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Recent Publications – 2011

Les secrets des noms de Dieu, Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, Pablo Beneito, 2010

Les secrets des noms de Dieu

Muhyiddīn Ibn 'Arabī. Introduction, critical edition and notes by Pablo Beneito; Translated into French by Pablo Beneito and Nassim Motebassem. al-Bouraq, Beirut, 2010. ISBN: 9782841611874

This is a translation into French, together with a critical edition of the Arabic text, of the Kitāb kashf al-ma'nā 'an sir asmā Allāh al-husnā. It is also a revised version of the work published by Pablo Beneito in Spanish. This translation into French may make accessible to a new audience.

Ibn 'Arabi, after a brief introduction, describes each of the "Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God", often briefly, under three headings: dependence (ta'alluq), realisation or verification (tahaqquq), and takhalluq, meaning, adopting or being dressed in the characteristic traits of these names. This is illustrated in an extract from the book, one of the names with a short entry:

(47) Al-Hakim

[Le Sage, le Très Sage, le Prudent]

Dependance (ta'alluq) :
Il -gloire a Lui- t'est nécessaire pour te pourvoir de l'habilité (1) à mettre les choses aux endroits (mawdi') qui leur correspondent [ou bien, 'à les décider et à les réaliser (wad') opportunément'] et (2) a disposer (tartīb) toutes les questions à leurs places, temps et lieux respectifs.

Réalisation (tahaqquq) :
Ce nom se réfère, d'une part, au Décret (qadā'), comme nous l'avons déjà précisé dans le chapitre consacré au nom 'al-Hakam' et, d'autre part, à la sagesse (hikma). Celle-ci consiste dans l'habilité à ordonner (tartīb)les choses aux positions qui leur conviennent (mawdi') et dans la connaissance essentielle (ma'rifa) des relations et correspondances (munāsabāt) qui existent entre lesdifférentes choses.

Caractérisation (takhalluq) :
Celui qui atteint la connaissance (ma'rifa) de ces choses, s'agissant aussi bien de l'acquisition des sciences ('ulūm) que de l'aptitude à les enseigner (ta'līm) et la capacité de réaliser les oeuvres(a'māl) qui en dérivent,de même que l'habilité à invoquer Allāh, en choisissant le nom approprié (ism munāsib) qui correspond spécifiquement (takhsīs) a chaque besoin en particulier; ce serviteur-là a adopté les traits caractéristiques de ce nom.

At the end of the book, Ibn 'Arabi says that he has limited himself to commenting on those names which Abu Hamid al-Ghazali included in his work al-Maqsad al-asnā fi sharh asma' Allah al-husna. Ibn 'Arabi's work itself was completed in the zawiya of al-Ghazali, in the area north of the Grand Mosque in Damascus.

As a kind of appendix, there is also a translation into French of a succinct commentary on Divine Names which is part of Chapter 558 of the Futūhāt. In this place, Ibn 'Arabi mainly follows the traditional list of 99 Names transmitted by Walid b. Muslim al-Dimashqi, according the version of Tirmidhi. However, he also adds some names not in that list (al-Rabb, al-Ghāfir, al-Jawād, al-Sakhī, al-'Ālim, al-'Allâm), omits others (Mālik al-mulk, Dhū-l-Jalāl wa-l-ikrām), places in pairs some of the names which appear separately in the list of Walid (al-Mu'izz al-Mudhill, al-Qawī al-Matin, al-Wāhid al-Ahad, al-Muqaddim al-Mu'akhkhir, al-Awwal al-Ākhir, al-Zāhir al-Bātin, al-Dārr al-Nafi'), and presents some in a different order, sometimes grouping together names from the same root.

Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology, by Yiannis Toussulis

Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology

Yannis Toussulis, Quest Books, Wheaton, USA, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8356-0864-0

Yannis Toussulis writes, "Over the last several decades, scores of books investigating the historical sources of Sufism have been published, and a few more popular writers have presented modern Sufi practices with varying degrees of psychological insight. So why, then, write an¬other book about Sufism? This interdisciplinary work begins by critically examining popular and scholarly conceptions about Sufism as a whole and critiques some of them in an attempt to bring the study of Sufism up to date. Moreover – as far as I know – this is the first book to detail the relationship between Sufism and the controversial 'way of blame' in all its historical phases up to the present day.
The way of blame (Ar., Pers. malamatiyya) originally designated a group within larger Sufism that focused on the psychology of egoism and engaged in self-critique (Ar. malama, 'to blame'). Later, the term malamati most often referred to those Sufis who incurred blame by shunning Islamic literalism and formalism. This book compares earlier findings on the malamatiyya with research conducted with one of its living representatives, Mehmet Selim Ozic (pronounced "Ozich"). In the closing chapters, I also present an up-to-date paradigm of psycho-spiritual development that is still being used by malamati Sufis currently. Before addressing this, however, I found it necessary to revisit the study of Sufism as a whole." From the Preface.

