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A Woman's Path to the Heart of Islam
A Woman's Path to the Heart of Islam

A Woman's Path to the Heart of Islam

Interviews by Rachel et Jean-Pierre Cartier with Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch

The Fons Vitae Rumi Series


160 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $24.95 (US $24.95) (CA $33.95)

Publication Date: December 2020

ISBN 9781887752220

Rights: WOR X UK

Fons Vitae (Dec 2020)

Price: $24.95


The renowned scholar Eva de Vitray Meyerovitch (1909-1999) was educated by nuns and went on to study Christian theology at the Sorbonne,taking degrees in law and ancient Greek philosophy. Yet a chance readingof Rumi inspired her to learn Persian in order to translate and make hisworks available for the French-speaking world. This dedication becameher life’s work.Her profound understanding of Rumi—which only a translator can trulyattain—made it possible for her to bridge the two cultures in which shecomfortably lived—modern day France and the 13th century Turkey ofRumi as well as the Islamic world today. In these provocative interviewswith her, which compose this book, she explains that she was drawn toRumi because his message “was so universal and so urgently needed, amessage of love that brings together the most essential values of Christianityand Islam, giving them a totally fraternal and ecumenical dimension.” Herimpassioned perceptions into Rumi and his life offer fresh and often startling insights.Her story on these pages is not only about Rumi, but about the Islamicfaith. After becoming a Muslim, and taking on a Sufi master, she had aparticular vantage point onto another side of Islam, L’autre visage, thatvery few ever have the privilege to experience from within.. Her insightsregarding the usual over-simplifications and prevailing stereotypes ofIslam are beneficial “for a world in sore need of mutual respect and understanding.” Her inner understanding and respect for the faith of her birthand the one of her adoption provide a unique perspective. This volume issprinkled with the stories of female spiritual figures such as Teresa of Avilaand Rabia. She highlights the astounding similarity between St Francis ofAssisi and Rumi. Her thoughtful explanation of Sufism is illustrated bysome of its greatest masters, interspersed with Christian scripture.These interviews take us on a breathtaking journey of faith, introducingus along the way to a wide range of thinkers—such as her extraordinarymentor Louis Massignon, and the rector of Cairo’s Azhar University whereshe taught, as well as anecdotes involving her numerous personal friendships and professional encounters. Her moving, challenging, noble andoften humorous story highlights the beauty that comes from a life of faithlived through the lens of her spiritual master Rumi.


"Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch was a person absorbed by the inner quest for reality, and what is noteworthy in her itinerary is that her personal life and commitment were strongly linked with her intellectual investigations. They were directly inscribed into their logic. Of course, Rumi became her spiritual mentor, just as if he took her hand and led her to the Muslim path. ... Moved by tenacious enthusiasm for the beauty of Rumi's work, Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch studied and translated into French his major books. Sufism has found its widest introduction in contemporary western society via Rumi's spontaneous teachings. ... In Toward the Heart of Islam, A Woman's Approach, Eva de Vitray makes us feel the internal connections which appear in spiritual life, through many anecdotes from her pilgrimage to Mecca, teaching at al-Azhar in Cairo, praying with a group of men in Algeria who fought to win their independence from her country, and through some relevant verses of Rumi. She also tells us how she devoted most of her life to explaining Rumi's thought and translating his works. For her, the transmission of his universal message was truly urgent. ... Her path, a woman's journey to the heart, reflects the epic hero's travel to distant lands, facing challenges from within and from without. 'From her struggles, she brought back to us gifts of insight, treasures from the East, for a world in sore need of mutual respect and understanding. Her life of surrender to a higher purpose is a testimony of determination to transcend the fear of that which is different, in order to discover the encompassing love that connects us in all our rich diversity' (Preface of Toward the Heart of Islam)." — Eric Geoffroy, French philosopher, scholar of Sufi studies, and professor at the University of Strasbourg

"Unique in the way it offers insights into how a woman schooled in the Western intellectual tradition could be transformed by her encounter with the profoundest ideas of the Islamic Sufi tradition." —Kabir Helminski, translator of Rumi, Sufi Shaikh, and author

"Highly recommended for all spiritual seekers and lovers of Rumi." —Omid Safi, Professor and Director of Duke Islamic Studies Center

"[Rumi's message] was so universal and so urgently needed, a message of love that brings together the most essential values of Christianity and Islam, giving them a totally fraternal and ecumenical dimension." —Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch, Author

"Eva de-Vitray Meyerovitch [was] a remarkable French woman who accomplished the incredible task of translating all six volumes of the Mathnawi." —Shems Friedlander, poet, photographer and author of Rumi a Hidden Treasure, a Mevleri Shaykh, living in Istanbul, Professor Emeritus, The American University in Cairo

Author Biography

Dr. Goddard, economist and author, currently resides in Washington, DC, with regular visits to Cairo, Istanbul, and Paris, and has worked in 65 countries, with special emphasis on the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Over her career, her clients included USAID, the World Bank, the UN, the Asian and African Development Banks, as well as the international firms that serve these organizations. Her PhD is from the Sorbonne, University of Paris, (dissertation: OPEC’s Economic Strategy), with postgraduate work at the University of Chicago. She speaks French (bilingual), Turkish (very fluent) and Arabic (fluent spoken Egyptian), and is a native speaker of American English with her dissertation from the University of Paris. Before becoming an international consultant, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey, and then went to France to learn French and also met her husband. Later they traveled to the United States where she worked at the newly created Department of Energy and was later an Office Director at the US Treasury Department. She also was chairman of the board of a successful international woman-owned business and taught Development Economics at American University, and later taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Dr. Goddard has studied martial arts in China, Egypt, and Thailand, and taught a Taichi-Kungfu class at Cairo’s Gezira Club for over 10 years. Katharine Branning is the former Vice-President of Education of the French Institute Alliance Française in New York City. A graduate of the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, she specialized in Islamic arts. As an independent researcher, she has conducted annual field work relative to architecture and decorative arts in Turkey since 1978. She is the curator of The Song of Stones, the first exhibit dedicated to Seljuk art in the United States, inaugurated in New York in 2011. She is the author of a collection of essays on Turkey, “Yes, I would love another glass of tea” which has been published in 5 languages. She is English editor of the Heritage of the Great Seljuks, published in June, 2013, and a catalog of Seljuk hans, Witness the Way, published in September, 2017, both under the auspices of the Office of the President of the Turkish Republic. She has written a historical novel, Moon Queen, based on Mahperi Hatun, the wife of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad, which was published in Turkish and English in 2014. Her biographical novel of Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch, Ink of Light, was published in spring, 2018. She has taught and lectured internationally on cross-cultural issues and her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. In 2012 the city of Rize, Turkey, bestowed an honorary citizenship to her in 2012, the first time in its history that a foreigner was so honored. She was also named an honorary citizen of Tokat, Turkey. She was named as a "Distinguished Friend of Turkey" by Turk of America Magazine in May, 2018. She lives in New York City.