Soul: Islamic Concepts

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Islamic concepts of the soul vary, ranging from the traditional (and most prevalent) to the mystical. They include doctrines formulated by individual schools of Islamic dialectical theology (kalām ) and theories developed within Islamic philosophy (falsafah ). It is possible to classify very broadly the different types of such concepts under four categories: traditional, theological, philosophical, and mystical (ufī). Differences (as well as overlappings) abound, not only between these categories, but also within them. Nonetheless, the various Islamic concepts of the soul all seek or claim a Qurʾanic base. Hence, the proper starting point of any discussion of such concepts is the Qurʾān. Before turning to the Qurʾān, however, a few preliminary remarks on the use of the Arabic terms rū ("spirit") and nafs ("soul") are in order.

As in other languages, these terms relate to the ideas of breath and wind. In pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, rū can mean "wind," "breath," or "that which one blows" (as when kindling a fire). In post-Qurʾanic Arabic, the two terms are often used interchangeably when referring to the human soul, but distinctions between them are also maintained within certain conceptual schemes. In the Qurʾān, in addition to the grammatical reflexive use of nafs as "self," the term is used to refer to the human soul, whereas rū normally refers to the spirit that proceeds from God. In pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, these two terms do not have a religious or supernatural connotation. Thus rū refers to the physical breath or wind, while nafs (when not used reflexively) refers to the blood, sometimes to the living body. This usage is consistent with the secular nature of this poetry, whose themes revolve around the poet's mundane loves, sorrows, heroic exploits, and concept of tribal honor. The poetry is also noted for its vivid descriptions of naturedesert scenery and animal life, wild and domesticthat convey a sense of the splendor, power (sometimes harshness), and vitality of nature, but never anything that can be construed as either teleological or mystical. There are also affirmations in this poetry that, with death, everything ends, that there is nothing beyond the grave. A seeming exception to this consists of references to the hāmah, a birdlike apparition resembling a small owl, which, according to pre-Islamic Arab belief, departs from the head of a slaughtered man, perches by his grave, and continues to shriek, "give me to drink," until the death is avenged. The association of this belief with the tribal law of avenging the death of a kinsman is obvious.

RŪ and Nafs in the QurʾĀn

As indicated earlier, rū ("spirit") in the Qurʾān refers normally to God's spirit. The term appears in different contexts. It is the divine creative breath: God creates man (Adam) from clay, animating him by blowing into the clay of his spirit (15:29; 32:9; 38:72). Again, God blew of his spirit into Mary, causing the conception of Jesus (21:91; 66:12). Spirit is sent by God as a messenger: it is al-rū al-amīn ("the faithful spirit") that comes to Muammad's heart (26:193)hence the Qurʾanic commentators' identification of "the faithful spirit" with the angelic messenger Gabriel. Mary conceives when God sends his spirit to her in the form of a perfect man (19:17). Spirit is also rū al-qudūs ("the holy spirit") which God sends to help Jesus (2:87, 2:253). Jesus himself is referred to as a spirit from God, but it is also made clear that this does not mean that he is the son of God (4:171).

Spirit relates also to the amr of God (16:2; 17:85; 40:15; 42:52), a term that can mean either "command" or "affair." Muslim scholars have disagreed on the interpretation of this term as well as on the referent of rū ("spirit") in surah 17:85: "They ask thee [Muammad] about the spirit. Say: 'The spirit is of my Lord's amr ; of knowledge ye have been given but little.'" Some have understood amr here as "affair," not "command," and rū as referring to the human spirit. If this interpretation is correct, then the verse provides an exception to the normal Qurʾanic use of the term rū.

The term nafs, when not used in the grammatical reflexive sense of "self," refers to the human soul, not God's spirit. The human soul, however, relates to the divine spirit, since, as indicated earlier, God brings life to man by breathing into him of his spirit. The equivalence of life and soul in the Qurʾān, however, is not explicitly stated. Nor is there any explicit statement as to whether the soul is immaterial or material. The Qurʾān is primarily concerned with the moral and religious orientation of the human soul, with its conduct, and with the consequences of such conduct in terms of reward and punishment in the hereafter. This concern with the moral and religious disposition of the soul is reflected in the Qurʾanic characterization of the soul as either ammārah, lawwāmah, or mumaʾinnah. The ammārah (12:53) is the soul that by nature incites or commands what is evil. Qurʾanic commentators have identified this with the carnal self. The lawwāmah (75:2) is the soul that constantly blames itself, interpreted by some commentators as upbraiding itself in the quest of goodness. The mumaʾinnah (89:27) is the tranquil soul of the virtuous believer that will return to its lord.

