In late twelfth-century Morocco the major Sufi Orders, which played a crucial role in the social and religious lives of that Moslem country, entered a period of decline, marked by formalism, a loss of inner motivation, and a growing factionalism. In response there arose a renewal movement that emphasized a fresh, vigorous spirituality that allowed its adherents to pursue the inner life in the context of ordinary daily affairs. As one of the leaders of the Shadhiliyyah movement, Ibn Abbad taught a path to God that blended the esoteric Sufi traditions of the past with the popular lay movements of the time.
Writing from the small Moroccan town of Sale to friends in the capital city of fez, Ibn Abbad composed numerous letters of spiritual direction that spoke to the concrete problems of his devotees. A selection of these letters, written between 1365-1375, is included here.
In the preface to this volume, Professor Annemarie B. Schimmel describes Ibn Abbad's appeal for today: " He has not been surrounded by miracle stories and legends, as have so many other Sufis
We rather find Ibn Abbad a quiet friend in whom we can trust, a man who does not dazzle us with flashes of glorious ideas or confuse us with theosophical highfalutin
but another waits until we come and listen to him and thus slowly understand his deep responsibility for the spiritual well-being of his readers."