Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

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

 | 
Geneviève Gobillot
, 
Jean-Jacques Thibon

III — Les maîtres et leurs méthodes

Modes of transmission of spiritual influence: The instruction of Abū Bakr al-Šiblī, a 4th/10th. c. Sufi master of Baġdād

Florian Sobieroj

Résumé

Les sources arabes nous offrent de multiples récits de contemporains de al-Šiblī qui illustrent les divers aspects des relations entre le maître et ses disciples. À travers l’étude des informations transmises par ceux qui ont vécu en sa présence, nous tenterons de préciser les divers motifs de rencontre et d’analyser la manière et les modalités de transmission de l’influence du saint.

Certains lui ont rendu visite pour obtenir sa baraka ou pour entendre son avis sur une question théologique ; d’autres ont entendu ses prêches et ont renoncé à ce monde. Pour certains le lien ne fut que superficiel tandis que quelques-uns le servaient, vivant au sein de sa famille. Des disciples du maître ont reçu une éducation spirituelle et figurent dans les chaînes de filiation soufies. Toutefois, un seul disciple est présenté comme ayant reçu l’héritage spirituel du maître en vertu d’un « lien pré-éternel » le rattachant à son maître. Nous concluons par une comparaison entre la méthode mystagogique appliquée par al-Šiblī et celle d’Ibn al-Ḫafīf, son jeune contemporain de Shiraz.

Numerous are the contemporaries’ reports in Arabic literature which serve to illustrate aspects of the relationship between aš-Šiblī and his followers. By examining the accounts of the individuals who experienced their master’s presence I try to determine the motifs of the respective encounter, assess the quality of the influence transmitted by the charismatic sheikh and analyze its modalities.

Some of these individuals visited aš-Šiblī with a view to seeking his blessings or to elicit from him an opinion on a theological issue; others happened to hear aš-Šiblī preach and renounced the world; some associated with aš-Šiblī loosely while others lived with his family as house servants. Some of his followers underwent a mystical training with aš-Šiblī and figure in the Sufi lineages. Only one of his disciples however is said to have obtained his spiritual heritage, on account of a “pre-eternal bond” formed with his master. A comparison between the mystagogical methods applied by aš-Šiblī and his younger contemporary of Shiraz, Ibn al-Ḫafīf, concludes this study.

لقد توفرت أخبار المعاصرين في المصادر العربيّة التي تصوّر بعض وجوه العلاقة بين الشبلي وتلاميذه. ومن خلال دراسة أخبار الأشخاص الّذين مُنوا بحضور الشيخ نحاول تحديد دوافع اللقاءات المختلفة وكذلك كيفيّة تحديد التّأثير الذي ينقله ذلك الولي وتحليلَ وجوه هذا التّأثير.

قام بعض هؤلاء الأشحاص بزيارة الشّبلي بهدف نيل بركاته أو لسماع رأيه في مسألة دينيّة أو كلاميّة. والتقى آخرون الشبلي واستمعوا لعظاته فزهدوا في الدّنيا . واتصل غيرهم بالشبلي اتصالا سطحيّا بينما عاش آخرون بين أفراد عائلته كخدّام. وارتاض بعض أصحاب الشّيخ تحت إشرافه ووردت أسماؤهم في السّلاسل الصّوفيّة ويروى أنّ شخصا واحدا فقط من أصحابه تلقى الإرث الرّوحاني لأجل تأليف أزلي حصل بينه وبين شيخه. وفي ختام الدّراسة قمنا بمقابلة بين نوعيّة التّأديب المستعمل من قبل الشبلي ومعاصره الأصغر أبي عبد الله ابن الخفيف الشّيرازي .

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 The most important primary sources for his biography are Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 337-48; Ḥilya, vol. x, (...)

1The illustrious mystic of Transoxanian descent, Abū Bakr al-Šiblī al-Usrūšanī (d. 334/945) 1, as a master of Sufism in Baġdād, has trained many novices. Numerous are also his contemporaries’ reports integrated in historio- and hagiographical literature which illustrate aspects of the relationship between Šiblī and his followers. By examining the accounts of the individuals who experienced the mystic’s presence, I try to assess the quality of the influence transmitted by the saint and analyze its modalities. I will start with an examination of the literary material consisting of Šiblī’s utterances and attempt a categorization. In classifying the types of transmitted words I shall concentrate on the poetry which Šiblī recited in front of his followers and explain its didactical function. The transmitters of Šiblī’s kalimāt were his disciples, although not all of them. Proceeding in concentric circles I attempt to classify the persons who received his spiritual influence and give some characteristic examples of its workings. I will conclude with a brief attempt to compare the mystagogical methods of Šiblī and his younger contemporary b. Ḫafīf of Shiraz.

Topographical place of mystical instruction

  • 2 Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xii, p. 95, vol. xiv, p. 393; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 346, no. 39.
  • 3 See Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 81v.

2Šiblī used to gather the hearers of his teachings in particular under the “cupola of the poets” inside the Manṣūr-mosque on the Western banks of the river Tigris, i.e. in the Ǧāmi‘ al-Madīna 2. At the very same place, the Qubbat al-šu‘arā’, already Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal (d. 241/855), like Šiblī revered as a patron saint of Baġdād, used to pray, on Fridays (Ibn al-Ǧawzī, Manāqib, p. 289). However, Šiblī is said to have also taught, in the Ruṣāfa-Mosque 3. Abū al-Qāsim al-Ǧunayd (d. 297/910; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 155-63), to whose circle he had belonged, used to gather his students in the Šūniziyya-mosque (Ibn al-Naǧǧār, Ḏayl, vol. iii, p. 183 f.) where Šiblī’s disciples would later transmit stories about their master (op. cit., vol. ii, p. 5). Instruction, including poetry-recitation, is reported to have taken place also inside Šiblī’s home (Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 391) and in that of his master, Ǧunayd. Many instances of instruction and miracles performed by Šiblī have also been observed in the streets and the squares of Baġdād (e.g. Ibn al-Qaysarānī al-Maqdisī, Ansāb, p. 81 f.).

Classification of mystical utterances transmitted

3The polymath Abū ‘Abdallāh Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. ‘Uṯmān al-Ḏahabī (d. 748/1348; EI2, vol. ii, p. 214-16) offers a very basic classification of the utterances of Šiblī transmitted by his hearers: “Šiblī produced poetry, he uttered sayings and aphorisms (ḥikam).” Looking closer at the transmitted material one may however arrive at a more refined classification which includes 7 categories: 1. sayings, 2. tafsīr, 3. ecstatic utterances (šaṭḥiyyāt), 4. mystical allusions (išārāt), 5. prayer, 6. poetry, 7. stories (ḥikāyāt), a. related by Šiblī, b. related about him by his companions.

  • 4 Ǧama‘a la-nā al-‘ilm kulla-hū fī hāḏihi al-kalima (al-Sīrawānī, in Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 392).
  • 5 Wa-la-hū kalām mašhūr wa-fī al-kutub mašhūr (Ḏahabī, Tārīḫ, p. 117).

41. The category of sayings may comprise definitions of Ṣūfī terms or instructions which Šiblī gave to individual hearers. Some of his transmitters judged that his sayings were capable of enshrining the whole of the science of Sufism 4, and Ḏahabī rightly says that Šiblī’s words were famous and by his own time long since recorded in literature 5.

52. Šiblī has commented upon approximately 100 selected verses of the Qur’ān. The majority of these comments have been incorporated into Sulamī’s exegetical compilation Ḥaqā’iq al-tafsīr and its addition, entitled Ziyādāt.

  • 6 By including unspecific sayings and even stories of Šiblī in his Commentary on the “Šaṭḥiyyāt”, Rūz (...)
  • 7 See Luma‘, p. 395-96.

63. The ecstatic utterances or “theopathic locutions” (šaṭḥiyyāt) in many cases include sayings of the form “I am so-and-so” (e.g. “I am the mystical moment” etc.) and express the mystic’s consciousness of unity with the godhead. 6 These utterances, implying a self-identification with God, were used by Šiblī also as a didactical device, e.g. to see off visitors. He addressed one Abū ‘Abdallāh b. Ǧābār and a companion of the latter with the words: “Go, I am with you wherever you are, etc.” (murrū anā ma‘a-kum ḥayṯu mā-kuntum antum fī ri‘āyatī wa-fī kilāyatī 7) which seem to be modelled on Sura 57/4 and as such have been criticized by b. al-Ǧawzī (d. 597/1200) (Talbīs 1989, p. 472). However, this utterance may simply have been meant to remind the disciples of a bond (rābiṭa) connecting them with their master.

  • 8 Or according to a variant: “ecstatic utterances” (Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 496).

