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

 | 
Geneviève Gobillot
, 
Jean-Jacques Thibon

II — Le soufisme et ses liens avec les autres catégories du savoir

The Sālimiyya and Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī: The Transmission of Theological Teachings in a Basran circle of mystics

Harith Bin Ramli

Résumé

Les Sālimiyya représentent un groupe mystico-théologique qui s’est développé à Basra autour du ixe/xe siècle. Ils ont été influencés principalement par l’enseignement de Sahl al-Tustari (d. 283/893), l’une des figures majeures de la mystique musulmane primitive. Cet article se propose de mettre en évidence les enseignements doctrinaux et la méthode théologique propres à ce groupe en comparant des sources qui lui sont extérieures (principalement des ouvrages théologiques qui les critiquent) avec l’unique source sālimī qui nous soit parvenue, le Qūṭ al-qulūb d’Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 386/996).

The Sālimiyya were a mystical and theological group that flourished in Basra around the fourth/tenth century. They were especially influenced by the teachings of Sahl al-Tustarī (d. 283/893), one of the great figures of early Islamic mysticism. This article tries to uncover this group›s unique doctrinal teachings and theological method, by
comparing contemporaneous external sources (mostly theological works of hostile groups) with the sole «Sālimī» source known to us, the book
Qūt al-qulūb, authored by Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 386/996).

ازدهرت طائفة متصوفة وكلامية «السالمية» بالبصرة خلال القرن الرابع/العاشر وقد تأثرت هذه الطائفة خصوصا بتعاليم سهل التستري (المتوفى عام ٢٨٣/٨٩٣)، واحد من عظماء بداية تاريخ التصوف الإسلامي. تحاول المقالة أن تستكشف التعاليم الإعتقادية و طريقة كلامية خصوصية لدى هذه الطائفة، بمقارنة مصادر معاصرة (على الغالب تأليفات كلامية اطوائف معادية لهم) والمصدر «السالمي الوحيد الموجود لدينا، وهو كتاب «قوت القلوب» تأليف الشيخ ابو طالب المكي (المتوفى عام ٣٨٦/٩٩٦).

Texte intégral

  • 1 For a discussion of a period earlier than one dealt with here, see Christopher Melchert, “The Basra (...)
  • 2 Tustarī received formative training from Ḥamza al-῾Abbādānī, who resided on a ribāṭ on the island o (...)
  • 3 Tustarī is listed as a prominent Sufi in all the Sufi works of the 10th century onwards, and his sa (...)
  • 4 There is some confusion in the literature when referring to these two figures. Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣ (...)
  • 5 It is not always clear which Ibn Sālim is being referred to in much of the literature. Unless it is (...)

1The contribution of Basra to the formation of Classical Sufism is indisputable 1, particularly as manifested by the teachings of one of its foremost figures, Sahl b. ‘Abd Allāh al-Tustarī (d. 283/896) 2. These teachings were disseminated by disciples and works to regions as far as Ḫurāsān and North Africa 3. In Basra, Tustarī’s circle continued to exist after his death, led first by his close disciple Abū ῾Abd Allāh Muḥammad b. Sālim al-Baṣrī (d. 297/909), followed by his son Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad (d. 356/967) 4. Over time, followers of the two ‘Ibn Sālims’ would be referred to as the Sālimiyya 5.

  • 6 According to Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāǧ, the elder Ibn Sālim told him that he had served as Tustarī’s disci (...)
  • 7 Sarrāǧ rebukes Ibn Sālim for being unfairly biased in his criticism of Abū Yazīd al-Bistāmī’s mysti (...)

2The Sālimiyya are of particular interest for the study of the social structures of early mystical groups in Islam, as they display some features usually associated with the Sufi orders (ṭuruq) of the later medieval period. This is particularly manifested in the strong attachment of disciples of the group to the particular teachers of their tradition 6. Leadership of this circle, uncommonly for its time, was passed down from father to son. Two contemporaries who encountered them, the Sufi author Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāj (d. 378/988) and the travel-writer/geographer Shams al-Dīn al-Maqdisī (c. 2nd half of the 4th/10th century) both noted the degree to which the Sālimiyya were partial to the leaders of their circle to the exclusion of others 7.

  • 8 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p.  37.
  • 9Qawmun yadda῾ūna al-kalām wa-al-zuhd”. This line is hard to understand, considering his favorable (...)
  • 10 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p. 126. George Makdisi has explored the field of sermons and preaching (wa‘ẓ) in (...)

3The bonds that united the Sālimiyya went beyond a shared mystical tradition, and extended to theological teachings that managed to attract a certain amount of controversy. Maqdisī lists them as one of the four schools of his time which were mainly concerned with theology (kalām8. Elsewhere he describes them as “a group who make claims 9 in theology (kalām) and asceticism (zuhd)”, and informs us that many of the preachers (muḏakkirūn) in Basra were from their flock, although he does not give us any information about their distinct theological teachings 10. From this, we can conclude that the Sālimiyya were not mere ascetics or mystics, but were also theologians who engaged, preached and probably propagated their teachings.

  • 11 Al-Ḫaṭīb al-Baġdādī (d. 463/1071), Tārīḫ Baġdād, ed. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Ġumarī al-Maġribī (Maktab (...)
  • 12 He describes seeing Ibn Sālim praying in Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 386/996), Qūt al-Qulūb fī Mu῾āmalat (...)
  • 13 Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. 3, p. 89.
  • 14 The edition relied on here is the 19th Century “printed manuscript” Cairo edition (1893), in two vo (...)
  • 15 See some examples given in H. Lazarus-Yaffeh, Studies in al-Ghazzalī (Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 1975 (...)

4In the 4th/10th century, this circle, like Tustarī’s in the previous century, attracted numerous admirers and followers. The most notable figure linked to that circle during this period is Muḥammad b. ῾Alī Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 386/996) 11. Raised in the holy city of Mecca, Makkī probably encountered members of Sālimiyya there, or perhaps even met Aḥmad b. Sālim himself 12. The biographical literature suggests that he only became a full-fledged adherent of the group when he moved to Basra, probably sometime after 967 13. Later on, he would eventually settle in Baghdad, which might have been where he completed the Qūt al-Qulūb (The Nourishment of the Hearts) 14. It is largely this voluminous contribution to the early literature of Islamic mysticism that would lead to his renown as a leading Sufi author in later centuries, surpassing in fame other members of the Sālimiyya circle, including the two Ibn Sālims. Partly due to its influence on Abū Ḥāmid al-Ġazālī’s (450-505/1058-1111) popular Sufi manual Iḥyā ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, the Qūt al-Qulūb became (and still is) a popular classical manual for practitioners 15.

  • 16 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’ (16), p. 272-3, quoting Sulamī’s lost biographical work Tārīḫ al-Ṣūfiyya. Th (...)
  • 17 Tārīḫ Baġdād, p. 89. These comments are echoed by Ḏahabī (Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, see above), but m (...)

5Apart from retaining a certain amount of influence on the mystically inclined, we notice that already by the late tenth century, we find the Sālimiyya attacked on theological grounds by a number of their contemporaries. The Sufi biographer Sulamī (d. 412/1021) provides us little more information, telling us that some statements made by the Sālimiyya led people to shun the group  16. Such comments pale in comparison with attacks on them after the mid 11th century, when some critics would even go so far as to classify them as a heretical group. Like his fellows, Makkī does not seem to be a stranger to controversy. During the last years of his life in Baghdad, he was reproached for making controversial statements, and even the Qūt does not seem to have been entirely safe from criticism on doctrinal grounds. According to the account given in the Tārīḫ Baġdād, Makkī was attacked in Baġdād later on in his life for making the statement that “nothing is more harmful to creation than the Creator”. Baġdādī also criticizes the Qūt here for containing reprehensible statements regarding the divine attributes 17.

6In this preliminary investigation, we will first look at the theological controversy surrounding the Sālimiyya, as found in the writings of its critics. The following section will look at the relationship between the Sālimiyya and kalām, attempting to understand why they were sometimes described as mutakallimūn, if elsewhere they are said to be anti-kalām. The final section will try and compare the information found in such writings with passages touching on the relevant theological issues in Makkī’s Qūt al-Qulūb.

The Theological Controversy Surrounding the Sālimiyya

  • 18 Another work attributed to Makkī, the ‘Ilm al-Qulūb, has not conclusively been shown to be his, and (...)

7Other than the Qūt, the only other sources of information we have on the Sālimīyya’s theological teachings are works that attack the group on doctrinal grounds 18. Although earlier modern studies of the Sālimiyya took these sources at face value, more recent studies have tended to question these criticisms.

  • 19 I. Goldziher, “Die Dogmatische Partei der Salimijja”, Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Ge (...)
  • 20 ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Ǧīlānī, Kitāb al-Ġunya li-Ṭālib Ṭarīq al-Ḥaqq (Maṭba῾a al-Miṣriyya Bulāq, Cairo, 1 (...)
  • 21 Al-Qāḍī Abū Ya‘lā Aḥmad Ibn al-Farra’ (d. 458/1066), al-Mu‘tamad fī Uṣūl al-Dīn, ed. Wādī Ḥaddad (B (...)
  • 22 L. Massignon, Passion of Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam, translated and edited by Herbert Mason (...)
  • 23 L. Massignon, Essay on the origins of the technical language of Islamic mysticism, translated by Be (...)

8Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921) was the first to introduce the Sālimiyya into modern studies, assessing them strictly from the doctrinal point of view, as a sect adhering to heretical tenets 19. This assessment reflects the nature of the sources he relied on, particularly the list of heretical tenets ascribed to the Sālimiyya, given in the Ḥanbalī mystic ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Ǧīlānī’s (d. 561/1166) al-Ġunya li-Ṭālib Ṭarīq al-Ḥaqq 20. Later, the French scholar Louis Massignon (1883-1962) drew attention to an earlier list which formed the basis of Ǧīlānī’s, given by the Ḥanbalī qāḍī Abū Ya‘lā Muḥammad b. al-Farrā’ (380/990-458/1066) in his work on theology, Al-Mu‘tamad fī Uṣūl al-Dīn 21. Massignon also elaborated more clearly on the mystical dimension in the teachings of Ibn Sālim, drawing on Makkī’s Qūt as a Sālimī work. In his seminal study on Ḥallāǧ, he seems to have taken the credibility of Ǧīlānī and Abū Ya‘lā’s lists for granted  22. However, in his Essai, although he still maintained that Sālimī interpretations of Tustarī’s teachings “led towards monism”; he also conceded that they “suffered ridiculous invective of a very vulgar tone” due to their so-called “anthropomorphism 23”.

  • 24 Cihad Tunç, Sahl b. ‘Abdallah at-Tustari und die Salimiya: Übersetzung und Erläuterung des Kitab al (...)
  • 25 Cihad Tunç, Sahl b. ‘Abdallah at-Tustari, p. 46, 52-54.
  • 26 In fact some disciples of Tustarī were members of Ḥanbalī circles in Baġdād, the most notable being (...)
  • 27 G. Böwering, “Early Sufism between Persecution and Heresy”, in Islamic Mysticism Contested, ed. Rad (...)
  • 28 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p. 116. The Qūt’s sections on jurisprudence also do not appear to overwhelmingly (...)
  • 29 Mystical Vision, p. 94 suggests that the propositions of the lists might have appeared among Ḥanbal (...)
  • 30 Mystical Vision, p. 89. The example given from the Qūt showing differences over the practice of fas (...)
  • 31 See F. Sobieroj, Ibn Ḫafīf aš-Širāzī und seine Schrift zur Novizenerziehung (Kitāb al-Iqtiṣād): Bio (...)
  • 32 Mystical Vision, p.  93-94.

