The Chapters of Mary and Ta Ha

The Chapters of Mary and Ta Ha

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Surah Maryam & Surah Ta Ha from al-Bahr al-Madid

The Chapters of Mary and Ṭā Hā center on the key figures of Islam’s two sister monotheisms, Mary, mother of Christ, and Moses. Ibn ‘Ajiba’s commentaries on these two sūrahs give readers access not only to the traditional Islamic view of these prophetic figures but also to metaphors and symbols to be found in their stories that can be of use to anyone following an inner path to God. The Chapter on Mary, in particular, gives readers access to the story of Christ through the perspective of the woman who was chosen to bear him. The Immense Ocean from which this is an excerpt is a prime example of writing from the North African Sufic tradition.

Al-Baḥr al-Madīd, from which this translation is an excerpt, is the only traditional Quranic commentary in existence that gives both exoteric exegesis and mystical “spiritual allusion” for each verse of the Sacred Book.

Since the completion of its publication in 2002, the Arabic version of al-Baḥr al-Madīd, which existed only in manuscript form before a small excerpt was printed in the 1950s, has sold out three editions. This is a testimony both to its popularity and to a revival of interest in Sufic thought throughout the Muslim world.

This book would be of interest to anyone studying, either from a personal or academic standpoint, the mystical dimension of religion in general and Islam in particular. Because it deals with important figures from its sister monotheisms, it may also be inspiring to those who wish to engage with inter-faith dialogue but on a deeper level comparing one form to another.

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