by William C. Chittick

Originally published in Sophia Perennis, Volume IV, number 1, 1978, pp. 43-58

On this page:

More recent writing by William Chittick bearing on this subject includes:

"Commentary on a Hadith by Sadr al-Dîn Qûnawî", Alserat, 4/1, 1980, pp. 23-30.

"Sadr al-Dîn Qûnawî on the Oneness of Being", International Philosophical Quarterly, 21, 1981, pp. 171-184.

"Mysticism versus Philosophy in Earlier Islamic History: the al-Tusi, al-Qunawi Correspondence", Religious Studies, 17, 1981, pp. 87-104.

"The Five Divine Presences from al-Qunawi to al-Qaysari", Muslim World, 72, 1982, 107-28.

Fahruddin 'Iraqi: Divine Flashes, trans. W. Chittick and P.L. Wilson, New York, 1982.

W. Chittick, Faith and Practice of Islam: Three Thirteenth Century Sufi Texts, Albany, 1992.

"Sadr al-Dîn Kûnawî", Encyclopaedia of Islam VII, 1995, pp. 753-55.

"The School of Ibn 'Arabi", History of Islamic Philosophy, ed. S.H. Nasr and O. Leaman, London, 1996, pp.510-522.

In this Prof. Chittick refers to the list of works mentioned in the article reproduced in "The last will and testament of Ibn 'Arabi's foremost disciple", saying:
"I would remove from that list the two Persian works, Tabsirat al-mubtadi and Matali'-i iman (on which see Chittick, Faith and Practice), and would add two short Arabic works, Tahrir al-bayan fi taqrir shu'ab al-iman and Maratib al-taqwa."

Further reading:

The last will and testament of Ibn 'Arabi's foremost disciple, Sadr al-Din Qunawi

Notes on Sadr al-Din Qunawi

Although usually recognized by specialists as Ibn 'Arabi's most important disciple and the primary intermediary through whom his school gained influence, Sadr al-Din Qunawi (or Qunyawi; d. 673 / 1273-4) is still virtually unknown and unstudied in the West.[1] Stephane Ruspoli's recent Ph.D. thesis concerning him is still unpublished and as far as I know there is no other long study of him or any of his works in a western language.[2]

Two major factors seem to have prevented Western scholars from studying Qunawi: first, he has been overshadowed by his master; and second, most of his works are no easier than those of Ibn 'Arabi, and in fact some of them have even been considered more difficult.[3] But there can be no doubt that in the Eastern lands of Islam, where Ibn 'Arabi's school has been of primary importance in determining the course of all metaphysics and philosophy to the present century, the influence of Qunawi through his own writings and those of his immediate students has been such that Ibn 'Arabi has always been seen through his eyes. Jami (d. 898/1492) explains the reason for this influence in philosophical terms quite succinctly and correctly: "Ibn 'Arabi's meaning in the question of the Oneness of Being (wahdat al-wujûd) cannot be understood in a manner which is in keeping both with reason ('aql) and the Divine Law (shar') unless one studies the investigations (tahqîqât) of Sadr al-Din and understands them as they must be understood.[4] Perhaps certain modern students of Ibn 'Arabi have tried to separate him from the main body of Islam's teachings and to show him as somehow being unconcerned with or above the Sharî'ah because they have not understood him as his own disciples and followers did.

There are numerous aspects of Qunawi's life, works and teachings which will have to be brought to light before his full influence on the development of Ibn 'Arabi's school can be made clear. Among the points which immediately strike the eye and which can be stated with certainty on the basis of what is now known are the following: first, Qunawi's mode of expression and presentation of Ibn 'Arabi's ideas is completely different from that of the master himself. As has been pointed out elsewhere,[5] Ibn 'Arabi's style resembles the stringing together of flashing jewels of inspiration far more than purely reasoned and logical discourse. But Qunawi from first to last is precise, orderly and logical in his argumentation, and his style often resembles that of a systematic philosopher much more than that of a visionary mystic. Nevertheless he does not deviate from his master's teachings, and throughout his works he clarifies and elucidates Ibn 'Arabi's ideas and makes them much more systematic. His writings are the first in a long series of logical and orderly expositions of and commentaries upon Ibn 'Arabi's works which have continued to be produced, until recent times.

Second, Qunawi is the immediate teacher of many of the most important commentators on Ibn 'Arabi's thought, including Sa'd al-Din Sa'îd Farghani, Mu'ayyad al-Din Jandi and Fakhr al-Din 'Iraqi. Farghani's commentary on Ibn al-Farid's Ta'iyyah (also called Nazm al-sulûk - "Poem of the Way"), and Jandi's commentary on Ibn 'Arabi's Fusûs al-hikam are the most significant works of their kind and lay the groundwork for all later studies of these two major works. In their introductions both Farghani and Jandi acknowledge in detail that their works are the results of teachings and lectures given by Qunawi.[6]

Ibn Farid's Ta'iyyah and Ibn 'Arabi's Fusûs in a sense symbolize two tendencies within Sufi thought: the one tendency more ecstatic and poetical, as typified by Rumi, and the other more theoretical and speculative, as represented by such followers of Ibn 'Arabi as Qaysari and Kashani.[7] But sometimes both tendencies are combined within a single figure, as for example Ibn 'Arabi himself. In this respect Qunawi seems to be a key figure. Much more than his master, he keeps to the speculative wing of Sufism in his writings. But through the intermediary of his students he is the means whereby the ecstatic tendency is integrated into the theoretical tendency. Thus in many ways he prepares the ground for such later figures as Jami in whom the two tendencies have more or less equal weight.

