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Merton's Correspondence with:

Abdul Aziz

Aziz, Abdul  printer

 
 

Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1959-1968, 1990-1999
Volume: 70 item(s); 143 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This is a large and important cache of letters that sparked Merton's interest in Sufism. Included are original signed letters by Aziz, and carbon copies or photocopies of letters by Merton. Only Merton's side of the correspondence has yet been fully published and can be found in The Hidden Ground of Love. Selection from Aziz's side of the correspondence can be found in Merton and Sufism. Also in this group of records can be found correspondence between the Merton Center and Nicholas Heer in regards to obtaining some correspondence between Heer and Aziz. This correspondence dating from 1959 through 1962 is included in this collection.

Biography

Living in Karachi, Pakistan, Abdul Aziz can be attributed with sparking Merton's first interest in Sufism, an interest later shared with his novices at Gethsemani. Beginning their correspondence in late 1960, Merton and Aziz would exchange books and ideas. Aziz was introduced to Merton's work through Louis Massignon, a mutual friend. An important insight from these letters is Merton's response to Aziz's request for a description of his prayer life.

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

Arrangement is chronological, except correspondence between Aziz and Nicholas Heer to be found at the end of the sequence.

Related Information and Links

See also Cold War Letters #67 and other correspondence from Merton to Aziz published in The Hidden Ground of Love, pp. 43-67; see also some selections of letters from Aziz in Merton & Sufism; and see also the "Basetti-Sani, Giulio" and the "Massignon, Louis" files.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPubNotes
1. 1959/09/02 TALS to Nicholas Heer I have come to know you through Mr. Nooruddin Shoreibah (of 3, Ali Galal Street, Manial, Cairo - UAR editing of Hakim Tirmizi's work / Islamic mysticism / Sufism / al-Muhasibi / Kharraz / Junaid / Hujwiri / Louis Massignon / al-Kubra / Ibn Arabi / asking about state of research into Islamic mysticism in the U.S. / names of U.S. Orientalists «detailed view»
2. 1959/11/18 HLS  from Heer, Nicholas / to Abdul Aziz Let me first apologize for not answering your letter of 22 September 1959 before this. I am sending article similar to introduction to Bayan al-Farq / Hakim Tirmizi / Tasawwuf / not much interest in Islamic mysticism in America «detailed view»
3. 1959/12/17 TALS to Nicholas Heer I am in receipt of your letter dated the 18th November and I am extremely grateful to you for Ithbat al-'Ilal / suggestions of what Heer should include in forthcoming book / Shah Waliullah of Delhi / manuscripts of Tirmizi's work / Ismail Sahib / obtaining Sufi works from various collections / Aziz's plans for book on Sufism «detailed view»
4. 1960/01/25 TALS to Nicholas Heer I had replied to your letter dated 18th November 1959 on 17th December 1959, and I hope you would manuscript of Ithbat al-Ilal of Hakim Tirmizi / obtaining other Sufi texts from various collections / "The World of Islam" dedicated to Prof. P.K. Hitti / requests list of Princeton Univ.'s oriental text series «detailed view»
5. 1960/11/01 TALS to Merton I am in correspondence with a Prof. Louis Massignon of Paris, the common bond of correspondence Islamic mysticism, Sufism / Christian mysticism - The Ascent to Truth, St. John of the Cross / Hindu Yoga / Fr. Paul Nwyia / Ibn Abbad / how to obtain Merton's books and other books on mysticism «detailed view»
6. 1960/11/17 (#01) TALS[x] from Merton It was a pleasure for me to receive your good letter and I am certainly grateful to our mutual not sending Seeds of Contemplation due to early ignorance of Sufism that Merton hopes to correct in New Seeds / Husayn Mansur Hallaj and Rumi / Nwyia's book on John of the Cross and Ibn Abbad / recommended books / Imam Riza «detailed view»
