Library Report - July 2006
New Publications on Ibn 'Arabi
The Reflective Heart: Discovering Spiritual Intelligence in Ibn 'Arabî's Meccan Illuminations
by James Winston Morris. Fons Vitae, Louisville, 2005. 420pp.
In this important book for a general audience, Morris gathers together papers and talks given over a number of years. Based upon his practical experience of presenting the ideas in classrooms and workshops, his aim is to demonstrate the relevance of the Shaykh's vision to a modern audience and to show how the difficulties of language can be overcome so that his writings speak directly to the process of "spiritual intelligence" in each reader. Making explicit the Qur'anic context and including much new translation from the Futûhât itself, he covers such themes as "Journeying (Wandering and ascent)", "Listening (Contemplation and the Purified Heart)", "Seeing (Spiritual vision and the mysteries of ihsân)", "Discerning (Learning to translate from God)", and "Returning (Exploring the Divine shadow-play)". Essential reading.
Ibn 'Arabî, Heir to the Prophets
by William Chittick. Oneworld, Oxford, 2005. 152pp.
This is a general introduction to the thought of Ibn 'Arabî which summarises the themes which Chittick has developed in his longer works, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, (SUNY, 1989) and The Self-disclosure of God (SUNY, 1998). There are very few short "entry level" introductions to the Shaykh's thought, and this does a very good job, covering a great deal in a few pages. It deals only very briefly with his life and works, but plunges straight into topics such as "The Muhammadan Inheritance", "The Divine Roots of Love", "The Cosmology of Remembrance", "Knowledge and Realisation" and "The Hermeneutics of Mercy".
New Critical Essays: On the Present State and Future Tasks of the Study of Sufism
by Bernd Radtke. M.Th. Houtsma Stichting, Utrecht, 2005. 330pp.
This important collection of essays, written for the most part in German, includes a new translation of Ibn 'Arabî's Risalat al-Anwâr. This short work on retreat has already been translated by Rabia Terri-Harris as Journey to the Lord of Power (East-West Publications, New York, 1981), and Radtke has included her version here, alongside an Arabic transliteration of a critical edition based upon verified manuscripts, and translations into French and Spanish by Chodkiewicz and Palacios. He has also produced a new translation into German himself, and his collaborator John O'Kane has brought this into English. The result is fascinating because not only does it give us a new, and more accurate, version of the text, but also gives a chance to compare the different translations.
Paths to Transcendence, according to Shankara, Ibn 'Arabi and Meister Eckhart
by Reza Shah-Kazemi. World Wisdom, Indiana, 2006. 262pp
An informed comparative study which looks at the essential message of these three great mystics. The bulk of the book is taken up by summaries of their thought structured around the themes of "the doctrine of absolute transcendence", "the spiritual ascent" and "existential return". Then there is a short chapter at the end which looks at "essential commonalites", followed by an interesting appendix entitled "Against the reduction of transcendence: a critical appraisal of recent academic approaches to mystical experience". Dedicated to Frithjof Schuon, it shows the influence of his thought in its final assertion that "the attainment of the transcendent essence of religion entails surpassing, but not bypassing, the boundaries of formal religion."
The Tree of Being, by Ibn 'Arabî
Interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak. Archetype, Cambridge UK, 2005. 254pp.
An interpretative rendering of Shajarat al-kawn, which Bayrak calls "an ode to the perfect man". The text has already been translated into English by A. Jeffery (in Studia Islamica, 1959), and into French by Maurice Gloton (L'Arbre du Monde, Les Deux Oceans, Paris, 1982). Both previous editions are more scholarly. However, the most important information for students of Ibn 'Arabi is that this is now considered to be an apocryphal work, the real author probably being 'Abd al-Salâm b. Ghânim al- Maqdisî (d. 1280).
Beauty and Love
by Shaykh Galip Translated into modern Turkish and English by Victoria Rowe Holbrook. The Modern Language Association of America, New York, 2005. 216pp.