9Following this, studies by later scholars such as Tunç and Böwering have tended to dismiss charges against the Sālimiyya as gross misrepresentations 24. As both Qāḍī Abū Ya‘lā and Ǧīlānī were Ḥanbalīs, Tunç has explained that the criticisms of the Sālimiyya were rooted in Ḥanbalī bias against mystics 25. However, the idea that opposition to the Sālimiyya is rooted mainly in Ḥanbalī bias against mysticism has several problems. The most obvious one is that Ǧilānī himself was a mystic. Furthermore, Ḥanbalī opposition to mysticism is a later phenomenon that should not be applied anachronistically. Many Ḥanbalīs were either mystics themselves or at least associated with them 26. By not restricting himself to explaining the Sālimī controversy as the result of Ḥanbalī theological bias, Böwering’s explanations are more plausible. He argues that many members of the Sālimiyya are reported to have been followers of the Mālikī school of law, which could have led to friction with the Ḥanbalī school 27. However, the problem with this explanation is that there does not seem to be much record of conflict between the two schools in this period. Also, Ibn Sālim himself is said to have been a follower of the school of Abū Ḥanīfa 28. This suggests that the Sālimiyya could not have been exclusively followers of Mālik in jurisprudence. At best, the friction between members of the two schools of law should be seen as a secondary factor. Another possible reason for anti-Sālimī sentiment, according to Böwering, could be the existence of certain disciples of Tustarī in Ḥanbalī circles who were hostile to Ibn Sālim 29. This seems like an interesting and promising explanation, but unfortunately the evidence regarding this matter is also still rather limited  30. In actual fact, the earliest known attack on Ibn Sālim came from Ibn Ḫafīf al-Šīrāzī (d. 371/982), a mystic 31. Furthermore, this attack provoked a defence of Ibn Sālim by another mystic, ‘Abd Allāh al-Anṣārī of Herat (d. 481/1088), who was himself a Ḥanbalī 32.

  • 33 G. Böwering, “Sahl al-Tustarī” and B. Radtke, “Sālimiyya”, in the Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd editio (...)
  • 34 Mystical Vision, 93. See Mu‘tamad, p. 217. Tenet 1: “Inna al-bārī subḥāna-hū wa-ta‘ālā fī mā lam ya (...)
  • 35 Ibn Sālim is reported to have said : “Whoever obeys God according to the primordial vision (ru’yat (...)
  • 36 Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Ḥasan b. Fūrak (d. 406/1015), Muǧarrad Maqālāt al-Šayḫ Abī al-Ḥasan al- Aš‘arī(...)
  • 37 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 16, p. 345.
  • 38 Ibn Ḫafīf, p.  243-248. Sobieroj (p. 137) has also pointed out that Ibn Ḫafīf’s critism might have (...)

10Ibn Ḫafīf’s treatise against the teachings of Ibn Sālim is now lost, but Böwering, Knysh, and Radtke have all agreed that much of the list of Sālimī tenets given by Abū Ya‘lā’s Mu‘tamad probably originates in this treatise 33. A fragment of this refutation mentioned by Anṣārī partially verifies this, as it correlates with the first tenet given in the Mu‘tamad 34. The issue disputed here is whether or not God, in His omnipotence, can see objects before they come into being (ru’yat al-ma‘dūm). According to the critics, Ibn Sālim’s statement could be tantamount to either implying the impossible (things being seen before their existence), or the pre-eternity of the universe (qidam al-dahr35. Such criticisms seem mainly based on the rule that for a thing (šay’) to be seen, it has to exist. This was the view of the theologian Abū al-Ḥasan al-Aš‘arī (d. 935/6) 36. Ibn Ḫafīf is said to have been connected to his circle and therefore could have shared similar views on this matter. Recently however, Florian Sobieroj has shown that despite his association with Aš‘arī circles 37, Ibn Ḫafīf’s was actually more of a traditionalist, with contacts in Ḥanbalī circles 38. Therefore, this could support the argument we saw earlier that opposition to the Sālimiyya existed among some Ḥanbalī circles. Considering the involvement of mystics in this opposition, and the difficulty of finding anti-mystical Ḥanbalism in this period, it is more likely that this opposition was more over doctrine. We cannot also exclude the possibility that many scholars on both Aš‘arī and Ḥanbalī camps were united in opposing Ibn Sālim on such matters.

  • 39 ‘Abd al-Qāhir b. Ṭāhir al-Baġdādī, al-Farq bayn al-Firāq (Maṭba῾a al-Ma῾ārif, Cairo, 1910), p. 324. (...)

11Therefore, rather than being an issue of opposition to mystics and mysticism, it seems that attacks on the Sālimiyya were more focused on matters of doctrinal formulation. With the exception of the Ḥanbalī theologian Abū Ya‘lā (whom we shall discuss in more detail below), the other attacks from this period (10th and 11th centuries A. D. ) came from theologians connected in one way or other to Aš‘arī’s circle and teachings. In addition to the issue over the God’s vision of things in pre-eternity discussed earlier, it appears that Aš‘arī theologians also disagreed with Ibn Sālim over his belief that unbelievers would be able to see God during the hereafter 39. Another cause of disagreement was the status of the controversial mystic Ḥallāǧ (tried and executed in 309/922). An Aš‘arī scholar, ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Baġdādī (d. 429/1037), mentions that despite the fact that the majority of theologians (mutakallimūn) – among them the Aš‘arī Abū Bakr Ibn al-Bāqillānī (d. 403/1013) – considered the controversial mystic Ḥallāǧ to have been a disbeliever,

  • 40 Al-Farq bayn al-Firāq, p. 247. Bāqillānī, Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. al-Ṭayyib (d. 403/1013), can be seei (...)

a group from among the Sālimiyya in Basra accept him, considering him to be in conformity with the realities contained in the teachings of the Ṣūfīs (ḥaqā’iq ma‘ānī al-ṣūfiyya) 40”.

12Despite these criticisms and differences, a certain degree of respect seems to have been given to Ibn Sālim from some sections of the Aš‘ariyya. Ibn Fūrak’s (d. 406/1015) Muǧarrad indicates that Aš‘arī’s differences with Ibn Sālim over details of doctrine were minor enough for the latter to be considered a fellow Sunni scholar, and that in relation to the question of perception of non-existents (ru’yat al-ma‘dūm), Aš‘arī is reported to have conceded that some of his colleagues (aṣḥābunā) accept its possibility, although he himself took the contrary position. A note given on the margin of the manuscript states that,

  • 41 Muǧarrad, p. 81 (see footnote 39).

Who he (Aš‘arī) means by this is Ibn Sālim, because he claimed that (Ibn Sālim) affirmed the vision of God in the Hereafter and supported the followers of Prophetic tradition (ahl al-sunna)… that he was one of (Aš‘arī’s) colleagues even though he opposed (Aš‘arī) on (the questions of) the vision of non-existents and the vision of God by unbelievers in the Hereafter, as well as other matters 41”.

  • 42 Uṣūl al-Dīn, p. 98.
  • 43 Uṣūl al-Dīn, p. 315-6.
  • 44 On the issue of Ḥallāǧ, Baġdādī is once again noticeably neutral in his statement that there is no (...)

13‘Abd al-Qādir al-Baġdādī also refers to Ibn Sālim as being among ‘our fellows’ (‘aṣḥābunā’), in a discussion about God’s vision of non-existents 42. Baġdādī also states elsewhere 43 that all of the mystics mentioned in Sulamī’s Tārīḫ al-Ṣūfiyya were sound in their orthodoxy, with the exception of Ḥallāǧ 44, Abū Ḥulmān al-Dimašqī and the Mu‘tazilī al-Qannād; not mentioning Ibn Sālim.

  • 45 Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya, p.  431-4.
  • 46 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 16, p. 272-3.
  • 47 See Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. 2 , p. 248-249, where an anecdote is given in which Qušayrī experiences a hu (...)

14It is noteworthy that Sulamī’s biographical work on Sufis includes an entry on Ibn Sālim 45. His inclusion shows a favorable attitude to Ibn Sālim, but does not hide the fact that this figure was controversial. He reports that people parted company (hāǧara-hum al-nās) with the Sālimiyya due to their “faulty statements 46” (alfāẓ hāǧina). Sulamī and Ibn Fūrak were both involved with Shāfi῾ī circles in Nīšābūr, in the Iranian province of Khūrāsān. There were mystics such as Abū ‘Alī al-Daqqāq (d. 412/1021)who were connected to these circles, and it is not surprising that a more sympathetic position to the Sālimiyya could have existed through a combination Sufism and Aš‘arī kalām. There is even some evidence that this group itself had sympathized with Ḥallāǧ 47. Sulamī, Ibn Fūrak Daqqāq were all teachers of Abu al-Ḳāsim ‘Abd al-Karīm b. Hawāzin al-Qušayrī (d. 465/1072), who exemplified such a combination as well as pro- Ḥallāǧism in his writings.

  • 48 Bāqillānī dedicated an entire work to exposing the dangers of false mystics and those who peddle in (...)
  • 49 Muǧarrad, p. 330. Uṣūl al-dīn, p. 294-309. These include who preceded Aš‘ārī as theologians from am (...)

15Therefore, in the century following the death of Ibn Sālim, the degree of opposition to Ibn Sālim among the Aš‘arīs can be said to be varied. On the one hand, Bāqillānī and others categorically rejected the Sālimiyya for supporting ‘excessive’ mystics such as Ḥallāǧ 48. Others, however, were more sympathetic to such mystics, but still maintained some criticism towards them over individual points of doctrine. Nevertheless, despite such sympathy, Ibn Sālim was never given a place in lists of orthodox scholars which can be found in Aš‘arite works. Whenever scholars who are fellow affirmers of the Divine attributes (ahl al-iṯbāt) but not, strictly speaking, Aš‘arī 49, are mentioned, Ibn Sālim is missing.

  • 50 Abū al-Muẓaffar al-Isfarā’inī (d. 418/1027), al-Tabṣīr fī al-Dīn, ed. Kamāl Yūsuf al-Ḥūṭ (῾Ālam al- (...)

16Something seems to have changed by the middle of the 11th century A. D. Abū al-Muẓaffar al-Isfarā’inī (d. 471/1078), follows Bāqillānī in attacking the Sālimīyya for their connection to Ḥallāǧ. On top of this charge, however, he adds an even harsher verdict on the group than his predecessor, saying that Sālimīs were “from among the crass anthropomorphists (ḥašwiyya)”, engaged in heterodox teachings that were inconsistent 50.

