Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology

Front Cover
Quest Books, Apr 1, 2011 - Religion - 280 pages
This is a definitive book on the Sufi “way of blame” that addresses the cultural life of Sufism in its entirety. Originating in ninth-century Persia, the “way of blame” (Arab. malamatiyya) is a little-known tradition within larger Sufism that focused on the psychology of egoism and engaged in self-critique. Later, the term referred to those Sufis who shunned Islamic literalism and formalism, thus being worthy of “blame.” Yannis Toussulis may be the first to explore the relation between this controversial movement and the larger tradition of Sufism, as well as between Sufism and Islam generally, throughout history to the present. Both a Western professor of the psychology of religion and a Sufi practitioner, Toussulis has studied malamatiyya for over a decade. Explaining Sufism as a lifelong practice to become a “perfect mirror in which God contemplates Himself,” he draws on and critiques contemporary interpretations by G. I Gurdjieff, J. G. Bennett, and Idries Shah, as well as on Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. He also contributes personal research conducted with one of the last living representatives of the way of blame in Turkey today, Mehmet Selim Ozic.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Sufi Mystique
The Traditionalist Critique
Quests for the Hidden Hierarchy
Further Quests for the Hidden Source
The Earlier Way of Blame
The Middle Period of Malamati Activity
The Later Malamatiyya
TwentiethCentury Representatives
The Seven Stations of Wisdom
Human Completeness
Looking Toward the Future

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Yannis Toussulis, Ph.D. is the primary successor of Mehmet Selim Ozic of Istanbul, and a traditionally authorized murshid in the lineage of Pir Nur al-Arabi, the Nuriyya-Malamiyya and an inheritor of six lines of ascription form the following Sufi Orders: Naqshbandi, Qadiri, Rifa'i Khalwati, Mawlawi, and Uwaysi. Dr. Toussulis is also the sole surviving successor of the late Hasan Sari Dede (d. 1997), a Qadiri-Rifa'i Shaykh and a great lover of Mawlana Jalauddin Rumi. Author of Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology (Quest Books, 2011), Dr. Toussulis serves as the spiritual director of the Itlaq Foundation which was named after the spiritual approach of Hasan Lutfi Susud, a malamati Sufi who influenced the later work of J.G. Bennett. Dr. Toussulis' formal education includes an M.A. from Lone Mountain College in Existential Counseling Psychology (1977) and a Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in human science research from Saybrook University (1997). Dr. Toussulis' doctoral thesis examined the faith experiences of a Sufi Shaykh, Hassidic Rabbi, and a Catholic monk while pioneering the use of Dr. Amedeo Giorgi's "empirical-phenomenological" method as applied to the psychology of religious experience. While at Saybrook University, Dr. Toussulis also studied hermeneutics and critical theory having been prompted to do so while serving briefly as a research design and program development specialist at The Sadat Peace Foundation between 1983-1984. Both before and after receiving his doctorate, Dr. Toussulis taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology for over 35 years. Between 1975-1989 he taught graduate courses on psychology, religion and comparative mythology at Antioch University/West and directed its graduate program in Consciousness Studies. Alarmed by increasing conflicts between "Islam and the West," Dr. Toussulis served as an adjunct professor in cultural psychology at the Monterey Institute of International Studies between 1996-2008. While at that institution, he focused on the psychology of intercultural conflict and democratization processes throughout the greater Middle East. During the same period, Dr. Toussulis was a key speaker at the UNDP's "Conference on Good Governance, Empowerment, and Participation." (2005), and he lectured on "Cross-Cultural Negotiation in Muslim Majority Nations at the Inaugural Conference of the Global Majority" (2007). He was also a key presenter at "Religion and Society: A Dialogue Between Indonesia and the United States," a seminar co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Legacy International. During the same time, he co-authored an article for the Journal of Policy Studies on "Religion and Conflict" which was subsequently published in the anthology, Islam and Tolerance in Wider Europe (Budapest: Open Society, 2007). Dr. Toussulis maintains that classical Sufism is a dynamic and unfolding tradition that is capable of adapting to conditions of globalization and "post-modernity" without losing its inner substance. His next book will be dedicated to exploring that approach in detail. In the meantime, Dr. Toussulis continues to conduct a part-time practice in family psychotherapy as well as working as a lecturer and occasional adjunct professor. Several of his earlier articles on Sufism were featured in Gnosis Magazine in the late 1980s and early 90s during which time he lectured at the Egyptian Scientific Society in Cairo and the International Association of Sufism's Annual Symposium.

Bibliographic information