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Ibn Ata' Allah

The Book of Illumination
The Book of Illumination
  • Shipping Weight: 0.605kg
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  • Authored by: Ibn Ata'Allah al-Iskandari

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Details:  The Book of Illumination - Kitab al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir,
Along with Signs of Success on the Spiritual Path -
- Unwan al-Tawfiq fi Adab al-Tariq,
*[A5+] Paperback - 452 pages,
by Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah Al-Iskandari [d.1309ce],
Translated from the Arabic by: Dr Scott Kugle.,
Published by Fons Vitae.

Description :

The Book of Illumination is a translation of al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir, a Sufi text composed by the Muslim saint and jurist, Ibn Ata'illah al-Iskandari, may Allah be pleased with him. The text is about avoiding the anxieties associated with rational calculation, hoarding wealth, and exercising self-interest. It consists of ethical commentary on the Qur'an, traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and examples of North African Sufi masters. The author meant it to be an ethical introduction to Sufi mysticism, a first stepping-stone for aspirants who would experience spiritual intimacy with God within the framework of Islamic ethics and law.

While revealing important characteristics of North African Islamic thought, The Book of Illumination also addresses the concerns of contemporary audiences. The text offers deep insight into topics crucial to many people who are exploring "spirituality" in the age of late capitalism with its consumer-driven economics and endless production of new desires and proliferation of choices. Though thoroughly medieval in its subtle elaboration on the richness of scripture and its belief in the efficacy of sainthood, The Illumination is also uniquely contemporary in its piercing critique of selfish desire and rational calculation. The argument of this thirteenth century Muslim author articulates an "Islamic work ethic" that challenges many sociological assumptions of Max Weber while simultaneously dissecting many assumptions of our contemporary consumerist culture whose triumph Weber had announced with such ambivalence.


What happens if you stop taking care of yourself?  Will anyone else step in to take care of you? This Sufi text by the renowned Shadhili master, Ibn Ata'illah al-Iskandari, asks and answers this basic existential question about the way we live our lives.  In Kitab al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir, Ibn Ata'illah proposes that if you desist from selfish calculation to secure your own welfare, then you invite Allah to step in and take care of you, materially as well as spiritually.  That seems simple enough, but the text reveals the profound depth of this proposition. It weaves together creative Qur'anic interpretation and explanation of rare teachings from the Prophet Muhammad's, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, traditions with the Sufi master's own poetry, parables, and stories of past Shadhili masters.

The Book of Illumination has been the basic training manual for Sufis in North Africa, and serves as an indispensible introduction to Ibn Ata'illah's more advanced writings, such as his Sufi Aphorisms (Kitab al-Hikam).  In this age of conspicuous consumption and capitalist greed, a translation of the Book of Illumination has special value. It upholds the spiritual value of work while urging readers to simplify their reliance on material means and question their obsession with possessing and craving.  It argues for a spirituality of living in the world without relying on the world, a spirituality that is more relevant now than ever.

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 Imam al-Mursi, he was the second to succeed Imam Abul-Hasan, may Allah be pleased with them both, 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.

Table of Contents

---System of Transliteration,
---A Parable : A Straying Servant,

---Translators Introduction,
------Approaching the Text,
------Contextualising the Text's Translation,
------Conceiving of the Text's Agenda,
------Understanding the Text's Author,
------Appreciating the Author's Works,
------Translating the Text.

---The Book of Illumination [Kitab al-Tanwir],
------Opening Address,

Chapter One : Desisting from Selfish Calculation,

[1]. Recognising Selfish Calculation,
-----Ten Ways toward Wisdom,
-----Transcending Discontent,
--------Surah al-Qasas [28 : 61-70],
-----The Prophet's, ﷺ, Teaching about Contentment,
-----Spiritual Progress means Desisting from Selfish Calculation,

[2]. Resisting Selfish Calculation,
-----What Were You Before You Began to Be?
-----Doors and Foundations for Building Good Life,
-----Your Place in the Cosmic Order,
--------A Parable : Be a Tree,
-----Own up to What You Really Own,
--------A Parable : All Sales are Final,
--------Repentance : Surat al-Tawba [9 : 109-111],
--------A Parable : Provision is None of your Business,
-----Be a Servant Without Claiming to be a Master,
--------Parable : Accepting Hospitality with Grace,
-----Reason About Risks.