  • 51Ḥashwiyya” in the Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition (Brill, Leiden). A. S. Halkin, “The Hashwiyya (...)
  • 52 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubala’, vol. 18, p. 13-18.
  • 53 Ibid., p. 13. Ḏahabī, often sympathetic to the traditionalist opponents of kalām, calls him the lea (...)
  • 54 Ibid., p.  15-18.
  • 55 Ibid., vol. 20, p.  316-319.
  • 56 Ibn ‘Asākir, ῾Alī b. Ḥasan (d. 571/1176), Tabyīn Kaḏib al-Muftarī fī mā Nusiba ilā al-Imām Abī al-Ḥ (...)

17Isfarā’inī’s use of the term ‘ḥašwiyya’ is significant. This label is used only in the pejorative sense, implying that the person in question, almost always a traditionalist, upholds an extremely literal interpretation of traditions concerned with theological questions, usually tending towards the anthropomorphic 51. It is noteworthy that the use of the term ‘ḥašwiyya’ in connection with the Sālimiyya only appears in Isfarā’inī’s time, around the middle of the10th century C. E. It is around this time that some followers of Ibn Sālim seem to have come into conflict with the Aš‘arīs over their use of kalām. One figure that can be singled out from this group is Abū ‘Alī al-Ahwāzī (d. 446/1069) 52 who wrote a work severely attacking Aš‘arī and the use of kalām. Ahwāzī was well known as an expert on Quran recitation 53. Other than his attack on Aš‘arī, he seems to have aroused controversy for allegedly trying to pass off ḥadiṯ with weak links as sound, which aroused resentment among some former students of his in Baġdād  54. Ahwāzī arrived in Damascus in 391/1000, but the conflict between the Aš‘arīyya and this group of Sālimīyya must have continued for at least a century more when the grammarian and preacher Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā al-Zabīdī (555/1160), also said to have been a follower of Ibn Sālim in doctrine, was present in Damascus 55. In this period, the Damascene Aš‘arī scholar Ibn ‘Asākir (d. 571/1175) wrote the Tabyīn Kaḏib al-Muftarī, a work which can be described as part biographical compilation (on leading Aš‘arīs) and part a refutation of Ahwāzī’s earlier attack on Aš‘arī 56. Ibn ‘Asākir attacks the Sālimiyya frequently in this work, (calling them ‘anthropomorphists’) in a manner that suggests that this particularly controversial Damascence branch of the Sālimiyya might have retained a noticeable influence at the time.

18Therefore, even though there does not appear to be any major animosity between the Sālimiyya and the Aš‘ariyya during Ibn Sālim’s time, other than over a number of doctrinal issues, attacks in the period following his death, the Sālimiyya were attacked by those who did not have a favorable view of Ḥallāǧ and mystics sympathetic to him. In the following century, however, mutual attacks between Aš‘arī and those who identified themselves as the followers of Ibn Sālim. This controversy occurs against a background of increasing tensions between those who were willing to use the tools of kalām and more conservative traditionalists who were opposed to such methods.

  • 57 It is also worth noting that Abū Ya‘lā’s own brother (Abū Ḫāzim Muḥammad) is reported to have been (...)
  • 58 The kalām arguments used in the Mu‘tamad are dropped from the Ġunya. This is clearly the case in of (...)
  • 59 Al-Ǧunya, p. 72

19How, then, are we to interpret the presence of members of the Ḥanbalī school (associated most often with traditionalism) such as Abū Ya‘lā and ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Ǧīlānī among the critics of the Sālimiyya? As we saw earlier, opposition to Ibn Sālim probably existed in some traditionalist circles, such as those connected to Ibn Ḫafīf. The Ḥanbalī qāḍī Abū Ya‘lā list of heretical tenets held by the Sālimiyya, found in his Mu‘tamad, could be said to be a summary of the ways in which the Sālimiyya clashed with a growing consensus of scholars. Another reason for Abū Ya‘lā’s list can be found in his own adoption of the kalām method. A closer look at the Mu‘tamad actually reveals that it is a work loaded with the terminology and methods of kalām 57. Perhaps he was attacked for doing so by members of the Sālimiyya such as Abū ‘Alī al-Ahwāzī? Interstingly, when we compare the list given in the Mu‘tamad, and the one found in Ǧīlānī’s Ġunya, it is clear that Ǧīlānī’s list seems to be mostly based on Abū Ya‘lā’s, but with significant differences. Ǧīlānī, a more conservative Ḥanbalī, has completely removed aspects of the Mu‘tamad’s list that are connected to Abū Ya‘lā’s more kalām-inspired approach 58. Perhaps some of this can be explained partly due to Ǧīlānī’s own mystical approach, which brings him in agreement with Ibn Sālim’s teachings. For example, he does not adopt the strict division into essential and non-essential attributes, and admits the validity of saying that God’s vision of the universe is essentially the same as His knowledge of it 59.

  • 60 A work which shows that the theologians of this period were more multi-faceted than their label sug (...)

20However, the fact remains that Ǧīlānī, a Ḥanbalī writing in Baghdad in the 12th century A. D. , was writing against the Sālimiyya, despite his own lack of sympathy with the kalām approach, and some similarities with them over the formulation of doctrine. At the same time, not too far away in Damascus, the Aš‘arī Ibn ‘Asākir was also writing his own refutation of the Sālimiyya. What we can gather from the discussion above is that the opposition to the Sālimiyya was multi-faceted, and came from many different groups 60. While some such as Bāqillānī might have opposed them for being sympathetic to Ḥallāǧ, for the most part the criticism of this group was the result of doctrinal differences. Another observation that we can make is that there is growing antagonism between this group and others from around the mid-11th century A. D. To some degree this can be linked to its opposition to the adoption of kalām. Another possible explanation is that the strong bonds that united the group in its earlier stage were becoming hardened, and that transmitters of Sālimī teachings such as Ahwāzī might have given the doctrine a more radical interpretation and application than found among the earlier Sālimiyya.

The Sālimiyya as ‘Anti-Kalāmmutakallimūn: an Apparent Contradiction

  • 61 Kalām manuals characteristically begin with a discussion of this method early on the work. To see s (...)

21The matter of Sālimī hostility to kalām contains one glaring inconsistency. It seems to contradict the fact that the Sālimiyya themselves were described as theologians engaged in kalām (mutakallimūn). As mentioned earlier, this is how they were described by the geographer Maqdisī, who was more or less sympathetic towards them and came into close contact with some of them. Things could become clearer if we try to expand the definition of the word kalām as applying to any type of theological discourse, rather than the strict sense of applying the rational methods of investigation (al-naẓar wa-l-istidlāl61.

  • 62 Massignon, The Passion of Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam, vol. III, p. 5-12. He summarises it q (...)
  • 63 Qūt, I, p. 155. He only mentions another two: al-Istaḫrī and al-Ṣubayḥī. It is also worth noting th (...)
  • 64 Tustarī, Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa (cited above). Two other titles found in the same manuscript (Ms. Körp. (...)
  • 65 Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, 81-82.
  • 66Al-zanādiqa”. Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, p.83.
  • 67 Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, p. 128.
  • 68 Ibid., p. 99 (the closest of all creation to God is the believer in qadar), 81-82 (tries to steer m (...)
  • 69 Ibid., p. 82-83.
  • 70 See the entry on Ibn Masarra in Ibn al-Faraḍī, Abū l-Walīd ῾Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad (d. 403/1013), (...)

22There seems to be some basis for the usage of the term kalām in a wider sense, in which the term is used to include also the discourse of mystics in describing the spiritual path, the states associated with it, and ultimately, the knowledge of God (ma‘rifat Allāh). It can also be used to describe the methods used by mystical preachers in criticizing the limitations of using the exoteric sciences alone to attain such knowledge. Massignon has drawn attention to this way in which Ḥallāǧ used the language of rational methods to uncover its shortcomings 62. Ḥallāǧ was himself a disciple of Tustarī, the forefather of the Sālimiyya. Makkī informs us that of the three hundred mutakallimūn of Basra, six were engaged in discussion of the mystical states, one of them being Tustarī 63. A look at the titles of some of Tustarī’s extant works indicates that some of them were to some degree theological refutations, such as the Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa wa-al-Radd ‘alā Ahl al-Firāq wa-Ahl al-Da‘āwā fī al-Aḥwāl (Opposition and Refutation of the Sectarians and False Claimants to Mystical States) 64. Many sections of the work are concerned with questions of doctrine. There are polemical attacks on various groups, such as Mu‘tazilites 65, dualists 66, and esotericists (bāṭiniyya67. Many of the theological refutations seem to be concerned with matters of free will and predestination 68, not surprising as the Mu‘tazila school had a great presence in Basra. This work also includes a short creed (‘aqīda69. As for the two Ibn Sālims, there are no extant works attributed to them, but we do know of a refutation of the Andalusian mystic Ibn Masarra, probably written by the younger 70.

  • 71 Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, p. 106.
  • 72 Qūt, I, p. 94.
  • 73 Qūt, II, p. 77.
  • 74 Qūt, I, p. 155-6.
  • 75 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p. 126.

23At the same time, it is worth bearing in mind that most mystics under Tustarī’s leadership were probably not encouraged to involve themselves in this type of ‘kalām’. According to Tustarī, his era (zamān) was not one of discussion, but of worship. However, out of necessity, and only after attaining knowledge, one should provide advice for his fellow man 71 .The majority of disciples would have been would have been prescribed the practice of asceticism (zuhd) and cautious scrutiny (wara’) encouraged. Abstinence from unnecessary talk (ṣamṭ) was, in fact, one of the four principles of his spiritual path, later emulated by the Sālimiyya 72. According to the Qūt, Tustarī warned that after the year 300 A. H. (Tustarī himself died in 283), circumstances would require mystical knowledge to no longer be discussed openly. This indeed seems to have been the practice of the Sālimiyya. Ibn Sālim is said to have refused to answer in writing a letter sent to him concerning mystical questions, stating that he would only discuss such matters face to face 73. He also kept exclusive sessions (majālīs) for special discussions. After a screening process, chosen followers were allowed to attend such sessions where they were allowed to discuss such matters freely 74. Maqdisī’s description of this group as being divided into more private sessions (majālīs) and session for the public (῾awām), supports this. He also adds that most of the preachers (muḏakkirūn) in Basra were members of the Sālimiyya 75. This indicates that while they were maintaining discretion with their more mystical teachings, the Sālimiyya were also active in propagating more general religious teachings to the Muslim public. Some of these teachings would have touched on matters of theological doctrine, and no doubt led to the opposition to the group we discussed above. It was while he was preaching in Baghdad that Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī was attacked for making erroneous theological comments.

  • 76 Reflecting a tension between the older usage among mystics in Basran circles, and the one more spec (...)
  • 77 Qūt, I, p. 146-163. The existence of the words ‘censure’ (ḏamm) and kalām bring to mind the mystic (...)
  • 78 Ibid. 
  • 79 Qūt, I, p. 151. “This perception is an attribute of the eye of certitude (‘ayn al-yaqīn), which whe (...)
  • 80 Qūt, I, p. 160. This brings to mind Tustarī’s advice to his disciples (mentioned above) to stop eng (...)