74. According to a word of Šiblī, textual išārāt may be found, in particular, in pieces of profane poetry and songs which were recited during the Sufis’ samā‘-sessions. By understanding these texts as allusions to particular qualities of God, man may be protected against temptations (fitan) inherent in the texts, for – as Šiblī says: “listening to music outwardly is fitna, listening inwardly, however, is admonition” (‘ibra). A word of Ǧa‘far al-Ḫuldī (d. 348/959-60), viz., that Šiblī’s allusions8 are counted as one of the three miracles of Baġdād (Ansāb, vol. v, p. 178), indicates why so many visitors frequented the mystic trying to elicit a word from his mouth.

  • 9 A transmitter called Ibrāhīm b. ‘Umar b. Ḥamdān relates that Šiblī  instructed an inquirer in his a (...)
  • 10 According to a polemical report recorded by b. al-Ǧawzī, Talbīs, 1983, p. 388, Šiblī placed his int (...)

85. Many prayers (du‘ā’) which Šiblī pronounced before his students or in the wider public have been recorded by his transmitters. Numerous subjects pertaining to mystical life have been embedded in the form of a prayer, as e.g. God as the sole legitimate object of man’s aspiration (Ibn Faḍlallāh, Masālik, vol. viii, p. 77). Šiblī taught his hearers the preconditions for a prayer to be answered by God, i.e. absence of inattentiveness (this instruction was given as a commentary on Sura 40/60; see Ḥilya, vol. x, p. 368). Šiblī also instructed his audience concerning the modality of praying correctly 9. However, Šiblī’s prayer in public was not always intended as instruction for his audience: Sometimes it served as the saint’s intercession 10 on behalf of the community, or as a means to ask God for his forgiveness and mercy with regard to himself (Luma‘, p. 260) or to others (Ḥilya, vol. x, p. 368; Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 394-5). He prayed for an audience responding to someone’s request and asked God to “slash them with the whip of His fear” and “castigate them with the prod of his craving”, i.e. to fill them with fear of God and yearning (Ibn Faḍlallāh, Masālik, vol. viii, p. 76). One public prayer included a teaching about the paradox of being neither able to reach nor to escape from God. This prayer may have been intended to puzzle the audience and by making them go through the perplexity bring about a deeper understanding of the relationship between man and God (See Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 82r). Another quandary is expressed in a prayer of Šiblī recorded by Abū Bakr Muḥammad al-Kalābāḏī (d. 380/990 or 384/994): “If I pray I deny, i.e. by asking God for anything I deny His perfect goodness, and if I do not pray I am ungrateful” (Kalābāḏī, Ta‘arruf, p. 137).

  • 11 Some poems he recited also constitute elaborations of lines of borrowed poetry.

96. In Šiblī’s spiritual instruction the poetry recited by him played an important role. The poetry transmitted in Šiblī’s name may be divided 1. in pieces of his own composition and 2. in pieces borrowed from other poets 11.

10I have identified seven functions at work in Šiblī’s poetry-recitation: 1. to give a teaching on a subject of mysticism; 2. to exhort to world-renunciation; 3. to comment on Qur’ānic verses or Sufi sayings; 4. to give a spiritual counsel to an individual; 5. to perform a mystical ritual; 6. to express a criticism; 7. to answer questions related to his own person.

111- Šiblī recited a poem, apparently a borrowed piece (beginning ‘Abarātun ḫaṭaṭna fī al-ḫaddi saṭran), as answer to a question about patient endurance (Luma‘, p. 50); another verse, borrowed from Maǧnūn Laylā (beginning Tadāwaytu), was recited by Šiblī in answer to a question about the recommended stratagem (ḥīla) which in a preceding word he had defined, paradoxically, as abandonment of precisely this stratagem (Manāqib, Ms. Leiden, p. [!] 325); Šiblī recited a poem of al-Buḥturī (beginning Iḏā maḥāsiniya llatī udillu bi-hā) answering the question which work entails the geatest reward for man (Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 82r); Šiblī used to recite a poem (beginning Ayyuhā l-munkiḥu) borrowed from ‘Umar b. Abī Rabī‘a in order to indicate the way which leads man to God (Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 83v).

122- Šiblī used to recite poetry while preaching or he couched poems in stories he related. The poem Qad nādat includes an exhortation by the “world” (dunyā) which calls man to renounce his attachment to it. Worthy of note is the paradox that the world characterizes itself as deluding man while at the same time asking him to heed its warning. The grammarian Abū ‘Umar al-Zāhid (d. 345/956-57) who transmitted this poem is said to have turned into a recluse under the effect of Šiblī’s sermon (“his stories”; Hamaḏānī, Takmila, vol. i, p. 171).

133- The poems recited as commentary on Qur’ānic verses often show only a loose connection with the āya in question or one not easily discernible. In order to comment on an āya (Sura 3/54) mentioning God’s “cunning” (makr), Šiblī recited a song (beginning Wa-yaqbuḥu) he had heard from a female lute-player. The message of that recitation by Šiblī seems to be that everything emanating from God as Beloved, including his apparent cruelty, is beautiful because willed by him (kullu šay’in min-kumū ‘indī ḥasan; Luma‘, p. 298). Another poem, beginning with Da‘i l-aqmāra, was recited by Šiblī to illustrate a commentary of his own he had uttered to explain Sura 75/7-12. The eschatological events described in this Qur’ānic verse are explained by Šiblī to take place when the created worlds become “illusion (ḥulm) and God becomes wakefulness” (yaqẓa). The events of the last day are internalized and explained to happen in the heart of the mystic. The usual dichotomy of this world (dunyā) and the other world (āḫira) is suspended through the epistemological distinction between a world of the unreal and the world of God’s reality. In the poem recited, Šiblī contrasts the full moon, as symbol of the divine, with the new moons which humble themselves (taḏillu la-hū) before him (Ḥilya, vol. x, p. 372).

144- Šiblī recited poetry in answer to his disciples’ request for spiritual counsel (awṣī-nī). A transmitter reports that he heard Šiblī give advice to a disciple by reciting the poem Qālū tawaqqā diyāra al-ḥayyi inna la-hum / ‘aynan ‘alay-ka iḏā numta lam tanamī (“They say: heed the mansions of the tribe / for they have an eye on you. If you sleep they do not sleep”). The profane poem was meant to be transferred by the disciple in an interpretative process to the level of the relationship between God and man. The disciple was advised to meditate on the idea that God observes him every moment and, as result, abstain from sinning. The counsel alludes to the Sufi contemplative discipline known as murāqaba which ultimately is based on Sura 13/33 where God is called raqīb, i.e. “the Watcher” (Rāġib, Muḥāḍarāt, vol. iv, p. 407).

155- Šiblī used to recite some poems “often”, i.e. in front of a visitor or disciple, apparently as part of a mystical ritual. By reciting the poem Usā’ilu ‘an Salmā fa-hal min muḫabbirin / bi-anna la-hū ‘ilmun bi-hā ḥīna tanzilū (“I inquire about Salmā. Is there any messenger / having knowledge about her and knowing where she dwells?”) Šiblī  ascribes the role of an envoy from the beloved to the person he addresses. The addressee is again expected to transpose the poem to the level of the God-man relationship by identifying the female beloved evoked in the poem with God. He also suggests to the disciple to meditate on the question if he can act as a messenger and give news about the longed-for beloved. According to the transmitter Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn, Šiblī used to first address the person entering by asking him directly: “Do you have a message?” or: “Have you found a trace?”, whereupon he would recite the poem Usā’ilu. Having perplexed the addressee, Šiblī was wont to retract the question by correcting himself: “No, by Your majesty, in both worlds there is none to bring tidings from You” (mā fī l-dārayn muḫbir ‘an-ka). Understandably, for in view of God’s transcendence (wa-‘izzati-ka), noone could – after the Prophet’s revelation – bring further tidings from God (Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 82r). However, this ritual was not the preserve of Šiblī. Also his companion Abū Muḥammad al-Ǧurayrī (d. 311/923-24), the successor of Ǧunayd as head of the Baġdadī school of Sufis, is reported to have confronted his visitors by reciting before them a poem beginning Qif bi-al-diyāri in which the addressee is asked to visualize, starting with the aṭlāl-motif, the scenery of the abandoned camp-site. Seized by the pain of yearning, the Sufi was expected to weep about a loss of the connection with the departed beloved. In Ǧurayrī’s poem, as reason for the beloved’s departure, it is indicated that the person addressed, i.e. the lover, had first turned away from the beloved (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 264; Ḥilya, vol. x, p. 348; Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. iv, p. 432-33).

  • 12 Qušayrī has recorded from Šiblī, in this context, the wording: [anta šāhidī] mā lam taǧ‘al li-nafsi (...)

