Sheikh Roger Frager’s latest book Sufi Talks: Teaching of an American Sufi Sheikh is a beautifully woven tapestry that illustrates how the threads of both the spiritual aspects of life and the practical reality of our day-to-day struggles can intricately come together in a living spiritual tradition.
This book is a collection of formal talks given to Sheikh Frager’s dervishes. Each of the diverse topics broached in Frager’s book offers a glimpse into the relationship between sheikh and dervish central to Sufism. As a result, the language used in the book is always clear and accessible. There is a definite order prevalent in the book which I wasn’t able to appreciate on my first read-through. The book can be divided into three main parts. The first part (chapters 1 -7) focuses on the problems and obstacles to those who aspire to tread the spiritual path to seek God. The second part (chapters 8-14) focuses on the the basic practices of the Sufi path. The last part (chapters 14 – 21) expands upon Part 2 in that we see the application of the afore-mentioned Sufi practices in everyday settings.
Frager’s style is as rich as his topics. He draws from the entirety of his experience as a human being. In a single chapter, one can encounter: a traditional Sufi teaching story, a quote from the Quran, a hadith of the Prophet, an endearing memory of Muzaffer Ozak, and an anecdote from Frager’s private practice as a psychotherapist.
It was the combination of the overall structure of the book, Sheikh Frager’s stylistic approach, and his accessible language that together illustrated that spiritual practice can indeed unify all the departments of our lives within the ambiance of seeking. Sheikh Frager defines a sheikh as someone who can maintain a “charge” strong enough to recharge others, and this is this book’s greatest strength. Regardless of what spiritual path one follows, there are real gems of wisdom in this book, that can offer us all new insight on how to deal with the challenges we are facing both our personal lives and in our communities.
It is with great pleasure that I highly recommend this book to all who seek to better integrate all parts of their living with their spiritual seeking. I would also recommend this book to those who are interested in Sufism as it offers really poignant insight into modern day Sufi practice and ideology.