Way of Abu Madyan
Arabic-English parallel text.
pages: 190 size: 234 x 156mm
The Islamic Texts Society
Arabic-English parallel text.
ISBN: 0 946621 35 7
This is the first English translation
of works attributed to Abu Madyan, a seminal figure of Sufism in Muslim Spain
and North Africa. The Arabic text accompanying the English translation also
represents the first scholarly edition of these works in the original language.
The variety of Abu Madyan’s oeuvre, which includes doctrinal
treatises, aphorisms, and poetical works in the ode, qasida, style,
provides a unique opportunity for students of Arabic and Sufism, as well as the
interested layman, to experience several of the most important genres of
religious writing in the Islamic Middle Period. The Arabic texts have been
extensively vocalised in order to aid the student. The work as a whole is
well-suited for use as a reader for advanced level classes in the Arabic
language. In addition, notes have been provided in the English translation. The
Arabic parallel text, set by DecoType, Amsterdam, marks the debut of a new form
of calligraphic typesetting in the classical Nashk style, combining
state-of-the-art computer technology with unique faithfulness to the great
calligraphic tradition of the Islamic world.
Abu Madyan Shu’ayb ibn al-Husayn al-Ansari,
1115/16-1198, poet, teacher and Sufi mystic, was born in the town of Cantillana
near Seville in Muslim Spain and is buried at al-Ubbad outside the city of
Tlemcen in Western Algeria. After spending many years of his life learning from
the most famous Sufis of Morocco, he settled in the Algerian city of Bijaya,
where he spread his particular brand of orthodox mysticism to Sufi adepts and
the general public alike. Called ‘Shaykh of Shaykhs’ and ‘the Nurturer’,
al-Ghawth, by his contemporaries, Abu Madyan was the most influential
Sufi of the formative period of mysticism in North Africa and had a profound
influence on the eventual Qadiri and Shadhili Sufi traditions.
Vincent J. Cornell is Andrew W. Mellon Assistant
Professor of Religion at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.
The World of Maghrebi Sufism in the Twelfth Century AD
The Career of Abu Madyan
Abu Madyan and Sufism
The Texts and their Translations
1.The Supplication for Forgiveness.
2.The Blessed Creed.
3.Basic Principles of the Sufi Path.
4.The Intimacy of the Recluse and Pastime of the Seeker.
5-12. Numerous Qasidas
Appendix I: The Ode in Nun by Ali ibn Isma’il ibn Hirzihim.
Appendix II: A Treatise on Sufism by Abu Ya’za Yalannur ibn Maymun ad-Dukkali.
About Abu Madyan
The man who was to become the most influential figure of the developmental
period of North African Sufism, Abu Madyan Shu’ayb ibn al-Husayn al-Ansari, who
was called by later biographers the ‘Shaykh of Shaykhs, Imam of the Ascetics and
the Pious, Lord of the Gnostics, and Exemplar of the Seekers’, and who remains
known to posterity as ‘Abu Madyan the Nurturer’ (al-Ghawth), entered the world
in inauspicious circumstances. Born around the year 509/1115-16 at the fortress
of Cantillana in the region of Seville (Ishbiliya) in Muslim Spain, the future
shaykh was orphaned early in life by the unexpected death of his father and
suffered cruel treatment and exploitation at the hands of his elder brothers.
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