16A ritual function may also be ascribed to Šiblī’s recital of the poem beginning with Ammā al-ḫiyāmu fa-inna-hā ka-ḫiyāmi-him whereby he used to receive Sufis who appeared in front of him in their professional attire, i.e. in patched frock and cloths. As explained in the frame story, Šiblī meant to criticize the Sufis for “making a claim” (da‘wā), i.e. pretending to have reached a spiritual state, by questioning the truthfulness of their claim (Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 81v). Elsewhere Šiblī is reported to have refused entrance to any visitor coming with a “pretence“. A Sufi who introduced himself as the “dot under the letter bā’” was treated so rudely by the shaykh that he could only save himself from worse by a quick escape (Risāla, p. 76). The precondition for being accepted by Šiblī as disciple was precisely not to ascribe to oneself any spiritual rank 12.

  • 13 Underpinning his aversion against the disciples’ concern with studying Prophetic tradition and law, (...)

176- As already alluded to, spiritual instruction could be clothed in the form of a critique of a religiosity judged unauthentic. A student entering the teaching circle equipped with an ink-glass was reprimanded by Šiblī reciting a poem (beginning Tasarbaltu li-l-ḥarbi) in which Sufism is declared superior to the study of ḥadīṯ (Talbīs 1989, p. 446) 13.

18A group of poems on the theme of the festival-day (‘īd) were recited by Šiblī to teach the people at large not to honour one another on account of the clothes one wears but to devote one’s religious aspiration to God alone. To emphasize this criticism Šiblī burnt his own, precious clothes (“I burn what they revere”). In a line of one of these ‘īd-poems the distinctiveness of his own religiosity is emphasized by Šiblī: “How different are the people from me on the festival” (šattāna baynī wa-bayna al-nāsi fī al-‘īdī; Tahḏīb, fo. 129v). The burning of precious objects, clothes and other things, was used by Šiblī as a means of scandalizing the people, and by offending their sense of moral bring about a change of religious perspective in them.

197- Poetry was recited by Šiblī also in answer to questions relating to his own person. The question about his ḥāl directed to him by a Sufi shaykh who arrived in the company of many disciples was answered by Šiblī through the quotation of a borrowed verse beginning with ‘Awā al-ḏi’bu (Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 84r). In this line the poet, perhaps Maǧnūn, declares that he prefers the company of wild animals to that of men. Šiblī may again have intended a criticism of a pretence he recognized in the appearance of the visitor. At the same time he taught the inquirer that self-alienation from human society may be a precondition for finding intimacy with God.

20The weeping of Šiblī caused a disciple to ask the mystic about his condition. In this case the recitation of a poem beginning with Iḏā ‘ātabtu-hū was designed by Šiblī as explanation of the cause of his lament: According to the poem’s content the good works of man count for nothing in God’s view. For this reason, Šiblī feared the wrath of a godhead conceived as punishing (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 341-2).

  • 14 The recitation of poetry by Šiblī in a spontaneous state of ecstasy, regularly observed by his comp (...)

21Poems on love, often borrowed from Maǧnūn, were quoted by Šiblī to explain aspects of man’s relationship to God which in his view should be based on passionate love. With a laughter Šiblī would recite the poem beginning Nasītu al-yawma min ‘išqī ṣalātī to excuse himself for not performing ritual prayer at the prescribed time (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 344). The teaching he meant to give to his disciples whom he now calls sādāt, takes the form of an analogy: Just as the person intoxicated by alcoholic drinks is momentarily exempted from observing the law, the mystic inebriated through love for God finds himself in an exceptional state where legal obligations do not apply 14. Even on his death-bed Šiblī used somebody’s inquiry about his personal condition as occasion to give a mystical teaching. He recited the poem beginning Inna sulṭāna ḥubbi-hī / qāla lā aqbilu al-rušā (“The power of love / said: I do not accept a bribe etc.”; Luma‘, p. 251) as reaction to a disciple’s vain effort to make Šiblī say the šahāda in the dying-process. He taught his disciple that pronouncing the declaration of faith before death is an inadmissible attempt to gain God’s favour (Ibn al-Ǧawzī, Ṯabāt, p. 358; ‘Aṭṭār, Taḏkira, vol. ii, p. 153). The latter however can only be gained through sincere love for God the sincerity of which is to be proven during one’s life.

  • 15 On Ḫayr, see b. al-Mulaqqin, Ṭabaqāt, p.157-59.

22In ascribing a mystagogical function to poetry in his teaching, Šiblī  followed a method which he himself, earlier, had experienced as a disciple: In front of his first master in Sufism, Ḫayr b. ‘Abdallāh al-Nassāǧ (d. 322/933-34) 15, Šiblī recited a love-poem of Baššār b. Burd (d. 167/783) or some other poet, beginning Aẓallat ‘alay-nā min-ka yawman saḥābatun, i.e. on the paradox of being neither able to reach God nor to escape from him. Thereafter he asked Ḫayr which perspective (mawḍi‘) he adopted regarding the content of the poetical piece. Ḫayr answered that the position he assumes regarding the ma‘ānī of the verse is lowliness (ḏull; Luma‘, p. 251-52).

  • 16 Anṣārī also uses the term as a designation for any individual tradition, see: “nothing better has b (...)

237. Ḥikāyāt, “stories”, are words of Šiblī placed in a literary frame which Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāǧ (d. 378/988) calls muqaddamāt (Luma‘, p. 399). Usually, but not always, the frame or introduction, consists in a question directed by some person to Šiblī to which he reacts verbally or occasionally also non-verbally. The stories are sometimes also designated as ḫabar or, in the sense of an autobiographical story he narrated, qiṣṣa (Manāqib, Ms. Leiden, p. 327). ‘Abdallāh al-Anṣārī al-Harawī (d. 481/1089) used the term ḥikāyāt to designate the totality of the Šiblī-transmission 16.

24Telling Sufi-stories was believed to have a beneficial, spiritual effect. The Sufi Abū Bakr al-Kattānī (d. 322/934) is said to have answered a question about the use of story-telling (muḏākarat al-ḥikāyāt) as follows: “The stories are one of God’s armies (Ǧund /laškar) whereby the strivers’ bodies are strengthened, etc.” and he refers to Sura 11/120 (and in all that we relate unto thee of the story of the messengers is in order that thereby we may make firm thy heart) as scriptural evidence (šāhid) for this view (Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. iii, p. 75). Words of Ǧunayd and Abū ‘Alī al-Daqqāq (d. 405/1014-15 or later), recorded by Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār (d. 617/1220 or 627/1229-30) in the introduction to his Taḏkirat al-awliyā’, elaborate on this theme. Daqqāq answered someone’s objection that it is useless to hear the words of the Sufis if one lacks the capability of reenacting them: “… by hearing stories the aspiration of the seeker is strengthened and he finds comfort in a depression; haughtiness, satanic influences and love to the world are expelled thereby”. Šiblī himself reflected on the use of story-telling by contrasting stories with the mystical realities symbolized in them. The function of the stories, he explains, lies in bringing the disciples together while that of the realities is to separate them from one another (al-ḥikāyāt taǧma‘u-kum wa-l-ḥaqā’iq tufriq bayna-kum; Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 81v). Ḫuldī, the author of a lost book entitled al-Ḥikāyāt which was made up of Sufi stories (Ansāb, vol. v, p. 178; Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 496), contrasts the ḥikāyāt with the ḥadīṯ-genre: “They are more tender for the hearts, more quickly understood and more easily comprehended than the Prophetic traditions” (Tahḏīb, fo. 273r).

25The Šiblī-stories may be divided in two classes: 1. those in which a transmitter relates his own observations he made regarding Šiblī and which usually includes a word uttered by the mystic; 2. a story related by Šiblī himself.

  • 17 Story-telling as an exhortative or didactical device, of course, was not the preserve of Šiblī. Als (...)
  • 18 The word ascribed to al-Dārānī runs: “When the soul obtains its nourishment, it comes to rest” (iḏā (...)

26Some stories related by Šiblī have an autobiographical character whilst of course serving a didactical function 17. The story about his encounter with a robber coming from the Arab desert culminates in the episode of a penitent return of the Arab (Ibn Qudāma, Tawwābūn, p. 280-1). Other stories related by Šiblī include words or poems he heard his teachers (e.g. Ǧunayd, Ǧurayrī, etc.) or some other earlier authority say. For instance, he transmits a question about the nature of humility (tawāḍu‘) directed to Yūsuf b. Asbāṭ (d. 199/814-5), as well as the latter’s answer: “Humility is that you leave your house and consider that anyone whom you meet is better than yourself” (Taḏkira, vol. ii, p. 73). Some of these ḥikāyāt include a comment of Šiblī on a word of an earlier Sufi authority, e.g.: “Šiblī was asked about the meaning of a word of Abū Sulaymān al-Dārānī (d. 215/830-1) on the term iṭma’nīna etc.” (Luma‘, p. 67) 18.

Materials of the first generation of transmitters

27Stories about or from Šiblī were appreciated by their hearers for the spiritual content as well as for their entertainment value. Students preferred hearing them to studying Prophetic traditions. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Ǧāmī (d. 898/1492) relates a story about the upsetness of ‘Alī b. al-Muṯannī al-Istirābāḏī (d. after 370/980-1), a disciple of Šiblī and diligent ḥadīṯ transmitter, which was provoked by this attitude of disinterest for traditions which he observed with some of his visitors (Nafaḥāt, p. 318).

