Review: Sufi Comics – Rumi

I am a huge fan of Sufi Comics. I've been reading them for years, and appreciate their dedication to their craft, and the fact that they use the teachings of both Sufism and Shi'ism in their lessons. I was super excited when their first book came out, even though it was a collection of material they had already published on their blog. I bought several copies, and then several more when the color version came out.

Their second book, The Wise Fool of Baghdad, was also a gem. They used the name Bahlool, but the figure they wrote about is known through the Muslim world under a variety of names, including Nasiruddin Khoja. 

My only criticism of that book is that sometimes the inclusion of didactic materia – verses of the Qur'an, ahadith – sometimes felt forced. The lessons in the stories are powerful in their own right.

Now, the folks behind these two books are releasing a third about the teachings of Jalaluddin Rumi

The book keeps their tradition of lavishly illustrated stories alive. In addition to the lovely images, the stories include the original Persian text of Rumi's teaching, which is a nice addition. Andrew Harvey's renditions are good at keeping the spirit of the story, but not the texture of the Persian. If you can read the original, it's a nice comparison.

The stories themselves are some of the most well-known from Rumi, and that adds to the value of the collection. Spiritual wisdom often requires repetition, and familiarity does not breed contempt. The story of the grapes and the story of the elephant remain two of my favorite, and continue to remain relevant. 

Like The Wise Fool, there are didactic segments at the end of each story. In some places, they work really well. In others, I think it's a bit forced. And, like Bahlool stories, there is so much value in the stories, and they are so steeped in Muslim thought, I don't know if there is a value add to those sections.

That minor observation aside, the Rumi book keeps the great work of the Vakil brothers going. It's a must have book, not just for yourself, but to give to others. I've used their books in teaching and with kids' groups. They are accessible and beautiful. If you haven't read their work yet, now is a good time to get into it.

[Disclaimer: I will receive a free copy of the book for this review. There are no conditions on the review, and I do not believe my review has been impacted by the offer of the free book.]