"...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.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Henry Corbin's Magnum Opus: En Islam Iranien

"In many ways the monumental opus of Corbin which summarizes his life-time work is En Islam Iranien, in which over forty years of research and meditation upon Shi’ism, Sufism, Islamic philosophy and the relation between Islamic esotericism and esotericism in the West as manifested in such forms as the legend of the Holy Grail and many other concerns are brought together, Without doubt this work is one of the most outstanding achievements of Western scholarship concerning Islamic and particularly Persian worlds, a study which has already exercised a rich influence and is bound to remain as one of Corbin’s enduring achievements. Many of the themes discussed in his numerous earlier works have found their most mature orchestration in the four volume opus of monumental dimensions." – Hossein Nasr, in "Henry Corbin: The Life and Works of the Occidental Exile in Quest of the Orient of Light." Ch. 17, in Traditional Islam in the Modern World, Kegan Paul International, London, 1987. (Thanks to Hugo van Woerkom for this citation). Photo of Corbin's writing desk from Les Amis de Stella et Henry Corbin here.)

Since most readers of Corbin in English will have not seen these volumes it may be useful to have the tables of contents posted here. Recently an English translation of Volume 2 has been posted on the internet as noted below. It is to be hoped that at some point this work will be published in English in its entirety.


En Islam Iranien

Volume 1: Twelver Shi'ism

Book 1


I. Shi'ism and Iran: 1. Difficulties of the Inquiry. 2. A Spiritual Universe to Comprehend. 3. Of Certain Prejudices Regarding Shi'ism 4. Of the Problems to Surmount

II. The Notion of Twelver Shi'sm: 1. The Fundamental Idea of Imamism 2. Prophetic Philosophy and Initiatic Religion 3. The Pleroma of the Twelve Imams 4. The Paradoxes Confronted by Ismaelism and Twelver Shi'ism

III. The Spiritual Combat of Shi'ism: 1. The Situation of Shi'ite Spirituality 2. The Divine Trust Deposited in Man 3. The Conversations of the 1st Imam with Komayi ibn Ziyad 4. The Invisible Spiritual Hierarchies 5. The Stakes of the Spiritual Combat of Shi'ism and its Reality

IV. The Phenomenon of the Holy Book: 1. The Holy Book and Hermeneutics. 2. Spaces and Perspectives of Spiritual Hermeneutics 3. Historical Consciousness and Gnostic Consciousness 4. Historicism or Interiorization? 5.Spiritual Intelligence and the Forms of Temporality according to Semnani and Qazi Sa'id Qommi

V. Esotericism and Hermeneutics: 1. The Secret of the Imams or the Four Levels of Esotericism 2. The Epiphanic Descents of the Holy Book 3. The Esoteric Hermeneutic of the Qu'ran

VI. Prophetology and Imamology: 1. The Necessity of the Prophets and the Necessity of the Imams 2. The Categories of the Prophets and the Walayat 3. The Prophetic Heritage and the Imamate 4. The Science Inherited from the Prophets 5. The Cycle of Prophecy and the Cycle of the Walayat

VII. The Meaning of the Imam for Shi'ite Spirituality: 1. Shi'ism as a Religion of Spiritual Love Initiating to Consciousness of the Self 2. The Imam as Guide and as Pole 3. The Imam as the A'raf 4. The Imam as Witness of God and Witness of Contemplation



Volume 2: Suhrawardi and the Platonists of Persia

Book 2


I. The Grand Project of a Life: 1. The Life and the Martyrdom 2. The Ascendance of the Ishraqiyun or the "Oriental" Theosophers

II. "Oriental" Theosophy
: 1. Hieratic Wisdom 2. "Oriental" Consciousness 3. The Hierarchy of Spirituals and the Mystical Pole

III. The Mazdean Light of Glory (Xvaranah) and Angelology
: 1. The Light of Glory as "Oriental" Source 2. The Visions of Kay Khusraw and Zoroaster 3. The Archangelic Lights and the Platonic Ideas 4. The Hierarchies of the Archangelic Lights 5. Psalms to the Archangel of the Sun and the Perfect Nature

IV. The Light of Glory and the Holy Grail
: 1. Hermetica and Mithraica 2. The Forms of Manifestation and the Tradition of the Xvaranah and the Holy Grail 3. Kay Khosraw and Parsifal 4. The "Oriental" Purpose as the Completion of the Heroic Epic and the Mystical Epic 5. The Recital of the Grail of a Mystical Khosrawani

V. The Recital of the Crimson Archangel and the Iranian Mystical Geste
: 1. The Purpose of the Recit 2. The Prologue of the Recit 3. The Seven Themes of the Recit 4. From the Birth of Zal to the Death of Esfandyar 5. Translation of the Recital of the Crimson Archangel