Farghani's commentary on the Ta'iyyah, written first in Persian and then translated by the author himself into Arabic, goes a long way toward integrating Ibn Farid's teachings into Ibn 'Arabi's school, by presenting in a systematic and detailed mode of philosophical exposition what is originally expressed in brief and ecstatic images of love and wine. Then 'Iraqi's Lama'ât written in "the style of Ahmad Ghazzâlî's Sawânih on divine Love"[8] and therefore attempting stylistically to keep to the ecstatic wing of Sufism, is the result of inspirations received during Qunawi's lectures and represents again a direct reflection of Ibn 'Arabi's teachings. Here also we should remember that Qunawi was a close friend of Rumi and therefore thoroughly familiar with his style of life and literary expression.

Two interesting questions which soon arise when we discuss Qunawi's relationship with Ibn 'Arabi are first, "Was Qunawi initiated into Sufism by Ibn 'Arabi himself, or was he rather affiliated to another master and the recipient only of teachings and 'blessing' (barakah) from Ibn 'Arabi?" and second, "Was Qunawi himself an 'initiating master' who had disciples receiving spiritual instructions from him, or was he only a 'teaching master' who dealt with theoretical metaphysics and left practical directives to other shaykhs?"

To deal with the second question first, it is true that we know that a number of the figures around Qunawi were more "students" than "disciples", in the sense that they had received initiation into the spiritual path through other masters. For example, we have Farghani's own testimony that he was not initiated by Qunawi. His words, moreover, make clear the various types of affiliation which existed between master and disciple, and are therefore worth quoting. He writes that there are three kinds of relationship between the shaykh or spiritual master and his disciples: the first is through the cloak (khirqah), the second through being given permission to invoke a Divine Name (talqîn-i dhikr) and the third through companionship and service (suhbat wa khidmat). Then there are two kinds of cloak: the cloak of discipleship (irâdat) and it is not permissible to put on this cloak at the hand of more than one shaykh and the cloak of blessing (tabarruk), which can be taken from many masters. Then he writes that he himself put on the cloak of discipleship at the hand of Shaykh Najib al-Din 'Ali ibn Buzghush Shîrâzî, who received it from Shaykh al-Shuyukh Shihâb al-Din 'Umar al-Suhrawardî (founder of the Suhrawardiyyah Order). He further states that it is not proper to receive the cloak of initiation or permission to invoke from more than one shaykh, although it is correct to be the companion of more than one master, provided the first shaykh grants his permission or dies. He then write: "Thus, after leaving the service and companionship of Shaykh Najîb al-Din, I joined our master and lord... Shaykh Sadr al-Din... Qûnyawî, and through the distinction of being his companion, I received spiritual direction and guidance and borrowed inward and outward virtues and discipline as well as the sciences of the Law, the Way and the Truth. Hence I received training and profited to the utmost limit. I also profited from service to Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Muhammad ibn al-Sukran al-Baghdadî and others."[9] Moreover, as is well known, 'Iraqi was initiated by Shaykh Baha' al-Din Zakariyyâ' of Multan, a khalîfah of the above-mentioned Suhrawardi. Thus Farghani and 'Iraqi were members of two branches of the same order, and they were not initiated by Qunawi. [10]

But that Qunawi did initiate and guide aspirants on the spiritual path is suggested by his Treatise Giving Spiritual Directives (no.12 below), since it deals largely with the correct method of attaining concentration (tawajjuh) during invocation of the Divine Name and is addressed specifically to disciples.

The above may be considered sufficient evidence to convince us that Qunawi was a master through "companionship and service", but not enough to prove that he was a shaykh through "the cloak of discipleship" and "giving permission to invoke a Divine Name". However, the following passage, taken from an unpublished Persian work of Jandi, is I think sufficient to show that Qunawi did in fact initiate disciples and that his own initiation took place at the hands of Ibn 'Arabi. Certainly in Qunawi's writings, whenever "our shaykh" or "the shaykh" is mentioned, Ibn 'Arabi is meant, and if he had been initiated into the mysteries of Sufism by someone else, he would have acknowledged this debt.

Jandi writes that when he first became attracted to search for the Truth and to abandon "everything other than God" (mâ siwallâh), he was faced with many obstacles from his family and friends. Finally, by turning over some property he had received in inheritance from his mother to his father, he was given permission to go his own way. "I gave 1000 dinars to my wife and turned towards the search for God. After cutting myself off from everything, I crossed the sea with the intention of making the hajj, until finally God provided me with the companionship of Shaykh Sadr al-Din Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yusuf (Qunawi), who was the Perfect Man of his age, the Pole of the Poles of the time and the khalifah of the Seal of Muhammadan Sanctity (Ibn 'Arabi). For ten years in his service I spent most of my time in retreats, forty-day vigils and spiritual disciplines, until I attained correct inspirations from God and direct approval from the mouth of my Shaykh, may God be pleased with him."[11]

In sum, the above passage may be taken as strong evidence to support the contention that Ibn 'Arabi himself initiated Qunawi and that Qunawi in his turn initiated disciples on his own as the khalifah or representative and successor of Ibn 'Arabi. As we shall see, however, Qunawi's last will and testament offers evidence that no master followed Qunawi to continue this chain of initiation.

