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Les maîtres soufis et leurs disciples des IIIe-Ve siècles de l'hégire (IXe-XIe)

 | 
Geneviève Gobillot
, 
Jean-Jacques Thibon

I — Réflexions sur les concepts et l'évolution historique

The Ethical-Mystical Foundations of the Master-Disciple Relationship in Formative Sufism in Ninth and Tenth Century Nīšābūr

Kenneth L. Honerkamp

Résumé

Les plus anciennes définitions du soufisme centrent ses enseignements sur l’attitude juste (adab) et les belles mœurs (aḫlāq). Toutefois de nombreux chercheurs aujourd’hui confondent l’attention que le soufisme porte à la connaissance mystique avec l’éducation basée sur le compagnonnage spirituel et l’élévation progressive acquise par le cheminement sur la voie (sulūk). Cette contribution, portant sur la période de formation du soufisme, affirme la centralité de la connaissance acquise par l’expérience. Toutefois cette dernière ne se limite pas à la dimension mystique mais est au cœur d’un processus orienté vers la transformation spirituelle, d’une manière individuelle ou collective. La clé de ce processus est la nature éthique inhérente à la méthodologie d’enseignement qui fonde la relation de maître à disciple. Les traités d’Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (412/1021) sont parmi les plus anciennes attestations disponibles de la nature éthico-mystique de la pédagogie soufie. Cet essai propose une étude de trois traités relativement peu étudiés de Sulami : Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašā’iḫ wa-ḥifẓ ḥurumāti-him, Fuṣūl fī al-taṣawwuf et Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn fī al-taṣawwuf comme exemples de « textes éducatifs » qui montrent la nature éthico-mystique de la relation maître-disciple. Ils représentent un exemple vivant de ses applications sociales et spirituelles au sein de la société musulmane.

The earliest definitions of Sufism align its teachings with correct comportment (adab) and ethical behavior (aḫlāq), yet many researchers today misinterpret Sufism’s focus on experiential knowledge as a pre-occupation with mystical experience. This paper will affirm the centrality of experiential knowledge within formative Sufism as a foundational aspect of ‘journeying’ (sulūk) in a process of individual, as well as social orientation. The key to this process is the inherently ethical nature of the teaching methodology that constituted the master-disciple relationship. The treatises of Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 412/1021) are among the earliest attestations that we have access to today to the essentially ethical-mystical nature of Sufi pedagogy. In this paper I will draw upon three relatively unstudied treatises by Sulamī that I have recently edited: Adab muǧālasat al-mašā’iḫ wa-ḥifz ḥurmāti-him, Fuṣūl fī al-taṣawwuf and Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn as examples of ‘teaching texts’ that exemplify the ethical-mystical nature of the master-disciple relationship, its active modalities and its socio-religious implications to Muslim society.

إن الناظر في تعاريف التصوف قديماً يجد أنها كانت تعتمد على: الأدب والأخلاق. الآن كثيراً من الباحثين أسائوا تفسير التصوف ظانين أنه يركز على التجربة الروحية لا على التربية المبنية على الصحبة والترقية السلوكية. هذا البحث سوف يأكد صحة وتأثير الصحبة في آداب المريد ودورها في التربية والسلوك على المستوى الفردي والاجتماعي.ومن ثم فإن مفتاح هذا الأمر هو طبيعة العلاقة الأخلاقية المتأصلة في أسلوب وطرق تعليم الأخلاق بين الشيخ والمريد. رسائل أبي عبدالرحمن السلمي من أقدم الرسائل التي بين أيدينا في التربية الأخلاقية السلوكية. في هذا البحث سوف اشرح ثلاث رسائل لأبي عبدالرحمن السلمي قد قمت بتحقيقها مؤخراً وعناوينها هي: «أدب مجالسات المشايخ وحفظ حرماتهم» و«فصول في التصوف» و«درجات الصادقين» كمثال حقيقي يعبر عن طبيعة الأدب والأخلاق في العلاقة بين الشيخ والمريد. مثالٌ حي وتطبيقات اجتماعية روحية داخل المجتمع المسلم.

Texte intégral

Sufism is ethical conduct

whoever surpasses you in ethical conduct

surpasses you in Sufism

Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Kattānī (223/838)

Introduction

1Ethical discourse, as I will be using the term in this paper, is the process in which the essential ideals and values of a community become integrated into the cloth of its social and communal identity. As discourse it is the shared heritage of all the participants of a given social matrix or community; some participants of course, taking a more active role in it than others. From this perspective I believe one could say that ethical discourse, founded in Islam’s textual sources, the Qurʾān and the custom and usage of the Prophet, or Sunna as narrated in the body of hadith literature, have been the central thread of the intellectual heritage of the Muslim world for over fourteen centuries.

  • 1 The educational implications of the study of Islamic law and the social impact of the institutional (...)
  • 2 I owe many thanks to Elias Jamal of Amherst College for bringing this issue to my attention in a pa (...)

2Many researchers today assume that ethics, within Islamic scholarly discourse, was the domain of the jurists and theologians that dominated the period of the formation of the legal and theological schools and the heritage of those jurists and theologians that followed them 1. An in-depth study however of the textual heritage of Islamic legal and theological discourse, as well as the secondary material written on the subject by later scholars and researchers in both the East and the West, gives us little evidence of this actually being the case. 2 This observation does not include the day-to-day reality of communal life that only those afforded the opportunity to live in a Muslim community for an extended time can testify to. This lack of textual and socio-historical evidence gives rise to the question:

How did early Islamic society whose cultural heritage was based upon the Qurʾān and Sunna integrate the essential ideals and values provided by these sources into its social and communal identity?

  • 3 Richard Bulliet’s, The Partricians of Nishapur: A Study in Medieval Islamic Social History (Cambrid (...)
  • 4 I owe a debt of gratitude to Sara Sviri for my use of the term, ‘ethical-mystical’ in this paper. D (...)
  • 5 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ wa-ḥifẓ ḥurmāti-him, ed. K. Honerkamp, in Ma‘ārif, vol. (...)
  • 6 As yet unpublished, the single manuscript that I have encountered is from the Ben Yousouf Library i (...)
  • 7 Both Brocklemann (Supplement 1-955; GAL 1-219) and Ritter (Oriens, vol. 7, 1954; p. 399) have menti (...)
  • 8 Sufism in ninth and tenth century Nīšābūr has been the topic of several major journal articles. See (...)

