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Recent Publications – 2009

Books in English

Letters of a Sufi Scholar - cover

Letters of a Sufi Scholar – The Correspondence of 'Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi (1641-1731)

by Samer Akkach, Brill Academic Publishers; Bilingual edition (Nov 2009). ISBN-13: 978-9004171022

As a leading Muslim thinker, 'Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī of Damascus creatively engaged with the social, religious, and intellectual challenges that emerged during the early modern period in which he lived. Yet, at a time of high anti-mystical fervour, his Sufi-inspired views faced strong local antipathy. Through extensive correspondence, presented here for the first time, this great interpreter of Ibn 'Arabi's thought projected his ideas and teachings beyond the parochial boundaries of Damascus, and was thus able to assert his authority at a wider regional level. The letters he himself selected, compiled, and titled shed fresh lights on the religious and intellectual exchanges among scholars in the eastern Ottoman provinces, revealing a dynamic and rigorous image of Islam, one that is profoundly inspired by humility, tolerance, and love.

This book follows on Akkach's 2007 work, Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi: Islam and the Enlightenment (Makers of the Muslim World: Oneworld Publishing), and Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam: An Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas (SUNY Series in Islam), 2005.


Reason and revelation - cover

Logos and Revelation: Ibn 'Arabi, Meister Eckhart, and Mystical Hermeneutics

by Robert J. Dobie, Catholic University of America Press; New edition (December 2, 2009). ISBN-13: 978-0813216775

Logos and Revelation addresses the question of what "mysticism" is, and how the great mystical writers understand it, by looking closely at the writings of Ibn 'Arabi (1165-1240) and Meister Eckhart (1260-1328).

Robert J. Dobie suggests that mystical reflection and experience are intrinsically and essentially tied to the "mystical" or "hidden sense" of sacred text, that mystical reflection and experience are, therefore, at their roots interpretive or hermeneutical: the attempt by the mystical exegete to uncover through "imaginative reading" or philosophical analysis the inner meaning of revelation. What emerges is a theology of the Word (logos, verbum, ratio, kalima) in which it is the task of the mystical exegete to appropriate inwardly the divine Word that speaks in and through both the sacred text and all creation. What the mystical writer discovers is an increasingly fitting harmony between the text of revelation, properly interpreted and understood, and the inner dynamic of the soul's reaching out beyond itself toward the transcendent.

In contrast to modern notions of the phenomenon, Dobie argues that mystical reading is not about cultivating extraordinary personal experiences. Nor does it take readers doctrinally outside of, or beyond, religious traditions. Rather, mystical reading and listening should take us deeper into the sacred text and sacred tradition. He finds analogies between the way in which Christians and Muslims inwardly appropriate this divine Word. He believes these form a real basis for interfaith dialogue founded on a mutual listening to the divine logos.

Robert J. Dobie is associate professor of philosophy at LaSalle University.


"Revelation and Reason: Ibn 'Arabi's Sufism and G.W. Leibniz's Idealism"

by Seth Corwin Vannatta in Classic Issues in Islamic Philosophy and Theology Today, Vol. 4, ed. A-T. Tymieniecka and Nazif Muhtaroglu,  Springer Netherlands, November 2009. ISBN 978-90-481-3572-1

"Leibniz agrees with 'Arabi's claim that, ultimately, reality is unseen and meta-material, while, their approaches differ. However, if rationalists, friendly to Leibniz's method, take heed of the Sufi way, they might create conditions favorable to the experience of revealed truth. This capacity might curtail their dualistic tendencies that separate their philosophic and worldly endeavors. Leibniz's and of Ibn 'Arabi's philosophy both have an ethical purpose, and this marks their convergence in philosophical significance."


