The Polished Mirror

Pages: 352
Subject: Religion, Literature
Imprint: Oneworld

The Polished Mirror

Storytelling and the Pursuit of Virtue in Islamic Philosophy and Sufism

Cyrus Ali Zargar

A rich, engaging and approachable work on understanding Islamic virtue ethics through philosophical, mystical and literary texts
9781786072016 (2 Nov 2017)
RRP £20.00 / US$30.00

The Book

How are virtue ethics presented in Islamic writings? Focusing on two pre-modern scholarly traditions central to contemplating virtue - philosophy and Sufism - The Polished Mirror presents the thinkers, metaphysicians, saints, poets and mystics who contributed to the pursuit of the perfection of character.

From the relationship between law and virtue to the struggles of the soul to transcend the body and its desires, Cyrus Ali Zargar examines key ethical questions from Islamic intellectual history. With new interpretations of passages from key Arabic and Persian texts, and keen analyses of the ethical implications therein, The Polished Mirror invites readers to reconsider the place of virtue ethics in Islam - a subject which has been given insufficient attention in academic study.

Additional Information

Subject Religion, Literature
Pages 352
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Cyrus Ali Zargar is Associate Professor in Religion at Augustana College, in Rock Island, Illinois, where his primary research interest is the literature of medieval Sufism in Arabic and Persian.


‘This fine study, supported by careful analysis of primary texts, illustrates the congruence of Islamic philosophy and Sufism on the issue of achieving self-perfection, to which human beings are called both by prophetic wisdom and by rational acumen.' 

- William C. Chittick, Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies, Stony Brook University

‘Far too much of previous scholarship on Muslim ethics has obsessed over the question of its indebtedness to Greek (and Persian) antecedents. Cyrus Zargar's The Polished Mirror is a brilliant way of reframing the conversation about ethics in the spiritual and intellectual cosmos of Islamic thought. Zargar masterfully navigates the worlds of ethics, philosophy, mysticism, narrative, and poetry to offer us a rich tapestry. The result is far more than merely a groundbreaking way of rethinking ethics in Islam. It is a groundbreaking study of the interconnectedness of Islamic spiritual, ethical, and intellectual universe through studying Ibn Sina, Rumi, Brethren of Purity, Ghazali, Suhrawardi, and others. Enthusiastically recommended for all students of Islamic studies, ethics, and mysticism.'

- Omid Safi, Director, Duke Islamic Studies Center

The Polished Mirror is an incredible, even paradigm-shifting work in Islamic Studies.'

- Mohammed Rustom, associate professor of Islamic studies, Carleton University, and author of Inrushes of the Spirit: The Mystical Theology of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt