The al-ism al-a`zam in the writings of Ahmad ibn `Ali al-Būnī (d. Cairo 622/1225) ...

Shams al-ma`arif al-kubra (The Greater Sun of Mystic Gnosis), the title of one of al-Būnī's most famous works

The al-ism al-a`zam in the writings of Ahmad ibn `Ali al-Būnī (d. Cairo 622/1225) and his devotees.

Stephen Lambden UCMerced.
In progress 1980s-2017.

 احمد بن علي البوني 

al-Būnī, `Alī ibn Aḥmad, Muḥyī al-Dīn (d. 622/1225).

Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Būnī = `Abu al-`Abbas Ahmad ibn `Ali ibn Yūsuf al-Qurayshī Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Būnī  (622/1225).

See Brockelmann, GAL  I/2:655f.; Deitrich EI2 12:156-7; GALS 1:910f; Fahd, [1966]1987:230ff; Ulmann, 1972: 234,390f, 415.

An Islamic theologian, mystic and magician, Ahmad ibn `Alī al-Būnī  wrote around 40 Arabic books on Islamic esoterica and related subjects having a special facility with the theology of occuly ot talismanic configurations of the Names of God. Most of his often complex work remains unedited and unstudies and unpublished, save for a few non-critical editions.  Critical editions of his writings await realization.

See Brockelmann, GAL  I/2:655f.; Deitrich EI2 12:156-7; GALS 1:910f; Fahd, [1966]1987:230ff; Ulmann, 1972: 234,390f, 415. See below for a select Biographical data, notes and miscellany

Sharḥ  ism Allāh al-a`zam fi'l-ruḥānī  wa yalihi Kitāb al-lam'ah fi'l-fawā'id al-ruḥānīyya `aẓīẓat al-sama`a ("Commentary upon the Spiritual-Devotional Dimensions of the Mightiest Name of God constituting the Book of Radiant spiritual directives which and mighty and audible").

 . . .

al-Buni wrote at least one treatise commenting on spiritual - ruhani - devotional dimensions of the ism Allāh al-a`zam. This work referred to here spells out something of the complexities of this supernal Name in the context  of personal devotional rituals which may presuppose heavenly ascent or a personal spiritual mi`raj ("night journey") in which angelic forces proffer guidance when invoked in an appropriate manner.  It includes some  complicated invocatory prayers which the spiritual aspirant should recite as well as a few graphical alphabetical-numerological configurations and an occasional `magic square'. Like other of al-Buni's writings there are numerous points of commentary  and interest on various Names of God as well as on aspects of this supernal  ism Allah al-a`zam  `Mightiest Name of God'.

  • Sharḥ ism Allāh al-a`ẓam fī al-ruḥānī wa yalihi kitāb al-lama`a  fī'l-fawā'id al-ruḥānīyya `aẓīẓat al-sama`a  ("Commentary upon the Mightiest Name of God in [devotional] spirituality  and  expressive of the Book of Brilliance regarding matters mighty, reputable and constituting spiritual instructions" ). Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Mahmūdiyya al-Tijāriyya bi'l-Azhar, 1358/ 1939-40 (119+ index)
  • Sharḥ ism Allāh al-a`ẓam... Cairo: Maḥmūd `Alī Ṣubayḥ, n.d.
  • Sharḥ ism Allāh al-aʻẓam fī al-rūḥānī ; wa-yalīhi Kitāb al-lumʻah fī al-fawāʼid al-rūḥānīyah ʻazīzat al-simʻah by Aḥmad ibn ʻAlī Būnī. al-Azhar : al-Maṭbaʻah al-Maḥmūdīyah, 1358 / 1939-1940. 
  •  PDf.

Kitāb shams al-ma`arif  wa latā'if  al-awārif ("The Book of the Sun of Gnosis and the Subtleties of Elevated things").