With death, the soul leaves the body, to rejoin it on the Day of Judgment. Thereafter the righteous go to Paradise, the wicked dwell in Hell. Two questions in particular that relate to the resurrection were to occupy Islamic religious thinkers. The first is whether or not it is the remains of the same body that is resurrected. To this the Qurʾān gives no detailed answer, only an affirmation that God has the power to bring back to life what has been decayed: "Who will revive these bones when they are decayed? Say: 'He who created them the first time will revive them'" (36:7879). The second is the question of what happens to the soul between the time of death and the day of resurrection. There are Qurʾanic statements (8:49; 9:101; 32:21; 47:27) that suggest that wicked souls will be punished even before the resurrection and that the souls of martyrs will be in paradise: "Do not reckon that those killed in battle are dead; they are living with their Lord, provided for" (3:169). Such statements become a basis for traditional doctrines regarding the soul's fate in the interim between death and the final day of judgment.

Traditional Concepts

In Islam, the most prevalent concepts of the soul can perhaps best be termed "traditional." Their immediate inspiration is the Qurʾān, interpreted literally, and the adīth, or "tradition." A chief source for our knowledge of the traditional concepts of the soul in Islam is Kitāb al-rū (The Book of the Spirit), by the Damascene Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzīyah (d. 1350), a celebrated anbalī theologian and jurisconsult.

The term rū, Ibn Qayyim maintains, is applicable in Arabic usage to both the spirit that comes from God and the human spirit. In the Qurʾān, however, it is used to refer to the spirit that comes from God. This spirit proceeds from the amr of God. The term amr in the Qurʾān, Ibn Qayyim insists, always means "command." Since the spirit proceeds from the command of God, it is a created being, although its creation antedates the creation of the human soul. The human body is created before the human soul. The latter, though created, is everlasting. Death means the separation of this soul from the body, to rejoin it permanently when the resurrection takes place. When the Qurʾān speaks of the soul that incites to evil, the soul that upbraids, and the tranquil soul, this does not mean that a human has three souls. These, Ibn Qayyim argues, are characteristics of one and the same human soul.

Ibn Qayyim gives a lengthy critique of the philosophical doctrine of an immaterial soul, incorporating in his criticism the arguments the theologian al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) had used in showing that Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna; d. 1037) had failed to demonstrate the immateriality of the human soul. Ibn Qayyim rejects the concept of an immaterial soul. An immaterial spirit or soul would be totally unrelated to what is spatial. What is unrelated to the spatial and the bodily cannot be spoken of as being in a body or outside it, or as traveling away from the body or returning to it. But this is the scriptural language expressing the activities of the soul. The human soul is hence material but "differs in quiddity [al-māhiyyah ] from the sensible body, being a body that is luminous, elevated, light, alive, and in motion. It penetrates the substance of the body organs, flowing therein in the way water flows in roses, oil in olives, and fire in charcoal" (Kitāb al-rū, Hyderabad, 1963, p. 310). The body, in fact, is the mold (qālib ) of the soul. Body and soul interact, helping to shape each other's individual characteristics. Thus, when death takes place, souls leaving their bodies have their individuality and are hence differentiated one from another.

During sleep, souls leave their bodies temporarily, sometimes communicating with other souls, whether of the living or of the dead. With death, the soul leaves the body but can very swiftly return to it. The souls of the virtuous can communicate with each other, the wicked souls being too preoccupied in their torments for this. For in the interim between death and the resurrection, most souls rejoin their bodies in the grave to be questioned by the two angels of death, Munkar and Nakir. The wicked, unbelieving souls suffer punishment and torment in the grave, while the virtuous believers enjoy a measure of bliss. Ibn Qayyim equates the period of the grave with the barzakh, a Qurʾanic term (23:100; 25:53; 55:20) that originally meant "hindrance" or "separation." The souls of prophets are in paradise, as are those of martyrs, although there are disagreements among traditional Muslims as to whether this applies to all martyrs. These disagreements, Ibn Qayyim maintains, are reconcilable once the legal conditions governing the fate of the soul are known. To cite but one of his examples, a martyr who dies before paying a debt is excluded from entry into paradise during this interim but does not suffer torment.

