A scholar asked a boatman to row him across the river. The journey was long and slow. The scholar was bored. "Boatman," he called out, "Let's have a conversation." Suggesting a topic of special interest to himself, he asked, "Have you ever studied phonetics or grammar?"
"No," said the boatman, "I've no use for those tools."
"Too bad," said the scholar, "You've wasted half your life. It's useful to know the rules."
Later, as the rickety boat crashed into a rock in the middle of the river, the boatman turned to the scholar and said, "Pardon my humble mind that to you must seem dim, but, wise man, tell me, have you ever learned to swim?"
"No," said the scholar, "I've never learned. I've immersed myself in thinking."
"In that case," said the boatman, "you've wasted all your life. Alas, the boat is sinking."
'The Mystics of Islam'
By Reynold A. Nicholson (Author)
Long considered one of the classic texts in the field respected by both scholars and those ... interest[ed] in [Islamic] mysticism.
(From a review in the online journal Living Tradition)
Nicholson's Mystics of Islam was the first book in the West to offer a lucid ... sympathetic picture of Islamic mysticism.
(Annnemarie Schimmel, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University and author of Mystical Dimensions of Islam)