- Last Updated: 10 February 2017 10 February 2017
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The Greatest Teacher, al-shaykh al-akbar, Ibn al-Arabi dictated to his close friends this work of over 10,000 manuscript pages depicting the extraordinary vision of the Youth he encountered while circling the Kaabah in Makkah. Despite its clear provenance as a completely accurate work, from the hand and mind of its transcriber, and its reputation through the centuries as the most significant and profound reflection of Islamic thought,
the Futuhat al-Makkiyah has never been translated from the original classical Arabic in its entirety. The first complete critical edition of twelve volumes was produced in 2010 by Abd al-Aziz Sultan al-Mansoub, after eleven years of intense study of the original manuscripts. From 2012 this translator has been exclusively working on translating this work in order to produce the first complete translation into English of the Futuhat al-Makkiyah.
The Futuhat al-Makkiyah is no conventional religious or philosophical text; it is sui generis. Although the work has been described as a vast collection of “metaphysics, cosmology, spiritual anthropology, psychology, and jurisprudence,” it is first an integral description of a vision. In order to depict what he saw, Ibn al-Arabi draws on different kinds of language: legal and poetic, geometric and theological. Because these languages are difficult, and especially so for readers removed by eight centuries in time, scholars tend to emphasize the difficulty, even impossibility, of translation—or even conveying—this text (especially without omitting troublesome passages or references). Thus scholarly presentations are limited to excerpts and selections. The translator has benefitted from some of the top Arabic language experts, including Hany Ibrahim, Karim Crow, Pablo Beneito, and Atif Khalil. The critical editor Sidi al-Mansoub has been generous to me with his guidance and instruction. I am solely responsible for mistakes, and the publication of this on-going project as a preprint is to encourage readers to help me improve the work.