3This paper is a response to this question by investigating the master-disciple relationship as the pedagogic methodology that distinguishes Sufism from the other areas of traditional Islamic discourse such as law and theology in the Muslim world. I have chosen the city of Nīšābūr 3 in Ḫurāsān of the ninth and tenth centuries because it was within the circles of the mašāyiḫ, or Sufi masters of Nīšābūr that the ethical consequences of the master-disciple relationship evolved into the archetype of a process of mediated surrender to God that was held to lead to a state of unmediated surrender to God. In Nīšābūr unmediated surrender to God became idealized as the active principle within the process of spiritual orientation that was known as traveling the path (sulūk). Towards elucidating the practical facets of this relationship, its inherently ethical-mystical 4 nature, and the manner in which it resonated on the individual and communal level I have draw upon three relatively unstudied treatises by Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 412-1021). Adab muǧālasat al-mašā’iḫ wa-ḥifẓ ḥurmāti-him 5, Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf 6, and Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn 7. All these treatises are teaching texts. They are among the earliest textual examples we have of the ethical-mystical discourse that comprised the methodology of spiritual direction that made Nīšābūr, during the period under discussion, the center of formative Sufism that it is known for today within scholarly circles 8.

The Sufic Roots of Islamic Ethical-Mystical Discourse

  • 9 Adab is a term that has been used with a wide range of meanings, among them: correct beliefs, rules (...)
  • 10 See T. Frank, “Tasawwuf is . . .”; On a Type of Mystical Aphorism”, Journal of the American Orienta (...)
  • 11 Al-Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyya, ed. Nūr al-Dīn Šurayba (Cairo: Maktaba al-Ḫānajī, 1969), 167.
  • 12 Al-Qušayrī, al-Risālat al-qušayriyya, ed. Maʿrūf Zurayq and ʿAlī ʿAbd al-Maǧīd Baltaǧī (Beirut: Dār (...)
  • 13 Al-Ṭūsī, Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāǧ, al-Luma‘, ed. ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm Maḥmūd and Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Bāqī Surūr (Cairo: (...)
  • 14 Abū Nu‘aym al-Iṣfahānī, Ḥilyat al-awliyāʾ (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1997), 55.

4The earliest definitions of Sufism that have come down to us align the teachings of Sufism with correct comportment (adab9 and ethical conduct (aḫlāq10. Many of the spiritual mentors of the formative period defined Sufism as aḫlāq. Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Nūrī (d. 295-908) said, “Sufism is neither formalized practices (rusūm) nor acquired sciences (ʿulūm); rather, it is ethical conduct (aḫlāq11.” Or as in the oft-quoted statement of Muḥammad b. Alī al-Kattānī (d. 223-838), “Sufism is correct comportment (adab). Whoever surpasses you in correct comportment surpasses you in Sufism 12.” Muḥammad b. Alī al-Qassāb, among the mentors of al-Ǧunayd (d. 298-910), defined Sufism in the following terms “Sufism consists of noble conduct that is made manifest at a noble moment on the part of a noble person among a noble folk 13.” Al-Ǧunayd himself, renowned as the Master of the Folk of the Sufi Path, portrayed Sufism as a process of purification that in the following citation he likened to a journey. He is reported to have said : “Sufism is departure from base character and arrival to exalted character 14.” Hamdūn al-Qaṣṣār of Nīšābūr (d. 271/884) defined Sufism as adab and warned his disciple of the grave consequences that derive from a lack thereof. He said :

  • 15 Al-Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyya, 119.

Sufism is made up entirely of correct comportment (ādāb); for each moment there is correct comportment, for each spiritual station (maqām) there is correct comportment. Whoever is steadfast in maintaining the correct comportment of each moment, will attain the degree of spiritual excellence, and whoever neglects correct comportment, is far from that which he imagines [himself] near, and cast out from where he imagines he has found acceptance 15.

  • 16 For more on the life of Ibn ʿAǧība, see Aḥmed Ibn ʿAǧība, The Autobiography (Fahrasa) of a Moroccan (...)
  • 17 Aḥmad b. ʿAǧība, Mi‘rāǧ al-tašawwuf ilā ḥaqāʾiq al-taṣawwuf, in Kitāb šarḥ ṣalāt al-quṭb Ibn Mašīš, (...)

5This focus on ethical conduct as the guiding principle behind Sufi pedagogic methodology has continued to resonate throughout the Muslim world until much later times. As recently as the nineteenth century the Moroccan scholar Aḥmad b. ‘Aǧība (1746-1809) 16 defined Sufism as “The science of learning the manner of journeying (sulūk) towards the presence of the King of kings, or [one could say] purification the inward from base tendencies and its beautification with exalted character traits 17”.

6Narrations like those cited above dispel the general opinion that Sufism is pre-occupied with metaphysics and mystical experience. These examples testify to the Sufi perspective that the experiential facet of human existence is most meaningful when it is understood within a context of individual orientation or a process of spiritual education. Within this educative process (adab) and ethical attitudes (aḫlāq) constituted a normative code of behavior that led to the intimate knowledge of Divine reality. Sufism teaches that spiritual transformation is a process inherent to the human state; it is often however, within any given individual only a latent or virtual possibility. From an Islamic perspective, participation in this process is an assumed function of religious life. Historically speaking, Sufism has been a key element in the preservation over the centuries, of the integral unity of the cultural ideals and ethical values that distinguish Islamic societies from other faith traditions. Central to the preservation of these ideals has been the core teachings of adab and aḫlāq as exemplified by the living models of Sufi ethical-mystical discourse, the mentors of the Sufi path: the mašāyiḫ. The following citation from the introduction to Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī’s, Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ wa-ḥifẓ ḥurmāti-him reflects Sulamī’s vision of Sufism as an ethically oriented system that due to its ethical-mystical orientation is distinctive from other paths.

  • 18 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ: 2, 154.

The Sufis (al-mutaṣawwifa) are set apart [from others] in their states, comportment (ādāb), and ethical conduct (aḫlāq) by their withdrawal from secondary causes and their divestment of them, their solitude and intimate discourse with God (al-Ḥaqq) through detachment from all but Him. They exercise ethical character with all created beings, they are steadfast in conduct that accords with the Šarīʿah, and they uphold the esteem of the mentors (al-mašāyiḫ) of the path and respect the concerns of their brothers. They refrain from taking revenge and return in each moment and state to that which is mandatory in accordance with the agreed upon tenets of the religious sciences (ẓāhir al-ʿilm18.

  • 19 . Aḥmad b. ‘Aǧība, Kitāb šarḥ ṣalāt al-quṭb Ibn Mašīš, 29-30.

7The Arabic term for spirit, the substantial or essential aspect of the human being, is rūḥ. The terms Rūḥānīya or rūḥānīyāt refer to the teachings dealing most directly with the spirit. From the Sufi perspective the rūḥ defines the human state on the one hand, and is the materia prima or essential substance of the process of spiritual transformation on the other. The Sufis refer to this process of spiritual orientation as the path along which the journeyer/seeker passes through various states, stages or domains of knowledge of God as he encounters more and more subtle states of the rūḥ. Ibn ‘Aǧība, for example, wrote in his commentary on the Ṣalāt al-Mašīšīya that “The rūḥ as long as it is engrossed in ignorance (ġafla) is named the ego-self (nafs) and will never access the divine presence 19”. In this passage he contrasts journeying, and the seeker’s heightened awareness of the unity inherent to the diversity within creation with the axial role of the rūḥ within the process of spiritual education. For Ibn ‘Aǧība this process is an enlivening of the rūḥ, or in other words, a reorientation of the individual’s ego-self to its true nature until it perceives the phenomenal world, not as a discrete entity separate from God, but as a continuum of divine presences, or centers of divine manifestation. This process of “awakening the of rūḥ” was founded upon the ethical-mystical nature of Sufi pedagogic methodology that from the earliest times was portrayed as a complimentary interplay between outward conduct, inner spiritual states, and divine attraction.

8In the following passage from Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf al-Sulamī eloquently contextualizes the reciprocal relationship of divine attraction as it relates to inner states and outward conduct. This passage is of particular interest in that it delineates the ethical-mystical aspects of the master-disciple relationship as a means of understanding what intimate knowledge of the Divine (maʿrifa) actually comprised according to al-Sulamī and his contemporaries. He writes:

  • 20 Al-Sulamī, Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf, fol. 206a.

Divine attraction in eternity (al-azal), favorable regard [from God] and election brings God’s servant to the realities of intimate knowledge of the Divine; this is the truth of the matter. Then, [let it be said that] maʿrifa has degrees and distinguishing characteristics. The first being holding Divine reality (al-ḥaqīqa) in high esteem, guarding the Šarīʿah, acting on excellent inner attitudes (aḫlāq ḥasana), shunning everything, outwardly or inwardly, that distances one from the Known (al-maʿrūf), holding in high esteem that which God has exalted, distaining that which God has made disdainful, honoring God’s friends, scorning His enemies, holding dear and shunning for His sake, and constancy in certainty, as it is the surest of paths to maʿrifa. For certainty renders the servant independent of his habitual means and brings him to the gardens of divine truths. Upon attaining to knowledge of the Divine and being established therein the servant’s knowledge is effaced in the Known; he no longer perceives any attribute or state that he ascribes to himself; rather his are the attributes that have been attributed to him by the Known, without ever having the need to regard his own acts, states or attributes. He is emptied of his outward forms and his attributes. He witnesses created beings as from the eye of effacement, and perceives creation from the eye of compassion and mercy. He finds excuses for them, for he regards them through God not through himself; though Him he is compassionate towards them; not through his own inclination. You thus see him at all times in whatever exalted state he may reside helping the weak, providing succor to those in desperate straits, and alleviating the distress of the afflicted. There remains in him neither rude behavior nor harshness, nor does he blame anyone. God has clothed him in garments of compassion and mercy; he is thus more merciful to God’s creatures than they are among themselves. He holds the impoverished in high regard, shows compassion to the wealthy, prays for [guidance for] the disobedient, and asks God’s favors for the obedient. Thus he remains constant until his appointed time 20.

9Spirituality and its states as understood within the context of Sufi teachings was a direct function of the process of transformation or reorientation of the ego-self. The teachers of the formative period of Sufism believed that the degree of journeyer’s commitment to this process of orientation was the degree of his commitment to the ethical-mystical foundations of Islamic spirituality itself. The master/disciple relationship thus came to play a dual role. On the one hand it defined, within the context of formative Sufism, the spiritual pedagogy of the mentors themselves, and on the other it reflected a social role by providing the model that best exemplified the ethical-mystical principles embodied in the Qurʾān and Sunna that for earlier generations had been an integral part of community life but that, with the passage of time and the growth of the community, had become the distant ideals of better times. The master/disciple relationship thus provided the mentors and teachers that by example and education were able to restore, not only their disciples, but their communities as well to rectitude when, with the passage of time, they had lost touch with the Quranic and Prophetic models. This role earned them the reverence (ḥurma) in which they were held in the traditional Islamic world. Their very presence in the community was considered to be protective and a source of hope in the face of adversity. Any lack of esteem for them or their absence from any given community was a sign of that community having turned away from the values that had defined Islamic society from the earliest times.

  • 21 When ‘Ā’iša was asked about the ethical conduct of the Prophet, she responded : “The ethical conduc (...)
  • 22 For a linguistic study of the term walāya and its derivatives as well as an in-depth discussion on (...)

10More specifically however in order to understand the manner in which the Qurʾān and Sunna resonated within the dual role of the master/disciple relationship in formative Sufism it is necessary to gain an insight into the modalities of spirituality afforded us by the examples of the masters themselves and their teachings. These modalities resonate in the men and women, who based upon Quranic terminology, are the friends of God or the awliyā’ Allāh. Their lives, their teachings and wisdom traditions have been preserved through the ages in the seminal works of Sufism as well as in the wealth of oral traditions that we find everywhere in the Muslim world. For as the Prophet, through his ethical conduct, exemplified the Qurʾān 21 in such a manner that he represented the foremost example for his community, these friends of God within their communities represented the highest aspirations and ideals of the Quranic and Prophetic models. The hermeneutic role of the awliyāʾ Allāh has long exemplified the ethical-mystical roots of Islamic mysticism 22 and served as a living testimony to the centrality of the ethical-mystical principles to the process of spiritual orientation and ultimately the intimate knowledge of God.