To bring about an understanding of the extent and nature of Qunawi's influence it is necessary that a thorough study of his works be made, and the first step in this direction is for them to be listed and classified. Several attempts have been made to discuss Qunawi's works to date, by far the most important of which is by Ruspoli in the thesis mentioned above. But these listings all leave much to be desired. Before I discuss Qunawi's last will and testament I would like to offer some additions and corrections to Ruspoli's listing with the aim of moving toward a definitive study.

The first thing one notices about Qunawi's works is that he is far from being anywhere near as prolific as his master (who has had over 800 works ascribed to him), and the works that can be attributed to him with certainty number no more than twenty-five. Ruspoli lists 39 works which he feels we can identify with certitude and attribute to Qunawi, but many of these are of mistaken or doubtful attribution and others are repetitions. In the list below I will mention only those works which appear to be of first importance for an understanding of Qunawi's teachings and concerning whose authenticity I am relatively certain. The question of various doubtful works attributed to Qunawi I will leave for a later study. In parentheses the number of each work according to Ruspoli's listing is mentioned.[12]

A. Commentaries on Ibn Arabi's works

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1. al-Fukûk or Fakk al-khutûm ("Removing the seals", i.e., the seals guarding the mysteries of Ibn 'Arabi's work) (5). A short commentary on the Fusûs by way of introducing and elucidating the basic ideas necessary to understand each chapter. There is no line-by-line or passage-by-passage explanation.[13]

2. Sharh naqsh al-fusûs ("Commentary upon the Imprint of the Fusûs"). The Imprint of the Fusûs is Ibn 'Arabi's own summary of the Fusûs[14] Qunawi's commentary is mentioned by O. Yahia[15] and said by Sayyid Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani to exist in a private collection in Mashhad, although Ruspoli ignores its existence. It should be of first importance in determining how Qunawi interprets and elucidates his master's works. I believe the various references to a commentary on the Fusûs other than al-Fukûk - such as Ruspoli's (36) - all refer to this work. In a similar way Jâmi's commentary on this same Imprint of the Fusûs, known as Naqd al-nusûs, has been mistaken by numerous cataloguers and scholars for his commentary on the Fusûs itself.

3. Kitab al-lumat al-nûraniyyah ft hall mushkilât al-shajarat al-nu'mâniyyah ("The book of luminous radiance to solve the difficulties of al-Shajarat al-nu'mâniyyah) (11 and 31). Explication of a work in which Ibn 'Arabi makes certain predictions concerning the future of the Turkish state. The work contains an introduction and three chapters and includes discussions of the symbolical and occult properties of letters of the alphabet.[16]

B. Other commentaries

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4. Tafsîr al-fatihah (39), a long commentary on the opening chapter of the Qur'an and one of Qunawi's most important works.[17]

5. Sharh al-hadîth al-arba'în (33). A relatively detailed explication of the meaning of a number of prophetic traditions. The work, as indicated by its title, was originally meant to deal with 40 traditions, but Qunawi died after explaining only 29.[18] Although two other works of commentaries on hadith are mentioned in various sources (34 and 37), I suspect that all are the same work.[19] Over 25 manuscripts of this work are to be found in the Süleymaniye Library in Istanbul, giving an indication of its great popularity.

C. Independent works

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6. Miftâh al-ghayb ("Key to the Unseen") (17). A difficult work on metaphysics and one of Qunawi's masterpieces. This work was recently studied and partly translated into French by Ruspoli in the thesis mentioned above. In the madrasahs of Iran the Miftâh. has been considered the most advanced work on metaphysics and along with its commentary by Fanari was taught after the Fusûs.[20]

7. Mufâwadât ("Correspondences") (20, 28, 29). A series of three or perhaps five separate works. The first contains a discussion of metaphysics and then poses a series of technical questions such as "How do the many relate to the One?" for Nasir al-Din Tusi, the great Shi'ite theologian and philosopher. In certain manuscripts the first work in the series is presented as a separate treatise with the name Risâlat al-mufsihah 'an muntaha'l-afkâr wa sabab ikhtilâf al-umam ("The treatise which gives expression to the ultimate end of thought and the reason that the religions differ") (29). The second work in this series contains Nasir al-Din's answers to Qunawi's questions. The third, called al-Risâlat al-hâdiyah ("The guiding treatise") (28), contains Qunawi's critical replies to Tusi's answers. Two short Persian treatises also exist, separately in the manuscripts I have seen, which represent polite introductory remarks and exchanges of felicitations by the two authors. Numerous manuscripts containing parts or all of this series exist.

