Shams al-Ma’arif

by Ahmad al-Buni, Arabic manuscripts, 15th Century

Shams al-Ma’arif  (‘the Book of the Sun of Gnosis’) is a 13th-century grimoire written on Arabic magic and a manual for achieving esoteric spirituality. It was written by The Algerian scholar Ahmad al-Buni who was born in Algeria he wrote it in Ayyubid Egypt, who died around 1225 CE (622 AH). Despite the current popularity of Picatrix the Shams Al-Ma’arif is a much more widely known and used book of magic in the Arabic speaking world. If you will, the Arab equivalent to Agrippa’s Three Books of the Occult Philosophy.

The book consists of two volumes; Shams al-Ma’arif al-Kubra and Shams al-Ma’arif al-Sughra, the former being the larger of the two. The first few chapters introduce the reader to magic squares, and the combination of numbers and the alphabet that are believed to bring magical effect, which the author insists is the only way to communicate with jinn, angels and spirits. The table of contents that were introduced in the later printed editions of the work contain a list of unnumbered chapters (faṣl), which stretch to a number of 40. However, prior to the printing press and various other standardizations, there were three independent volumes that circulated, each one differing in length. The below manuscript is the text in its entirety (645 pages).

Although popular, it also carries a reputation for being suppressed and banned for much of Islamic history, but still flourishes in being read and studied up to the present day. Many Sufi orders, such as the Naqshbandi-Haqqani order have recognized its legitimacy and use as a compendium for the occult, and hold it in high regard.

Although a few of the popular ceremonies (i.e. Birhatīya Conjuration Oath) have been translated and the text expounded upon in English, the entire treatise has yet to be rendered in English. 

I have broken the first manuscript into 2 parts because of its size.

Facsimile Editions

Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Buni

Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Buni أحمد البوني‎ (born in Annaba, Algeria died 1225) was an Arab mathematician and philosopher and a well known Sufi master and writer on the esoteric value of letters and topics relating to mathematics, sihr (sorcery) and spirituality, but very little is known about him.

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