The prayers of the living over the souls of the dead are heard by the latter, who are helped by them. Ibn Qayyim devotes a long section of his book to this topic. The length of this chapter indicates the importance to Muslims of the visiting of graves and the offering of prayers over the dead, for these visits are very much part of traditional Muslim piety and a source of consolation to the bereaved.

Theological (KalĀm) Concepts

Islam's dialectical theologians, the mutakallimūn, no less than the more traditional Muslims, sought to uphold a Qurʾanic concept of the soul. They sought to uphold it, however, within scripturally rooted perspectives of the world that they formulated and rationally defended. Their concepts of the human soul were governed largely by two questions, one metaphysical, the other eschatological. The metaphysical question pertained to the ultimate constituents of the created world: Do these consist of indivisible atoms or of what is potentially infinitely divisible? The eschatological question arose out of their doctrine of bodily resurrection: if, in the ages between the world's beginning and its end, dead human bodies decompose to become parts of other physical entities (organic or inorganic), how can there be a real resurrection, that is, a return to life of the actual individuals who once lived and died, and not the mere creation anew of replicas of them?

Regarding the metaphysical question, most of the mutakallimūn were atomists. Their concepts of the soul were for the most part materialist: they regarded it either as a body, or identified it with life, which they maintained is a transient quality, an accident, that occurs to a body. But there were disagreements among them, particularly among members of the "rationalist" Muʿtazilī school of kalām, which attained the height of its power and influence in the first part of the ninth century. Thus, one of its leading theologians, al-Naām (d. 845), rejected atomism. Moreover, he conceived of the soul (which he identified with life) as a subtle body that is diffused in all parts of the physical body. His concept of the soul is substantially the same as that of the traditional concept defended by Ibn Qayyim. Another exception of a different type was the view of the Muʿtazilī Muʿammar (d. 835). He was an atomist and espoused a concept of the soul as an immaterial atom. Other theologians held the soul to be an atom, but not immaterial. But if it is a material atom, is life identical with it? If life is not identical with it, then could life be an accident that inheres in the single atom? The Muʿtazilah disagreed as to whether the accidents could inhere in the single atom or only in atoms that are interrelated, forming a body. They also disagreed as to whether spirit, soul, and life are identical. But the prevalent Muʿtazilī view was that the soul is material and that life, whether or not identical with soul, is a transient accident.

It is in terms of this prevalent view that the eschatological question mentioned earlier must be understood. If life is a transient accident and the dead body's atoms separate to combine differently forming other physical entities, where is the continuity that would guarantee the identity of the individual to be resurrected? Without this continuity, what appears to be the resurrected individual is only a similar being, a mithl. To resolve this difficulty, some of the Muʿtazilah resorted to the doctrine that nonexistence (alʿadam ) is "a thing" (shayʾ ) or "an entity," "an essence" (dhāt ), to which existence is a state that occurs. Thus a nonexistent entity A acquires existence for a span of time, loses it during another span, and regains it eternally at the resurrection, A remaining A throughout all these stages.

The doctrine that nonexistence is an entity, a thing, was rejected by the Ashʿarī school of kalām. This school was founded by al-Ashʿarī (d. 935), originally a Muʿtazilī who rebelled against his school. (Ashʿarism gradually gained ascendancy to become the dominant school of kalām in Islam.) But while the Ashʿarīyah opposed fundamental Muʿtazilī doctrines, they were also atomists. Their atomism formed part of their occasionalist metaphysics according to which all events are the direct creation of God. Accidents are transient and do not endure for more than one moment of time and are hence constantly recreated. Life, the Ashʿarīyah held, is a transient accident created and recreated while the individual lives. It is hence not difficult to see that the eschatological problem regarding the soul that the Muʿtazilah tried to solve persisted.

