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The Book of Illumination Including The Sign of Success on the Spiritual Path: Kitab al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir [Paperback]

Shaykh Ahmad Ibn 'Ata' Allah Al-Iskandari , Scott Kugle


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Book Description

April 1 2005
Presenting a mystical and theological analysis of our human urge to create idols for ourselves and out of ourselves, this medieval author carefully recounts the enlightening counsels of his own masters. He is most attentive to the subtle psychological working of our human ego, marshaling resources for his Islamic tradition that can confront and overcome it. The result of desisting from claiming as our right and ability what is clearly beyond our control is illumination of the heart, clarity of the mind, and tranquility of the soul. This new translation masterfully illustrates the goal of Ibn Ata' Allah's discussion of achieving inner illumination of the heart, which is close to the sense of "enlightenment" that has become common in English language discussions of spirituality and gnosis.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Fons Vitae; Tra edition (April 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887752625
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887752626
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,315,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Though written by a medieval Sufi master in North Africa in the late 13th century, this classic Islamic text is as relevant today as ever, arguing as it does that human selfishness and consumption can kill the soul. Kugle, who teaches at Swarthmore, suggests that a rough English translation of the title might be The Book of Illumination for Desisting from Selfish Calculation, because the text "invites us gently on a journey into self-critique, in order to reduce our needs and restrain our craving." Shaykh Ibn 'Ata' Allah offers a surprisingly practical text, one that distinguishes between saving and hoarding, for example, or exhorts readers to cleave to God and community rather than relying only on themselves. But he does this in profoundly theological ways, emphasizing the ephemeral and frail nature of humanity when compared to God's benevolent power. As with many Sufi mystical texts, this one can sometimes seem difficult to understand or rife with paradox. However, readers will be rewarded by a message of humility, devotion and economy that is both timeless and timely.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Shaykh Ahmad Ibn 'Ata' Allah Al-Iskandari, one of the greatest spiritual masters of the thirteenth century, was both a Muhaddith and a Maliki jurist whose works became basic training manuals for aspirants across North Africa. A student of al-Mursi, he was the second to succeed Imam Abul-Hasan, the founder of the Shadhili Order, which continues to this day. His work made an inestimable contribution to elucidating the principles and practices of Sufism.

Scott Kugle is a professor at Swarthmore College.

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible Sufi Teachings For the English-Speaking Audience July 24 2007
By Marc P. Manley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In many ways, the deep and meaningful teachings of Tasawwuf [Sufi'ism] have become watered down to a cardboard, meaningless "New Age" spiritual practice. For many valid reasons Sufi'ism has appealed to many non-Muslims because of its universalities and its ability to speak to "all travelers on the Path". One significant issue that I've often had truck with over many of the writers/translators of Sufi works is that they ignored that fact that many of the Sufi masters were deeply religious people, who had mastered the basics of the religion [mandatory daily prayer, fasting, yearly alms-giving, pilgrimage and so forth] and having gone beyond that also mastered such sciences as jurisprudence [fiqh], Arabic grammar, rhetoric, rhetorical language [balaaghah] and so forth. But as the author points out in the introduction, something key happened with many of these Sufi masters - the obligatory wasn't enough. They needed something that would also soothe and treat the heart. They created a synthesis that was founded in religious fundamentals [not to be conflated with fundamentalism] and sought to formulate a system that would deal with issues of the self [shahawaat or nafs]. Ibn 'Ata' Allah al-Iskandari was a great Sufi personality. As you will read in this volume, he is a man that went through great personal, spiritual and religious transformation in the pursuit of self-rectification. I highly recommend this read as it is highly accessible; an academic piece that allows for the inclusion of a broader audience. In my opinion, this would be in keeping with the teachings of Ibn 'Ata' Allah himself [and Tasawwuf in general]. You'll enjoy this read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing reading Nov. 15 2007
By Farseem Mohammedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book was authored by an egyptian sufi master in the Shadhili order. It has not many diverse topics that was covered, but those that are indeed covered, are full with intuitive illumination assisted by useful and interesting stories/parables. A person who like reading easy sufi stuff that enlightens ones heart, may like this book. Its also helpful for others to get oneself educated in how to improve ones self over self's carnal desires.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for any traveler on the path to Allah. April 6 2008
By Seeker of Knowledge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a book full of insight that goes into depth about Muslim attitudes on selfish calculation and how to leave them. The translation is also well done.

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