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Ibn Arabi’s

Studies in France

Prepared by :

A lover of Ibn ‘Arabi from France

Ibn ‘Arabi Foundation Pakistan


For the great majority for those who study tasawwuf in France, Ibn ‘Arabî is an indisputable authority –even the supreme authority- among the spiritual masters of Islam. There are french translations of short treaties attributed to him, of Fusûs al-Hikam, and of some chapters of the Futûhât al-Makkiyya. Besides, some detailed studies have collected texts about important subjects dissipated in his huge work. Ibn ‘Arabî is then more and more accessible to French speaking readers.

The root of the real interest in Sheikh al-Akbar, when in a voluntary initiation perspective, is due unquestionably to the work of René Guénon, who died in 1951 in Cairo, under the name of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Wâhid Yahyâ. He reformed the occidental traditional thought and has given conclusive criteria to Western people to distinguish the authentic spirituality from all its imitations overwhelming our modern time.

But the one who introduced akbarian studies in France is in fact Michel Vâlsan with, among others, translations of texts by Ibn ‘Arabî and some of his disciples in the review entitled “Etudes Traditionnelles” (Traditional Studies). His works are a reference nowadays thanks to a great technical accuracy and clear annotations which highlight the subtleties of the original text. These qualities are the fruit of a direct comprehension by the author who was an eminent Sheikh in tasawwuf.

Michel Vâlsan:

Michel Vâlsan translated the following writings of Ibn ‘Arabi into french:

1. -Al-Futûhât al-Makkiyya : extracts from the foreword (al-khutba), chapter 20, 45, 78, 79, 176, 181, 192, 193, 262, and 263 ;

2. -Al-Awrâd al-usbû‘ (Monday and Thursday),

3. -Kitâb al-Fanâ’ fî al-Mushâhada,

4. -Kitâb al-Jalâla,

5. -Hilyat al-Abdâl,

6. -Kitâb al-Wasâyâ,

7. -Su’âl Ibn Sawdakin,

8. -Bâb ma‘rifat asrâr Takbîrat al-Salât,


9. -Risâla ilâ al-Imâm al-Râzî,

10.-Kitâb al-I’lâm fî mâ buniya ‘alayhi al-Islâm,

11.-Kitâb al-i’lâm bi al-ishârât ahl al-Ilhâm,


13.-Wasiyya li al-murîd (= chapter 22 of Al-Tadbirât al-ilâhiyya fî islâh al-Mamlakat al-insâniyya),

14.-Manzil qalb al-dhâkir wa mâ yukhtassu bihi min al-asrâr (=extract from Mawâqi‘ al-Nujûm),

15.-Risâla fî awjuh al-qalb,

16.-Al-Salât ‘alâ al-Nabî,

17.-Al-Salât al-Akbariyya,

18.-Translations of Al-Qashânî (extracts from Ta’wîlât al-Qur’ân) and of Al-Qunâwî (Risâla fî al-Tawajjuh al-Atamm).

19.-Other translations are unpublished.

After his death, some of his disciples carried on with the enterprise of translating akbarian texts and of producing complementary studies about them (in alphabetic order):

Michel Chodkiewicz :

1. -The Meccan Illuminations, chosen texts from the Futûhât al- Makkiya (with contributions of W. Chittick, C. Chodkiewicz, D. Gril and J. Morris), Paris, Sindbad, 1988 ;

2. -Seal of the Saint: prophethood and sainthood in the doctrine of Ibn 'Arabi ;

3. -An Ocean without shore : Ibn 'Arabi, the Book and the Law ;

4. -Emir Abd el-kader, Ecrits spirituels (some mawâqif from Kitab al Mawâqif);

5. -Awhad al-Dîn Balyânî, Epître sur l'Unicité absolue (often attributed to ibn ‘Arabî)


Charles-André Gilis :

1. -Fusûs al-Hikam (complete translation) ;

2. La prière du jour du vendredi (on salât al-Jum‘a, extract from chapter 69 of the Futūhāt);

3. -La prière sur le défunt (Al-salât al-janâza, from chapter 69 of the Futūhāt) ;

4. -Les trente-six attestations coraniques de l'unité (on tahlîl, extract from chapter 198 of the Futūhāt)

5. -La Doctrine initiatique du Pèlerinage (on hajj, based on chapter 72 of the Futūhāt) ;

6. -Textes sur le Jeûne (on sawm, extract from chapter 71 of the Futūhāt).

Maurice Gloton :

1. La Production des Cercles (K. Inshâ’ al-dawâ’ir) ;

2. L’Arbre du Monde (Shajarat al-kawn) ;

3. L’interprète des désirs (Tarjumân al-ashwâq and Ibn ‘Arabî’s own commentary, K. al-Dhakhâ’ir wa-l-a‘lâq);

4. -Traité de l’Amour (chapter 178 of the Futūhāt) ;

5. -Jésus le fils de Marie dans le Coran et selon l’enseignement d’Ibn ‘Arabî (on Sayidnâ ‘Issa in the Qur’ân and according to Ibn ‘Arabî);

6. -De la Mort à la Résurrection (with translation of chapters 61 to 65 of the Futūhāt).

Denis Gril :

1. Le dévoilement de l'effet du voyage (Kitâb al-Isfâr ‘an natâ’ij al- asfar) ;

2. -Le Livre de l’Arbre et des Quatre Oiseaux (Kitâb al Ittihad al- Kawnî) ;

3. The Kitâb al-inbâh of 'Abdallah Badr al-Habashi;


There are other translations of ibn ‘Arabî’s works, this is not an exhaustive list. We can also say that there are several current works, like an important translation of the Futûhât by Abdallah Penot.

Michel Chodkiewicz’s daughter, Claude Addas, author of articles about akbarian school masters, published a referential work : Ibn ‘Arabî’s life, or the Quest for red sulphur.