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Young Writer Award 2023

The judges have announced the results of the competion.
About the young writers

• MIAS-Latina
Online talks in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian

22 June 2024 | Online

Angela Jaffray — Dispatch from the Red Planet: Prophet Aaron’s Paradoxical Persona

Angela Jaffray will give an online talk on Saturday 22nd June with the title “Dispatch from the Red Planet: Prophet Aaron’s Paradoxical Persona”, to be followed by an opportunity for questions and answers. The talk begins at 4:00 pm (London time).

Angela Jaffray is an independent scholar specialising in the translation of and commentary on the short works of Ibn ‘Arabī. Her translation of Ibn ‘Arabī’s al-Ittiḥād al-kawnī (The Universal Tree and the Four Birds) was published by Anqa Publications in 2007, and her translation and commentary on Ibn ‘Arabī’s Isfār ‘an natā’ij al-asfār (The Secrets of Voyaging) was published by Anqa Publications in 2015, reprinted in 2016. She is currently working on a revised translation and commentary on al-Niffarī’s Mawāqif and Mukhaṭabāt.

On the subject of the talk, Angela writes: Overshadowed by his younger brother Moses, known primarily for his negative role in the Golden Calf saga, the Prophet Aaron’s importance may seem to some negligible, his status auxiliary, his effect doubtful. A close reading of the Shaykh al-Akbar’s various treatments of this seemingly minor prophet, however, allows us to take a second look at this paradoxical prophet and the complex nature of his leadership and cosmic significance, as themes as perplexing as transcendental and immanental worship, mercy and severity, beauty and majesty come to the fore.

This presentation will examine a number of texts where Aaron’s role is singled out in a significant way. In addition to the more familiar Futūḥāt chapters (primarily: “Alchemy of Human Happiness,” and “Breath”) and the Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam’s “Chapter on the Religious Leadership in the Word of Aaron,” we will also take a look at various other sources, including the Prayers of the Week, the Mosul Revelations, the Night Journey, and the Voyages of the Prophets.

Tickets and discounted tickets

Members of the Society enjoy free admission but must register. Members will receive a “promo code” via email.

For non-members, there is a fee of £10.00 to access MIAS online events. We offer a limited number of tickets at a subsidised rate of £5.00 for attendees with low incomes. Additionally, a number of complimentary tickets may be available on request. To apply or inquire further, please email us at: events.uk@ibnarabisociety.org

If you are interested in joining the Society to support its activities and receive benefits like the Society’s Journal, newsletters, and free admission to online events, please visit: https://ibnarabisociety.org/s-membership-uk/

How to Register

Please register for “Dispatch from the Red Planet” on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dispatch-from-the-red-planet-prophet-aarons-paradoxical-persona-tickets-908995147957

Registration closes 24 hours before the event, and Zoom links are emailed to registrants on Friday May 31.


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22 June 2024 | Online event

Monthly lectures for Arabic speakers

The Concept of the Heart in the Epistemology of Akbarian Gnosis

The series of lectures in Arabic which began in November 2022 continues with a talk by Dr Mohammad Aarab, at 12am Morocco local time, on Saturday 22nd June 2024. The title of his lecture is, “The Concept of the Heart in the Epistemology of Akbarian Gnosis.”

Dr Aarab is a professor specializing in philosophy, Sufism, education sciences, and the pedagogy/didactics of philosophy. He has obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy in 2011 from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Mohammed V University – Agdal, Rabat.

Dr Aarab’s lecture aims to shed light on the foundations of Sufi gnosis through the concept of the heart; many researchers have not recognized its central role in the Akbarian corpus. The heart is the core around which the circles of gnosis, the orbits of experience, and the paths of manifestations revolve.

Traditionally, the heart has been viewed reductively as the seat of emotions, feelings, and desires. At best, it is considered the abode of faith, belief, intuition, and inspiration. While this perspective is accurate in some respects, it does not encompass the full dimensions of the heart, which transcends being merely a pulsating muscle of emotions and feelings.

