About The Book
Letters on the Spiritual Path is the culmination of many years’ effort to present for the first time a complete rendering into English, or any other western language of all 272 letters of spiritual guidance written by the renowned Sufi teacher of eighteenth century Morocco, Mulay al-Arabi al-Darqawi al-Hasani (d. 1239/1823). These letters are a living example of an educative process that provided the wayfarer on the Sufic path with an integral vision of the principles, attitudes, and conduct that constitute Islamic spirituality itself and of the self-effacing comportment that leads to the experiential knowledge of the Divine (ma’rifa). They offer rare insight into the teacher/student relationship within the circles of Islamic mysticism.
The letters are singularly personal and touch upon nearly every conceivable aspect of the Sufic path, depicting the Shaykh as a human being living among other human beings, and portraying how, for a person of God such as Mulay al-Arabi, everything that happens can be seen as infused with the Divine Presence. In this regard these letters are his response to those, like himself, who sought to negotiate the currents of the times without compromising themselves and their values, and are as relevant today as they were to those who so ardently sought copies of them during the lifetime of Mulay al-Arabi himself.
The translation is in clear accessible English, and holds true to the intention of the translators to, “keep in mind the fact that they were written in an intimate register of Arabic that could be grasped by most of the Shaykh’s disciples.” The text includes an in depth introduction, is well annotated with hadith and textual referents cited, and has both detailed biographical and topical indexes. This long awaited translation is a must for the library of every serious student of Sufism and provides excellent examples of Sufi literature for the university classroom.
About The Author
Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Arabi al-Darqawi (1760–1823) was a Moroccan Sufi leader of the Shadhili tariqa and the author of letters concerning the dhikr he preached and instructions for daily life. He stressed noninvolvement in worldly affairs (Dunya) and spoke against other Sufi orders exploiting claims of barakah (blessings). He was imprisoned by the Moroccan ruler Mulay Slimane (r. 1792–1822) for supporting revolts against the throne, but was released by Abderrahmane (r. 1822–1859).
A branch of the Shadhili order, the Darqawa, was organized around his teachings after his death, with members coming from a wide range of social groups. Though the Darqawa was once the most important tariqah in Morocco, its power waned as it spread throughout North Africa. Al-Darqawi was descended from a Hasanid/Idrissid sherif family that lived among the Beni Zerwal Berbers, in the hills to the north-east of Fez. His tomb is in the Zawiya Bou Brih also in the Rif.