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Re: Theos-World The People of the Secret .

Feb 13, 2002 11:09 PM
by Morten Sufilight

Hi Brigitte and all of you,

The book "The People of the Secret" by Ernest Scott; published by Octagon Press (The Press of Idries Shah books etc.) - you will have to read for yourself.

In short it explains about the secret people - the people of wisdom. It throws light on the wisdom tradition - and the initiates of the past - of theMiddle East. Ernest Scott is - to a certain degree - doing a good job, buthe is not a Blavatsky when writing his book. (Because Idries Shah allowed printing of this book at his Press - the Octagon Press - that doesn't imply, that Idries Shah agreed with Erenst Scott in all he wrote, that is how the Sufis operate. Strange ? - No, not at all. The sufis are also called - heart spys - lovers and the wise etc.)
But one will have to read it one self and take a stance.

The Sutton article - I don't have in full but the following - summary from a sufi - could be of some help - I think :

"The Sutton article is 6 pages small print. I
don't have a scanner and, use a library computer. So
here is what I managed.

The first 3 pages are a history of Sufism. The
author sees this starting in the 7th century (&
Islam). He then traces changes in Sufism: 10-11th
century (influence of science & rationalism), 13th
(beginning of theoreticians-institutionalisation.)
Sutton sees this as beginning of personality worship
around sheikhs and a general deterioration.
The West has up to today mainly received these
"decadent and negative aspects of Sufism" (he
described it as "de-spiritualised accumulation of
ritual, supersitition, and folklore.")

He then talks about the 1950's-60's Western craze for
Eastern fads(Zen Buddhists and Gurdjieff.) And now
(1975) the current Shah cult. He sees this popularity
carried on by Shah's adherents. He cites people &
works that are enthusiastic (to the extreme): William
Foster, Rushbrook Williams' "Sufi Studies: East and
West" symposium and contributrors in that. Plus
"Diffusion of Sufi Ideas in the West."
He then lists Shah's "unceasing" works which he calls
amateurish and mainly "anecdotes written in a heavy
Anglo-Indian style." Also that it is "amateur
psychology... numerology and mumbo-jumbo." Sutton says

Shah doesn't have any more knowledge of the field than
anyone can get by consulting standard "non-specialist
reference works." 
Points he criticizes in Shah's work:

- inferring that Omar Khayyam, the Yazidis, and
Ismai'ilis are Sufis

- translating the European name for the Assassins from
'Asasin '(or 'Asasiyin') rather than 'Hashshashin'
(means users of Hashish). 
- reading the word "bad ast" as "ba dast" in a Khayyam
phrase, plus another quote from Saadi (this part not
readable in xerox I have).

- substituting the word 'sufi' for 'pious or poor man'
terms used in writings.

Then a recap of Shah's ancestry and involvement of
Jan Fishan Khan with the British in Khyber India. He
examines terms of Sayed and Musavi (Shah clan names).
Sutton then recaps Shah's steps to fame. This was
mostly due to luck. He inherited the Gurdjieff -
Uspensky movment and the gift of John Bennett's group
property in England. 
Sutton then returns to blaming Shah's followers for
his success and that since they're all intellectuals
and professionals, this shows a failing in the Western
modern education. He also adds that their
intellectual contributions to the world have been
"dismally low." (?) (Later he mentions Robert
Ornstein's 'pseudo science.') Also that intellectuals
who follow Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, or Shah abandon their
The worst flaw for Sutton in Shah's books is they
present Sufism without Islam and being "centred not on
God but on man." That Shah seldom mentions God and
love. Also criticizes Robert Graves' sentence about
the Sufi "being in the world but not of it, free from
ambition, greed..." etc. has no relation to genuine
Sufism. That Shah is bowing to trends of being
practical and a humanist since the West "can't stomach
the idea of God."
The rest focuses on Reza Arasteh, an Iranian author
who's written on Rumi but is influenced by Erich Fromm
and psychoanalysis. Sutton feels Arasteh is a better
writer and thinker than Shah who Arasteh unfortunately
considers "his Master." Sutton cites Corbin and
Seyyed H. Nasr. (scholars he thinks well of) and their
descriptions of Sufism he thinks are more precise
("Sufism is a direct call of the Absolute".) He ends
with an assertion that 'pseudo Sufis' do not address
problems from our increasing mechanistic society and
its views ("men being turned into automata &
statistics".) Says at end : these "pseudo Sufis" 
"encourage negativism, passive non-participation,
fatalistic submission to authority. Therein lies their

The article also has a caricature drawing of Shah.
It looks like an illustration from a Lewis Carroll
book, kind of grotesque or psychedelic. The article
copy is missing some lines. It was xeroxed from a huge
refernce book I was told it was bound in and the
center parts between pages trail off."

So Sutton didn't like Idries Shah's work, and that was why he made the article.

Sufilight with allegories and Mulla Nasrredin riding high...

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "bri_mue" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2002 8:47 AM
Subject: Theos-World The People of the Secret .

> Sufilight: What does the book "People of the Secret " by E.Scott 
> tell ?
> It would also be nice if you could provide the article by Elwell-
> Sutton.
> Bri.
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to 

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