24Therefore, despite their own engagement in theology, the Sālimiyya like many other traditionalists would have been opposed to the adoption of speculative reasoning in theology. Instead they preferred to spread knowledge through the sermon (wa῾ẓ), and openly discussing higher theological points only with the initiated in closed sessions. But opposition to kalām from among the Sālimiyya does not seem to have only begun in the 11th century with Abū ‘Alī al-Ahwāzī. Makkī’s work, the Qūt al-Qulūb indicates that by this period, some of those affiliated with Ibn Sālim’s circles were already taking the conservative position on the question of kalām as a speculative discipline. Despite ambiguity over the usage of the words ‘kalām’ and ‘mutakallim’ 76, there is no doubt that Makkī is highly critical of the kind of kalām being applied by proponents of al-naẓar wa-al-istidlāl . One of the chapters found in the Qūt’s Book of Knowledge is titled, “A Description of Knowledge in the Way of the Forefathers, and the Censure of the Innovations Made by the Moderns in Storytelling and Kalām 77”. True to its title, this chapter is a direct attack on the method. The Qūt calls the practice of the mutakallim dubious (šubha), as he gives out advice despite his own shortcomings in attaining the mystical perception of the spiritually certain (šahādat al-mūqinīn), instead using analogical reasoning (qiyās) to extract judgments from the external aspects of religion 78. True knowledge is described as knowledge of mystical perception (‘ilm al-mušāhada79. He states that by the turn of the 4th century A.H., books of kalām started to proliferate, whereas true spiritual knowledge began to recede. This situation gradually became worse until mutakallimūn started to call themselves learned (‘ulamā’) without possessing any true understanding of religion or spiritual insight 80.

25It could be said, then, that the Sālimiyya occupied a middle point between the conservatives and the mutakallimūn. Watt’s assessment is brief but accurate:

  • 81 M. Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology: An Extended Survey (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh (...)

The Sālimīs were not far from traditional and conservative theology, but they allowed themselves some freedom in their theological speculations based on their mystical experience. It was this freedom which both roused opposition and gave them influence 81.

26This explains why the evidence gives us the seemingly contradictory description of the group as anti-kalām mutakallimūn. Such apparent contradictions fall apart as we start to understand that the word kalām is being used here in a wider sense, to include the language of mystical experience.

Sālimī Mystical Theology in the Qūt

  • 82 Mu‘tamad, p.  217-221.

27Having clarified the reasons behind the controversy surrounding the Sālimiyya to some degree, as well as their connection with the word kalām, it would be worth investigating to what degree some of the descriptions of Sālimī theological doctrine found in the external sources can be seen in the sole remaining work connected to the tradition, Makkī’s Qūt al-Qulūb. As we have seen, the main external source on this doctrine is Abū Ya‘lā’s Mu‘tamad, which provides a list of 18 controversial tenets held by the Sālimiyya 82. In this section, we shall make a brief comparison between these tenets and corresponding passages in the Qūt al-Qulūb.

  • 83 Mu‘tamad, p.  217: “wujūdan lahu ‘adaman fī ḏātihi”.
  • 84‘Alā ḫilāf mā huwa ‘alayhi.

28As we have seen, out of all the problematic theological positions of Ibn Sālim, one that is common to almost all the different external sources we have discussed earlier is his position on God’s pre-eternal vision of things before they come to be (ru’yat al-ma‘dūm fī al-qadīm). This also happens to be the very first tenet listed by Abū Ya‘lā, who states that Ibn Sālim claimed that God “saw the universe (as if it was already) existing, (while) it was in essence non-existent 83”. Against this, Abū Ya‘lā argues that in pre-eternity, all that God saw was His own essence and His essential attributes (al-ṣifāt al-ḏātiyya), and that to claim otherwise would be to affirm either the false suggestion that God sees the universe in a fashion contrary to what it is (i. e. non-existent) 84, or on the other hand to affirm the pre-eternity of the universe (qidam al-‘ālam).

  • 85 Like most Muslim mystics, Makkī goes beyond an understanding of the Muslim profession that “there i (...)
  • 86 Qūt, II, p. 86.

29Makkī dedicates a long passage to defending this position, without explicitly attributing it to Ibn Sālim. The discussion occurs in one the lengthier theological chapters of the book, an explication of the witnessing of God (šahāda) on the level of those who have attained spiritual certitude (mūqinīn85. Much of the beginning of the chapter is a description of God’s ultimate transcendence and omnipotence. True understanding of these attributes is not attainable by means of the human intellect. He emphasizes that God’s omnipotence is such that He “goes beyond all boundaries and measures… possesses an uncountable number of attributes… does not stay at one attribute nor is he bound by any rule… he cannot be perceived by intellects as he is the binder of minds”. Instead He can only be perceived in this world by the lights of certainty (anwār al-yaqīn) in the hearts of His saints 86.

  • 87 Ibid., p. 87. “Wujūd al-ašyā’ lā yaḍṭarruhu ilā al-naẓari ilayhā”.
  • 88 Ibid.wa ‘adamuhā yaḍṭarruhu ilā an lā yarāhā”.
  • 89 Ibid. 
  • 90 Ibid.iḏ al-ḥuǧub wāqi‘a ‘alā al-ḫalq ġayr muttaṣila bi-al-ḫāliq”.

30Following from this, God is described as being able to do as He wills, not being bound by laws or necessity. The existence of things does not force Him to see them, if He willed to turn away from them 87; nor does the non-existence of a thing stop Him from seeing it if He wills 88. For God, the non-existent (ma‘dūm) is no different to the hidden (maḥǧūb, lit. veiled, covered), and as He can see all things which are hidden, He can also see the non-existent 89. In other words, while the perception creation is bound by limitations such as the existence or non-existence of a thing, there are no rules limiting the capability of the Almighty Creator 90.

  • 91 Tenet 2: “God perceives with one attribute what He perceives with all the other attributes; perceiv (...)
  • 92 Mu‘tamad, p. 220.

31There is more to this issue than just the question of the perception of non-existents. Another theological idea that Makkī challenges in this passage is the idea of the distinction between different Divine attributes. Tenets 2 and 10 in the Mu‘tamad are related to this subject 91. Abū Ya‘lā, like many other mutakallimūn, makes a distinction between the attributes of God related to His essence, and hence preceding the coming into being of Creation (al-ṣifāt al-ḏātiyya) and those attributes are related to God’s actions in Creation (al-ṣifāt al-fi‘liyya). Whereas God’s attribute of knowledge and living can be said to be eternal with His essence, other attributes can only be said to properly exist with the coming into being of their objects, such as the attribute of seeing (discussed above) and creating. Thus, to say that God is a ‘creator’ before the act of creation has been initiated can only be permissible as a description (waṣf), otherwise it would suggest that the universe existed co-eternally with God in pre-eternity in some form or other 92. In making such a distinction, Abū Ya‘lā, like the Aš‘arīs, wanted to affirm the eternity of God’s attributes while avoiding the attack made by opponents such as the Mu‘tazila that this would threaten the transcendence and oneness of God. 

  • 93 Qūt II, p. 87.
  • 94 In this respect, they adopted a position similar to that of another branch of the traditionalist ca (...)

32In contrast, Makkī and the Sālimiyya refused to make the distinction between essential attributes and attributes of action. Continuing his defense of the doctrine of God’s perception of non-existents, Makkī states that God witnesses all the events of the universe throughout time while they are not existent, for His knowledge of it is His witnessing of it. God can be described as perceiving with one attribute what He perceives with all the others, since (unlike the attributes possessed by created things) there are no boundaries of time and place between them 93. Therefore, even if one might agree with the principle that actual vision of an object is not possible without it having already come into existence (and Makkī excludes such limitations when it comes to describing God), God’s attribute of knowledge is indistinguishable from His other attributes (including his attribute of vision). Furthermore, God cannot be bound by the same laws that bind Creation. Thus, it is possible to say that God ‘saw’ things in pre-eternity before they came into existence proper. To put it simply, God’s knowledge about things before they exist is indistinguishable from His knowledge of those things. Thus, based on the evidence of the Qūt, Abū Ya‘lā’s description of the Sālimiyya teachings regarding the Divine attributes seems fairly accurate. The Sālimiyya, like the Aš‘arīs and Abū Ya‘lā himself, favoured the traditionalist theological position of affirming the attributes of God (iṯbāt al-ṣifāt). At the same time, they refused to comprise the unity and eternity of these attributes by adopting the formula that distinguished between attributes that were directly related to the Divine essence, and those that were connected to the acts of God in creation 94.

  • 95 Qūt, ii, p. 85. “Qurbi-hī min al-ṯurā wa-min kulli šay’in ka-qurbihi min al-‘arš.”
  • 96 Quran 5:53, 10:3, 13:2. Mu’tamad, p. 88-89. See also his interpretation of the ḥadīṯ of God coming (...)

33Another tenet that Abū Ya‘lā mentions, the eighteenth and final tenet, appears to be confirmed by the evidence of the Qūt. Here he described the Sālimiyya teaching that there is in all places, there being no distinction between His presence on the Throne (‘arš) or any other place. This is confirmed by the text of the Qūt, which states that God is as close to the Throne as He is to the lowest point of creation 95. For Makkī, God transcends and is connected (in a non-physical sense) with all creation on an equal basis. Thus, no distinction can be made between the Throne and all other locations. Abū Ya‘lā, on the other hand, objects to this statement based on his more literalist interpretation of scriptural verses concerning God’s ‘seating’ (istiwā’) on to the Throne 96.

  • 97 Mu‘tamad, p. 221.
  • 98 Once again, the discussion is introduced with a comment noting the limitations of mere intellect. T (...)

34While the tenets described above can be said to be fair representations of the theology of the Sālimiyya as presented in the Qūt, others seem to misinterpret their teachings. Tenet 16 attacks the Sālimiyya for believing that God Himself recites on the tongue of the Quran reciter, and that when one listens to the recital of the Quran, He is listening to God Himself 97. This, according to Abū Ya‘lā, amounts to affirming Divine incarnation in created things (hulūl). Chapter16 of the Qūt (on Quran recitation, tilāwa98 gives us some insight into the Sālimī approach to this question. According to Makkī, there are three stations (maqāmāt) of Quran recital (given here in reverse):

351) The station of the seekers (murīd), who sees himself conversing with God and beseeching him.

362) The station the righteous (abrār), who witness God conversing with them.

373) The station of the knowers (‘ārifīn), who witness the characteristics (awṣāf) of the Speaker in His speech.

38He continues:

  • 99 Qūt, i, p. 47

“It is important for the servant, while reciting, to experience God speaking to him, as the Divine speaker speaks only by virtue of His own speech, the servant not partaking in it in any way 99.”

  • 100 Ba‘ḍa ‘ulamā’i-nā.

39Elsewhere, he quotes an unnamed scholar 100:

  • 101 Ibid., p. 49-50.

“I used to read the Quran without experiencing the sweetness of recital (ḥalāwat al-tilāwa) until I read it as if he heard the Prophet reciting it his companions. Then I was raised to a higher level in which I experienced it as if it was being recited by Gabriel to the Prophet. Then God brought about another level, and I now hear it (directly) from the Speaker (God) 101…”

  • 102 Qūt, i, p. 47.

40At the same time, another passage in the same chapter suggests that Makkī’s position (and presumably the Sālimiyya’s) was not so clear cut as Abū Ya‘lā’s description would suggest. Makkī states that just as the burning bush was a standing point from which Moses heard God speaking to him, God has made the movement of the tongue in recitation a boundary (ḥadd) and locus (makān) from which His speech can be heard  102. He continues later in the passage:

  • 103 Ibid.