كتاب شمس المعارف الكبرى ولطائف العوارف

  • Kitāb shams al-ma`arif ("The Book of the Sun of Gnosis"). 4 vols. Cairo n.d. [1905]
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`arif ("The Book of the Sun of Gnosis"). 4 vols./ Pts. in 1 vol. Beirut: Maktabah al-Thaqafiyya (576pp+16 index). *
  • Pt. I = Kitāb shams al-ma`arif al-kubrā. (in the above Cairo+Beirut  ed.) pp. 1-142.
  • Pt. II = Kitāb shams al-ma`arif al-kubrā. (in the above Cairo+Beirut  ed.) pp. 143-266.
  • Pt. III = Kitāb shams al-ma`arif al-kubrā. (in the above Cairo+Beirut  ed.) pp. 266-535
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif.  Cairo : al-Maktabat al-`Arab + Bombay + Calcutta, 1291/1874.
  • Shams al-maʻārif al-kubra wa laṭāʼif al-ʻawārif ... Bombay, 1305/ 1887. Copy in Columbia University Libraries. New York, NY 10027 USA.
  •  
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif.  4 vols. Cairo n. d. [1905]
  • al-Juzʼ al-awwal [-al-juzʼ al-rābiʻ] min Kitāb shams al-maʻārif al-kubrá wa-laṭāʼif al-ʻawārif. Egypt [Cairo] : Maktabat wa-Maṭbaʻat Muḥammad ʻAlī Ṣubayḥ, XXXX/ 19??.
  •  
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif wa latā'if al-awārif.  Miṣr : Dār Ihya al-Kutub al-Gharbiyat, XXXX/1920.
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif wa latā'if al-awārif.  Miṣr, al-Maktabah al-Tijārīyah al-Kubrá wa-yalīhi: Mīzān al-ʻadl fī Maqāṣid Aḥwāl al-Raml, wa-Risālat Fawātiḥ al-Raghāʼib fī Khuṣūṣīyāt Awqāt al-Kawākib, wa-Risālat Zahr al-Murūj fī Dalāʼil al-Burūj, wa-Risālat Laṭāʼif al-Ishārah fī Khaṣāʼiṣ al-Kawākib al-Sayyārah. Taʼlīf ʻAbd al-Qādir al-Ḥusaynī al-Adhamī, XXXX/  1920?
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif.  Cairo: Mustafa al-Bābī al-Halabi,  1345/1927. 
  •  
  • Shams al-ma`ārif al-kubrá wa-laṭa'if al-`awarif / Ahmad ibn `Ali al-Buni wa-yalihi, Mizan al-`adl fi maqaṣid ahkam al-raml, Fawatiḥ al-ragha'ib fi khuṣuṣiyat al-kawakib, Zahr al-muruj fi dala'il al-buruj, Laṭa'if al-isharah fi khaṣa'iṣ al-kawakib al-sayyarah ; `Abd al-Qadir al-.Husayni al-Adhami.  4 vols. in 1 . Cairo: Mu.s.tafá al-Bābī al-Halabi, XXXX/ 1945.  576+16 pp. 
  •  
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif. Ed. 'Abd al-Fattāh 'Abd al-Hamīd Murād, Cairo: Maktabat al-Jumhūriyya al-Mişriyya, 1380/1960.
  • al-Juzʼ al-awwal [al-thānī] min Shams al-maʻārif al-kubrá wa-laṭāʼif al-ʻawārif al-Azhar [Egypt]: Yuṭlabu min Maktabat al-Jumhūrīyah al-Miṣrīyah, 1380/1960-61.
  • Hādhā Kitāb shams al-maʻārif wa-laṭāʼif al-ʻawārif. Bombay: Muhammadi, 1964.
  • Shams al-maʻārif al-kubrá wa-laṭāʼif al-ʻawārif. Beirūt : Al-Maktabah al-Shaʻbīyah, XXXX/ 1970.
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif wa latā'if al-awārif. Cairo: al-Maṭbaʻah al-Ḥusaynīyah al-Miṣrīyah, XXXX/1995
  • Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif ("The Book of the Sun of Gnosis"). 4 vols./ Pts. in 1 vol. Beirut: Maktabah al-Thaqafiyya (576pp+16 index). *
  • Pt. I = Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif al-kubrā. (in the above Cairo+Beirut  ed.) pp. 1-142.
  • Pt. II = Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif al-kubrā. (in the above Cairo+Beirut  ed.) pp. 143-266.
  • Pt. III = Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif al-kubrā. (in the above Cairo+Beirut  ed.) pp. 266-535
  •  
  • Shams al-maʻārif al-kubrā. Beirut: Dār al-Maḥajǰat al-Bayḍā', 1421/ 2001

