A Grimoire Wish List: The Shams al-Ma’arif of al-Buni

This is the second in an ongoing series of posts on grimoires that I’d personally like to see available in English-language editions.  The Maqlu Text piece met with considerable approval, so I’m hopeful that this may inspire people to future projects.

Our next book is one of the most influential magical works in the world today.  In bookstores from Senegal to Indonesia, it is bought, read, pondered upon, and used by magical practitioners.  Even in the countries where the practice of magic is punished with death, it still remains influential.  It has inspired an endless series of translations, editions, adaptations, and blatant rip-offs. Still, even if you’re well-read in Western occultism, you’ve likely never heard of it.

The Kitab Shams al-Ma’arif is attributed to Abu’l ‘Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Yusuf al-Buni al-Qurashi, an Alexandrian Sufi who died in 1225.  Still, some debate has been made of this claim, with some dating the book to the fourteenth century.  At least three different versions of this book exist, with the longest containing forty chapters dealing with the divine names of God, magic designed to destroy one’s enemies, and incantations to spirits.  Some images of pages from the book can be seen here, and more data on the book, as well as images of a nineteenth-century copy intended for the sultan of Morocco, can be found in the two-volume Science, Tools and Magic.  The latter includes some beautiful plates of pages illustrating the relation between God and the djinn, as well as a talisman intended to keep bees away from a place.

Some serious obstacles remain for the translation – if the copy mentioned at the first link above is any indication, the book is over a thousand pages long.  Nonetheless, the importance of this work cannot be overemphasized.  Nicole Hansen, in her article in Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World, explores how the spells from the book still used today have numerous parallels to the practices of the Egyptians of thousands of years ago.  If the entire book were available, would be find paralells to the Greek and Demotic magical papyri?  To the Picatrix?  To traditions of Jewish and Christian magic, both in the Middle East and in Western Europe?  Only a translation, which could be examined by scholars of many different backgrounds and fields of expertise, might answer these questions.

More to come.

Published in: on August 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm  Comments (76)  

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  1. Hey Dan,

    This is one on my wishlist too, I see it being constantly referred to by modern practitioners in the Middle East. Have you seen this article: http://www.islamicmanuscripts.info/mekka-angawi/Witkam-2007-Buni-Gazing.pdf


  2. Greetings,

    Two friends and I began a translation of the text of al-Buni’s Shams al-Ma’arif al-Kubra/the Great Sun of Gnoses a couple of years ago based on the current Beirut printing of the Arabic text. I approached a publisher who claimed to know their ins and outs regarding the serious Western occult publishing market. However, after some initial interest expressed in the project, the publisher suddenly lost interest and claimed to me that such a translation would not be a lucrative venture for their outfit.

    If a publisher willing to commit to the project can be found (esp. one willing to support all facets of the project to fruition), a decent, annotated English translation of al-Buni (somewhat in the format of the present translation of Agrippa’s ‘De occulta philosophia’), with full time work, could be produced and out in the market in two years max.

    If anyone out there is serious about seeing al-Buni produced in English, drop me a line.

    Wahid Azal

    • It is more than a year since you posted your offer. I pray that the offer is still active. I am serious about seeing Al-Buni’s work in English.
      Sami Gandy

      • As Salaam Alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakhatu,


        I am a medical anthropologist preparing a work entitled ‘Al Junun Funun: Toward an Islamic Transpersonal Anthropology’ for a PhD which looks at semiotic themes in both the Quran and Sunnah, but also how such themes could be used to frame an analysand in an Islamic cosmological and ontological framework. The work will look at traditional healing methods, mysticism, and esoterica, as well as divers traditions from the Songhay of Niger, to Afghanistan, and will see fieldwork carried out in the Levant, so as to ascertain whether there are common metaphysical and cosmological concepts through the heterogeneous traditions under the umbrella of Islam.

        I have two scanned versions of Al Buni’s work from the 1800’s, and I am lucky enough to have an Arabic wife to work withe me on the texts, but an English version in parallel would prove invaluable!!!

        Allah Al Hafiz,


    • Hi,
      I live in denmark,and i want to know if you are done with the translation..?
      There is probably a way in europe,that the book can be published.
      Write me back,and we will talk about it.
      cheers mate

    • I would like to have al bune in english. It is always been my dream of having the book. I have a number of pages of the al buni work in arabic which I deemed useless as I don’t understand arabic. My dear one, translated albuni would not only benefit we arabic illiterates but would as well help to disseminate Islamic occult knowledge.

