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The Principles of Sufism

The Principles of Sufism

ʿĀʾishah al-Bāʿūniyyah
Edited and translated by Th. Emil Homerin
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 210
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  • Book Info
    The Principles of Sufism
    Book Description:

    'A'ishah al-Ba'uniyyah (d. 923 H/1517 AD) of Damascus was one of the great women scholars in Islamic history. A mystic and prolific poet and writer, 'A'ishah composed more works in Arabic than any other woman before the 20th century. Yet despite her extraordinary literary and religious achievements, 'A'ishah al-Ba'uniyyah remains largely unknown. For the first time her key work, The Principles of Sufism, is available in English translation. The Principles of Sufism is a mystical guide book to help others on their spiritual path. She recounts the fundamental stages and states of the spiritual novice's transformative journey, emphasizing the importance of embracing both human limitations and God's limitless love. Drawing on lessons and readings from centuries-old Sufi tradition, 'A'ishah advises the seeker to repent of selfishness and turn to a sincere life of love. In addition to his lucid translation, Th. Emil Homerin provides an insightful introduction, notes and a glossary to 'A'ishah al-Ba'uniyyah's remarkable account of the pursuit of mystical illumination.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4516-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Letter from the General Editor
    (pp. iii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xix)

    ʿĀʾishah al-Bāʿūniyyah (d. 923/1517) was an exceptional Muslim scholar. She was a mystic, and a prolific poet and writer, composing more works in Arabic than any other woman prior to the twentieth century. In her writings, ʿĀʾishah often speaks of her abiding love for God and His prophet Muḥammad, and her quest for mystical union. These concerns are central toThe Principles of Sufism, a mystical guide book that ʿĀʾishah compiled to help others on this spiritual path. Drawing lessons and readings from a centuries-old Sufi tradition, ʿĀʾishah advises the seeker to repent of selfishness and turn to a sincere...

  7. A Note on the Text
    (pp. xx-xx)
  8. Notes to the Introduction
    (pp. xx-xx)
  9. The Principles of Sufism

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 1-5)

      Praise God, who pours His aid upon His beloved ones as a special allotment and reward, quenching their hearts from the drink of oneness with love and purity, revealing Himself to their inner hearts in glory and beauty, and gracing them with gifts of proximity in contemplation and union. I praise Him with the praise of one to whom He made Himself known. Then she knew and was blessed with His grace, and confessed and acknowledged that this was beyond all thanks. I bear witness that there is no deity but God, alone without peer. This is the witness of...

    • The First Principle: Repentance (Tawbah)
      (pp. 6-35)

      God the Exalted has said, «Turn to God, together, O believers, that you might be successful.»² The Exalted has said, «Seek forgiveness from your Lord, then turn to Him in repentance,»³ and the Exalted has said, «O you who believe, turn to God with sincere repentance!»⁴ The Exalted has said, «And those who do not turn in repentance, they are the transgressors!»⁵ and the Exalted has said, «Truly God loves those who turn in repentance, and He loves those who purify themselves.»⁶ There are similar sayings in the noble verses of the Qurʾān.

      According to the lexicons,tawbahmeans “to...

    • The Second Principle: Sincerity (Ikhlāṣ)
      (pp. 36-61)

      God the Exalted has said, «Worship God sincerely, dedicating faith to Him alone.»60He has said, «Say, “I was ordered to worship God sincerely, dedicating faith to Him alone.”»61He the Exalted has said, «They were ordered only to worship God sincerely, dedicating faith to Him alone.»62

      Ibn ʿAbbās, may God be pleased with both him and his father, said, “In the Torah and the Gospel, people were commanded only to worship God sincerely, professing His oneness.”

      Ibn ʿUmar, may God be pleased with both him and his father, related as follows “I heard the Emissary of God, God bless...

    • The Third Principle: Remembrance (Dhikr)
      (pp. 62-95)

      God the Exalted has said, «Therefore, remember Me, and I will remember you.»99

      Al-Qushayrī, may God be pleased with him, writes:

      The way for the literalists is: «Therefore remember Me» with proper conduct, «and I will remember you» with miracles. But for the folk seeking mystical allusions, the way is: «So remember Me» by leaving everything else, «and I will remember you» by resurrecting you in My reality after your annihilation from yourselves. It is said, «Therefore remember Me,» content with Me without need of My grace and favors, «and I will remember you,» satisfied with you, without your actions....

    • The Fourth Principle: Love (Maḥabbah)
      (pp. 96-141)

      God the Exalted has said, «Say, “If you love God, then follow me, and God will love you!”»150

      Al-Qushayrī writes:

      Love requires the total effacement of yourself such that you are consumed in your beloved. A Sufi said,151

      There is no love till eyes flow with tears, and you’re struck dumb and can’t answer the caller!152

      This is the difference between the beloved and the dear friend. The dear friend has said, «“He who follows me is of me,”»153whereas the beloved has said, «Say, “If you love God, then follow me, and God will love you!”»154The follower of...

  10. Epilogue on Love
    (pp. 142-166)

    At the conclusion of this book, God the Exalted inspired us with mystical truths, in both poetry and prose, regarding this very special love. They are appropriately placed here as an epilogue to this work. We ask God’s help, and He «suffices us and is the best trustee»!222

    Know, may God show you mercy, that love is God’s most wondrous secret. It is the result of being chosen, the effect of designation, the means to proximity, and the ascension to union. Love is pure grace, pure generosity, and true munificence. It is the secret of the inner heart and the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 167-176)
  12. Glossary of Names and Terms
    (pp. 177-187)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 188-190)
  14. Further Reading
    (pp. 191-191)
  15. Index
    (pp. 192-197)
  16. About the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute
    (pp. 198-198)
  17. About the Typefaces
    (pp. 199-199)
  18. About the Editor-Translator
    (pp. 200-200)