Sufism

The Subtle Blessings in the Saintly Lives of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi and His Master Abu al-Hasan

Nancy Roberts

$23.95

Offering a vivid, lively exposition of the Sufi path embodied in the lives of these saints, the founders of the Shadhili Sufi Order, together with their expositions of prophetic traditions and Qur’anic passages, this work offers a delightful excursion through this inviting, albeit arduous, realm of body and spirit.

A fascinating appendix and lengthy photo essay have been added, which will greatly enhance the enjoyment of this volume. This book will also appeal to those interested in women’s studies. Six essays written by women illustrate how the life and sanctuaries of these saints have been kept alive and invigorated by women up until today. A unique feature of this appendix is material on one of the great female saints of 20th century Egypt – her contributions and present-day veneration.

Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah al-Iskandari was both a Muhaddith and a Maliki jurist in the 13th century whose works became basic training manuals for aspirants across North Africa. A student of al-Mursi, he was the second to succeed Imam Abu al-Hasan, the founder of the Shadhili Order, which continues to this day.

**Photography is included from the sacred sites and shrines associated with the two saints under consideration as well as of the mosque and maqam of Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah himself. Also included are photographs of Hagga Zakiyya, her home and shrine, and the photos of her illustrious friends such as Abdul Halim Mahmoud, Shaykh Salih Al-Jaffari, and others.

  • 978-1-887752-61-9
  • 455

Product Description

For anyone desiring a vivid, lively exposition of the Sufi path as embodied in the lives of God’s friends, the saints, together with their expositions of the prophetic traditions and Qur’anic passages which stayed their feet along the path, explanations of the divine realities, mystical stations and related enigmas, as well as specific phrases of divine remembrance (dhikr) which Abū al-‘Abbās used for himself and his disciples, Laţā’if al-Minan offers a delightful excursion through this inviting, albeit arduous, realm of body and spirit.

Laţā’if al-Minan (“Subtle Graces”) by Ibn ‘Aţā’ Allāh (d. 709 AH) might be described as a tribute by the author to the two great shaykhs who molded his spiritual life and vision, namely, Abū al-Ĥasan al-Shādhilī (d. 656 AH) and Abū al-‘Abbās al-Mursī (d. 686 AH), the latter of whom Ibn ‘Aţā’ Allāh describes as “our master and companion, the pole of gnostics, the signpost of the rightly guided, the supreme apologist for Sufism, the travelers’ guide, the rescuer of the perishing…he who speaks by the light of his flawless spiritual insight into [people’s] secret thoughts…he who unveils the suns of knowledge after they have set and the secrets of subtle intimations after they have departed, he who has arrived in God and who assists others in doing the same.”

Filled with anecdotes illustrating the shaykhs’ spiritual gifts and insights, Laţā’if al-Minan is Ibn ‘Aţā’ Allāh’s attempt to convey to his readers not only the beauty and inspiration of these men’s lives and their utter devotion to God, but to help his readers themselves to enter into this same life of devotion and to experience its inimitable blessings.

Translated from the Arabic, this volume follows The Book of Illumination: Kitab al-Tanwir in the Fons Vitae Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah Series. This deeply personal reminiscence of one man’s growth in Islamic mysticism is a tribute to the two great shaykhs who molded his spiritual life and vision. Filled with anecdotes illustrating the shaykhs’ spiritual gifts and insights, the text not only conveys the beauty and inspiration of these men’s lives and their utter devotion to God, but also helps readers to enter this same life of devotion and experience its inimitable blessings. Sufi interpretations of Qur’anic passages and traditional Sufi spiritual litanies are included.

Reviews

In a fascinating appendix and lengthy photo essay, contributions from women illustrate how the life and sanctuaries of these saints have been kept alive and invigorated by women up until today. This includes unique material on one of the great female twentieth century saints of Egypt- her work and present day veneration. This text sparkles! Fons Vitae is to be congratulated again for taking the timeless wisdom of Muslim mystics, and making it available to a wide audience today in a timely fashion. This text, richly illustrated, will be of delight to contemporary seekers of the realm of the Spirit.
-Omid Safi, Colgate University
Finally, we have a vivid translation of Shaykh Ibn 'Ata' Allah's beloved composition, "Subtle Blessings in the Saintly Lives" which presents a biographical and spiritual portrait of his guides Shaykh al-Mursi and Shaykh Abu'l-Hasan al-Shadhili. It is an intimate and authoritative portrait of these two founders of the Shadhili Sufi order, full of loving details and profound insights. The author presents anecdotes, parables, spiritual advice and devotional litanies from direct experience with these luminaries of North African Islamic spirituality. His personal voice brings their words from the thirteenth century to our ears in the twenty-first century as fresh and relevant, for we struggle to confront selfishness, just as they did. This is an invaluable source for anyone interested in the congruence of Islamic law and Sufism, united in striving to live up to the Qur'an's ethical challenge to care for each other.
Scott Kugle, Swarthmore College, Translator of the first volume of the Fons Vitae Ibn 'Ata' Allah Series, The Book of Illumination