28Words of Šiblī, e.g. prayers, heard by his transmitters, were learnt by heart. One ‘Umar b. Baḥr records as introduction of a prayer transmitted by him: “This is a prayer of Šiblī which I have entrusted to my memory” (Luma‘, p. 260). Poems considered pleasant by Šiblī’s audience in the mosque were memorized by children present (e.g. Abū al-Ḥasan al-Dallāl; Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xii, p. 96). However, already students of the first generation made written notes as a mnemonic aid which means that the phase of an exclusively oral transmission had, of course, long since been passed. The Šiblī-transmitter ‘Abdallāh b. Mūsā al-Salāmī, present in Baġdād before 318/930, assembled a collection of sayings for which he had relied on his excellent memory (so judged the historian Abū Sa‘d al-Idrīsī [in Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. x, p. 149]). The disciples entered the Sufi assemblies, already in the 3rd/9th. century, equipped with paper and ink-glass. The poem beginning with Yā hilāl, composed in the teaching-circle of Ǧunayd, possibly by Šiblī, was copied on papyrus (qirṭās; Naysābūrī, ‘Uqalā’, p. 320). The contemporary Sufis, e.g. Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Nūrī (d. 295/907-8), dictated poetry to be copied by visitors (Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 342). The disciple of Šiblī, Abū al-Qāsim al-Naṣrābāḏī, always carried ink-glass (miḥbara), paper (bayāḍ) and a pen-case (miqlama) along with himself to be prepared to copy some prophetic tradition should the opportunity arise (report of Sulamī, in b. ‘Asākir, Tārīḫ, vol. ii, p. 494).

  • 19 Other disciples of Šiblī who composed literary works in which his apophtegmata were or may have bee (...)

29Already among the first-generation transmitters there are to be found authors of Sufi-writings. Ḫuldī’s compilation entitled al-Ḥikāyāt which was counted among the “three miracles of Baġdād” is said to have included letters of Sufis some of which again have been incorporated in Sarrāǧ’s al-Luma‘ fī al-taṣawwuf. It may also have included extensive mystical poetry as Ḫuldī  declared: “I own 200 diwans of the Sufi shaykhs etc.” (Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 496) 19.

Classification of the recipients of Šiblī’s spiritual influence

1. Visitors on pilgrimage

  • 20 See Sara Sviri 1993, p. 583-613.
  • 21 The story has been recorded, in different versions, by the Sufi authors Sulamī (Ḥaqā’iq, fo. 30r-31 (...)

30Visitors arrived at Šiblī’s home on their pilgrimage to Mekka seeking his spiritual counsel and blessings. ‘Abdallāh b. Munāzil (d. 329/940 or 332/944; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 366), usually considered to belong to the Ḫurāsānian Malāmatiyya-movement 20, upon telling Šiblī about his intention to perform the ḥaǧǧ, he receives an instruction on the conditions of the inner pilgrimage 21. Ibn Munāzil is first told to take with himself two straw-sacks, fill them up, in Mekka, with mercy and bring them back to Šiblī for him to distribute their contents among his companions, as their individual portion of his pilgrimage. Upon his return from Mekka, b. Munāzil is interrogated by Šiblī about his performance of the pilgrimage rites. Each question, answered positively by b. Munāzil, is followed by an internalization on the part of Šiblī, which is again formulated as a question. This however, b. Munāzil answers in the negative, e.g.: “Have you slaughtered?” I said: “Yes.” He said: “Your carnal self?” I said: “No.” He said: “So you did not slaughter etc.” The inquiry ended with the master’s judgment that the ḥaǧǧ had not been performed and that the Sufi pilgrim was obliged to repeat it, as he had failed to execute the rituals according to a mystical reinterpretation.

31A Sufi who visited Šiblī on his way into the desert, was ‘Alī b. Ǧa‘far al-Sīrawānī (d. 396/1005-6), a Sufi of Maġribī descent, later revered as “šay al-ḥaram” of Mekka (Nafaḥāt, p. 271). He received a counsel from Šiblī in front of whom he had appeared in somebody’s company. Šiblī asks Sīrawānī “under which decree” they travel and responding to their answer, “under the ḥukm of the poor”, he instructs them: “Take care that your striving (li-yakun hammu-ka ma‘a-ka ilḫ.) be with you, without preceding or lagging behind” (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 343; Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 392), i.e. they are advised not to be preoccupied with the past or the future, as two non-existents, but instead fulfill the requirements of the present moment, waqt (see Gramlich 1976, p. 352).

2. Visitors discussing theological issues

32The Sufi Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī b. Aḥmad al-Būšanǧī, according to Sulamī’s nomenclature one of the fityān of Ḫurāsān (d. 348/959; Ṭabaqāt, p. 458), had been a disciple of Ǧurayrī in Baġdād. However, he recognized Šiblī as an authority in Sufism and theology, and in the latter respect he discussed with him some theological issues (takallama ma‘a al-Šiblī fī masā’il: Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 497). These issues are not explicitly identified but as it is known that Būšanǧī, in Nīšābūr, defended the views of the Sunnī kalām-theologian Abū ‘Alī al-Ṯaqafī (d. 328/940; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 361) against the ḥadīṯ-scholar Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Isḥāq b. Ḫuzayma (d. 311/923; GAS, vol. i, p. 601), i.e. the views of the mutakallimūn min al-salaf (Ibn ‘Asākir, Tārīḫ, vol. xi, p. 841-2), it may be surmized that questions bearing on the speech of God, i.e. His attributes, were at the heart of the discourse with Šiblī.

3. Inquirers asking questions on mysticism

33Numerous were the persons who addressed the mystic, as visitors or as members of his teaching circle, asking him questions on mysticism. Most questions, the sources intimate, revolved around the subject of loving God which was the prominent aspect of Šiblī’s spirituality.

34An anonymous person asked Šiblī whether one notices on a lover that he loves. Šiblī’s answer includes a characterization of one type of love which seems indebted to the code of love of the Banū ‘Uḏrā whose chastity was proverbial: “Yes, provided he keeps silent about his love and that despite his silence (kitmān) it manifests itself on him.” The collector of Sufi-stories, Ḫuldī, judges that this report, culminating in the recital of a poem of ‘Abbās b. al-Aḥnaf (d. after 193/808) beginning with Qad saḥḥaba al-nāsu, was the only transmission from Šiblī which he approved of (Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 83r).

35Another answer provoked by a disciple’s question about love explains the difference between a “slavery of servitude” (raqq al-‘ubūdiyya) and a “slavery of love” (raqq al-maḥabba). Šiblī taught that the slave becomes free when released from slavery whereas the lover becomes ever more enslaved when released. Also here Šiblī is reported to have recited a poem (beginning La-tuḥšaranna) to illustrate his teaching, in which he declares that love for God, even on the Day of Judgment, still attaches itself to his physical bones (Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 391).

36Believing that God is jealous of his friends, the lover must take care not to waste his time on other than Him. This idea Šiblī infused into a disciple by means of a serious reproof. Abū al-Faraǧ al-‘Ukbarī, probably a servant in his household, was reprimanded by Šiblī for spending his time on wife and children and thus allowing the moment (waqt) which is “more precious than the philosopher’s stone” (literally: red sulphur) to be wasted on other than God. Šiblī underpinned his reprimand with the Prophet’s word “God is jealous and loves every jealous person” and specified that God’s jealousy is directed towards guarding his friends lest they permit the non-divine “to manifest in them”. The disciple’s objection that he is indeed jealous was rejected by Šiblī who distinguished between two types of jealousy, one human and one divine: “The former jealousy is directed towards persons, the latter towards the moment lest it be wasted on the non-divine” (ġayrat al-bašariyya li-l-ašḫāṣ wa-ġayrat al-ilāhiyya li-l-waqt ilḫ.; Sulamī, Futuwwa, p. 60). Also a prayer said by Šiblī in which he asks God to increase his madness and the people’s sanity, i.e. remoteness from God, seems to be motivated by the mystic’s jealous love for God which he did not want to share with anyone (Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 83v).

37God may be felt near as the eternal Beloved but he is also infinitely distant, transcendental and unavailable. Šiblī kept referring his disciples to his experience of God’s transcendence which however he alludes to in the terminology of love. One inquirer asked him whether “the knower can realize what manifests to him [from God]?” The answer is formulated as a rhetorical question: “How can he realize what does not remain? And how can he rely on what does not appear? And how can one befriend onself with what hides itself?” The questions are followed by a quotation of Sura 57/3 on God’s qualities of “outwardness” and “inwardness” (fa-huwa al-ẓāhir wa-l-bāṭin ilḫ.) and by the recital of a poem on love to Laylā (beginning with fa-man kāna fī ṭūli al-hawā) which never becomes fulfilled. The poet’s experience of union with her is described as being not more – but also nothing less – than a flash of lightning (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 347).

