Muhyiddin Ibn 'ArabiMay 21, 2021
The Translator of Desires
Princeton University Press 2021
In this ground-breaking work, Michael Sells (the Barrows Professor Emeritus of the History and Literature of Islam and Professor emeritus of comparative literature at the University of Chicago) translates sixty-one poems that form the Tarjuman al-ashwaq or The Translator of Desires by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi (Princeton University Press, 2021). The poems are presented here both in Arabic and English, and are accompanied by an introduction and commentary. The masterful and accessible translations are truly a thrilling literary experience. Ibn ‘Arabi’s poems evoke numerous themes, such as of flora and fauna, nature, sacred spaces, especially of the Kaaba, love, longing, and grief. For instance, the longing of a lost beloved, which Sufis would have read as the Divine, is a central thematic thread woven throughout the collection of poetry, and is gendered feminine. The collection of poems along with Sells critical introduction and notes provides stunning insights to both the tradition of Arabic love poetry and to the mystical thought and poetic prowess of Ibn 'Arabi. This collection of poems will be of interest to anyone interested in Arabic poetry, Islamic literature, Ibn 'Arabi, Sufism, and much more.
Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.