11In Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ al-Sulamī emphasizes that upholding the sense of ḥurma of the awliyā’ is an active principle in the process of spiritual transformation. In this treatise he treats as well the ontological foundations of the reverence due God’s friends. His approach however is far from being pietistic. For al-Sulamī the concept of ḥurma is based upon an ontological vision of a multi-faceted hierarchy of divine presences. These varying manifestations of the divine order reflect the modes of human association with God on multiple levels. Reverence for the masters among the awliyā’ is a reflection of reverence for the Prophet and reverence for the Prophet is reverence for God; therefore whoever fails to uphold the reverence due the awliyā’ has failed to uphold the reverence due God. He then elucidates the ontological repercussions of upholding the reverence of the mašāyiḫ and the manner in which this principle resonates upon the ethical orientation of the disciple. He explains that hurmat al-mašāyiḫ is but a necessary aspect of the ḥurma of all of God’s creation. In this same manner the principle of upholding the reverence of the mašāyiḫ actively resonates within the ethical orientation of the community as a whole. Outlining this basic precept concerning the upholding the reverence of the mašāyiḫ he writes:

  • 23 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ: 3:154.

The awliyā’ upon the face of the earth are the successors (ḫulafā’) of the messengers and prophets. Whoever forsakes the reverence due them will be deprived of the reverence that accrues from following the examples of the Prophets – may the peace and blessings of God be upon them all. When God deems one of his servants fit for His service he nourishes him with safekeeping of the reverence of the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. No one will ever attain to the safekeeping of his [the Prophet’s] reverence until he safeguards the reverence of his successors among the awliyā’ of the community (al-umma) and the pious scholars and learns correct comportment (adab) by [the example of] their comportment and ethical conduct (aḫlāq) by [the example of] of their ethical conduct until he attains the blessings of their regard and compassion. He is then elevated to the intimate knowledge of the reverence of the Prophet- may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. Then through all that has gone before he reaches the state wherein he keeps careful watch over each of his moments as he accomplishes the service of his Lord 23.

12Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ is a clear exposition of the principles that underlie the master/disciple relationship. It stresses that inward and outward compliance with the ethical foundations of Islamic society, the Qurʾān and the Sunna, are the keys to the direct and intimate knowledge of divine reality. In another treatise, Daraǧāt al-Ṣādiqīn (Stations of the Righteous), al- Sulamī affirms the foundational aspect of these two sources and their relationship to the attainment of intimate knowledge of God. He assures the disciple that there is no path without the Qurʾān and the Sunna of the Prophet, he writes:

  • 24 Al-Sulamī, Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, 18:127. This passage is missing in Tisʿat kutub.

There can be no successful completion of the journey through the spiritual stations without a propitious beginning. He who has not founded his aspirant’s journey upon the Qurʾān and the Traditions of the Prophet (al-kitāb wa-l-sunna) will attain nothing of knowledge of God 24.

13The master/disciple model for al-Sulamī however goes beyond the prescriptive nature that is often associated with šarīʿah-oriented modes of conduct. The key terms that al-Sulamī repeatedly alludes to in his works dedicated to journeyers on the path are adab and aḫlāq. Submission to the Qurʾān and Sunna was but one modality of the striving that led to the state of perfect sincerity in servanthood, the state that most perfectly resonated with intimate knowledge of the divine. Adab and aḫlāq were the two other modalities through which one might attain to perfect servanthood. Adab, on one level meant perfecting the form of servanthood outwardly as ethical conduct; aḫlaq on the other was a means of perfecting sincerity inwardly, in the form of ethical attitudes or “good character traits”. Adab and aḫlāq were for al-Sulamī the active principles of the process of spiritual transformation. In a sense they provided the journeyer with a staff on his journey to intimate knowledge of God. In the following citation from Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, al-Sulamī stressed the role of the inward and outward facets of adab and aḫlāq:

  • 25 Al-Sulamī, Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 3:120; Tisʿat kutub, 380.

The comportment (ādāb) which brought them to this [initial] station [on the path] and this degree consists of their practicing upon themselves various spiritual exercises; having begun before this with true repentance, perfect detachment, turning from all other than God, from the world and its occupants, the abandonment of all they own, distancing themselves from their personal inclinations, departure upon long journeys, denial of outward passionate desires, constant watchfulness over their inner mysteries, deference towards the masters of the Path, service to brethren and friends, giving preference to others over themselves in worldly goods, person and spirit, perseverance in [their] efforts, and regarding all their actions or states that may arise from them inwardly or outwardly with contempt and disdain 25.

14Both adab and aḫlāq as inner dimensions of ethical conduct imparted the affective centers of individual cognition with normative standards of self-evaluation that when practically applied became the key elements in the master-disciple relationship. In his Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ al-Sulamī gives expression to the central role both these elements play in the master/disciple relationship. He writes:

  • 26 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ, 17:164.

The ādāb of the mašāyiḫ and great ones [akābir] is a result of his [the Prophet’s] adab and their aḫlāq accords with his aḫlāq. Whoever follows the example of their aḫlāq and learns their adab has assimilated the aḫlāq and learned the adab of the Messenger – May the peace and blessings of God be upon him. How would a servant attain to the highest light having squandered the lesser 26?

15Ḥurma however is not, in al-Sulamī’s scheme due to God, the prophets and friends of God alone. In Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ he clearly affirms that ḥurma is due all God’s creatures. He writes:

  • 27 Ibid. 7:159.

When a servant has come to realize a sense of ḥurma and service towards his brothers and companions this makes him an heir with its blessings to upholding the reverence for the pious of the community (ṣāliḥīn), whom he [then] serves and frequents wherein their hearts incline towards him. When he has realized the ḥurma due the pious of the community he inherits their blessings and he is bequeathed the reverence and service due to the awliyā’ and they accept him. When he has realized this [station] he becomes an heir through their blessings to the Sunna of the Purified One, al-Muṣṭafā, both outwardly and inwardly. When he has conformed to the Sunna he is bequeathed sincerity (iḫlāṣ) in the service of his Lord and he becomes sincere in His service. When he becomes sincere in the service of his Lord, God – Most Exalted – causes the freemen of His own creation to serve him and he is rendered service by disciples and the righteous 27

16Another modality of the ethical-mystical foundations of the master/disciple relationship was service to others. Examples of service as ethical conduct abound in al-Sulamī’s work, for example. When Abū Ḥafṣ (270/883) was asked about the precepts of and the obligations inherent upon one who was following the spiritual path he said:

  • 28 Al-Sulamī, Zalal al-fuqarāʾ, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 33:143; Tisʿat kutub, 452.

