Articles and Translations

There are links at the bottom of the page to the articles in this collection, which fall into four major groupings.

The first grouping is called “Overviews”. This contains three papers, each available as separate downloads.

Each of the other three groupings is contained in its own PDF file because of the number of smaller pieces in them. So there are three files collecting the articles in the groupings on “Influences in the Pre-modern Islamic World”, “Later Muslim Critics and Polemics” and “Reviews of More Recent Works by and about Ibn Arabi”.

© James W. Morris. The files included in these PDFs are all unrevised, pre-publication versions of the revised and corrected articles and reviews cited in this Introduction. If citing or distributing these materials in any format, please include full reference to the actual corrected publications.

See also Ibn ‘Arabi: Spiritual Practice and Other Translations.

Ibn ‘Arabî and His Interpreters

Historical Contexts and Contemporary Perspectives

James Winston Morris

James W. Morris (Boston College) has taught and published widely on Islamic and religious studies over the past 40 years at the Universities of Exeter, Princeton, Oberlin, and the Institute of Ismaili Studies in Paris and London, serving recently as visiting professor in Istanbul, Paris, and Jogjakarta. He has lived and studied in regions from Morocco to Indonesia, and he lectures and leads workshops in many countries on Islamic philosophy and theology, Sufism, the Islamic humanities (poetry, music, and visual arts), the Quran and hadith, and esoteric Shiism. Recently he has led interfaith study-abroad programs centering on sacred sites, pilgrimage, sainthood, and related arts and architecture in Turkey and France.

His publications include: Openings:From the Qur’an to the Islamic Humanities (forthcoming); Approaching Ibn ‘Arabi : Foundations, Contexts, Interpretations (forthcoming); Ma‘rifat ar-Rūh in Nur Ali Elahi's Knowing the Spirit (2007), and The Reflective Heart: Discovering Spiritual Intelligence in Ibn ‘Arabī’s "Meccan Illuminations"(2005).

 

Articles by James W. Morris

Introduction to The Meccan Revelations

Ibn ‘Arabi’s “Short Course” on Love

How to Study the Futuhat: Ibn Arabi’s Own Advice

Hur Man Studerar Futuhat: Ibn Arabis Egna Råd (Swedish)

Ibn Arabi: Spiritual Practice and Other Translations – Overview of the ten following articles:

Some Dreams of Ibn Arabi (PDF)

Body of Light (PDF)

Introducing Ibn Arabi’s “Book of Spiritual Advice” (PDF)

“Book of the Quintessence of What is Indispensable for the Spiritual Seeker” (PDF)

Ibn Arabi on the Barzakh – Chapter 63 of the Futuhat (PDF)

The Spiritual Ascension: Ibn Arabi and the miraj – Chapter 367 of the Futuhat (PDF)

The Mahdi and His Helpers – Chapter 366 of the Futuhat (PDF)

Ibn Arabi’s ‘Esotericism’: The Problem of Spiritual Authority (PDF)

Communication and Spiritual Pedagogy: Methods of Investigation (tahqiq) (PDF)

Rhetoric & Realisation in Ibn Arabi: How Can We Communicate Meanings Today? (PDF)

Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart in the Futuhat | Part 1

Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart in the Futuhat | Part 2

Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart in the Futuhat | Part 3

Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart in the Futuhat | Part 4

Divine Calling, Human Response – Scripture and Realization in the Meccan Illuminations | Part 1

Divine Calling, Human Response – Scripture and Realization in the Meccan Illuminations | Part 2

Opening the Heart: Ibn Arabi on Suffering, Compassion and Atonement

Ibn Arabi and his Interpreters – Overview of 28 articles and reviews in this section

Ibn ‘Arabi and his Interpreters I – Four overviews, description of the following:

Ibn Arabi; in the “Far West” (PDF)

Except His Face: The Political and Aesthetic Dimensions of Ibn Arabi’s Legacy (PDF)

Situating Islamic ‘Mysticism’ (PDF)

Ibn Arabi and His Interpreters — Introduction:
Historical Contexts and Contemporary Perspectives (overview of 28 articles and reviews in this collection)

