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Ibn 'Arabi's Prayers of Blessing upon the Prophet (Salawat)

1 September 2014 - 31 August 2015

PI/s in Exeter: Dr Suha Taji-Farouki

Funding awarded: £ 5,000

Sponsor(s): The Islamic Manuscripts Association (TIMA)

About the research

Suha Taji-Farouki has been awarded £5000 by The Islamic Manuscript Association for a one-year research project on ‘Ibn ‘Arabi’s prayers of blessing upon the Prophet (Salawat)’.

Prayer that calls down blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad is an essential element of Muslim devotional life. It is an integral part of the Muslim ritual prayer, and any supplication made without it is considered ineffective. Though clearly central to Muslim spirituality, this form of Muslim prayer remains relatively understudied, and is little known and understood by the non-Muslim public. 

Given its importance, a rich literature developed around the prayer of blessing across Islamic history, weaving elaborations upon it with poetic eulogies of the Prophet. The authors of this literature were intimately associated with the Sufi tradition, reflecting the rapid growth of mystical veneration of the Prophet after his death. Sufi motifs became increasingly prominent in such prayers, and the prayers themselves acquired a special liturgical presence in the Sufi orders. 

This project focuses on prayers of blessing composed by the prolific Andalusian Sufi-scholar Muhyi’l-din Ibn ‘Arabi (d.1240). Arguably the most influential thinker of the second half of Islamic history, Ibn ‘Arabi is credited with systematizing earlier Sufi thought. His exquisite prayers provide a distillation not only of his profound and comprehensive teaching on the Prophet, but also his metaphysics and vision of the spiritual path. The project aims at the first published collection of Ibn ‘Arabi’s prayers of blessing, bringing together critical editions of individual prayer texts. It is based on a thorough survey of the essentially unexplored manuscript base, giving particular attention to the major concentration of relevant manuscripts in Istanbul, but also encompassing collections worldwide. The project contributes to our knowledge of the prayer of blessing in general through the significant example of Ibn ‘Arabi’s prayers of blessing. It is also the first part in a larger study, both of Ibn ‘Arabi’s prayers more broadly, and of the prayer of blessing in general in various spheres and traditions of Muslim life, thought and devotion.