He was the author of numerous books, including one on sufi terminology, an autobiography, and a mystical tafsir of the Quran. He was called the spokesman of the Darqawi Tariqah in his time. Currently, he is buried in one of his two zawiyyas, located between Tangier and Tetouan. I arrived there by doing some skillful haggling with the grand taxi drivers at the Tetouan station with some friends. Ibn Ajiba was not located far from the standard trek and road between Tangier and Tetouan, on the way to a modern day town called Melousa, at the turn off to it.
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He spent time in prison, and time in ecstasy. He tells his tale with humility and a sense of humor, and the story manages to be at the same time practical details of how much he paid to workmen to build a house or advice to his followers on how to consummate their marriages and spiritual explaining the subtleties of mystical experience and how the esoteric way is superior to the exoteric. His zeal for both intellectual learning and the devotional path are apparent on every page.
Long unavailable to Western readers, this new English translation by David Streight is based on the contemporary French version by Jean-Louis Michon, a longtime scholar of Islamic culture and traditional ideas in the North African country where Ibn Aijba lived and taught. Reviews " This lengthy and fascinating book is a rare example of the genre of autobiography in Islamic literature.
It deals with everything from the little details of everyday life to the mystical states experienced on the path to God. It will be welcomed by everyone interested in the day-to-day workings of Islamic society, the interplay between "exoteric" and "esoteric" learning in the dynamics of Islamic understanding, and the place of the Sufi path in the personal and social life of the community.
Recommended for historians and anthropologists, general readers, spiritual seekers, and Sufi adepts. Chittick, State University New York " A fascinating account of the life of a prolific, yet little known, Moroccan Sufi that casts special light on the socio-cultural and religious milieu of eighteenth-century northwest Africa. His preoccupation with the intricacies of daily life foregrounds his reflections and experiences gracefully against the rich, and often disharmonious mosaic of the social, intellectual, pedagogical, and moral values of the time.
The book will be of interest to scholars of Sufism and the socio-cultural history of Morocco and North Africa. One of my wives got into a rage and came in seething with jealousy. She came up to where I was, grabbed me by the collar, and pulled me, rolling down the stairs; then she showed me out the door and bolted it, forcing me to spend the night outdoors.
For those who are light readers like myself and fall asleep within ten minutes of opening a book, the humour and style of the Fahrasa will keep you awake beyond those crucial opening minutes!
However, care needs to be taken when reading the book as it is a secondary translation, based on a French translation of the original Arabic by Jean Louis-Michon. The book is a narrative of the journey Ibn Ajiba undertook to seek worldly and religious knowledge. The early chapters concentrate on his background and the company of virtuous and noble people that he kept. Ibn Ajiba took the Darqawi tariqa around , and describes the trials that he was inflicted with later.
It was not until Ibn Ajiba began studying and living the science of tasawwuf that he had his epiphanic opening which he describes as light shining into his heart. It is at this stage in the Fahrasa that ibn Ajiba makes a distinction between exoteric and esoteric knowledge and explains the nature and structure of the latter.
Those of us not acquainted with the methods of self-purification practised by the Sufis might be puzzled by an example illustrated in chapter eleven. Ibn Ajiba is ordered by his Shaykh to carry garbage over his shoulders and go begging through the markets in Tetuan. Through this exercise, he was shown the virtue of humility in its existential reality, rather than from mere examples and exhortations from a text.
A good example is the description of the ijaza system through which the author was given proof of his competency over works studied with scholars. From personal accounts to spiritual and practical experiences one is kept intrigued and interested by the life of this great author.
References: 1. Reviewed by: Nusheen Amin Source: Deenport.
Ahmed İbn Acibe
The Autobiography of a Moroccan Soufi: Ahmad Ibn’Ajiba