4. Some temporary disciples

38Some Sufis joined Šiblī and experienced his spiritual influence for some time but moved on to affiliate themselves with other masters. This seems to have been the case with two mystics who came to Baġdād from Ḫurāsān and Southwest Persia, respectively.

39Abū Sahl Muḥammad b. Sulaymān al-Ṣu‘lūkī (d. 369/980), a very learned Sufi and companion of Būšanǧī in Naysābūr, like the latter used to frequent Šiblī in Baġdād. However, Ṣu‘lūkī, saw him on a more regular basis: “Not one Friday went by – he relates – whilst I was in Baġdād without me joining Šiblī or asking him a question” (illā wa-lī ‘alā l-Šiblī waqfa aw su’āl; Subkī, Ṭabaqāt, vol. iii, p. 170). Corresponding to his wider interests, Ṣu‘lūkī also attended the teaching sessions of the leading scholar in šāfi‘ī fiqh, Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad al-Marwazī (d. 340/951-2). A conversation between Šiblī and Marwazī, on the subject of their shared student, reveals the spiritual affinity which linked Šiblī with Ṣu‘lūkī: “Once Šiblī went to Marwazī and he saw me with him. He said: ‘This madman among your students? No, among my students!’ ” (ḏā l-maǧnūn min aṣḥābi-k ilḫ.; Subkī, loc. cit.). Šiblī ascribes “madness” to his disciple which in his view is one of the highest stages in the mysticism of loving God. He calls the madness caused by intense love of God, by contrast to its pathological variant, “the madness of madness” (Ǧunūn al-Ǧunūn; Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 83v).

  • 22 The second version has been transmitted by one ‘Abdalwāḥid b. Muḥammad (Ibn ‘Asākir, loc. cit.).
  • 23 The variant has: inna ṯamma sabab.

40The leading Sufi of Arraǧān in Southwest Persia, Bundār b. al-Ḥusayn (d. 353/964 or 357), was a temporary disciple (min aṣḥāb al-Šiblī) who renounced the world at the hands of Šiblī. Bundār however considered another disciple of Ǧunayd, Ǧa‘far al-Ḥaḏḏā’ of Shiraz (d. 341/952-3), whom Šiblī called “a Pharao”, as his real master in Sufism (Ǧunayd Šīrāzī, Šadd, p. 226). Unlike the grammarian Abū ‘Umar who, through Šiblī, became an ascetic (al-Zāhid) and a recluse, Bundār entered upon the mystical path. The story of his conversion, extant in two different versions (Ibn ‘Asākir, Tabyīn, p. 180-1), i.e. related by two transmitters22, gives a clear picture of the method Šiblī adopted in leading a disciple through tawba. According to the report transmitted by the Aš‘arī theologian Abū Bakr b. Fūrak (d. 406/1015), Bundār, coming to Baġdād as a trader in his father’s mission, happened to hear Šiblī’s sermon and felt deeply impressed. He submits himself to Šiblī’s instruction and is told to give away his goods, i.e. his father’s property, worth 40 000 Dinars. This Bundār did in stages and every time he confronted Šiblī, the latter looked into a mirror which revealed to him that something from his possessions was still left 23.

  • 24 An analogous instruction regarding repentance given to an anonymous person by Šiblī, included in a (...)

41The transmitter explains that the mirror was Šiblī’s heart and that the real reason for looking into the mirror was for Šiblī to check the colour of his own face – he had made a pact with God that his face would turn black, as punishment, if he turned away from Him. Having made Bundār give away all his material possessions, Šiblī thereafter instructed him to also renounce his social reputation. This he should do by going up to the people, including his acquaintances, and beg from them. Having suffered the contempt of the people, Bundār confessed that this baḏl al-Ǧāh had been more painful for him to accomplish than anything else. The didactical method Šiblī applied in this case of a man seeking to “return to God penitently” thus consists in commanding (amara-hu) the disciple to give up his attachments to the world, i.e. to transient things, material and immaterial. Implicitly, the instruction also meant that the disciple may risk to break the ties with his father – in the above story Bundār has given away the entrusted goods irrespective of his father’s will 24.

5. House servants and family

42Šiblī was a paterfamilias surrounded by male and female house-servants (ḫādim, ġulām) who were integrated into the master’s family and connected with some of its members through friendship. As they had ample opportunity to observe Šiblī in his daily pursuits they were destined to function as transmitters of stories about him.

43The eccentric behaviour Šiblī displayed at the occasion of the death of one of his sons was meant as a teaching regarding God’s omnipresence for his mourning wife as well as for the people coming to condole him. When she sheared her head’s hair from despair, he shaved his mighty beard explaining: “She sheared her hair for one missed, should I not shave my beard for one present?” (Talbīs 1983, p. 402-3). According to a variant Šiblī taught his visitors that he shaved his beard to atone for their inattentiveness while they condoled him saying āǧara-ka llāh (“may God recompense you!”; Risāla, p. 127-8).

44Šiblī’s son Yūnus acted as an important transmitter of stories about his father. He related a story about Šiblī’s highly dangerous method of practicing ḏikr: Sitting at the edge of the roof of his house at night-time he “remembered God” whilst threatening his carnal soul to fall down if sleep should overtake him (Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 353; Talbīs 1989, p. 486, with a critique). Yūnus also transmitted a poem from his father which the latter had learnt from Ǧunayd. The šayḫ al-ṭā’ifa said about the love-poem beginning Iḏā qulta ahwā l-haǧri which culminates in the verse ḥayātu-ka ḏanbun lā yuqāsu bi-hi ḏanbu (“your life is a sin above compare with any other sin”) that nothing had been of greater benefit to him, i.e. on his mystical way, than this one poem extolling the theory of the individual’s annihilation in God (Ibn al-Naǧǧār, Ḏayl, vol. i, p. 101).

45Some of the house-servants were employed by their master to chant songs in front of him. b. al-Ḫaššāb, ġulām al-Šiblī (d. 361/971-2), was once ordered, in the company of Yūnus b. Abī Bakr, to recite a camel-driver’s song (beginning Wa-lammā balaġa l-Ḥīra / ta ḥādī Ǧamalī ḥārā) in order to arouse ecstasy in Šiblī (taġayyara ḥālu-hu; Talbīs 1983, p. 401).

46Bakrān al-Dīnawarī, another servant (wa-kāna yaḫdumu al-Šiblī), formulated what he perceived to be the quintessence of Šiblī’s religiosity, as answer to Ḫuldī’s question: “What have you observed with him [i.e. in his last hour]?” (mā llaḏī ra’ayta minhu). The ḫādim transmitted to the Sufi author an observation he made relating to Šiblī’s concern with a scrupulous performance of the ablution ritual on his death-bed as well as his worry not to have fully atoned for a wrongfully owned Dirham (Risāla, p. 152). The servant intended to impress upon Ḫuldī that Šiblī’s ultimate concern was directed at an impeccable observance of the šarī‘a.

47Abū ‘Abdallāh al-Rāzī, a disciple who eventually settled in (al-nazīl) Nīšābūr, was accustomed to follow Šiblī to his home as soon as he turned his face towards him. The disciple’s covetous glance onto Šiblī’s pretty head-gear (qalansuwwa) which seemed to fit well with the new woolen coat (ṣūf) the disciple wore entailed a drastic pedagogical measure: Having arrived at his home, Šiblī asked for fire and burned both his cap and the disciple’s coat (Risāla, p. 117).

6. The closest disciples

48A Sufi disciple, first of all, is a person striving (murīd) after the experience of God’s proximity or at least to do what seems to be the most pleasing to Him. Accordingly, Šiblī was asked to explain when the conditions are fulfilled for a man to be considered striving. He answers that “striver” is he who has achieved a mental equilibrium “while travelling and abiding, in presence and absence” (iḏā stawat ḥālu-hu fī l-safar wa-l-ḥaḍar wa-l-mašhad wa-l-maġyīb; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 340).

49Then Šiblī’s disciples were eager to know whom to consider closest to the spiritual master. Someone called ‘Aṭṭār reports to have heard Šiblī answer this question in the following terms: “He who remembers God the most, who respects the rights of God the best and who is concerned most avidly with doing what pleases God” (Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 428-9). Another disciple, called b. al-Ḫaššāb, transmits Šiblī’s answer with the following complementary phrase: “and he who knows his shortcomings the best, etc.” This transmitter maintains that the disciple had heard Šiblī give his answer to him in a dream (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 341). According to a third disciple, called ‘Umar b. Yaḥyā al-Naqqāš, the question put to Šiblī ran: “Which disciple has obtained the greatest bliss through following you?” (Manāqib, Ms. Tunis, fo. 298v). This disciple claimed that he was the one to whom Šiblī had appeared in the dream, answering his question.