The meaning of knowledge was one of the most crucial questions posed by Sheikh al-Akbar, allowing for a re-evaluation of metaphysical, religious, intellectual, and behavioral issues: How do we understand and interpret the Quran? How do we live and interpret the Sunnah? How do we experience reality and embody the spirit of the times?

Dr Aarab has published several articles including:

  • “Sufi Discourse and the Rhetoric of Secrecy: The Cosmic Status of Metaphor.” Al-Manahil Magazine – Morocco.
  • “The Concept of Existence according to Ibn Al-Arabi” Dahak Magazine – Morocco.
  • “The Stations of Knowledge and Its Faculties: The Theory of Gnosis according to Ibn Al-Arabi.” Qut al-Qulub Magazine – Morocco.
  • “Sufism and the Worldview.” Hira Magazine – Turkey.
  • “The Spirituality of the Body in the Sufism of Ibn Al-Arabi.” Journal of Cultural, Linguistic, and Artistic Studies – Germany.
  • “Reflections of the Philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius.” Fikr Magazine.
  • “The Theory of Mind according to Al-Kindi.” Ibn Rushd Magazine – Netherlands.

    Dr Aarab also has a published book entitled “The Great Knowledge According to Ibn Al-Arabi: Foundations and Manifestations,” Dar Kunooz – Jordan.

    People who would like to attend the lecture can use this link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83484657052?pwd=M3NSTFhINVl2c1k2ME1JVzRnd092QT09 [/]
    Meeting ID: 834 8465 7052 | Passcode: 000000 | Find your local number: https://us06web.zoom.us/u/kb23I9qIRQ [/]

    For more details of the series of lectures, please see the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/arabicibnarabi [/]

    For further information please e-mail mias-as@nokshee.com.

Saturday, June 29 – London

The Secret of God’s Most Beautiful Names

A seminar led by Stephen Hirtenstein

What is meant by the Most Beautiful Names of God? and what is their secret? This seminar will preview a forthcoming book, the English translation of Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi’s treatise on the Names of God, Kashf al-maʿnā ʿan sirr asmāʾ Allāh al-ḥusnā, entitled ‘The Secret of God’s Most Beautiful Names’.

The seminar will explore one of the key features of the Abrahamic religions, i.e. the naming of God, which is identical to calling upon God and ultimately to participating in God’s naming of Himself. We will draw on passages from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Kashf al-maʿnā, and discuss the Divine Names in relation to ourselves and the world around us.

Stephen Hirtenstein is director of Anqa Publishing and Honorary Fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society (MIAS). He recently retired as chief editor of the MIAS Journal (1982–2023), and is working on the MIAS Archiving Project (2001–present), cataloguing the manuscripts of Ibn ʿArabi’s works. In addition to teaching at the University of Oxford, he is currently working on various book projects. His publications include a 3-part study of Ibn ʿArabi’s Fihrist (2023–4), Patterns of Contemplation (2021), The Alchemy of Human Happiness (2017) and The Unlimited Mercifier (1999).

The seminar is organised by the Beshara Trust. It will take place on Saturday, June 29 between 2 – 5pm at the October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London. Admission tickets cost £11.63, and can be obtained through this Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-secret-of-gods-most-beautiful-names-tickets-908203470027

March 2024

Young Writer Award 2023 – Prize winner

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2023 MIAS Young Writers Award is Nur Ahmad, currently a PhD candidate at the University of Leiden. This is the fifth time that the Society has run this competition, which gives an award (this year $1500) for the best essay written by a young scholar under the age of 35 on a theme related to Ibn ‘Arabi or his legacy.

The award was judged by three prominent Ibn ‘Arabi scholars – Professor Michael Sells of the University of Chicago; Dr Aydogan Kars of Monash University, Australia; and Dr Angela Jaffray, who will be best-known to members of the Society for her translations of Ibn ‘Arabi’s works, The Universal Tree and the Four Birds (Anqa Publishing, 2007) and The Secrets of Voyaging (Anqa Publishing, 2015). Many thanks to them for the time and attention they devoted to task of choosing a winner out the eight excellent entries that we received.

