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William C. Chittick

Forfatter af The Vision of Islam

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Om forfatteren

William C. Chittick is Professor of Religious Studies at Stony Brook University, New York.

Værker af William C. Chittick

The Vision of Islam (1994) 168 eksemplarer
The Sufi Path of Knowledge (1989) 129 eksemplarer
Sufism: A Beginner's Guide (2007) 52 eksemplarer
Sufism (2000) 49 eksemplarer
The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi (2005) 40 eksemplarer
The Inner Journey: Views from the Islamic Tradition (2007) — Redaktør — 36 eksemplarer
Ibn 'Arabi: Heir to the Prophets (2005) 33 eksemplarer
A Shiˋite Anthology (1980) 21 eksemplarer

Associated Works

Divine Flashes (1982) — Editor and Translator — 120 eksemplarer
The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology (2007) — Bidragyder — 68 eksemplarer
Merton & Sufism: The Untold Story: A Complete Compendium (1999) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver57 eksemplarer
The Meccan Revelations, Volume 1 (2002) — Oversætter, nogle udgaver55 eksemplarer
Sufism: Love and Wisdom (2006) — Bidragyder — 27 eksemplarer
Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light (2000) 16 eksemplarer
Neoplatonism and Islamic Thought (Studies in Neoplatonism) (1992) — Bidragyder — 15 eksemplarer
Repose of the Spirits, The: A Sufi Commentary on the Divine Names (SUNY series in Islam) (2019) — Translator, Introduction, nogle udgaver7 eksemplarer

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Los ensayos que componen este libro se enfocan en exponer y esclarecer tres dimensiones del pensamiento akbarí: primero su ontología sobre Dios (¿incomparabilidad o semejanza?), y el rol de Su criatura predilecta, su representante (jalifa) en el cosmos, el ser humano, lugar de manifestación de los Nombres Divinos. Segundo su concepción del «mundo intermedio», el barzaj, el elusivo y multifacético mundo imaginal que mora entre el Ser Absoluto y la nada, un istmo donde confluyen este mundo y el más allá, y también el pasado, el presente y el futuro. Y por último su doctrina sobre la diversidad como un imperativo de la Manifestación Divina y de Su Misericordia. Dios no se repite: «Puesto que Él representa la raíz de toda la diversidad de creencias en el cosmos y es Él quien ha creado la existencia de todo lo que habita en el cosmos dotándolo de una constitución no poseída por ninguna otra cosa, todos habremos de disfrutar finalmente de la misericordia» (Fut. III, p.465).… (mere)
bibyerrahi | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jan 19, 2022 |
Una colección del tafasir no disponible durante mucho tiempo, o comentarios sobre el Corán, que ayudan a explicar y contextualizar adecuadamente la revelación, esta serie tiene como objetivo realizar trabajos exegéticos destacados: en traducción, sin compaginación y fieles a la letra y el significado del texto. árabeampliamente disponible para estudio e investigación. Disponible por primera vez en inglés preciso y anotado, este tomo fundamental, escrito originalmente por Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli y Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, presenta una de las obras más fácilmente accesibles de exégesis coránica en un estilo simple y longitud concisa de un solo volumen. Este volumen no es solo la introducción clásica a tafsir sino también el trabajo de referencia estándar para el lenguaje del Corán en su significado literal. -
A collection of the long-unavailable tafasir, or commentaries on the Qur'an, which help to properly explain and contextualize the revelation, this series aims to make leading exegetical works´in translation, unabridged, and faithful to the letter and meaning of the Arabic widely available for study and research. Available for the first time in accurate and annotated English, this fundamental tome originally written by Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli and Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti presents one of the most easily accessible works of Quranic exegesis in a simple style and concise single-volume length. This volume is not only the classic introduction to tafsir but also the standard reference work for the language of the Qur'an in its literal meaning.
… (mere)
bibyerrahi | May 1, 2021 |
Why is there Religious Diversity?

The full title of this book is "Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al- `Arabī and the Problem of Religious Diversity". Ibn al- `Arabī was a great Sufi mystic and philosopher who died in the mid thirteenth century. Religious diversity is a problem for all multi-cultural Empires; and it was a problem throughout the medieval world of the Islamicate. Not only was Islam born in the midst of several long established religious traditions in the Middle East, it encountered still more when the Muslim Conquests spread into India and Southeast Asia. Now, every empire certainly desires internal peace; but one wonders how this peace can be achieved, and also endure, given the fact of religious diversity within their own ever (at least in intent) expanding borders.