  • 25 After the death of Šiblī, Ḥuṣrī directed a convent, later called ribāṭ al-Zawzanī, situated opposit (...)

50Anṣārī maintains that the Ḥanbalī Sufi and preacher Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ḥuṣrī (d. 371/982), known as “the tongue of his time” (lisān al-waqt, Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 489-93) 25, was the preferred disciple of Šiblī and the only one who may rightly be designated as his šāgird. He is even said to have had no other teachers besides Šiblī. Other followers – Anṣārī explains – were hearers of Šiblī’s words (suẖan-šinawān) but Ḥuṣrī received Šiblī’s legacy (mīrāṯ-i Šiblī way girifta būd). Ḥuṣrī is said to have been a man of mystical experience (ṣāḥib-i dard) who was more subtle and inward (bāṭin-tar) than other colleagues. Anṣārī contrasts him in this respect with the latter’s contemporary b. Ḫafīf. Naturally, Ḥuṣrī was also close to Šiblī physically, e.g. by accompanying him when, during a famine, they roamed through the streets of Baġdād begging for food for Šiblī’s children (Luma‘, p. 194). Šiblī is said to have gone a long way in training Ḥuṣrī (dar kār-i way dūr farā būda; Nafaḥāt, p. 231). Correspondingly, Šiblī was very rigorous in demanding from Ḥuṣrī to internalize the concept of God’s oneness: He forbade his disciple to see him on Fridays if in the intermediate week anything but God should have come to his mind, and he gives as reason: “If the thought of Ǧibrīl or Mīkā’īl occurs to you, you practise polytheism” (Luma‘, p. 398).

51The basis of this intimate link between Šiblī and this disciple is explained to have been a pact formed in “pre-eternity” as well as a “madness”, i.e. an extreme love for God which they both had in common. Anṣārī transmits from Šiblī a word he once addressed to Ḥuṣrī: anta dīwāna miṯlī baynī wa-bayna-ka ta’līf azalī (Nafaḥāt, loc. cit.). The pact formed before the creation of the world is also alluded to in an answer Šiblī gave to someone’s question about the goal of the yearning of the knowers’ hearts: “[they yearn to return to] the beginnings of what happened to them in the Unseen, i.e. the good Providence in the Presence [of God] whilst they were absent from it [i.e. in fanā’]”. Following this word Šiblī is said to have recited a poem which explains that the primordial pact (ma‘had) he made with God is the precondition for his ability to love (saqyan li-ma‘hadi-ka llaḏī law lam yakun / mā kāna qalbī lil-ṣabābati ma‘hadan; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 348).

52In a word spoken to Ḥuṣrī, Šiblī explains how he wanted to be perceived by his disciples. By claiming that he achieved annihilation in God’s qualities, he seems to have demanded that everyone who recognizes God’s working in him, the saint, should be subjected to him [who has been] “raised above himself”: “God may blind the eye which sees me and does not see the effects of the [divine] power in me (āṯār al-qudra).” As reason for this claim Šiblī, in an ecstatic untterance, refers to his annihilation: “I am one of the effects of the power, and one of the signs of the might (šawāhid al-‘izz). I have become so lowly (ḏull) that every lowly one is mighty compared to my lowliness, and I have become so mighty that no-one is made mighty except through me or the one through whom I have become mighty, and we have not become separated, etc.” (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 342). Elsewhere Šiblī states that every creature (“every-thing”) submits to the knower of God (‘ārif) when (literally: because) it observes the effects of God’s rule in him” (‘āyana aṯar mulki-hi fī-hi; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 341). In a word spoken to his disciple Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Baġdādī, Šiblī contrasted his self-elevation to the degradation of his disciples, perhaps with regard to their as yet unfulfilled spiritual potentiality: “You are lowered beneath yourselves and I am raised above myself” (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 340).

7. Initiatic master-disciple relationships

53Some Sufis who did not seem to evince a very great affinity with the distinctive mysticism of Šiblī nevertheless figure in the spiritual pedigree of the brotherhoods as a link between the master and the posterior Sufism of Ḫurāsān, Fārs and Egypt. These disciples were distinguished by obtaining from Šiblī an initiatic garment believed to transport a blessing which the mystic in turn had received from his teachers.

54Little is revealed by the literary sources about the interaction between Šiblī and Abū al-Qāsim Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad al-Naṣrābāḏī (d. 367/977-8), a mystic of Naysābūrian descent and teacher of Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥasan b. ‘Alī al-Daqqāq (d. 405/1015). The latter is known, through numerous quotations in the Risāla, to have been the master of ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Qušayrī (d. 465/1072). Naṣrābāḏī transmits Šiblī’s instruction - in the form of a definition – how to practise Sufism, viz. by controlling one’s senses and observing one’s breaths (ḍabṭ ḥawāssi-ka wa-murā‘āt anfāsi-ka; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 340). A word related by ‘Aṭṭār according to which (Taḏkira, vol. ii, p. 316f.) Naṣrābāḏī considered it “his miracle” that he was “thrown before Šiblī” indicates that also this mystic felt deeply impressed by Šiblī’s presence. The transpersonal significance of this relationship however resides in the fact that Naṣrābāḏī received the patched frock (ḫirqa) from Šiblī and figures in the Sufi lineages between Šiblī and Daqqāq (Risāla 147; b. Mulaqqin, Ṭabaqāt, p. 322). In accordance with the geographic direction of the initiatic transmission, Naṣrābāḏī has been called “the master of all Ḫurāsānians after Šiblī” (Taḏkira, vol. ii, p. 312). ‘Aṭṭār alludes to the enormous missionarizing successes obtained by Naṣrābāḏī when he relates that between two and three thousand people per year “came to God” through him “whilst I [i.e. he] was not present” (Taḏkira, vol. ii, p. 316). With this phrase Naṣrābāḏī implies that the success in recruiting new adherents to Islam or Sufism is to be attributed to God alone as the sole actor.

55Another Sufi who received a garment from Šiblī’s hands as expression of an initiatic transmission was Muḥammad b. Ḫafīf of Shiraz (d. 371/982; see Muḥammad b. ‘Uṯmān, Firdaws, p. 112; Sobieroj 1997, p. 654). Despite this distinction conferred on b. Ḫafīf the latter does not include Šiblī among his (five) major authorities in Sufism, “those to be imitated” (muqtadawna; Sīra, p. 37, faṣl 15). b. Ḫafīf’s biographer Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī al-Daylamī relates stories in his Sīra – which is only extant in a Persian translation – that confirm the contact between the two Sufis. In Daylamī’s book on love, which has come down to us in the original Arabic version, K. ‘Aṭf al-alif al-ma’lūf ‘alā l-lām al-ma‘ṭūf, p. 19, b. Ḫafīf figures as transmitter of a poem on a love called ḫulla (“bosom-friendship”) whose authorship is ascribed to Šiblī. The initiatic garment in question is “the white dress / shirt (Ǧāma / pīrāhan-i safīd) of Ǧunayd” which b. Ḫafīf passed on, by way of a Sufi disciple of Arraǧān, ‘Abdallāh b. Bānīk, to Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm b. Šahriyār al-Kāzarūnī (d. 426/1035). The latter is known as founder of the famous Persian maritime Sufi order which was still active when the Moroccan traveller and author b. Baṭṭūṭa (d. 770/1368-9 or 779/1377) reached the shores of southeast China which he entered at Zaytūn/Quanzhou (see Riḥla, vol. iv, p. 269, l. 1).

56One of the teachers of b. Ḫafīf whom the latter met as an adolescent during a sojourn in Mecca (Sīrat, p. 74-78), Abū ‘Amr Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Zaǧǧāǧī (d. 348/959-60; Sobieroj 1997, p. 665), figures as the initiatic link between Šiblī and the shaykhs of the Egyptian jurisprudent ‘Umar b. Nūr al-Dīn ‘Alī b. Mulaqqin (d. 804/1401-2; GAL2 , vol. ii, p. 113, suppl. ii, p. 109), author of a Sufi ṭabaqāt-work (labistu l-ḫirqa min ilḫ.; b. al-Mulaqqin, Ṭabaqāt, p. 321, 330). According to the remarks of b. Mulaqqin which introduce his genealogical lists (op. cit., p. 323), al-Zaǧǧāǧī transmitted the ḫirqa from Šiblī, whereas by information of the Mevlevi hagiographer Aḥmad Aflākī (d. 761/1360), Manāqib, vol. ii, p. 998, Šiblī initiated Zaǧǧāǧī into his method of practising the remembrance of God (Šiblī talqīn kard, etc.).

Conclusion: Characteristics of didactical method and comparison between the modes of spirituality of Šiblī and b. Ḫafīf

57As conclusion some major characteristics of Šiblī’s method of instructing students may be mentioned and contrasted with that of his younger contemporary b. Ḫafīf. This comparison with a representative of a very different type of Sufi spirituality may serve to highlight the specificity of Šiblī’s mystagogical method.