The Sage Learning of Liu Zhi - cover

The sage learning of Liu Zhi – Islamic thought in Confucian terms

by Sachiko Murata, William C. Chittick, and Tu Weiming ; with a foreword by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Published in 2009, published by the Harvard University Asia Center for the Harvard-Yenching Institute. ISBN 13: 9780674033252

Liu Zhi (ca. 1670-1724) was one of the most important scholars of Islam in traditional China. His "Tianfang xingli" ("Nature and Principle in Islam"), the Chinese-language text translated in this book, focused on the roots or principles of Islam. It was heavily influenced by several classic texts in the Sufi tradition. Liu's approach, however, is distinguished from that of other Muslim scholars in that he addressed the basic articles of Islamic thought with Neo-Confucian terminology and categories. Besides its innate metaphysical and philosophical value, the text is invaluable for understanding how the masters of Chinese Islam straddled religious and civilizational frontiers and created harmony between two different intellectual worlds. The introductory chapters explore both the Chinese and the Islamic intellectual traditions behind Liu's work and locate the arguments of Tianfang xingli within those systems of thought. The copious annotations to the translation explain Liu's text and draw attention to parallels in Chinese-, Arabic-, and Persian-language works as well as differences.

Liu Zhi also translated the Lawâ'ih of Jâmi into Chinese. From the middle of the 17th to the end of the 19th century, the school of Ibn 'Arabi had a significant presence in the Chinese language. [Gleams of Chinese Light].

This book follows on from Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light: Wang Tai-Yu's Great Learning of the Pure and Real and Liu Chih's Displaying the Concealment of the Real Realm, SUNY press, 2000, by the same three authors.

Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick are more than familiar names to readers interested in Ibn 'Arabi. They are Professors of Asian American Studies at SUNY-Stony Brook. Tu Weiming is Professor of Chinese History and Philosophy at Harvard University.


Avicennan Neoplatonism and the School of Ibn 'Arabi in South Asia - cover

The Equivalence" (Al-Taswiya) of Muhibb Allah Ilahabadi: Avicennan Neoplatonism and the School of Ibn 'Arabi in South Asia

by G.A. Lipton, VDM Verlag (May 28, 2009). 104 pages. ISBN: 978-3639157796

"The so-called Sufi 'fight' of 17th century India between Ahmad Sirhindi and Ibn 'Arabi has been repeatedly portrayed in modern South Asian historiography as an epic clash of metaphysicians. Orientalists and reformers alike have cast Sirhindi as a revolutionary of 'pure' Islam who tirelessly combated the heretical ideas of the Shaykh al-Akbar. Yet, the continuing preoccupation with Sirhindi as an opponent of Ibn 'Arabi has overshadowed other important Indian Sufis of the same period, particularly the Chishti Shaykh Muhibb Allah Ilahabadi, known in India as 'the second Ibn 'Arabi.' Despite being recognized as the most prolific Chishti author, Muhibb Allah's writings are virtually unknown to contemporary scholarship, and remain mostly in manuscript form. This monograph focuses on Muhibb Allah's most controversial and important treatise, "The Equivalence" (Al-Taswiya), which demonstrates an innovative integration of philosophical traditions within the larger context of Ibn 'Arabi's school in 17th century India post-Sirhindi. This historical and intellectual analysis will be useful to those interested in South Asian Islam, the metaphysical tradition of Ibn 'Arabi, and Sufism in general."

G. A. Lipton received his M.A. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies. His dissertation explores how the prism of post- Enlightenment thought has shaped the modern reception of Ibn `Arabi and the tradition of Sufism.


Ibn Al-Arabi on the Mysteries of Purification and Formal Prayer from the Futuhat Al-Makkiyya - cover

Ibn Al-Arabi on the Mysteries of Purification and Formal Prayer from the Futuhat Al-Makkiyya (Meccan Revelations)

by Muhyi Din Ibn Al-Arabi, translated by Aisha Bewley. Great Books of the Islamic World (April 2009). ISBN-13: 978-1567447750. Chapters 68 and 69. 732 pages.

Ibn Al-Arabi on the Mysteries of the Purifying Alms from the Futuhat Al-Makkiyya (Meccan Revelations)

by Muhyi Din Ibn Al-Arabi, translated by Aisha Bewley. Great Books of the Islamic World (Paperback - April 2009). ISBN: 978-1567447798. Chapter 70. 284 pages.