"Truly the purpose of the malamati path is not human perfection or the attainment of the suprahuman, but rather a greater human relatedness, greater transparency, and a deeper relationship with the Divine. It may be appropriate to close with some lines from Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi's Meccan Revelations: 'The relation of stations to a Muhammadan is like the relation of names to Allah. He is not determined in any station to which he may be related... 'Every day he is in a different state' [Qur'an 55:29]... The Muhammadan pole or individual changes perpetually... For transformation pervades the world entire and pervades him.'" p.200

More extracts from this work can be viewed on Google Books.

Seventeen texts on literature and mysticism, in Persian and Arabic, compiled, edited and commented by Ali Muhaddis.

Seventeen texts on literature and mysticism : in Persian and Arabic

Compiled, edited and commented by Ali Muhaddis. Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis, 44, Uppsala University, 2011. ISBN 978-91-554-8105-6

Fourteen of the seventeen texts are in Persian, and represent poetry and prose in different literary genres. The three texts in Arabic are on the subject of the unity of being (wahdat-i wujud). The first of these is the Ta'iyyah by Ibn 'Arabi, of which Ali Muhaddis says, "This is a long qasidah comprising 436 verses on the subject of the unity of being (wahdat-i wujud) and some other aspirations of the Sufis. This qasidah, which is considered to be among the most serious and rhetorical poems by Ibn al-'Arabi, was composed in the pattern of Ta'iyyah of Ibn al-Farid.

Ishraq – Islamic philosophy yearbook, No. 2, 2011, ed

Ishraq – Islamic philosophy yearbook, No. 2, 2011

Co-published by the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Iranian Institute of Philosophy. Vostochnaya Literatura Publishers, Moscow, 2011. ISBN 978-5-02-036468-4

The main topic of a new yearbook Ishraq-2 is Suhrawardi's philosophy of illumination. In a special section of the yearbook, more than 30 articles in Russian, English and French are devoted to actual problems of Islamic philosophical thought. In these articles, as well as their commentaries to Suhrawardi's works, research scholars pay a special attention to different aspects of Suhrawardi's life, works and views.

Besides the section devoted to Suhrawardi's philosophy, the yearbook also includes sections on Ontology and Epistemology, Ethics and Political Philosophy, Logic, Philosophy of Religion and Kalam, Islamic Mysticism, and Philosophy of Art. For example, the section on Islamic Mysticism has ten articles, most of them devoted to the teaching of Ibn al-'Arabi, his predecessors and followers. The editor says that Ishraq-3 will be totally devoted to Ibn al-'Arabi's philosophy.

Ishraq-2 also has some web pages, which give a full list of the contents, and to an Acrobat file with the summaries in English of the Russian language articles.

Ruh al-Quds fi munasahat al-Nafs, Critical edition and translation into Urdu

Ruh al-Quds fi munasahat al-Nafs

Critical edition and translation into Urdu by Abrar Ahmed Shahi, Ibn al-Arabi Foundation, Pakistan, due out September 2011.

The web site of the Ibn 'Arabi Foundation announced in September 2011 "a new Arabic Critical Edition plus Urdu Translation of 'Ruh al-Quds fi munasahat al-Nafs'" by Ibn al-Arabi. It states that this is the first edition based on the most authentic manuscript University A-79, which has more than nine samaat and is signed by Ibn 'Arabi himself.

"The edition is checked against the common printed editions available today and we confirm that each word has been chosen carefully so that it portray the true intentions of its writer. The text is fully punctuated and paragraphed, each varient of other manuscripts is in the notes to convey to the reader full view of each and every manuscript.

"The Urdu text is carefully translated with the usage of day to day Urdu Muhawara and Zarb al-Mithal. The beauty of this edition lies in its bilingual form, each and every translated word is in the facing page of origional Arabic. There are more than 90 Urdu notes from other works of Shaykh to clarify things so that the reader easily comprehend the idea given in the text. We are pretty much sure that this is the best edition of this work and we recommend each and every lover of Ibn al-Arabi to have this edition."

Tombeau of Ibn Arabi and White Traverses, by Abdelwahab Meddeb

Tombeau of Ibn Arabi and White Traverses

by Abdelwahab Meddeb, translated into English by Charlotte Mandell. Fordham University Press, 2010. ISBN 9780823231157

First published in French in 1987, Tombeau of Ibn Arabi is a series of prose poems that draws inspiration from both Dante and Ibn Arabi. White Traverses is Meddeb's memoir of growing up in Tunisia, torn between the Islamic and European influences at play there. The book is a lyrical blend of poetry and religious thought. He is a novelist and poet, and teaches comparative literature at the Université Paris X (Nanterre). Author of more than 20 books published in French, this is the first book to represent the lyrical aspect of his work in English translation.