For an Ashʿarī answer to this difficulty, I will turn to al-Ghazālī. His main arguments for the possibility of bodily resurrection are found in two works. The first is his criticism of the Islamic philosophers, particularly Ibn Sīnā, the Tahāfut al-falāsifah (The Incoherence of the Philosophers). In this work he argues in great detail to show that Ibn Sīnā has failed to demonstrate his theory that the human soul is an immaterial, immortal substance. At the same time, he argues for the possibility of bodily resurrection in terms of a theory of an immaterial, immortal soul, maintaining that God at the resurrection creates for such a soul a new body. The second work, Al-iqtiād fī al-lʿtiqād (Moderation in Belief), written shortly after the Tahāfut, gives a different explanation. Significantly, in this work al-Ghazālī repudiates the theory he advocated in the Tahāfut, maintaining that he had advanced it only for the sake of argument, to show that bodily resurrection is possible even if one adopts a doctrine of an immaterial soul. The true doctrine, he then continues, is the Ashʿarī, namely that life is a transient accident constantly created and recreated in the living body. Resurrection is the return to life and existence of what was originally a first creation by God. God is able to recreate what he had previously created. A copy is simply a copy, never the recreation of what was actually a new creation. Al-Ghazālī does not discuss how one can differentiate between the resurrected, recreated original being, and the copy, the mithl, but the implication of his argument is that this is knowable to God, who is the creator of all things.

Al-Ghazālī follows substantially the line of reasoning of his predecessor and teacher, the Ashʿarī al-Juwaynī (d. 1085). Unlike al-Juwaynī, however, al-Ghazālī does not discuss whether spirit or soul is the same as life. Al-Juwaynī is more explicit on this. Spirit is a body that pervades the physical body, animating it. Life, however, is a transient accident that inheres in spirit. With the exception of this distinction between life and spirit, al-Juwaynī's concept of the soul is in harmony with the traditional concept defended by Ibn Qayyim.

Philosophical Concepts

The theories of the soul formulated by Islam's philosophers, the falāsifah (sg., faylasūf ), derive largely from Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus. But there are other influencesGreek medicine and Stoic thought, for example. An influential short Arabic treatise on the difference between spirit (rū ; Gr., pneuma ), and soul (nafs ; Gr., psuchē ) by the Christian translator, Qusā Ibn Lūqā (d. 912), is of interest, not only for its ideas, but also for its listing of the sources of these ideasPlato (his Phaedo and Timaeus ), Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Galen. Spirit, according to this treatise, is a subtle body. Its less refined form spreads in the body, from the heart through the veins, causing animation, breathing, and pulsation. The more refined spirit spreads from the brain through the nervous system to cause sensation and movement. Spirit, however, is only the proximate intermediary cause of these activities; its efficacy is caused by the soul, which is an immaterial, immortal substance. With death, spirit ceases, but not soul.

It was, however, in its Neoplatonic form that the doctrine of the soul's immateriality and immortality left its greatest impact on Islamic thought. This impact was not confined to philosophy proper but is discernible in the religious thought of various Islamic sectarian groupsthe Ismāʿīlīyah, for example. The other most important source for the falāsifah 's concepts of the soul was Aristotle. The majority accepted Aristotle's definition of the soul as the entelechy of the body, his idea of its division into vegetative, sensitive, and rational and of the latter into theoretical and practical, and his description of the states of its various parts as these change from potentiality to actuality. Within the Platonic, Aristotelian, and Neoplatonic frameworks, however, there were differences in the falāsifah 's conceptions of the soul. An idea of these differences can be obtained by considering the conceptions offered by some representative philosophers.

Al-Kindī (d. c. 870), the first Islamic philosopher, for example, subscribes to the doctrine of the soul as an immaterial, immortal substance and at the same time defends the Qurʾanic doctrine of bodily resurrection. His surviving treatises, however, do not include anything that shows the manner in which he synthesized these two doctrines. The physician-philosopher al-Rāzī (d. 926), on the other hand, offers a theory of the human soul inspired largely by Plato's Timaeus. Soul is one of the five eternal principles; the others are God, atomic (disorganized) matter, absolute space, and absolute time. At a moment in time, God imposes order on matter, rendering it receptive of soul. When soul unites with matter, it becomes individuated, forming the particular living creatures. Man alone among these creatures is endowed with reason, an emanation from God. There is a lengthy but finite span of time, in which soul remains conjoined with matter and individuated. During this period there is transmigration of souls within animal and human life. The finite period ends when reason in men prevails. The individual souls then disengage from matter, returning to their original state of one soul. The initial state of the four other eternal principles resumes, continuing into the infinite future.