    • I am looking for an English translation of
      Al-Buni’s Shams al-Ma’arif al-Kubra/the Great Sun of Gnoses…please, if you now were one is available contact me at cornerstown@yahoo.com
      I am not a publisher, just interested in the topic and will pay to get a copy of such a great work…thank you

      • hello,
        i am also looking for the shams in english.
        have you received a translation.
        would love to buy it from you.
        thanks katja

    • Salam

      It nearly 2 years since you posted your offer. I pray that the offer is still active. I am serious about seeing Al-Buni’s work in English.

      waiting for your feedback

    • Let me know where to find an English/Arabic Link that is not a booby trap…. nizam@arch-tech.za.net

    • I do have. Interest to see that book…some say its powerfull to know ….hit me back :zagrad74@gmail.com..thx….

    • I am realling to have a copy of this book

  3. PS – I have already translated other assorted tidbits from al-Buni. One which might interest is the text of his Birhatiya conjuration oath.

    • i need this kann you help me because i need this.

  4. […] wa Lataifu al-Avarif, can be seen here.  According to this grimoire wish list, the book may also be known as Kitab Shams al-Ma’arif, and the author may also be known as Abu’l ‘Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn […]

  5. […] magic squares, Shemsu al-Ma’arif wa Lataifu al-Avarif, can be seen here.  According to this grimoire wish list, the book may also be known as Kitab Shams al-Ma’arif, and the author may also be known as […]

  6. I [is] one of clan from al buni.. and I have no simpathy with buku of samsul ma’arif [of] because [in] alarming will make us syirik.

  7. […] a couple sites this morning stating that the Arabic book of magic Shams al-Ma’arif, which we discussed previously, is (or could be) the inspiration for the Necronomicon.  Most of the reasoning seems to be the […]

  8. ich wiil diese buch haben ich bitte sie das sie konntakt mit mir nehmen.

  9. I want Arabic version of Shams al-Ma’arif , can any one share to me , and , if you have english version , please let me share i wil reamin thankfull to you .

    Ameer Muhammad

    • any english/ French translation of Shams al-Ma’arif will be greatly appreciated

      Kind regards

      Abdeslam Diouri

    • I like have shams almaraf In Arabic can u tll me how I get this book .

      • salam,
        add me on msn and i will give u the book.

      • hello,
        i am looking since a long time for the shams
        could you send it to me?
        thanks a lot

      • sorry brother Salim this is not a reply I just could not get a comment in the usual way. I must say Growing up in a small village in Morocco my grandpa use to read and practice a lot of the medicinal info in the book, but he always warned me that if u r to read it there must be prior preperation, faith is the first. The jinn will come and do all kinds of things to u if u do not know what u r doing or lack the sufficient faith. So becarfull. When he died one of my uncles destroyed the book which really upset me because it was really old and very authentic. I went about life always thinking back to the wisdom of my grandad. My life led me to the U.S. where now I can’t read or write Arabic. I still would love at least as close to the original copy as possible because I really don’t think it is available in its entirety anymore. Wud like the arabic just to have but would love the english so I can understand, but I don’t think the majic in it works in a language other than the one it was written, still u can learn a lot. P..S. please let me know if info about a translation becomes available or if someone wants to sell me a copy of the Arabic version, it must be genuine.

    • I like have shams allmaraf can you hlp me

    • Salam ameer,
      i have the book of shamsh al maarif,and many many others(manuscript as well).
      If you add me on msn,i will give them to you:

    • hello
      i have the arabic version of the shams and i am looking for an english version.
      are you still interested?
      with kind regards
      katja kuntze

      • can you share me that arabic version?

  10. I would like the English version/translation of Shams al-Ma’arif,
    please contact me if you could help me.

  11. HI
    I would be intersested in the english translation of this book.


  12. i wont to buy shamsul maarif with englis translation thanks

  13. Hi

    Very often I came across a reference about this book “The Shams al-Ma’arif of al-Buni.
    Does any of you can help to get the English translation (with the arabic text and transliteration), for free or with a reasonable price ? Thanks in advance.
    You may send me a download link or as an PDF email attachment to bbelaba@belaba.com

    PS: Hi Wahid Azal You said you finished the English translation, since September 2008. Why didn’t you put the book in the web since then ? Can please you send me a copy ? Thanks

  14. i have a very old book of shamsul maarif al kubra in arabic,its almost 150 years old printed in egypt.i have other works of Al Buni,if its in hand of someone who fears God on his creation thats good otherwise its missuse can couse more trouble then benefit.
    The author himself has warned to be used in the proper way.It is still the top book in this field.

