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5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneer translations of Sheikh al Akbar's Futuhat, November 4, 2002
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This review is from: The Meccan Revelations, volume I (Paperback)
The Meccan Revelations: Selected texts from the Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya Volume 1 by M. Ibn Arabi, edited by Michel Chodkiewicz, new introduction by James W. Morris, English translations by William Chittick and James W. Morris (Pir Press) Perhaps no mystic in the history of the world has delved as deeply into the inner knowledge that informs our being as did Ibn 'Arabi. He was born into the cultural and religious crucible of Andalusian Spain in 1165, a place and time in which Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars learned from each other and from the Greek classics that were then being translated and circulated. Drawing from the most advanced philosophical and metaphysical thinking of his time and from his extensive knowledge of the religion of Islam, Ibn Arabi created an extraordinary mystical theosophy that essentially sprang from his own spiritual realization into the divine unity of existence. Because of the advanced nature of his teachings, he has been known for 800 years as the Sheikh al Akbar, or the Greatest Master. Because of the subtlety of his language and complexity of his thought, access to Ibn Arabi has always been difficult and translation daunting. Previously only short extracts were available in English. This volume, the first of two, contains 22 key chapters of Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya, an encyclopedic Sufi "summa mystica," on such issues as Ibn Arabi's doctrine of the Divine Names, the nature of spiritual experience, the end of time, the resurrection and the stages of the path that lead to sanctity.
Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya soars beyond time, culture and any particular form of religion. Describing what is fundamental to our humanity, it is astonishingly universal. Finally, readers in the West have a pioneering entree into one of the most important, profound works of world literature.
Any work on the Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya in English is provisional and exploratory and it will require several generations of scholars and some further development in philosophical hermeneutics before anything like a coordinated complete translation could yet be attempted. The importance of this work, and its future volume two that will include English translations of the French from the original 1988 French edition, is that it inaugurated the first systematic exploration in the West of this profound theosophical encyclopedia. As a result, the years since the first appearance of these translations have seen an ongoing worldwide transformation- in the Islamic world at least as much as in Western academic and spiritual circles in the understanding and appreciation of the nature and wider significance of Ibn 'Arabi's writings. When ibn `Arabi's thought is more fully explored and more widely known its unique contribution to a future global religious plurality and harmony may become apparent. Ibn `Arabi proposes unique formulations of divine reality which when understood in depth may radically transform world theological discourse, not only in Islam but also in liberal and conservative Christian and Jewish hermeneutics.
Pir Press is to be commended in re-issuing this important selection of chapters from the gargantuan Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya because the French edition of 1988 its size, cost and foreign publication made access difficult in the English speaking world from the start, soon became utterly difficult to get to due to problems at the original publishers. Generally, for the past decade, only those with ready contact to university libraries and Islamic research collections have been able to refer directly to these essential translations. The translators have gone on to provide significant studies and translations of ibn `Arabi's work as Morris summarizes in his new introduction to this partial reprint edition. The second volume should include Chodkiewicz's original long Introduction to the key themes and opening chapters of the Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya, as well as outlines the contents and location, in the overall scheme of the Futuhat and translations of both the original French chapters. Highly recommended.
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