Ilm al-huruf: Métaphysique de la langue et des lettres selon la doctrine d'Ibn 'Arabi

Ilm al-huruf: Métaphysique de la langue et des lettres selon la doctrine d'Ibn 'Arabi

By Carmela Crescenti, Editions universitaires europeennes, Sarrebruck, 2011. ISBN 978-6131578458

"Le présent travail concerne l'étude de certains extraits des Futūhāt al-Makkiyya, l' uvre majeure du Shaykh Muhiyy al-Din Ibn al-'Arabi, qui portent sur les lettres (huruf) et la Parole (kalima) et sur correspondances harmoniques et analogiques, que les significations propres aux lettres véhiculent. Il s'agit d'un savoir synthétique comprenant, en mode allusif, toute une connaissance allant de la métaphysique à la physique, de la cosmogonie à l'astrologie et l'astronomie, de l'alchimie à l'ésotérisme. Il n'y a que peu de sciences qui n'en soient pas concernées par elle, de même que tous les arts impliqués dans la science du rythme et de la numérologie. Elle ne manque pas non plus d'étroits liens avec les sciences religieuses rattachées au Coran, dès l'originelle conception du Livre Sacré comme le Livre de l'Univers, jusqu'au devenir final indiqué par la science eschatologique. "

Sufi Aesthetics : Beauty, Love, and the Human Form in the Writings of Ibn 'Arabi and 'Iraqi

By Cyrus Ali Zargar, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 2011. ISBN 978-1-57003-999-7

An approach to understanding Muslim mystics as perceiving divine beauty and human beauty as one reality. Sufi Aesthetics argues that the interpretive keys to erotic Sufi poems and their medieval commentaries lie in understanding a unique perceptual experience. Cyrus Ali Zargar explores the theoretical and poetic pronouncements of Ibn al-'Arabi and Fakhr al-Din 'Iraqi (d. 1289) "under the premise that behind any literary tradition exist organic aesthetic values. The complex assertions of these Sufis appear not as abstract theory, but as a way of seeing all things, including the sensory world." Zargar argues that such language results from an altered perception of Muslim mystics in which divine beauty and human beauty are seen as one reality. The Sufi masters, Zargar asserts, shared an aesthetic vision quite different from those who have often studied them. Sufism's foremost theoretician, Ibn 'Arabi, is presented from a neglected perspective as a poet, aesthete, and lover of the human form. Ibn 'Arabi in fact proclaimed a view of human beauty markedly similar to that of many mystics from a Persian contemplative school of thought, the "School of Passionate Love," which would later find its epitome in 'Iraqi, one of Persian literature's most celebrated poet-saints. Many in this school advocated the controversial practice of gazing at beautiful human faces, a topic Zargar also discusses.

The Lamp of Mysteries (Misbah al-Asrar), A Commentary on the Light Verse of the Quran by Isma'il Anqarawi

The Lamp of Mysteries (Misbah al-Asrar), A Commentary on the Light Verse of the Quran

By Isma'il Anqarawi. Arabic text critically edited, translated, and annotated by Bilal Kuspinar. Anqa Publishing, Oxford, 2011. ISBN 9781905937424

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His Light is as a niche wherein is a lamp (the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star) kindled from a Blessed Tree, an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West whose oil wellnigh would shine, even if no fire touched it; Light upon Light; (God guides to His Light whom He will.) (And God strikes similitudes for men, and God has knowledge of everything.)
Quran 24:35, Arberry's translation

Isma'il Anqarawi says that during one of his daily readings of the Qur'an he came to the Light Verse, and fell into a contemplation of it in which he came to know many things without effort. After this he turned to various Quranic commentaries, but found little in them that satisfied his thirst to know more, and asked himself why no-one 'among the people of realities' seemed to have written any books on this verse. Even in Ghazali's Mishkat al-Anwar he did not find any exposition of the insights he had encountered in his contemplation. So he resolved to put them in an order, like pearls on a string, so that they should not be lost, for the benefit for those who followed in the footsteps of Jelal al-Din Rumi.

Entitled the Misbah al-Asrar, it is a short work in four chapters: the first deals with light and its nature; the second with the 'lamp', the 'niche' and the 'glass'; the third with the 'blessed olive tree'; and the fourth with 'guidance from the beginning to the end'.

In the work, apart from the Quran and hadith, Anqarawi quotes Rumi most often, and also Junayd. Some influence of Ibn 'Arabi is also visible, although he is not named. Anqarawi, who died in 1631, was for many years Shaykh of the Galata convent of the Mawlawi (Mevlevi) order. He left more than 30 written works, of which the best known is his commentary on the Mathnawi, but he also wrote a commentaries on a work of Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi, and on Ibn 'Arabi's Naqsh al-Fusus.

The translator, Bilal Kuspinar, has also provided a critical edition of the Arabic text, a detailed account of Anqarawi's life and writings, and analysis of the Misbah, and extensive footnotes to the text.