8. Mir'ât al-'ârifîn fî multamas Zayn al-'Abidîn ("The mirror of the gnostics at the request of Zayn al-'Abidin") (18). A relatively short and simple discussion of cosmology and the Perfect Man written at the request of a pious youth (al-walad al-sâlih) called "Zayn al-'Abidin".[21] Contrary to Ruspoli's speculation, the work has nothing to do with the fourth Shi'ite imam.

9. al-Nafahât al-ilâhiyyah ("Breaths of Divine Inspiration") (21). A long work in which Qunawi speaks about various mystical states in which he was granted the knowledge of obscure metaphysical truths. The work also includes a large number of letters written by Qunawi to various people.[22]

10. Nafthat al-masdûr wa tuhfat al-shakûr ("Expectoration of an ailing breast and gift of one who is thankful") (22). This work contains in about 50 pages intimate mystical prayers (munâjât) representing the "state which brings together both the station of Divine Majesty and that of Divine Beauty" (al-sha'n al-jâmi' bayn maqâm al-jalâl wa'l-jamâl).[23]

11. al-Nusûs ("Texts") (23). A compact collection of abstruse metaphysical speculations, many of which are drawn from other of Qunawi's works, such as no.6.[24]

12. al-Risâlat al-murshidiyyah ("The treatise giving spiritual directives") (30). This work is also called al-Risâlat al-tawajjuhiyyah (32) and Risâlat al-tawajjuh al-atamm. The work known as Maqâlât ("Discourses") (13) is a Persian translation of this treatise made during Qunawi's lifetime by one of his disciples for the benefit of other disciples who could not read Arabic.[25] The treatise is a short discussion of the method to attain concentration during invocation of the Name of God, and, as will be seen in Qunawi's will, it is a work to which he attached special importance.

13. Sharh al-asmâ' al-husnâ ("Explanation of the Most Beautiful Divine Names") (35). A discussion of the 100 Beautiful Divine Names, beginning with huwa and Allah and ending with al-sabûr.[26]

D. Persian works

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14. Matâli' al-îmân ("Ascending stars of the faith") (15). Explanation in relatively simple and extremely beautiful and elegant Persian of the three pillars of religion: faith in God, in prophecy and in the last day. The work is obviously written for the general reader and not for specialists in Sufi metaphysics, as are most of the Arabic works. There has been some question as to whether this work is really by Qunawi, but a study of its style and content has convinced me that its author is the same as that of the following, about which there has been no dispute.[27]

15. Tabsirat al-mubtadi' wa tadhkirat al-muntahi ("Directives for the beginner and reminders for the advanced") (38). A work of about 50 pages, twice as long as the preceding work and in the same style. It comprises an introduction on man as the goal of creation, three "lamps" (misbah) on 1. knowledge of God, 2. prophecy and sanctity, and 3. knowledge of the world and its benefits, and a conclusion on the necessity of following the path of spiritual realization.

These I believe are Qunawi's major works. The 15 mentioned here cover 22 of the titles mentioned by Ruspoli. Some of the other 17 titles mentioned by him may also definitely be by Qunawi, and undoubtedly other works will also be discovered, but I doubt if they will be of first importance. Here also I can mention two minor works definitely by Qunawi but not listed by Ruspoli, at least not by these names: al-Ilma' bi-ba'd kulliyat asrâr al-samâ' ("An allusion to some of the principal mysteries of audition"), which is a long letter written to his student 'Afif al-Din Tilimsani describing how, when he was circumambulating the Ka'ba, the meaning of some verses he had heard suddenly became clear to him;[28] and a letter to a disciple in Persian on the meaning of the Divine Throne.[29]


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Qunawi's last will and testament is important for several reasons: first it gives an insight into the spiritual life of a master who was in the eyes of later generations Ibn 'Arabi's closest and most outstanding disciple. Ibn 'Arabi has received different interpretations in the West, but surely we should be able to trust, more than the opinions of modern scholars, the "existential testimony" as it were of the man whom Ibn 'Arabi himself took special care to train and whose widowed mother according to many sources he married. In Qunawi's testament we see that the spiritual teachings of Ibn 'Arabi must have included a firm belief in all the principles and pillars of Islam and the exacting practice of their applications contained in detail in the Shari'ah. The picture we get of the spiritual life of the disciple and his teachings to his own disciples undoubtedly corresponds closely to the spiritual life and teachings of the master.

Second, in his will Qunawi considers true understanding of all the intricacies and difficulties of Ibn 'Arabi's teachings to have ended with himself, and he seems to indicate that he has appointed no successor to continue the chain of initiation deriving from Ibn 'Arabi. This may be one reason why there are almost no orders tracing their spiritual lineage back to Ibn 'Arabi.[30]

Third, Qunawi's close connections to two other figures, Awhad al-Din Kirmani and 'Afif al-Din Tilimsani, are confirmed by the will,[31] and several details of his personal life not found in other works are mentioned.

Fourth, certain questions concerning Qunawi's works are cleared up. Ruspoli has speculated that the correctness of the attribution of a certain number of works to Qunawi may be settled when the books which Qunawi endowed, many of which are preserved in the Yusuf Aga Library in Konya, are studied. The will makes clear why in fact Qunawi's own writings became dispersed. In a recent visit to Konya I was able to find only three of Qunawi's own works among his endowed books, all copied by disciples.[32] In view of the will in fact it is surprising that certain works on philosophy from Qunawi's endowed works are preserved there, including a copy in his own handwriting of Hikmat al-ishrâq of Suhrawardi along with Lubâb al-ishârat wa'l-tanbîhât by Muhammad ibn Muhammad 'Umar al-Razi, copied in 640/1242-3 (no.5544).

