In Search of the Lost Heart

Explorations in Islamic Thought

By William C. Chittick
Edited by Mohammed Rustom, Atif Khalil, and Kazuyo Murata

Subjects: Islam, Religion, Sufism, Mysticism, Middle East Studies
Paperback : 9781438439365, 411 pages, July 2012
Hardcover : 9781438439358, 411 pages, February 2012

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Table of contents

A Note on Transliteration and Style
Editors’ Introduction
Part I. Sufism and the Islamic Tradition
1. Islam in Three Dimensions
2. The Bodily Gestures of the Şalāt
3. Weeping in Islam and the Sufi Tradition
4. A Shādhilī Presence in Shi‘ite Islam
5. The Pluralistic Vision of Persian Sufi Poetry
6. The Real Shams-i Tabrīzī
7. The Koran as the Lover’s Mirror
Part II. Ibn al-‘Arabī and His Influence
8. A History of the Term Wahdat al-Wujūd

9. The Question of Ibn al-‘Arabī’s “Influence” on Rūmī
10. Ibn al-‘Arabī on the Benefit of Knowledge
11. Qūnawī, Neoplatonism, and the Circle of Ascent
12. Farghānī on Oneness and Manyness
13. Jāmī on the Perfect Man
14. Two Treatises by Khwāja Khurd
15. A Debate Between the Soul and the Spirit
16. A Sufi Handbook from Bijapur
Part III. Islamic Philosophy
17. Rūmī and the Wooden Leg of Reason
18. Bābā Afdal’s Psychology
19. Mullā Şadrā on Perception
20. Eschatology in Islamic Thought
21. The Circle of Life
22. The Goal of Philosophy
Part IV. Reflections on Contemporary Issues
23. The Metaphysical Roots of War and Peace
24. Harmony with the Cosmos
25. Stray Camels in China
26. In Search of the Lost Heart
Appendix I: Chronological List of Historical Figures Cited
Appendix II: Chapter Sources
Appendix III: Books by William C. Chittick
Index of Koranic Passages
Index of Hadiths and Sayings
General Index

Renowned scholar William C. Chittick explores the worldview of Islam in a series of essays written over thirty-six years.


In Search of the Lost Heart brings together twenty-six essays by William C. Chittick, renowned scholar of Sufism and Islamic philosophy. Written between 1975 and 2011, most of these essays are not readily available in Chittick's own books. Although this is a collection, its editors have crafted it to be a book "sufficient unto itself, which, when taken as a whole, can be said to explore the underlying worldview of Islam. "

Chittick draws upon the writings of towering figures such as Ibn al-'Arabī, Rūmī, and Mullā Ṣadrā, as well as other important, but lesser-known thinkers, as he engages with a wide variety of topics, such as the nature of being and knowledge, the relationship between love and scriptural hermeneutics, the practical and theoretical dimensions of Islamic mysticism, the phenomenon of religious diversity, and the ecological crisis.

William C. Chittick is Professor of Religious Studies at Stony Brook University, State University of New York. He is the author and translator of numerous books and articles on Islamic thought, Sufism, Shi'ism, and Persian literature. His books include The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn al-'Arabī's Cosmology; Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-'Arabī and the Problem of Religious Diversity; Faith and Practice of Islam: Three Thirteenth-Century Sufi Texts; The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-'Arabī's Metaphysics of Imagination; The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rūmī; and A Shi'ite Anthology, all published by SUNY Press. Mohammed Rustom is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Carleton University. Atif Khalil is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Lethbridge. Kazuyo Murata is a doctoral candidate in Islamic Studies at Yale University.


"The style adopted by the author is lucid and simple yet scholarly, and occasionally, purely philosophical. There is considerable diversity in the contents to appeal to readers both with intellectual curiosity and spiritual inclination … This is a significant contribution to scholarship and research for those interested in Islamic philosophy and Sufism and Muslim intellectual history in general. " — Muslim World Book Review

"For its author's breadth and depth of erudition, his humanity and his heart-awareness, In Search of the Lost Heart is a book to acquire and to read with seriousness and intent. " — Mawlana Rumi Review

"…the chapters offer insight into particular aspects of Islamic thought; in selecting them from Chittick's enormous oeuvre, editors Mohammed Rustom, Atif Khalil, and Kazuyo Murata have shaped them into a work that exceeds their individual contributions as previously published texts. Moreover, the articles chosen for this edited volume are from writings that are not easily accessible in either print or digital form, and so it includes chapters that will be new to even those familiar with Chittick's corpus. " — Islamic Sciences

"What makes Chittick's work, and this collection of essays, stand out, is the author's unequalled scholarship and knowledge of the primary sources in their original languages (of which he is a master translator), combined with an acute awareness of the possible pitfalls of studying traditional materials from a modern scholarly point of view. " — Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations

"Each essay has been thoughtfully placed to introduce and complement what follows. The editors have achieved their intention with great success … The many studies offered here will be of exceptional benefit to students attempting to locate the unity that encompasses the many currents of Islamic discourse … Without hesitation, we can suggest that this edited volume of Chittick's most important articles is essential reading for all those interested in exploring the heart of Islamic thought. " — Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society

"Written in the style of scholarship for which William C. Chittick is well known, this text relates seemingly disparate concepts and presents complex metaphysical ideas in simple, accessible language. The diversity amongst the sources translated in this text, and the manner in which Chittick puts them into conversation with major philosophical debates will prove interesting to readers with a variety of intellectual interests. Needless to say, In Search of the Lost Heart: Explorations in Islamic Thought is a significant contribution to the scholarship on Islamic thought. " — Iranian Studies

"…Chittick's authorial voice has proved an uncommonly effective vessel and teaching tool. Chittick is almost uniquely capable of immersing readers in a complex topic within the space of just a few short paragraphs or pages; the expressiveness and conviction of his prose style have no peer that I know of in the English language. It is therefore an especial delight to have collected a large selection of Chittick's shorter essays, many of which will entice a general reading audience and equally many of which will prove useful in a classroom setting to Islamic studies teachers of various stripes … [a] lovely and profound set of essays. " — Taneli Kukkonen, Journal of Shiʻa Islamic Studies