The second edition of Hamza Yusuf’s Purification of the Heart is shortly to be printed, eight years after it’s first impression.
It has been completely re-typeset in a typeface named Quadraat which was selected as Sandala’s house style ten years ago, when Sandala brought out the Burda of Imam Busiri 3CD set and book. The first edition of Purification was published by Starlatch and not designed by myself (apart from the cover), whereas this new version is all my own work. Whilst competently done, the first version used a face called Jenson in rather too small a point size for comfort. Jenson, a classic text face was designed over 50o years ago by Nicholas Jenson, a French designer working in Venice, the California of print at the time. It’s a beautiful face with a low x-height, that is, the distance from the base line to the height of typically the letter e. This misleads typesetters who might use 12pt type thinking it has the characteristics of say Bembo at the same point size which has a much higher x-height and appears larger.
The introduction to this new edition has been updated and parts have been rewritten but otherwise it is the same apart from textual corrections and in my opinion, in its new font, easier to read. It will also be available as an e-book although I prefer the pdf version. On an ipad the pdf seems to work much better and doesn’t mangle up the typography like the e-book format tends to do (the pdf won’t be available for various reasons). The only forgiving aspect of e-books (see a previous post) is that it enables dislexics and those hard of seeing to read it better.
Redesigning the book meant I got to re-read much of the text. Generally I don’t comment much about the books I work on as I like to think of myself as just a hired gun available to all and sundry. This is not a very good policy in practice, as any designer (or proof reader, printer or bookseller come to that) has to discriminate, otherwise you find yourself working on very undesirable material. Some years ago, being somewhat green, I was bidding for a job which turned out to be the Wahabi bible, so to speak. I had no idea until it was pointed out to me.
Most of the books I work on happen to be of a pretty exalted nature and in the last 25 years I have been fortunate, you might say blessed, to work on three or four Qur’ans, numerous collections of hadith, two Burdas and seemingly countless books by some of the great scholars and mystics of Islamic history from Ibn Arabi to Ibn Ata’illah and many modern scholars, writers and poets, let alone all the corporate work for fledgling universities and publishing houses of the nascent muslim universe in the English speaking world. I never set out to do this actually. It just happened.
I have a great regard for this book, Purification of the Heart, as, like no other text, the Matharat al-Qulub of Ibn Mawlud (the Mauritanian poem on which the book is based) seems to get right behind the divine mechanisms of human behaviour and exposes the real cause of the ills of humans and society. It makes the arena of psychology seem like a plastic Lego science by comparison. Hamza’s commentary on the poem is based on a series of talks he made many years ago in Zaytuna Institute and is imbued with that crisp quality of his live discourse.
There will be a revised edition coming out next year (I am told) with additional material, and you’ll read about it first here for sure.
Visit www.sandala.org for more info.
Distribution in the UK won’t be till next year but the idea of signed copies the publishers are considering. They like the idea. There are practical considerations.