Finally, as a matter of interest, Qunawi's tomb is still to be seen in Konya, next to the mosque named for him and built immediately after his death as a memorial and to hold his endowed books. The grave itself however is not well tended and is roofed over today.

The translation is made from a single Arabic manuscript preserved in the Yusuf Aga Library and undated.[33] The manuscript is a good one, but it appears to have one or two minor textual problems, which I have glossed over in the translation. However I will refrain from publishing the text itself until I have the opportunity to collate it with one or more of the several manuscripts of the work preserved in the Süleymaniye Library in Istanbul.

Sadr al-Din Qunawi's Last Will and Testament

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In the Name of God, the Merciful the Compassionate

The servant in need of the mercy, approval, pure benevolence and forgiveness of God, Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn 'Ali, the writer of this testament, says that he calls those believers who are present with him and absent from him, among those who are able to gain cognizance of this testament, to witness that he believes in God, the One, the Unique, the Solitary "the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, and has not been begotten, and equal to Him is none" (Qur'an, CXII, 2-4); and (to witness that he believes) that God sent the best of His chosen ones to His creatures, whether to all of them, as in the case of our prophet Muhammad - God bless him and give him peace - or to some of them, like the rest of the messengers, who were sent to particular peoples; and that all of them spoke the truth in the news they gave of God and the judgments they made, before their religions were abrogated. And I have come to know for certain that the Resurrection is true; the Garden is true; the Fire is true; the gathering of works, their reception and the Scales are true; the constantly changing forms which God assumes as a result of the beliefs of men and in accordance with the understanding of those who cling to faiths are true;[34] felicity and chastisement, both the sensory and supraformal kinds, are true; the Narrow Path and the Isthmus between this world and the next are true; and all the details of what has been established as coming from our prophet Muhammad - God bless him and give him peace - concerning the states of the next world, the Garden, the Fire, the States of God and His Attributes and Acts on every ontological level are true. I have lived in accordance with all of this and, if God wills, in accordance with it I shall die.

I enjoin my companions (ashâb)[35] and relatives that after they bury me among the graves of the ordinary Muslims each of them undertake to recite the invocation (dhikr) "There is no god but God" 70,000 times the first night. Then only those who were present at my death should each recite the words "There is no god but God" 70,000 times with presence (hudûr), Peace (sakînah) and sobriety (waqâr), desiring through that that I be freed completely from the fire of God and that God deliver me from all the kinds of His chastisement and punishment and the laws of His wrath; they should hope that God grant their request, in accordance with our belief in what has reached us concerning this from Muhammad - God bless him and give him peace.

I enjoin them to wash my body in keeping with what is mentioned in the books of prophetic traditions (hadîth), not in keeping with what is mentioned in the books on jurisprudence (fîqh).[36] They should wrap me in the clothing (thiyab) of the Shaykh[37] - may God be pleased with him - and also in a white covering; and they should spread in my grave the prayer-rug (sajjâdah) of Shaykh Awhad al-Din - may God's mercy be upon him. Let none of those who recite the Qur'an over graves accompany my funeral procession. No building should be built over my grave nor should any roofing be erected. Rather let only the grave itself be constructed with a strong stone, nothing else, lest it fall into oblivion, and so its trace might remain. Let them give alms of 1,000 dirhams on the day I am buried to the weak and the poor and beggars, both men and women, especially those who are disabled and blind. My clothing should be divided among the companions. Each should receive what is appropriate for him in accordance with what he provides for himself. Each of the companions who reside in the house should receive 100 dirhams. My books on philosophy (hikamî) should be sold and the proceeds given as alms. The rest of the books - the medical works, works on jurisprudence, Qur'anic commentaries, collections of prophetic traditions, etc. - should be made into an endowment. My own writings (tasânîf) should be taken to 'Afif al-Din so that they can be a remembrance from me to him; and he should be enjoined not to be niggardly in giving them to those in whom he sees the qualifications to profit from them.

I enjoin my companions not to take up after me the problematic questions (mujmalât) in the intricacies of the intuitive sciences (al-ma'ârif al-dhawqiyyah). Rather they should limit themselves to pondering that which is unambiguous (sarîh) and clearly determined (mansûs) without trying to interpret what is not plain and unambiguous, whether in my words or the words of the Shaykh. For after me these are closed passages (âyât masdûdah). Let none of them accept a single word from the intuition (dhawq) of anyone, unless he should come upon the Imam, the Mahdi. Then he should extend to him my greetings in order that he may take from him the sciences which flow from him.[38] But no one else.

