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Knowing the Spirit

Ostad Elahi, James Winston Morris

Publication Year: 2007

Ostad Elahi’s Knowing the Spirit provides a concise and remarkably illuminating philosophic account of our unique place in the universe: of the creative expressions of the divine Spirit throughout nature, and of the process of the soul’s deepening perfection through all the challenges and lessons of our existence in this world and beyond. This revealing book draws together in a single vision those symbolic teachings and spiritual insights familiar to many Western readers today through the classical mystical poetry of Rumi, Hafez, and Attar. The historical context and language of this study are marked by the confluence of classical Islamic philosophy and spirituality, including Sufi thought, and their scriptural sources. But Elahi’s thought integrates those influences and marks them with the magisterial imprint of his own profound spiritual experience and characteristic simplicity, openness, and directness of expression. This volume offers a singular masterpiece of recent spiritual thought, opening up fundamental human perspectives and possibilities too often clouded by the distractions of current events. The emphatic universality of both the subject and presentation of Knowing the Spirit points the way to unsuspected bridges between different civilizations and religious traditions, indeed to the prospect of an inclusive “science of spirituality” based on the common ground of each person’s spiritual life and experience.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Preface and Acknowledgements

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pp. vii-viii

Knowing the Spirit, like the rest of Ostad Elahi’s writings and teaching, is intended as a kind of bridge: a bridge meant to be open and accessible to each reader, but in ways necessarily reflecting their own particular experience and understanding. One could describe this type of writing in the same terms that the author himself uses here to describe...

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Translator’s Introduction

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pp. 1-21

The subject of Ma‘rifat ar-Rūh (Knowing the Spirit)—the divine Spirit (rūh) and the process of spiritual perfection of the human soul (also one of the key meanings of rūh here)1—is of intimate interest to every human being. And what Ostad Elahi, its author, has to say here about that subject has rarely been presented in such clear and explicit terms...

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The Persian Text and Translation Conventions

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pp. 23-25

The edition of Ma‘rifat al-Rūh used for this translation was the revised edition of 1992 (Tehran, Jayhūn, 1371 a.h.s.). I was able to consult directly with the editor, Dr. Bahram Elahi, for all questions concerning the edition and the original handwritten source of the printed text. In the original published edition, the editor placed at the end (in a short...

Original Table of Contents

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pp. 29-37

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Introduction: This is the Book Knowing the Spirit

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pp. 39-41

Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds, Who is All-Loving and All- Merciful! All praises to the Master of the Day of Judgment, Who is both Ruler and All-Wise! And glory to God Almighty, Who is the Unique and the Chief! Praise be to God the All-Powerful, Who is Sempiternal and Upright! All blessings be upon that Essential Reality Which does...

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Chapter One: Establishing the Existence of the Divine Artisan

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pp. 43-54

A great many arguments and proofs establishing the existence of the divine Artisan and Lord of the worlds, as well as sure signs and evidences of the unicity of the Unique and Majestic Creator, have been set forth in the sacred scriptures as well as in the works of scholars, mystics, philosophers, and theologians, encompassing arguments based on...

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Chapter Two: The Spirit

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pp. 55-61

Here is a comprehensive definition of the spirit (rūh), drawn together from the contents of the interpretation of the Qur’an, the declarations of the Imams, and the teachings of the religious scholars, philosophers, and theologians. The spirit, or “rational soul,”1 is that which is the life-source for each being; the origin of the different distinctive...

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Chapter Three: The Gathering, Reawakening, and Returning (of the Spirit) in the Realm of Return

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pp. 63-68

Of course it is necessary, before we can enter into the heart of the matter, to be familiar with the meaning of these four (technical Arabic eschatological) expressions in order to facilitate the understanding of this subject at the appropriate points. Although each of these terms has a wide range of meanings, those meanings that are relevant to this...

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Chapter Four: The Purely Bodily Return

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pp. 69-72

This is the belief held by most of the theologians, jurists, and official leaders of the religions of the “people of the (revealed) Book,” including the books of the Torah, Gospels, Qur’an, and others. Moreover, the majority of Muslims, in addition to the literal text of the verses of the Qur’an, have also taken into consideration the transmitted reports of...

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Chapter Five: The Purely Spiritual Return

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pp. 73-77

Now this is the belief of the majority of the sages among the philosophers and followers of the Peripatetic1 school, who have explored and carefully investigated this matter, based on their analysis and rational and symbolic interpretation of the religious scriptures and their philosophy concerning the spiritual realities. In summary, they say: After...

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Chapter Six: The Harmonization of a Bodily and Spiritual Return

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pp. 79-81

Those who maintain this belief (in the harmonious combination of a bodily and spiritual Return) are a group of dedicated seekers of the truth1 from every community, including scholars, sages, philosophers, and others. Each one of them, in their own writings, have stated the essentials of what needed to be said. They have explained this by...

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Chapter Seven: The (Spirit’s) Return by Way of the Process of Perfection

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pp. 83-106

Those who believe in the Return by way of the process of perfection are in general those people who say: “Now it is self-evident that God, the Creator of all the creatures, has not created and does not create any creature without a purpose, since He is absolutely Wise and All-Knowing. Therefore when He brought into existence all the different created...

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Chapter Eight: The Belief of the Proponents of Transmigration

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pp. 107-114

First, at the moment of death and the decay and disappearance of the body, the spirit of every being that exists in each body in this material world must be transferred to another elemental body, different and separate from that first body, in the same material dimension of this world...

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pp. 115

This marks the conclusion of the book Knowing the Spirit. Because God Almighty has granted this poor servant, Nur Ali Elahi, the grace of successfully completing its composition, I thank and praise Him both in speech and with all my heart! In addition, I ask my esteemed readers to please forgive any mistakes, errors, oversights, or inaccuracies...


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pp. 117-143


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pp. 145-148


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pp. 149-158

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481202
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791468579
Print-ISBN-10: 0791468577

Page Count: 166
Illustrations: NO BACK AD?
Publication Year: 2007