“If God the Powerful were to speak in the manner that is perceptible to His hearing, neither the Throne nor the Footstool would not be able to withstand this speech due to the annihilation of what was between the two from the might of His dominion and the majesty of His lights 103…”

  • 104 Ibid., p. 48.

41Further on in the chapter, we are given an analogy. Since human beings are not capable of bearing the essence of the speech of God in its totality (kunh kalām Allāh bi-kamāli-hi), it must be made manifest through the voices of men, in the same way hunters communicate with animals through whistles and horns 104.

  • 105 For a brief discussion of the controversy generated over this issue, see C. Melchert, “The Adversar (...)
  • 106 His own position seems to have been somewhere between that of the traditionalists who affirmed the (...)

42It is important to understand here that the question of the createdness of the Quran was not merely one between the Mu‘tazila who claimed the Quran was created and the traditionalists who claimed that the Quran was uncreated. A debate also raged within the traditionalist camp over the particularities of their affirmation of the uncreated Quran. Did this refer to its meaning (ma‘nā), or did this also include it in its recited or written form? Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal was said to have stated that his utterance (lafẓ) of the Quran was not created, and many traditionalists adopted this position as a point of doctrine, attacking those who would say otherwise 105. By taking such a position, they refused to make any distinction within the attributes of God (as discussed above), but also wanted to uphold the importance of the experience of Quran recital so vital to Muslim piety. As we have seen, the Sālimiyya refused to impose boundaries on their description of the Divine attributes. More importantly, as mystics, they also would have wanted to affirm the possibility of experiencing the Divine directly in Quran recitation. But based on the evidence of the Qūt, it seems that Abū Ya‘lā oversimplified their position 106.

  • 107 Tenet 13. Mu‘tamad, p. 220. “The attribute of desire is a branch of the attribute of will, and the (...)
  • 108 Tenet 17. Mu‘tamad, p. 221. “God has one attribute of will (mašī’a), just as He has one attribute o (...)
  • 109 Tenet 14. Mu‘tamad, p. 220. “God desires from His servants acts of obedience and not acts of transg (...)

43A second grouping of tenets also seems to be a misrepresentation of genuine Sālimī teachings as found in the Qūt. These (tenets 11, 13, 14, 17) are related to the problem of reconciling God’s omnipotence with the apparent independence of action among sentient creatures. According to the Mu‘tamad, the Sālimiyya claimed that God’s attributes of will (mašī’a) and desire (irāda) are related (aṣl-far‘) but separate, the former being pre-eternal (qadīma), while the latter formed in time (muḥdaṯa107. Therefore, his attribute of will (mašī’a)is one thing, for each thing God desires there is a particular attribute of desire (irāda) branching out of his one attribute of will 108. Based on this a distinction can be made between the acts of obedience (al-ṭā‘āt), which God desires from his creatures, and acts of disobedience (al-ma‘āṣī) from creatures which God’s desire only manifests through (arāda bi-him) but not from them (arāda min-hum109.

  • 110 Qūt, i, p. 127. “Al-iradā wa-al-mašī’a ismān bi-ma‘nā wāḥid.”
  • 111 Ibid. “God knows what He wills and His knowledge has preceded (qad sabaqa bi-hi) it (what He wills) (...)

44In a passage of the Qūt dealing with these issues, both irāda and mašī’a are described here as two words meaning the same thing 110, which appears to falsify the distinction made in tenets 17 and 13 of Abū Ya‘lā’s Mu‘tamad. Instead a distinction is made between God’s knowledge of particulars before their existence, and their manifestation in existence (‘ālam al-šahāda) through His will 111. This line could be misread as suggesting that God’s will occurs only with the coming into being of the willed particulars. But as we have seen above, Makkī makes it quite clear that God transcends time and space completely, and that His attributes are united and indivisible.

  • 112 Qūt, i, p. 128. “Lam taḫruǧ ma῾ṣiyya ‘an mašī’a.
  • 113 Ibid.
  • 114 Ibid.Fa-qad kāna al-amrān ǧamī῾an irādati-hi.”

45As for the distinction between God’s desire for acts of obedience and acts of disobedience, Makkī affirms predestination, stating that acts of disobedience are not excluded from God’s will (mašī’a112, but reporting from sources he names as “our scholars”, he makes a subtle distinction between Divine command (amr) and desire (irāda). Therefore, both in the case of the Devil’s refusal to bow to Adam, and Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit, God’s desired their actions, but not desire the actions from them (i. e. commanded them) 113. In both instances however, God’s command and God’s desire manifested through their actions can be said to be instances of his desire 114. Therefore, in this case, Abū Ya‘lā can be said to be representing the Sālimī doctrine correctly, albeit dismissing it without detailed explanation.

  • 115 Qūt, ii, p. 90.
  • 116 Mu‘tamad, p. 218.
  • 117 Qūt, ii, p. 86. “God does not manifest (yataǧallā) twice in the same description (waṣf), nor does H (...)
  • 118 Ibid. See the preceding passage: “(God) goes beyond (all) boundaries (ḥudūd) and measurements (mi‘y (...)

46Two of the tenets Abū Ya‘lā objects to appear directly related to the mystical teachings of the Sālimiyya’. Tenet 5 states that the Sālimiyya state that “God has a secret that, if made manifest (law aẓhara-hu), would make the order of all things (tadbīr) null (baṭalat); Prophets have a secret that, if made manifest, would make prophecy null; and scholars (῾ulamā’) have a secret that, if made manifest, would make knowledge null.” This seems to be an exaggeration of the teaching presented in the Qūt: “Divinity (rubūbiyya) has a secret that, if made manifest (law ẓuhira), would make prophecy null; prophecy contains a secret that, if revealed (kušifa), would make knowledge null; and Godly scholars (῾ulamā bi-llāh) have secret that, it God manifests it (law aẓhara-hu-llāh), would make the laws (aḥkām) null 115.” Tenet 4 makes the claim that the Sālimiyya believe that God manifests (yataǧallā) to each creature, be it Jinn, human or angel, in a different way (“li-kulli šay’in fī ma‘nā-hu”) 116. This appears to be a misreading of the teaching found in the Qūt that “God does not manifest twice in the same manner or form 117”. He states this as part of a passage in which he describes of the boundless ways in which God can be described  118. Abū Ya‘lā, however, has interpreted this teaching as a form of incarnationism, making the accusation that this amounts to God manifesting Himself in the forms of creatures, as a man to men, a donkey to donkeys etc. In both of the above cases, one can say that Abū Ya‘lā has given them an exaggerated form and taken them out of their context.

  • 119 Mu‘tamad, p. 219.
  • 120 Tenet 3, Mu‘tamad, p. 217-218: “God will be seen on the Day of Judgment in an Adamic, Muḥammadan fo (...)

47Not all the accusations given by Abū Ya‘lā can be supported by the direct textual evidence of the Qūt. Some might be misinterpretations of some of the theological ideas discussed above. Tenet 7, in which the Devil is said to have bowed down to Adam after a second command, could be a misinterpretation of the distinction between God’s desire for an action to occur, and His desire for a servant to perform an act of obedience 119. Some seem be connected to a misreading of mystical ideas taught by the Sālimiyya. Tenets 3, 9 and 15 are probably connected to the primordial ‘light of Muḥammad’ (nūr Muḥammad) attributed to the predecessor of the Sālimiyya, Sahl al-Tustarī 120, which Makkī does not discuss in any explicit manner in his work.

48It seems, therefore, based on the evidence of the Qūt that while some of the descriptions of Sālimī teachings in Abū Ya‘lā’s Mu‘tamad are accurate, others are misinterpretations or gross exaggerations. We must, however, also take into consideration a number of other possibilities. The first is that the Mu‘tamad’s attack might not be directed against a particular branch of the Sālimiyya in the 11th century who might have exaggerated its original teachings, perhaps led by Abū ‘Alī al-Ahwāzī, who we discussed earlier.

  • 121 Qūt, I, p. 155-6.
  • 122 Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’, vol. 10, p. 375-6. Al-Muntaẓam, vol. 14, p. 88. Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 14, (...)
  • 123 Qūt, I, p. 157.
  • 124 Qūt, I, p. 155.
  • 125 Ibn al-Ǧawzī, Talqīḥ Fuhūm Ahl al-Āṯār, ed. ῾Alī Ḥasan (Maktabat al-Ādāb, Cairo, 1975), p. 714-7.
  • 126 Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. 9, p.  11. Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya, p. 505-515, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.  (...)

49Another possible explanation is that Makkī’s work does not entirely reflect the teachings of Ibn Sālim, or at least does not confine itself to Sālimī teachings. There is no doubt that Makkī considered himself a disciple of the tradition represented by the two Ibn Sālim’s, going back to Tustarī. He refers to these figures in the Qūt in the most respectful terms as “our imām”, or “our teacher” (šayḫu-nā121. At the same time, much of the available information regarding Makkī shows that we should not simply see him as merely being member of the Sālimiyya. The evidence of his life shows that he spent much of his earlier formative period in Mecca. There is no doubt that he was exposed to scholarly and mystical circles there, particularly that of Abū Sa‘īd al-A‘rābī (d. 341/952) 122. Also, the sources mentioned in the Qūt show that by the time he was writing, Makkī had become familiar with a wide range of mystical traditions. Along with the views of Tustarī and Ibn Sālim, the Qūt frequently quotes mystics of Baġdād, Syria 123 and Ḫurāsān 124. Finally, a list attributed to Makkī in Ibn al-Ǧawzī’s Talqīh Fuhūm Ahl al-Āṯār supports the idea that while he was a devout follower of Ibn Sālim, he might have held independent views that differed from his teacher. The list provides mentions which figures Makkī’s considered to be the leading authorities in various fields (such as politics, fiqh, Quran recitation, asceticism) for each generation from the founding of the Muslim community 125. While it is not surprising that he places Tustarī and Ibn Sālim as the leading ascetic figures of their respective generations (seventh and eighth), he also makes Abū Yazīd al-Bisṭāmī as the leading ascetic of the sixth generation, even though Ibn Sālim was known as a critic of Bisṭāmī. Furthermore, the leadership of ascetics for Makkī’s own generation (the ninth) is not given to a Basran Sālimī, but to Abū ‘Uṯmān al-Maġribī (d. 373/983), a leading mystic of Mecca who eventually moved to Nīšābūr 126.

50Based on the evidence of the external sources and the Qūt al-Qulūb, it seems clear that there were specific theological doctrines that were being taught within the circles of Ibn Sālim. Their engagement in theological discussion and perhaps even disputation with opponents seems to have warranted to some degree their description as mutakallimūn, despite their own opposition to groups more often associated with the usage of speculative reasoning kalām in theological discourse.

