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In Search of the Lost Heart

Explorations in Islamic Thought

Mohammed Rustom, Atif Khalil, William C. Chittick

Publication Year: 2011

Renowned scholar William C. Chittick explores the worldview of Islam in a series of essays written over thirty-six years. 'In Search of the Lost Heart brings together twenty-six essays by William C. Chittick, renowned scholar of Sufism and Islamic philosophy. Written between 1975 and 2011, most of these essays are not readily available in Chittick’s own books. Although this is a collection, its editors have crafted it to be a book “sufficient unto itself, which, when taken as a whole, can be said to explore the underlying worldview of Islam.” Chittick draws upon the writings of towering figures such as Ibn al->Arabiµ, Ruµmiµ, and Mullaµ S|adraµ, as well as other important, but lesser-known thinkers, as he engages with a wide variety of topics, such as the nature of being and knowledge, the relationship between love and scriptural hermeneutics, the practical and theoretical dimensions of Islamic mysticism, the phenomenon of religious diversity, and the ecological crisis.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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A Note on Transliteration and Style

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pp. ix-11

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...

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Editors’ Introduction

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pp. xi-xiv

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

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pp. 1-17

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Chapter 1: Islam in Three Dimensions

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pp. 3-21

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...

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Chapter 2: The Bodily Gestures of the Ṣalāt

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pp. 23-26

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...

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Chapter 3: Weeping in Islam and the Sufi Tradition

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pp. 27-37

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...

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Chapter 4: A Shādhilī Presence in Shi'ite Islam

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pp. 39-41

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...

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Chapter 5: The Pluralistic Vision of Persian Sufi Poetry

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pp. 43-48

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...

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Chapter 6: The Real Shams-i Tabrīzī

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pp. 49-55

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...

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Chapter 7: The Koran as the Lover’s Mirror

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pp. 57-68

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

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pp. 69-85

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Chapter 8: A History of the Term Waḥdat al-Wujūd

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pp. 71-88

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....

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Chapter 9: The Question of Ibn al-'Arabī’s “Influence” on Rūmī

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pp. 89-99

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...

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Chapter 10: Ibn al-'Arabī on the Benefit of Knowledge

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pp. 101-111

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...

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Chapter 11: Qūnawī, Neoplatonism, and the Circle of Ascent

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pp. 113-132

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 ...

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Chapter 12: Farghānī on Oneness and Manyness

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pp. 133-142

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...

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Chapter 13: Jāmī on the Perfect Man

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pp. 143-152

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...

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Chapter 14: Two Treatises by Khwāja Khurd

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pp. 153-169

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...

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Chapter 15: A Debate Between the Soul and the Spirit

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pp. 171-180

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...

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Chapter 16: A Chishtī Handbook from Bijapur

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pp. 181-198

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

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pp. 199-215

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Chapter 17: Rūmī and the Wooden Leg of Reason

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pp. 201-209

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...

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Chapter 18: Bābā Afḍal’s Psychology

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pp. 211-219

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...

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Chapter 19: Mullā Ṣadrā on Perception

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pp. 221-231

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...

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Chapter 20: Eschatology in Islamic Thought

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pp. 233-257

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...

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Chapter 21: The Circle of Life

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pp. 259-266

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...

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Chapter 22: The Goal of Philosophy

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pp. 267-273

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

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pp. 275-291

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Chapter 23: The Metaphysical Roots of War and Peace

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pp. 277-290

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...

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Chapter 24: Harmony with the Cosmos

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pp. 291-297

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...

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Chapter 25: Stray Camels in China

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pp. 299-311

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...

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Chapter 26: In Search of the Lost Heart

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pp. 313-325

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

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pp. 327-328

Appendix II: Chapter Sources

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pp. 329-330

Appendix III: Books by William C. Chittick

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pp. 331-333


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pp. 335-364


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pp. 365-374

Index of Koranic Passages

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pp. 375-382

Index of Hadiths and Sayings

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pp. 383-385

Index of Names and Technical Terms

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pp. 387-397

Back Cover

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p. 414-414

E-ISBN-13: 9781438439372
E-ISBN-10: 1438439377
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438439358
Print-ISBN-10: 1438439350

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 1 figure
Publication Year: 2011