According to Muhammad, “God is beautiful and He loves beauty.” Yet, Islam is rarely associated with beauty, and today, a politicized Islam dominates many perceptions. This work tells a forgotten story of beauty in Islam through the writings of celebrated but little-studied Sufi scholar and saint Rūzbihān Baqlī (1128–1209). Rūzbihān argued that the pursuit of beauty in the world and in oneself was the goal of Muslim life. One should become beautiful in imitation of God and reclaim the innate human nature created in God’s beautiful image. Rūzbihān’s theory of beauty is little known, largely because of his convoluted style and eccentric terminology in both Persian and Arabic. In this book, Kazuyo Murata revives Rūzbihān’s ideas for modern readers. She provides an overview of Muslim discourse on beauty before Rūzbihān’s time; an analysis of key terms related to beauty in the Qur’ān, Ḥadīth, and in Rūzbihān’s writings; a reconstruction of Rūzbihān’s understanding of divine, cosmic, and human beauty; and a discussion of what he regards as the pinnacle of beauty in creation, the prophets, especially Adam, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Muhammad.
“Murata opens up a vista on Islam that nobody talks about anymore: the Sufi vision of Islam as a religion of love and adoration of beauty. This is a fascinating book and an impressive achievement. I predict that it will remain the central work on the metaphysics of beauty in Sufism for decades to come.” — Leonard Lewisohn, Senior Lecturer in Persian, University of Exeter