The thought of Ibn al- `Arabī regarding religious diversity provided one possible solution for the Islamic world. And it is his unique understanding of religious diversity that I would like to pursue in this review. Unlike modern secularists, whose 'solution' to the problem of religious diversity is based on some form of historicist evolution (basically, 'stoopid then - all wised up now') and the eventual elimination of all religion, the Shaykh based his explanation upon a certain understanding of the very nature of Reality. And it turns out, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, that our religious diversity is itself an ontological necessity!

What! How? Well, there are several reasons for (and implications of) this, and they involve understanding some of his technical terms too. Okay, let's start with his understanding of the Real. The Shaykh used the term 'Wujūd' for this. Our author, William Chittick, leaves this term untranslated throughout this book. (Usual english translations of this word are either 'being' or 'existence'.) For al- `Arabī, Wujūd, at the highest level, is God. But in the Cosmos (i.e., basically everything that is not God) Wujūd is also the underlying substance of all things. And since Wujūd is the underlying substance of the cosmos it is wrong (and ultimately blasphemous!) to say of any of the multitudinous entities in the cosmos that they are merely an illusion or an error.

But these entities are not the Real. No. So what are they? We are told that "all things stand in an intermediate domain, a barzakh or isthmus. The universal isthmus or Supreme Barzakh is the whole cosmos; on one side stands the ocean of the Real, utterly unknowable in itself. On the other stands the ocean of nonexistence, also unknowable, because there is nothing to be known (p. 162)." Everything, but God, stands between the Real and Nothing. (God, of course, is the Real, is Wujūd.) Not only the Cosmos, but each particular thing in the cosmos (including you and I!) is, in myriad different ways, a barzakh. Each can lead towards God (the Real) or away from God - eventually into nothingness. How does humanity, individually and collectively, choose which direction to take? Well, this question involves several additional points, but it first brings us to the question of the Attributes.

Now, the problem of the attributes of God was a common thread throughout the philosophical and theological thought of the medieval period. (But it seems the Shaykh doesn't use the term 'attributes', he calls them 'Names'.) Each existing thing in the Cosmos 'participates' in Ultimate Reality (and therefore exists) due to its instantiation of an attribute (i.e., a Name) of Wujūd. Now, it is very important to understand that humanity is no mere thing among other things. Our author goes so far as to say that "the human fitra [nature, original disposition] is Wujūd" (p. 167)! Now, this certainly does not mean that we are gods; it means that we "alone are given a share of every attribute of the Real [= Wujūd]. (p. 168)" Our "fundamental cognitive (and ontological) archetype is God himself, not any specific attribute of God. (p. 169)"

So, why do we 'archetypes of God' seemingly disagree about everything? The answer is, to use a contemporary post-Nietzschean term, perspective. We each view the Whole from our own perspective; that is to say, we each view the world from our own particular (and unique) mixture of the Attributes (i.e., the Names of God). The Shaykh refers to this phenomenon as 'Knots'. After explaining the derivation of this term our author writes that as, "a technical term signifying belief, it suggests a knot tied in the heart that determines a person's view of reality. The Shaykh employs the word to refer to all the knottings that shape understanding - the whole range of cognitions, ideas, theories, doctrines, dogmas, prejudices, perceptions, feelings, and inclinations that allow people to make sense of the world. (p. 138)" Each of us has (perhaps even better said, is!) a unique mixture of the Names (i.e., attributes) of God, and this is why we trod our (sometimes extremely) different paths.

