This carefully annotated translation of the core sections of Ibn ʿArabi's Mashahid al-asrar al-qudsiyya wa matali' al-anwar al-ilahiyya (together with summaries of its preface and long 'epilogue'), based on the earlier bilingual Arabic edition and Spanish translation by Su'ad al-Hakim and Pablo Beneito (Murcia, 1994), makes available to English readers for the first time one of the key works of Ibn 'Arabi's earlier Andalusian period.
One of the most valuable features of the translators' annotation is their provision of key selections from the extensive commentaries by Ibn ʿArabi's own student Ibn Sawdakin (in a ms. in his own handwriting, dated 646/1258, claiming to represent Ibn ʿArabi's personal oral explanations of the symbolism in question) and by the famous Baghdadi woman Sufi Sitt al-ʿAjam bint al-Nafis (ms. dated 686/1287, just before her death), which provide an extraordinary window on the historical processes of assimilation and transmission of Ibn ʿArabi's teachings in the period immediately after his death.
Ibn Sawdakin's remarks clearly mirror the type of complex philosophical–metaphysical approach (the system of divine 'Presences' and tajalliyat) associated with the commentary tradition of Qunawi and his successors, while the selections from Sitt al-ʿAjam already appear more deeply reflective of the experiential, personal emphases of later practical Sufi traditions.
The authors' helpful Introduction – especially the section on 'The Style and symbolism of the Contemplations' - also provides some invaluable keys, inspired by those earlier commentators, for appreciating the overall structure and organisation of this work.
Read the complete review by James W. Morris