Tag Archive for: metaphysics

“White Death: Ibn ‘Arabi on the Trials and Virtues of Hunger and Fasting,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 141, no. 3 (2021): 577-586. – Atif Khalil


The article presents an analysis of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s (d. 1240) treatment of fasting and hunger as it appears in chapters 106 and 107 ofal-Futūḥāt al-makkiyya (Meccan revelations). In the process of examining this very short section of the encyclopedic text, the essay both draws out the deeper theological significance of hunger and fasting and highlights the virtues and trappings of the spiritual exercise in the mystic’s thought. An attempt is also made to situate some of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s ideas within the broader context of the earlier Sufi tradition to which he was heir”


Review of Yousef Casewit’s “The Mystics of al Andalus” – Michele Petrone, Medieval Encounters 26 (2020)

Abstract :

“Before being a work on the life and thought of Barrajān, the book of Y. Casewit is a modern introduction to the mystical movements that sprung up in al-Andalus, starting from the tenth century. In this review I will avoid giving a summary of the work, which is already provided in a thoughtful preface to the book. What seems to be more important to note is the methodology the authoruses to describe the thought of Ibn Barrajān. Contemporary scholarly works on medieval Islamic thought seem to befocused on the reconstruction of networks. The circulation of diverse ideas in al-Andalus has been the object the attention of a number of studies, all reviewed by the author in the introduction of his book. This preliminary over- view is carried out not only as a state of the art. Casewit here dealt with the scholarship devoted to the reconstruction of a framework of historical and philosophical inquiry in tenth- to thirteenth-century al-Andalus. The issues of bāṭinism, Ismaili  influences, and the role of the Rasāil Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ  are synthetically discussed and establish a large framework for the following inquiry. The most important part of the preliminary phase of the research is the definition of the role (if any) played by al-Ghazālī in the formation of Ibn Barrajān’s thought”  


La crise de coeur – Mohammed Rustom


A Treatise on Practical and Theoretical Sufism in the Sokoto Caliphate


“This article presents an annotated translation of The Exposition of Devotions, a short text by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Muṣtafā (1218–1280/1804–1864) about his spiritual master and maternal uncle, Muḥammad Sambo (1195–1242/1782–1826). Muḥammad Sambo was the son of ʿUthmān ibn Fūdī (also known as Usman dan Fodio), the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, one of the largest pre-colonial polities on the African continent. While modern scholarship has tended to focus on the political, legal, social, and economic dimensions of the jihad movement that created the Sokoto Caliphate,this text provides a brief, but detailed account of the spiritual practices and discussions amongst Usman dan Fodio’s clan (the Fodiawa), demonstrating the centrality of the Akbarī tradition in technical discussions, as well as the unique developments of this tradition in thirteenth/nineteenth century West Africa. The work begins with an account of a dream of the then-deceased Muḥammad Sambo that occasioned its composition, and after a brief discussion of the status of dreams and their importance, gives an account of Sambo’s spiritual method and practices. The short treatise concludes with the author’s summary of Sambo’s responses to several technical and highly esoteric questions posed to him by the author, illustrating the profound mastery and unique perspectives developed on these topics by the Fodiawa. Combining oneirology, hagiography, practical and theoretical Sufism, this short treatise is an illuminating window into the spiritual and intellectual traditions of the founders of the Sokoto Caliphate”


Sufism Revived: A Contemporary Treatise on Divine Light, Prophecy, and Sainthood


“In this compilation of spiritual discourses (sing. mudhākara), Shaykh Mohamed Faouzi al-Karkari offers a Sufi commentary on the functions, degrees and implications of prophethood (nubūwa), messengerhood (risāla), and sainthood (wilāya). Major themes include the identification of the Prophet Muhammad with “the supreme intellect” (al-ʿaql al-akbar); the manifestation of the all-encompassing Muhammadan Reality through the different prophetic figures; the notion of prophetic inerrancy (ʿiṣma); the doctrine of the Perfect Man (al-insān al-kāmil); and the universality of the Muḥammadan nation. In his discussion on sainthood, the Shaykh offers a commentary on the Path to God as expressed in the well-known Holy Tradition (ḥadīth qudsī), narrated in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, in which God proclaims: “Whoever aggresses against one of My friends, I declare war on them…My servant continues to draw near unto Me with supererogatory devotions until I love him; and when I love him, I am his hearing by which he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand by which he clutches, and his foot by which he walks. If he asks of Me, I will surely give him; and if he seeks refuge in Me, I will surely give him refuge.” Throughout these discourses, the Shaykh offers practical advice for seekers regarding the complementarity between the exoteric Law (sharīʿa) and esoteric Truth (ḥaqīqa); the love of the Prophet and his descendents; and the attainment of unmediated knowledge of God (maʿrifa). Special emphasis is placed by the Shaykh on the seeker’s visions (mushāhadāt) of God’s Light; recognizing the traces of the Divine Names in creation; and how to derive knowledge of God from one’s spiritual experiences”


In the Footsteps of Moses: A Contemporary Sufi Commentary on the Story of God’s Confidant (kalīm Allāh) in the Qurʾān – Yousef Casewit


Moses is one of the most revered Prophets in Islam. The fact that he is mentioned in the Qurʾān more than any other figure bespeaks his eminence and the significance of his prophetic narrative to spiritual wayfaring. His election by God and the unfolding events of his prophetic mission have served as a model for Sufi wayfaring. To this effect, God proclaims: I cast upon you a love from Me, that you might be trained under My eye (Q Ṭāhā 20:39). In the Footsteps of Moses is a compilation of spiritual discourses (sing. mudhākara) by the contemporary Moroccan Sufi Shaykh Mohamed Faouzi al-Karkari. This book offers insights into the key events of the life of God’s Confidant through the first reading of the divine Name. Describing his life, the Shaykh states: “When the Hidden Alif or the staff of Moses appears, union discloses itself in separation, and dry land appears in the ocean. The Pharaoh of the lower self drowns in the ocean of esoteric reality, and the Moses of the heart is delivered.” Key events covered include the spiritual significance of Moses’ birth; his mother’s casting him into the river; being adopted by the Pharaoh’s wife; his years of training under the direction of Shuʿayb in the desert of Midian; communing with God at Mount Ṭūr; the encounter with Pharaoh and his sorcerers; the splitting of the Red Sea; the golden calf; and his encounter with al-Khiḍr


Introduction to Islamic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Sufi Treatise on the Secrets of the Divine Name – Yousef Casewit


“In this masterful treatise of Sufi spirituality and metaphysics, Shaykh Mohamed Faouzi al-Karkari maps out the mystical journey to God as an initiatic progression through seven degrees of realization, or readings, of the divine Name Allāh. These seven degrees encapsulate what it means to read in the Name of the Lord, letter by letter, syllable by syllable, until the Hu, Lahu, Lillāh, ilāh, Allāh, Alif, and the Treasure-Dot are inwardly realized in the heart of the wayfarer. The Shaykh guides the reader from secret to secret, or reading to reading, devoting ten subchapters to each degree of the divine Name. Written with both metaphysical rigor and poetic elegance, the book comprises seventy short chapters that correspond to the seventy veils of Light and darkness between God and creation. Throughout the book, he emphasizes the centrality of directly witnessing the Divine Light, the indispensability of a living spiritual master, the dynamic between transcendence and immanence, the purification of the heart, and wholehearted commitment to practicing the Sunna and continuous invocation as a means of attaining direct knowledge of God. Describing the fruit of wayfaring, the Shaykh proclaims: “[It is] a matter of sheer fruitional experience, tasted only by those who plunge the depths of the kernel of the heart..”