The Principles of Sufism

The Principles of Sufism

The Principles of Sufism

The Principles of Sufism

Synopsis

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, Aishah 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 Aishah al-Bauniyyah’s remarkable account of the pursuit of mystical illumination.

Excerpt

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 to The 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 life of love. Fundamental to this transformation is the recollection of both human limitations and God’s limitless love. In The Principles of Sufism, ʿĀʾishah recounts important stages and states on the path toward mystical union, as she urges her readers to surrender themselves to God and willingly accept His loving grace.

Life

ʿĀʾishah al-Bāʿūniyyah was born in Damascus in the second half of the fifteenth century AD. She came from a long line of religious scholars and poets, originally from the small village of Bāʿūn in southern Syria. In search of education and employment, members of the Bāʿūnī family eventually made their way to Damascus, and for several generations, they served the Mamlūk sultans of Egypt and Syria. ʿĀʾishah’s father Yūsuf (d. 880/1475) was a scholar of Shāfiʿī jurisprudence and rose to prominence as the chief judge in Damascus. He made sure that all of his children received a fine education, and so ʿĀʾishah, together with her five brothers, studied the Qurʾān, the traditions of the prophet Muḥammad, jurisprudence, and poetry. ʿĀʾishah mentions that she had memorized the entire Qurʾān by the age of eight, and that, as a teen or young woman, she went with her family on the Hajj pilgrimage, during which she had a vision of the prophet Muḥammad:

God, may He be praised, granted me a vision of the Messenger when
I was residing in holy Mecca. By the will of God the Exalted, an anxi
ety had overcome me, and so I resolved to visit the holy sanctuary. It
was Friday night, and I reclined on a couch on an enclosed veranda
overlooking the holy Kaaba and the sacred precinct. It so happened

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