Ibn Al-Arabi Mysteries of Fasting

by Muhyi Din Ibn Al-Arabi, translated by Aisha Bewley. Great Books of the Islamic World (April 2009). ISBN: 978-1567447774. Chapter 71. 274 pages.

Ibn Al-Arabi on the Mysteries of the Pilgrimage from the Futuhat Al-Makkiyya (Meccan Revelations)

by Muhyi Din Ibn Al-Arabi, translated by Aisha Bewley. Great Books of the Islamic World (April 2009). ISBN: 978-1567447811. Chapter 72. 358 pages.

In 2002 Great Books of the Islamic World published Aisha Bewley's translations of some chapters of the Futuhat al-Makkiyya under the title Ibn Arabi on the Mysteries of Bearing Witness to the Oneness of God and Prophethood of Muhammad (S.A.W.) This contained translations of the Introduction to the Futuhat and  Chapter 560, the last in the book. It also contained chapter 50, and Chapter 67, "Concerning 'There is no God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.'"

Chapter 67 of the Futuhat is the first of a series of chapters which deal with the mysteries of the five pillars of Islam. Other authors have in the past translated parts of the chapters on Purification, Fasting and Pilgrimage into English and French. In April 2009 the same publisher issued the four companion volumes which contain translations of chapters 68 to 72.

These translations represent a very significant effort: all told the books have a total of more than 1,600 pages. Whereas some translators of the Futuhat like to set Ibn 'Arabi's writings in context, often presenting selected passages with a lot of supporting material, Aishah Bewley provides continuous text with very little in the way of notes or explanations. It is not that there are no editorial interventions – a lot of section headings are provided.


Books in French

De la mort à la résurrection - cover

De la mort à la résurrection : chapitres 61 à 65 des ouvertures spirituelles mekkoises

by Maurice Gloton, published by Albouraq (January 2009), 254 pages. ISBN-13: 978-2841613618.

Since each and every one must die one day and, as is mentioned on numerous occasions in the Qur'an, will “taste death” at every moment of his earthly existence, how can one envisage another life after death?

Ibn 'Arabi gives answers to this question and many others just as fundamental in his vast work entitled the Meccan Openings, of which Maurice Gloton has translated Chapters 61 to 65. These are concerned with

. The reality of Gehenna (Jahannama) or Hell.
. The Fire (an-Nâr) or Hell, and those who remain,
. The Intermediate world (al-Barzakh) between physical death and the Day of Resurrection (Yawm al-Qiyama),
. The various steps leading to that "Day",
. The Garden (al-Janna) or Paradise and its guests

In his introduction, Maurice Gloton describes the different stages after death which the Qur'anic revelation mentions in numerous surahs. He also translates other complementary passages from Ibn 'Arabi which deal with such matters as the elements and the degrees of being.

This book introduces us to a subject often misunderstood, and caricatured for lack of reliable information and thorough exegesis.

Maurice Gloton, a has published numerous works on Islamic mysticism, and notably

. Une approche du Coran par la grammaire et le lexique : 2500 versets traduits, lexique coranique complet, a glossary of Qur'anic terms (2002);
. Jésus, le fils de Marie dans le Qur'an et selon l'enseignement d'Ibn Arabî (2006);
. Les 99 noms d'Allah, a translation of Fakhr ad-Dîn ar-Râzî on the Divine Names;
. L'Interprête des désirs, a translation of the Tarjuman al-Ashwaq (1996), and
. Traité de l'amour, a translation of Chapter 178 of the Futuhat (1986).


Les révélations de la Mecque - cover

Les révélations de la Mecque

by Ibn 'Arabi, translated by `Abd Allâh Penot, published by Entrelacs (December 2009), paperback, 457 pages. ISBN: 978-2908606607

This new translation into French is an anthology of passages from the first section of the Futûhât, accompanied by introductions and notes which will be of assistance those readers who are neither Muslims nor specialists.

