Know Yourself

By Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi / Awhad al-din Balyani

Translated from the Arabic by Cecilia Twinch

This short book is invaluable, a gem. It faces directly the relationship a human being may encounter – whether in solitude, in the extent of the natural world, or in the social framework – between their known self and their eternal origin. The person for whom this relationship comes alive is indeed fortunate.

The power of ideas has been expressed in many ways. It is also true of a wrong idea, illusion, and the most deep-rooted and limiting of ideas is the idea of our own existence. “Know Yourself” is a clearing away of misconceptions, so that a true perception may appear.

When the knowledge comes upon you, you know that it is through God that you know God, not through yourself.

Suppose, for example, that you do not know that your name is Mahmud… and that you think that your name is Muhammad. If you then learn that you are really Mahmud, you do not stop being who you were. The name Muhammad is simply taken away from you because of your knowledge of yourself – that you are Mahmud and you were only Muhammad by ceasing to be yourself… Nothing has been taken away from Mahmud: Muhammad did not pass away into Mahmud and Mahmud did not enter into Muhammad or come out of him, nor did Mahmud become incarnated in Muhammad. When Mahmud knew himself, that he was Mahmud and not Muhammad, he knew himself through himself and not through Muhammad. Because Muhammad never was, so how could anything be known through him? (pp 38-39)

This book has been valued and read for hundreds of years. It is an enduring book, because of its directness and clarity.

About the new translation

Cecilia Twinch, the translator, is a Senior Research Fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society in Oxford, UK. She also made an English translation of one of Ibn ‘Arabi’s earliest works, Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries.

The first translation of this work (Know Yourself) appeared in English in 1901, using language that strongly echoed the King James Bible, which has become a hinderance to many readers. This new translation is in modern English.

The text uses the vocabulary of Sufism, but the issues confronted are common to people everywhere. The translator has provided useful background information in an unobtrusive way at the end of the book.

This is a translation of the first complete work attributed to Ibn ‘Arabi to appear in a western language. The earlier translation was instrumental in making Ibn ‘Arabi’s name known in the West over the last century, even though the author of the book is now considered by many scholars to be Balyani, a near contemporary, who may well have been influenced by his thought. Cecilia Twinch’s notes also go into the history of previous translations.

80 pp | Soft cover | £10.20 | 2011 | ISBN 978-0-904975-65-9

Price including postage:
UK £12.70 | EU £18.70 | Beyond EU £18.20
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