Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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Victor Danner

Victor Danner (1926-1990) was an educator, scholar, translator, and author. He specialized in, and taught Arabic, Arabic Literature, Islam, Sufism, Eastern Religions, and Comparative Mysticism at Indiana University. Professor Danner was a renowned teacher, with the rare ability to captivate and motivate students, whether the subject was Arabic grammar or American Indian religion. Dr. Danner focused his writing and translating on the explication of the Islamic religious tradition and its esoterism, Sufism. Besides contributing essays to the journal Studies in Comparative Religion, as well as to other journals, he produced three books, Ibn ‘Ata ‘Allah’s Sufi Aphorisms (1973), Ibn ‘Ata ‘Allah: The Book of Wisdom (1978), and The Islamic Tradition: An Introduction (1988).


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The message of Muhammad can be described in terms of two key elements: a Law of conduct which governs all Muslims, and a contemplative Path by which one achieves spiritual union with God. It is this Path which constitutes Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam. Throughout the course of this introductory overview, Victor Danner discusses Sufism’s relationship to Islam as a whole, the function of the Sufi master, and the many attempts by Muslims and non-Muslims alike to marginalize its practice throughout the world.
Islamic MysticismDanner, Victor Vol. 10, No. 1. ( Winter, 1976) Islam
A renowned scholar of Arabic and Sufism, Victor Danner, applies an historical and linguistic approach to illustrate various aspects of Sufism, the esoteric domain of Islam. The terms "Sufi" and its derivative, "Sufism," have for many years enticed scholars to offer a variety of opinions that, ultimately, tend to elucidate little other than one's powers of speculation. In this essay Danner sums up the research and tells a fascinating story of the development of the term and of Islamic mysticism. Danner's thesis centers around the point that the term "Sufi" came into use "because of the readaptation that the Islamic tradition had to make in view of a decline that threatened its spiritual bases." Thus, a return to the original interiorizing spirit of Islam was employed to neutralize centuries of exteriorizing ritual and dogma, and this through the return to the simple purity of the symbol of the wearing of wool ("suf" in Arabic).
The Necessity for the Rise of the Term SufiDanner, Victor Vol. 6, No. 2. ( Spring, 1972) Islam
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