7. 1960/11/17 (#02) HNS[x] from Merton to Abdul Aziz - very cordially T. Merton [notecard with the poem, "Wisdom" and Merton's signature] «detailed view»
8. 1960/12/20 TALS to Merton I am extremely grateful to you for your very helpful and affectionate reply to my earlier letter. background on Imam Riza and the Shiahs / Merton's poem on "wisdom" / asks for background on Trappist Order, Our Lady of Gethsemani, and Our Lady of Fatima (origin of Fatima, a Muslim name) / background on Ibn Abbad of Ronda / Paul Nwyia «detailed view»
9. 1961/01/30 (#01) TALS[x] from Merton Your admirable letter of December 20th reached me promptly and I was deeply touched by your Imam Riza - poem from Cincinnati Museum / Al Ansari / Taoism / Trappist life / solitary life at Gethsemani analogous to Sufis and orthodox Muslim community legalism / significance of Mary for Gethsemani and at Fatima / Islamic revival «detailed view»
10. 1961/01/30 (#02) other from Merton Here is the threshold of holiness in the dust of the road / Where mighty kings have laid their heads "Fragment of poem from the Tomb Cover of Imam Riza (Cincinnati Museum)", Xeroxed copy of attachment to 1961/01/30 letter «detailed view»
11. 1961/03/08 TALS to Merton I was greatly pleased to receive your letter last month and regret that due to official quotes Louis Massignon in stating Merton a "'simurgh', (a very rare bird) among [his] Order" / Muslim "Night of Power" / similarity between John of the Cross and Hakim Tirmizi / interest in mystical prayer in Islam / Imam Riza poem «detailed view»
12. 1961/05/13 (#01) TALS[x] from Merton It has been a long time since I received your good letter of March 8th. The books took a great Titus Burckhardt on Sufism / reading Ibn Arabi to theology students / Sir M. Iqbal / criticism of John of the Cross and Moroccan mystic book / E. Allison Peers / Tawhid and Rhenish and Flemish mystics of the 14th century - Eckhart, influenced by Avicenna «detailed view»
13. 1961/05/13 (#02) other   Like a jeweled peacock he stirs all over / With fireflies. He takes his pleasure in / Lights. He is poem attached to 1961/05/13 letter "THE MOSLEMS' ANGEL OF DEATH / (Algeria 1961)" «detailed view»
14. 1961/09/24 TALS[x] from Merton It is a very long time since I have had a letter from you and I am beginning to think that something Sufi book on truthfulness / Henri Corbin's book on Ibn Arabi / Greek fathers and the theoria physike, "natural contemplation" / Wisdom (Sophia) / Kashf Al-Majub / sending Cuadra letter / nuclear weapons / Third World / situation in Pakistan «detailed view»
15. 1961/11/15 TLS  from Douglas, Elmer H. / to Nicholas Heer Some time ago I received a letter from one of your correspondents in Pakistan, Mr. Abdul Aziz. He Muslim World containing Heer's four articles on "A Sufi Psychology" / Illal al-Ibadat / off-prints of Bayan «detailed view»
16. 1961/11/18 TALS to Merton 1. I am in receipt of both your letters as well as a copy of your open letter to Cuadra. In the Sirdar Iqbal Ali Shah / Kashf al Majub / Holy Names of Allah / "The Moslems' Angel of Death" (Azrael) / ascetic elements of mystic spirituality and the Incarnation / U.S.-Russia and Gog-Magog / nuclear war / Tawhid / Tirmizi / St. Basil / Aziz's biography «detailed view»
17. 1961/12/24 TALS to Merton I sent you a letter on the 18th November 1961 which, I hope, would have been received by you in due requests some of Merton's writings on the English Mystics and a study about Taoism and comparative themes in other mystical traditions «detailed view»
18. 1962/02/23 TALS to Nicholas Heer I was greatly pleased to receive your generous gift of 4 off-print copies of your English information about obtaining more Sufi works and translations / suggests translating ascetical treatises of Al-Tirmidhi / Illal-al-Ibadat / Shah Waliullah / Al-Qushary / writing to Merton / Louis Massignon / French Orientalist Prof. M. Molé's research on the Naqshpandi Order «detailed view»
