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The Symposium

Each year the Society organizes Symposia in the UK and the USA on an aspect of Ibn 'Arabi's work.

These international gatherings bring together people from many different fields and traditions, and include scholars, students, and anyone interested in what Ibn 'Arabi has to say. These events provide a unique opportunity for both speakers and listeners, specialists and non-specialists, to enrich their understanding of Ibn ‘Arabi’s teachings and their relevance today. The Society also encourages public seminars and lectures and can provide speakers on request.


Symposium – Oxford May 19th, 2018

A one-day Symposium entitled "The Alchemy of Love" will be held on Saturday May 19th, 2018, at Wolfson College, Oxford, OX2 6UD. This is the 35th annual symposium held by the Society in the UK. Booking is open now.


Titles of the papers

Michael SellsBewildered – a new translation of Ibn 'Arabi's Tarjuman poems
Stephen HirtensteinThe Healer of Wounds: interpreting human existence in the light of alchemy and ascension
Stefan SperlIbn Arabi’s 'Doves of the Arak Tree' and its Arabian, Qur’anic and Plotinian Antecedents



Michael Sells is a professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago. His publications on Arabic poetry, Sufism, and mystical language include Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes (1989); Mystical Languages of Unsaying (1994); Stations of Desire: Love Elegies from Ibn ʿArabī and New Poems (2000); Early Islamic Mysticism (1996); and the Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, al-Andalus (2000, which he coedited with Maria Rosa Menocal and Raymond Scheindlin). His essay “Love”, which compares differing configurations of the “religion of love” in Arabic love poetry and his translation of the Nūniyya, a poem by the Andalusian poet of courtly love Ibn Zaydūn, appear in the same al-Andalus volume. Qur’anic Studies Today, which he coedited with Angelika Neuwirth and to which he contributed an essay on the Moses story in Sura 20, appeared in 2015. He is currently working on a complete bi-lingual edition and translation of Ibn ʿArabī’s Tarjumān al-Ashwāq.

stephen hirtenstein

Stephen Hirtenstein has been editor of the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabi Society since its inception in 1982, and is a co-founder of Anqa Publishing. He read History at King's College, Cambridge, and then studied at the Beshara School of Intensive Esoteric Education in Gloucestershire and Scotland. After a teaching career, he began writing and giving talks on Ibn ʿArabi's thought at conferences across the world. In addition to lecturing and writing, he organises and leads tours in the footsteps of Ibn ʿArabi. He currently works as a Senior Editor for the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, and is a Short courses tutor in the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford. His publications include The Unlimited Mercifier – The spiritual life and thought of Ibn 'Arabi (1999), The Seven Days of the Heart Prayers for the nights and days of the week – Ibn ʿArabi's Awrād al-usbu’ (2000), Divine Sayings – 101 Hadith Qudsi – The Mishkāt al-Anwār of Ibn 'Arabi (2004), and most recently The Alchemy of Human Happiness – Chapter 167 of Ibn ʿArabi's Meccan Illuminations – Fī maʿrifat kīmiyāʾ al-saʿāda (2017).

stefan sperl

Stefan Sperl is Professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, at SOAS University of London. He was born in Stuttgart and brought up in Luxembourg. He studied Arabic at Oxford and the American University in Cairo and did his postgraduate research at SOAS, London. In 1978 he joined UNHCR and held several assignments in the Middle East and Geneva. He returned to SOAS 1988. His publications include Mannerism in Arabic Poetry (1989), Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia & Africa (1996, with Christopher Shackle), as well as numerous articles on Arabic, Islamic and Refugee Studies. In 2005 he embarked on a research project with Ahmed Moustafa which resulted in their joint publication The Cosmic Script: Sacred Geometry and the Science of Arabic Penmanship (2014). It won the Iran World Award for the Book of the Year in 2016. He was co-organiser of the 2017 MIAS symposium 'Ibn Arabi & the Philosophers' at SOAS and in November 2017 organiser of the conference 'Faces of the Infinite, Neoplatonism and Poetics at the Confluence of Africa, Asia and Europe' at the British Academy and SOAS.


Saturday, May 19th

9.15 am Doors open.

9.30 am Registration begins

10.15 Introduction. Jane Clark

10.30 Stephen Hirtenstein The Healer of Wounds: interpreting human existence in the light of alchemy and ascension

11.30 Coffee & Tea

12.00 Michael Sells Bewildered – a new translation of Ibn 'Arabi's Tarjuman poems

1.00 pm Lunch

2.30 pm Stefan Sperl Ibn Arabi’s 'Doves of the Arak Tree' and its Arabian, Qur’anic and Plotinian Antecedents

3.30 Tea & Coffee

4.00 - 5.00 pm Workshops with speakers

5.15 pm Plenary

5.45 pm Ends

There may be changes to this programme. Updates will be posted here.

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How to register

Register online using the Eventbrite booking form

The registration fee includes a sandwich lunch and tea and coffee etc. Special Diets to be entered before payment. All meat will be Halal. The College must be told about numbers for catering purposes two weeks in advance of the symposium - by 6th May. After this it will not be possible to book lunch - but you will get teas and coffees etc.

There is certain amount of parking at Wolfson College. Please contact the organiser if you want a car space. Otherwise there are good bus and rail links to the college. Oxford has two railway stations and one bus station. Allow 25 minutes from centre of town (more from the railway stations).

Early Bird Booking£65 (ends March 31st)
Full-time Student with ID£10
Low income£45 (on application to the organiser)
Eventbrite will add on a booking fee

How to contact the organiser

All Symposium enquiries should be sent to Richard Twinch at

Other events

Ibn ‘Arabi Study Afternoon

London, June 16th, 2018 – 2-5 pm

This seminar will focus on the chapter, “The Wisdom of Singularity in The Word of Muhammad” from Ibn ‘Arabi’s seminal work, the Fusus al-Hikam. Sponsored by the Beshara Trust.
Venue: The October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AL

Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries

Oxfordshire, UK – October 6th – 7th, 2018

A residential weekend studying the ‘Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries’, one of the major works of Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi. Facilitated by the co-translator Cecilia Twinch. Sponsored by the Beshara Trust
Venue: The Abbey, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, UK