The Fragrant Scent is the first English translation of the work of the great eighteenth-century scholar Sayyid Abu al-Marahim ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Mustafa b. Shaykh al-‘Aydarus. The book is a meditation on the fleeting thoughts that pass through the mind of the spiritual wayfarer, and the author’s aim is to provide guidance for those on the spiritual path.
The author describes his treatise as a commentary on Suhrawardi’s famous Sufi work, ‘Awarif al-ma’arif, and he draws on a rich selection of authoritative sources to answer key questions about the wayfarer’s experiences, including the Qur’an, the hadith, Ghazali, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani and Abu Madyan. This concise, yet wide-ranging treatise covers topics such as the different types of passing thoughts and their causes, knowledge of the soul and finding the perfect spiritual guide, as well as the necessity of retreat and practicing one’s knowledge.
Shaykh al-‘Aydarus was a follower of the Ba ‘Alawi tariqa, a famous Sufi order from Hadhramaut in southern Yemen, known for its piety and careful observance of the Sharia. The Fragrant Scent reflects the Ba ‘Alawi order’s emphasis on maintaining a balance between the inner and outer worlds, making the work an accessible entry point to understanding the profound spiritual insights and everyday practice of Ba ‘Alawi Sufism.
Born in Tarim in southern Yemen, Abu al-Marahim was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad through ‘Ali and Husayn. He studied the traditional legal and religious sciences with renowned scholars in Yemen, the Hijaz, India and Egypt, where he died in 1192 AH/1778 AD. He attracted many students in the course of his travels, including ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti and al-Murtada al-Zabidi. He is the author of more than 60 works in Arabic, including the present treatise, al-‘Arf al-‘atir fi ma’rifat al-khawatir wa-ghayriha min al-jawahir.