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Rana Safvi's In Search of the Divine | Treading the Sufi's path

Rana Safvi's new book is a work of thorough scholarship, but it is also a labour of love

Rana Safvi; (Inset) In Search of the Divine: Living histories of Sufism in India by Rana Safvi | Hachette India | Rs 599; 432 pages

The minute one thinks of Sufism, writes scholar Rana Safvi in her book, one that is both descriptive and interpretative, “the two strong images that come to mind are qawwalis and Melvana Jalaluddin Rumi’s mystical verses”. The qawwali, developed in the 13th century by Amir Khusro, is embedded in our popular culture and was once a must-have in every Bollywood movie. Rumi, founder of the Mevlavi Sufi (1207-1273), was a poet and scholar, described by the New Yorker as “the bestselling poet in the United States”. His couplets feature in the albums of artistes as varied as Chris Martin of Coldplay and Madonna.