Ibn Arabi and His Interpreters — Grouping I:
Overviews

Ibn Arabi; in the “Far West” (PDF)

Except His Face: The Political and Aesthetic Dimensions of Ibn Arabi’s Legacy (PDF)

Situating Islamic ‘Mysticism’ (PDF)

“Ibn Arabi and His Interpreters”, JAOS article 1986 (PDF) | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 1 (HTML)

Ibn Arabi and His Interpreters — Grouping II:
Influences in the Pre-Modern Islamic World (all the following 7 articles in one PDF)

Theophany or “Pantheism” – The Importance of Balyani’s Risalat al-Ahadiya

The Continuing Relevance of Qaysari’s Thought: Divine Imagination and the Foundation of Natural Spirituality

Review: La destinée de l’homme selon Avicenne: Le retour à Dieu (maad) et l’imagination by Jean Michot

Review: Kitab al-inbah ‘ala Tariq Allah de ‘Abdallah Badr al-Habashi

Review: La Risala de Safi al-Din ibn Abi l-Mansur ibn Zafir

Review: Manjhan, Madhumalati: An Indian Sufi Romance

Review: Mirror of the Intellect: Essays on Traditional Science and Sacred Art

Ibn Arabi and His Interpreters — Grouping III:
Later Muslim Critics and Polemics (all the following 4 articles in one PDF)

An Arab “Machiavelli”? – Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics in Ibn Khaldun’s Critique of “Sufism”

Review: Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics

Review: Ibn Arabi and the Later Islamic Tradition: The Making of a Polemical Image in Medieval Islam

Review: Theodicy in Islamic Thought: The Dispute over al-Ghazali’s “Best of All Possible Worlds”

Ibn Arabi and His Interpreters — Grouping IV:
Reviews of More Recent Works by and about Ibn Arabi (1985–2002)

Ibn Masarra: A Reconsideration of the Primary Sources (PDF)

 

Podcasts and Videos by James W. Morris

Inspiration and Discernment: Ibn Arabi’s Introduction to the Challenges of Spiritual Sensitivity and Judgement

Becoming Real: Realization and Revelation in Rumi and Ibn Arabi

The “Instruments of Divine Mercy”

“Whoever knows himself...” in the Futuhat

There are links at the bottom of the page to the articles in this collection, which fall into four major groupings.

The first grouping is called “Overviews”. This contains three papers, each available as separate downloads.

Each of the other three groupings is contained in its own PDF file because of the number of smaller pieces in them. So there are three files collecting the articles in the groupings on “Influences in the pre-modern Islamic World”, “Later Muslim Critics and Polemics” and “Reviews of More Recent Works by and about Ibn Arabi”.

© James W. Morris. The files included in this PDFs are all unrevised, pre-publication versions of the revised and corrected articles and reviews cited in this Introduction. If citing or distributing these materials in any format, please include full reference to the actual corrected publications.

See also Ibn ‘Arabi: Spiritual Practice and Other Translations.

 

Since our first book on the philosophy of Mulla Sadra [1], whose metaphysics already recapitulates several centuries of the diverse influences of Ibn ‘Arabî in the Eastern Islamic world, many of our studies have been devoted to exploring and articulating the extraordinary influences of Ibn ‘Arabî’s works both in the past and throughout the contemporary world [2]. Our lengthy study of Ibn Arabî and His Interpreters (JAOS, 1986-87) attempted to survey the broad historical outlines of the multi-faceted influences of Ibn ‘Arabî’s writings and teachings both in the pre-modern Islamic world, but also in terms of the rapidly growing and increasingly diverse interests of contemporary Western translators and interpreters.

