"...the Imagination (or love, or sympathy, or any other sentiment) induces knowledge, and knowledge of an 'object' which is proper to it..."
Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a scholar, philosopher and theologian. He was a champion of the transformative power of the Imagination and of the transcendent reality of the individual in a world threatened by totalitarianisms of all kinds. One of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Corbin was Professor of Islam & Islamic Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Teheran. He was a major figure at the Eranos Conferences in Switzerland. He introduced the concept of the mundus imaginalis into contemporary thought. His work has provided a foundation for archetypal psychology as developed by James Hillman and influenced countless poets and artists worldwide. But Corbin’s central project was to provide a framework for understanding the unity of the religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His great work Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi is a classic initiatory text of visionary spirituality that transcends the tragic divisions among the three great monotheisms. Corbin’s life was devoted to the struggle to free the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. His work marks a watershed in our understanding of the religions of the West and makes a profound contribution to the study of the place of the imagination in human life.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts


Friday, February 5, 2016

Sufis and Mullahs: Sufis and Their Opponents in the Persianate World - April 2016 at Exeter

A three-day conference at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Sufis and Mullahs: Sufis and Their Opponents in the Persianate World

14-16 April 2016
University of Exeter, UK

Opposition to Sufism and persecution of Sufis have been unfortunate facts of Islamic history for over a millennium. Many reasons for this opposition exist. Fundamentally, the conflict is rooted in differences of metaphysical and theological perspective – constituting an opposition between esoteric and exoteric modes of thinking. Although Muslim jurists, theologians and Sufis share similar ethico-spiritual and devotional concerns, the epistemological, theosophical and metaphysical interests of the Sufis usually completely differed from those of the jurists and the theologians who practice apologetic theology (kalam). The Sufis emphasise intuition (dhawq), inspiration (ilham) and mystical unveiling (kashf) as valid modes of esoteric knowledge (ma′rifa), use a secret symbolic language (lisan al-isharat), and express themselves through ‘words of ecstasy’ (shathiyyat) and erotic poetry, while the latter’s ideational framework depends overall on reason (’aql), logical demonstration (burhan) and a variety of rationalist approaches and disciplines.

With the controversial trial, and later, martyrdom of Mansur al-Hallaj in 922, the science of Sufism (’ilm al-tasawwuf) itself became severely contested by members of the orthodox Sunni religio-political establishment. Members of the Baghdad School of Sufis were persecuted in a series of inquisitions (mihan) conducted by the popular preacher Ghulam Khalil, who had accused them of being heretical antinomians (ahl al-ibaha). This was just the beginning of what was to become a contest between two quite separate visions of religion: a hardline legalistic, often puritanical, scripturalism promulgated by the exoteric theologians (’ulama al-zahir) and a tolerant, ecumenical, and broadminded intuitive approach to Islam advocated by Sufis whose vision of Canon Law of Islam (shari’a) accentuated the interior dimensions of its dogmas, rites and rituals, believing that God is better approached and apprehended by internal remembrance of the heart (dhikr), especially when amplified by listening to erotic poetry sung to musical accompaniment (sama’), than through legalistic speculation, ratiocination and logical argumentation.

With the rise of state-sponsored extremist Shi‘ite clericalism under the Safavids in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, most of the Sufi Orders were suppressed and driven out of Persia. A whole literature of anti-Sufi polemics was generated from the mid-sixteenth down to the early twentieth century in Persia, the social after-effects of which can be seen today in the current widespread destruction or state expropriation of Sufi shrines on the part of hardline Shi‘ite clerics in the Islamic Republic of Iran during the past three and a half decades, and the ongoing persecution, harassment and imprisonment of Sufis there.

On the literary level, many centuries before the rise of the Safavids, in classical Persian Sufi poetry one finds a similar opposition between juridical and Sufi Islam expressed in poetic imagery and figures of speech, a contested religious vision from which was generated several rich genres of satirical anti-clerical poetry in Persian known as ‘Songs of Infidelity’ (Kufriyya), ‘Wild-man Poetry’ (Qalandariyya) and ‘Sufi-Zoroastrian-symbolist verse’ (Gabriyya).

Bringing together scholars and specialists on Sufism from around the world, this conference, focused geographically on the Persianate world of greater Iran, Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire, and Central Asia, aims to examine the theological, philosophical, and literary dimensions of the Sufi/anti-Sufi conflict as much as its socio-historical causes and origins.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Henry Corbin et la gnose iranienne

We have this thanks to Les Amis in Paris:

Germain, G., « Henry Corbin et la gnose iranienne », Cahiers du Sud, t. LV, no. 371, 1963, p. 108-118.

