The Chapters of Mary and Ṭā Hā from The Immense Ocean (Al-Bahr al-Madid)
Title: The Chapters of Mary and Ṭā Hā from The Immense Ocean (Al-Bahr al-Madid)
Author: Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba / Translated by Mohamed Fouad Aresmouk and Michael Abdurrahman Fitzgerald
Publisher: Fons Vitae
The Chapters of Mary and Ṭā Hā center on the key figures of Islam’s two sister monotheisms, Mary, mother of Christ, and Moses. Ibn ‘Ajiba’s commentaries on these two sūrahs give reader access not only to the traditional Islamic view of these prophetic figures, but also on metaphors and symbols to be found in their stories that can of use to anyone following an inner path to God. The Chapter of Mary, in particular, give readers access to the story of Christ through the perspective of the woman who was chosen to bear him. The Immense Ocean from which this is an excerpt, is a prime example of writing from the North African sufic tradition.
Al-Baḥr al-Madīd, from which this translation is an excerpt, is the only traditional Quranic commentary in existence which gives both exoteric exegesis and mystical “spiritual allusion” for each verse of the Sacred Book.
Since the completion of its publication in 2002, the Arabic version of al-Baḥr al-Madīd, which existed only in manuscript form before a small excerpt was printed in the 1950s, has sold out three editions. This is a testimony both to its popularity and to a revival of interest in Sufic thought throughout the Muslim world.
This book would be of interest to anyone studying, either from a personal or academic standpoint, the mystical dimension of religion in general and Islam in particular. Because it deals with important figures from its sister monotheisms, it may also be inspiring to those who wish to engage with inter-faith dialogue but on a deeper level comparing on form to another.
Al-Bahr al-Madid, is the only traditional Quranic commentary in existence which gives both exoteric exegesis and mystical “spiritual allusion” for each verse of the Sacred Book. Only one other work by the prolific 13th/18th century Moroccan mystic and scholar, Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba, has so far been translated into English.