58Among the characteristics of Šiblī’s didactical method pride of place may be given to the usage of paradoxes and dilemmas. These were intended to perplex the disciple and bring about, in his psyche, a deeper understanding by overcoming his habitual thought-structures. The same purpose was aimed at by the display of his so-called eccentricities which would shock the people and cause them either to be scandalized by Šiblī or to comprehend and accept the intended teaching.

59An important element in Šiblī’s teaching-method was his employment of poetry which suited his disposition as a – albeit minor – poet. Poetry was recited to answer his disciples’ questions, often complementing a previous answer given in prose, but not always. Inquirers sometimes would complain to him about this method: “I asked you about the Qur’ān [i. e. expecting a tafsīr], and you answer with poetry!” (Munāwī, Kawākib, vol. ii, p. 32). Often the profane poems recited were designed to direct the disciple’s attention towards the realm of the divine eros (‘išq), which was achieved through a mystical reinterpretation, as sole legitimate goal of the religious quest. In the usage of poetry, Qur’ān and the interpretation of legal prescriptions, Šiblī executed an internalization which he expected his disciples to reenact. Failing which, Šiblī judged that a set of prescriptions like the ḥaǧǧ-rituals, only outwardly performed, had not been fulfilled because the disciple ignored to transfer them onto the plane of his personal relationship with God.

60Ibn Ḫafīf, like his older colleague Šiblī, was engaged in teaching disciples. In a book devoted to the training of young Sufis entitled K. al-Iqtiṣād, b. Ḫafīf addresses “the beginner among the novices”. He explains to them some key concepts of Sufism, foremost, ṣidq and iḫlāṣ, truthfulness (i.e., to themselves and their vows) and sincerity (i.e., purification of works by striving after God alone in them). Like Šiblī, b. Ḫafīf followed a very rigorous line in his didactical method. He categorically disapproves the dispensations (ruḫaṣ) which, for social reasons, were to become an integral part in later Sufism, i.e. the mysticism organized in Sufi brotherhoods. Both mystics expected their followers not to give a broad interpretation (ta’wīl) to the requirements of the spiritual discipline when the initial enthusiasm has abated.

  • 26 Šiblī’s disposition towards violent behaviour showed itself e.g. in the threats he hurled at a youn (...)

61The differences however seem to be greater than the similarities of their respective methods. Whereas b. Ḫafīf declares the mystical states of ṣidq and iḫlāṣ to be the novice’s criteria for assessing his progression on the way, Šiblī, the charismatic master, seems to have viewed of himself as the criterion, a manifestation of God’s omnipotence (“no-one is made mighty except through me”). As consequence of his view of himself as annihilated in God’s qualities he expected submission to his authority and occasionally even seems to have resorted to violence in dealing with people who appeared in front of him with a “pretence” 26. He imposes drastic pedagogical measures on his disciples and scandalizes the people.

  • 27 The ‘ilm which Šiblī meant to impart to his disciples was an experiential knowledge he placed above (...)

62Besides, the emphasis in Šiblī’s training of disciples lies on the acquisition of an experiential knowledge mediated through Sufism which he contrasts with the purely intellectual knowledge gained through study of the other religious sciences 27. b. Ḫafīf, by contrast, corresponding to his overall “sober” attitude to Sufism rates the study of ḥadīṯ very highly. He also cautions his disciples against the ecstatic religiosity of the arbāb-i ḥāl and ṣāḥib-i maqāmāt wa mukāšafāt whose theopathic locutions are shown to be incorrect if weighed on the scales of the law (Sīra, p. 37, faṣl 9). However, far from subscribing to the critique of b. Ḫafīf, soon to be resumed by the formidable theologians of the Ḥanābila, the later Sufi tradition has integrated into its main-stream the two modes of spirituality and their attendant mystagogics as mutually complementary.

Ibn Ḫamīs al-Mawṣilī (d. 552/1157), Manāqib al-abrār wa-maḥāsin al-aḫyār, Ms. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Pet. 376 ( = W. Ahlwardt, Handschriften-verzeichnisse, Berlin, 1897, no. 9980), fo. 82v, an excerpt from the biography of al-Šiblī.

Bibliographie

Abbreviations

Ansāb = Sam‘ānī, 1962-66 : ‘Abd al-Karīm b. Muḥammad (al-), al-Ansāb, ed. ‘A. al-Mu‘allimī al-Yamānī, Haydarabad, vol. i-vi.

GAL = Brockelmann, Carl, 1937-42 : Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, vol. i-ii, 2. edition, Leiden, 1943-49, Supplementbände I-iii, Leiden.

GAS = Sezgin, Fuat, 1967ff: Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, vol. I ff., Leiden-Frankfurt.

Ḥilya : Iṣfahānī, Abū Nu‘aym (al-), 1387/1967 : Ḥilyat al-awliyā’ wa-ṭabaqāt al-aṣfiyā’, Beyrouth, vol. i-x.

Luma‘ = Sarrāǧ, Abū Naṣr (al-), 1914 : al-Luma‘ fī l-taṣawwuf, ed. R. A. Nicholson, London-Leiden.

Manāqib = Ibn Ḫamīs, al-Ḥusayn b. Naṣr al-Mawṣilī, Manāqib al-abrār wa-maḥāsin al-aḫyār, Ms. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Pet. 376, Ms. Library of Leiden University, or. 3077, Ms. Tunis, no. 3857.

Nafaḥāt = Ǧāmī, Nūr al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, Nafaḥāt al-uns min ḥaḍarāt al-quds, ed. Tawḥīdī Pūr, Teheran, 1336/1957.

Risāla = Qušayrī, Abū al-Qāsim ‘Abd al-Karīm b. Hawāzin (al-), 1359/1940 : al-Risāla, Cairo.

Sīra = Ibn Ǧunayd Šīrāzī, 1955 : Sīrat-i Ibn-i Ḫafīf (trans. of Daylamī‘s Sīra), ed. A. Schimmel-Tarı, Ankara.

Taḏkirat = ‘Aṭṭār, Farīd al-Dīn, 1336/1957 : Taḏkirat al-awliyā’, ed. Mīrzā M. Ḫān Qazwīnī, Teheran, vol. i-ii.

Tahḏīb = Ḫarkūšī, Abū Sa‘d ‘Abd al-Malik b. ‘Uṯmān al-Wā‘i (al-), Tahḏīb al-asrār, Ms. Berlin, Spr. 832.

Talbīs = Ibn al-Ǧawzī, Abū l-Faraǧ, 1409/1989 : Talbīs Iblīs, naqd al-‘ilm wa-l-‘ulamā’, 1.  ed. Beyrouth, 1403/1983, 2. ed. Beyrouth (M. al-Ṣabbāḥ).

Tārīḫ Baġdād = Ḫaṭīb al-Baġdādī (Al-), Aḥmad b. ‘Alī b. Ṯābit, Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. i-xiv, Cairo, 1349/1931.

Titles arranged by authors‘ names

Aflākī, Manāqib : Manāqib al-‘ārifīn, Ankara, 1959-61, vol. i-ii.

Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt : Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyya, ed. M. Sarwar Mawlā’ī, Teheran, 1362/1983.

Ḏahabī, 1401-5/1981-85 : Siyar : Siyar a‘lām al-nubalā’, ed. Šu‘ayb Arna’ūṭ et al., Beyrouth, vol. i-xxv.

1415/1994 : Tārīḫ al-islām wa-ṭabaqāt al-mašāhīr wa-l-a‘lām, ed. ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Salām Tadmurī, years 331-40, 341-50, Beyrouth.

Gramlich, Richard, 1976 : Die schiitischen Derwischorden Persiens, Zweiter Teil: Glaube und Lehre, Wiesbaden, Steiner.

Ǧunayd Šīrāzī, 1328 : Šadd : Šadd al-izār fī ḥaṭṭ al-awzār ‘an zuwwār al-mazār, ed. M. Qazwīnī, Teheran.

Hamaḏānī, 1959 : Takmila : Takmilat Tārīḫ al-Ṭabarī, ed. Albert Yūsuf Kan‘ān, Beyrouth.

Ibn al-‘Arabī, ca. 1990 : Futūḥāt : al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, Beyrouth: Dār Ṣādir, vol. i-iv.

Ibn ‘Asākir, 1399/1979 : Tabyīn : Tabyīn kaḏib al-muftarī fī mā nusiba ilā l-imām Abī l-Ḥasan al-Aš‘arī, Beyrouth.

— n.d. (ca. 1988) : Tārīḫ : Tārīḫ Dimašq, facsimile edition, Dār al-Bašīr (‘Ammān?).

Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, 1853-58 : Riḥla : voyages d‘Ibn Batouta, texte arabe, accompagné d‘une traduction, C. Defrémery, B. Sanguinetti, Paris: Duprat, vol. i-iv.

