In Search of the Lost Heart
Explorations in Islamic Thought
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
A Note on Transliteration and Style
Arabic and Persian terms have been transliterated in accordance with the system employed by the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (IJMES), with the following major exceptions: (1) no distinction is made in transliterating consonants shared between Arabic and Persian; (2) complete transliterations of book and article titles have been...
William C. Chittick was born in Milford, Connecticut in 1943. As an undergraduate student majoring in history at the College of Wooster (Ohio), Chittick spent the 1964–1965 academic year abroad, studying Islamic history at the American University of Beirut. It was here that he first came into contact with Sufism, as he decided to write his junior...
Part I: Sufism and the Islamic Tradition
Chapter 1: Islam in Three Dimensions
When we talk about “Islam” today, our understanding of the term is shaped by a host of historical and social factors. Not least of these is the way in which journalists, politicians, and television announcers understand the term. Contemporary opinions and ideologies—themselves based on presuppositions that are far from self-evident...
Chapter 2: The Bodily Gestures of the Ṣalāt
Muslim authors who explain the significance of the ṣalåt presuppose a thorough grounding in Islamic practice. They address people who perform the ṣalåt every day and for whom it has become second nature. They discuss the meaning of the gestures rather rarely, and only in the context of what is known as “the mysteries of the acts...
Chapter 3: Weeping in Islam and the Sufi Tradition
Weeping is mentioned in a positive light in the Koran, the Hadith, and much of Islamic literature. Anyone who has attended a session of Koran recitation can attest that it is not only an accepted but even an expected phenomenon in Muslim praxis. But what exactly is its significance? If we want answers provided by Muslims, the best place to look is in the...
Chapter 4: A Shādhilī Presence in Shi'ite Islam
Just as in the hadith literature of Sunni Islam there are many prayers, supplications, and litanies of the Prophet that form the basis for Sunni prayer to this day, so also in the annals of Shiʿism are there numerous prayers recorded from the Prophet and the Shiʿite Imams which throughout history have formed the basis...
Chapter 5: The Pluralistic Vision of Persian Sufi Poetry
When asked to address the question of religious pluralism in Persia, many people familiar with Persian literature would immediately think of a well-known strophic poem by Håtif Iṣfahåni(d.1198/1783), a minor poet who died at the beginning of the Qajar period. Like most of the later poets, Håtif has remained largely unknown...
Chapter 6: The Real Shams-i Tabrīzī
Few people who have heard of R¨m¥ are unfamiliar with the name Shams-i Tabrizi (disappeared in 643/1246). Little is known about him for certain. The only thing that is completely clear is that his arrival in Konya marked a decisive turning point in Rumi's life and led to his prodigious output of inspired poetry. Given the importance...
Chapter 7: The Koran as the Lover’s Mirror
It is well-known that Sufism places a premium on love, but Western observers rarely associate love with Islam itself. This helps to explain the tendency to see Sufism as somehow tangential to the tradition. I would argue that love for God is every bit as central to the Islamic perspective as it is to a tradition like Christianity, although the rhetorical...
Part II: Ibn al-'Arabī and His Influence
Chapter 8: A History of the Term Waḥdat al-Wujūd
Few technical terms of Sufism are as well-known as waḥdat al-wujūd or the “Oneness of Being.”1 Though this expression has historical connections with the school of Ibn al-'Arabī , it is sometimes employed to refer to the views of other Sufis, including figures who lived long before IIbn al-'Arabī.2 Use of the term....
Chapter 9: The Question of Ibn al-'Arabī’s “Influence” on Rūmī
Over the past century, many people have suggested that Rūmī was a follower or disciple of Ibn al-'Arabī. This is largely due to the observations of the greatest Western authority on the Mathnawī, R. A. Nicholson, who maintained that Rūmī was influenced by him.1 Before clarifying my position on the issue, I want to engage...
Chapter 10: Ibn al-'Arabī on the Benefit of Knowledge
At the heart of Ibn al-'Arabī’s teachings lies the problem of the nature and significance of knowledge, a question to which he constantly returns.1 In these discussions, he typically uses the term ʿilm, not its near synonym maʿrifa. In general, he considers ʿilm the broader and higher term, not least because the Koran attributes...
Chapter 11: Qūnawī, Neoplatonism, and the Circle of Ascent
Ṣadr al-D¥n Qūnawī’s writings present a thoroughly Islamic version of that universal metaphysics that finds one of its most perfect expressions in Neo-platonism. Qūnawī discourses on the negative theology that provides the best available means to speak about the Godhead, elaborates on the nature of the One and the various degrees of existence that issue from It, and discusses how ...
Chapter 12: Farghānī on Oneness and Manyness
When we look at those Muslims who have been called Sufis, we see that their role in Islam has often been understood by placing them on one side of a dichotomy. Thus, for example, we are told that the Sufis take one position, while the jurists and proponents of Kalam take the opposite position. The Shariah is one thing, whereas the Tariqah...