Since that initial overview (written in 1985), we have continued to provide in a number of writings-synthetic studies, more focused original research, and a host of reviews of relevant publications-a broader perspective on the range and significance of the phenomenal ‘explosion’ of translations, studies and introductions to Ibn ‘Arabî’s writings that has since taken place, at an accelerating pace, over the past two decades. Above all, two major new historical developments have become clear in that intervening period. First, that the range of interests and uses of Ibn ‘Arabî’s writings in Western languages and cultures mirrors very closely the immense spectrum we had already found and experienced, in the centuries since his death, throughout the Islamic world. And secondly, that the intensity and depth of cross-cultural interactions, and the common spiritual and practical challenges and circumstances engaging human beings on a global scale, have converged to such a radical extent that by now it would be false and entirely misleading to continue to speak seriously of distinct ‘Islamic’ and ‘Western’ spheres and processes of influence, interest and creative adaptation.


Thus, the article which we have reproduced first in this packet (Ibn ‘Arabî in the “Far West”: Visible and Invisible Influences) – originally prepared, tellingly enough, for a recent conference held in Kyoto on ‘Ibn ‘Arabî’s influences in Asia’ – ocuses on many of the key contemporary strands of Ibn ‘Arabî’s influences among originally ‘Western’ audiences, but in ways whose manifestations (e.g., through English and French translations, or scholarly editions) now are rapidly felt and ‘echoed’ on a much wider global scale[3]. Equally importantly, this article makes explicit some fundamental theoretical observations about the ways in which the complex dimensions of historical ‘influences’ which once operated throughout the Islamic world are dramatically visible today on the contemporary scene in ways which have too often been egregiously neglected by traditional historians focused on explicit and ‘textual’ questions of transmission. The second article (“Except His Face…”: The Political and Aesthetic Dimensions of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Legacy) provides a simple, readily accessible overview of the different dimensions of Ibn ‘Arabî’s interest and influence in earlier Islamic settings. Then the following much longer study (Situating Islamic ‘Mysticism’: Between Written Traditions and Popular Spirituality) provides a more detailed articulation of the place of writings such as Ibn ‘Arabî’s in the much larger complex of the Islamic Humanities, in their complex local manifestations, throughout the Islamic world (sections immediately related to Ibn ‘Arabi are I-II and V-VIII).

The fourth article in this opening section is the original ‘Ibn ‘Arabî and His Interpreters‘ (1986)

 

I. Overviews

Ibn ‘Arabî in the “Far West”: Visible and Invisible Influences. In Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, XXIX (2001), pp. 87-122. [pdf file 164KB]

“Except His Face…”: The Political and Aesthetic Dimensions of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Legacy. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XXIII (1998), pp. 1-13. [pdf file 137KB]

Situating Islamic ‘Mysticism’: Between Written Traditions and Popular Spirituality. In Mystics of the Book: Themes, Topics and Typologies, ed. R. Herrera, New York/Berlin, Peter Lang, 1993, pp. 293-334.
[pdf file 249KB]

Ibn Arabî and His Interpreters Part I. In Journal of the American Oriental Society, Part I, vol. 106 (1986), pp. 539-551 (pdf format, 75KB];

Ibn ‘Arabî and His Interpreters Part IIA (pdf format 175k) pp. 733-756, and

Ibn ‘Arabî and His Interpreters Part IIB (pdf format 180k) vol. 107 (1987), pp. 101-119.

 

II. Influences in the pre-modern Islamic World

All files in Section II are collected in one pdf (254KB).

The following articles and reviews deal with different dimensions of the complex process of assimilation and manifold creative uses of Ibn ‘Arabî’s writings and teachings throughout the Islamic world in the seven centuries following his death, concluding with the work of one of the major European figures involved in the introduction of his ideas into the mainstream of Western religious, artistic and psychological discourse in the twentieth century. The critical and polemic dimensions of this same historical process are dealt with in the following set of our articles and reviews (= section III. below).

Theophany or “Pantheism”? : the Importance of Balyânî’s Risâlat al-Ahadîya, and “la description de abû ‘abdallâh balyânî par jâmî.” In Horizons Maghrébins (Toulouse), special festschrift issue for Michel Chodkiewicz, no. 30 (1995), pp. 43-50 and 51-54.

The Continuing Relevance of Qaysari’s Thought: Divine Imagination and the Foundation of Natural Spirituality. In Papers of the International Symposium on Islamic Thought in the XIIIth and XIVth Centuries and Daud al-Qaysari, ed. T. Koç, Kayseri (Turkey), 1998, pp. 161-171.