[The precepts of faqr and its obligations are] upholding the veneration of the masters [of the path], right companionship with one’s brothers, counseling the young, while accepting counsel from elders, eschewing contention over sustenance, constancy in giving precedence [to others], the avoidance of accruing [worldly goods], [while still] associating with those not in one’s [social or spiritual] rank, and assisting others in religious and mundane affairs 28.

  • 29 Abū Abdallāh ibn al-Ǧallāʾ was born in Baghdad and later lived in Damascus. He was among the illust (...)

17Another modality of the ethical-mystical foundations of the master/disciple relationship was compassion towards others. In the following citation Abū ʿAbdallāh b. al-Ǧallāʾ (306/918) 29 points out that the most direct result of ethical conduct upon the journeyer’s inner affective attributes it that it endows his inward attitudes towards and his evaluation of others with compassion.

  • 30 Al-Sulamī, Zalal al-fuqarā’, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 14:135, Tisʿat kutub, 440.

When a servant has realized the state of true faqr, he dons the raiment of contentment, and in so doing increases his compassion for others, such that he conceals their faults, prays for them and shows them mercy 30.

18For al-Sulamī the most essential modality upon which ethical conduct was based was disdain for the ego-self (nafs). Any shortcoming to upholding the ḥurmat Allah and all this implies within the multi-faceted hierarchy of divine presences, for al-Sulamī, originated in the ego-self or the nafs. He writes:

  • 31 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ, 5:158.

The origin of all disdain (tahāwwun) for the ḥurmat Allāh is recognition of the ego-self and its aggrandizement, love of leadership and craving acceptance from the generality until one claims a state [whose realities] he is devoid of 31.

19The modality that best facilitated an attitude of distain for the ego-self while providing an affirmative foundation upon which all of the ethical-mystical attitudes, so central to the master/disciple relationship, could manifest themselves was gratitude (šukr). In the following citation from Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf, al-Sulamī elucidates the multiple spiritual modalities that resonate within the central attitude of gratitude and the manner in which they manifest themselves, particularly as they relate to disdain for the ego-self. He writes:

Gratitude (šukr) is comprised of multiple modalities (wuǧūh) and the grateful themselves are of differing degrees. There is gratitude of the heart, which constitutes contentment in the face of divine decree, sincerity in one’s dealings with others, compassion for all creation, and continual love of God [through a] constant desire to know Him intimately, finding one’s solace in Him, and knowing Him as the true bestower of grace (al-munʿim); all the while admitting one’s inability to attain to true gratitude.

[Then there is] gratitude of one’s body, which constitutes obedience and avoidance of any offence against ethical principles (muḫālafāt), safeguarding one’s bodily members [from sinful acts], ordaining good actions, forbidding wrongdoing, and patience in the face of adversity. [This also comprises] bearing the afflictions of God’s creature and preventing the ego-self from it objects of desire. Of this [mode of gratitude] God – Most Exalted – spoke: Labor, O People of David in gratitude [Sabāʾ:13]; the labor of gratitude is the portion of the body, the knowledge of gratitude is the portion of the heart and remembrance of gratitude is the portion of the tongue; then He spoke: and few among my servants are those who are truly grateful [Sabāʾ:13]. This means that few among my servants see [their own] gratitude or [their] acting in a grateful manner as being a grace emanating from God.

  • 32 Abū Bakr al-Wāsiṭī (320/932) was among the earliest disciples of al-Ǧunayd and Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Nūr (...)
  • 33 Al-Sulamī, Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf , fol. 212 a.

The truth (ḥaqīqa) of gratitude is one’s perception of his inability to act in a manner that reflects the slightest gratitude. Al-Wāsiṭī (320/932) 32 said: “Whoever is capable of gratitude is capable of providing a recompense.” For gratitude is incumbent upon a servant who has been grateful towards his lord and whose lord has in turn been grateful to him, if he were to perceive his own gratitude he may believe that he possesses some capability of recompensing his lord’s favor [towards him]. Were he, however, to see gratitude [itself] as a emanating from God, he would perceive his own inability to attain anything of the stations of gratitude. How could his gratitude in any manner recompense His blessings when His blessings are an essential element of every breath. 33

20Among the singular aspects of Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ are the passages in which al-Sulamī delineates in the most specific fashion the spiritual modalities mentioned he writes of in Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf as they reflect the ethical-mystical values that resonate in the master-disciple relationship. These modalities came to represent the ethical values and spiritual ideals of Islamic societies, past and present. The following passage, despite its length, is as indicative of al-Sulamī’s masterly ability with the language of the folk (kalām al-qawm) as it is of his station as a master and exemplar of the formative period of Sufism in his own right. In the following passage he encourages the disciple to strive and purify his intention towards his master and to render sound his commitment to holding him in high esteem. He then enumerates the multiple benefits to be gained though companionship with the masters of the path. He writes in the conclusion of Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ:

  • 34 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ, 15:163.

For indeed he who attains to these traits [of pure intention and veneration of his master] a single allusion of his master’s knowledge will suffice him and of his wisdom the merest fragrance [will be enough]. Whoever is soundly founded in the service of the mašāyiḫ and steadfast in their veneration God will grant magnanimity (raḥaba) in the place of longing (raġba); repentance in the place of transgression; satisfaction in the place of craving; patience in the place of dread, contentment in the place of bitterness; humility in the place of pride; deference in the place of abasement; certainty in the place of doubt; acceptance in the place of denial; approval in the place of rejection; strength in the place of weakness; detachment from the mundane world in the place of love for it and its occupants; peace in the place of agitation; nobility in the place of villainy. [He be traded] establishment in God for effacement from his attributes and states; animation for of lassitude; attentiveness for unawareness; trust in God for self-direction; supplication for begging; harmony for division; love for aversion; collectedness for dispersion, until degrees that know no end 34.

21The master is the key to the teachings he transmits, he is a sign of divine mercy for the disciples, the journeyers of the path. In the following passage from Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, al-Sulamī accents this aspect of mercy as he describes the role of the saint exemplar comparing his role in relationship to his disciples to the role of scholars of the Law in relationship to the generality of the believers, he writes:

  • 35 Al-Sulamī, Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 17:126-127; missing from Tisʿat kutub.

