Letters of a Sufi Scholar

The Correspondence of `Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (1641-1731)


As a leading Muslim thinker, ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī of Damascus creatively engaged with the social, religious, and intellectual challenges that emerged during the early modern period in which he lived. Yet, at a time of high anti-mystical fervour, his Sufi-inspired views faced strong local antipathy. Through extensive correspondence, presented here for the first time, ‘Abd al-Ghanī projected his ideas and teachings beyond the parochial boundaries of Damascus, and was thus able to assert his authority at a wider regional level. The letters he himself selected, compiled, and titled shed fresh lights on the religious and intellectual exchanges among scholars in the eastern Ottoman provinces, revealing a dynamic and rigorous image of Islam, one that is profoundly inspired by humility, tolerance, and love.

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Biographical Note

Samer Akkach, PhD (1992) in Architecture, University of Sydney, is Associate Professor in Architectural History and Theory and Founding Director of the Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture at Adelaide University. His major works include ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi: Islam and the Enlightenment (Oneworld 2007); Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam: An Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas (SUNY 2005).

Review Quotes

“This is an outstanding edition which forms a natural complement to Akkach’s biography of ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi.”, Francis Robinson, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

"This book is the product of considerable effort, and represents a boon for scholars with an interest in Sufism in the early modern period and especially for the small group of specialists working on ‘Abd al-Ghanī. But Akkach’s introduction is also of interest to the much larger group of historians and religious studies scholars interested in clarifying the intellectual history of the Muslim world in the early modern period."
Justin Stearns in MESA - RoMES 44.1 (2010).

“Samer Akkach’s book is an admirable work, an appropriate tribute to a great Muslim humanist, scholar and mystic.”
Michael Winter in Journal of Sufi Studies 2.1 (2013), 121-123.
DOI: 10.1163/22105956-12341249


All those interested in the intellectual history of Islam, early modern history, Middle Eastern history, postal and correspondence history, Sufism, Ibn ‘Arabī’s Sufism, Islamic theology, and the Unity of Being.


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