[3]. Consequences of Selfish Calculation,
-------The Heights, Surah al-A'raf [7 : 10-23],
-------The Heifer, Surat al-Baqara [2 : 30-39],
-----The Secrets of Eden,
-----A Fortunate Fall,
-----The State of Servanthood,
-----Why Wander in the Desert?

[4]. The Miracle of Desisting from Selfish Calculation,
--------A Parable : Dont Hide in the Shadow,
-----The Example of Gods Friends,
-----Why Noah's Son Perished,
--------A Parable : The Straying Servant,
--------Another Parable : Tale of Two Servants,
-----A Brush with Stray Thoughts,
-----The Fortress of Recollection.

[5]. Persisting Despite Selfish Calculation,
-----Abraham's Principles Regulating Selfish Calculation,
-----The Security of Relinquishing Control,
-----Reason between Good and Bad Calculation,
-----Planning in this World for the Next World,
--------A Parable  : To Work or Not to Work?
--------Another Parable : What You Need to Reach the Goal,
-----Let the World be in Your Hands Not Your Hearts,
--------A Parable  : Tasks and Tools,
-----The Guidance of the Prophet's, ﷺ, Companions,
-----Why Despise this World?

[6]. Avoiding Selfish Calculation in Work and Worship,
-----Working People's Needs,
-----Cultivating Virtue Through Work,
-----The Difference Between Sight and Insight.

[7]. Overcoming Selfish Calculation,
-----The Tranquil Soul's Return,
--------The Dawn, Surah al-Fajr [89 : 15-30].

Chapter Two : Desisting from Anxiety about Provision,

[1]. Bodily Needs,
--------A Parable : From Where do Your Riches Come?
-----Secrets in the Poverty of Moses,
--------The Story, Surah al-Qasas [28 : 22-32],
-----Drinking Cool Water after Hard Work,
--------A Parable : You Are How You Eat,
-----You are Created to Serve,
--------A Parable :  The Lion and the Fly,
-----Worthwhile Distractions.

[2]. Understanding Provision's Guarantee,
--------A Parable : Parent and Child,
--------A Parable : There is No Good That'a Lacking,
-----Provision is Conditional Upon Service,
--------Surah Ta Ha [20 : 130-132],
-----Divine Support Services,
-----What is Guaranteed is Apportioned,
--------The Winds that Scatter, Surat al-Dhariyat [51 : 7-23],
-----Living upto the Pledge,
-----What is Apportioned in Delivered.

[3]. Seeking Provision,
-----Making Work Beautiful,
--------A Parable : The Fool and the Spigot,
--------A Parable :  Free to be a Trustee,
-----Flying with Trust like Birds,
--------A Parable : The Insult of Hoarding,
--------A Parable : Carrying out the Struggle,
-----Provision for Those who Seek Knowledge.

[4]. Receiving Provision,
--------A Parable : Stick to your Source,
-----Know Your Enemy Like Abraham,
-----Free Yourself from Miserly Anxiety,
-----The Challenges of Regret and Loss,
-----Everything Passes Away.

------Intimate Conversation with God (Munajat),
------Concluding Prayer (Du'a).

---Appendix One: The Sign of Success on the Spiritual Path,
------Translator's Introduction,
------Translation : The Sign of Success on the Spiritual Path

---Appendix Two:  The Challenge of Gender in translating from Arabic,
------Alternate Translation : The Book of Illumination.

---Glossary of Arabic Terms,

More works by the Author,
Also see Shadhilliya Path,
More on Sufism.

*Dimensions : 23 x 15.3 x 3.2cm.

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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 19 December, 2012.

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