Seeker of Truth Robert Darr became interested in Sufism through the writings of Idries Shah, and was the member of a Shah group for over 10 years. Then he decided to learn Persian and travel to Afghanistan to see what was really behind it all.
Robert Darr draws a distinction between Shah’s writing (which he sees as working) and the groups which Shah directed, which he describes as all being problematic. He writes that his meeting and spending time with the Sufi Ustad Khalili liberated him from that structure.
Robert subsequently converted to Islam and became Robert Abdul Hayy Darr. His book of travels and encounters in Afghanistan is called 'The Spy of the Heart'. From the forward:
'Between 1985 and 1990 I travelled in and out of Afghanistan delivering medicines and humanitarian aid to those affected by the war with the Soviet Union. I learned Persian while working with the refugees and became friends with many of them. While there I observed how the war brought religious fanatics to power and attracted militant zealots from all over the Islamic world, and how the United States funded organizations that preceded and helped shape the Taliban. These were seeds that would lay the groundwork for the events of September 11th, 2001.
Although it includes some political analysis, this book is also an exploration of Islamic spirituality. It was within the chaotic setting of the Afghan war and its sectarian struggles that I was drawn into the heart of Islam—ultimately to convert. After decades studying Afghan culture and spirituality, I felt it was time to share what I have learned from my companionship with various teachers of Islam and from my efforts to follow the Sufi way.'
The book is available online as an e-book here.