With al-Fārābī (d. 950) and Ibn Sīnā, we encounter two highly developed psychological theories. Both presupposed a Neoplatonic emanative scheme. The celestial world, for al-Fārābī, consists of a succession from God of dyads, intelligences, and bodily spheres; for Ibn Sīnā, it consists of a succession of triads, intelligences, souls, and bodily spheres. For both, the last successive celestial intelligence is the Active Intellect, after which our terrestrial world comes into existence. The entire process of successive emanations from God exists eternally.

According to al-Fārābī, the human rational soul is at first a potentiality in the material body. In some individuals, the objects of sensory perception, the material images, are transformed by the illuminary action of the Active Intellect into abstract concepts. These human souls that achieve abstract conceptual thought attain an immaterial status. (There are higher levels of conceptual thought, culminating with rare individuals, the philosopher-prophets, in the human soul's periodic union with the Active Intellect.) Only those souls that have attained an immaterial status are immortal. Good souls, those that have continued to live according to the dictates of reason, shunning the lower passions, live in eternal happiness, contemplating the celestial intelligences and God. Those rational souls that have betrayed their calling, surrendering to the lower passions, live in eternal misery, seeking contemplation of the celestial intelligences but unable to achieve it. The souls of the majority of mankind, however, never attain an immaterial status and, with death, cease to exist.

Ibn Sīnā, on the other hand, insists on the individual immortality of all souls. The rational soul, an emanation from the Active Intellect, joins the human body and becomes individuated by it. It is an immaterial, individual substance that exists with the body but is not imprinted in it. Souls that have lived the rational life, controlling the lower passions and remaining untarnished by vice, are rewarded in the hereafter. They live in eternal bliss, contemplating the celestial beings and God. This applies to nonphilosophical virtuous souls that have lived in accordance with the divine law, for this law is an expression of philosophical truth in the language of imagery and symbol, which the nonphilosopher can understand. Souls that have not lived the rational, virtuous life or have not adhered to the commands of the religious law are punished in the hereafter. They live eternally in torment, seeking contemplation of the celestial beings and God, but are unable to achieve this. The Qurʾanic language describing the afterlife in physical terms is symbolic. Ibn Sīnā's theory of the soul culminates in mysticism. But this is intellectual mysticism. God, for Ibn Sīnā, is pure mind. The soul's journey to God includes the inundation of the souls of exceptional individuals with all of the intelligibles from the Active Intellect. This experience is intuitive, occurring all at once.

Ibn Rushd (Averroës; d. 1198) was the most Aristotelian of the falāsifah. In those writings addressed to the general Islamic reader, he affirms the doctrine of reward and punishment in the hereafter, insisting, however, that the scriptural language describing the hereafter should be understood on different levels, depending on one's intellectual capacity. His more technical psychological writings, notably his commentaries on Aristotle, leave no room for a doctrine of individual immortality. These writings, however, left a much greater impact on medieval and Renaissance Europe than they did on Islam. In the Islamic world, it was Ibn Sīnā's theory of the soul that had the greater influence on subsequent falsafah and religious thought.

ufĪ Concepts

In considering this very vast subject, it is well to differentiate between three of its aspects: (1) what ufīs conceived the human soul to be, (2) the soul's purification and the path of holiness it must follow as it seeks God, (3) the relation of the soul to God, particularly in its intimate experiencing of the divine. These aspects are related, but the third represents a central issue on which ufīs were divided and which caused controversy in the general history of Islamic religious thought.

According to some, the ufī (and Ashʿarī theologian) al-Qushayrī (d. 1074) observes, the term "soul" refers to those of man's characteristics that are afflicted with illness and to his blameworthy actions. It is possible, he maintains, "that the soul is a subtle entity [laīfah ] placed in this [bodily] mold [qālib ], being the receptacle of ill dispositions, just as spirit [al-rū ] is placed in this mold, being the receptacle of praiseworthy dispositions" (Al-risālah al-Qushayrīyah, Cairo, 1966, vol. 1, p. 249). The earlier ufī al-Tirmidhī (fl. 894) also gives expression to the view that the soul is evil. Both, moreover, reflect traditional and kalām concepts of the soul as material.

