Saybrook Alumnus Yannis Toussulis, PhD ’95 Releases New Book on Sufism

Alumnus Yannis Toussulis’ new book, Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology can be found on

Dr. Yannis Toussulis, a graduate of Saybrook in 1997, has just had his first book published by Quest Books (April, 2011), Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology. Stanley Krippner has written, “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.” Joining Dr. Krippner, Kabir Helminski, a well-known translator of Rumi and a Mevlevi Shaykh refers to this book as “a critical assessment of the history, context, and spiritual significance of one of the most important yet hidden traditions within Islamic mysticism.” Dr. Robert Frager, the founding president of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, refers to this book as “priceless information that has not been available previously” and “a must-read for any serious student or practitioner of Sufism.” The book is already being lauded by Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi as “the definitive study of Malamati Sufism.”

This is the first book to detail the relationship between Sufism and the controversial “way of blame” in all of its historical phases up to, and including, the present era. 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. This interdisciplinary work begins by critically examining popular and scholarly conceptions about Sufism. The book then proceeds to examine the role that the way of blame (Ar. malamatiyya) played in the development of Sufism as a whole. Extensive references are made to current interpretations of Sufism and the way of blame provided 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. Sufism and the Way of Blame incorporates the work of preceding scholars and updates their studies in the history and psychology of Sufism, through personal research done by the author in tandem with a living representative of the way of blame in Turkey today, Mehmet Selim Ozich. 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 of the way of blame who practice a human-centered approach to spiritual transformation.

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