He [God] may reveal him to people as an example and a refuge to which spiritual aspirants might turn in their quest of Him (God). In this He permits the outward aspect [of the servant] to turn towards mankind as a mercy from Him to them. For were the saint’s knowledge, character and spiritual disciplines lost to them [referring to the aspirants], they would stray in their endeavor and their quest and fall into illusion. By the lights of those exemplars, their path is illuminated and by their counsel they are rightly guided on their path to their goal. [Those among the saints who are returned to live with people] are the mentors of the aspirants of divine reality. They are the masters of hearts and lofty spiritual degrees. They are reference points for the travelers of the path, in them they find a guiding light and refuge. In the same manner the generality of believers find a refuge in questions of law with the jurists 35.

22The following passage from Fuṣūl fī taṣawwuf is among the earliest textual expositions of the ethical-mystical nature of the master-disciple relationship as it relates to the attainment to the stations of intimate knowledge of Divine reality that I have encuntered. In this passage al-Sulamī explains that the stations of knowledge are facets of ethical conduct (muʿāmalāt) as it relates to the Divine. This essential principle of the Sufi pedagogy is a reoccurring theme that resonates like a bell from the master-disciple relationship. The particularity of this passage is the clarity of al-Sulamī’s exposition and the manner in which he links key terms such as sincerity (iḫlāṣ), certainty (yaqīn), the heart (qalb), belief (imān), spiritual excellence (iḥsān), and divine witnessing (mušāhada) to the ethical-mystical foundations of the spiritual journey. As this passage serves as an overall summary of the teachings of al-Sulamī regarding the ethical-mystical nature of the master-disciple relationship I believe it is fitting that we conclude this paper in the words of al-Sulamī himself:

The soundness of the stations of those who have attained to the spiritual stations through their ethical conduct with God – Most High – is that their bodily members are constantly in motion in His service and in accord with His commands to the extent of their abilities. For God – the Exalted – spoke: Be mindful of God to the extent you are capable [al-Taġābun : 16]. Whoever, then should apply his abilities to other than being mindful of God has squandered its equivalent [in worthy deeds]. Their hearts through untainted sincerity look onto that which flows from their bodily members so that pretension (riyāʾ) has no means of manifesting itself; for the heart commands the bodily members and under its direction they are established in rectitude. Should the heart grow distracted (ġafala) the bodily members fall into blameworthy conduct (sūʾ al-adab); to which God – the Exalted – spoke: Indeed in that is a reminder for one possessed of a heart [Qāf: 37]; meaning a heart present with God that harvests from Him fruits of divine knowledge (fawāʾid) that flood over the bodily members. The Prophet – May the peace and blessings of God be upon him – said: “Within the body there is a piece of flesh, when it is sound the whole body is sound, know well, it is the heart.”

The heart is the specific domain of God’s influence and His regard. The initial stages of the aspirant’s journey are [spent] in conforming to God’s commands in accordance to the Sunna, then he ceases not his striving towards sincerity until he perfects his conformity with God’s commands; thus God – the Exalted – spoke: They were only commended to serve and worship God sincerely [al-Bayyina: 5]. When he has attained sincerity in his actions, his inner secret (sirr) is purified of association of other than God with God (širk); [association] either hidden and manifest; God – the Exalted – spoke: He does not associate in his Lord’s service and worship anyone [al-Kahf: 110]. The Prophet said, reporting from his Lord – the Exalted – “Whoever accomplishes an act associate in it anyone other than myself, [let him know] that he is not of me.” This is for one who has associated other than God with God.

  • 36 Al-Sulamī, Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf , fol. 221 a.

Then when he has made his actions sincere and purified his inner secret, the light of certainty is bestowed upon him and by its light he perceives the destinations and origins of Divine decree and he transverses the spiritual states as one well founded in them would and from the degree of true belief (ḥaqīqat al-imān) he ascends to the Station of Iḥsān. Thus in this state he subsists in the perception of the Divine (al-mušāhada), neither distractions nor flaws [effect his state]. The domain of al-mušāhada and proximity causes the attributes of the servants to fall away; only those who are untouched by inconstancy (talawwun) and imperfection (ʿilal) merit the carpet (bisāṭ) of Divine proximity. 36

Summary

  • 37 J. Stratton Hawley, in Saints and Virtues, ed. John Stratton Hawlew (Los Angeles:University of Cali (...)

23In his introduction to Saints and Virtues, John Stratton Hawley wrote : “Within each religion a powerful body of tradition emphasizes not codes but stories, not precepts but personalities, not lectures but lives 37.” Sufism within the Islamic context is this body of tradition. The earliest definitions of Sufism identify its developing pedagogic methodology within an ethical-mystical discourse founded upon the developing trends of interpretation of the Qurʾān and Sunna. The writings of formative Sufism articulate clearly that this development takes place within a context of individual reorientation or a process of spiritual transformation. Transformation and change are an inherent process to the human state, within the Islamic context however, some participation in this process is generally assumed to be a necessary facet of religious life. The mentors and exemplars of Sufism, as interpreters of the Quranic and Prophetic models, have from the earliest times, provided their communities with practical guidance. The seminal works of formative Sufism dealt with the master/disciple relationship but few if any offer us as insightful and exacting a vision of the master-disciple relationship, its foundations, its ontology, and its influence on society as a whole than al-Sulamī’s Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ wa-ḥifẓ ḥurmāti-him.

24Islamic ethical-mystical discourse and the spiritual modalities exemplified in the master/disciple relationship have defined the values and ideals of Islamic society from the earliest days of the community. The most dynamic aspect of Islamic spirituality is the process of individual transformation or personal reorientation of the ego-self that accords with the foundational sources of the tradition. The degree to which a person was a participant in this process was reflected in the degree to which they were contributing to the ethical discourse that was the mainstay of this process and in turn of Islamic society itself. The aspirations of Islamic society from its outset in seventh century Arabia centered on the establishment of an exemplary community that commanded the good and forbade evil, ethical conduct was the active principle that animated this society. Sufism through its master/disciple relationship has provided Islamic society for over a thousand years with the axis around which the process of ethical-mystical orientation, founded upon a normative code of conduct and inner attitudes could be actualized on both the individual and communal levels.