    • Hello Ermir

      Thanks a lot for your reply!
      I would be interested only to an English or French Translation, as I can not read and understand Arabic besides the Qur’an.
      Whenever you can across one of either translations, of chapters or the whole book, please drop me line (email: bbelaba@belaba.com ). Thanks in advance.

      Also as you are willing to help, and control both the Arabic and the English languages, you may attempt a translation. An average quality translation is better than no translation at all.

      Diazallahu Khairan

    • hi,

      kindly share me all arabic books of al bouni.


  15. i need an english copy of shams al mariv and makhzan olfaq of gazaly; how?

    • i am also looking for the shams al maarif in english, french or german. have you received any versions? i have it as well in arabic as a pdf, but don’t speak the language. with kind regards katja

  16. could someone please send me an English version of Kitab Shams al-Ma’arif on hereticba@yahoo.com

    all the best

  17. I dont think there is any English translation of the book out yet. No one has ever desired to sit down and translate it seriously.


  18. i know someone who practices Shams Al maarif but does not teach or provide assistance to others on this as she says it is strictly prohibbited to provide any part of this book and to teach anyone the correct methods of its practice unless you know that person better than you know yourself, and beleive they are pious like an angel. So, she just helps whoever asks for help in their issues and problems.

    • hi sam,
      can i get in contact with this person..?

  19. Now all our troubles are over.
    The Al-buni work is now completely translated into English and has been placed for sale. You can check it up at:


    • Only two problems: your URL to it doesn’t work, and the book has been translated into Turkish, not English.

    • Dear Mohammed

      kindly provide correct information is it Turkish or its in English

      as the pages seen in the sample it seems like it Turkish translation

      please let me know if English version is out and where i can buy in istanbul


    • they have no such thing, don’t waste your time and even click the link its just a sales pitch

  20. please i need shams almaarif alkubra of albuni
    i live in finland and it is so diffuclt to get this book here. send me please

  21. could someone please send me an french version of Kitab Shams al-Ma’arif on fluide007@live.fr
    thank you very much

  22. I’m ready to buy the book in French /English.Can be contacted at mcisko@yahoo.fr

  23. Assalam Walaikum, Please can any one give me the link to download the Shams Al Maarif from the internet in English,Arabic,etc.?

  24. hello,
    i am also looking for an english, french or german version of the shams al maarif. can anyone post it to me? thanks so much email: katja@living-interior.de

  25. This thread has been going on for years now and nothing concrete appears to have come out of it.
    A few people claim to have this or that language version of the book but I am wondering if anyone has managed to get hold of an English or French version from anyone or anywhere.
    Any assistance will be much appreciated.


  26. […] wanted to update everyone on the latest news on the Shams al-Ma’arif.  This post on my Grimoire Wish List about the book is one of the most popular on this site, with dozens of […]

  27. hi i wanted to know if this book is out in english and if it is where can i find.
    the book name is
    Shams Al-Ma’arif Al-Kubra and
    Shams Al-Ma’arif Al-Sughra
    please email me on my email thank you so much for your time and help

  28. i found the piece of al-buni’s work in arabic..although i’m not in arabic..but i read quran..it’s marvellous, through the guidance inside the book, u will pass through another dimension and meet real Guru’s/Master that teach u the real thing..but believe me the method are tough..

  29. Al-Buni could be seen as an Alexandrian but he is an Algerian, in fact … From Tlemmescen to be precise …

  30. salam,

    I have Shams Al-Ma’arif Al-Kubra in urdu but in very bad printing now i want a Arabic copy to correct the scripts if some one have this book in Arabic kindly contact.

    i have few other books but i am not sure they are famous like shams al maarif.

    kindly email me on kamran@rootcommunication.com


  31. dear sir, i have read the life of this man and worked on magic through his book it is a very good book in magic specially arabic and know that i know arabic very well which lead me to read this and use it in my daily practice of magic and saving peoples from black magic and now in pakistan i am reading it in urdo, i would like to know if anybody can get this book in real a one thousand page or any others books on magicic it will be a great help if any body would like to contact me my email is Ziaullahnoori@ymail.com, mobile no 00923455491733.

