New Publication: Kitab Bayan al-Farq

13 April 2010

A new edition of a text tentatively connected with the Sufi Abu ‘l-Husayn al-Nuri is now available online.

This edition of the Bayan al-Farq bayn al-Sadr wa’l-Qalb wa’l-Fu’ad wa’l-Lubb is edited by Josef Meri and published by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. The work is attributed to al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi.

Nicholas Heer published the first Arabic edition of the text in 1958 followed by an English translation some years later.1

Meri has included a very brief introduction which is a synopsis of Heer’s observations about the text.

Disputed Authorship

Despite the fact that the only extant manuscript of the Bayan al-Farq attributes the text to Tirmidhi,2 the authorship of the work has been questioned by Heer and other scholars.3

One of the reasons for doubting Tirmidhi’s authorship is that several of the ideas and key terms in the Bayan al-Farq are similar to the text of the Maqamat al-Qulub, a work attributed to the Baghdadi Sufi, Abu ‘l-Husayn al-Nuri.4

Improving Access to the Text

While Meri has not added to the authorship debate, his new edition has made the text of the Bayan al-Farq even more accessible.

The edition is freely available to download as a PDF from the Arabic publications section of the RISSC website:

Hopefully this new publication will encourage further research on this fascinating Sufi text.

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  1. Nicholas Heer and Kenneth L. Honerkamp, Three Early Sufi Texts (Louisville: Fons Vitae, 2003). []
  2. Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya Tasawwuf 367. []
  3. Heer, Three Early Sufi Texts, 57 note 5. []
  4. Paul Nwyia, “Textes Mystiques Inedits d’Abu-l-Hasan al-Nuri (m. 295/907),” Melanges de l’Universite Saint-Joseph 44:9 (1968): 117-43. []

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