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Whirling Derivishes (detail), by Jean-Leon Gerome [19th c.] (Public Domain Image)
Whirling Derivishes (detail), by Jean-Leon Gerome [19th c.] (Public Domain Image)

Studies in Islamic Mysticism

by Reynold A. Nicholson


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Bewilderment (hayra) when caused by letting the eye wander in different directions, is pernicious; but praiseworthy, when it is the result of gazing concentratedly on the beauty of the Beloved. The latter is characteristic of one who has lost himself in Divine contemplation. "O Lord, increase my bewilderment!" was a famous Sufi's prayer.--p. 208

This is a study of three early Sufi figures: Abu Sa'id (b. 967, d. 1049), al-Jili (b. 1365-9, d. 1406-1417), and Ibnu 'l-Farid (b. 1182, d. 1235). The text includes historical and legendary narratives of these Sufi masters, and detailed discussion of their philosophy and theology. The book concludes with an extended critical translation of the Odes of Ibnu 'l-Farid.

Reynold Nicholson also wrote The Mystics of Islam, and translated Iqbal's The Secrets of the Self. His translation of Rumi's Masnavi between 1925 and 1940 (which for copyright reasons can't be posted at this site) is considered his life's masterpiece, and the basis of much of the contemporary interest in Rumi.

Title Page

Chapter I. Abú Sa‘íd Ibn Abi ’l-Khayr

Part I
Part II
Part III

Chapter II. The Perfect Man

I. Essence, Attribute, and Name
II. The Descent of the Absolute
III. The Essence as God
IV. The Heavenly Man
V. The Macrocosm
VI. The Return to the Essence
VII. Religion, Revelation and Prophecy


Appendix I. Jílí's ‘Ayniyya
Appendix II. Some Notes On The Fuṣúṣu ’l-Ḥikam

Chapter III. The Odes of Ibnu ’l-Fáriḍ

vv. 1-100
vv. 100-199
vv. 200-299
vv. 300-399
vv. 400-499
vv. 500-599
vv. 600-699
vv. 707-761


I. Names and Titles
II. Subjects
III. Technical Terms, etc.