Q. Can you recommend to me good books on tasawwuf for a beginner like myself? All suggestions are most appreciated.

The following books in English related to tasawwuf are recommended:

As a very general and easy introduction for both Muslims and non-Muslims there is this handsome illustrated booklet:

- "Sufism: The Alchemy of the Heart" The Little Wisdom Library. San Fransisco: Chronicle Books, 1993. hardback.

I. Books related to the person and manners of the Prophet

Many masters have defined the essence of tasawwuf as the knowledge of the states of the Prophet. The best book in English on this topic is:

- "Muhammad Messenger of Allah: ash-shifa of Qadi Iyad" Trans. Aishah Abdarrahman Bewley Granada, Spain: Madinah Press, 1991. hardback.

There is also the following book on the physical characteristics of the Prophet. The English is not always readable, but it is a useful and unique compilation of a very specific kind of authentic hadiths:

- "Shamaa'il Tirmidhi" [Hadiths on the Prophet's Characteristics compiled by Tirmidhi] Trans. Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhelwi Delhi: New Era Publishers, 1994. hardback. U.S. and U.K. editions widely available.

On love of the Prophet there is the following invaluable small book (out-of-print):

- "Muhammad the Beloved Prophet" by Muhammad Iqbal Trans. Khurshid Ahmad, Aftab Ahmad Montreal, Canada: Aftab Ahmad 1989, PO Box 273, Cartierville, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4K 2J6. paper.

To many the best biographical work on the Prophet in English is:

- "Muhammad: His Life From the Earliest Sources" by Martin Lings 0-04-297042-3. hardback.

II. Books related to the sayings of the sufi masters:

Of classical sufism:

- "Revelations of the Unseen" by Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani Trans. Muhtar Holland Houston: al-Baz Publishing, 1992. paper.

- "The Book of Knowledge" by al-Ghazali Trans. Nabih A. Faris ISBN 0-935782-54-0. hardback.

- "Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship" by al-Ghazali Trans. Muhtar Holland ISBN 0-86037-125-5. paper.

- "Principles of Sufism by al-Qushayri Trans. B.R. von Schlegell ISBN 0-933782-20-9. paper.

- "The Way of Sufi Chivalry" by al-Sulami 0-89281-317-2. paper.

- "Kashf al-mahjub" by `Ali al-Huwjiri (English translation, Pakistan edition)

On contemporary sufism:

- "The Naqshbandi Sufi Way: History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain" by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani Chicago: KAZI Publications, 1994. Heavily illustrated, hardback.

- "Mercy Oceans" Books 1-7 by Shaykh Nazim al-Qubrusi reprints by KAZI Publications. paper.

- "Irshad: Wisdom of a Sufi Master" by Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak Pir Books. hardback.

- "Love is the Wine" by Shaykh Muzaffer. Pir Books. paper.

- "A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century: Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi" by Martin Lings George Allen & Unwin, 1973. paper.

- "Letters of a Sufi Master: The Shaikh al-`Arabi al-Darqawi" Trans. Titus Burckhardt Bedfont, U.K.: Perennial Books, 1987. paper.

- "Key to the Garden" by Shaykh Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad (d. 1995) Trans. Mostafa al-Badawi London: Quilliam Press, 1990. paper.

- "The Book of Assistance" by Imam Abd Allah ibn Alawi al-Haddad (d. 1720) Trans. Mostafa al-Badawi London: Quilliam Press, 1989. paper.

and many more.