So after my death they should be prudent and limit themselves to the unambiguous and plain in my words and writings and in the writings of the Shaykh - may God be pleased with him. They should hold firmly to the Qur'an, the Sunnah, the consensus (ijmâ') of the community, continuous invocation (dawâm al-dhikr) and spiritual occupation (ishtighâl), voiding the locus of Divine Descent (tafrigh al-mahall) in order to view the Presence of God directly - in accordance with what I have mentioned in my "Treatise on Guidance and Spiritual Direction"[39] - and maintaining a good opinion of God. They should not occupy themselves with any of the theoretical sciences.[40] Rather they should limit themselves to invocation, recitation of the Qur'an, perseverance in the prescribed litanies and study of the unambiguous and clear intuitive sciences (adhwâq) already referred to.

Let whoever is single undertake to emigrate to Syria, for in this land turmoil will occur in which the safety of the majority will be endangered.[41] "You will remember what I say to you. I commit my affair to God; surely God sees His servants" (Qur'an, XL, 44).

I enjoin al-Fakhr[42] to move to Syria, for he is now single. He should not let natural compassion for his daughter make him choose to remain here, for he will then regret it when regret is of no avail. God is sufficient for him whom he will leave behind and who follows the way of His guidance.

Let the assemblies of the brothers and companions remember me in their pious prayers, and let them exonerate me in any claim they possess according to the Shari'ah and seek that I be exonerated by all who know me. Whoever supposes he has a claim against me according to the Shari'ah and demands it from me and will not exonerate me, let him give news of it to my daughter Sakinah. She will satisfy him in what he wants.

I have said these my words. I ask forgiveness of God for me and for you, and I end my last will and testament with my words: Glory be to Thee, O God, and to Thee belongs praise. There is no god but Thou. I ask forgiveness from Thee and I turn toward Thee. So forgive me and have mercy upon me. Verily Thou art the All-Forgiver, the All-Merciful.


[1] (back to the textˆ) Among the scholars who have pointed out his primary importance in Ibn 'Arabi's school are the following: H. Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of lbn 'Arabi, Princeton, 1969, pp. 69-71; O. Yahia, Histoire et classification de l'oeuvre d'Ibn 'Arabi, Damas, 1964, p. 39; S. H:. Nasr, Three Muslim Sages, second ed., New York, 1975, pp. 80, 96; H. Z. Ulken, La pensée de l'Islam, Istanbul, 1953, p.264; R. W. J. Austin, Sufis of Andalusia, London, 1971, pp. 40-41; A. Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, Chapel Hill (N.C.), 1975, p. 264; A. Ates, "Ibn al-'Arabi", Encyclopedia of Islam (new edition), vol. III, p. 710.

[2] (back to the textˆ) S. Ruspoli, La clef du monde suprasensible, Thèse presentée pour l'obtention du diplome de l'école pratique des hautes études (Sorbonne, V section, sciences religieuses, n.d.1976?]). Ulken's study seems to be one of the longest published notices, La pensée de l'Islam, pp. 258-262. In Turkish there is N. Kekuk's study: Sadreddîn Konevî'nin felsefesinde Allah-Kâinât ve Insân, Istanbul, 1967.

[3] (back to the textˆ) See S. J. Ashtiyani's foreword to Jami, Naqd al-nusûs, ed. by W. C. Chittick, Tehran, 1977, p.35.

[4] (back to the textˆ) Nafahât al-uns, ed. by M. Tawbidipur, Tehran, 1336/1957, p.556.

[5] (back to the textˆ) See my English introduction to Naqd al-nusûs; also Ashtiyani's foreword, p.34.

[6] (back to the textˆ) See Farghani, Mashâriq al-darârî, ed. by S.J. Ashtiyani, Tehran, in press, p.77. Jandi's commentary is being edited by Ashtiyani and will soon go to press. One of the passages in which Jandi acknowledges his debt to Qunawi is quoted in my Persian introduction to Naqd al-nusûs, p. 40.

[7] (back to the textˆ) For further details on Jandi and Farghani see my English and Persian introductions to Naqd al-nusus. The two tendencies in Sufism mentioned here go back to early times. See J. Spencer Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, Oxford, 1971, p.4. Corbin has spoken of Qunawi's importance as the meeting point between these two tendencies: Creative Imagination, pp. 69-71.

[8] (back to the textˆ) See Risâla-yi lama'ât, ed. by J. Nurbakhsh, Tehran, 1353/1974, p.2; also my article, "Jami on Divine Love and the Image of Wine", Sophia Perennis, forthcoming. P. L. Wilson and I are presently preparing an English translation of this work.

[9] (back to the textˆ) Manâhij al-'ibâd ila'l-ma'âd, qâ'idah 3, bâb 2, fasl 2, ms. Aya Sofya 2373 in the Suleymamye Library in Istanbul. The passage is also quoted by Jami in Nafahât al-uns, pp. 560-1. This important but little known Persian work of Farghani deals mainly with the practical teachings of Sufism. Most of it concerns the five pillars of Islam - testimony, prayer, alms, fasting and hajj - according to the Hanafi madhhab. In a relatively short final section Farghani describes the particularly Sufi practices such as spiritual discipleship. For an outline of the contents of the work see Naqd al-nusûs, pp. 518-9.

[10] (back to the textˆ) See the Suhrawardi silsilah in Appendix C of the Sufi Orders in Islam.

