Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel by Irving Karchmar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An entertaining novel that is a quick enjoyable read. however, I would not venture that this will become some time honored classic. None the less it does offer a window into thee mystical world of Sufi Islam. interspersed through out the book are bits of wisdom and quotes from various sufi masters. The way of Allah is love and not only is Islam holy but so is Judaism and Christianity. What we have here is more than a tale of Sufi mystics and jinn haunting humans, we have here ann exercise of individuals from different backgrounds working together for the common good.
The story starts off sort of in the middle before going into the beginning. Ishaq is wandering the Sahara desert after being separated from his travel companions.. Hot and weary he wanders the desert in search of water, he becomes aware that even the animals pray to god.
Interestingly enough the story begins in somewhat modern Jerusalem, more precisely in the old city. A khaniqa or Sufi school is established in Jerusalem, and Ishaq goes searching for his teacher. In the market the Master Hayd is searching for a special coffee for some very special guests that will be attending the khaniqa that evening. On the way back from shopping Ishaq learns some spiritual lessons from a beggar in Jerusalem's streets.
That evening the Khaniqa holds a feast and three distinguished guests appear, three Israeli Jews. Dr. Shlomo Freeman is a professor at Hebrew University and is a former student of Master Hayd. Freeman's daughter Rebecca comes and so does a mossad officer who is involved with something archaeological. THe Mossd agent was in the Sahara on some mission when he stumbled onto a cave with a corpse holding a cylinder . The cylinder is written in ancient Hebrew or more appropriately called the Canaanite scripts. First he goes to Dr. Freeman and then Dr. Freeman goes to the Sufi master.
This of course leads to an adventure in the desert for Ishaq, two other students and the Israelis. Guided by the beggar from Jerusalem they take a ship to Algiers and embark with the aid of the Tuareg and Berbers to a place buried in the sands of the Sahara. The city of the Jinn. What follows is not much of an adventure but rather a tale of redemption for all of mankind and the Jinn if they want to take it.
The strong points of this story is that it shows Jews and Muslims working together and learning from each other. Combining the lore from both religions they are able to solve mysteries and problems. It shows venerated rabbis giing prophecy pertinent to Islamic issues. Both paths are holy. Yet I would debate a few facts mentioned in the book. Number one the Shamir was not a stone, according to Jewish lore , but rather it was a worm that ate stones in order to build the Jewish temple as steel and Iron could not be used. Tadmor is in Syria not North Africa. I am not sure King Solomon built the city for Queen Sheba and if he did would it not bee located in Arabia.
I have long known or suspected that people beside Muslims can join Sufi orders and be intiated with a symbolic conveserion. Why all the Israeli Jews involved end up converting instead of keeping their religion smacks of some propaganda , like promoting sufism. Too bad a Rabbi could not have accompanied these guys and in addition to converting Jews to Sufism there could have been some Muslims converting to Judaism
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