`Abd Allâh Penot, co-founder and editor of Éditions Alif,  has already translated collections of hadith and from the Qur'an, as well as a number of works by sufi authors. His translation of the Kitab al-Mawaqif of Emir `Abd el-Kader was published by Éditions Dervy.


Books in Indonesian

When Mystic Masters Meet: Paradigma Baru dalam Relasi Umat Kristiani-Muslim

by Syafaatun Al-Mirzanah, PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama, Jakarta, 2009.

When Mystic Masters Meet: A New Paradigm for Christian-Muslim Relation, by Syafaatun Al-Mirzanah, was published in Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language) in Jakarta in 2009. The work is based on a Ph.D. thesis completed at the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, undertaken in 2008. It is a comparative study of Ibn 'Arabi and Meister Eckhart, and how the mystical discourse and experience of these two mystics can play a role in interfaith dialogue.


Books in Spanish

Biblioteca de al-Andalus, vol. 2, De Ibn Adhà a Ibn Busrà - cover

Biblioteca de al-Andalus, vol. 2, De Ibn Adhà a Ibn Busrà

Fundacion Ibn Tufayl de Estudios Arabes, Almería, 2009.

A comprehensive description of the works of Ibn 'Arabi was published in Spanish in September 2009. This is the first attempt to do this since Osman Yahya produced the groundbreaking Histoire et classification de l'oeuvre d'Ibn 'Arabi in 1964. Drawing on four decades of research since then, it represents a major step forward. It is not only an advance in scholarship, but will make this information available to a much wider audience than the Histoire et classification ever reached.

This description of Ibn 'Arabi's works makes up a substantial part of the second volume of the Biblioteca de al-Andalus. This volume covers some 163 authors from Ibn Adhà to Ibn Bushrà'. The section on Ibn 'Arabi takes up roughly 200 pages, a third of the whole book. The Biblioteca de al-Andalus is a reference work which will be seven volumes when completed. It systematically catalogues and describes the rich cultural product of the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsular who used Arabic in their writings over more than seven centuries.

The section on Ibn al-'Arabi is divided into two parts: his biography, and a comprehensive list of works (including those of doubtful attribution), each one described according to the best current information. Scholars who have contributed to the section on Ibn 'Arabi include Bakri Aladdin, Pablo Beneito, Stephen Hirtenstein, Jorge Lirola, Gracia López, Estela Navarro and Salvador Peña. Naturally, some entries are long and very detailed, such as those on the Futûhât al-Makkiya and Fusûs al-Hikam, while others remain very short.

The Biblioteca de al-Andalus is edited by Jorge Lirola, and financed by the Ibn Tufayl Foundation for Arabic Studies, the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, and the Junta of Andalusia. The book will be available through the Foundation's website (www.ibntufayl.org), Although it is written in Spanish, the clear structure of entries will help people who don't speak the language to make use of it. There are no plans to make its contents available on the internet at this point.

This volume will take its place beside Osman Yahya's Histoire et Classification as a first point of reference for those who need information about the works of Ibn 'Arabi. It is very welcome.

Biblioteca de al-Andalus, vol 2, De Ibn Adhà a Ibn Busrà, Fundacion Ibn Tufayl de Estudios Arabes, Almería, 2009. For information and orders, e-mail fundacion@ibntufayl.org (www.ibntufayl.org).


Biblioteca de al-Andalus, vol. 2, De Ibn Adhà a Ibn Busrà - cover

Los bellos Colores del Corazon

by Ana Crespo, Mandala Ediciones, Madrid, 2008.

Ana Crespo is a working artist, and has been a teacher for more than 20 years in the School of Arts of Talavera (Toledo). Her book Los bellos Colores del Corazon was published in 2008.