كتاب شمس المعارف الكبرى

Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif al-kubra ("The Greater Book of the Sun of Gnosis").  Beirut: Manshurat Mu'assat al-Nur li'l-Matbu`at al-Thaqafiyya, 1420/2000. 616pp. 

Majmū`a Arba` Rasā'il (Compendium of Four Treatises") of Sayyid `Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni al-Adhami (ADD/ADD).

  • Pt. IV = Majmu`at Arba`a Rasā'il (Compendium of Four Treatises") (pp.537-576):
  • [1] Risālah Mīzān al-`adl fī maqāṣid aḥkām al-raml  (pp.537-552)
  • [2] Risālah  Fawa'tih al-raghā'ib khuṣūṣiyyāt awaqāt al-kawākib (pp.552-558)
  • [3] Risālah Zahr al-muruj fi dala'il al-burūj  (pp.558-566)
  • [4] Risālah latā'if al-ishārāt fī khasā'is al-kawākib al-sayyāra (pp.566-576).

Kitāb shams al-ma`ārif ("The Book of the Sun of Gnosis"). ADD

  • Long recension
  • Medium length recension
  • Short recension

[TAM METIN (BLI UK BİLGİLER HAZİNESİ]

Massive Turkish translation of the Shams al-Ma`ārif al-Kubrā of al-Būnī  in 4 Pts.  within 2 vols. containing many clearly printed diagrams and numerous excerpts from the Arabic text.

  • Pts1-2  = ŞEMS'UL MAARIFUL EL KÜBRA ., Turkish Trans., Araştırmacı Gazeteci Yazar Nebil Fazıl Alsan., Istanbul: Seda Yayinlari (1062pp.)
  • Pts. 3-4 = ŞEMS'UL MAARIFUL EL KÜBRA ., Turkish Trans., Araştırmacı Gazeteci Yazar Nebil Fazıl Alsan., Istanbul: Seda Yayinlari (1058pp.)

Urdu:

  • Shamsul maʻārif al-kubrá Urdu va lat̤āʼifulʻavārif : maʻiz̤āfah-yi ʻamaliyāt-i Madanī : ʻamaliyāt va taʻvīz̲āt kī sab se baṛī mustanad aur mashhūr kitāb. ed. Sayyid Ḥusain Aḥmad Madnī; Iqbāluddīn Aḥmad. Karachi: Dārulʻishāʻat : milne kā patah, Idāratulmaʻārif, 1978

Kitāb Latā'if al-Ishārāt fī asrār al-ḥurūf al-`uluwiyyāt ("Book of the Subtleties of the Allusions regarding the Mysteries of the Elevated Letters").

  • Kitāb Latā'if al-Ishārāt fī asrār al-ḥurūf al-`uluwiyyāt. Lithograph edition. Cairo: Add., 1317/1899.  

Kitāb al-uṣūl wa'l-ḍawābiṭ (Book of the Fundamentals of the ).

  • Kitāb al-uṣūl wa'l-ḍawābiṭ  apparebntly an  introduction to the hidden sciences.

Kitāb Siḥr al-`ushāq fi jalab al-Mushtaq ("The Book of Magic for the enticement of the Object of Yearning").

