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Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra: A Medieval Treatise on Magic and Occultism
Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra (The Larger Sun of Knowledge) is a famous work on Islamic occultism, written by Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ibn Ali al-Buni (d. 1225), a Sufi scholar from Algeria. The book deals with various topics such as magic, alchemy, astrology, divination, the names of God, the magical use of the Arabic alphabet, and talismans. It is considered one of the most influential and authoritative books on Islamic esotericism.
The book is divided into four parts, each containing several chapters and subchapters. The first part covers the principles and foundations of magic, such as the nature of the soul, the spirit, the intellect, the angels, the jinn, the planets, and the stars. The second part deals with the practical aspects of magic, such as the methods of invocation, conjuration, protection, healing, and harm. The third part discusses the secrets and mysteries of the divine names and attributes, and how to use them for various purposes. The fourth part contains various tables, diagrams, symbols, and magic squares that are used as tools for magic.
The book was widely circulated and copied in the medieval Islamic world, especially in North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and India. It was also translated into several languages, such as Persian, Turkish, Urdu, and Malay. The book influenced many later works on magic and occultism, both within and outside Islam. Some of its contents were also incorporated into popular folklore and culture.
The book is available in several editions and manuscripts, some of which are preserved in libraries and museums around the world. Some of these sources are:
Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra wa-Lata'if al-'Awarif: A lithographed edition printed in Egypt in 1874 from an original copy from India[^1^].
Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra: A manuscript copy held at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University[^2^].
Shams al-Marif: A PDF version available online at the Internet Archive[^3^].
Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra is a fascinating and rich source of information on Islamic magic and occultism. It reflects the intellectual and spiritual heritage of medieval Islam, as well as its interaction with other cultures and traditions.Here are some more paragraphs:
One of the most interesting aspects of Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra is its use of the Arabic alphabet as a source of magical power. The book explains the meanings and properties of each letter, and how to combine them to form words, names, and sentences that have various effects. The book also provides examples of how to write and arrange the letters in different shapes and patterns, such as circles, squares, triangles, hexagons, pentagrams, and stars. These shapes are believed to enhance the power and influence of the letters and the words they form.
Another important feature of Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra is its extensive use of talismans, which are objects or images that are imbued with magical force. The book describes how to make and use talismans for various purposes, such as protection, attraction, love, wealth, health, success, and knowledge. The book also provides examples of talismans that are based on the names and attributes of God, the angels, the prophets, the saints, the planets, the stars, the zodiac signs, the elements, the animals, the plants, and the minerals. The book also explains how to activate and deactivate talismans, and how to avoid their harmful effects.
A third aspect of Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra that deserves attention is its relation to other traditions and sources of knowledge. The book shows that al-Buni was well-versed in various fields of Islamic learning, such as theology, jurisprudence, exegesis, hadith, history, geography, medicine, astronomy, and mathematics. The book also shows that al-Buni was familiar with and influenced by other cultures and religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology. The book also incorporates ideas and practices from other schools of magic and occultism, such as Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism, Kabbalah, and alchemy. aa16f39245