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Title: Divine love in the Moroccan Sufi tradition : Ibn ‘Ajība (d. 1224/1809) and his oceanic exegesis of the Qur’ān
Author: Ibrahim, Omneya Nabil Muhammad
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 3108
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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Aḥmad Ibn ‘Ajība (d. 1224/1809) is one of the prominent Sufi mystics who lived in Morocco during the 13th/ 17th century. His importance in Sufi scholarship is a reflection of the fact that he is one of the original Sufi scholars who contributed immensely to elucidating ambiguous Sufi concepts that were, by their very nature, enigmatic and only accessible through Sufi adepts. He also stood out as an intellectual theoretician in the science of Qur’ānic esoteric hermeneutics because he was one of the few scholars who managed to convey theoretical concepts and esoteric theories of Qur’ānic interpretation in a language that could be accessed by those with an average level of intellect. One of these theories is the concept of divine love. In this thesis, I propose to address the concept of divine love in Aḥmad Ibn ‘Ajība’s famous exegesis of the Qurān al-Baḥr al-madīd fī tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-majīd (Oceanic Exegesis of the Qurān). Over the course of this thesis, I endeavor to show how Ibn ‘Ajība combined what has been extensively written on the subject of divine love by different Sufi saints and mystics with the mystical exegesis of the Qur’ān. Ibn ‘Ajība is one of the early Sufis who connected theoretical works on the concept of divine love and practically applied them to the Qur’ān’s verses on love. This unique combination was an important breakthrough in the Sufi literature which other Sufi scholars then built upon in offering an exegesis of the Qur’ān - Shaykh Aḥmad Ibn Muṣṭafā al-‘Alawī (d.1934) was particularly important in this respect. Explaining the concept of divine love through his mystical interpretation of the love verses in the Qur’ān ultimately aspire to connect the purpose of creation (which was due to the Creator’s love for His creation), to the turning point (the return of the creation to the Creator). This symphony of love that is an essential component of the story of creation is well-defined, clearly stated and deeply analyzed in Ibn ‘Ajība’s work. He also met the challenge of overcoming the elliptical mystical language of exposition that was used by earlier Sufis; accordingly, he successfully simplified the ambiguous style of writing and decoded their enigmatic mystical doctrines. I hope that an analysis of Ibn ‘Ajība’s concept of divine love will stimulate the appetite of academic researchers to investigate the scholarly works of this luminary, and thus highlight his significance in the wider Sufi tradition. Ibn ‘Ajība's works have in general not received sufficient attention and deserve deeper and more sustained analysis.
Supervisor: Lewisohn, Leonard ; Rizvi, Sajjad Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sufism ; divine love ; Quran ; Tafsir ; Ibn 'Ajiba ; unity of being ; gnosis