The K. 'Anqā' mughrib is a significant literary and theological endeavor by Ibn al-'Arabī during his early years of writing in the Maghrib around the turn of the seventh/13th century. The book is an extensive discussion composed entirely in rhymed prose (saj') and is filled with subtle allusions and evocative symbolism, utilizing dark conundrums and cryptography to unveil profound and far-reaching speculations on the miraculous nature of Islamic sainthood (walāyah), or 'friendship with God'. The 'Anqā' is, in essence, the founding manifesto of Ibn al-'Arabī's revolutionary doctrine of walāyah, as epitomized in the ancient (yet 'underground') Sufi concept of the Seal of the saints (khatm al-awliyā').
The foundation of this modern text of "Anqa Mughrib" is based on more than ten manuscripts, which we have divided into two categories:
These are the manuscripts that are directly copied from the original manuscript or were transcribed within a century of the Shaykh's life or death. They typically present the best text and are mostly copied directly from the original manuscript.
These are the manuscripts that are not directly copied from the original manuscript or were transcribed centuries after Shaykh's life or death. While they still present good text quality, we treat them as corroborative evidence. Sometimes, these manuscripts may contain errors, which is why we do not include all variations in the footnotes. These two tiers of manuscripts collectively form the basis for the modern text of "Anqa Mughrib." They provide valuable insights into the content and variations within the book, allowing scholars and researchers to study and compare different versions of this important work.
1- Berlin Manuscript -3266
This manuscript is of such significance that it is considered the oldest among the manuscripts attributed to Sheikh. It was written in 597 Hijri in the city of Fes, and Sheikh himself saw it. Additionally, a cryptic expression by Sheikh Akbar's own hand is inscribed on pages 44 and 45 of the manuscript. According to Gerald Elmore's research, this manuscript was written in present-day Morocco and Algeria, where Sheikh Akbar spent an entire year while on a pilgrimage. Perhaps this is the unique manuscript that he brought with him from there to the East. This invaluable manuscript was later acquired by the Turks in 1929. The manuscript is written in Maghrebi script, which is known for its unique way of writing certain Arabic letters. For example, when the letter "ف" (fa) is joined with other letters, a dot is placed beneath it instead of above it, as is commonly done. Similarly, when the letter "ق" (qaf) is written, a dot is placed above it, and only one dot is used instead of two. This distinction helps differentiate between the letters "ف," "ق," and "غ." Another notable feature of this manuscript is that most of the letters are adorned with dots and diacritics, making it easier to read the text. The titles of the books are written in large letters. Additionally, there are corrections and marks of recitation scattered throughout the margins. At the end of the copy, there is a mention of a recitation, but due to missing words, it cannot be read accurately. The first page is more than half torn and is in a very deteriorated condition. There is a mention of a recitation on the first page that is very difficult to read. Moreover, this is an incomplete manuscript, with approximately 17 pages of the text missing.
2- British Library Manuscript - Or 9632
This manuscript is one of the most important copies of the book after the Berlin Manuscript. One of the reasons for its significance is that the scribes of this manuscript were associates of Sheikh Akbar. Among the scribes of this manuscript, the names Abd al-Mun'im ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Ansari and Isma'il ibn Sudiqin are mentioned. When comparing the handwriting style of this manuscript to that of the Berlin Manuscript, it closely resembles the manuscript of the Fath al-Makki, which is attributed to the year 2750. If we consider that both manuscripts were written by the same scribe, it makes sense that Isma'il ibn Sudiqin al-Nuri was the scribe of both. Like the Berlin Manuscript, this is also an incomplete copy of the book. It is missing the beginning 16 pages and the final 6 pages. The script in this manuscript is exceptionally well done, with the use of black ink and prominent, large-lettered book titles. The text is easy to read, and from a scholarly perspective, this manuscript presents the best version of the book. Some marginal notes and commentary are also present in the manuscript. We consider this manuscript as the second most important after the Berlin Manuscript. It has not been part of any research or publications before. Neither Gerald Elmore nor Professor Al-Mansub used this manuscript. Therefore, thanks to this manuscript, we have been successful in correcting some places where earlier editions were inaccurate. At the end of the manuscript, the following statement is found: "The book is completed with the praise of Allah, the Most High, and His mercy, on Sunday, the twelfth of Jumada al-Akhira, in the year six hundred and thirty-six, in the city of Aleppo, may Allah guard it. And may Allah's blessings be upon our master Muhammad and his family, all together." This indicates that this manuscript was transcribed in the city of Aleppo in the year 636 Hijri, which is two years before the passing of Sheikh Akbar.
3- Manuscript Noor Usmaniyya - 2406
This manuscript, written in Naskh script, is one of the finest copies of the book available in the Noor Usmaniyya Library in Istanbul. The text of the manuscript is adorned with diacritics wherever possible. Red and black ink have been used for emphasis in the text. The main text is written in black ink, while headings and initial words are highlighted in red ink. Marginal notes are present, indicating places where comparisons were made. The manuscript abruptly ends after 20 pages. It appears that the final 20 pages might have been lost or omitted, possibly containing contemporary events. This manuscript has not been used in any text published prior to today, and neither Gerald Elmore nor Professor Mansub included it in their research. The scribe, Abdullah ibn Ibrahim, copied this manuscript as part of a collection that includes more than ten treatises attributed to Sheikh Akbar. The section containing Sheikh Akbar's treatises in this collection is meticulously and elegantly written, and each treatise concludes with a statement indicating that this manuscript is a copy of the original manuscript read in the presence of Sheikh Akbar. Scholars from the Ibn Arabi Society believe that this statement was added later and cannot be relied upon, especially regarding some of the treatises. Other books and treatises present in this collection besides the book under discussion are as follows: "Kitab al-Fana' fi al-Mashahada," "Maqam al-Qurbah," "Kitab al-Jalalah," "Kitab al-Azamah," "Kitab Ayyam al-Shan," "Kitab al-Haw," "Kitab Anqaa' al-Maghrib," "Al-I'lam bi-Isharat Ahl al-Ilham," and "Maratib 'Ulum al-Wahb."
