the true center of Muslim belief.
Schimmel takes as her starting point the simplest 'signs of god'-- natural phenomena like stones, plants and animals, and their use in religious and symbolic language. She then moves on to less obvious signs, such as sacred time and space, ritual actions, forms of worship, the sacred individual, and the order of the community. She concludes with an examination of the individual's response to the mystery of the Divine. Based on both original classical sources and modern literature, as well as the author's considerable personal experience, this is not only a fascinating survey of Islamic practices and beliefs, but also a broad and integrated overview of the phenomenology of Islam.
I. Sacred Aspects of Nature and Culture
II. Sacred Space and Time
III. Sacred Action
IV. The Word and the Script
V. Individual and Society
VI. God and His Creation: Eschatology
VII. How to Approach Islam?