La destinée de l’homme selon Avicenne: Le retour à Dieu (ma’âd) et l’imagination, by Jean Michot, Louvain, 1987. In the Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 107 (1987), no. 4, pp. 815-817.

‘Le Kitâb al‑Inbâh ‘alâ Tarîq Allâh de Abdallâh Badr al‑Habashî: un témoignage de l’enseignement spirituel de Muhyî l-Dîn Ibn ‘Arabî,’ ed. and tr. by Denis Gril, Annales Islamologiques XV, Cairo, 1979. In the Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. VI (1987), pp. 61-64.

La Risâla de Safî al-Dîn Ibn Abî l-Mansûr Ibn Zâfir: Biographies des maîtres spirituels connus par un cheikh égyptien du viie/xiiie siècle, introduction, edition and translation by Denis Gril, Cairo, 1986. In Studia Islamica, vol. LXV (1987), pp. 171-173.

Manjhan, Madhumālatī: An Indian Sufi Romance, translated by Simon Weightman and Aditya Behl, with S. M. Pandey. Oxford, Oxford World’s Classics, 2000. To appear in Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XXXI (2002), pp. tba

Mirror of the Intellect: Essays on Traditional Science and Sacred Art, by T. Burckhardt, tr. and ed. W. Stoddart, Albany, 1987. In Critical Review of Books in Religion-1989 (annual supplement to the JAAR/SBL), pp. 470-472.

 

III. Later Muslim Critics and Polemics

All files in Section III are collected in one pdf (337KB).

One significant measure of the ongoing depth and centrality of Ibn ‘Arabî’s influences throughout the Islamic world, in ways which continue to be important down to the present day, is the frequency of polemics and public controversies involving his writing. In almost all such cases (including those apparent today), what is actually at stake in such polemics can best be understood in terms of close attention to particular controversial political and social issues in particular Islamic historical contexts. (We have yet to encounter a single polemic work, from any period, demonstrating any even remotely serious engagement with Ibn ‘Arabî’s actual thought and distinctive methods of investigation and teaching.) However, since the participants in such polemics were typically learned religious scholars, the public ‘intellectuals’ of their day, such controversies often do provide our only surviving documentary ‘window’ on the much wider social and cultural processes by which Muslims from all walks of life, especially throughout the Ottoman and eastern Islamic realms, eventually assimilated various aspects of Ibn ‘Arabî’s teaching.

An Arab “Machiavelli”? : Rhetoric, Philosophy and Politics in Ibn Khaldun’s Critique of “Sufism”. Chapter to appear in Proceedings of Harvard Ibn Khaldun Conference, ed. Roy Mottahedeh, Cambridge, Harvard, 2003 (title and publisher t.b.a). [Here: pp. 1-49.]

Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies & Polemics, ed. Frederic de Jong & Bernd Radtke. Leiden, Brill, 1999. In Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, vol. 13, no. 2 (2002), pp. 237-239.

Ibn ‘Arabi and the Later Islamic Tradition: The Making of a Polemical Image in Medieval Islam, by Alexander Knysh, Albany, SUNY Press, 1999. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XXVII (2000), pp. 75-81.

Theodicy in Islamic Thought: The Dispute over al‑Ghazâlî’s
“Best of All Possible Worlds,”
by E. L. Ormsby, Princeton, 1985. In Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, vol. 19, no. 1 (1985), pp. 109-112. [to appear here later]

 

IV. Reviewsof More Recent Works by and about Ibn ‘Arabî (1985-2002) [4]

All files in Section IV are collected in one pdf (212KB).

The following reviews of important new books by and about Ibn ‘Arabî-first of translations, then of biographical works introducing Ibn ‘Arabî and his main ideas, and finally of two foundational studies of key dimensions of his thought and teaching-help to bring up to date the comprehensive survey of related English and French publications (up to 1985) to be found in ‘Ibn ‘Arabî and His Interpreters‘ (section I. above).

