William Chittick is a much acknowledged interpreter and translator of Islamic principles, with a PhD in Persian literature from Tehran University. His earlier works on Islam include the Vision of Islam, written in collaboration with Sachiko Murata, Sufi Path of Knowledge and The Self Disclosure of God. The Vision of Islam was his famous work where he depicted in his own words what Islam measures up to be, detailing its central concepts and what the religion teaches. This book was looked upon both by the discerning enthusiasts as much as the recent converts as an important source of Islamic principles.
Since then, Chittick has published several other works interpreting and translating Islamic philosophical works governing the realms of Sufism, drawing extensively on the school of Ibn’Arabi, Islamic cosmology and Shi’ism. It is after some 40 years of constant deliberation that Chittick embark upon applying the Sufi and philosophical principles he has learnt to the modern world.
The Book – A synopsis
The introduction of Chittick’s work carefully prepares the reader for what is to come. It becomes very obvious as Chittick’s attempt at applying his studies and philosophy obtained to the complex problems of today’s world. While the majority of his concentration was focused on the Ibn’ Arabi school of thought, complementing inspirations included the ideologies originating from Rumi, Sadr al-Din Qunawi, ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami, Afdal al-Din Kashani, Shams-i Tabrizi, and Mulla Sadra. Having been a staunch disciple and translator of their works, Chittick finally found himself relaying their thoughts as principles designed to solve not only the problems of the world they come from, but also those of the contemporary world. The book consists of seven chapters, 6 of which were originally written as lectures with the addition of a 7th chapter unique to the compilation that became the Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul. The layout of these 7 chapters and the information comprised within are suggestive of Chittick’s proficiency over his material and are visibly distinguishable from a basic discussion that dismisses all things modern and calls for a reversion to ways of old.
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