Postscript

25Ethics has been the central thread of traditional scholarly discourse in the Muslim world for over fourteen centuries. This discourse has not been specifically centered in any one region or time period, rather it has been the shared heritage of the multi-faceted cultures that make up the Muslim world. It is not, however the centuries of scholarly discourse that lend ethical discourse its relevance today. We live in a time when the ethical values that have traditionally been the foundation stones of our societies have come under question. In the eyes of many these values are in need of re-evaluation. Globalization, political activism and radical religious ideologies have forced upon many people today a view of the world in which the only ethical options offered are a choice between secular humanism or a pragmatic ethics of survival. The rhetoric of the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ in has almost overwhelmed this discourse until the spiritual roots that have traditionally defined the ethical foundations of social and cultural interaction seem unrealistic and childish. Many people question whether any religious tradition meets the needs of today’s diverse and changing global culture. This dilemma is not unique to one faith tradition over another, or to one historical period over another. Given, however, the clear-cut nature of the framework from which Islamic culture has traditionally drawn its ethical inspiration, i.e., the Quran and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, that such a dilemma should be arise within the Muslim community raises a the following question.

“How can a modern society whose cultural heritage springs from Islamic sources reintegrate the essential ideals and values provided by these sources into its on-going ethical discourse, and in so doing, reaffirm the cultural imprint that has long been so central to its identity on both an individual and national basis?”

26The response to this question is a perquisite to attempting any assessment of the security and economic challenges that faces us today. I believe that making the works of Sufism accessible to a broader reading-public could have a positive influence in the present discourse. This is the intention here in my choice of Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ and Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf.

Notes

1 The educational implications of the study of Islamic law and the social impact of the institutionalization of these legal and theological schools in the madrasa that arose across the Islamic world has been studied in depth by George Makdisi and others. See George Makdisi, Rise of the Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1981) and Law and Education in Medieval Islam: Studies in Memory of Professor George Makdisi, ed. Joseph E. Lowry, Devin J. Stewart, and Shawkat M. Toorawa (London: Gibb Momorial Trust, 2004).

2 I owe many thanks to Elias Jamal of Amherst College for bringing this issue to my attention in a paper he presented at the AAR National Conference in Philadelphia, 2005. His paper is entitled “Wise Servants and Virtuous Kings: Sufi Writings as a Source of Islamic Ethics.” I am not aware whether the paper has been published yet or not.

3 Richard Bulliet’s, The Partricians of Nishapur: A Study in Medieval Islamic Social History (Cambridge, Mass, 1972) provides an in-depth introduction to the foundation of and the life and times of Nīšābūr based upon the biographical dictionaries of the leading families of that city.

4 I owe a debt of gratitude to Sara Sviri for my use of the term, ‘ethical-mystical’ in this paper. During discussions at the conference, “Maîtres et disciples dans le soufisme des iiie et ive siècles de l’Hégire,” I heard her use this term for the first time and it resonated perfectly with my own concept of what was most central to the master-disciple relationship, the subject of this paper. See her article “The Early Mystical Schools of Baghdad and Nīshapūr: In Search of Ibn Munāzil,” in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 30, (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: 2005), 458.

5 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ wa-ḥifẓ ḥurmāti-him, ed. K. Honerkamp, in Ma‘ārif, vol. 20, number 2 (Murdad-Aban 1382), series number 59, May, 2004, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran, 149-167. In my subsequent references to this work I will cite the section of the text as well as the page number from Ma‘ārif.

6 As yet unpublished, the single manuscript that I have encountered is from the Ben Yousouf Library in Marrakech, Morocco, compilation number 91, f. 187b-195a; for a synopsis of this and Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ see Jean-Jacques Thibon, “La Relation maître-disciple ou les éléments de l’alchimie spirituelle d’après trois manuscript de Sulamī”, in Mystique musulmane : Parcours en compagnie d’un chercheur : Roger Deladrière, éd. Geneviève Gobillot (Éditions Cariscript: Paris, 2002), 93-124.

7 Both Brocklemann (Supplement 1-955; GAL 1-219) and Ritter (Oriens, vol. 7, 1954; p. 399) have mentioned this treatise by the name Masʾalat daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn fī al-taṣawwuf; Sezgin makes mention of it (GAS p. 673), though he has given its title as Masʾalat daraǧāt al-ṣāliḥīn; the manuscript citation for all three is the same, Fātih 2650/3 59a-68b. Yusuf Zaydān in his edition of al-Muqaddima fī al-taṣawwuf (1407/1987) lists Masʾalat daraǧāt among the unpublished works of al-Sulamī. Suleiman Ateş published it based upon the above manuscript in his collection of nine of Sulamī’s texts in Tisʿat kutub li-Abī ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn b. Mūsā (n.p.: 1993). The following translations are from al-Sulamī, Daraǧāt al-sādiqīn in Three Early Sufi Texts: Stations of the Righteous and The Stumblings of Those Aspiring trans. K. Honerkamp (St. Louis: Fons Vitae, 2003). My translations are based on my critical edition of the text from two newly discovered manuscripts. One from the Maktabat Ibn Yūsuf, Marrakesh, Morocco; catalog number: compilation (maǧmū‘a) 91; 117 folios. The text, which is untitled is from fol. 227a to fol. 232b. The second manuscript is from the library of Muhammad b. Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, catalog number 2118, under the name of Sulamīyāt, from folio 53a to 57b. In my subsequent references to this work I will cite the section numbers I have assigned the text as well as the page number of the Fons Vitae edition. I will also cite the references of the Arabic text from Suleyman Ateş’s Tisʿat kutub.

8 Sufism in ninth and tenth century Nīšābūr has been the topic of several major journal articles. See F. Meier, “Khurasān and the End of Classical Sufism”, in Essays in Islamic Mysticism and Piety, trans. J. O’Kane and B. Radke (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000); M. Malamud, “Sufi Organizations and Structures of Authority in Medieval Nīšābūr”, International Journal of Middle East Studies 26 (1994), 427-442; J. Chabbi, “Remarques sur le développement historique des mouvements ascétiques et mystiques au Khurasan”, Studia Islamica 57 (1977), 5-72. Also see L. Silvers-Alario, “The Teaching Relationship in Early Sufism: A Reassessment of Fritz Meier’s Definition of the shaykh al-tarbiya and the shaykh al-ta‘līm”, The Muslim World 93 (Jan. 2003), 69-97.