 

Translations

Ibn ‘Arabî: Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries and the Rising of the Divine Lights, translated by Cecilia Twinch and Pablo Beneito, Oxford, Anqa Publishing, 2001. To appear in Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XXXI (2002), pp….

Le Livre de dévoilement des fruits du voyage, d’Ibn ‘Arabi. Edition and translation by Denis Gril, Combas, éditions de l’éclat, 1994. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XVII (1995), pp.103-105.

The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn ‘Arabî’s Metaphysics of the Imagination, by William Chittick, Albany, 1989. In Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 111.3 (1991), pp. 601-602.

La vie merveilleuse de Dhû-l-Nûn l’Egyptien, by Ibn Arabî, tr. Roger Deladrière, Paris, Sindbad, 1988. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. X (1991), pp. 71-74.

Traité de l’amour, d’Ibn Arabî, tr. Maurice Gloton, Paris, 1986. In Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XI (1989), pp. 77-79.

La Niche des lumières: 101 saintes paroles prophétiques…[= the Mishkât al‑Anwâr of Ibn ‘Arabî], tr. M. Vâlsan, Paris, 1983; and Divine Word and Prophetic Word in early Islam, by W. A. Graham, Paris/the Hague, 1977. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. V (1986), pp. 66-68.

L’alchimie du bonheur parfait, by Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî, tr. S. Ruspoli, Paris, 1981. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. IV (1985), pp. 59-64. [to be scanned]

Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth: From Mazdean Iran to Shî’ite Iran, by Henry Corbin (tr. N. Pearson), Princeton, 1977 (pb. 1989). In Iranian Studies, vol. 28 (1995), pp. 110-111.

 

Biographies (with introductions)

The Unlimited Mercifier: The Spiritual Life and Thought of Ibn ‘Arabî, by Stephen Hirtenstein, Oxford, Anqa Publishers/White Cloud Press, 1999. In The Expository Times, vol. 111, no. 2 (August 2000), page 395.

Ibn ‘Arabi et le Voyage sans Retour, by Claude Addas, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1996. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XXIII (1998), pp. 90-92.

Ibn ‘Arabî, ou la  quête du soufre rouge, by Claude Addas, Paris, Gallimard, 1988. In Studia Islamica, vol. LXX (1989), pp. 185-187.

 

Teachings and Analytical Studies

Un Océan sans rivage: Ibn Arabî, le livre et la loi, by Michel Chodkiewicz, Paris, Seuil, 1992. In Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 116 (1996), pp. [to be scanned].

An Ocean Without Shore: Ibn Arabi, The Book, and the Law, by Michel Chodkiewicz (tr. D. Streight), Albany, SUNY Press, 1993. In Journal of the Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî Society, vol. XV (1995), pp. 87-90.

Le Sceau des saints: prophétie et sainteté dans la doctrine d’IbnArabî, by Michel Chodkiewicz, Paris, 1986. In Studia Islamica, LXIII (1986), pp. 182-185.

Annotations

[1] The Wisdom of the Throne: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mulla Sadra, (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1980); reprint edition forthcoming 2002.
Back to the text

[2] See especially Chapter 2 and the Conclusion of our most recent book, Orientations: Islamic Thought in a World Civilization (London, Archetype Press, 2002).

[3] In a recent lecture visit to Malaysia and Indonesia, we discovered that virtually all the major English translations and studies relating to Ibn ‘Arabî and his influential Muslim interpreters (by Wm. Chittick, S. Murata, and ourself) had been quickly translated into Indonesian within a few years of their publication. Our PhD student, Isobel Jeffrey, has just completed a dissertation – hopefully to be published soon – on the important role of the Ibn ‘Arabi Society in facilitating this worldwide network of scholarly activity, and Dr. Soha Taji-Farouki (Durham U.) is working on a new study of the growing influences of Ibn ‘Arabî’s works and ideas in contemporary Arab social and political thought. Back to the text

[4] In almost all cases below, the uneven length and coverage of different reviews was originally dictated by the specific editorial policies and length restrictions of the journals concerned; shorter reviews should not be taken as any indication of the significance and depth of the books in question. Back to the text

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