Chapter 13: Jāmī on the Perfect Man
The Perfect Man is the ontological prototype of both man and the cosmos. He is the first creation of God or, rather, the primordial and original self-disclosure of the Essence, and thus the first point in the descending arc (al-qaws al-nuzulī) of the manifestation or effusion of existence. But the descending arc must reach its lowest point, which is the corporeal...
Chapter 14: Two Treatises by Khwāja Khurd
During the reigns of Akbar and Jahångir (963–1037/1556–1628), numerous Indian Sufis were writing books and treatises that one might classify as belonging to the school of Ibn al-ʿArabi.1 Indeed, by this time, it was difficult to write anything on Sufi theory without employing the technical terminology of this school. This is not to say that all...
Chapter 15: A Debate Between the Soul and the Spirit
ʿAbd al-Jalil Ilåhåbådi, who is likely the same person as the Chishti shaykh ʿAbd al-Jalil Laknawi (d. 1043/1633–1634),1 first attracted my attention in 1988 when I came across one of his Persian works in the library of the Institute of Islamic Studies in New Delhi. The short treatise, entitled...
Chapter 16: A Chishtī Handbook from Bijapur
In his Sufis of Bijapur, Richard Eaton makes it clear—if there was any doubt—that Sufism was flourishing in Bijapur in the tenth/sixteenth and eleventh/seventeenth centuries in various forms. Among the most active Sufi groups during this period was the Chishtī order. It was centered on a famous family of Sufis that traced itself back to...
Part III: Islamic Philosophy
Chapter 17: Rūmī and the Wooden Leg of Reason
I was prompted to reflect on the role of “reason” in Rūmī’s thought by the enormous popularity of his poetry in North America and the widespread habit of misinterpreting his teachings. Rūmī’s popularity has its roots in the scholarly translations of Nicholson and A. J. Arberry. But the “Rūmī boom” itself is indebted to a number...
Chapter 18: Bābā Afḍal’s Psychology
Båbå Afḍal, also known as Afḍal al-Din Kåshåni, most likely died in the year 606/1210. This makes him a contemporary of Suhrawardi, Averroes (d. 595/1198), and Ibn al-ʿArabi. He taught and died in the village of Maraq, a few kilometers distant from Kashan in central Iran. Most of what little we know about him comes from...
Chapter 19: Mullā Ṣadrā on Perception
Muslim philosophers speak of perception—using the Arabic word idråk—in an exceedingly broad sense. For them, perception denotes apprehension and obtaining knowledge by any agent, from animals to God, and on any level, from physical sensation to intellectual vision. In the philosophy of Mullå Ṣadrå, the concept of perception plays a crucial...
Chapter 20: Eschatology in Islamic Thought
The Koran discusses what occurs after death in details unparalleled by other scriptures, and the hadith literature on the subject is voluminous. Hence, scholars of Kalam, philosophers, and Sufis—not to speak of Koran commentators—all made eschatology one of their principal concerns. The term...
Chapter 21: The Circle of Life
Among the diverse schools of contemporary philosophy, phenomenology offers interesting parallels with traditional Islamic thought. A good example is provided by the many books of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, for whom both cosmos and soul are vital philosophical issues. In her perspective, life is the ultimate point of reference and the center...
Chapter 22: The Goal of Philosophy
The essence of the philosophical life is perhaps best summed up in the Delphic maxim, “Know yourself.” All philosophy worthy of the name must be animated by the quest for self-knowledge, and true philosophy remains inaccessible to those who do not know themselves. In other words, those who investigate and learn things...
Part IV: Reflections on Contemporary Issues
Chapter 23: The Metaphysical Roots of War and Peace
Many look to religion with the idea that its help can be enlisted to establish world peace. But religion—if one can speak in generalities—does not acknowledge any principles higher than its own, not even the survival of the human race. Asked to help establish peace, it will do so in its own way or not at all. In the general...
Chapter 24: Harmony with the Cosmos
The ecological disequilibriums caused by human wastefulness and extravagance are plain to everyone, and more and more people have become involved in discussing how to prevent worldwide disaster. Books are published by the hundreds, and international conferences are constantly being held. The rapid pollution of Islamic countries...
Chapter 25: Stray Camels in China
One useful way to deal with the question of Islam’s attitude toward other religions would be to provide an historical survey of Islamic viewpoints. This approach would lead us to the conclusion that over history, Muslims have had diverse understandings of other religions. Having concluded that, we might then ask which of those understandings best represents...
Chapter 26: In Search of the Lost Heart
The Islamic tradition shares a great deal in common with Confucianism. This may not appear obvious to those who look at either of those traditions with respect to their historical situations, nor to those who are familiar with their respective sacred texts. Years ago, I would have thought that the two traditions must share some common...
Appendix I: A Chronological List of Historical Figures Cited
Appendix II: Chapter Sources
Appendix III: Books by William C. Chittick
Index of Koranic Passages
Index of Hadiths and Sayings
Index of Names and Technical Terms
Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 1 figure
Publication Year: 2011
OCLC Number: 778448473
MUSE Marc Record: Download for In Search of the Lost Heart