Male. Religion: Sufi Muslim.
Home—Cairo, Egypt. Office—Apple Center for Graphic Communications, American University in Cairo, P.O. Box 2511, 113 Sharia Kasr El Aini, Cairo, Egypt. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Parabola, 656 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. E-mail—[email protected].
Visual artist, educator, poet, filmmaker, and Islamic scholar. Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, professor of editorial communication, advertising, and design, 1987-88; American University, Cairo, Egypt, began in 1992, became senior lecturer in journalism and mass communication and founding director of the Apple Center for Graphic Communications, 1994—. Sony Gallery, chair of international advisory board; worked in New York, NY, as a designer and art director for various publications, including Look. Has had several photography and painting exhibitions, including ones in New York and Cairo.
Thirty New York Art Directors Club awards; Sony Video Filmmaker Award, 2001, for Rumi: The Wings of Love.
The Whirling Dervishes, Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and Its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi, music section by Nezih Uzel, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975, with new foreword by Annemarie Schimmel, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1992, reprinted as Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes: Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and Its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi, Parabola Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Submission: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, hadith notations by Al-Hajj Shaikh Muzaffereddin, Harper and Row (New York, NY), 1977.
Ninety-Nine Names of Allah: The Beautiful Names, calligraphy by Hamid al-Amidi, Arabic and Turkish translation by Tevfik Topuzoglu, Harper and Row (New York, NY), 1978.
When You Hear Hoofbeats, Think of a Zebra: Talks on Sufism, Perennial Library (New York, NY), 1987.
Sunlight, Poems, and Other Words, Safina Books (Cairo, Egypt), 1997.
Rumi: The Hidden Treasure, Fons Vitae (Louisville, KY), 2001.
Writer, producer, and director of documentary film Rumi: The Wings of Love, c. 2002. Contributor of articles, photographs, and design to periodicals, including Geo, Digital Press, and Middle East Insight.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
The Circles of Remembrance (film).
Shems Friedlander is a visual artist and Islamic scholar who began photographing whirling dervishes in 1973 while he was working on his first book, The Whirling Dervishes, Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and Its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi, which remains in print. (A dervish is a member of a Muslim ascetic religious sect.) Friedlander, himself a Mevlevi dervish, became a lecturer at American University in Cairo, Egypt, after a successful career in New York as a designer, art director, and teacher. His own work, both photography and paintings, has been displayed in exhibitions. At American University, he founded the Apple Center for Graphic Communications with a 200,000 dollar grant from Apple Computers, Inc.
Friedlander's study of the legendary thirteenth-century Muslim poet Rumi is an introduction to the poet's life, philosophy, and poetry as well as a history of the Sufis. A Publishers Weekly contributor reviewed the 2003 Parabola edition, commenting that Friedlander's black and white photographs, historical illustrations, and "splendid color cover photo of whirling dancers capture the longing, the rapture, and the God-graced mindfulness of the Sufis in contemplation, at prayer and at dance."
When You Hear Hoofbeats, Think of a Zebra: Talks on Sufism is an instructional on living from the perspective of the Sufi Muslims. The title indicates that it is necessary to think in new ways; for example, when one hears hoofbeats, they are not necessarily being made by horses. Friedlander writes of the importance of friendship, patience, and helpfulness and notes that, according to Sufism, the teachings of Allah must be practiced daily. Kliatt reviewer Ruth R. Woodman described the book as "excellent reading for all those interested in understanding Islam and Sufism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 1987, Sheila E. McGinn-Moorer, review of When You Hear Hoofbeats, Think of a Zebra: Talks on Sufism, p. 1389.
Kliatt, September, 1987, Ruth R. Woodman, review of When You Hear Hoofbeats, Think of a Zebra, p. 53.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Graham Christian, review of Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes: Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and Its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi, p. 122.
Publishers Weekly, June 16, 2003, review of Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes, p. 67.
Religious Studies Review, January, 1993, Glenn Yocum, review of The Whirling Dervishes, Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and Its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi (1992 edition), p. 89.
Whole Earth Review, winter, 1985, review of Submission: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, p. 41.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online Web site,http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ (June 27, 2002), Nur Elmessiri, interview with Friedlander.
Rumi Society Web site,http://www.rumisociety.org/ (June 29, 2004).