9 Adab is a term that has been used with a wide range of meanings, among them: correct beliefs, rules of conduct, etiquette, or customs. For a survey, see F. Gabrieli, art. “Adab”, EI, vol. 1, p. 175-176. Treatises dealing with the particular adab of the Sufis have existed from the earliest times of Islamic literature. For a detailed account of the adab literature of the period see Etan Kohlberg’s, Ǧawāmīʾ ādāb al-ṣūfīyya (Jérusalem, 1976), 10-13. One of the best known Prophetic traditions on the subject of adab was transmitted by Sulamī in Ǧawāmī‘ ādāb al-ṣūfīyya, “According to Šaqīq (al-Balḫī), according to ʿAbdallāh (Ibn Masʿūd), the Messenger of God -May the Peace and Blessings of God be upon him- said : ‘God had instilled adab within me and has perfected it within me, for He commanded me to observe noble character, saying: Be clement, command the good and turn away from the ignorant’ ” [7:199], Ǧawāmī‘ ādāb al-ṣūfīyya, 3. Ibn ʿArabī (d. 1165-1240), the Andalusian mystic and renowned teacher whose writings have greatly influenced Sufism, distinguishes four types of adab: Adab of the Law (adab al-šarīʿa), Adab of Service (adab al-ḫidma), Abad of ‘Right’ (adab al-ḥaqq) and Adab of Essential Reality (adab al-ḥaqīqa). Denis Gril, “Adab and Revelation, or One of the Foundations of the Hermeneutics of Ibn ‘Arabî”, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabî: A Commemorative Volume, ed. Stephen Hirtenstein and Michael Tieran [Rockport: Element, 1993], 228-263.

10 See T. Frank, “Tasawwuf is . . .”; On a Type of Mystical Aphorism”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 104.1 (1984), 73-80 for a good collection of early sayings defining Sufism.

11 Al-Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyya, ed. Nūr al-Dīn Šurayba (Cairo: Maktaba al-Ḫānajī, 1969), 167.

12 Al-Qušayrī, al-Risālat al-qušayriyya, ed. Maʿrūf Zurayq and ʿAlī ʿAbd al-Maǧīd Baltaǧī (Beirut: Dār al-Ḫayr, 1993), 271.

13 Al-Ṭūsī, Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāǧ, al-Luma‘, ed. ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm Maḥmūd and Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Bāqī Surūr (Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Hadītha, 1960), 45.

14 Abū Nu‘aym al-Iṣfahānī, Ḥilyat al-awliyāʾ (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1997), 55.

15 Al-Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyya, 119.

16 For more on the life of Ibn ʿAǧība, see Aḥmed Ibn ʿAǧība, The Autobiography (Fahrasa) of a Moroccan Soufi: Aḥmad Ibn ‘Aǧiba, trans. from Arabic by Jean-Louis Michon, trans. from French by David Streight (Louisville: Fons Vitae, 1999).

17 Aḥmad b. ʿAǧība, Mi‘rāǧ al-tašawwuf ilā ḥaqāʾiq al-taṣawwuf, in Kitāb šarḥ ṣalāt al-quṭb Ibn Mašīš, ed. ʿAbd al-Salām al-ʿImrānī (Dār al-Rašād al-Hadīṯa: Casablanca, 1999), 69.

18 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ: 2, 154.

19 . Aḥmad b. ‘Aǧība, Kitāb šarḥ ṣalāt al-quṭb Ibn Mašīš, 29-30.

20 Al-Sulamī, Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf, fol. 206a.

21 When ‘Ā’iša was asked about the ethical conduct of the Prophet, she responded : “The ethical conduct of the Messenger of God was the Qurʾān.” Muslim: (746) The Chapter of the Traveler’s Prayer, sub-section: Joining the night prayer.

22 For a linguistic study of the term walāya and its derivatives as well as an in-depth discussion on the hierarchy of saints in Islamic traditional literature see Michel Chodkiewicz, Le Sceau des saints : Prophétie et sainteté dans la doctine d’Ibn Arabī (Paris: Gallimard, 1986), 29-78.

23 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ: 3:154.

24 Al-Sulamī, Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, 18:127. This passage is missing in Tisʿat kutub.

25 Al-Sulamī, Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 3:120; Tisʿat kutub, 380.

26 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ, 17:164.

27 Ibid. 7:159.

28 Al-Sulamī, Zalal al-fuqarāʾ, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 33:143; Tisʿat kutub, 452.

29 Abū Abdallāh ibn al-Ǧallāʾ was born in Baghdad and later lived in Damascus. He was among the illustrious mentors of Šām (Syria). He associated with his father Yaḥyā al-Ǧallā’, Abū Turāb al-Naḫšabī, and Ḏū l-Nūn al-Miṣrī. Ismāʿīl b. Nuǧayd (Sulamī’s grandfather) said : “In this world there are three eminent leaders of the Sufis, there is not a fourth: al-Ǧunayd of Baghdad, Abū ʿUṯmān of Nīšābūr, and Abū ʿAbdallah b. al-Ǧallāʾ of Šām”. Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyya, 176-79).

30 Al-Sulamī, Zalal al-fuqarā’, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 14:135, Tisʿat kutub, 440.

31 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ, 5:158.

32 Abū Bakr al-Wāsiṭī (320/932) was among the earliest disciples of al-Ǧunayd and Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Nūrī. He was known for his eloquent discourses on the foundations of Sufism. He was a scholar of the principles of jurisprudence and law. He left Baghdad as a youth and settled in Ḫurāsān where he eventually died. See al-Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-sūfiyya, 303-306.

33 Al-Sulamī, Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf , fol. 212 a.

34 Al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab muǧālasat al-mašāyiḫ, 15:163.

35 Al-Sulamī, Daraǧāt al-ṣādiqīn, in Three Early Sufi Texts, 17:126-127; missing from Tisʿat kutub.

36 Al-Sulamī, Fuṣūl fī l-taṣawwuf , fol. 221 a.

37 J. Stratton Hawley, in Saints and Virtues, ed. John Stratton Hawlew (Los Angeles:University of California Press, 1987), xi.

Auteur

University of Georgia, Athens

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2012

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