20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
One of the Best Works in the Field of Akbarian Scholarship,
By A Customer
This review is from: An Ocean Without Shore: Ibn Arabi, the Book, and the Law (Hardcover)I read the book a few years back, and found it to be one of the most lucid studies of Ibn Arabi. Chodkiewicz is one of the two most distinguished scholars in the Western Academic world on Shaikh al-Akbar, the Greatest Shaikh, as he was entitled by those, in the words of R.A. Nicholson, "most qualified to judge". The other is William Chittick.
The book, as the title informs, is about the relationship between law and the spiritual journey, in other words, between the outward and the inward. It reveals the attempt of one of medieval Islam's greatest gnostics to bridge the apparently irreconcilable gap between the spirit and the letter. Chodkiewicz exposes IA's radically literalistic interpretive method of deriving of the most esoteric meanings by way of deconstructing Koranic words into their roots, and then presenting the meanings of the word-roots as the esoteric meaning of the text. By such an approach the "hidden" or esoteric is brought to the fore by the most stringent form of exotericism -- hence there is a meeting of opposites, the veil become the face. It is interesting to note that IA was affiliated with the Dhahirism, which was Islam's most literalistic legal school. Yet, ironically, he was also the greatest esotericist.
On a final note: Chodkiewicz also presents the views of later Islamic scholars on how they perceived (and misperceived) IA. This gives a better contextual understanding of IA's influence.
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