[11] (back to the textˆ) Nafhat al-rûh wa tuhfat al-futûh, ms. 2393 in the Central Library of Tehran University, pp. 216-7; also Haci Mahmud Ef. 2447, folio 31 o. and Shehid Ali Pasa 1439, folio 61 r., both in the Süleymaniye Library. I hope to begin work on an edition of this work in the near future.

[12] (back to the textˆ) La clef du monde suprasensible, pp. 15-26.

[13] (back to the textˆ) al-Fukûk was published in a lithographed edition on the margin of 'Abd al-Razzaq Kashani's Sharh manâzil al-sâ'irîn, Tehran, 1315/1897-8, pp. 183-300. Concerning manuscripts of the work see O. Yahia, Histoire et classification de l'oeuvre d'Ibn 'Arabi, p. 242.

[14] (back to the textˆ) See my article, "Ibn 'Arabi's own Summary of the Fusûs: 'The Imprint of the Bezels of Wisdom'," Sophia Perennis, vol.1, no. 2, Autumn 1975, pp.88-128 and vol. 2, no.1, Spring 1976, pp. 67-106.

[15] (back to the textˆ) Histoire et classification, p.255.

[16] (back to the textˆ) See Histoire et classification, pp. 456-7; the manuscript I have examined is Crh. 2057/2 in the Süleymaniye Library.

[17] (back to the textˆ) This is the only work of Qunawi to have been thus far published in a modern edition, although the 30 or 40 glosses which were added by Qunawi himself have not been printed: I'jâz al-bayân fi tafsîr umm al-Qur'ân, 2nd. edition, Hyderabad-Deccan, 1386/1949; re-edited with a long introduction by A. A. 'Atâ' as al-Tafîr al-sûfi lil- Qur'ân, Cairo, 1389/1969.

[18] (back to the textˆ) That Qunawi died before completing the work is stated explicitly in the hand of the person who recorded the circumstances of Qunawi's endowment in each of the books endowed at his death and who speaks of him as "our shaykh". See ms. 4858, Yusuf Aga Library, Konya; also Naqd al-nusûs, p.516. A work entitled Sharh al-hadîth al-arba'în al-nabawî and attributed to Qunawi was printed in Cairo in 1324/1906, but judging from the style he is not the author, although it was written by a follower of Ibn 'Arabi.

[19] (back to the textˆ) See Naqd al-nusûs, pp. 515-6.

[20] (back to the textˆ) See Ashtiyani's foreword to Naqd al-nusûs, p.35. Fanari's commentary, with the text of Miftâh. al-ghayb on the margin, was published in a lithographed edition: Misbâh. al-ins bayn al-ma'qûl wa'l-mashhûd fi sharh miftâh al-jam' wa'l-wujûd, Tehran, 1323/1905-6.

[21] (back to the textˆ) Haci Mahmud Ef. 2936/2, Crh. 2061/14, Konya Mevlana Müzesi 1637/2. Unless otherwise indicated, all manuscript collections mentioned are in the Süleymaniye Library in Istanbul. Manuscripts indicated are only those which I have seen. I am making no attempt to list all of the extant manuscripts of the works in question.

[22] (back to the textˆ) Published in lithographed form in Tehran, 1316/1898-9.

[23] (back to the textˆ) Amcazade Hüseyin Pasha 447/1. The first half of the title of this work, which can be translated more literally as "expectoration of one suffering from a chest ailment", is an expression often seen in Persian and Arabic literature. It is employed to describe words which complain about a person's state in the world and which at the same time give him some relief from his suffering. One can mention other works by the same title Nafthat al-masdûr, such as the history by Nasawi, edited by H. Yazdgirdi Tehran, 1343/1964.

[24] (back to the textˆ) Published in lithographed form along with al-Fukûk (note 13), pp. 274-300; also with Tamhid al-qawa~'id of Ibn Turkah Isfahani, Tehran, 1316/1898-9, pp. 182-217. In the latter edition the work is also called Miftâh mafatîh al-fusûs. S. I. Ashtiyani has begun printing a modern edition of the work including commentaries by a number of later authors.

[25] (back to the textˆ) I have edited the Arabic and Persian texts and will be publishing them along with nos. 14 and 15 below.

[26] (back to the textˆ) I. Laleli 1585.

[27] (back to the textˆ) A preliminary edition of this work has been printed in the Persian section of this journal. As indicated above I will be publishing this work and the following along with a number of other works by Qunawi in the near future.

[28] (back to the textˆ) Konya Mevlana Müzesi 1633 and 5020.

[29] (back to the textˆ) Ibid. I have edited this work and will be publishing it with the works indicated above (note 25).

[30] (back to the textˆ) Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, p. 142. An exception is the Ni'matullahi Order in Persia, which traces one of the branches of its silsilah back to him, through 'Izz al-Din Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Faruthi al-Wasiti, but not through Qunawi. See N. Pourjavady and P. L. Wilson, Kings of Love: The Poetry and History of the Ni'matullahi Sufi Order of Iran, Tehran, forthcoming.