VI. The Recital of the Occidental Exile and the Gnostic Geste
: 1. The History of the Gnostic 2. Analysis of the Recit 3. Translation of the Recit of the Occidental Exile 4. The Gnostic at the Meeting with the Angel: i. Who is the Personal Angel? ii. The Perfect Nature as the Hermetic Notion of the Personal Angel iii. Gnostic Variations on the Theme of the Meeting: a. Gnostic Gospels and Acts b. Mandean Gnosis c. Mithraic Liturgy d. Alchemy e. Manichean and Mazdean Gnosticism f. Swedenborgiana 5. The Secret of the Personal City

VII. The "Oriental" Tradition
: 1. The Spiritual Legacy on the Royal Road 2. The "Oriental" Legacy in Iran and India 3. The Religion of Love Transfigured

An English translation by Hugo van Woerkom is available here: En Islam Iranien Vol 2. (From Scribd. You must register (for free) to download a pdf version of the text. High-speed internet connection recommended.)


Volume 3: Les Fideles d'Amour / Shi'ism and Sufism

Book 3: Ruzbehan Baqli Shirazi and the Sufism of the Fideles d'Amour

I. Sufism and the Quietude of the Soul


II. Ruzbehan of Shiraz


III. The Darkening of the Soul and the Test of the Veil


IV. Diarium Spirituale


V. The Jasmine of the Fideles d'Amour


VI. The Interior Pilgrimage
: 1. Theophany in Beauty. 2. The Prophet of Beauty. 3. The Prophetic Meaning of Beauty. 4. The Pre-eternal Source of Love. 5. The Stages of Initiation. 6. The Esoteric Tawid. 7. The "History" of the Fideles d'Amour.


Book 4: Shi'ism and Sufism

I. Haydar Amoli: Shi'ite Theologian of Sufism: 1. The Discovery of an Oeuvre. 2. Sketches Autobiographical and Bibliographical. 3. Shi'ism and Sufism. 4. Theological Tawhid and Ontological Tawid. 5. Visions in the Heavenly Night in Baghdad and Khorassan

II. An Anonymous Treatise on the Seven Esoteric Meanings of the Qu'ran
: 1. Hermeneutics and Typology. 2. The Eternal Event of the Book. 3. The Seven Esoteric Depths and the Spiritual Hierarchy.

III. Spiritual Typology According to Sa'inoddin 'Ali Torkeh Isphahani
: 1. The Esoteric Meaning of the Fragmentation of the Moon. 2. The Jurists and the Traditionalists. 3. The Philosophers of Islam. 4. The Peripatetics. 5. The Theosophers of Light. 6. The Sufis. 7. The Horoufis. 8. The Shi'ites 9. Of an Imamology Which Does Not Dare to Speak Its Name.

IV. The Seven Subtile Organ of Man According to 'Alaoddawleh Semnani
: 1. Qur'anic Commentary. 2. The Seven Prophets of Your Being. 3. The Gabriel of Your Being. 4. The Four Modes of Being of the Revealed Book. 5. The Three Bodies of the Human Being. 6. Psychocosmic Constitution of the Organs of the Subtile Physiology. 7. Diarium Spirituale.



Volume 4

Book 5: The School of Isphahan


I. The Ecstatic Confessions of Mir Damad (1041/1631)


II. Mulla Sadr Shirazi (1051/1640)


III. Qazi Sa'id Qommi (1103/1691)



Book 6: The Shaykhi School


I. Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i (1241/1826)

II. The Successors of Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i

III. Some Points of Doctrine: 1. Tradition and Renewal. 2. Of a Renewal of Metaphysics. 3. The Four Pillars. 4. Eschatology and the Isomorphism of Space and Time.


Book 7: The Twelfth Imam and Spiritual Chivalry

I. The Hagiography of the Twelfth Imam: 1. The Completion of the Pleroma of the Twelve. 2. From Byzantium to Samarra. 3. The Seal of the Mohammadan Walayat and his Occultation

II. In the Time of the Grand Occultation:
1. The Sanctuary of Jam-Karan. 2. The Voyage to the Green Isle in the White Sea.. 3.The Isles of the Five Cities. 4. The Meeting in the Desert or the Ubiquity of the Na-Koja-Abad.

III. Spiritual Chivalry
: 1. From the Green Island of the Johannites to an Unfinished Poem of Goethe. 2. The Abrahamic Tradition and Spiritual Chivalry. 3. The Twelfth Imam and the Reign of the Paraclete. 4. The Personal Guide.

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