Hikam is the irregular plural of hikma , which means, in classical Arabic, two notions. First notion means the gnomic message expressed in a concise and expressive style. Hikma includes whole utterance conveying a sapiential content, represented incisively. The maxim is thus defined as an edifying dialog aimed at educating the spirits due to the preciousness of the style and the consistency of the spiritual content portrayed. The second notion of this term refers to the moral wisdom that characterizes the Hakīm, a wise man. It is a kind of deep human value endowing anyone who possesses it with a large overview, solid experience and exceptional ethical integrity.
The first ascetic Muslims preached the detachment of this lower world and called for the ultimate abode. The great Sufi Masters expressed their thoughts not only in poetry, but also in short and intense sentences. The first sentences and apophtegms go back to the Sufis of Bagdād and Kūfa. Probably because of the abundance of these texts, Abū Hayyān al-Tawhīdī promised to devote an entire book to the sentences of the Sufis of his time . Unable to keep his word, he sprinkled his Basā’ir wa-l-dahā’ir with such maxims.
The best known author who composed a such work is Ibn ’Atā’ Allāh Al eskandari (709/1309), author of al-Hikam al-’atā’iyya . Abū Madayn al-Gawt also composed 170 maxims; Chayh al-’Alāwī did the same. His hikam were commented. Sīdī Muhammad al-Madanī composed in turn 101 maxims. They were gathered by three of his disciples: sidi Muhammad Taqtaq (1987), sidi al-Tāhir ’Abd al-Hādī (2003) and sidi al-Mabrūk Ibn al-Hāğ (2000). The author himself emphasizes in 1950 that he had asked his three disciples to list these maxims in the same book.