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Ibn al-Arabi

Rethinking Ibn \'Arabi : New
Rethinking Ibn 'Arabi : New
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Details:  Rethinking Ibn 'Arabi : New,
in relation to Shaykh Muhiy al-Din Ibn al-Arabi [d.638h],
*[-A4] Hardback - 300 pages,
by Gregory A Lipton,
Published by OUP Press.

In defence of Ibn al-'Arabi being incorrectly labelled a Perennialist!

Description :

The thirteenth century mystic Shaykh ibn al-`Arabi was the foremost Sufi theorist of the premodern era. For more than a century, Western scholars and esotericists have heralded his universalism, arguing that he saw all contemporaneous religions as equally valid. In Rethinking Ibn `Arabi, Gregory Lipton calls this image into question and throws into relief how Ibn `Arabi's discourse is inseparably intertwined with the absolutist vision of his own religious milieu--that is, the triumphant claim that Islam fulfilled, superseded, and therefore abrogated all previous revealed religions.

Lipton juxtaposes Ibn `Arabi's absolutist conception with the later reception of his ideas, exploring how they have been read, appropriated, and universalised within the reigning interpretive field of Perennial Philosophy in the study of Sufism. The contours that surface through this comparative analysis trace the discursive practices that inform Ibn `Arabi's Western reception back to the eighteenth and nineteenth century study of "authentic" religion, where European ethno-racial superiority was wielded against the Semitic Other-both Jewish and Muslim. Lipton argues that supersessionist models of exclusivism are buried under contemporary Western constructions of religious authenticity in ways that ironically mirror Ibn `Arabi's medieval absolutism.


'Lipton helpfully navigates Continental intellectual history, and the resulting genealogy exposes the layers of Enlightenment and Romantic thought fueling Schuonian Perennialism, and also the troubling legacy of 19th century Aryanist scholarship. Ultimately, this is a valuable look at the writings of Ibn 'Arabi which offers a counterpoint to the scholarship that emphasizes the "universal" over the "particular" in his philosophy... Lipton adds to a conversation surrounding what Shahab Ahmed termed "the Sufi-philosophical (or philosophical-Sufi) amalgam" (Ahmed, What is Islam, 2017: 31)' ---Adam Tyson, University of California, Riverside, Reading Religion.

'Nevertheless, Lipton's book will now be required reading for any scholar of Islamic Studies, mysticism, theology of religions, comparative theology or religions, interreligious studies, Muslim-Christian relations, and the history of these fields, and not just for readers of Ibn 'Arabi's corpus. It is my earnest hope that it will provoke a scholarly and respectful discussion between the Ibn ?Arabi interpreters he perspicaciously analyses and his critical conclusions concerning their universalist writings.' ---Axel M. Oaks Takacs, Harvard Divinity School, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.

'Rethinking Ibn `Arabi provides the first critical study of how the great Andalusian Sufi, Ibn `Arabi, has been turned into a universalist by modern interpreters. Lipton's convincing intervention demands that we read this central figure in a different way.' ---Carl W. Ernst, translator of Hallaj: Poems of a Sufi Martyr.

'Lipton's mastery of Ibn `Arabi's writings in some ways mimics the Sufi tradition's own internalizing techniques, but he does not simply reconstruct and assess Ibn `Arabi's thought, but performs a very delicate and painstaking archćology of Ibn `Arabi's place in European scholastic Sufism and the broader politics of perennial religion. This is a must read for anyone interested in the European appropriation of Sufism and the vagaries of translating Sufi thought for the West.' ---Tony K. Stewart, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in Humanities, Vanderbilt University.

'Using critical discourse analysis and careful study of primary sources, Lipton raises provocative questions about scholarly approaches to the work of Ibn `Arabi. Rethinking Ibn `Arabi not only places Ibn `Arabi's thought within its social and historical context, but also challenges the way we think about translation and interpretation, which―Lipton reminds us―are never ideologically neutral undertakings.' ---Cyrus Ali Zargar, author of The Polished Mirror: Storytelling & the Pursuit of Virtue in Islamic Philosophy and Sufism.

'Gregory Lipton's Rethinking Ibn 'Arabi is a crucial intervention in the studies of Sufism more particularly and mysticism more broadly. No matter how we imagine to be simply reading medieval texts directly, we are always reading these texts through a framework that is also shaped by our own theoretical lens. Lipton's work reminds us that our categories of universalism and mysticism are shaped also by the categories of the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly those shaped by profoundly problematic racial categorizations. It is a work that is urgently recommended for all scholars of Sufism, Islamic studies, and comparative mysticism.' ---Omid Safi, Professor of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University, Trinity College of Arts and Science.

About Shaykh ibn al-Arabi :

Ibn al-‘Arabi, the Shaykh al-Akbar, may Allah be pleased with him, the Sultan of the gnostics Muhyiddin Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Hatimi at-Ta’i al-Andalusi, was born in Murcia on 17th Ramadan, 560 Hijra, and died in Damascus on 22 Rabi‘ al-Akhar, 638 Hijra.

Shaykh Sayyidi ‘Abd al-Wahhab ash-Sha‘rani, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote a biography of him in his Tabaqat and said, “Among them was the Shaykh, the perfect gnostic, the realised, one of the gnostics of Allah, Sayyidi Muhyiddin Ibn al-‘Arabi, may Allah be pleased with him. The realised among the people of Allah – may He be magnified and exalted! – joined in respecting him in all the knowledges, as his books bear witness to that. None reject him except because of the fineness of his words.”

In the introduction to the book, The Rubies and Jewels in the Clarification of the Beliefs of the Great, by Sayyidi ‘Abd al-Wahhab ash-Sha‘rani, he says:

                   “He, Ibn al-‘Arabi, may Allah be pleased with him, followed
                    the Book and the Sunna. He said, ‘Whoever casts the balance
                    of the shari‘a from his hand for an instant is destroyed.’ He said,
                   ‘All that occurs to your mind, Allah ta‘ala is different from that.’
                    This is the creed of the Muslim community until the Hour comes.”

Gregory A. Lipton, Berg Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow, Faculty of Religious Studies, Macalester College.  Gregory Lipton is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Macalester College, where he also held a Berg Postdoctoral Fellowhip in Religious Studies.

Selection of works of Shaykh ibn al-'Arabi.
Also see Sufism.

*Dimensions : 24.1 x 16.3cm.

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This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 28 July, 2020.