  • Kitāb Saḥr al-`ushāq fi jalab al-mushtāq ("The Book of Magic..."). mss. (96pp.).

Sharḥ sawakiţ al-Fatiha al-sharlfa  (Commentary upon the Sawaqiţ of the Noble [Surah of] the Opening" [Q.1]")

  • Shark sawakiţ al-Fatiha al-sharlfa.

According to Deitrich this work is "on the consonants th. Dj_. kh, z sh. ẓ. f. which do not occur in the first Sūra;

al-Lama' al֊ nūrāniyya ("The Luminous Brilliance")

  • ADD = a work on the Divine Names  (see Fahd, op. cit., 237 f.).

al-Makkī,  Sayyid `Alī (d. 1888).

al-Istighathaha

  • Igathath fi ḥall alfaẓ al-Istighathah
  • Ighātha al-malhūfīn min al-ummah al-Muhammadiyya fi ḥall alfaẓ al-Istighātha al-Būnīya, ed.  Shaykh Muhammad  Jaljal al-Qalyūbī + Shaykh Muhammad Ahmad al-Shaybani [?].  Cairo: al-Azhar al-Sharif., 1325/1907 (224pp.). Book completed for printing 4th Rabī` al-Thānī 1325 = 17th May 1907.

هذا مجموع لطيف يشتمل على دعوة الجلجلوتية وشرحها ودعوة الدمياطية وشرحها ودعوة البرهتية وشرحها بالتمام.

  • Hādhā majmūʻ laṭīf yashtamilu ʻalá Daʻwat al-Juljulūtīyah wa-sharḥihā wa-Daʻwat al-Dimyāṭīyah wa-sharḥihā wa-Daʻwat al-Burhatīyah wa-sharḥihā bi-al-tamām. [Cairo?] : Maṭbaʻat al-Bayān, 1316/1898-9. Copy in University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, WA 98195 USA.

Manba` uṣūl al-ḥikma:

منبع أصول الحكمة

 . : المشتمل على اربع رسائل مهمة في  من العلوم الحرفية والوفقية والدعوات والاقسام وغير ذلك:

  • الاصوا والضوابط المحكمة،   1
  • 2. بغية المشتاق في معرفة وضع الاوفاق،
  • 3. شرح البرهتيه، المعروف بشرح : (لعهد القديم)،
  • 4. شرح الجلجلوتية الكبرى

Manba` uṣūl al-ḥikma: al-mushtamil ʿalá arbaʿ rasāʾil muhimmah fī uṣūl al-ʿulūm al-ḥikmīyah wa'l-waqfīyah wa'l-daʻawāt wa'l-aqsām wa-ghayr dhālika...

Frequently printed in 20th century, this compilation contains four works of al-Buni to which two other short works of other writers are often appended (see below):

  • Manbaʻ uṣūl al-ḥikmah : al-mushtamil ʻalá arbaʻ rasāʼil muhimmah fī uṣūl al-ʻulūm al-ḥikmīyah, min al-ʻulūm al-ḥarfīyah wa'l-wifqīyah wa'l-daʻawāt wa-al-aqsām wa-ghayr dhālika:
  • 1. al-Uṣū wa-al-ḍawābiṭ al-muḥkama,
  • 2. Bughyat al-mushtāq fī maʻrifat waḍʻ al-awfāq,
  • 3. Sharḥ al-Birhatiyh, al-maʻrūf bi-sharḥ: (al-ʻAhd al-Qadīm),
  • 4. Sharḥ al-Jaljalūtīyah al-kubrá
  • [1]  الاصول العلوم الحكمية - al-Uṣūl wa'l-ḍawā'biṭ al-muḥkama (pp.5-55)
  • [2] بغية المشتاق في معرفة وضع الاوفاق، - Bughyat al-mushtāq fī ma`rifat waḍ` al-awfāq (pp.56-66)
  • [3] شرح البرهتيه، المعروف بشرح - Sharḥ al-birhatiyya al-ma`rūf bi-sharḥ al-`ahd al-qadīm(pp.67-90)
  • [4] شرح الجلجلوتية الكبرى - Sharḥ al-Jaljalūtiyya al-kubrā (pp.91-325)

Muhammad al-Shāfi'ī al-Khalwatī al-Ḥanafī (d. ADD/ADD).