Regarding these myriad differences and paths Chittick quotes the Shaykh, Ibn al- `Arabī, as saying:
-- God is wise without qualification. It is He who has put things in their places. It is He who has given each thing its creation [20:50]. Hence, God has made no error in engendered existence in relation to its order. -- (p. 139)
-- People like us, who have an overview of all the stations and levels, distinguish from whence every individual speaks and discourses and recognizes that each is correct in his own level and makes no errors. Indeed, there is absolutely no error in the cosmos. -- (p. 140)

No error in the Cosmos! Indeed... Regarding that Chittick goes so far as to say that
-- Together, God and the cosmos denote everything in reality, while each is the mirror image of each other. Hence every name of God finds loci of disclosure in the macrocosm. As the Shaykh puts it, the cosmos is the sum total of all the properties and effects of the divine names. -- (p. 33)
Long before Blake was born, the Shaykh knew that the answer to the awful question in 'The Tyger'

"Did he who made the Lamb make thee?"

was a resounding Yes! But we were speaking of humanity, not the Cosmos. We have seen that all particular paths (that is, all the myriad 'knottings', all the different human perspectives) are 'accepted' and (better said) understood by the Shaykh. But who exactly are the 'people like us' that, along with al- `Arabī, recognize this? They are called the people of the 'Station of No Station'. Huh? What is a 'Station'? Chittick explains that al- `Arabī
-- considered every mode of existence accessible to human beings -each of which is defined by a specific constellation of works, states, and knowledges- to be a 'station' (maqām) of knowledge. He saw each friend of God and each seeker of God as standing in a specific station. -- (p. 9)

But why aren't there as many stations as there are individuals? That is to say, if all perspectives reflect a particular aspect of Wujūd then every single perspective must be a legitimate Station. Right? Wrong! Wujūd is Truth; these perspectives are not simply or purely Truth; although they are certainly not (according to the Shaykh) entirely False. How do these perspectives achieve Truth? Ah! This leads us to the necessity of Prophesy.

While it is true that no human position is entirely false, prophesy is the road to Truth. Since, according to our author,
-Only the Real is clear and sure. Everything else is vague, opaque, and unreal.
-Like other divine attributes, knowledge cannot be found in pure form outside the Real. (p. 161)-
The only road to Truth is through God. Prophets point the way. If I understand our author correctly the implication is, that even though we all have a unique distribution of the Attributes of God, left on our own we would eventually fall into nothingness. The many Prophetic Traditions were sent by God to prevent this! What I was surprised to find is that the Shaykh accepts the Islamic teaching that Muhammad is the last prophet.

And with that I conclude this terse rendition of Chittick's intriguing explication of the Shaykh's teaching regarding Religious diversity. I suspect that it will leave late modern secularists and postmodern nihilists with more questions than answers.

Diversity and Creation

First, I suspect many of us are wondering if, and doubting that, the fact of diverse religions, and even the tolerance of them, is truly ontologically based; - we wonder if this understanding is merely a politico-cultural construction that justifies whatever 'useful' religions happen to be. But the socio-cultural world we inhabit is not a museum; and it cannot be turned into one. The reiterated insistence that all must follow a pre-established path (i.e., an already established religion) will strike most late moderns as essentially political and reactionary. And thus I wish to conclude this review with a discussion of the Shaykh's very Muslim insistence that one must always trod a preexisting path (an existing prophetic tradition) in order to even begin to find ones way to the 'standpoint of no standpoint' (i.e., the 'Station of No Station').

Of course the danger of saying that there are many paths to God, but adding that everyone must tread an already existing path, is that eventually people may (no, they almost certainly will) come to believe that each of these paths (i.e., the several great religious traditions) are but manifestations of different cultural tendencies that Nations and Empires conspire to tolerate (within their borders) in the name of internal consistency and political hegemony. But nations and empires, of course, will also tend to downplay tolerance to the extent necessary to maintain their separate existences. Now, whether a State is expanding or merely struggling to maintain itself, successful new religions always tend to tear apart already existing polities. And so, if one theoretically (i.e., ontologically, theologically) concedes that new religions can indeed come about one has (potentially) signed the death warrant of each and every particular religious (political and cultural) formation in existence because the future always contains unanticipated crises that may transform some tiny cult into a large expanding religion. Therefore it is not surprising that neither political nor religious leaders and (I imagine) their followers would ever concede this point. The refusal to do so, of course, does not prove that they only fear their particular political-religious-cultural formations being superseded and rendered obsolete. Most believers, at least those not in power, are really not quite that Machiavellian! But whether one concedes the necessity of new religions or not, - the world around us continues to change. And both Change and the refusal to do so involves the political.