A classic Turkish poem written in 1783 by the distinguished head of the Istanbul Mevlevi Order. It is a romantic tale in which the girl Beauty and the boy Love undergo trial and tribulation on their path to union; it is a fine example of the way in which the mature Ottoman tradition brought together the visions of Ibn 'Arabî and Mevlâna (Rûmî) to form a powerful expression of the spiritual path. It is ably translated by Holbrook (the Turkish and English versions are published as separate books) who even manages to retain the original form of rhyming couplets without descending into doggerel.
Sharh al-mashâhid al-qudsiyya
by Sitt 'Ajam al-Baghdâdiyya, edited by Bakri Aladdin and Souad Hakim. IFPO, Damascus, 2004. 493pp.
A critical edition, in Arabic, of an important early commentary on Ibn 'Arabî's Mashâhid. Written in about 1288H in Baghdad and extending to over 250 pages in the original manuscript, it is the only major metaphysical work in medieval Islam known to have been written by a woman. There is no translation as yet (although some parts were used in the translation of Mashâhid by Hakim and Beneito), but Aladdin and Hakim have produced a clear and well annotated text and gathered together what little information we have about the author. A short introduction in French by Michel Chodkiewicz reminds us of Ibn 'Arabî's remark that: "All the stations, all the degrees, all the attributes can belong to whomever God wishes from among women just as they can belong to whomever God wishes from among men". Ibn 'Arabi insists on this point many times, contrary to the view of many.
Ibn 'Arabî dans l'oeuvre de Henry Corbin
by Michel Chodkiewicz. Bibliothèque de l'École des Hautes Études, Sciences religieuses, No 126, 2005. pp. 81-91
Publication of the paper which Chodkiewicz delivered at the conference dedicated to Henry Corbin at the Sorbonne a few years ago. It is a masterly critique upon Corbin's contribution to Ibn 'Arabî studies, considering in particular those elements, such as his emphasis upon Shi'ite philosophy, with which contemporary scholarship would take issue.
The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World
by Tom Cheetham. Temenos Review, X, 2005.
An article summarising the lectures that Tom Cheetham gave in London for the Temenos Academy based upon his reading of Corbin's Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabî. He draws out the aspect of Ibn 'Arabi's vision which concerns the role of imagination on the spiritual path, particularly in prayer
Kautsar Noer informs us that translations of three works by Ibn 'Arabi have been published in Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language). These are:
What the Seeker Needs (Kitâb Kunh Mâ lâ budda lil-murîd min-hu)
Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom (Kitâb al-Tadbîrât al-Ilâhiyyah)
Journey to the Lord of Power (Risâlat al-Anwâr)
All three were translated by Hodri Ariev.
Two translations have been published of Ibn 'Arabi's Theory of the Perfect Man and Its Place in the History of Islamic Thought by Masataka Takeshita. Full details of these works and others can be found in Recent Publications in the Indonesian Language
A search of the online catalogue of a Turkish bookshop shows no fewer than twelve titles related to Ibn 'Arabi printed in 2006.
Some of these are re-issues of books printed previously, such as Özün Özü (The Kernel of the Kernel), and translations of the Mishkat al-anwar and Sufis of Andalusia.
However, the most eye-catching items must be the first two volumes of a projected eighteen volume translation of the Futûhât al-Makkiyya. Published by Litera Yayincilik of Istanbul, they were translated by Ekrem Demirli. This translator has been very active over the past few years, publishing translations of other works by Ibn 'Arabi and several volumes by Sadruddin Konevi, as well as studies by A.A. Afifi and Souad Hakim.
O Compassivo Ilimitado: A vida e o pensamento espiritual de Ibn'Arabi
by Stephen Hirtenstein. Translated by Regina Pedroso de Araujo. Fissus, 2006. 334pp. www.fissus.com.br
A translation into Portuguese of The Unlimited Mercifier. The publisher says" This excellent introduction to Ibn 'Arabi is certainly the most comprehensive book on this subject published in Brazil."
A German translation of The Unlimited Mercifier is being prepared by Chalice Books.