The Universal Tree and the Four Birds
Angela Jaffray (translation)
Paperback, 140 pages
Treatise on Unification (al-Ittihad al-Kawni)
The Universal Tree and the Four Birds, one of In 'Arabi's early works, is a dazzling blend of poetry and rhymed prose, encompassing a number of themes that were of perennial concern to the Shaykh al-Akbar. Based on the mystical framework of the ascent, the stages of the journey to union with the Real are described in an intriguingly enigmatic way. Beginning with a dizzying series of poems that explain the existential fluctuation of the human heart, the narrator goes on to describe his meeting with his Essential Self in a place outside of space and time. He then finds himself
in a garden with the Universal Tree and four delightful birds: an Eagle, a Ringdove, a fabulous 'Anqa', and a Jet-Black Crow. Each in turn regales the author with a tale of its origins and essential characteristics, but only at the end are their true natures revealed.
The elegant translation is complemented by Angela Jaffray's illuminating commentary on key elements in the text and extensive notes, and a Foreword by Rafi Zabor. The Arabic text, critically edited from the best manuscripts by Denis Gril, is also included.
Treatise on Unification
– Discourse of the Universal Tree
– Discourse of the Ringdove
– Discourse of the Royal Eagle
– Discourse of the Strange Anqa
– Discourse of the jet-black Crow
The Arabic Text