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Ahmad al-Buni

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Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra, a manuscript copy, beginning of 17th century Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Yusuf al-Buni (Arabic: ( ) died 1225) was a well known Sufi and writer on the esoteric value of letters and topics relating to mathematics, sihr (sorcery) and spirituality, but very little is known about him. AlBuni lived in Egypt and learned from many eminent Sufi masters of his time.[1] He wrote one of the most famous books of his era, the Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra (Sun of the Great Knowledge, Arabic ) which is one of the most widely read medieval treatises on talismans, magic squares and occult practices. This work rivals the Picatrix in importance. This book was later banned by orthodox Muslims as heretical, but continues to be read and studied. Instead of sihr (Sorcery), this kind of magic was called Ilm al-Hikmah (Knowledge of the Wisedom), Ilm al-simiyah (Study of the Divine Names) and Ruhaniyat (Spirituality). Most of the so-called mujarrabt ("time-tested methods") books on sorcery in the Muslim world are simplified excerpts from the Shams al-ma`rif.[2] The book remains the seminal work on Theurgy and esoteric arts to this day. In c. 1200, Ahmad al-Buni showed how to construct magic squares using a simple bordering technique, but he may not have discovered the method himself. Al-Buni wrote about Latin squares and constructed, for example, 4 x 4 Latin squares using letters from one of the 99 names of Allah. His works on traditional healing remains a point of reference among Yoruba Muslim healers in Nigeria and other areas of the Muslim world.[3]

Ahmad al-Buni also left a list of other titles that he wrote. Unfortunately, very few of them have survived. Al-Buni states in his work Manba Usul al-Hikmah (Source of the Essentials of Wisdom) that he acquired his knowledge of the esoteric properties of the letters from his personal teacher Abu Abdillah Shams al-Din al-Asfahni. He in turn received it from Jalal al-Din Abdullah al-Bistami, who in turn received it from Shaykh alSarajani, who received it from Qasim al-Sarajani, who received it from Abdullah alBabani, who received it from Asl al-Din al-Shirazi, who received it from Abu alNajb al-Sahruwardi, who received it from, Mohammad ibn Mohammad Al-Ghazali al-Tusi, who received it from Ahmad al-Aswad, who received it from Hamad alDnuri, who received it from the master al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, who received it from Sari al-Din al-Saqati, who received it from Maruf al-Karkhi, who received it from Dawd al-Jili, who received it from Habb al-Aajami, who received it from Imam Hasan al-Basri. Al-Buni states in the same work that he acquired his knowledge of magical squares from Sirj al-Dn al-Hanafi, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dn al-Muqaddasi, who acquired it from Shams al-Dn al-Farisi, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dn alHamadani, who acquired it from Qutb al-Dn al-Diyi, who acquired it from Muhyiddn Ibn Arabi, who acquired it from Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Turzi, who acquired it from Abu Abdillah al-Qurashi, who acquired it from Abu Madn alAndalusi. He also states that he acquired additional knowledge about the esoteric art of letters and the magical squares from Mohammad 'Izz al-Dn ibn Jama, who acquired it from Mohammad al-Sirani, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dn al-Hamadani, who acquired it from Qutb al-Dn al-Dhiyai, who acquired it from Muhyiddn Ibn Arabi. Al-Buni also states that he acquired his occult knowledge from Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn Maymn al-Qastalni, who acquired it from Abu Abdillah Mohammed alQurashi, who acquired it from Abu Madn Shu'ayb ibn Hasan al-Ansari al-Andalusi, who received it from Abu Ayyub ibn Abi Sa'id al-Sanhaji al-Armuzi, who received it from Abi Muhammad ibn Nur, who received it from Abu al-Fadhl Abdullah ibn Bashr, who received it from Abu Bashr al-Hasan al-Jujari, who received it from alSaqati, who received it from Dawd al-Ti, who received it from Habb al-A'jami, who received it from Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Srn, who received it from Malik ibn Anas. Al-Buni also made regular mention in his work of Plato, Aristotle, Hermes, Alexander the Great, and obscure Chaldean magicians. In one of his works, he recounted a story of his discovery of a cache of manuscripts buried under the pyramids, that included a work of Hermetic thinkers. His work is said to have influenced the Hurufis and the New Lettrist International.[4]