Book Review: The Invocation of God by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya
Al Wabil al-Sayyib min Kalim al-Tayyib was a book recommended by our resident Hanbali scholar of East London Shaykh Abu Aliyah at a seminar discussing the life and work of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya at SOAS last year, I have only just got round to reading it. The book is relatively quite brief, and discusses the benefits of the remembering of God, or performing dhikr.
The main benefit of this book is that people from different Islamic persuasions will find benefit in it and will not be put off as they would be by many overtly esoteric texts of a similar nature that are available. Of course for anyone who has studied the life of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya will know his vocabulary and attitude are reminiscent of a very Sufi nature, and it cannot be denied that both he and his infamous teacher Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah were no strangers to the spiritual tradition, as can be seen very evidently in this text as well. A very similar book that came to mind was Ibn Ata’illah’s Taj al-‘Arus, which Dr Sherman Jackson adeptly titled his translation of as ‘Sufism for non-Sufis’ (See my review of it here).
This was a very enjoyable read and quite beneficial, it contains a wide range of benefits and advice for seekers. One can use it to ascertain one’s spiritual level and what the next level of progress should be. My only minor point is that Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya takes a brief moment to criticise wahdat al-wujud, but for anyone who has any background to the author and his teacher, this can be very easily overlooked.