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Ibn Arabi’s
Studies in France

Prepared by :

A lover of Ibn ‘Arabi from France

Ibn ‘Arabi Foundation Pakistan


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For the great majority for those who study tasawwuf in France, Ibn ‘Arabî is an
indisputable authority –even the supreme authority- among the spiritual masters
of Islam. There are french translations of short treaties attributed to him, of
Fusûs al-Hikam, and of some chapters of the Futûhât al-Makkiyya. Besides,
some detailed studies have collected texts about important subjects dissipated in
his huge work. Ibn ‘Arabî is then more and more accessible to French speaking
readers.

The root of the real interest in Sheikh al-Akbar, when in a voluntary


initiation perspective, is due unquestionably to the work of René Guénon, who
died in 1951 in Cairo, under the name of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Wâhid Yahyâ. He
reformed the occidental traditional thought and has given conclusive criteria to
Western people to distinguish the authentic spirituality from all its imitations
overwhelming our modern time.

But the one who introduced akbarian studies in France is in fact Michel
Vâlsan with, among others, translations of texts by Ibn ‘Arabî and some of his
disciples in the review entitled “Etudes Traditionnelles” (Traditional Studies).
His works are a reference nowadays thanks to a great technical accuracy and
clear annotations which highlight the subtleties of the original text. These
qualities are the fruit of a direct comprehension by the author who was an
eminent Sheikh in tasawwuf.

Michel Vâlsan:
Michel Vâlsan translated the following writings of Ibn ‘Arabi into french:

1. -Al-Futûhât al-Makkiyya : extracts from the foreword (al-khutba),


chapter 20, 45, 78, 79, 176, 181, 192, 193, 262, and 263 ;

2. -Al-Awrâd al-usbû‘ (Monday and Thursday),

3. -Kitâb al-Fanâ’ fî al-Mushâhada,

4. -Kitâb al-Jalâla,

5. -Hilyat al-Abdâl,

6. -Kitâb al-Wasâyâ,

7. -Su’âl Ibn Sawdakin,

8. -Bâb ma‘rifat asrâr Takbîrat al-Salât,


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9. -Risâla ilâ al-Imâm al-Râzî,

10.-Kitâb al-I’lâm fî mâ buniya ‘alayhi al-Islâm,

11.-Kitâb al-i’lâm bi al-ishârât ahl al-Ilhâm,

12.-Wasiyya,

13.-Wasiyya li al-murîd (= chapter 22 of Al-Tadbirât al-ilâhiyya fî


islâh al-Mamlakat al-insâniyya),

14.-Manzil qalb al-dhâkir wa mâ yukhtassu bihi min al-asrâr (=extract


from Mawâqi‘ al-Nujûm),

15.-Risâla fî awjuh al-qalb,

16.-Al-Salât ‘alâ al-Nabî,

17.-Al-Salât al-Akbariyya,

18.-Translations of Al-Qashânî (extracts from Ta’wîlât al-Qur’ân) and


of Al-Qunâwî (Risâla fî al-Tawajjuh al-Atamm).

19.-Other translations are unpublished.

After his death, some of his disciples carried on with the enterprise of
translating akbarian texts and of producing complementary studies about them
(in alphabetic order):

Michel Chodkiewicz :
1. -The Meccan Illuminations, chosen texts from the Futûhât al-
Makkiya (with contributions of W. Chittick, C. Chodkiewicz, D.
Gril and J. Morris), Paris, Sindbad, 1988 ;

2. -Seal of the Saint: prophethood and sainthood in the doctrine of Ibn


'Arabi ;

3. -An Ocean without shore : Ibn 'Arabi, the Book and the Law ;

4. -Emir Abd el-kader, Ecrits spirituels (some mawâqif from Kitab al


Mawâqif);

5. -Awhad al-Dîn Balyânî, Epître sur l'Unicité absolue (often


attributed to ibn ‘Arabî)
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Charles-André Gilis :
1. -Fusûs al-Hikam (complete translation) ;

2. La prière du jour du vendredi (on salât al-Jum‘a, extract from


chapter 69 of the Futūhāt);

3. -La prière sur le défunt (Al-salât al-janâza, from chapter 69 of the


Futūhāt) ;

4. -Les trente-six attestations coraniques de l'unité (on tahlîl, extract


from chapter 198 of the Futūhāt)

5. -La Doctrine initiatique du Pèlerinage (on hajj, based on chapter


72 of the Futūhāt) ;

6. -Textes sur le Jeûne (on sawm, extract from chapter 71 of the


Futūhāt).

Maurice Gloton :
1. La Production des Cercles (K. Inshâ’ al-dawâ’ir) ;

2. L’Arbre du Monde (Shajarat al-kawn) ;

3. L’interprète des désirs (Tarjumân al-ashwâq and Ibn ‘Arabî’s own


commentary, K. al-Dhakhâ’ir wa-l-a‘lâq);

4. -Traité de l’Amour (chapter 178 of the Futūhāt) ;

5. -Jésus le fils de Marie dans le Coran et selon l’enseignement d’Ibn


‘Arabî (on Sayidnâ ‘Issa in the Qur’ân and according to Ibn
‘Arabî);

6. -De la Mort à la Résurrection (with translation of chapters 61 to 65


of the Futūhāt).

Denis Gril :
1. Le dévoilement de l'effet du voyage (Kitâb al-Isfâr ‘an natâ’ij al-
asfar) ;

2. -Le Livre de l’Arbre et des Quatre Oiseaux (Kitâb al Ittihad al-


Kawnî) ;

3. The Kitâb al-inbâh of 'Abdallah Badr al-Habashi;

4. -numerous articles concerning Ibn ‘Arabî, in different reviews.


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There are other translations of ibn ‘Arabî’s works, this is not an
exhaustive list. We can also say that there are several current works, like an
important translation of the Futûhât by Abdallah Penot.

Michel Chodkiewicz’s daughter, Claude Addas, author of articles about


akbarian school masters, published a referential work : Ibn ‘Arabî’s life, or the
Quest for red sulphur.