Extrait : L’œuvre d'Henry Corbin, avec ses feux voilés, mais aux radiations pénétrantes, commence à percer en dehors des cercles spécialisés. Peut-être même - et ce serait un symptôme favorable - les opacités qu’elle rencontre s’observeraient- elles plutôt du côté des islamologues. Remarque qui ne veut pas être une insolence à leur égard ; il est inévitable que des recherches neuves et un tour d’esprit très personnel suscitent des réticences chez ceux qui se pensent en possession des « bonnes méthodes ». Gabriel Germain, Henry Corbin et la gnose iranienne, p. 108.

- See more HERE

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On ta'wil

Esoteric Interpretations of the Qur’an: Foundations of Shia Ismaili Ta’wil


In current usage, ta’wil is said, and rightly, to be a spiritual exegesis that is inner, symbolic, esoteric, etc. Beneath the idea of exegesis appears that of a Guide (the exegete), and beneath the idea of exegesis we glimpse that of an exodus, of a “departure from Egypt,”, which is an exodus from metaphor and the slavery of the letter.

Henry Corbin, (Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, 29)

The ta’wil, without question, is a matter of harmonic perception, of hearing an identical sound (the same verse, the same hadith, even an entire text) on several levels simultaneously.

Henry Corbin, (Spiritual Body & Celestial Earth, 54)

Friday, December 11, 2015

A new photo for the Archive

We have this little gem from Jean Louis Gaillemin, who writes,

"En train de mettre en ordre mes vieilles photos , je viens de scanner une photo de moi avec mon maître Henry Corbin en compagnie de Gershom Sholem et je tombe sur votre site, si cette photo vous convient, vous pouvez la publier, ( je suis à gauche sur la photo, je ne me souviens plus du nom de l'étudiant qui suivait Gershom Sholem) nous sommes vers 1973 ?"

The fourth person is Robert Bosnak, who confirms the date as 1973.

Many thanks to Jean Louis for sending this!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Joyce & the Bab - A remarkable new essay by Todd Lawson

We are the first generation in the West able to read the Koran, 
if we are able to read Finnegans Wake. ~ Norman O. Brown

“Joycean Modernism in a Nineteenth-Century Qur’an Commentary?: 
A Comparison of the Bab’s Qayyūm Al-Asmā’ with Joyce’s Ulysses.”

by Todd Lawson 


Erin and Iran: 
Cultural Encounters between the Irish and the Iranians 

edited by H. E. Chehabi and Grace Neville, 
Boston & Washington D.C.: 
Ilex Foundation & Center for Hellenic Studies, 
Trustees of Harvard University, 2015, pp. 79–118.

On amazon HERE.

"Numerous structural, thematic, and reception parallels exist between two otherwise quite incommensurable literary works. The one is James Joyce’s well-known, controversial and vastly infuential Ulysses, generally considered the frst major work of the modernist move-ment in European literature. The second, entitled Qayyūm al-asmā’,2 is the virtually unknown, unpublished and unread yet highly distinctive and un-usual commentary on the 12th sura of the Qur’an by the Iranian prophet Seyyed Ali Mohammad Shirāzi (1819–50), better known to history as the Bab. By suggesting the existence of parallels and similarities between these two works it is not also suggested that there is any sort of connection between them or their authors, genetic, social, historical, or otherwise. But, both authors wrote at specifc and intense moments of cultural crisis and change in their respective socio-historical situations. And each was profoundly and acutely aware of the particular centrality of the literary tradition in which they wrote and the literary weight of the sources and models for their respective compositions. In the case of Joyce and Ulysses, the weight and authority of this literary history is represented by the Odyssey and Joyce’s appropriation (and simultaneous celebration and critique) of the epic tradition, exemplifed by the Odyssey. In the case of the Bab and his Qayyūm al-asmā’, the quite considerable and truly unique weight and authority of his tradition is represented by the Qur’an, on which this ostensibly exegetical work is modeled…"

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

France Culture Broadcast available online

France Culture Broadcast

Abdenour Bidar's interview with Hélène Senglard-Foreman, 
the translator of my first book in French as L'Envers du Monde

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Dark Church - (Terra Lucida IX-XII)

I am delighted to announce the publication of Joseph Donahue's newest book. It is magnificent. 

Keeping vigil through the night in the realm of the Terra Lucida, which, according to Islamic scholar Henry Corbin, is "the land that secretes its own light," Joseph Donahue's DARK CHURCH lures a pilgrim fraught with memories of modernity and childhood, and who aspires to stand in its temple where ritual adherents drowse in dreams of healing and oracular pronouncements intimate a destiny belonging both to this world and the next. "Long ago, / the truest part of you… / began to approach / the condition of stone." At once vatic, nostalgic, cryptic, and clear, DARK CHURCH is a book of unremitting visionary power.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

11e Journée Henry Corbin - 2015

Chère Amie, Cher Ami

J’ai le plaisir de vous inviter à participer à la 11e Journée Henry Corbin qui se tiendra lesamedi 28 novembre 2015, à l’EPHE - Auditorium, 190 av. de France, 75013 Paris, sur le thème : « Raison philosophique et expérience mystique ».