51To attain a more comprehensive understanding and reconstruction of the theological teachings of the Sālimiyya we would have to go beyond the often hostile external sources, and incorporate an in-depth study of the doctrinal passages of the Qūt al-Qulūb. However, while these passages do seem to correlate with much of the evidence provided in the external sources, it does not seem entirely clear whether or not Makkī and the Sālimiyya as depicted in the external sources represent the same group. In other words, it is possible that following the death of Ibn Sālim, various divergent branches of the Sālimiyya started to appear. While Ibn Sālim did teach a particular doctrine that often led to opposition by some of his contemporaries, this opposition seems to pale in comparison with the more radical attacks on the group in the following century. In the figure of the 11th century Sālimī, Abū ‘Alī al-Ahwāzī, we see the development a more radical branch of the group. In contrast, Makkī, while strongly devoted to the teachings of the leading authorities of the group, does not seem to confine himself to their teachings. Instead, his work shows a wider outlook, incorporating the teachings of various authorities from around the Muslim world. Writing towards the end of the 10th century, it seems that he might have considered that the death of Ibn Sālim signified the possible end of the Sālimiyya as a distinctive group. 

  • 127 Qūt, ii, p. 77. This translation is based on Böwering’s in Mystical Vision, p. 99.

“Following Ibn Sālim’s death, the spiritual path (ṭarīq) was cut off, the traces (āṯār) were wiped out, and the method (ḫabar) was blotted out. Then God made it known what He would be doing with this spiritual path and its people, whether He would bring forth people to it who would travel through its concealed depths (ġāmidāt) as a path, or whether He would hide them in the folds of their path and hide it in the concealed depths of the billows, within the hidden depths of divine foreknowledge (al-‘ilm al-sābiq127.”

52Therefore, while unlike Sālimīs such as Ahwāzī, Makkī and others like him might have had a different interpretation of events, in which the teachings of the Sālimiyya were no longer that relevant as a separate tradition. Instead, it was now to be seen as a contributing part of something much larger, coming together through the mutual cooperation and understanding between various traditions. While there is much in the Qūt that reflects the teachings of the Basran Sālimiyyah, this work perhaps should not be seen as a defense or attempt to represent their position alone, but to place the tradition within the wider world of Islamic mysticism. In other words, the Qūt occurs at a critical juncture between the age of regional mystical traditions and the beginnings of Classical Sufism.

Notes

1 For a discussion of a period earlier than one dealt with here, see Christopher Melchert, “The Basran Origins of Classical Sufism, Der Islam, vol. 82/2 (2005), p. 221-240.

2 Tustarī received formative training from Ḥamza al-῾Abbādānī, who resided on a ribāṭ on the island of ῾Abbādān, off the coast of Basra. He later spent many years teaching in his native Tustar (also known as Šuštar), but after being expelled, returned to Basra in either 258/871 or 263/877. See Gerhard Böwering, Mystical Vision of Existence in Classical Islam: The Qur’ānic Hermeneutics of the Ṣūfī Sahl at-Tustarī (d. 283/896) (De Gruyter, Berlin, 1980) for a detailed discussion of his life and thought.

3 Tustarī is listed as a prominent Sufi in all the Sufi works of the 10th century onwards, and his sayings are often quoted. Böwering discusses the development of Tustarian traditions in his Mystical Vision, p. 7-42. On Tustarī’s disciples, see Mystical Vision, p. 75-99. Many of them joined the Baghdad circles following death of their master. The influence of his tafsīr can be seen in the Ḫurāsānī writer Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī’s (d. 412) own Quranic exegesis, Ḥaqā’iq al-Tafsīr. See Mystical Vision, p. 100-135 and Böwering’s article - “The Major Sources of Sulamī’s Minor Qur’ān Commentary”, in Oriens, vol. 35 (1996), p. 35-56. See also Böwering’s edition of Sulamī’s minor tafsīr, The Minor Qur’ān Commentary of Abū ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn al-Sulamī (d. 412/1021), Arabic Text Edition, introduction and notes (Dār al-Mašriq, Beirut, 1997). One of Tustarī’s works that is available to us, the Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, was transmitted by an ascetic of Qayrawān who was originally from Sicily, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. ‘Abd Allāh al-Ṣiqillī (d. 380/990). See Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa wa-l-Radd ‘alā Ahl al-Firaq wa-Ahl al-Da‘āwā fi-l-Aḥwāl, ed. Muḥammad Kamāl Ibrāhīm Ja‘far (Dār al-Insān, Cairo, 1980) and Bowering’s discussion of this work and its transmitter in Mystical Vision, p. 12-16. Another, less well known text attributed to Tustarī is the Risāla al-Ḥurūf (Treatise on Letters), treated by the abovementioned Ja‘far in an unpublished dissertation. See M. K. J. Gaafar, The Ṣufī Doctrine of Sahl At-Tustarī, with a Critical Edition of His Risālat al-ḥurūf, University of Cambridge, 1965. Less is known about Tustarī’s connection to circles in the Hijaz, but the presence of his students, in particular ‘Alī b. Muḥammad al-Tirmiḏī al-Muzayyin al-Ṣaġīr (d. 329/939) (see Mystical Vision, p.  83-83) in Mecca, no doubt contributed to the transmission of his teachings there.

4 There is some confusion in the literature when referring to these two figures. Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya, ed. Johannes Pedersen (Brill, Leiden, 1960), p.  431-434 and Abū Nu‘aym al-Iṣfahānī (d. 430/1038), Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’ (Cairo, 1932-8), 10, p.  378-9, are the earliest biographies we have, both referring to Ibn Sālim the elder as Muḥammad b. Aḥmad. The son Abū al-Ḥasan is briefly referred to in these biographies, and Iṣfahānī mentions meeting him. The names of father and son are confused with each other in al-Sam῾ānī’s (d. 562/1116) al-Ansāb, ed. ῾Abd Allāh ῾Umar al-Bārūdī (Dār al-Ǧinān, Beirut, 1988), vol. 3, p.  200. Ḏahabī (d. 748/1348) also seems to have confused the two names in his Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, ed. Šu῾ayb Arna῾ūt & Ḥusayn Asad, (Mu’assasat al-Risāla, Beirut, 1984), vol. 16, p.  272-3, but distinguishes between the two in the Tārīkh al-Islām, ed. Baššār ῾Awaḍ Ma῾rūf, (Dār al-Ġarb al-Islāmī, Beirut, 2003), vol. 8, p.  161-162.

5 It is not always clear which Ibn Sālim is being referred to in much of the literature. Unless it is absolutely clear (and assuming a good amount of continuity in the teachings of both figures), I will retain the ambiguity of such references by merely referring to ‘Ibn Sālim’.

6 According to Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāǧ, the elder Ibn Sālim told him that he had served as Tustarī’s disciple for 60 years, bringing to mind the more involved role of an instructor-master (šayḫ al-tarbiyya). Sarrāǧ, Abū Naṣr ῾Abd Allāh b. ῾Alī (d. 378/988), al-Luma‘ fī-l-Taṣawwuf, ed. R.A. Nicholson, (Brill, Leiden, 1914). This is confirmed in Sulamī’s Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya, p. 431, which mentions that he had no other teacher other than Tustarī. Fritz Meier argues that such a relationship can be seen on a more widespread level only in the 11th century. Prior to this it was the teaching master (šayḫ al-ta‘līm) that was more prevalent. See his “Hurasan und das Ende der klassichen Sufik”, Atti del Convegno internationale sul Tema: La Persia nel Medievo (Accademia Nazionale del Lincei, Rome, 1971), p.  131–156. Laury Silvers-Alario has tried to modify this by showing that the shaykh al-tarbiyya master-disciple relationship can already be seen before this period. She maintains, however, that as a general rule for this period, Sufi disciples were not strictly attached to one particular master. 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, vol. 93/1(2003), p.  69-97.

7 Sarrāǧ rebukes Ibn Sālim for being unfairly biased in his criticism of Abū Yazīd al-Bistāmī’s mystical utterances (šaṭaḥāt), while not taking into account similar statements made by his master, Tustarī. Sarrāǧ, al-Luma‘, p. 390-5. Maqdisī describes them as “a people among whom can be found blessings (rizq) and righteous people (ṣāliḥūn)”, but criticises them for excessively praising their leader Ibn Sālim. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Maqdisī, Aḥsan al-Taqāsīm fī Ma‘rifa al-Aqālīm, ed. M.J. de Goeje (Brill, Leiden, 1877), p. 126.

8 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p.  37.

9Qawmun yadda῾ūna al-kalām wa-al-zuhd”. This line is hard to understand, considering his favorable comments about them in the following lines, where he says, “There is graciousness in their speech and their writings, their assemblies are uplifting, and contention (khilāf) is far removed from them.”

10 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p. 126. George Makdisi has explored the field of sermons and preaching (wa‘ẓ) in this period in his The Rise of Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1990), p.  171-200.

11 Al-Ḫaṭīb al-Baġdādī (d. 463/1071), Tārīḫ Baġdād, ed. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Ġumarī al-Maġribī (Maktaba al-Ḫānǧī, Cairo, 1931), vol. 3, p. 89 ; Ibn al-Ǧawzī (d. 597/1200), al-Muntaẓam fī Tārīḫ al-Mulūk wa-al-Umam, ed. Muḥammad ῾Abd al-Qādir ῾Aṭā’, Muṣṭafā ῾Abd al-Qādir ῾Aṭā’ & Na῾īm Zarzūr, (Dār al-Kutub al-῾Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1992) vol. 7, p. 189-190 ; Ibn Ḫallikān (d. 681/1282), Wafayāt al-A‘yān (Dār al-Ṯaqāfa, Beirut, 1968), vol. 4, p. 303-4; al-Ṣafadī (d. 764/1363), al-Wāfī bi-al-Wafāyāt, ed. Aḥmad Arna῾ūt & Turkī Farḥān Muṣṭafā, (Dār Iḥyā’ al-Turāṯ al-῾Arabī, Beirut, 2000), p. 116; al-Yāfi‘ī (d. 768/1367), Mir’āt al-Ǧinan wa-‘Ibrat al-Yaqẓān, ed. ῾Abd Allāh Jubūrī (Muassasat al-Risālā, Beirut, 1984), vol. 3, p. 430; Ibn Ḥaǧar al-‘Asqalānī (d. 852/1449), Lisān al-Mīzān, ed. Muḥmmad ῾Abd al-Raḥmān Mar῾ašlī (Mu’assasat al-Tārīḫ al-῾Arabī, Beirut, 1995), vol. 6, p. 376; al-Ḏahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 18, p. 108.

12 He describes seeing Ibn Sālim praying in Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 386/996), Qūt al-Qulūb fī Mu῾āmalat al-Maḥbūb (Maṭba῾a al-Maymaniyya, Cairo, 1893), II, p. 96.

13 Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. 3, p. 89.

14 The edition relied on here is the 19th Century “printed manuscript” Cairo edition (1893), in two volumes (henceforth referred to as Qūt), which is still the basis for all the recent editions. Richard Gramlich translated the work into German, with additional commentary. See Die Nahrung der Herzen: Abū Ṭālib al-Makkīs Qūt al-Qulūb (Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1994-5), four volumes. A critical edition of the Qūt al-Qulūb, based on the available manuscripts, is still needed. 

15 See some examples given in H. Lazarus-Yaffeh, Studies in al-Ghazzalī (Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 1975), 34-35. A comparison of the Qūt and the Iḥyā’ can also be found in Kojiko Nakamura’s “Makkī and Ghazālī on Mystical Practices”, Orient, vol. 20 (1984), p. 83-91.

