The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq
by Ibn al-Arabi
tr. by Reynold A. Nicholson
One of the most prolific of the medieval Sufi writers, al-Arabi wrote over 150 books. Unfortunately, very little of this output was translated, up to the early 20th century. This is Reynold Nicholson's translation of the Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, or the 'Interpreter of Desires,' the first edition of which was completed in 611 A.H. (1215 A.D.).
This text is of great interest, aside from its literary merits as delightful (but highly encoded) Sufi love poetry, because the author supplied extensive commentary for each poem. This is key to disentangling the Sufi narrative from the exterior form of the work. At this level, rather than a series of love poems to a young woman, this book is actually a philosophical treatise with profound insights.
PRODUCTION NOTE: The original book contains the original Arabic text following the introduction. That part of the book has been omitted for technical reasons, so there are a number of skipped pages in the etext. Short passages in Arabic in the body of the have been substituted with ###. All other text was transcribed--John Bruno Hare, 3/31/2010.