Muslim religious life consists not only of belief in orthodox tenets of faith and a determined effort to follow the Sacred Law, but it also requires one to scale the heights of Islamic spirituality by attaining the states of the heart demanded by the Islamic revelation.
The Kitab al-Hikam of Shaykh Ibn Ata’illah al-Iskandari (d. 1309) is a famous and respected explanation of the journey of Islamic spirituality (known simply as ‘the Path’ or ‘the Way’), with the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the determiners of the principles contained therein. Although the work contains treatises and supplications, the essential core of the work is to be found in the author’s collection of spiritual aphorisms (264 in total). These aphorisms are presented in this edition according to the arrangement of the great Indian scholar Shaykh Ali al-Muttaqi (d. 1567), together with a commentary by a twentieth-century sage, Shaykh Abdullah Gangohi
Shaykh Ibn `Ata’illah (d. 1309) lived in Egypt during the reign of the Mamluks. Originally from Alexandria , he moved to Cairo , where his professional life involved teaching Sacred Law in various institutions including the al-Azhar Mosque. He also led a concurrent existence as a Master for disciples of Islamic spirituality. The Hikam is his principal work, one that has attracted universal Muslim approval from his own time up to the present day.
Shaykh `Abdullah Gangohi (d. 1921) was a teacher in various Islamic schools in the Indian subcontinent, during an era of great academic and spiritual achievement in the region. His main area of expertise was Arabic language, and some of his works have become part of the core syllabus in numerous schools of Islamic studies. He took the Spiritual Path from the famous hadith scholar and Sufi Master Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, who eventually made Gangohi a Master of the Path in his own right.
Victor Danner (d. 1990) was an American academic noted for his translation of the Hikam. He taught various subjects, including Arabic Language, Classical Arabic Literature, and Sufism, at Indiana University.