Can the seeker after Truth wholly depend on the guidance found in books on Sufism or are the oral teachings of a spiritual master necessary? This was a heated debate in fourteenth-century Andalusia that extended beyond the confines of Sufi circles. Ibn Khaldun ventured into this debate with a treatise that is as relevant today as it was then. Ibn Khaldun on Sufism: Remedy for the Questioner in Search of Answers is the first ever translation into English of Shifa’ al-Sa’il li-Tahdhib al-Masa’il.
Though Ibn Khaldūn is renowned for the Muqaddima and the ‘Ibar—which are considered milestones in the fields of medieval sociology and the philosophy of history—little is known about his religious and spiritual life. In her introduction to Ibn Khaldun on Sufism, Dr Yumna Ozer seeks to restore Ibn Khaldun and his work to the context from which his theories arose, both in intellectual and religious terms; she also draws a vivid painting of Sufism in the fourteenth century and rethinks Ibn Khaldun’s relationship with Sufism. The translation itself addresses the dichotomies or synergies between religious law and the Sufi path, the roles played by jurists, and that played by Sufis, and the particular position of the Sufi shaykh or spiritual master.
Ibn Khaldun (d. 808/1406), the celebrated social theorist and historian, is renowned for the Muqaddima and the ‘Ibar, which are considered milestones in the fields of medieval sociology and the philosophy of history.
The translator, Dr Yumna Ozer, gained a PhD in Islamic Studies from Indiana University and is an independent scholar specialising in Sufism.
‘Ibn Khaldun’s assessment of the historical development, epistemological categories, and typological distinctions within the Sufi tradition has exerted a profound, if sometimes unstated influence upon medieval and modern treatments of Sufism. Yumna Ozer’s analytical study and careful English translation of this important Khaldunian treatise on Sufism is a valuable contribution to our understanding of this extraordinarily prominent medieval figure.’
Yousef Casewit, Assistant Professor of Qur’anic Studies, University of Chicago and author of The Mystics of al-Andalus.
‘[T]he translator and publisher are to be commended for making this important text available to a wider readership, and it is to be hoped that this publication… will encourage a new generation of scholars and students of Ibn Khaldun’s thought.’
Fitzroy Morrissey, Journal of Islamic Studies.