19. 1962/04/04 (#01) TALS[x] from Merton Finally I must answer your letters, at least briefly. A brief answer will be better than none at article on English mystics / letter about "the Giants" / Gog and Magog in the Quran / Sufi religious psychology / notes on mystical theology / Eckhart / St. Basil's influence on St. Benedict / formalism / Al Hujswiri / biographical notes from Merton / book against nuclear war «detailed view»
20. 1962/04/04 (#02) transcript from Merton Finally I must answer your letters, at least briefly. A brief answer will be better than none at [same as other letter of this date, but from the collected Cold War Letters - Cold War Letters #67] «detailed view»
21. 1962/04/04 (#03) other[x] from Merton SONG FOR THE DEATH OF AVERROËS (from Ibn Al Arabi, after the Spanish version of Asin Palacios.) [Merton's poem "Song for the Death of Averroës," signed with a note to Aziz enclosed with 1962/April/04 letter] «detailed view»
22. 1962/04/04 (#04) other[x] from Merton A LETTER TO PABLO ANTONIO CUADRA CONCERNING GIANTS [-] 1. [-] At a moment when all the [Merton's letter/essay "A Letter to Pablo Antonio Cuadra Concerning Giants," signed with a note to Aziz enclosed with 1962/April/04 letter] «detailed view»
23. 1962/04/04 (#05) other[x] from Merton MISCELLANEA MONASTICA [-] THE ENGLISH MYSTICS. In regard to some recent books [First page of Merton's essay on "The English Mystics," signed with a note to Aziz enclosed with 1962/April/04 letter] «detailed view»
24. 1962/04/04 (#06) other[x] from Merton SAN JUAN DE LA CRUZ [-] C.D. CANTOR DEL AMOR DIVINO [-] ¡Cuán manso y amoroso [copy of the envelope sent to Aziz with a prayer card of St. John of the Cross enclosed with 1962/April/04 letter] «detailed view»
25. 1962/06/21 TALS to Merton I acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your letter enclosing an offprint of your review-article on English Mystics - "Song for the Death of Averroes" / books on Sufi shrines and saints / John of the Cross and Tirmizi / St. Basil's ascetical works / translation of Hakim at-Tirmizi on mortification of desires «detailed view»
26. 1962/12/18 TALS to Merton I had replied to your letter on 21st June, 1962 in which I raised a number of queries but I have not thanks for Breakthrough to Peace book / John of the Cross / asks Merton what he means in Ascent to Truth by "'darkening' of all desire" and "analogical movement or attitude" / death of Louis Massignon «detailed view»
27. 1962/12/26 (#01) TALS[x] from Merton It is certainly true that I deserve your mild and kind reproach for being a poor correspondent. Iqbar Ali Shah / Louis Massignon's death / Christian-Moslem dialogue / book on Nuclear war not published - sending mimeograph / Mary in the Koran / John of the Cross / detachment depending on self-knowledge / purifying effect of aridity «detailed view»
28. 1962/12/26 (#02) TALS[x] from Merton It is certainly true that I deserve your mild and kind reproach for being a poor correspondent. [darker copy of 1962/12/26 letter / some parts easier to read on this one and some on the other] «detailed view»
29. 1963/04/04 TALS to Merton I am in receipt of your letter dated the 26th December, 1962 received by me in the first week of Merton's distinction between "exterior renunciation" and "interior detachment" / Islamic beliefs / John of the Cross / Way of the Pilgrim «detailed view»
30. 1963/06/02 TALS[x] from Merton Many thanks for your good letter of April 4th. I am sorry I have been so slow in replying, but I Hakim at-Tirmizi translation / differences in soteriology / Islam and Christianity - different words talking about the same realities / Russian mystics and The Way of the Pilgrim / "Jesus prayer" and Sufi prayer parallels «detailed view»
