‘Sufism for non-Sufis’: al-Taj al-‘Arus of Ibn Ata’illah translated by Dr Sherman Jackson

by britishmisk

Ibn Ata’illah al-Iskandari is better known for his work al-Hikam (sometimes translated as ‘Aphorisms’), al-Taj al-‘Arus (‘The Bride’s Crown’), is I believe his second most prolific work, and is a similar text to that of the Hikam, in that it is a series of relatively short pieces of wisdoms that are meant to be reflected on and digested by its readers, many of whom will be members of the Shadhili order, of which Ibn Ata’illah plays an important part in the order’s initiatic chain.

The reasoning behind Dr Jackson’s titling his translation so, as he explains in the introduction, is because he believes the text is not too highly “controversial” in terms of being overtly Sufi. i.e. Given the lack of ‘Ashari and pseudo-pantheistic discussion, possible critics of Sufism, such as the Salafi, may be able to approach this text as a simple guide to spiritual purification. On finishing the book I slightly disagreed with Dr Jackson’s opinion on this, there’s a still a few wisdoms of Ibn Ata’illah’s that dejectors of Sufism may have problems with.

Much like the Hikam this is still a beneficial text, and given its short length it would be easy to read again and again. It’s not quite as powerful as the Hikam but in some ways can still be seen as a continuation of it.