This is the first volume of a three-part study, the fruit of work which she began in 1992. It was part of a search for answers to questions about art and the meaning of human being. These questions took a definite form when she found a way to approach the writings of Sufism through questions of art and form. This took its starting point from the Quranic verse in the Surah of The Bee:

And the things on this earth which he has multiplied in varying colours: truly in this is a sign for men who remember Him. [16:13]

What she found was that colour plays an important role in Sufism. The theme of colour is taken up by the Bektashi, Yasawi, Naqshibandi and Kubravi tariqas, especially the last. However, as can be seen in the book, once you pick out a thread like this, it can be found running through the sayings that have come down from God's friends in many traditions. What results is a study of colour and the function of art and the artist, set in the context of a traditional Sufi account of Light.

It opens with a brief account of the descent of the soul from the realms of light to an exile of forgetfulness in the world. The journey of return begins with a call, which stirs a longing in the heart to be re-united with its origin. It is at this point that Ana Crespo situates her discussion of art, by which is meant primarily the visual arts.The contemplation of forms involved, whether through observation or imagination, is a journey through an interior landscape, and can be related to the process by which a person recomposes the fragments of their own mirror.

Although there are references to Ibn 'Arabi throughout the book, it is not specifically a study of what he has to say about light. It draws on many sources; indeed, it is almost a compendium of quotations on the subject.

The second volume, not yet published, is concerned with the colours Red, Green, Black and White. A third volume in preparation concerns the links and convergences


A vocabulary of colour and light

Colour

The Arabic word for “colour” is lawn. The dictionary definition of lawwana (root l-w-n) is “to become coloured, to make colourful, to variegate, to illuminate; take on the colour of ripeness, to mature.”

Ana Crespo expands on this by referring to Ibn 'Arabi's Istilahat al-sufiyya (Technical Terms of Sufism):

talwin (colouring, variegation) = the passing (tanaqqul) of the servant through his states. According to most people [of God] it is an incomplete station, while according to us it is the most perfect of the stations. The state of the servant in it is the state [referred to in] His Word: “Every day He is at work.” (Q.55.29)

tamkin (stability) = according to us it is being stabilized in (or having mastery over) variegation. It is called 'the state of those who have arrived'

Light

To explain the rich Sufi vocabulary of light Ana Crespo again turns to the Istilahat al-sufiyya:

nur (light): every divine inspiration that drives away the world from the heart.

diya': (brightness) seeing others with the eye of the Real.

lawa'ih: (glimmerings) those essential lights [of Exaltedness] which appear to the eye when it is not restricted by physicality.

tawali': (dawnings) the lights of tawhid which come suddenly upon the hearts extinguishing all other lights.

lawami': (flashes) when the lights of revelation are established for as much as two moments.

zulma: (darkness) sometimes designates knowledge of the Essence, since nothing other than It is unveiled along with It.

zill: (shade) the experience of repose behind the veil.


Books in Turkish

More than one of these books may be a re-issue, but the long list of re-issued books is a testimony to the liveliness of publishing in this subject in Turkey.


Books in Urdu

101 Hadīth Qudsī - cover

101 Hadīth Qudsī Recorded by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi in his Mishkat al-Anwar (The Niche of Lights) (Arabic + Urdu Translation)

by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, translated into Urdu by Abrar Ahmed Shahi

The Ibn Arabi Foundation of Pakistan, which has already published translations into Urdu of one volume of the Rasā'il Ibn al-'Arabī  and the Tadbirāt al-Ilāhiyya, has announced the forthcoming publication of the Mishkat al-Anwar, Ibn 'Arabi's collection and presentation of 101 hadith qudsi. The Urdu translation will accompany the critical edition of the Arabic text produced by Stephen Hirtenstein when the English translation was brought out by Anqa Publishing in 2004. The volume will also include a commentary upon certain Ahādīth from other works of Ibn Arabī.

The Foundation has also published online in print and online Urdu translations of the Tadbīrāt al-Ilāhiyya and the first volume of the Rasā'il Ibn 'Arabī. Critical editions of the Kitāb al-Hujub and the Kitāb al-Isfār 'an natā'ij al-asfār (in collaboration with Anqa Publishing) are available online. For more information see www.ibnarabifoundation.com