The winning essay is entitled ‘Akbarian Hermeneutics in pre-Modern Javanese Literature’. As the title suggests, this is an exploration of Sufi Quranic exegesis in Javanese culture for which, as Ahmad explains, Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas formed the predominant framework. The judges felt that this is a ground-breaking piece of work, exploring a previously little-known area of study and exhibiting excellent scholarship based on hitherto unstudied sources.

Other entries are also thought worthy of mention. ‘Highly Commended’ are Elif Emirahmetoglu for her essay: ‘The Human Self and Personhood in Akbarīan Sufism and Chinese Buddhism’, which again, breaks new ground in its detailed comparison between these two highly sophisticated traditions; and Sophie Tyser for her essay ‘The World, Man and Ritual Prayer according to Ibn al-ʿArabī’ for its thorough and comprehensive exposition on Ibn ‘Arabi’s understanding of prayer. ‘Commended’ is Farah Akhtar for ‘Cosmos as Revelation: Reason, Imagination, and the Foundations of Ibn ‘Arabī’s Scriptural Hermeneutics’. All four of these essays will be submitted to the Society journal for consideration for publication.

Many thanks to all those who sent in submissions to the award. The hard work and thought that went into all the essays is much appreciated, and it is great to know that there are such excellent young scholars working on Ibn ‘Arabi’s heritage. It bodes very well for the future of Akbarian studies.

Jane Clark

About the young writers


Nur Ahmad is currently a PhD student of Islamic philosophy at Leiden University. His PhD research is a study of Fayḍ al-Raḥmān fī Tarjama Tafsīr Kalām Mālik al-Dayyān (“The Grace of the Merciful in the Interpretative Translation of the Words of the King and the Judge”), a Javanese Ṣūfī tafsīr by Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ al-Samārānī (c. 1820-1903). He argues that this tafsīr points to the shift in the intellectual world of Java at the end of the nineteenth century. He has had a lifelong interest in Ṣūfi thought in Javanese traditional literature and its popular expressions in lived traditions of Sufism in Java. Ahmad’s academic pursuits in the field of Sufism in Java are also motivated by the teaching position he has at Walisongo’s State Islamic University (UIN Walisongo), Semarang, Indonesia. As the chairman (2024-2026) of the Netherlands Branch Nahdlatul Ulama, an Islamic traditional organization, he makes an effort to manifest his interest in Javanese thought and poetry in popular forms, such as working together with Javanese traditional artists in the adaptation of Javanese Ṣūfī poetry into sacred dances and songs.

Elif Emirahmetoğlu is a research assistant at the Berlin Institute of Islamic Theology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Recently, she submitted her PhD thesis, which compared the concept of human beings in Ibn al-‘Arabī (d. 1240) and Shinran Shōnin (d. 1263). Her research interests include Sufism, Islamic philosophy, Buddhism, comparative philosophy, and comparative mysticism. She is currently preparing for her postdoctoral project to explore various dimensions of human subjectivity in classical and post-classical Islamic anthropologies, and aims to reinterpret these perspectives with philosophical discussions on human subjectivity in the 20th and 21st centuries which have taken recourse to German idealism.

Sophie Tyser obtained her doctorate in Islamic studies in 2022 from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris) in France. Her doctoral thesis, entitled ‘In The Horizons and Within Themselves’ : Man, The World and The Revelation in The Teaching of Ibn al-ʿArabī, focuses on the micro-macrocosmic imbrications in the work of the shaykh al-akbar. Since 2022 she has taught Arabic language and literature at the University of Turin in Italy.




Farah Akhtar is a graduate of the M.Div program at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School where she focused on Qur’anic hermeneutics and constructive Islamic theology. Her research interests include examining the literary form and exegetical function of metaphysical literature in the post-classical period and their significance to understanding the life of the Qur’an in Muslim societies. She is also interested in conceptions and interpretations of scripture in Indo-Persian mystical and philosophical poetry, with specific reference to the cosmos and existence. Prior to graduate study, Farah lived in Amman, New York and Lahore, studying Arabic, Persian and various Islamic texts in informal settings, including writings of Said Nursi. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago.