This article represents a preliminary inquiry into a little known and understudied commentarial tradition upon ʿAbd Allāh al-Anṣārī’s classic work on the stations of Sufism, the Manāzil al-sāʾirīn (Stations of the Wayfarers). After briefly taking stock of the considerably late commentarial tradition which this important text engendered, we will take as our case study one of the Manāzil ’s key topics, namely its sixty-first chapter on the station of love. This pivotal section on love gives profound insight into early Sufism and into the minds of two of its greatest exponents. Anṣārī discusses the station of love in detail, as he does with every chapter, in three aspects, each pertaining to the three types of wayfarers: the initiates, the elect, and the foremost of the elect. Then, we shall turn our attention to perhaps the most important Sufi commentary upon this work by an important follower of the school of Ibn al-ʿArabī, ʿAbd al-Razzāq Kāshānī, offering a guided reading of his commentary upon Anṣarī’s chapter on love in the Manāzil. A complete English translation of this chapter will be offered and appropriately contextualized.
The Horizons of Being explores the teachings of Ibn al-ʿArabī by examining Dāwūd al-Qayṣarī’s (d. 1350) Prolegomena (
muqaddima) to his commentary,
Maṭlaʿ khuṣūṣ al-kilam fī maʿānī Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam (A Preamble of Select Discourse on the Meanings of the Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam), referred to simply as
Muqaddimat al-Qayṣarī. While his commentary represents the third in a direct line going back to Ibn al-ʿArabī through Kāshānī, Jandī and Qūnawī, it remains one of the most popular due to its thorough and accessible treatment of the
Fuṣūṣ that frequently synthesizes the ideas of his predecessors.
Muqaddima stands on its own as an independent work and has been the subject of careful study. If the
al-Futūḥāt al-makkiyya contains the entirety of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s metaphysics which is distilled in the
Fuṣūṣ, then Qayṣarī’s
Muqaddima can be read not just as a precis of the
Fuṣūṣ but a summary of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s doctrine.