The Unveiling of Secrets: Diary of a Sufi Master is a visionary diary of astonishing intensity, written by one of the outstanding figures in Persian Sufism, Ruzbihan Baqli. Ruzbihan, who died nearly a century before Rumi, was known throughout the Middle East and India as one of the most profound authors in the Sufi tradition. Nevertheless, by the early 1900’s, his name had become almost forgotten. It is only within the past few decades that his works have been rediscovered and printed. This translation by Carl W. Ernst from the original Arabic is the first complete translation of any of his writings into English. Comparable to St. Augustine’s Confessions or St. Teresa’s Interior Castle, The Unveiling of Secrets is one of the most powerful documents in the history of mysticism. In it Ruzbihan recorded intimate visions in which he saw God appear to him in human form, in overpowering manifestations of divine qualities. He portrays his spiritual encounters with remarkable poetic descriptions that testify to his extraordinarily rich inner life. As he observed in the diary, “Not a day or night has gone by me, by God, during all the time extending up to now, when I am fifty-five years old, without an unveiling of the hidden world.” The Unveiling of Secrets is a rare document that displays the elemental mystical experiences which form the basis for Sufi descriptions of the spiritual path. This classic of spiritual autobiography by one of the greatest visionaries in the realm of mystical love will appeal to anyone seriously concerned with the life of the spirit.
Ruzbihan Baqli is a full-length study devoted to the life and mystical experiences of one of the outstanding figures in Persian Sufism. Although Ruzbihan Baqli (d.1209) was long recognized within the Sufi tradition, it is only within the past few decades that his works have been rediscovered and printed. This study introduces and analyzes the most important sources for the life of Ruzbihan, his own visionary diary (The Unveiling of Secrets) written in Arabic, and two Persian hagiographies written by his great-grandsons a century after his death; and extensive excerpts from these works are presented here in translation.
Persian translation by Majdoddin Keyvani, Ruzbihan Baqli: `irfan va shath-i awliya’ dar tasawwuf-i islami. Tehran: Nashr-i Markaz, 1999.
Revised Persian translation and notes by Kurus Divsalar: Ruzbihan Baqli, tajriba-i `irfani va shath-i vilayat dar tasavvuf-i irani. Tehran: Amir Kabir, 2004.
Reveals the mystical teachings and practices of the Chishti Sufi order as taught by the ecstatic Shaykh Burhan al-Din Gharib (d. 1337) and his disciples.
“This is an extraordinary piece of scholarship. I like the constant sense of discovery that Ernst brings to his work, not only with regard to the literary archival material, which he has arrayed in painstaking detail, but also his enthusiasm about discovering new ways of seeing oral data in relationship to textual data, and textual data in relationship to ritual data.
“Reading this book has taken me far afield in my own thought, and I must end by remarking that, like the pilgrim to Khuldabad, I have come back from the experience much enriched and full of a certain spirit of renewal that I would not have imagined nor found before this trip. Eternal Garden marks a major, transformative advance in the study of institutional Sufism, especially, but not solely, in South Asia.” — Bruce B. Lawrence, Duke University
Ernst’s research, based on rare Persian manuscripts preserved in Sufi shrines in the medieval town of Khuldabad, a major center of pilgrimage in the Indian Deccan, reveals the mystical teachings and practices of the Chishti Sufi order as taught by the ecstatic Shaykh Burhan al-Din Gharib (d. 1337) and his disciples. Eternal Garden clarifies the diverse historiographical approaches found in an array of narratives. It redefines major topics in the often emotionally charged study of religion and history in South Asia, and it raises provocative theses on much-argued topics such as the basis of Islamic political power in South Asia and the alleged roles of Sufis as warriors and missionaries.
New edition, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Words of Ecstasy in Sufism is the first in-depth study in English of the import and impact of ecstatic utterances (shathiyat) in classical Islamic mysticism. It makes available an important body of mystical aphorisms and reveals not only the significance of these sayings in the Sufi tradition, but also explains their controversial impact on Islamic law and society.
This study descrives the development and interpretation of shathiyat in classical Sufism and analyzes the principal themes and rhetorical styles of these sayings, using as a basis the authoritative Commentary on Ecstatic Sayings by Ruzbihan Baqli of Shiraz. The special topic of mystical faith and infidelity receives particular emphasis as a type of ecstatic expression that self-reflectively meditates on the inadequacy of language to describe mystical experience. The social impact of ecstatic sayings is clarified by an analysis of the political causes of Sufi heresy trials (Nuri, Hallaj, and ‘Ayn al-Qudat) and the later elaboration of Sufi martyrologies. This study also examines the attitudes of Islamic legal scholars toward shathiyat, and concludes with a comparison of Sufi ecstatic expressions with other types of inspired speech.
New edition, New Delhi: Yoda Press, in preparation
Indonesian translation: Ekspresi Ekstase Dalam Sufisme. Putra Langit, 2003
Malaysia edition, Kuala Lumpur: S. Abdul Majeed & Co, 1994.