16 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’ (16), p. 272-3, quoting Sulamī’s lost biographical work Tārīḫ al-Ṣūfiyya. This fact, however, does not stop Sulamī from giving the elder Ibn Sālim a biographical section of his own in this work on the lives of great Sufis (see above).

17 Tārīḫ Baġdād, p. 89. These comments are echoed by Ḏahabī (Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, see above), but most of the other biographers downplay or do not mention the controversy.

18 Another work attributed to Makkī, the ‘Ilm al-Qulūb, has not conclusively been shown to be his, and anyhow does not seem to deal with any theological issues. See ‘Ilm al-Qulūb, ed. ῾Abd al-Qādir Aḥmad ῾Aṭā’ (Dār al-Kutub al-῾Ilmiyya, Damascus, 1998). Another work, the Tafsīr of Ibn Barrāǧān (d. 536/1141), has been said to be Sālimī according to Massignon. Böwering has rejected this idea based on the lack of any references to Tustarī in the work. See Mystical Vision, p. 37.

19 I. Goldziher, “Die Dogmatische Partei der Salimijja”, Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vol. 61 (1901), p. 73-80.

20 ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Ǧīlānī, Kitāb al-Ġunya li-Ṭālib Ṭarīq al-Ḥaqq (Maṭba῾a al-Miṣriyya Bulāq, Cairo, 1871), p.  83-84.

21 Al-Qāḍī Abū Ya‘lā Aḥmad Ibn al-Farra’ (d. 458/1066), al-Mu‘tamad fī Uṣūl al-Dīn, ed. Wādī Ḥaddad (Beirut, 1974), p. 217-221.

22 L. Massignon, Passion of Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam, translated and edited by Herbert Mason (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1982). Numerous examples occur throughout this work. See the index (vol. 4) for comments related to Ibn Sālim (p.  182) and the Sālimiyya (p.  242-3).

23 L. Massignon, Essay on the origins of the technical language of Islamic mysticism, translated by Benjamin Clark (University of Notre Dame Press, Indiana, 1997), Compare p. 201 and 203.

24 Cihad Tunç, Sahl b. ‘Abdallah at-Tustari und die Salimiya: Übersetzung und Erläuterung des Kitab al-Mu’rada (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn, 1970), Böwering in Mystical Vision, p. 93-94; and other places cited below.

25 Cihad Tunç, Sahl b. ‘Abdallah at-Tustari, p. 46, 52-54.

26 In fact some disciples of Tustarī were members of Ḥanbalī circles in Baġdād, the most notable being al-Barbahārī (d. 329/941). See Mystical Vision, p. 82, 89. For discussion on the relationship between the Ḥanbalīs and mystics during this period, see C. Melchert, “The Ḥanābila and the Early Sufis”, Arabica (vol. 48, 3, 2001), p. 352-367. A more general discussion can be found in G. Makdisi’s “The Ḥanbalī School and Sufism”, in Actes IV Congresso de Estudeos Arabes e Islámicos (Brill, Leiden, 1971), p. 71-85. Also Makdisi’s “L’Islam hanbalisant”, in Revue des études islamiques, vol. 42 (1974), p. 211-44.

27 G. Böwering, “Early Sufism between Persecution and Heresy”, in Islamic Mysticism Contested, ed. Radtke and De Jong (Brill, Leiden, 1999), p. 62.

28 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p. 116. The Qūt’s sections on jurisprudence also do not appear to overwhelmingly favour the positions of the Mālikī school. However, Makkī is reported to have been buried in the Mālikī cemetery in Baġdād. See Ibn Ḫallikān, Wafayāt, p. 303-4.

29 Mystical Vision, p. 94 suggests that the propositions of the lists might have appeared among Ḥanbalī circles in Baġdād which were joined by some of Tustarī’s followers.

30 Mystical Vision, p. 89. The example given from the Qūt showing differences over the practice of fasting provides an interesting perspective into differing approaches to asceticism, but does not yield enough evidence for proof of a split between the followers of Tustarī. Also, Makkī himself seems to favor the position of the Baġdādī’s in this matter, which argues against this being a major point of disagreement between the two circles.

31 See F. Sobieroj, Ibn Ḫafīf aš-Širāzī und seine Schrift zur Novizenerziehung (Kitāb al-Iqtiṣād): Biographische Studien, Edition und Übersetzung (Franz Steiner Verlag, Beirut, 1998).

32 Mystical Vision, p.  93-94.

33 G. Böwering, “Sahl al-Tustarī” and B. Radtke, “Sālimiyya”, in the Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd edition). See also A. Knysh, Islamic Mysticsm: A Short History (Brill, Leiden, 1999), p. 87.

34 Mystical Vision, 93. See Mu‘tamad, p. 217. Tenet 1: “Inna al-bārī subḥāna-hū wa-ta‘ālā fī mā lam yazal kāna rā’iyan li-l-‘ālam wujūdan lahu ‘adaman fī ḏātihi (The blessed and exalted Creator saw the universe in pre-eternity existing, while it was non-existing in its essence) ”.

35 Ibn Sālim is reported to have said : “Whoever obeys God according to the primordial vision (ru’yat al-sabq) will have charismatic gifts (karāmāt) be manifested upon him.” See Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya, p.432; Abū Nu‘aym al-Iṣfahānī, Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’, p.378.

36 Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Ḥasan b. Fūrak (d. 406/1015), Muǧarrad Maqālāt al-Šayḫ Abī al-Ḥasan al- Aš‘arī, edited by D. Gimaret (Dār al-Mašriq, Beirut, 1987), p.81. ῾Abd al-Qāhir b. Ṭāhir al-Baġdādī (d. 429/1037), Uṣūl al-Dīn, (Dār al-Kutub al-῾Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1980), p.98.

37 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 16, p. 345.

38 Ibn Ḫafīf, p.  243-248. Sobieroj (p. 137) has also pointed out that Ibn Ḫafīf’s critism might have also been motivated in reaction to the Ibn Sālim’s attack on Abū Yazīd al-Bisṭāmī.

39 ‘Abd al-Qāhir b. Ṭāhir al-Baġdādī, al-Farq bayn al-Firāq (Maṭba῾a al-Ma῾ārif, Cairo, 1910), p. 324. Ibn Fūrak, Muškil al-Ḥadīṯ wa-Bayānuhu, ed. Mūsā Muḥammad ‘Ali (Dār al-Mašriq, Cairo, 1979) p. 194. According to Ibn Fūrak, he considered Ibn Sālim to be the only scholar to have taught the vision of God by disbelievers until he came across a similar doctrine being propounded in the Kitāb al-Tawḥīd of Ibn Ḫuzayma (Muḥammad b. Iṣḥāq b. Ḫuzaymah al-Sulamī al-Nīšābūrī, Šāfi‘ite, traditionist, d. 924). Listed in Abū Ya‘lā’s Mu‘tamad as tenet no.7.

40 Al-Farq bayn al-Firāq, p. 247. Bāqillānī, Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. al-Ṭayyib (d. 403/1013), can be seeing criticizing Ḥallāǧ in Kitāb al-Bayān ‘an al-Farq bayn al-Mu‘ǧizāt wa-al-Karāma), ed. R. McCarthy (Maktabat al-Šarqiyya, Beirut, 1958), p.  56, 74, 76.

41 Muǧarrad, p. 81 (see footnote 39).

42 Uṣūl al-Dīn, p. 98.

43 Uṣūl al-Dīn, p. 315-6.

44 On the issue of Ḥallāǧ, Baġdādī is once again noticeably neutral in his statement that there is no consensus among scholars over the orthodoxy of the executed mystic.

45 Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya, p.  431-4.

46 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 16, p. 272-3.

47 See Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. 2 , p. 248-249, where an anecdote is given in which Qušayrī experiences a humbling encounter with Sulamī, in which he discovers that the latter has a hidden fondness for Ḫallāǧ’s poetry. L. Massignon considers Daqqāq and Qušayrī to have taken a non-committal stance (tawaqquf) on the matter. See his article “Al-Hallādj” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition (Brill, Leiden).

48 Bāqillānī dedicated an entire work to exposing the dangers of false mystics and those who peddle in magic and superstitionSee his Bayān al-Farq bayn al-Mu‘ǧiza wa-al-Karāmāt (quoted above).

49 Muǧarrad, p. 330. Uṣūl al-dīn, p. 294-309. These include who preceded Aš‘ārī as theologians from among those who affirmed the Divine attributes (al-mutaqaddimūn min ahl al-iṯbāt), such as al-Ḥāriṯ b. Asad al-Muḥāsibī (d. 243/857-8), Ibn Kullāb (d. c. 241/855), Ḥusayn b. ‘Alī al-Qarābīsī (d. 248/862), or near contemporaries such as Abū al-‘Abbās al-Qalānisī (fl.late 3rd/9th century). A discussion on these various theologians can be found in J. Van Ess, “Ibn Kullāb und die Miḥna”, Oriens, vol. 18 (1965), p. 92-142. I have not come across any exact dates for Qalānisī, and Gimaret only states that he flourished in the later 3rd/9th century. D. Gimaret, “Cet autre théologien sunnite : Abū l-‘Abbās al-Qalānisī”, Journal asiatique, vol. 277 (1989), p. 227-62.

50 Abū al-Muẓaffar al-Isfarā’inī (d. 418/1027), al-Tabṣīr fī al-Dīn, ed. Kamāl Yūsuf al-Ḥūṭ (῾Ālam al-Kutub, Beirut, 1983) p. 132-133.

51Ḥashwiyya” in the Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition (Brill, Leiden). A. S. Halkin, “The Hashwiyya”, Journal of American Oriental Studies, vol. 54/1, (1934), p. 1-28.

52 Siyar A‘lām al-Nubala’, vol. 18, p. 13-18.

53 Ibid., p. 13. Ḏahabī, often sympathetic to the traditionalist opponents of kalām, calls him the leader in readings of the Quran (ra’san fī al-qirā’āt), and showers him with praises calling him “the šayḫ, imām, the most erudite (‘allāma).

54 Ibid., p.  15-18.

55 Ibid., vol. 20, p.  316-319.

56 Ibn ‘Asākir, ῾Alī b. Ḥasan (d. 571/1176), Tabyīn Kaḏib al-Muftarī fī mā Nusiba ilā al-Imām Abī al-Ḥasan al-Aš‘arī, ed. Ḥuṣām al-Dīn al-Qudsī (al-Qudsī, Damascus, 1928), p. 364-392.

57 It is also worth noting that Abū Ya‘lā’s own brother (Abū Ḫāzim Muḥammad) is reported to have been a Mu‘tazilī. See an entry on him in Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. 2, p. 252.

58 The kalām arguments used in the Mu‘tamad are dropped from the Ġunya. This is clearly the case in of tenets 2, 10, 11, 13 and 17 in the Mu‘tamad, where the arguments are based solely on kalām arguments without resort to the Quran and prophetic tradition.

59 Al-Ǧunya, p. 72

60 A work which shows that the theologians of this period were more multi-faceted than their label suggests is A. K. Reinhart’s Before Revelation: The Boundaries of Muslim Moral Thought (SUNY Press, New York, 1995). For a similar discussion focusing on the Aš‘arī school, see Daniel Gimaret, “Un document majeur pour l’histoire du Kalām: Le Muǧarrad Maqălăt al-Ashari d’Ibn Fŭrak”, Arabica, vol. 32/2(1985), p. 185-218.

