Ahmad al-Buni

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Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra, a manuscript copy, beginning of 17th century

Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Buni (Arabic: أحمد البوني‎), also called Sharaf al-Din or Shihab al-Din Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Yusuf al-Buni al-Maliki al-ifriqi (born in Annaba, Algeria died 1225) was an Algerian[1] mathematician and philosopher and a well known Sufi and writer on the esoteric value of letters and topics relating to mathematics, sihr (sorcery) and spirituality, but very little is known about him. Al-Buni lived in Egypt and learned from many eminent Sufi masters of his time.[2]

A contemporary of Ibn Arabi,[3] he is best known for writing one of the most important books of his era; the Shams al-Ma'arif, a book that is still regarded as the foremost occult text on talismans and divination. It was to be banned soon after as heretical.

Contributions[edit]

Table of associations between letters, the mansions of the moon, the constellations of the standard zodiac, and the seasons by Al-Buni

Theurgy[edit]

Instead of sihr (Sorcery), this kind of magic was called Ilm al-Hikmah (Knowledge of the Wisdom), Ilm al-simiyah (Study of the Divine Names) and Ruhaniyat (Spirituality). Most of the so-called mujarrabât ("time-tested methods") books on sorcery in the Muslim world are simplified excerpts from the Shams al-ma`ârif.[4] The book remains the seminal work on Theurgy and esoteric arts to this day.

Mathematics and science[edit]

In c. 1200, Ahmad al-Buni showed how to construct magic squares using a simple bordering technique, but he may not have discovered the method himself. Al-Buni wrote about Latin squares and constructed, for example, 4 x 4 Latin squares using letters from one of the 99 names of Allah. His works on traditional healing remains a point of reference among Yoruba Muslim healers in Nigeria and other areas of the Muslim world.[5]

Influence[edit]

His work is said to have influenced the Hurufis and the New Lettrist International.[6]

Denis MacEoin in a 1985 article in Studia Iranica said that Al-Buni may also have indirectly influenced the late Shi'i movement of Babism. MacEoin said that Babis made widespread use of talismans and magical letters.[7]

Writings[edit]

Pages from Al-Buni's Treatise on the Magical Uses of the Ninety-nine Names of God
  • Shams al-Maʿārif al-Kubrā[8] (The Great Sun of Gnoses), Cairo, 1928.
  • Sharḥ Ism Allāh al-aʿẓam fī al-rūḥānī, printed in 1357 AH or in Egypt al-Maṭbaʿa al-Maḥmudiyya al-Tujjariyya bi'l-Azhar.
  • Kabs al-iktidā, Oriental Manuscripts in Durham University Library.
  • Berhatiah, Ancient Magick Conjuration Of Power.
  • Treatise on the Magical Uses of the Ninety-nine Names of God in the Khalili Collection of Islamic ArtRogers, J. M. (2008). The arts of Islam : treasures from the Nasser D. Khalili collection (Revised and expanded ed.). Abu Dhabi: Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC). p. 170. OCLC 455121277.

References[edit]

  1. ^ B. G. Martin, Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth-Century Africa, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p.149
  2. ^ By C. J. Bleeker, G. Widengren, Historia Religionum, Volume 2 Religions of the Present, p.156,
  3. ^ Vincent J. Cornell, Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism, University of Texas Press, 1998, p. 221
  4. ^ Martin van Bruinessen, "Global and local in Indonesian Islam", Southeast Asian Studies (Kyoto) vol. 37, no.2 (1999), 46-63
  5. ^ Diagnosis through rosary and sand: Islamic elements in the healing custom of the Yoruba (Nigeria). Sanni A. Lagos State University, Nigeria
  6. ^ Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra ۞ The Sun of Great Knowledge.
  7. ^ Denis MacEoin, ‘Nineteenth-Century Babi Talismans’, Studia Iranica 14:1 (1985), pp.77-98.]
  8. ^ "Shams ul Maarif ul Kubra Urdu, شمس المعارف الکبریٰ, اردو, لطائف العوارف".

Notes[edit]

  • Edgar W. Francis, Mapping the Boundaries between Magic. The Names of God in the Writings of Ahmad ibn Ali al-Buni

External links[edit]