  32. knowledge is of two kinds: you either know the subject well, or you know where to find information regarding the subject matter…. now these to books keeps on popping up…
    Shams Al-Ma’arif Al-Kubra and
    Shams Al-Ma’arif Al-Sughra

    Can I gain some of this knowledge in order to assist our fellow human beings…. Forward me a link to this ocean of knowledge… Arabic / English translation…. I also have an Urdu version of Naqsi Sulaiman… Have anyone else have an Enlish translation (pdf) version to share? Contact me nizam@arch-tech.za.net

    Go Well….


  33. dear friends,
    I need this book in urdu can any body inform me where can i get this book with urdu translation any link please give me.

  34. hello, i have all the volumes of shams al-ma”aref and i am in the process of translating them in english in full, ofcourse its haram to sell them but i will upload them free for all to see, i warn all of you who are thinking of summoning the spirits (angels or demons) that they are very real and will manifest when called, when i have summoned angels they have come but before they come the demons come first to try and stop you by scaring you with their very horrible looking bodies and foul smells, also its not so easy just to call the angels, you have to fast for as long as a week and only eat vegetarian foods hardly sleep and constant prayers with protective amulets while you sit on the flying carpet made from metal, or else the jinn can snatch you away, so whoever desires to play with the shams you must be strong, i should be finished translating it in two months, inshallah.

    • Helo Runan,pls when u are thru with the Translation,pls jot this my email and send me an attached copy.The email is “ayinla4sure2@yahoo.com” .May Allah be with us all and guide us to live a pious lives

    • Sellam ronan..u describe a really good a book ‘if u play with fire u will get burned…its nice to have knowlidge but never to use in a BAD WAY..let me know did u finish translation and how to get it..allah is power and be blessed:zagrad74@gmail.com

    • Hiya


      Have you managed to finish the shams al maarif in english please send a copy

      much appreciated


    • Please help me to get a copy

  35. Hello,

    I am looking for english copy is you have one please.

  36. Helo Runan,

    Please let me know when you are going publish it. can we can what you translated so far please. just curious.

  37. I am also interested in this copy, please when you are done, I want to have a copy of this English translated version. looking forward to receive this work piece

  38. Ronan, I will be interested in a copy when you are done and am willing to give you something in return for it. May Allah guide you to achieve this noble task.

  39. Me too looking for a English or hindi version if anyone find pls send me email : parwaaz@live.com thanks

  40. Ok all…. here is an Arabic version….. No one seems to want to give to those who want to learn…. It seems to be all talk, but no walk….. http://www.scribd.com/Taran224/d/58291022-41567257-Shamsul-Maarif-Al-Kubra come join me on facebook where we are at least coming together, for the betterment as Students, to learn and do good

    Email me if there is a English version available……

  41. Asalam alaikum……i have seen all you who desperatly need this book in english, i do have it together with the arabic version, but b4 i shared it i need to know it wont be used in a bad way as i will also have the share of your sins…and other thing, i am in kenya so sending with posta or carrier is the only way, it has many pages so i cant send it u by email as i cant scan all the pages maybe if u only need some….and ofcorse when i say i will send u i meant i will only the copies not the original book as i also need it. My email is

  42. At this point, I’m closing comments on this post. There’s too many people trying to sell copies of the Shams al-Ma’arif who I can’t vouch for, and I’m not going to let visitors be scammed. That’s what the rest of the Internet is for.

    If you do have a legitimate translation of the book, get in touch with me and send me a review copy. I’ll update the post above to reflect it.

  43. […] download. Shemsu al-Ma’arif wa Lataifu al-Avarif, can be seen here (dead link) . According to this grimoire wish list, the book may also be known as Kitab Shams al-Ma’arif, and the author may also be known as […]

  44. […] of Western Astrological Magic, but it was not that important in the East, where books such as the Kitab-Shams al-Ma’arif are used far more […]

  45. […] Shams al Ma’arif, a famous grimoire with which I’ve had some interesting encounters (here, here, and here) but never […]

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