Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology

Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology


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296 Pages
9in x 6in

Dr. Yannis Toussulis’ book is the first to detail the relationship between Sufism and the "Way of Blame" in all of its historical phases up to, and including, the present era. Dr. Toussoulis lays out the gradual development of both, western and eastern Sufism, as well as pinpointing the discrepancies between the two. If ever there were a definitive book on the cultural life of Sufism and its controversial relation to Islam this is it.

The "Way of Blame" originally designated a group within larger Sufism that focused on the psychology of egoism and engaged in self-critique (Arabic malam, or "blame"). Later, the term most often referred to those Sufis who incurred blame by shunning Islamic literalism and formalism, thus becoming worthy of "blame." The spiritual path of Sufism itself, as explained, is a lifelong practice of study and mysticism in order to become "perfect mirror(s) in which God contemplates Himself."

Sufism and the Way of Blame incorporates the work of preceding scholars and attempts to surpass them by bringing the study of Sufism up to date. Toussoulis makes extensive references to current interpretations of Sufism by G. I Gurdjieff, J.G. Bennett, and Idries Shah, as well as by scholars such as Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr (among others). The book incorporates earlier findings and Dr. Toussoulis’ personal research in tandem with a living representative of the Way of Blame in Turkey today, Mehmet Selim Ozich.

This interdisciplinary work critically examines popular and scholarly conceptions about Sufism as a whole; then proceeds to examine the role that the "Way of Blame" played in the development of Sufism. And in its closing chapters, the book presents an up-to-date paradigm of psycho-spiritual development that is still being used today by classically oriented Sufis who practice a human-centered approach to spiritual transformation.

Sufism and the Way of Blame is for anyone who seeks to become more culturally aware of Islam or its esoteric aspects.


At last! – a trustworthy book on the blame-worthy ones.
Peter Lamborn Wilson (a.k.a. Hakim Bey), author of Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy, co-author of The Drunken Universe: An anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry and Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology.

Dr.Yannis Toussulis has written the definitive study of Malamati Sufism.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, co-author of A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of Early Hasidic Masters.

. . . in-depth scholarly research . . . highly insightful and critical . . . historical detail and depth. . priceless information . . . a must-read.
Robert Frager, Ph.D co-author of ,Essential Sufism, author of Heart, Self, and Soul: The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance, and Harmony, and; founding president of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

. . . a critical assessment of the history, context, and spiritual significance of one of the most important yet hidden traditions within Islamic mysticism . . (the “way of blame”) cuts to the bone, and points to what a mature spirituality could be.
Kabir Helminski, author of Living Presence and The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation; translator of Rumi, and Sufi teacher.

. . . engaging and inclusive . . . careful and precise . . . worth reading, keeping, and returning to time and again.
Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid of the Mujaddidi-Naqshbandiyya, Qadriyya, Chistiyya, Shadiliyya

Sufism and the Way of Blame cuts through many of the myths that have attached themselves to popular presentations of Sufi ideas. It provides not only a readable summary of the multifaceted history of Islam and Sufism, but also a previously inaccessible understanding of the working model of spiritual growth associated with the "Way of Blame." If you've ever been attracted to the teachings associated with Sufism, G.I. Gurdjieff, J.G. Bennett, or Idris Shah, you will benefit from reading this book.
Jay Kinney Author of The Masonic Myth, co-author of Hidden Wisdom, and publisher and editor-in-chief of Gnosis: a Journal of the Western Inner Traditions.

Dr. Toussulis sees Sufism as a "multiplex phenomenon," placing it in its proper social and historical context. But he also recognizes that the psychological aspects of Sufism need to be explored, and this section of the book contains the most innovative insights of this compelling volume. For readers who want to avoid both "New Age" and dogmatic approaches to this topic, Sufism and the Way of Blame surpasses any book on the topic currently in print. This is an authoritative volume, and one badly needed at this time.
Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Recipient, Ashley Montague Award, Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University, and Co-author, Personal Mythology.

This is a definitive book on the Sufi ‘way of blame’ that addresses the cultural life of Sufism in its entirety. Yannis Toussulis may be the first to explore the relation between this controversial movement and the larger tradition of Sufism, as well as between Sufism and Islam generally, throughout history to the present.
Branches of Light

Explaining Sufism as a lifelong practice to become a ‘perfect mirror in which God contemplates Himself,’ he (Toussulis) draws on and critiques contemporary interpretations by G. I Gurdjieff, J. G. Bennett, and Idries Shah, as well as on Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. He also contributes personal research conducted with one of the last living representatives of the way of blame in Turkey today, Mehmet Selim Ozic.
New Consciousness Review

The first reference to the way of blame can be found in the Qur'an, which refers to those who "struggle in God's path, fearing not the blame of any blamer" (5:54). In one tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (sa) is reported as saying, "Poverty is my pride," to which he added (in another tradition), "Poverty is to be disgraced in this world and the next." Turning to a current encyclopedia of Islam, we find that the malamatiyya (way of blame) is described as "the designation of a tendency, or of a psychological category, of people who attract blame to themselves despite their being innocent."
—From excerpt featured in Reality Sandwich

This is an important book. Toussulis presents a new picture of the way of blame. He basically sees it as that aspect of Sufism where one is prepared to be critical of oneself. The best work on Sufism I have read in a very long time. Toussulis aims to, and succeeds, in presenting an attractive and stimulating picture of the modern strand of Sufism to which he belongs. Sufism and the Way of Blame is both a scholarly study and an accessible account of one aspect of modern Sufism.
The Gurdjieff Books Blog