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The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn Al-Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination Paperback – June 1, 1989


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Chittick is a Professor of Religious Studies at State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is author of The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi and nine other books.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (June 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887068855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887068850
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By C. King Khidr on August 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ibn Arabi is not easy reading. By far the best and most comprehensive book to date is this one -- perhaps Chittick's most important work yet. SPK is primarily a collection of translations from various sections of Ibn Arabi's greatest work, the Meccan Revelations, and is structured more as an anthology. Chittick puts in his own commentary here and there which helps decode the complexity of some of the passages. But for the most part, he allows Ibn Arabi to speak for himself.
Although the book is long, you don't have to read all of it. Chittick is not arguing a thesis, but presenting Ibn Arabi's view on a variety of subjects which are fundamentally rooted in a non-dualistic cosmology where only Allah 'is'. You can read just the introduction of the work (where Chittick gives a bare-bones sketch of the Shaikh's worldview) and then start plugging away from the various passages at your own convenience.
In my opinion, SPK is better than Chittick's more recent THE SELF DISCLOSURE OF GOD which is too technical and requires quite a bit of familiarity with Ibn Arabi in particular and sufism in general.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By red infidel on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
One of the difficulties with having such a unified, unique and untouchably elevated God is in reconiciling Him with the nitty-gritty intimacy of life and creation.

Allah is way up there...yet He still dictates stuff way down here.

Allah is so transcendent..yet religious experience demands an intimate spiritual connection.

How do these things happen?

well you see, it's quite simple really :)

It's mostly to do with this concept called 'barzakh' - loosely translated as 'phased intermediation' such that the cosmological make-up of the world consists of several layers, each of which denotes an element of the divine attribute made manifest. This whole system culminates in describing the universe as a "Theatre of Manifestation" of God's attributes (illustrated through the 99 names of Allah). This means that the divine essence permeates through every atomistic fibre of matter in every infinitessimal stitch of time.

Similarly, the consciousness of man is a barzakh - bridging the gap between the terrestial base form of clay and the ultimate climax of spiritual experience, 'fana' - a cosmic consciousness of unity with the Divine.

This book, with neat chapters, concepts and illustrations explains each of the steps of the divine governance of the universe and the methods of Godly consciousness as espoused by the great master of Shaykhs - Ibn Al Arabi. The first few chapters very lucidly run through the groundwork of the concept of the 'divine names' and some basic ontological and metaphysical concepts.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
The author has written a number of balanced, penetrating books revealing the world of the religious masters of the Near East of 700 years ago. Willaim Chittick, Professor of Islamic Studys at SUNY Stoney Brook is unique in the English speaking world in his training in these topics; and in the synthesis and scope he provides. The Sufi Path of Knowledge is an expertly and lovingly considered condensation of a work that in it's Arabic original runs over 10,000 pages. Ibn Arabi, along with Al Ghazali and Rumi, was the greatest mystic of the Islamic religion. This book provides more insight on man's nature, the nature of his relationship to the world and his creator, the world of angels and dreams and deep awakening, and the nature of being than any other book I know. Overwhelming
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Greg on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ibn Al-Arabi, known affectionately as 'The Master' by many Muslims, is one of the leading mystics and philosophers the world of Islam has ever produced.

Ibn Arabi was an enigmatic, many-faceted genius. A visionary poet, philosopher, mystic, theologian, and great writer in one, he combined a great and penetrating intellect with a profound mystical insight into the mysteries of the Islamic faith.

Unfortunately as with many key Islamic philosophers, good English translations of this thinker's works were unavailable for Western scholarship until fairly recently. Chittick, an expert on Persian literature (and who lived in Iran until the revolution) translates many sections of Arabi's key texts and expounds his vision of God, the universe, and man.

Ibn Arabi's work is immense in scope and range. Essentially his philosophy is an attempt to work out how the divine One, changless, eternal, and perfect, relates metaphysically to the created universe. Essentially Arabi takes up the classic philosophical problem of the One and the Many, and offers a grand solution based on Islamic theology, mysticism, and philosophy.

Central to Arabi's system of Being is the idea of God having 99 names. In the Quran, God is said to have 99 'most beautiful names' which are his attributes. In Sufi thought, these attributes are also reflected in the universe and in all creatures, though only in human beings (the most complete of God's creations) are all the 99 names encompassed.

Also important in Ibn Arabi's thought is the human quest to find God. Using the hadith 'I was a hidden treasure, so I made the universe to be known', Arabi constructs an elaborate mysticism of love, based on the search for the human lover for his hidden beloved, which is God.
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