Al-Ghazālī, on the other hand, often uses Avicennian language in his discussions of the soul. (This fact need not necessarily commit him to Avicennian ontology, since he frequently suggests that Ibn Sīnā's philosophical language can be interpreted in occasionalist, Ashʿarī terms.) At the beginning of his Mīzān al-ʿAmal (The Criterion for Action), al-Ghazālī also indicates that ufīs subscribe to the doctrine of the soul's immateriality as they reject the concept of physical reward and punishment in the hereafter. Thus, within Sufism there are differences in belief as to whether the soul is material or immaterial. There is less difference (and greater emphasis), however, on the subject of its purification and the ascetic devotional course it must pursue. (Differences between ufī orders here are largely a matter of ritual, not substance.)

It is, however, the relation of the human soulthe self, the "I"to God that is at the heart of Sufism, and it was this issue that caused conflict. The mystical experience itself is both overwhelming and ineffable. Utterances attempting to convey it are symbolic, sometimes prone to overstatement, and hence prone to being misunderstood. Central to this issue is the interpretation of the mystical experience of fanāʾ, the "passing away" or "annihilation" of the self in the divine essence, the latter representing baqāʾ, "permanence."

ufīs like al-Ghazālī interpreted fanāʾ as "closeness" (qurb ) to God and thus helped to reconcile Sufism with the generally accepted tenets of Islam. The issue, however, remained a sensitive one, as reflected, for example, in the philosophical tale, ayy Ibn Yaqān, by the Andalusian philosopher Ibn ufayl (d. 1185). ayy, the story's hero, who grows up on an uninhabited tropical island, undergoes a process of self-education that culminates in the mystical experience. At first he falls into the error of thinking that his soul becomes one with the divine essence; he is delivered from this mistake through God's mercy as he realizes that such concepts as unity and plurality and union and disjunction are applicable only to bodies, not to immaterial selves that have experiential knowledge of God.

The relation of the soul to God in ufī thought takes on a highly metaphysical turn in the complex theosophy of the great mystic Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 1240) and his followers, particularly ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī (d. 1408?). Ibn al-ʿArabī is noted for his doctrine of the unity of being (wadat al-wujūd ) wherein creation (al-khalq ) is a mirroring of the Truth (al-aqq ), the Creator. Perfect souls are reflections of the perfection of the divine essence. The prophets are the archetypes of these perfect souls: each prophet is a word (kalimah ) of God. The perfect soul is a microcosm of reality. The idea of man as a microcosm did not originate with Ibn al-ʿArabī; it was utilized by the falāsifah and by al-Ghazālī. But with Ibn al-ʿArabī and those who followed him it acquires a spiritual and metaphysical dimension all its own, representing a high point in the development of the concept of soul in the history of Islamic religious thought.


For a comprehensive study, see D. B. Macdonald's "The Development of the Idea of Spirit in Islam," Acta Orientalia (1931): 307351, reprinted in The Moslem World 22 (January and April 1932): 2542, 153168. For Qurʾanic, traditional, and kalām concepts, see Régis Blachère's "Note sur le substantif 'nafs' dans le Coran," Semitica 1 (1948): 6977; F. T. Cooke's "Ibn al-Quiyim's Kitab al-Rū," The Moslem World 25 (April 1935): 129144; and Albert N. Nader's Le système philosophique des muʿtazila (Beirut, 1956); see also the work by Majid Fakhry cited below. For philosophical concepts, see Avicenna's "On the Proof of Prophecies," translated by me in Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook, edited by Ralph Lerner and Muhsin Mahdi (New York, 1963), pp. 112121; Majid Fakhry's A History of Islamic Philosophy, 2d ed. (New York, 1983); Lenn E. Goodman's "Rasi's Myth of the Fall of the Soul," in Essays on Islamic Philosophy and Science, edited by George F. Hourani (Albany, N. Y., 1975), pp. 2540; my article "Avicenna and the Problem of the Infinite Number of Souls," Mediaeval Studies 22 (1960); 232239; and Avicenna's Psychology, edited and translated by Fazlur Rahman (London, 1952). For ufī concepts, see A. E. Affifi's The Mystical Philosophy of Muyid Dīn Ibnul ʿArabī (Cambridge, 1939); A. J. Arberry's Sufism (1950; reprint, London, 1979); Ibn al-ʿArabī's The Bezels of Wisdom, translated with an introduction and notes by R. W. J. Austin (London, 1980); Reynold A. Nicholson's Studies in Islamic Mysticism (1921; reprint, Cambridge, 1976); Annemarie Schimmel's Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1975); and Fadlou Shehadi's Ghazālī's Unique Unknowable God (Leiden, 1964).

Michael E. Marmura (1987)