(Selections from the Al-Insān al-Kāmil by ‘Abd al-Karīm Jīlī)

(Selections from the Al-Insān al-Kāmil by ‘Abd al-Karīm Jīlī)

Titus Burckhardt Jili was undoubtedly both an original theorist and a remarkable thinker and independent mystical writer related to the school of Ibn `Arabi. Mama Iqbal had remarked, “He combined in himself poetical imagination and philosophic genius.” Compared to the teaching of Ibn ‘Arabi, that of Jill is in certain respects more systematic; he contains a more apparent dialectical architecture, which is rather an advantage for the reader who is unfamiliar with this aspect of Sufism. The textss which are offered in this translation are extracts from the celebrated book al-Instin al-Ktimil (Universal Man). They refer to some of the fundamental aspects of the Sufi doctrine. These are the first chapters of al-Instin al-kinul representing a quarter of the entire work, but they contain the quintessence, in respect both of the doctrine and the spiritual applications. Universal Man (Al-Insan al-Ktimil) is an exposition of the appearances of Absolute Being as Essence, Names, Qualities and Divinity, and of the corresponding contemplative states in the path of Union. This is far from being merely a theoretical matter. J1 writes: “I will mention of all that only that which happened to me on my own journey to God; moreover, I recount nothing in this book neither of myself nor of another, without my having tested it at the time when I travelled in God by the path of intuition and direct vision”. Titus Burckhardt has also provided a full and illuminating introduction and commentary to Jill-‘s work.

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Titus Burckhardt

Titus Burckhardt (1908-1984) (Ibrāhīm ‘Izz ud-Dīn) was the son of the Swiss sculptor, Carl Burckhardt, and a member of a patrician family of Basle. Although he first followed in his father’s footsteps as a sculptor and illustrator, he was since his childhood always strongly attracted to oriental art. This led him to a theoretical study of eastern doctrines and to repeated sojourns in the Islamic countries. After some years of studying the history of art and oriental languages, he became director of a publishing house, the Graf-Verlag, which specialised in facsimile editions of ancient manuscripts. In 1972, he was appointed to UNESCO for the preservation of the ancient city of Fez. He was himself an artist and a writer. Well known as the general editor of a magnificent series of art books on sacred cities, and the author of these that deal with SiennaChartres and Fez, he has also written such authoritative works as Moorish Culture in SpainSacred Art in East and WestAn Introduction to the Sufi DoctrineLetters of a Sufi Master and Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul, which is perhaps the best book on Alchemy to be written in the twentieth century. His collected essays have appeared in English under the title Mirror of the Intellect.


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