61 Kalām manuals characteristically begin with a discussion of this method early on the work. To see some examples from some of the books that have been used here, see Mu‘tamad, p. 19-29. Muǧarrad, p. 9. Uṣūl al-Dīn, p. 14.

62 Massignon, The Passion of Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam, vol. III, p. 5-12. He summarises it quite neatly: “If Hallaj concerns himself with describing the outward appearance of things to adjust the contour of the phenomena, set exactly according to the rites of worship, it is to show that divine power (qudra) is a simple activity, radically different from the sensible traces (rusum, ayat) that it leaves on memory. If he sets forth and contends with concepts, logical definitions and dialectical arguments, it is to declare that the divine word is a really transcendent truth, hidden by the very abstraction (tafrid) and the discursive concept of God that it implants in our intelligence” (p. 5).

63 Qūt, I, p. 155. He only mentions another two: al-Istaḫrī and al-Ṣubayḥī. It is also worth noting that another theorist of mysticism, al-Muḥāsibī (d. 243/857), was also a native of Basra.

64 Tustarī, Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa (cited above). Two other titles found in the same manuscript (Ms. Körp. 727) also reflect similar themes: 1) Kalām Sahl b. ‘Abd Allāh, and 2) Kitāb al-Šarḥ wa-al-Bayān li-mā Aškala min Kalām Sahl. See Bowering’s discussion of this manuscript in Mystical Vision, p. 13-16.

65 Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, 81-82.

66Al-zanādiqa”. Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, p.83.

67 Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, p. 128.

68 Ibid., p. 99 (the closest of all creation to God is the believer in qadar), 81-82 (tries to steer middle path between murji‘ism and qadarism, 82 (ability to perform action, istiṭā‘a, is before, together AND after the action), 83 (ability, quwwa is of three types, or levels: soul/intellect, obedience/disobedience, only disobedience), 85 (qaḍā’ and qadar). 120 (3 principles of qadar).

69 Ibid., p. 82-83.

70 See the entry on Ibn Masarra in Ibn al-Faraḍī, Abū l-Walīd ῾Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad (d. 403/1013), Tārīḫ ‘Ulamā’ al-Andalus (Dār al-Miṣriyya li-Ta῾līf wa-Tarjama, Cairo, 1966), vol. 2, p. 39.

71 Kitāb al-Mu‘āraḍa, p. 106.

72 Qūt, I, p. 94.

73 Qūt, II, p. 77.

74 Qūt, I, p. 155-6.

75 Aḥsan al-Taqāsim, p. 126.

76 Reflecting a tension between the older usage among mystics in Basran circles, and the one more specific to dialectical reasoning. A few examples can be found in Qūt, I, p. 152, 155.

77 Qūt, I, p. 146-163. The existence of the words ‘censure’ (ḏamm) and kalām bring to mind the mystic Ḥanbali Anṣārī’s work, Ḏamm al-Kalām. The version I used is Ḏamm al-Kalām, ed. Samīḥ Dughaym (Beirut, Dār al-Fikr al-Lubnānī, 1994).

78 Ibid. 

79 Qūt, I, p. 151. “This perception is an attribute of the eye of certitude (‘ayn al-yaqīn), which when uncovered, will perceive the (inner) meanings of the Divine attributes through its light. This light is a surplus (mazīd) of the light of certainty, which is in turn the perfection of the light of faith and its reality.”

80 Qūt, I, p. 160. This brings to mind Tustarī’s advice to his disciples (mentioned above) to stop engaging in open mystical discourse after the year 300 A. H.

81 M. Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology: An Extended Survey (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1985), p.  110.

82 Mu‘tamad, p.  217-221.

83 Mu‘tamad, p.  217: “wujūdan lahu ‘adaman fī ḏātihi”.

84‘Alā ḫilāf mā huwa ‘alayhi.

85 Like most Muslim mystics, Makkī goes beyond an understanding of the Muslim profession that “there is no god but God and Muḥammad is the Messenger of God” (šahāda, the first pillar of Islam) as a matter of faith and acceptance, but also attainable through attaining mystical vision of God’s manifestation, through the light of certainty (yaqīn).

86 Qūt, II, p. 86.

87 Ibid., p. 87. “Wujūd al-ašyā’ lā yaḍṭarruhu ilā al-naẓari ilayhā”.

88 Ibid.wa ‘adamuhā yaḍṭarruhu ilā an lā yarāhā”.

89 Ibid. 

90 Ibid.iḏ al-ḥuǧub wāqi‘a ‘alā al-ḫalq ġayr muttaṣila bi-al-ḫāliq”.

91 Tenet 2: “God perceives with one attribute what He perceives with all the other attributes; perceiving with His knowledge what He perceives with His vision, power and will, and perceiving with His power what He perceives with His knowledge.” Mu‘tamad, p. 217. Tenet 10, “God was Creator in pre-eternity.” Mu‘tamad, p. 220.

92 Mu‘tamad, p. 220.

93 Qūt II, p. 87.

94 In this respect, they adopted a position similar to that of another branch of the traditionalist camp in theology that was developing, the Matūridī school of Transoxiana.

95 Qūt, ii, p. 85. “Qurbi-hī min al-ṯurā wa-min kulli šay’in ka-qurbihi min al-‘arš.”

96 Quran 5:53, 10:3, 13:2. Mu’tamad, p. 88-89. See also his interpretation of the ḥadīṯ of God coming to the earthly sky (al-samā’ al-dunyā) on page 89. In the following page (90), he states that God can be described as having the quality of location (ayniyya). Thus, God cannot be said to be in all locations, nor not in a location, but in the Heavens on the Throne.

97 Mu‘tamad, p. 221.

98 Once again, the discussion is introduced with a comment noting the limitations of mere intellect. The mystical understanding of the Quran, revealed through mystical experience (mušāhada), is not attainable to those who restrict their understanding only to that which is grasped by the intellect (al-rāǧi‘ ilā ma‘qūli-hi). Qūt, I, p. 45.

99 Qūt, i, p. 47

100 Ba‘ḍa ‘ulamā’i-nā.

101 Ibid., p. 49-50.

102 Qūt, i, p. 47.

103 Ibid.

104 Ibid., p. 48.

105 For a brief discussion of the controversy generated over this issue, see C. Melchert, “The Adversaries of Ibn Ḥanbal”, p. 241-245.

106 His own position seems to have been somewhere between that of the traditionalists who affirmed the uncreated nature of Quran recital and that of the Aš‘arīs, who only accepted the uncreatedness of its meaning. Thus, while he takes a non-commital position on the issue of the utterance (lafẓ) of the Quran (Mu‘tamad, p. 89-90, the lafẓ can neither be described as created or uncreated), he also accepts that it is appropriate to say that when one hears the recitation (tilāwa, qirā’a) of the Quran, one hears the Speech of God directly. His solution to the problem, unlike Makkī’s (which makes the reciter an instrument or ‘mouthpiece’ for Divine speech), describes the recitation of the human reader and Divine speech as indistinguishable in the same way that various musical instruments in a performance can be indistinguishable (Mu‘tamad, p. 91).

107 Tenet 13. Mu‘tamad, p. 220. “The attribute of desire is a branch of the attribute of will, and the attribute of will is the source of the attribute of desire, will is eternal, while desire is newly originated within time (muḥdaṯa).”

108 Tenet 17. Mu‘tamad, p. 221. “God has one attribute of will (mašī’a), just as He has one attribute of knowledge; together with that He has for everything desired (murād) a distinct desire (irāda), while His attribute of desire is still eternal.”

109 Tenet 14. Mu‘tamad, p. 220. “God desires from His servants acts of obedience and not acts of transgression, desiring those acts (of transgression) through them (bi-him) and not from them (min-hum).” In other words, God’s desire manifests itself through all actions (which are pre-determined), but a more ethical-moral distinction must be made between those which God asks of his servants, and which He does not. A possibly related tenet is Tenet 11 (Mu‘tamad, p. 220). Abū Ya‘lā claims that the Sālimiyya distinguished between the act (fi‘l), which was created, and the bringing about of action (taf‘īl) which was uncreated. 

110 Qūt, i, p. 127. “Al-iradā wa-al-mašī’a ismān bi-ma‘nā wāḥid.”

111 Ibid. “God knows what He wills and His knowledge has preceded (qad sabaqa bi-hi) it (what He wills), in this way He wills what He knows, His will making manifest His knowledge. (His) knowledge of the unknown is revealed by the His will’s manifestation of the Seen, since he is the Knower of the unseen and the witnessing, the unseen is his knowledge and the Seen is the known. How could the known conflict with the knowledge when the latter goes forth from the former? Will executes divine knowledge in the known particularities of creation.”

112 Qūt, i, p. 128. “Lam taḫruǧ ma῾ṣiyya ‘an mašī’a.

113 Ibid.

114 Ibid.Fa-qad kāna al-amrān ǧamī῾an irādati-hi.”

115 Qūt, ii, p. 90.

116 Mu‘tamad, p. 218.

117 Qūt, ii, p. 86. “God does not manifest (yataǧallā) twice in the same description (waṣf), nor does He appear (yaẓharu) in the same form (ṣūra) to two (beings), nor does He intend the same meaning (ma‘nā) from two (individual) words. In fact, for every manifestation from him (taǧalli) there is a form, and in his appearance to each servant (creature) there is an attribute (ṣifa) …”

118 Ibid. See the preceding passage: “(God) goes beyond (all) boundaries (ḥudūd) and measurements (mi‘yār), and precedes (all) power and abilities, possessing attributes (ṣifāt) which are immeasurable and boundless, being not contained in a single form, nor restricted to a single attribute (ṣifā)…”

119 Mu‘tamad, p. 219.

120 Tenet 3, Mu‘tamad, p. 217-218: “God will be seen on the Day of Judgment in an Adamic, Muḥammadan form (ṣūrat Ādamī Muḥammadī).”

Tenet 9, Mu‘tamad, p. 219: “Gabriel came to the Prophet without moving from his (Gabriel’s) location.”

Tenet 15, Mu‘tamad, p. 221: “The Prophet had the Quran in his memory before he attained prophecy, and before Gabriel came to him.”

The concept of the light of Muḥammad is expressed more explicitly in Tustarī’s Tafsīr. See Böwering’s discussion of this in his Mystical Vision.

121 Qūt, I, p. 155-6.

122 Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’, vol. 10, p. 375-6. Al-Muntaẓam, vol. 14, p. 88. Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 14, p. 407-11. Makkī refers to him as “our šayḫ” in Qūt, I, p. 162.

123 Qūt, I, p. 157.

124 Qūt, I, p. 155.

125 Ibn al-Ǧawzī, Talqīḥ Fuhūm Ahl al-Āṯār, ed. ῾Alī Ḥasan (Maktabat al-Ādāb, Cairo, 1975), p. 714-7.

126 Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. 9, p.  11. Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya, p. 505-515, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 16, p. 320-321.

127 Qūt, ii, p. 77. This translation is based on Böwering’s in Mystical Vision, p. 99.

Auteur

Université d’Oxford

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