English thinker
Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din
(Martin Lings).
Martin Lings was one of the most eloquent
and serene Western voices in the Islamic
Through his rich and varied oeuvre,
translated into more than a dozen languages,
Lings transmitted a certain vision of the
sacred as embodied in Sufism, the esoteric,
.spiritual dimension of Islam
Lings was born in 1909 in Lancashire. After
Clifton College in Bristol, he went to
Magdalen College, Oxford, and read English
under C.S. Lewis, who recognized his gifted
student’s spiritual ardor.
Young Martin was intensely pious and spent
the hours he was not working in prayer,
specifically to the Virgin Mary, requesting
her guidance in finding his spiritual path.
After Oxford he traveled in Europe,
lecturing at various universities including
Kaunas in Lithuania.[1]
He traveled to Egypt in 1940, originally to visit a friend who
was lecturing at Cairo University. During the visit, his friend
died in a riding accident and Lings was offered the post. It
was at about this time that he converted to Islam, and was
soon imbued with the Sufi dimension of the religion. He found
the critique of modern civilization by the French Muslim
writer, René Guénon, particularly convincing and shared his
“universalism”, within the context of Islam.
Back in London in 1952, and without a job, Lings decided to
study, while Lesley, a physiotherapist, went back to work.
After taking a BA in Arabic studies, he received his doctorate
from the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) for a
thesis on the great Algerian Sufi, Ahmad al-Alawi. This was
the basis for one of his most influential books, A Sufi Saint
Of The Twentieth Century, recognized as a unique view of
Islamic spirituality seen from within.
In 1955, he joined the staff of the British
Museum as assistant keeper of oriental
printed books and manuscripts; he was
keeper from 1970 to 1973, when he was
seconded to the British Library.
This work focused his interest in Qur’anic
calligraphy and he published a classic work
on the subject, The Qur’anic Art Of
Calligraphy And Illumination, to coincide
with the 1976 World of Islam Festival,
with which he was closely involved.[2]
He spent the last 30 years of his life writing books,
and lecturing all over the world, to a growing
following. Among his numerous books are the
magisterial Muhammad: his life based on the earliest
sources (1983), Shakespeare in the Light of Sacred
Art (1966, reissued as The Secret of Shakespeare,
1984, with an introduction by the Prince of Wales),
in which the roots of Shakespeare’s oeuvre are
traced to the Platonic and Scholastic traditions, and
the splendid The Quranic Art of Calligraphy and
Illumination (1976, republished as Splendors of
Qur’an Calligraphy and Illumination, 2004). Ling's
final work was Mecca, a history of the sacred city
from pre-Abrahamic times to today, published last
At the time when so much nonsense is talked about
“the clashes of civilizations” and Islam is under
siege, the work of Martin Lings shines like a
beacon. He lived in a modest cottage in the middle
of woods in Kent. A keen and original gardener, he
created a small but ravishing garden with a view
over the undulating country all around. He was laid
to rest among the flowers and plants he had lovingly
[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/martinlings-6145686.html
[2] http://ccm-inc.org/iqra/index.php?page=0507martinlings
Text source : Islam story web site…
Prepared by :-
Translation Campaign Team