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(3,016 words)

Author(s): Lory, Pierre
Alchemy. KIMIĀ, “alchemy.” As a medieval science, alchemy must be carefully distinguished from modern chemistry. Externally, the purpose of alchemy was the conversion of base metals like lead into silver or gold by means of long and complicated operations leading to the production of a mysterious substance, the “philosopher’s stone,” able to operate the transmutation. The idea is that all metals belong to the same species and evolve slowly in the earth from the state of lead to pure gold, and tha…
Date: 2021-12-16

ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī

(1,992 words)

Author(s): Lory, Pierre
Kamāl al-Dīn ʿ Abd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī (or Kāsānī, Qāshānī, Kāshī) (born between 650–60/1252–61, died between 730–6/1329–35) was one of the outstanding authors of the Ṣūfī doctrinal school inspired by the works of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240), the great Andalusian master. Little is known about his life. He was probably born in Kāshān. In his letter to Simnānī (see below), he mentions that he studied advanced levels of religious sciences and law, but his academic studies brought him neither spiritual cer…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Mursī, Abū l-ʿAbbās

(1,213 words)

Author(s): Lory, Pierre
Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. ʿUmar b. ʿAlī al-Anṣārī al-Mursī (b. 616/1219 in Murcia, d. 686/1287 in Alexandria) was the first successor of Abū l-Ḥasan al-Shādhilī (d. 656/1258), the Moroccan mystic and founder of the Shādhiliyya Ṣūfī order. He settled in Tunis, where he met al-Shādhilī in 640/1242 (Ibn al-Sabbāgh, 146–7). He accompanied al-Shādhilī to Egypt in about 650/1252, became one of his closest disciples, and married one of his daughters. Al-Mursī began to teach the mystical journey during his master’s…
Date: 2022-04-21

al-Dabbāgh, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz

(953 words)

Author(s): Lory, Pierre
ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Masʿūd  al-Dabbāgh al-Idrīsī al-Ḥasanī (1090–1132/1679–1719, in Fez) was an unusual mystic. He is treated in the prosopographical literature (see Muḥammad b. al-Ṭayyib al-Qādirī, Nashr al-mathānī li-ahl al-qarn al-ḥādī ʿashar wa-l-thānī, ed. Muḥammad Ḥajjī and Aḥmad Tawfīq, Rabat 1977–86, 3:245–6), but most of what we know about him comes from the lengthy book devoted to him by his disciple Aḥmad b. al-Mubārak al-Lamaṭī (d. 1156/1743; al-Qādirī, 4:40–2), al-Dhahab al-Ibrīz min kalām Sayyidī al-Ghawth ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Dabbāgh (“Pure gold from the words …
Date: 2021-07-19

Hermetic Literature

(48,072 words)

Author(s): Broek, Roelof van den | Lucentini, Paolo | Compagni, Vittoria Perrone | Lory, Pierre | Faivre, Antoine
Hermetic Literature I: Antiquity 1. Introduction The literary works attributed to → Hermes Trismegistus reflect the various activities he was thought to have deployed. In accordance with his function as a teacher of → magic, → astrology, → alchemy and philosophically coloured religious knowledge, there are under his name magical spells, astrological and alchemical treatises and religious-philosophical discourses. In recent scholarship, there has been much discussion about the relationship between the …


(2,928 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Holzhausen, Jens | Lory, Pierre | Blum, Paul Richard | Colpe, Carsten
[German Version] I. Literature – II. History of Influence I. Literature The literature that has come down to us under the name of the Greek-Egyptian god Hermes (Hermes Trismegistus) is not a unity, neither literarily nor in terms of content. Its beginnings reach back into the 3rd century bce to Egypt (III, 2), and its influence extends beyond the Arabic-Islamic and Christian-European Middle Ages into the 18th century (see II below). This literature has been divided into “popular” or “occult” and “scholarly” or “philosophical” writings. The …