[31] (back to the textˆ) On Kirmani (d. 635/1238) see The Heart's Witness: the Sufi Quatrains of Awhaduddîn Kirmani, ed. with commentary and introduction by B. M. Weischer, translated by P. L. Wilson and B. Weischer, Tehran, forthcoming; also the excellent work in Persian: Manâqib Awhad al-Din... Kirmânî, ed. by B. Furuzanfar, Tehran, 1347/1968. 'Afif al-Din Sulayman ibn 'Ali ibn 'Abdallah ibn 'Ali Kumi of Tlemcen (d. 690/1291) is the author of a Dîwân of poetry as well as a number of important commentaries, including one on the Fusûs al-hikam (Histoire et classification, p. 242) - which may in fact predate Jandi's commentary - and another on the Manâzil al-sâ'irîn of Ansari. 'Abd al-Razzaq Kashani, author of a more famous commentary on the latter work, often refers to 'Afif al-Din as "the leader, the gnostic" (al-imâm al-'ârif). According to Hajji Khalifah in Kashf al-zunûn (Flügel edition, vol.2, pp. 86-7) 'Afif al-Din was a student of Qunawi and set out to write a commentary on Ibn Farid's Tâ'iyyah at the same time as Farghani, but Farghani finished first. From a manuscript of Ibn 'Arabi's Futûhât we learn that 'Afif al-Din and Qunawi were visiting the house of Ibn 'Arabi in Damascus at the same time in 634/1236-7. See Histoire et classification, p.209, samâ' no.12.

[32] (back to the textˆ) Maqâlât and Matâli' al-imân (4866) and al-Fukûk (4858).

[33] (back to the textˆ) Ms. no. 4883.

[34] (back to the textˆ) This is a reference to a long hadîth preserved in the Sahîh of Muslim to which Ibn 'Arabi often alludes when explaining that the servant can only embrace as much of God's Reality as his preparedness (isti'dâd) or immutable archetype ('ayn thâbitah) allows. Hence on the Day of Resurrection he sees God in a form determined by his own belief, itself a function of his preparedness. See the article mentioned above (note 14), "Ibn 'Arabi's own Summary of the Fusûs", Sophia Perennis, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 69-70; Naqd al-nusûs, pp. 202-4; Ibn 'Arabi, al-Futûhât al-makkiyyah, Beirut, n.d., vol.2, p.311; and Fusûs al-hikam, ed. by A. 'Afifi, Cairo, 1946, p.120.

[35] (back to the textˆ) i.e., disciples.

[36] (back to the textˆ) An example of the Sufi's distrust of the doctors of the Law.

[37] (back to the textˆ) In Qunawi's writings the "Shaykh" without qualification refers to Ibn 'Arabi.

[38] (back to the textˆ) Here by saying "extend him my greetings" (falyuballigh salâmî) Qunawi is indicating that "al-Imam al-Mahdi" is someone he knows personally. The reference may or may not be to the Twelfth Imam of the Shi'ites. Ruspoli refers to the possibility that Qunawi could have been secretly a Shi'ite (p.20), but this is the only instance I know where the evidence might lead one to suspect that. It should be remembered that Sufis often had contacts with "men of the unseen world" (rijâl al-ghayb) and that Ibn 'Arabi recounts numerous such incidents. Here it may be worthwhile to quote a passage from a short work attributed to Qunawi (ms. Crh. 1092/7 in the Süleymaniye Library) called Risâlat al-mahdî ("Treatise on the Mahdi"), but not mentioned in Ruspoli's listing. The work on the whole is simpler and contains much less speculative metaphysics than Qunawi's well-known writings, and perhaps it is wrongly ascribed to him. But the content is simple because the work is mainly a recounting of the badith literature on the subject, and Qunawi was known as a master in this field of knowledge also. One passage in the work closely resembles Qunawi's style and may well reflect his thinking on the subject at hand: "The point which is mentioned by the generality of Shi'ites (a'wamm al-shî'ah) concerning the Mahdi, that he is the son of the Eleventh Imam, is not correct. But they are right in one respect, for the things they have been observing for a long time are the results of his noble deeds and his intention. He takes whatever imaginal form (yatamaththilu fi ayyi sûrah) he wishes whenever he wishes according to the relationship (munâsabah) which exists between him and the person who sees him. We ourselves have experienced the like of this many times, for noble souls become embodied within any form they choose whenever and wherever they choose."

[39] (back to the textˆ) al-Risâat al-hâdiyat al-murshidiyyah, work no. 12 mentioned above.

[40] (back to the textˆ) The "theoretical sciences" (al-'ulûm al-nazariyyah) are contrasted with the "operative" or "practical sciences" (al-'ulûm al-'amaliyyah). Like so many spiritual masters Qunawi considers pure speculation divorced from the method and practical discipline of the Path and exemplified by the works of the philosophers - whom masters like Rumi constantly criticized - to be a Satanic delusion and no more than "mental acrobatics."

[41] (back to the textˆ) This was the period of gradually increasing Mongol domination over Anatolia. In addition the Karamanli Turks captured Konya in 675/1276, three years after Qunawi's death. From 676/1277 the Mongols gained administrative control over most of Anatolia, resulting in a period of relative anarchy because of unemployed Seljuk soldiers and civil servants. But there seems to be no great single calamity to which Qunawl might be referring. See the Cambridge History of Islam, Cambridge, 1970, vol. I, pp.245-53.

[42] (back to the textˆ) From the context it would seem that al-Fakhr is Qunawi's son.