  • [5] al-Sirr al-maẓrūf fī ՝ilm basṭ al-ḥurūf ,  1370/1951 (pp.2-25)

'Alî  ibn Muhammad al-Ṭandatā'ī al-Qārī (d. ADD/ADD).

  • [6] al-Durra al-bahiyya fī jawāmi' al-asrār al-rūḥāniyya, 1370/1951 (pp.27-30).

SELECT PRINTINGS

  • Manba` uṣūl al-ḥikma... Cairo: Muṣṭafā al-Bābī al-Ḥalabī wa-awlādihi., 1370/1951. 
  • Manbaʻ uṣūl al-ḥikmah al-mushtamil ʻalá arbaʻ rasāʼil muhimmah fī uṣūl al-ʻulūm al-ḥikmīyah min al-ʻulūm al-ḥarfīyah wa-al-wifqīyah wa-al-daʻawāt wa-al-aqsām wa-ghayr dhālik. ed. Muḥammad al-Shāfiʻī Khalwaṭī and ʻAlī ibn Muḥammad Ṭandatāʼī.  Cairo: Muṣṭafá al-Bābī al-Ḥalabī wa-awlādihi, 1370/1951.
  • Manbaʿ uṣūl al-ḥikmah : al-mushtamil ʿalá arbaʿ rasāʾil muhimmah fī uṣūl al-ʿulūm al-ḥikmīyah, min al-ʿulūm al-ḥarfīyah wa-al-wafqīyah wa-al-daʿwāt wa-al-aqsām wa-ghayr dhālika ... Dihlī : Maktabah Ishāʻat al-Islām, XXXX/ 198? .
  • Manba` uṣūl al-hikma mushtamal `ala arba` rasa'il muhimma fi usul al-`ulum al-hikma... Imam al-Kabir wa'l-Hikmat al-Shahir Abu `Abbas Ahmad ibn `Ali al-Buni, Beirut: al-Maktabat al-Thaqafiyya, n. d. [199?].
  • Manba` uṣūl al-ḥikma... Beirut: Maktabat al-Qahira, n.d.  c. 1398/1998.  335pp. +31+1pp.
  • Manba` uṣūl al-ḥikma... Beirut: Maktabat al-Thaqafiyya, n.d.  c. 1398/1998.  335pp. +31+1pp.
  • Manba` uṣūl al-ḥikma... Beirut: Mu'assat al-Nūr li'l-Maṭbū'āt al-Thaqafiyya, / al-Nur Library, 1420/2000.

اللؤلؤ المنظوم في الطلاسم والنجوم ‏

al-Luʼluʼ al-manẓūm...

"The well-ordered Pearls respecting the Talismans of the Stars".

  • al-Luʼluʼ al-manẓūm fī al-ṭalāsim wa-al-nujūm. Miṣr : al-Maṭbaʻah wa-al-Maktabah al-Saʻīdīyah, [1910?]. Copy in Yale Univ. Library.

الكشف  في علم الحرف :  ويليه اصول علم الحرف وضوابط الافاق للحكيم سقراط

The Unveiling of the knowledge of the Letter(s) : regarding the bases of the science of the Letter(s) and the computations of the Horizons for  Ḥakīm Suqrāṭ.                         

  • al-Kashf fī ʻilm al-ḥarf : wa-yalīhi uṣūl ʻilm al-ḥarf wa-ḍawābiṭ al-āfāq lil-Ḥakīm Suqrāṭ. Beirut: Muʼassasat al-Nūr lil-Maṭbūʻāt, 2004. 246 pages.

