Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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Ralph Austin
Ralph Austin is a scholar, author, translator, editor, and educator specializing in Arabic and Islamic Mysticism. He was born in 1938 in Willerby, England, and received degrees in Classical Arabic and Islamic Mysticism (Ph.D.) from the University of London. Starting in 1963, Dr. Austin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies at the School of Oriental Studies at the University of Durham. He retired in 1988. In addition to other publications, Ralph Austin's work on Ibn ‘Arabi is often cited. His 1971 book, Sufis of Andalusia, is a translation of two works of the great Andalusian Sufi shaykh. Dr. Ralph Austin has also been involved in inter-faith conferences and discussions related to mutual understanding between faiths.


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Type TitleAuthor/
Reviewed Author*
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Prof. Austin says that the main argument of his talk, which was transcribed for this article, "is that Islam, despite its obvious sharing with other religious traditions in its expression of the basic human experience of God and the cosmos, has something peculiarly its own to say and contribute on this question. Also, that any proper understanding of this particular view depends upon a proper translation and interpretation of certain key words in the Qur’an concerned with the nature of Man and his function."
Some Key Words in the Islamic Concept of ManAustin, Ralph Vol. 10, No. 1. ( Winter, 1976) Islam
A Letter to Disciples in PrisonAustin, Ralph Vol. 8, No. 1. ( Winter, 1974) Islam
Dr. Ralph (W.J.) Austin presents sixty-four selected sayings from the Hikam of the great Sufi shaykh Ibn ‘Atā’ Allāh al-Iskandarī (d. 1309). Austin himself has translated these sayings of spiritual counsel intended for the Shaykh's disciples. He comments that the Shaykh's Hikam "must rank among the finest works of spiritual counsel, not only in Islam, but in the world." The importance of Ibn ‘Atā’ Allāh's book is well known in Sufi studies, but it should have a general appeal because, as Austin writes, "the central theme of the Hikam is undoubtedly the continuous and all-pervading contemplation or consciousness of God." This is clear in the well-chosen verses translated and selected for this essay.
Counsels of a Sufi MasterAustin, Ralph Vol. 5, No. 4. ( Autumn, 1971) Islam
Book Review
In this review RWJ Austen discusses the topic of this book as well as the background of the author, Ain al-Qudat al-Hamadhani, who was a Sufi and Shafi’ite lawyer. This man was accused of being a heretic and had to defend himself by writing an explanation that his statements were misinterpreted and that the accusers were not properly informed regarding the topic. Austen concludes in his review that the book is well translated and very helpful for the public.
A Sufi MartyrArberry, A.J. *Austin, Ralph Vol. 3, No. 4. ( Autumn, 1969) Islam
Book Review
RWJ Austin reviews Islam and the Divine Comedy, which is a comparison of the concepts in the Divine Comedy with Islamic philosophy. The author of this book draws from various examples in the Divine Comedy, the Hadith, and the Quran, to illustrate his point that there is a connection between the two perspectives. The author argues further that Dante himself may actually have drawn from these Islamic writings in his own work. The reviewer says of the author that he “is once again the champion of his own faith. Indeed this attitude towards Islam, so common among scholars in his time, and the many derogatory asides he makes on both the Qur’an and the Prophet mar what is otherwise a most readable and informative work.”
Islam and the Divine ComedyPalacios, Miguel Asin*Austin, Ralph Vol. 2, No. 4. ( Autumn, 1968) Islam
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