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In: Islamic Thought and the Art of Translation
In: Studia Islamica
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In the early Sufi tradition tawba was conceived not simply as repentance, or returning to God from a particular sin, but as a broader and much more encompassing process of “interior conversion” in which a nominal allegiance to the religion of one’s birth was replaced by a complete and unwavering commitment to the spiritual life. Ibrāhīm’s b. Adham’s (d. 161/778–9) tawba remains perhaps the most well-known of such accounts. Found in virtually all the major biographical and hagiographical sources which deal with the formative period of Sufism, it contains elements both uncannily similar to that of Buddha’s own conversion intertwined with distinctively Islamic motifs, whether they involve a scrupulous concern for lawful sustenance, hearing a Qur’anic admonishment through the words of an invisible caller (hātif), an over-riding concern for final Judgement and the welfare of the soul after death, or an encounter with Khiḍr through whom certain mysteries of the Way are disclosed.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
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Gratitude or shukr is one of the most central of Islamic virtues, the importance of which is underscored by the fact that the defining notions of “faith” and “disbelief” revolve around the pivots of shukr and kufr (= ingratitude). The article focuses on treatments of the virtue within the Sufi tradition, and even here, with a concentration specifically on the importance attached to its cultivation within the inner life of the spiritual aspirant. This is accomplished through an analysis of authors ranging from al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī (d. 905–10) and Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 996) to Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 1240) and Aḥmad Zarrūq (d. 1493). In the process the article examines the semantics of shukr in Arabic as defined in the lexicographical tradition, its use in the Qur’an, definitions of the virtue in Sufi literature, the various strategies devised by a wide range of authorities on how to go about integrating the virtue within one’s life, and finally, what are believed to be the consequences or “karmic effects” of both gratitude and ingratitude for blessings (shukr al-niʿma and kufr al-niʿma).

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
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Abstract

From the origins of Islamic history, humility (khushūʿ/tawāḍuʿ) has occupied a central place in Muslim piety. This has been in large part due to its defining role in the Qurʾān and ḥadīths, and no less because it stands as the opposite of pride (kibr)—the cardinal sin of both Iblīs and Pharaoh in Scripture. By drawing on the literature of Sufism or taṣawwuf from its formative period to the 20th century—spanning the writings of such figures as al-Makkī (d. 386/996), al-Qushayrī (d. 465/1072), Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 638/1240), Rūmī (d. 672/1273), al-Sha⁠ʿrānī (d. 973/1565), al-Darqāwī (d. 1239/1823), and al-Sharnūbī (d. 1348/1929)—the article examines the defining characteristics of this virtue, its marks or signs, and the dangers that lie in its embodiment. In the process, we shall see how humility occupies a place somewhere in between pride, conceit, and self-admiration, on the one hand, and self-loathing, self-denigration, and outright self-hatred, on the other. Although humility is, in theory, to be exercised towards both God and other human beings, the precise nature of its embodiment, as we might expect, varies in relation to both. The article ends with an epilogue on what it means to transcend humility altogether.

Open Access
In: Journal of Islamic Ethics
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Abstract

With special reference to chapters 119 and 558 of the Meccan Revelations, the article draws out Ibn ʿ⁠Arabī’s (d. 638/1240) understanding of the divine Name al-Wakīl (“The Trustee”) and the nature of trusteeship (wakāla). In the process, it demonstrates how for our mystic trusteeship forms a circle that begins with the human being entrusting his affairs to God, and returns to its point of origin with God entrusting him to be His vicegerent (khalīfa). Trusteeship, which finds its archetypical perfection in the divine Wakīl, descends through various degrees of perfection, to all levels and strata of human society. The capacity to embody and manifest the Name al-Wakīl is, for Ibn ʿ⁠Arabī, itself made possible by the theomorphic nature of the human being, a child of the primordial Adam fashioned in the image of God.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies