"...the Imagination (or love, or sympathy, or any other sentiment) induces knowledge, and knowledge of an 'object' which is proper to it..."
Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a scholar, philosopher and theologian. He was a champion of the transformative power of the Imagination and of the transcendent reality of the individual in a world threatened by totalitarianisms of all kinds. One of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Corbin was Professor of Islam & Islamic Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Teheran. He was a major figure at the Eranos Conferences in Switzerland. He introduced the concept of the mundus imaginalis into contemporary thought. His work has provided a foundation for archetypal psychology as developed by James Hillman and influenced countless poets and artists worldwide. But Corbin’s central project was to provide a framework for understanding the unity of the religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His great work Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi is a classic initiatory text of visionary spirituality that transcends the tragic divisions among the three great monotheisms. Corbin’s life was devoted to the struggle to free the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. His work marks a watershed in our understanding of the religions of the West and makes a profound contribution to the study of the place of the imagination in human life.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

What is Shi'i Islam?: An Introduction

What is Shi'i Islam?: An Introduction
by Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi & Christian Jambet

on amazon

For the public at large Shi’ism often implies a host of confused representations, suggesting more often than not obscurantism, intolerance, political violence and other ignominies running hot or cold in response to world events. In fact for many people, Shi’ism stands for "radical Islam", or – worse – "Islamic terrorism". In some respects, nothing is more familiar than Shi’ism, and yet nothing is more misunderstood. For some twenty years the media have increased their coverage of the phenomenon. Never, or only rarely, do they formulate the question we ask here: what is Shi’ism? What is this belief that inspires millions of people dispersed throughout the world?

This book provides a broad based introduction to Shi’i Islam. It examines what the Shi’i believe, how they see themselves and how they view the world. It includes a thorough examination of doctrine, philosophy, the Shi’i approach to the Qur’an and the historical evolution of Shi’ism as a branch of Islam. Too often, and too quickly, the conclusion is drawn that Shi’ism is a marginal heretical sect, fundamentally alien to the deeper truth of the great religion of Islam, thrust by historical accident onto the political stage. Shi’ism either speaks the truth of Islam, meaning that it is a truth of terror, or it is entirely foreign to Islam and, therefore, merits outright rejection, as Islamic fundamentalists and some individuals repeatedly claim. This book intends to explain why such common misunderstandings of Shi’ism have taken root.

Written in an accessible format and providing a thorough overview of Shi’ism, this book will be an essential text for students and scholars of Islamic Studies or Iranian Studies.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Lecture/Workshop in Maine

Fri, Jun 1, 2018 7:00 PM

Sat, Jun 2, 2018 10:00 AM

The C.G. Jung Center

Brunswick, Maine

Fri, Jun 1, 2018 7:00 PM Sat, Jun 2, 2018 10:00 AM

Friday Evening Lecture: REGISTER

Saturday Workshop: REGISTER

Friday evening I will argue for three fundamental propositions: Imagination is Reality; our experience is historically and culturally variable; Language is the means by which we both receive and create the world. We will explore the consequences of this view of reality with the help of the work of C.G. Jung, Henry Corbin, James Hillman, Gaston Bachelard and a variety of poets and artists. We will consider Jung's Red Book, why he refused to think of it as "art," and its place within the artistic tradition. This will lead us to ask about the relation between abstract thought and our archaic, primary human potential. Saturday we will extend this analysis by considering why alchemy was such an important component of the work of all four of our canonical guides to the Imagination. We will consider historically and culturally variable versions of the experience of the "saturated phenomenon." I will end by suggesting practical steps we can take to help us all be more alive, open and compassionate.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Review of books on Scholem



The Eternal Exile

Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem

George Prochnik

New York, NY: Other Press, 2017.

Gershom Scholem: An Intellectual Biography

Amir Engel

Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017.


Nathan Goldman

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Seven Types of Atheism

John Gray explores fixed idea, unquestioning atheism in his new book Seven Types of Atheism
Tue, Apr 24, 2018, Patrick Freyne

John Gray is a self-described atheist who thinks that prominent advocates of atheism have made non-belief seem intolerant, uninspiring and dull. At the end of the first chapter of his new book, Seven Types of Atheism, he concludes that “the organised atheism of the present century is mostly a media phenomenon and best appreciated as a type of entertainment”.

He laughs when I remind him of this sick burn. “I wrote the book partly as a riposte to that kind of atheism,” he says. “There’s not much new in [new atheism] and what is in it is a tired recycled version of forms of atheism that were presented more interestingly in the 19th century. In the so-called new atheism people are [presented with] a binary option between atheism, as if there was only one kind, and religion, as if there was only one kind of religion. [It’s] historically illiterate.

“They don’t even know when they’re repeating ideas from the 19th or early 20th century . . .They don’t know anything of the history of atheism or religion. They’re also very parochial about religion. They take religion to be, not even monotheism or Christianity [but] contemporary American Protestant fundamentalism . . . It’s a parochial, dull debate. I thought of having a subtitle called Why the God Debate is Dead.”

In Seven Types of Atheism, Gray explores the rich philosophical history of non-belief and enlivens it with entertaining tales of humanists like August Comte who so believed in human co-operation he designed clothes that couldn’t be put on without assistance and “god-haters” like the Marquis de Sade whose life was lived in debased defiance of the divine.  READ MORE

Friday, April 20, 2018

Every Sufi master is, in a sense, a Freudian psychotherapist

University of California, Davis. 
Her latest book is 
The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt

Even in the most revolutionary thinkers, you will find the uncannily familiar. Sigmund Freud was no exception. Arabs recognised in Freud’s body of thought ideas from classical Islamic thinkers. In the 1940s and ’50s, when intellectuals translated Freud’s work into Arabic, they reached out to Ibn Arabi, the great 12th-13th-century Sufi mystic philosopher. The Egyptian playwright and novelist Tawfiq al-Hakim dates the impulse to blend traditions as far back as Alexander’s conquest of Syria and the eventual translation of philosophical works from Greek to Syriac. 

Under Roman rule, Egypt was a centre of learning and part of a shared classical intellectual world, which included Alexandria as much as it did Athens and Rome. Subsequently, Greek philosophy, and particularly the works of Plato and Aristotle, had been energetically translated into Arabic throughout the early Islamic period, contributing to the vitality of Hellenic philosophy. For al-Hakim, Greek ideas were poured into the mould of Islamic philosophy. This process was also evident in al-Hakim’s own work combining Greek tragedy and Islamic legends, in order to effect what he called an ‘intermarriage between two literatures and two mentalities’. It is not at all surprising, then, given this tendency to draw on shared traditions, that Arab intellectuals turned to a mystical Islamic vocabulary when translating Freud in the middle of the 20th century.

This includes the nice detail that Lacan knew of Ibn 'Arabi through reading Corbin.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Shayegan: Trials and Tribulations of an Iranian Philosopher

London - Amir Taheri

“We had one life, after all,” said the Daryush Shayegan as he sipped his double espresso as if it were the nectar of gods. “The question is: what did we do with it?”

The scene was a just over a year ago in a café in Paris’ posh Avenue Alma Marceau where we had gathered for lunch with a mutual friend, Professor Shahin Fatemi. At the time none of us knew that Daryush was on his last visit to the French capital which he had always regarded as a second home and that, a year later, he would pass away in his first home, his beloved Tehran.

Last Monday, a small group of mourners attended the burial ceremony in Tehran of the 83-year old Daryush under the watchful eyes of “Islamic Security” deployed to make sure there will be no “disturbances.”

The answer to Shayegan’s question, “what did we do with our life”, is both simple and complex in his case.

He has been described as polymath, philosopher, poet, mystic, linguist, and master in “Eastern” civilizations, whatever that means. But he had also dabbled in literary criticism, historic research, and, theological speculation. Moreover, he was also a keen collector and connoisseur of objects of art, books, and calligraphy.

Perhaps as a side-line, he had also dabbled in grand political strategy by promoting the concept of “a dialogue of civilization” which was first adopted by Empress Farah and, after the mullahs seized power in Tehran, Hojat al-Islam Muhammad Khatami who served as President of the Islamic Republic for eight years.

However, those who knew him best remember him for his passionate love of Iran, almost bordering on idolatry, and what he described as his lifelong love affair with the Persian language.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Knowledge and Power in the Philosophies of Ḥamīd al-Dīn Kirmānī and Mullā Ṣadrā Shīrāzī

Knowledge and Power in the Philosophies of Ḥamīd al-Dīn Kirmānī

and Mullā Ṣadrā 

by Sayeh Meisami

on amazon

Springer Description

This book is a comparative study of two major Shīʿī thinkers Ḥamīd al-Dīn Kirmānī from the Fatimid Egypt and Mullā Ṣadrā from the Safavid Iran, demonstrating the mutual empowerment of discourses on knowledge formation and religio-political authority in certain Ismaʿili and Twelver contexts. The book investigates concepts, narratives, and arguments that have contributed to the generation and development of the discourse on the absolute authority of the imam and his representatives. To demonstrate this, key passages from primary texts in Arabic and Persian are translated and closely analyzed to highlight the synthesis of philosophical, Sufi, theological, and scriptural discourses. The book also discusses the discursive influence of Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī as a key to the transmission of Ismaʿili narratives of knowledge and authority to later Shīʿī philosophy and its continuation to modern and contemporary times particularly in the narrative of the guardianship of the jurist in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Doors to the Imaginal

Doors to the Imaginal: Implications of Sunni Islam’s Persecution of the Ahmadi “Heresy”

Religions 2018, 9(4), 91

New Social Research Programme & Faculty of Social Sciences, 
University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland

Abstract: This article focuses on the implications of Sunni persecution of Ahmadiyyat by analyzing texts by the movement’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to identify the epistemological basis of his claims to prophecy in 19th century India. Rather than situating the claims within an Arabist, juridico-theological lineage, as is normally done, the analysis emphasizes their points of convergence with Persianate, Illuminationist theosophy of the 12th century mystic, Suhravardi. This convergence rests on acknowledging the existence of an intermediate cosmological realm that Henry Corbin termed the mundus imaginalis, which can be accessed by the subtle imagination of spiritual adepts and prophets. Situating Ahmadiyyat within the Persianate theosophical tradition sheds new light on the community’s persecution. In declaring Ahmadiyyat as “heresy,” and in Sunnism’s symbolic violence against Ahmadiyyat, the theosophical features of Ahmad’s thought have also been marginalized. Consequently, Sunni Muslims around the world are excluding Muslim access to the imaginal realm. The conclusion points out how other communities have faced and are facing similar exclusion on similar grounds, and argues for further investigation into the axiom that exclusion of the imaginal is a feature of modernity.

Keywords: Ahmadiyyat; heresy; Islam; Persianate; Sufi; imaginal; theosophy

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Dariush Shayegan 1935-2018

His latest work in Persian ‘Five Realms of Being’,
featuring his views about five legendary Persian 
poets and mystics Khayyam Nishaburi, Ferdowsi, 
Molavi (Rumi), Sa’di and Hafez was released in 2014.

“I am not a philosopher, I am a free thinker.” 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Two fascinating books on art & architecture and imagination

Hooman Koliji draws extensively on Corbin's work.

Architectural Drawing and Imaginative Knowledge in Islamic and Western Traditions
"Contemporary technical architectural drawings, in establishing a direct relationship between the drawing and its object, tend to privilege the visible physical world at the expense of the invisible intangible ideas and concepts, including that of the designer’s imagination. As a result, drawing may become a utilitarian tool for documentation, devoid of any meaningful value in terms of a kind of knowledge that could potentially link the visible and invisible. This book argues that design drawings should be recognized as intermediaries, mediating between the world of ideas and the world of things, spanning the intangible and tangible. The notion of the 'Imaginal' as an intermediary between the invisible and visible is discussed, showing how architectural drawings lend themselves to this notion by performing as creative agents contributing not only to the physical world but also penetrating the realm of concepts. The book argues that this 'in-between' quality to architectural drawing is essential and that it is critical to perceive drawings as subtle bodies that hold physical attributes (for example, form, proportion, color), highly evocative, yet with no matter. Focusing on Islamic geometric architectural drawings, both historical and contemporary, it draws on key philosophical and conceptual notions of imagination from the Islamic tradition as these relate to the creative act. In doing so, this book not only makes important insights into the design process and act of architectural representation, but more broadly it adds to debates on philosophies of the imagination, linking both Western and Islamic traditions."\

'Enquiring into the nature of the creative imagination, this book provides a clear alternative to the well-worn dualistic struggle between rationality and subjective aesthetics. Koliji makes a valuable contribution to the historical study of Islamic architecture, and further reveals an innovative way of approaching artworks through the viewpoint of the designer's imagination that has broad relevance to anyone interested in understanding the process of invention.' Paul Emmons, Virginia Tech, USA 'This book reinforces the novel directions in research that transcend the gaps in historical sources on art and architecture in the pre-modern Muslim milieu by engagingly intersecting the pathways of architectural humanities with Islamic studies in mainstream theory and discourse.' Nader El-Bizri, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Confabulations : Storytelling in Architecture
by Paul Emmons,‎ Marcia F. Feuerstein ,‎ Carolina Dayer 

"Confabulation is a drawing together through storytelling. Fundamental to our perception, memory, and thought is the way we join fractured experiences to construct a narrative. Confabulations: Storytelling in Architecture weaves together poetic ideas, objects, and events and returns you to everyday experiences of life through juxtapositions with dreams, fantasies, and hypotheticals. It follows the intellectual and creative framework of architectural cosmopoesis developed and practiced by the distinguished thinker, architect, and professor Dr. Marco Frascari, who thought deeply about the role of storytelling in architecture. Bringing together a collection of 24 essays from a diverse and respected group of scholars, this book presents the convergence of architecture and storytelling across a broad temporal, geographic, and cultural range. Beginning with an introduction framing the topic, the book is organized along a continuous thread structured around four key areas: architecture of stories, stories of architecture, stories of theory and practice of stories. Beautifully illustrated throughout and including a 64-page full colour section, Confabulations is an insightful investigation into architectural narratives."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Buddhism & Islam

on amazon

Really good podcast:

History professor and author Johan Elverskog discusses the prevalent but false narrative that Muslim invaders destroyed Buddhism in India.

Really - don't miss it.

and never forget

Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light

Friday, February 23, 2018

Forough Farrokhzad - 1934-1967

Here is a poem by Forough Farrokhzad in a very fine translation. She is almost unknown in English and her major works are untranslated. Someone should remedy that.

The Bird is Mortal

I feel heavy-hearted
I feel heavy-hearted

I go to the terrace and
I draw my fingers upon the drawn skin of the night,
The lamps of relation are dark
The lamps of relation are dark

Nobody will introduce me
to the sun,
Nobody will take me to the sparrows' party

Remember the flight
The bird is mortal

(translation by Farshad Fouladinejad - I am grateful to him for sending me this, and the knowledge of her work).

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

An interesting new essay from Russia

Understanding Imagination: Towards a New Humanitarian Paradigm


Murmansk Arctic State University, Russia

Key words: imagination, image, sensual world, anthropological traject, mundus imaginalis.

The article deals with the problem of imagination interpreted in a broad historical and philosophical
perspective. It is shown that European metaphysics have for a long time neglected imagination in favour of reason. In contrast to this position, the necessity of considering imagination in a new way is postulated – as a leading creative force of the human being. In this connection, the ideas of Henri Corbin and Gilbert Durand are analysed as a possible source of new ways of humanitarian discourse.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Recent Work by Mohammed Rustom

MOHAMMED RUSTOM in Renovatio 1.1 - Feature Article

 By Mohammed Rustom - Sacred Web 39

And in two recent books of interest:

Sebastian Günther and Todd Lawson (eds): 
Roads to Paradise: Eschatology and Concepts of the Hereafter in Islam
(Islamic History and Civilization: Studies and Texts.) 
2 vols. xliv, 1493 pp. 
Leiden: Brill, 2017.

 M. Rustom 

Taylor, Richard C., and Luis Xavier López Farjeat (eds.). 
The Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy. 
London: Routledge, 2016.

Mohammed Rustom 

Dr. Mohammed Rustom
Associate Professor
College of the Humanities
Carleton University

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Jihad, Radicalism, and the New Atheism

Jihad, Radicalism, and the New Atheism 
 Mohammad Hassan Khalil  

"One of this book's key insights is that liberalism can also be rather fundamentalistic in its scope and approach, and that the so-called New Atheists such as Sam Harris have even more violent and radical readings of the Quran than the jihadis themselves. Thus, the author argues, there are very few real differences in extremes when we look at the discourses of radical liberals/New Atheists and those of the jihadis. This is reminiscent of a point made by Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his book written in 1987, Traditional Islam in the Modern World (re-issued in 2010 as Islam in the Modern World). There, Nasr shows how modernism (liberalism being modernism's logical extension) and fundamentalism are two sides of the same coin, sharing in common, among other things, the rejection of tradition." -  Mohammed Rustom, Associate Professor, College of the Humanities,Carleton University

"Mohammad Khalil's critique of the "new atheists" is compelling, rational, and hard-hitting without veering into polemics. The result is a highly lucid, carefully argued and engaging book on a very timely topic that has been begging for such a level-headed, scholarly treatment." - Asma Afsaruddin, Professor of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, Indiana University

"...[N]o work has to this point looked at jihadist discourses on war and New Atheist discourses on Islam together as a shared narrative around what it means to be genuinely motivated by religion in modern Islam. Mohammad Khalil's book does just that, and it should be required reading for anyone looking for a way out of the Manicheanism of both jihadism and certain kinds of anti-religious discourse." - Andrew F. March, Law and Social Change Fellow, Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School