[ARABIC MANUSCRIPT / MAGIC OF LETTERS] دور الى الولىّ الكامل و الفوث [i.e., Turn to the perfect guardian and the continuing ruler, our master Muhyi al-Din al-Arabi. May God sanctify the navel of the Mighty One and benefit us, oh soul, first and last]

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IBN ARÂBÎ, MUHIDDIN (1165-1240).

Manuscript, [possible Istanbul], [ca. early 19th century].

COMPLETE TITLE: [ARABIC MANUSCRIPT / MAGIC OF LETTERS] دور الى الولىّ الكامل و الفوث اًلواصل سيدنا محى الدين العرابى قدس الله سرة العزيز و نفعنا يا نفاسه اوّلًا و اخراً / Dawr-i Âla al-Veliyyu’l-Kâmil wa al-faws al-wasl sayyedna Muhy al-Din al-Arabî Kuddesû Sirrahû… [i.e., Turn to the perfect guardian and the continuing ruler, our master Muhyi al-Din al-Arabi. May God sanctify the navel of the Mighty One and benefit us, oh soul, first and last].

Contemporary marbled wrappers. 12mo. (14 x 9,5 cm). Bilingual in Arabic and Ottoman Turkish. [18] p., a table of the magical combination of letters. The manuscript is in black and red ink with fine calligraphy. Measured text by copper gilt also titles. An attractively decorated head with flowers and leaves. Marginalia in red ink including accountings of numerical values of letters. Slight black ink spreading on the title page, and occasional marginal stains on a few pages. The last four pages of the manuscript are written by another hand. Overall, a very good copy.

A fine manuscript copy of Ibn Arabi’s famous work on magic known as “Devr-i Âlem” in Islamic literature, copied in possibly early 19th century anonymously. The text contains a prayer for protection which is believed to be magical, and this can be revealed through a number of letters in Islamic religious literature. The manuscript has an interesting table of combinations of magical letters.

Letter magic originated in Islam after some time of (its existence) had passed. When the extremist Sufis appeared, they turned to the removal of the veil of sense perception, produced wonders, and were active in the world of the elements. At that time, they wrote systematic works on (Sufism) and (Sufi) terminology. They believed in the gradual descent of existence from the One. They believed that verbal perfection consists in helping the spirits of the spheres and the stars (through words). The natures and secrets of the letters are alive in the words, while the words, in turn, are correspondingly alive in the created things. The created things have been moving in the different stages of (creation) and telling its secrets since the first creation. These (Sufi beliefs) caused the science of the secrets of the letters to originate. It is a subdivision of the science of simiya' "letter magic." It is an unfathomable subject with innumerable problems. Al-Buni, bn al-'Arabi, and others in their wake wrote numerous works on it. These authors assume that the result and fruit of letter magic is that the divine souls are active in the world of nature by means of the beautiful names of God and the divine expressions that originate from the letters comprising the secrets that are alive in the created things.

The authorities on letter magic then differed as to the secret of the (magic) activity lying in the letters. Some of them assumed that it was due to inherent temper. They divided the letters into four groups corresponding to the elements. Each nature (element) had its group of letters. Through this group (of letters), it can be active actively and passively. A technical procedure, which the (authorities on letter magic) call "breaking down" (taksir), classifies the letters as the elements are classified, as fiery, airy, watery, and earthy. (Source: Muslim Philosophy online).