The Principles of Sufism

The Principles of Sufism

210 Pages

March 2016

ISBN: 9781479829248




ʿĀʾishah al-Bāʿūniyyah (d. 923/1517) of Damascus was one of the great women scholars in Islamic history. A mystic and prolific poet and writer, ʿĀʾishah
composed more works in Arabic than any other woman before the twentieth century.

Th. Emil Homerin is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion & Classics at the University of Rochester, where he teaches courses on Islam, classical Arabic literature, and mysticism. Homerin completed his Ph.D. with honors at the University of Chicago ('87), and he has lived and worked in Egypt and Turkey for a number of years.

Ros Ballaster is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of Oxford and professorial fellow in English at Mansfield College. Two monographs, Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction 1684-1740 (Oxford University Press, 1992) and Fabulous Orients: Fictions of the East in England 1662-1785 (Oxford University Press, 2005), investigate the importance of fantasy in the shaping of the eighteenth-century English novel.

'A'ishah al-Ba'uniyyah of Damascus was one of the great women scholars in Islamic history. Born into a prominent family of pious scholars and Sufi devotees, 'A'ishah received a thorough religious education and memorized the Quran at age eight. A mystic and a prolific poet and writer, she composed more works in Arabic than any other woman before the twentieth century. Yet despite her extraordinary literary and religious achievements, 'A'ishah al-Ba'uniyyah remains largely unknown. For the first time, her key work, The Principles of Sufism, is available in English translation.

The Principles of Sufism is a mystical guide book to help others on their spiritual path. Outlining the four principles of Repentance, Sincerity, Remembrance, and Love, it traces the fundamental stages and states of the spiritual novice’s transformative journey, emphasizing the importance of embracing both human limitations and God’s limitless love. Drawing on lessons and readings from centuries-old Sufi tradition, 'A'ishah advises the seeker to repent of selfishness and turn to a sincere life of love. In addition to his lucid translation, Th. Emil Homerin provides an insightful introduction, notes and a glossary to 'A'ishah al-Ba'uniyyah’s remarkable account of the pursuit of mystical illumination.

An English-only edition.


  • "With this masterful . . . translation of The Principles of Sufism, Homerin makes available to the English-reading public the most important work of Al-Ba'uniyyah, a 16th-century scholar and mystic who lived in Damascus for most of her life. . . . . Homerin's elegant and readable translation is made especially valuable by the side-by-side presentation of the Arabic and English texts. He offers a brief overview of Al-Ba'uniyyah's life and work, positioning her as one of the greatest women scholars in Muslim history."


  • "Brings to English-speaking audiences a fascinating piece written by one of the most remarkable figures of post-classical Islam."

    Journal of Sufi Studies

  • "An outstanding example of superb translation."

    Journal of Religious Studies

  • "Th. Emil Homerin's recent contribution to the field of Sufi studies and Islamic studies generally is his discovery of 'A'ishah al-Bauniyyah this truly remarkable mystical poetess whose mastery of Sufi poetic diction, intellectual tradition and imagery is fascinating."

    Der Islam

  • "Brings to English readership a rare feast: a short treatise on four fundamentals of the Sufi path--Repentance, Sincerity, Remembrance, and Love--strung together with copious quotations from the works of great masters."

    Islamic Sciences

  • "The translation of the prose and poems is excellent, and both the expert and the general reader can profit from the lucid presentation of the text in English. No doubt, this book is a great contribution to the study of Sufism in the Mamluk period. . . . Homerin deserves our gratitude for bringing to our knowledge 'A'isha al-Ba'uniyyah and for presenting an outstanding edition and translation of one of her treatises."

    Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam