Hugh Talat Halman, "Where The Two Seas Meet" (Fons Vitae, 2013)


In Where The Two Seas Meet (Fons Vitae, 2013), Hugh Talat Halman unpacks one of the most provocative narratives in the Islamic tradition. In the 18th chapter of the Qur'an, Surat al-Kahf (The Cave), a mysterious figure named Khidr (the "Green Man"), guides Moses through a series of seemingly criminal acts. These events turn out to be, rather, tests to try Moses' patience, each with divine purpose and knowledge behind it. Because of Khidr's special knowledge and status--even immortal according to some traditions--this story from the Qur'an has inspired Muslims from a variety of cultures to take interest in the relationship between Moses and Khidr as a model of discipleship, adversity, and spiritual symbolism. In his pioneering book, Halman charts the waters of literature about the story of Khidr and Moses while giving special attention to Sufi commentaries, including those of Ruzbihan Baqli, al-Qushayri, and al-Qashani. Halman also demonstrates that it was not only medieval Muslims who gravitated toward mining the spiritual wisdom of the story but also non-Muslims in the modern period, including Carl Jung, a director of a kung fu film, and others. Halman ends his monograph with a poem that synthesizes the many faces of the narrative and adds a unique personal touch to his work. Where The Two Seas Meet has undoubtedly become the authoritative English-language reference for research on the "Green Man" and provides the reader with lucid writing and ample references. Inevitably, moreover, it will also interest readers beyond the academy because of its transcultural insights and possibilities for interpretation.

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