31. 1963/08/02 TALS to Merton Many thanks for you [sic] kind reply of June 2nd. I delayed my reply awaiting the receipt of the asks about obtaining many other books / question of Muslims and "Salvation" / Aziz asks what are the tenants of the Christian faith / daily routine of solitary retreat / salvation of all faiths «detailed view»
32. 1963/10/18 TL[c] from Merton The delay in replying to your letter is due to three things: first, my desire to read the books you Ahmad al Alawi - "speak[ing] the same language", more than those in this country / Martin Lings / Schuon on Islam - "exegesis of the Bismallah" / explains the Trinity / salvation for the good in all religions / the Philokalia / Merton's Khalwa / Simeon the New Theologian «detailed view»
33. 1963/12/19 HLS to Merton I am grateful to you for your detailed reply but as you had kindly mentioned therein that you would Merton's hospitalization / Martin Ling / 8 Sufi conditions for Khalwa / Khalwa's traditional duration of 40 days / Orientalist contact for English translations of Sufis / Dr. Nicholas Heer of Yale - translator / requests Butler's Lives of the Saints «detailed view»
34. 1964/06/28 TL[c] from Merton Only now am I getting around to answering your fine letter of last November or December. I know you Pope Pius XI and salvation for non-Christians / Titus Burkhardt's book on Fes in Morocco / Khalwa and time in the hermitage / silence at Gethsemani / Orientalists for translation / Malaval in translation / John of the Cross and St. Teresa / Jakob Boehme / Achmad al'Alawi «detailed view»
35. 1964/12/09 (#01) TL[c] from Merton It was a pleasure to get your letter this morning. Certainly I hope to write you a long reply with Fr. G. Basetti Sani, O.F.M. - book on Mohammed and St. Francis / Moslem-Catholic dialogue / Jakob Boehme / Seeds of Destruction / Ibn Abad de Ronda / hermitage / "idolatry of concepts as well as of graven images" «detailed view»
36. 1964/12/09 (#02) TLS[x] from Merton It was a pleasure to get your letter this morning. Certainly I hope to write you a long reply with Fr. G. Basetti Sani, O.F.M. - book on Mohammed and St. Francis / Moslem-Catholic dialogue / Jakob Boehme / Seeds of Destruction / Ibn Abad de Ronda / hermitage / "idolatry of concepts as well as of graven images" «detailed view»
37. 1965/11/01 TALS to Merton In your December reply to my X'mas and New Years greetings you had kindly promised to send me a A. J. Arberry's rhymed translation of Quran and Persian Sufis / review of A Moslem Saint of the Twentieth Century / Fr. Julio B. Sani / "Thomas Merton, the Mans and His Meaning" article / St. Bonaventure «detailed view»
38. 1965/11/02 TALS[x] from Merton I am really sorry for my long silence, and I know that there is no real way to make amends for it at not possible to keep up a good correspondence / sending Chuang Tzu adaptation / rendering of Ibn Abbad from French translation / living in solitude «detailed view»
39. 1965/11/07 (#01) TL[c] from Merton Yesterday, two days after sending off my letter to you, I received your letter. I was very happy to relays impossibility of keeping regular correspondence / Arberry's translation of Coran (Koran/Quran) - Merton's personal use - chanting / Ibn Abbad / Chuang Tzu / liturgy book - Seasons of Celebration / thoughts about Merton bio in Laurel / thoughts on Catholic clergy / Nasafi «detailed view»
40. 1965/11/07 (#02) TALS[x] from Merton Yesterday, two days after sending off my letter to you, I received your letter. I was very happy to relays impossibility of keeping regular correspondence / Arberry's translation of Coran (Koran/Quran) - Merton's personal use - chanting / Ibn Abbad / Chuang Tzu / liturgy book - Seasons of Celebration / thoughts about Merton bio in Laurel / thoughts on Catholic clergy / Nasafi «detailed view»
