The Immense Ocean : '' Al Bahr al Madid ''
*[A5] Glossy Paperback - 200 pages,
by Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba,
Published by Fons Vitae, USA.
A Thirteenth/Eighteenth Century Qur'anic Commentary on the Chapters: 'The All-Merciful' (Surah al-Rahman), 'The Event' (Surah al-Waqi'ah), and 'Iron' (Surah al-Hadid)!
“I have been requested by Shaykh, Sidi Muhammad al-Buzidi al-Hasani, as well has his Shaykh, the Qutb, Mulay al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi al-Hasani, to set down in writing a commentary that would combine both exoteric explanation and esoteric allusion, and I have responded to their request…in hopes that this work will benefit many and be a joy to the heart as well as to the ear.”
The 18th century Moroccan mystic and scholar, Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba, virtually unknown in the west before the 1967 publication of Jean-Louis Michon’s Le Soufi Marocain Ibn ‘Ajiba et son Mi’raj, spent six year towards the end of his life working intermittently on his single greatest work, The Immense Ocean (al-Bahr al-Madid), a complete commentary on the Holy Qur'an. The finished work would differ from all other previous Qur'anic commentaries (tafasir) by the fact that in addition to presenting the exoteric explanation for every verse, it also included esoteric commentary (ishara) which related each verse to the mystic path of Islam, Sufism.
The present translation is of one section--- the fifty-fourth hizb (or part) containing the Chapters of The All-Merciful, The Event, and Iron---from this unique and monumental work. Its intention is to provide the Anglophone reader with access not only to how the generality of educated Muslims have understood the dominant themes of these Chapters since the earliest days of Islam, but also how traditional Sufic sources have viewed these same themes in respect to the microcosm of the soul and the journey towards God. To this latter dimension, Ibn ‘Ajiba adds insights arising from his own spiritual quest, that of a man who, in his early 40s, having lived the life of a scholar from a noble Tetouani family, turned away from all the rank and respect he had previously enjoyed in order to become the disciple of two of the greatest Sufic teachers of his day, Mulay al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi and Muhammad al-Buzidi, and immerse himself in the rigorous spiritual training and practice that characterised their way, al-Tariqa al-Shadhiliyya al-Darqawiyya.
This translation, then presents both an example of Islamic scholarship based on traditional formal sources as well as insight into Ibn ‘Ajiba’s own personal journey of discovery.
In the course of this work, the reader will find commentary, both exoteric and esoteric, on verses concerning the interrelation between Divine benevolence and human gratitude; the blessings of Heaven and the place of faithful men and women there; the relationship between practice, grace, and salvation; the role and meaning of the invocation and remembrance of God (Dhikr-Allah); the ephemeral nature of this world; the essential traits of Christians; the meaning of earthy tribulations; and the benefits of charity.
In addition the reader will discover the depths at which Qur'anic discourse has been understood by the mystics of Islam over the centuries (and up to the present day), a depth at which formal differences between traditions become less and less distinct and the similarities in the human quest for knowledge of the Divine ever more inspiring.
“As for God’s words Full of spreading branches, these allude to the many types of knowledge, tastes, mysteries, and lights to be found in those two gardens, as well as to the differing spiritual insights which arise from the ocean of mysteries. Therein, for each one, are two springs flowing forth, one with the teachings of the Revealed Law, ethics, and comportment befitting servanthood, and the other with the teachings of the esoteric truth, the Way, and the monotheism of the elect (al-tawhid al-khass). Therein of every fruit of spiritual experience (adhwaq) there is a pair, that is, two kinds: one which is constant and unchanging and the other which is renewed at each instant. We might also say there is a kind which pertains to the world of Divine Wisdom and another which pertains to the world of Divine Power, or one which pertains to the Essence and one which pertains to the Attributes; or one which arises from the sweetness of direct perception and one which arises from correct comportment.”
What makes this book special?
Al-Bahr al-Madid, from which this translation is an excerpt, is the only traditional Quranic commentary in existence which gives both exoteric exegesis and mystical “spiritual allusion” for each verse of the Sacred Book. Only one other work by the prolific 13th/18th century Moroccan mystic and scholar, Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba, has so far been translated into English.
Table of Contents :
-----The Beginnings of Tafsir,
-----Books of Commentary,
-----The Life of Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba,
-----The Composition of Al-Bahr al-Madid,
-----About this Translation,
-----The Fifty Fourth Hizb,
------Notes to Introduction.
---Ibn 'Ajiba's Introduction to Al-Bahr al-Madid,
------Notes on Author's Introduction.
---The Chapter of the All-Merciful : Surah al-Rahman,
------Notes on the Chapter of the All-Merciful,
---The Chapter of the Event : Surah al-Waqi'ah,
------Notes on the Chapter of the Event,
---The Chapter of Iron : Surah al-Hadid,
------Notes on the Chapter of the Iron,
---Biograhical Index of persons mentioned in the Text,
---Index of Qur'anic Verses Cited,
---Index of Hadith Cited,
Shaykh Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba [d.1809 Common Era], may Allah have mercy upon him,
was a Moroccan Sufi teacher with a vision which far surpassed many of
his contemporaries. Being of the Path of tasawwuf himself, he felt a deep compassion
for those in need of a little illumination and wrote many notable works. He was initiated into the Darqawi-Shadhili Path.
Dimensions : 22.4 x 15.2cm.