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.
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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.