41. 1965/12/01 TALS to Merton I am in receipt of your two letters dated 2nd Nov. and 7th Nov. '65 respectively, the former having chanting the Quran / Merton's renderings of Ibn Abbad / Syed Idrees Shah / al-Junayd, mystic of Baghdad / Nasafi / Walayat (sainthood) / hermitage and meditation methods / suggestion for book on knowing God through psychological perspectives - psychoanalytic applications of ethics «detailed view»
42. 1965/12/20 TALS to Merton I had sent you a detailed letter on the 2nd instant which I hope you would have received by now. I reaction to idea for a book by Merton on "How to Know God", including suggested chapters on "Detachment, Mortification of desire etc. but psychological reasons should be given" / not treated in a dogmatic manner «detailed view»
43. 1965/12/25? TLS[x] from Merton I hate to resort to mimeographed letters, but it has now become completely impossible for [labelled "A CHRISTMAS LETTER 1965 ABBEY OF GETHSEMANI KY"] «detailed view»
44. 1966/01/02 (#01) TL[c] from Merton I have your two kind letters of Dec. 1 and Dec. 20th and once again I will try within my capacity to idea of writing another book on prayer / Ibn Abbad suggestions for book / Syes Idrees Shah and al-Junayd / Pierre Teilhard de Chardin / suicide of Dr. Molé / Malaval - quietists / Zaehner / daily routine as hermit / Merton's method of meditation «detailed view»
45. 1966/01/02 (#02) TLS[x] from Merton I have your two kind letters of Dec. 1 and Dec. 20th and once again I will try within my capacity to idea of writing another book on prayer / Ibn Abbad suggestions for book / Syes Idrees Shah and al-Junayd / Pierre Teilhard de Chardin / suicide of Dr. Molé / Malaval - quietists / Zaehner / daily routine as hermit / Merton's method of meditation «detailed view»
46. 1966/01/26 TALS to Merton As I read in the article about you in 'Laurels' that you saw the light of the day on 31st Jan. 1915, happy 51st birthday / suggestions about diet and thoughts on Merton's austere diet / Islam and images of God - idolatry / Syed Idrees Shah / Al-Junayd / Ali Hassan Abdul Qadir and patriotic nationalism / Neo-Platonic influences on Sufism / Malik Barkat Ali / nature of good and evil in Chuang Tzu / Dr. John Wu «detailed view»
47. 1966/03/23 TALS[x] from Merton Thanks for your find letter which I cannot answer adequately now as I am about to go to the hospital book of Idries Shah - converting letters to numbers (and vice versa), liked chapter on Nasruddin / Junayd and Zaehner's thesis on him / hints on diet / "not making mental images of God" and the "divine Oneness" in Islam «detailed view»
48. 1966/04/04 HLS to Merton My very dear good friend, I received your kind letter dt 23/3/66, while I was lying indisposed in my de Caussade / Ibn Abbad «detailed view»
49. 1966/12/28 TL[c] from Merton Your good letter reached me in this season of holy days and I have not failed to keep you in my operation and slow recovery / Al Junayd / Zaehner and the western academic mind's scientific outlook, not attuned to the mind of the ancient / life as a hermit / visit from Algerian Sufi master Sidi Abdesalam / Sheikh Ahmad al Alawi / Bernard Phillips / R.M. Bucke Society of Montreal «detailed view»
50. 1967/12/18 TALS to Merton I have not heard from you since long time. I hope you would be keeping fit. I know you are very Dom François de Sales Pollien's books The Interior Life and Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by J.P. de Caussade / Syed Hossein Nasr / Hakim Tirmizi and reading in solitude «detailed view»
51. 1968/01/16 TL[c] from Merton I was happy to receive your letter of December 18th. Also especially thank you for your greetings Carthusian Dom Pollien / Caussade and similarity to ascetics of Sufism / blockage of Suez Canal / conferences for monks on Sufism / remarks about reading in solitude / sending the Cloud of Unknowing «detailed view»
52. 1968/04/24 (#01) TL[c] from Merton I want to say that some time ago I received the book of Seyyed Hossein Nasr safely and that I am now Nasr's book "one of the very best books on Islam" / sending books on Zen Buddhism / Mystics and Zen Masters / weekly talks to Gethsemani monks on Sufism / sad state of the country and of the world «detailed view»