For late moderns and postmoderns the world has manifestly changed. It no longer resembles any traditional society. Assuming (for the sake of argument) that the Ontological understanding of the Shaykh is correct, the problem we face today, basically, is that while the Reals' Willful and Truthful manifestation of Itself into countless forms provides the basis of religious diversity, there can also be (for historical humanity) no end to this diversity. And so, while there might be a correct understanding of religious diversity (and the Shaykh certainly has an interesting one), there can never in fact be a single, final Universal Religion. I would argue that this is due to the ceaseless manifestation of Wujūd. This 'overflow' of Wujūd may rightly be characterized as, at bottom and in Itself, only the beautiful Truth. But the individuals who believe in their various traditions will never experience every actual (and possible) manifestation of the Overflow in this way. And so we are doomed to again and again find ourselves in historical situations where the beautiful New is at war with the beautiful Old. The Real, however, is, and can only be, One; but its multitudinous manifestations are ceaseless, and the combinations and interactions of these manifestations are innumerable. Therefore, I would argue that religious and cultural creation (and strife) must be endless too so long as God continues to Create.

Regarding late modernity, I would add that once the current crisis of Universalism arrives (our 'Postmodern Moment') the 'problem of diversity' becomes theoretically insoluble. Before our wretched postmodernism, Universalism was thought by all to be the eventual answer to the fact of diversity. It was generally believed by all camps that one day (however distant) we would all be (for example) Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, Liberals or Socialists. All those possibilities now seem to many of us to be finished. (Indeed, to many they are but myths, lies, and/or utopian dreams.) We have awoken into a bitter postmodernity of factionalism, nihilism and constructivism. Now, our factionalism (i.e. diversity) has been explained by al- `Arabī. (It is a consequence of the multitudinous manifestations of Wujūd.) But what of postmodern Constructivism?

Well, I suppose that one could maintain that Ibn al- `Arabī is also a constructivist - of sorts. But this Constructivism isn't merely based on all-too-human human will, words (i.e., rhetoric) and whims. Wujūd Itself sanctions human constructivism! After pointing out that "Self-disclosure never repeats itself" and that at each instance God renews the self-disclosure that is the universe, our author states:
-- Human beings, however, do not play a totally passive role. Given the presence within them of a certain freedom because of a special relationship with the Real, they can exert an effect upon the direction of their changing beliefs. -- (p. 164)

And so, according to our author, the Shaykh believes in the legitimacy (one is tempted to say the 'sacredness') of human self-creation. One might be surprised to find that this notion that God ultimately is the fount of human creativity has recently (re-)appeared in the militantly Christian 'Radical Orthodoxy' movement:
"Radical Orthodoxy is not afraid to consider seriously proposals that knowing is most adequately described in relation to making. It is not bewitched by the fear that human making is inevitably arbitrary." (Truth in the Making; Knowledge and Creation in Modern Philosophy and Theology (Radical Orthodoxy), Robert C. Miner, Prologue pps. xv-xvi.)
Incredible as it might sound, constructivism is today becoming religiously permissable, certainly not as human prometheanism, but as a gift from God. For the very Christian Miner, it is ultimately the "analogical participation of human esse in divine esse (Miner, p.18)" -that he finds in Aquinas- which accounts for this. According to Chittick, Ibn al- `Arabī thinks of human creativity and God in a somewhat similar manner.

Humanity has a special relationship with Wujūd (p.164). Therefore we can slightly effect Its manifestations; and thus it turns out that post/modern constructivism (which always seemed to lead to the nihilistic denial of Truth) must be partially true, - for (god help us...) religious reasons!
Now, any constructivism that is not based on either some genuinely philosophical understanding of the Real (as the necessary, the general, the universal) or a theological understanding of God, but instead bases itself on the merely human, can (of course!) only be another mask of nihilism. Our postmodern moment (apparently yet another barzakh!) continues to point to either the darkest nihilism, or an equally (for secularists) unknowable transcendence.
It will certainly be interesting, but perhaps not enlightening, to see which wins out.

This book was a fascinating and eye-opening read. I am not even sure I had heard of Ibn al- `Arabī before. I only give four stars because one day I would like to read al- `Arabī and give him five stars.
… (mere)
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pomonomo2003 | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jan 15, 2013 |


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