4- Raghib Pasha Manuscript - 1453
The Raghib Pasha Manuscript is also one of the finest copies of the Anqa Mughrib book. This manuscript is a direct reproduction from the manuscript of Sheikh Sadruddin Qunawi. The scribe of this manuscript explicitly mentioned in the colophon that he copied it directly from the manuscript of Sheikh Sadruddin Qunawi. In the original manuscript, after the title of the book, there was a statement written in Sheikh Akbar's handwriting that reads: "The accuracy of the narration of this book, as mentioned, and it was written by Ibn al-Arabi in his own hand in the month of Rabi al-Awwal in the year six hundred and twenty-nine." This indicates that the book was transcribed and read in front of Sheikh Akbar in the month of Rabi al-Awwal in the year 629 Hijri. The scribe of this manuscript has copied the text in black Naskh script, while headings are written in red Naskh script. Some signs of corrections are visible in the margins. In several places, there are signs of meticulous comparisons, indicating that this manuscript was copied with great care. Like many other copies, this manuscript is also incomplete, with approximately 20 printed pages of text missing from the middle. At the end of the manuscript, the following statement is found: "The book is completed with the praise of Allah and His assistance on the third of Rabi al-Awwal in the year six hundred and twenty-nine. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, and there is no power and no strength except with Allah, the Most High, the Almighty." This statement is evidence that it is the same as the one found in the original manuscript of Sheikh Sadruddin Qunawi. However, the scribe did not provide the date of his copying. This manuscript is part of a valuable collection that includes three books by Sheikh Akbar: 1- "Kitab al-Isra," 2- "Anqa Mughrib," and 3- "Tarjuman al-Ashwaq."
5- Wali al-Din Manuscript - 1640
This manuscript is also one of the finest copies of the book. On the first page, "Anqa Mughrib" is written, but later, someone has added "Tadbeerat Ilahiyya" (Divine Arrangements). The calligraphy of the scribe is exquisite, with most words adorned with diacritics. The main text is written in black ink, while headings are in red ink. There are clear signs of corrections in the margins. In my opinion, after the first four manuscripts, this is the first one to present the complete text of the book. On page number 38, there is a beautiful seal of Shaykh al-Islam Wali al-Din Afandi. The deficiency in this manuscript lies in its cryptic expressions. Some cryptic expressions have been omitted, leaving one or two places incomplete. At the end of the manuscript, the following statement is found: "The book is completed with the praise of Allah and His assistance, and may Allah's blessings be upon our master Muhammad, his family, and his companions, in abundance." Professor Mansub included this manuscript in his text, but it is not included in Gerald Elmore's research.
6-Jarallah Manuscript - 986
This manuscript is written in Maghrebi script and is an ancient copy of the book. According to the statement of Osman Ismail Yahya, this manuscript was written during the lifetime of Sheikh Akbar, but we couldn't find any specific phrase to confirm this claim. According to the research by Gerald Elmore, this is an old and meticulously crafted text, a view we concur with. According to researchers from the Ibn Arabi Society, it is believed that this manuscript was written before the year 700 AH.
The text is written in a small format on large pages, making it challenging to read without the aid of a magnifying glass. The book "Anqa Mughrib" begins on page 51 and concludes on page 60. There are numerous signs of comparisons and corrections in the margins, indicating that the scribe took great care in ensuring the accuracy of the text.
In terms of the main text, the manuscript appears to be complete. However, its deficiency lies in the absence of cryptic expressions. We have included it in the second tier of manuscripts, and it has proven to be a valuable resource in the verification of the text.
7- Abdul Qadir al-Ansari Manuscript
This manuscript is also one of the best copies of the book "Anqa Mughrib." Its most notable feature is that it is written in Andalusian script, and it bears the name of Muhammad ibn Abdul Qadir ibn Abdul Khaliq al-Ansari as the reader of this collection. This clearly indicates that this manuscript was read in the presence of Sheikh Akbar. The manuscript is written in black ink with enlarged and clear titles. However, the condition of the manuscript is quite deteriorated, and many pages are missing. The manuscript is severely incomplete, with the last 28 pages of the text being absent. This manuscript is part of a collection that combines four books and treatises of Sheikh Akbar into one. These include "Anqa Mughrib," "Kitab al-Qurbah," "Kitab Mafatih al-Ghayb," and "Kitab al-Haqq." Most of the pages of these treatises are also missing. Therefore, it holds importance as an incomplete collection.
This manuscript is also one of the best copies of the book "Anqa Mughrib." It was transcribed by the scribe Abdul Karim bin Muhammad al-Arabi al-Salhi in the month of Muharram in the year 995 AH. The scribe wrote it in Naskh script, with titles in red ink, while the text of the book is in black ink. The scribe has made corrections in the margins, although they are not extensive.
The text of the book is quite good, indicating that it was likely copied from a high-quality manuscript. Although this manuscript is incomplete, it presents complete cryptographic expressions. This adds to its significance. There are approximately 11 missing pages in the manuscript, with gaps in two places.