53. 1968/04/24 (#02) TLS[x] from Merton I want to say that some time ago I received the book of Seyyed Hossein Nasr safely and that I am now Nasr's book "one of the very best books on Islam" / sending books on Zen Buddhism / Mystics and Zen Masters / weekly talks to Gethsemani monks on Sufism / sad state of the country and of the world «detailed view»
54. 1990/12/04 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I had acknowledged with thanks the receipt on 30th August, 1990 of your kind letter dt. 25th Jan, «detailed view»
55. 1991/10/29 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I heaved a sigh of relief to receive your long-awaited letter dt. 3/10/91 which reached me on 20.10. «detailed view»
56. 1991/12/06 HLS[x] to Shannon, William On receipt of your long-awaited letter dt. 3.10.1991, I sent you an aerogramme dt. 29.10.1991, «detailed view»
57. 1992/07/26 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I acknowledge with deep gratitude and joy the receipt of your valuable gift of the book "Silent Lamp «detailed view»
58. 1992/11/28 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I hasten to send you my sincere greetings on your forthcoming 75th birthday anniversary falling «detailed view»
59. 1993/05/15 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I acknowedge with thanks the receipt of your kind and deightful letter dt. 10/1/93 (received on «detailed view»
60. 1994/11/30 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I acknowedge with gratitude your last letter dt. 31/12/93 «detailed view»
61. 1995/03/01 HLS[x] to Shannon, William On 15th December, 1994, I went to the local post office to send you my hearty greetings on the 77th «detailed view»
62. 1995/12/05 HLS[x] to Shannon, William On 18th March, 1995, I sent you a detailed air mail lette acknowledging gratefully the receipt «detailed view»
63. 1996/08/15 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your kind letter dt 31.12.93 (but actually posted on «detailed view»
64. 1997/02/16 TLS[x] from Shannon, William My good friend, it has been a long time since I have written to you. I fear you have given up on me. «detailed view»
65. 1997/04/15 HLS[x] to Shannon, William I am glad that at long last you were good enough to find some time from your heavy preoccupations «detailed view»
66. 1999/08/06 TL  from Heer, Nicholas / to Rob Baker Enclosed are copies of the letters from Abdul Aziz. In addition to the one I informed you of in my [to Rob Baker, Editorial Director of publishing house Fons Vitae in Louisville, Ky - published Merton and Sufism: The Untold Story] copying Jonathon Montaldo from Merton Center on this letter and sending copies of Aziz's letters / offers Merton Center originals when done «detailed view»
67. 1999/08/23 TLS to Center from Heer, Nicholas Thank you for your letter of 16 August 1999. Enclosed are the original Abdel [sic] Aziz letters sending original letters of Aziz to Merton Center «detailed view»
68. 1999/09/18 TLS to Center from Heer, Nicholas Thank you for your letter of 11 September 1999. I'm glad to know that the Abdul Aziz letters sending one more original Aziz letter «detailed view»
69. undated/no/no other   Ch. Abdul Aziz, whose letters sparked Merton's interest in Sufism, has lived all his life in Karachi background information about Aziz, with references to other works, created by W. H. Shannon for The Hidden Ground of Love «detailed view»
70. undated/no/no other   My academic qualifications are of the highest order, being M.A., LL.B., I was a scholarship-holder "Bio-Data of Ch. Abdul Aziz, M.A., LL.B., Advocate and Consultant, Collector of Customs and Central Excise (retd.)" / retired in 1974 «detailed view»

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