On Translating ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, Perhaps Arabic’s Most Prolific Premodern Woman Writer


Arabic Literature (in English)

Th. Emil Homerin, author of the recently-published   The Principles of Sufism ,   has long been interested in the work of ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, who is perhaps the most prolific and prominent woman who wrote in Arabic prior to the modern period. Homerin, a professor of religion and former chair of the Department of Religion & Classics at the University of Rochester, previously translated a collection of al-Ba’uniyyah’s poems as  Emanations of Grace , and likens her work to that of the famous Persian poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi.

Emil-Homerin-PhotoS Th. Emil Homerin

In a Skype interview originally published on the Library of Arabic Literature, Homerin talked about how he found al-Ba’uniyyah’s manuscripts—which was like finding “a needle in a haystack”—and what changes when you can read Sufi poetry alongside the author’s own spiritual guidebook.

ArabLit: Before translating The Principles of Sufism, you worked on translating a collection of ‘A’ishah’s poetry, 

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