Ruh al Quds fi Munasahat al Nafs
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Author: Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi
Editor: Abrar Ahmed Shahī
Review by: Ustaz Abd al-Aziz al-Mansub
Translated by: Abrar Ahmed Shahi
Price Rs 990/- Int'l US $ 45.
Ibn 'Arabî's "hagiographical" work, the Ruh al-Quds fî munâsahat al-nafs is a masterpeice. In his introduction there is a vicious attack on contemporary Sufism, mentioning the adoption of Sufi dress, the khânaqâh system, and a twice-iterated "ban" on the Sufi practice of samâ'. However, self-criticism by "Sufi" authors is in no sense a new genre initiated by Ibn 'Arabî. Indeed, the Shaykh tells us here that al-Qushayrî "most severely rebukes them at the beginning of his Risâla". It remains to be seen then, what positive contribution Ibn 'Arabî offers in his criticisms and in particular: if companionship is now "flattery-based", how is it that in this corrupt age, Ibn 'Arabî himself manages to form over fifty meaningful companionships of which, moreover, he has recorded some but "kept quiet" concerning most?
The work is naturally divided into three sections of roughly equal length by those biographical accounts. More fundamentally, however, as we shall see, there is a thematic division corresponding to the classic Sufi itinerary of mi'râj (ascent), pp. 31-88; the ruju' (return), pp. 139-176; and the divine sphere (mushâhada) where these multiple mi'râjs and ruju's actually take place, pp. 88-139.
Throughout this epistle Ibn al-Arabî addresses his Tunisian friend 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Mahdawî, at one of these instances he Says:
You have gained, my brother - may God make me and you of those who have gained in this age of yours - in a manner such that I don't expect to see them (these spiritual gains, fawz) from any other than you. Of them (the fawzs) is your acknowledgement of the rank of knowledge and those possessing it (al-'ilm wa ahli-hi), the lack of aspiration, on your behalf, to miracles and states. Of them, is your submission to God, your humility and compliance to Him in respect of who you find, regardless of whether he is one whom people notice or nobody cares about. Also, you do not consider your worldly position that is, peoples' praising of you, kissing your hand or the coming of Sultans to your door. This is the height of just treatment, may God keep you firm. Of them is your saying, when you don't know something, "I don't know" and when you do know, "I would like to hear it from other than me". By God, you have gained, my friend, qualities which cause heads to soar from necks, a station (maqâm) which is unaffected by the states (al-ahwâl), whose brilliance is not exceeded by supererogatory works. Then your search, which I haven't seen from other than you, concerning knowledge of humankind and of time, and your belief that it is of divine necessity...
New Critial Arabic Edition
A much copied work, verified by three historic mss. The best is undoubtedly University A79 which is the riwāya (transmission) of al-Ḥabashī, dated 600H, with at least nine samāʿ in IA’s lifetime. This edition is as authentic and pure as intended by the author. We have used the following five manuscripts for this new edition of Ruh al-Quds fi munashat al-Nafs:
1- Uni a79
The best manuscript of Ruh al-Quds, written by Abdullah Badar al-Habashī, dated 600H, with many samāʿ, ranging from 600H in Mecca to 634H in Damascus (see 102a-103b), verified by Ibn al-Arabi. A clear text with the names of the Maghribi masters in a larger size, giving some navigation through the text.
On Title page 1a:
1- كتب بها الفقير إلى الله تعالى محمد بن علي ابن العربي الطائي الحاتمي الأندلسي من مكة حرسها الله سنة ست مائة إلى عبد العزيز بن أبي بكر القرشي المهدوي نزيل تونس ببلاد مغرب رضي الله عنهما و غفر لهما وللمسلمين.
رواية عبد الله المسعود بدر بن عبد الله الحبشي معتق أبي الغنائم بن أبي الفتوح الحراني عنه، غفر الله ذنبه.
2- قرأه جميعه علي منشئه أيوب بن بدر بن منصور المقرئ القاهري.
3- سمعه وانتخب منه ما يتيسرإبراهيم بن الحسين الاربيلي عفى الله عنه.
2- Shehit Ali 1341
It was copied by "the poor toward [God] the Friend, the Rich beyond need, Abū Riḍā bin Sayyid ʿAlī b. Muḥammad al-Jawnī (or Jawwanī), in the month of Rabi ul Awwal 724H."
It is considered as an accurate manuscript of this work.
3- Hudayi 517
Written by Azīz Maḥmūd Hudayī (133a). A very nice copy with the names of the people in red in the margin. A note at the end says that it was copied on 15th Rajab 999H.
4- Fakhr al-din al-Khurasani’s copy
A collection of more than 60 works of Shaykh al-Akbar copied in the year 814 by an admirer of Shaykh al-Akbar Fakhr al-Din Khurasani in Zubaid Yemen. This whole collection is of very importance, some works bear notes of copying from original but overall we have found it to be a good collection of Ibn al-Arabi’s works.
5- King Saud University
No name of the scribe, It was copied in Bayat al-Maqdas, completed in the month of Sh'ban al-muazzam 743H."
Over all manuscript is just fine, not very accurate.