A fascinating account of the life of a prolific, yet little known, Moroccan Sufi that casts special light on the socio-cultural and religious milieu of eighteenth-century northwest Africa. By tracing the events of his life between the extremes of the mundane and the spiritual, Ibn 'Ajiba paints a detailed and engaging picture of what a person eager for spiritual fulfillment had to learn, practice, and endure along the path of Sufism. In addition to the details of his genealogy, marriages, travels, contact, the geographical and tribal "maps" of his world (of interest to anthropologists and social historians), Ibn 'Ajiba provides some insightful commentaries on the Islamic exoteric and esoteric sciences and alludes to the canonical texts in circulation. His preoccupation with the intricacies of daily life foregrounds his reflections and experiences gracefully against the rich, and often disharmonious mosaic of the social, intellectual, pedagogical, and moral values of the time. Michon's rendering of the original text into French is masterful and elegant, and Streight's competent translation into English has the subtlety and transparency necessary to reveal Michon's erudite scholarship. The book will be of interest to scholars of Sufism and the socio-cultural history of Morocco and North Africa.
This is a beautiful book. The translation from the French/Arabic flows well. It is carefully edited and produced. I am delighted to have an autobiography by one of the great mystics of Islam, including even a touching chapter on his family life. The footnotes are scholarly; where there is a hadith used for teaching moral lessons, it is traditional to allow less than perfect isnads. I am waiting now for someone to translate Ibn 'Ajiba's commentary on Ibn 'Atallah. What a treasure North African Sufism is!