Les interventions prévues sont les suivantes :

Matinée :

9h30 -10h30, Christian JAMBET (EPHE) : « L’intellect et la mystique chez Sohravardî »

10h30 – 11h30 : Daniel PROULX (Université catholique de Louvain) : « Les écrits théologiques de Henry Corbin, jeune philosophe protestant »

11h30 – 12h30 : Souâd AYADA (Inspection générale de philosophie) : « Pourquoi Ibn 'Arabî, mystique, est-il aussi un philosophe ? »

Après-midi :

14h30 – 15h30 : Serge MARGEL (Université de Lausanne) : « Les émotions mystiques. Réflexions sur la rationalité d’une expérience limite »

15h30 -16h30 : Vincent GOOSSAERT (EPHE) : « Ecriture révélée et production doctrinale en Chine (16e – début du 20e siècles) »

En nous réjouissant de vous rencontrer à cette réunion.


Daniel Gastambide, président, 7 rue Nicolas Houël, 75005 Paris (adresse pour la cotisation annuelle de 25 euros) danielgastambide@gmail.com
Pierre Lory, secrétaire général, lorypierre@gmail.com
Marc Gastambide, trésorier
Daniel Proulx, webmestre http://www.amiscorbin.com

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hillman Symposium 2015


The Dallas Institute's 2015James Hillman Symposiumtakes as its subject Hillman's decades-long interest in the archetypes of the puer (the youth) and the senex (the old man). He viewed them as two faces of the same figure and suggested that our psyches are split between them, the twofold truth of identity.

What matters is the little syllable "re" -- that's the most important syllable in psychology: remember, return, revision, reflect . . . (James Hillman)

REGISTER today for

The 2015 James Hillman Symposium

16-17 October

Join leading scholars in diverse fields of psychology, art, theater, literature, and film—united in their appreciation of James Hillman’s innovations—in lively, stimulating discussions that will deepen your understanding of what it means to be human, flawed yet potentially healed.


To register and learn more about this year's symposium visit:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ibn 'Arabi Conference October 2015

2015 Annual Conference of the Ibn 'Arabi Society USA

A Living Legacy: Ibn 'Arabi in Today's World 

October 23-24, 2015

Columbia University, New York

For the 850th anniversary of the birth of Muhyiddin Ibn ’Arabi, the Ibn ‘Arabi Society in the U.S. is pleased to announce a major conference on his legacy.
As one of history’s greatest universal mystics and interpreters of the human condition, Ibn ’Arabi’s teachings can offer us a window into a form of Islam that we in the West are rarely exposed to, as well as a more sophisticated understanding of the more exalted aspects of the Islamic cultural heritage.
This conference will explore Ibn 'Arabi's legacy as a living reality with profound implications for the modern world.
This year's conference, the third in a series on the same theme after those held in Murcia, Spain and Oxford, England, includes talks and workshops from some of the foremost experts on Ibn 'Arabi, poetry readings from Ibn 'Arabi's works, and a musical performance.
The Ibn 'Arabi Society is pleased to partner this year with the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life, Columbia University.

Where & When

Davis Auditorium, The Schapiro Center, Columbia University, NY 10027
October 23-24, 2015Friday, October 23, 2015, from 7:00pm to 9:30pm (EST)
Saturday, October 24, 2015, from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)


We pleased to host some of the most respected speakers and scholars in the field.
William Chittick Jane Clark Hossein Kamaly Zahra Langhi Todd Lawson Pierre Lory James Morris


Eventbrite - A Living Legacy:  Ibn 'Arabi in Today's World
Early Bird discount ends August 30. Take advantage now of the special $100 rate while it lasts!
A check can also be mailed to the Society for registration. Further details, including Sponsorship, on the registration page.


For all inquiries, please send email to the Secretary at mias.usa@ibnarabisociety.org

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Corbin & American Poetry: Ken Irby

As I hope I have mentioned here in the past Ken Irby is one of the many poets influenced by Corbin. Here is a footnote from an essay by Robert Bertholf in the Jacket2 issue on Irby:

In an article, Peter Bertollette cites Henry Corbin’s books Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth andCyclical Time in Mazdaism and Ismailism in support of a very useful comment about Irby’s idea of home: Irby’s use of homeplace and “the heartland” “fits in with Corbin’s notion that the home is an organ of perception, where the heart lies, a place to be planted in, and shoot forth from.” See Peter Bertollette, “Ken Irby,” Credences 7 (February 1979): 28, and Henry Corbin, Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth: From Mazdean Iran to Shi’ite Iran, trans. Nancy Pearson, Bollingen Series XCI:2 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977). Don Byrd also adds a fine perception about Irby’s idea of home: “To make a play stay put by knowing what its uses is what Irby means by making a home.” Don Byrd, “Ken Irby and the Missouri-Kansas Border,” Credences 7 (February 1979): 9.