  حجاكتاب مختصر اللمعة النورانية 

The Choice book of the Luminous Gleaming ...

  • Kitāb Mukhtaṣar al-Lumʻah al-nūrāniyya. Copy in Princeton Univ. Library, USA.
  •  

حجاب عظيم

  • Ḥijāb ʻaẓīm ("A Mighty Veil").  Archival Material Language: Arabic Publication. Listed in World Cat.  in   Robert Garrett Collection, 200 B.C.-1900s within Princeton University Princeton, NJ 08544 USA.

Select Secondary sources on Ahmad ibn `Ali  al-Būnī and his writings.

 Ahrens, W.

  • Die "magischen Quadrate" Al-Būnī's, in Is!., xii (1922), 157-77.
  • Die "magischen Quadrate" Al-Būnī's, in Is!., xiv (1925), 104-10.

Bergsträsser, G.

  • Zu den magischen Quadraten, in ibid., xiii (1923), 227-35.

E. Doutte,

  • Magie et religion dans l'Afrique du Nord, Algiers 1909.

Dietrich, A.

`al-Būnī  in EI2 [Supp. = ] vol. 12 pp. 156-7. A rather dismissive article.

Fahd, Toufic.

  • Le Divination Arabe. Leiden:        1966.see pp.230-3.

Francis IV, Edgar Walter,

  • Islamic symbols and Sufi rituals for protection and healing : religion and magic in the writings of Ahmad ibn Ali al-Buni (d. 622/1225). Ph. D. thesis University of California, Los Angeles 2005. xvii, 258 pages.

Gawhary, Mohamed M.,

  • Die Gottesnamen im magischen Gebrauch in den al-Buni zugeschriebenen Werken. Bonn, 1968. 363, [2] pp. Inaug. Diss.

Pielow, Dorothee Anna Maria

  • Die Quellen der Weisheit : die arabische Magie im Spiegel des Uṣūl al-Hikma von Ahmad `Ali al-Buni. (= Arabistische Texte und Studien ; 8). Hildesheim ; New York : Georg Olms Verlag, 1995.    [2], 207, [3]pp. 

Ruska, Julius,

  • `Article'  ADD HERE in Isi.. xxii (19340, 307-10 . 

Ruska "deserves the credit for having drawn attention to the abstruse chapter on alchemy in the Shams and its sources; since this chapter fits somewhat unnaturally in the work, it may indeed have been added by a later author who was familiar with al-Rāzī՝s Kitāb al-Asrar (cf. Isi.. xxii [1934]. 307-10 .

Vajda, Georges.

  • `Sur quelques elements juifs et pseudo-juifs dans l'encyclopédie magique de Bûnî. in Goldziher Mémorial Volume, 1, (Budapest 1948). 387-92.

"Vajda has pointed to Jewish and pseudo-Jewish elements in the Shams al-ma'anf, especially with regard to the names of God, the angels the idea of thakūfa (from Hebrew teķūfā, something like "quarter of a year'՝ and several other derived meanings): Sur quelques elements juifs et pseudo-juifs dans l'encyclopédie magique de Bûnî. in Goldziher Mémorial Volume, 1, Budapest 1948. 387-92." (EI2 XII:156).

Winkler, H.

  • Siegel und Charaktere in der Muhammedanischen Zauberei (Berlin-Leipzig, Walter de Gruyter, 1930) On pages 67-80 there is a German translation of materials from al-Buni pertaining to the Talisman of the seven seals and the Mightiest Name of God.

Witkam, Jan Just.

  •  `Gazing at the Sun, Remarks on the Egyptian Magician al-Būnī and His Work',  in O ye Gentlemen Arabic Studies on Science and Literary Culture In Honour of Remke Kruk,  Ed.  Arnoud Vrolijk and Jan P. Hogendijk,  Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2007, pp. 183-199.