Ibn Faḍlallāh, 1988-9 : Masālik : Masālik al-abṣār fī mamālik al-amṣār, facsimile edition (F. Sezgin), Frankfurt a. M., vol. viii.

Ibn Ǧahḍam, Bahǧa : Bahǧat al-asrār, Ms. Ẓāhiriyya, maǧ. 66/4, al-Ǧuz’ al-sādis, fo. 66r-91v.

Ibn Al-Ǧawzī, 1349/1930 : Manāqib : Manāqib al-imām Aḥmad, ed. M. Amīn al-Ḫanǧī, Cairo.

— 1412/1992 : Muntaẓam : al-Muntaẓam fī Tārīḫ al-mulūk wa-l-umam, Beyrouth.

— 1413/1993 : Ṯabāt : al-Ṯabāt ‘inda l-mamāt, ed. al-Mu‘taṣim bi-llāh Abū Hurayra Muṣṭafā b. ‘Alī b. ‘Aw, Beyrouth.

Ibn Ḫafīf, 1998 : K. al-Iqtiṣād : Kitāb al-Iqtiṣād, in Sobieroj, Florian, b. Ḫafīf aš-Šīrāzī und seine Schrift zur Novizenerziehung (kitāb al-Iqtiṣād). Biographische Studien, Edition und Übersetzung, Stuttgart: Steiner.

Ibn al-Mulaqqin, 1419/1998 : Ṭabaqāt : Ṭabaqāt al-awliyā’, ed. Muṣṭafā ‘Abd al-Qādir ‘Aṭā, Beyrouth.

Ibn al-Naǧǧār, 1398/1978-1402/1982 : Ḏayl : Ḏayl al-mustadrak ‘alā Tārīḫ Baġdād, ed. Qayṣar Faraḥ, Haydarabad, vol. i-iii.

Ibn al-Qaysarānī al-Maqdisī, 1865 : Ansāb : al-Ansāb al-Muttafaqa, latin title: Homonyma inter nomina relativa, ed. P. de Jong, Leiden.

Ibn Qudāma, 1410/1990 : Tawwābūn : Kitāb al-Tawwābīn, ed. Ḫālid ‘Abd al-Laṭīf al-Sab‘ al-‘Alimī, Beyrouth.

Kalābāḏī, 1400/1980 : Ta‘arruf : al-Ta‘arruf li-maḏhab ahl al-taṣawwuf, Beyrouth.

Maḥmūd Ibn ‘Uṯmān, 1948 : Firdaws : Firdaws al-muršidiyya fī asrār al-ṣamadiyya. Die vita des Scheich Abū Isḥāq al-Kāzarūnī, herausgegeben und eingeleitet von Fritz Meier, Leipzig.

Munāwī, 1357/1938 : Kawākib : al-Kawākib al-durriyya fī tarāǧim al-sādat al-ṣūfiyya, ed. Mahmud Ḥ. Rabī‘, Cairo, Ǧuz’ i-ii.

Naysābūrī, 1407/1987 : ‘Uqalā’ : ‘Uqalā’ al-maǧānīn, ed. ‘Umar al-As‘ad, Beyrouth.

Rāġib, 1287 : Muḥāḍarāt : Muḥāḍarāt al-udabā’ wa-muḥāwarat al-šu‘arā’ wa-l-bulaġā’, Cairo, vol. i-ii.

Sobieroj, Florian, 1997 : “Mittelsleute zwischen b. Ḫafīf und Abū Isḥāq al-Kāzarūnī”, Asiatische Studien. Études Asiatiques LI.2, p. 651-71.

Subkī, Ṭabaqāt : Ṭabaqāt al-Šāfi‘iyya, ed. Maḥmūd M. al-Ṭanāḥī & ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ al-Ḥulw, Bābī l-Ḥalabī, 1383/1964-1388/1968, vol. i-vi.

Sulamī, 1397/1977 : Futuwwa, : ed. S. Ātaš, Ankara, Maṭba‘at Ǧāmi‘at Ānqara.

Ḥaqā’iq al-tafsīr : Ms. British Museum, Or. 9433.

— 1372/1953 : Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya : ed. Nūr al-Dīn Šurayba, Cairo.

— 1995 : Ziyādāt Ḥaqā’iq al-tafsīr: ed. G. Böwering, The Minor Qur’ān Commentary of Abū ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn as-Sulamī (d. 412/1021), Beyrouth, Dar el-Machreq.

Sviri, Sara, 1993 : “Ḥakīm Tirmiḏī and the Malāmatī Movement in Early Sufism”, in L. Lewisohn (ed.): Classical Persian Sufism: from its Origins to Rumi, London, New York, p. 583-613.

Notes

1 The most important primary sources for his biography are Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 337-48; Ḥilya, vol. x, p. 366-75; Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 389-97; Ḏahabī, Siyar, vol. xv, p. 367-69, etc.; see also my article “al-Sḫiblī”, in EI2, vol. ix, p. 432-33.

2 Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xii, p. 95, vol. xiv, p. 393; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 346, no. 39.

3 See Manāqib, Ms. Berlin, fo. 81v.

4 Ǧama‘a la-nā al-‘ilm kulla-hū fī hāḏihi al-kalima (al-Sīrawānī, in Tārīḫ Baġdād, vol. xiv, p. 392).

5 Wa-la-hū kalām mašhūr wa-fī al-kutub mašhūr (Ḏahabī, Tārīḫ, p. 117).

6 By including unspecific sayings and even stories of Šiblī in his Commentary on the “Šaṭḥiyyāt”, Rūzbihān Baqlī (d. 606/1209) implies that also the words of Šiblī which do not formally belong to the category of šaṭḥ were uttered by him in a unitive consciousness.

7 See Luma‘, p. 395-96.

8 Or according to a variant: “ecstatic utterances” (Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 496).

9 A transmitter called Ibrāhīm b. ‘Umar b. Ḥamdān relates that Šiblī  instructed an inquirer in his assembly in the central mosque [of Baġdād] how to perform the ritual prayer. He gives three successive instructions of which the first two were rejected as too difficult by the inquirer. At first he is told to focus his aspiration on “the highest and the lowest world” and to realize that only God exists. Secondly, he is instructed that he should perform the takbīr as if he was in front of God, in the highest heaven, and that he perform his prostration by concentrating his whole striving, and by letting go everything besides God so that nothing remains “but one servant and one lord”. The final advice includes the instruction to say Allāhu akbar “with reverence” (ta‘ẓīm), to kneel “with fear”, to prostrate “with exaltation (iǧlāl) and awe” (hayba), and to submit a request [literally: “ask”] “with anxiety” (išfāq). See b. ‘Asākir, Tārīḫ, vol. ii, p. 483.

10 According to a polemical report recorded by b. al-Ǧawzī, Talbīs, 1983, p. 388, Šiblī placed his intercession above that of the Prophet inasmuch as he also included in his prayer the unbelievers.

11 Some poems he recited also constitute elaborations of lines of borrowed poetry.

12 Qušayrī has recorded from Šiblī, in this context, the wording: [anta šāhidī] mā lam taǧ‘al li-nafsi-ka maqāman.

13 Underpinning his aversion against the disciples’ concern with studying Prophetic tradition and law, Šiblī related an autobiographical story in which he contrasts ḥadīṯ and fiqh with Sufism. Abū ‘Abdallāh Aḥmad b. ‘Aṭā’ al-Rūḏabārī (d. 369/979-80) transmits from Šiblī: “I have written ḥadīṯ and fiqh for 30 years until dawn came. I went to everyone under whom I had written and I said: ‘I want the fiqh of God but none would speak to me’ ” (Luma‘, p. 404).

14 The recitation of poetry by Šiblī in a spontaneous state of ecstasy, regularly observed by his companions, has – of course – not been motivated by a mystagogical intention. When, however, the ecstatic state (waǧd) of Šiblī was brought about by a question put to him by a disciple, the ecstasy exceptionally serves a mystagogical function. A disciple transmits a report in which Šiblī hears the invocation yā Ǧawād (“o Generous!”) of an inquirer and he reacts by translating the invocation into the question: “How can I describe God with the attribute of generosity (Ǧūd) when already a creature says about one like him etc.?”, and he recited a poem in which the generosity of a man is extolled hyperbolically. The process of “incubation” culminates in the shedding of tears by the mystic, i.e. the ecstasy, to be followed by a return to the rational state where the answer to the question is formulated, viz.: Since God’s generosity is unlimited, it acts as the source for the generosity of every man (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 348).

15 On Ḫayr, see b. al-Mulaqqin, Ṭabaqāt, p.157-59.

16 Anṣārī also uses the term as a designation for any individual tradition, see: “nothing better has been transmitted to you from Šiblī than this ḥikāya”, i.e. a word on the mystical moment, waqt (cited in Nafaḥāt, p. 180).

17 Story-telling as an exhortative or didactical device, of course, was not the preserve of Šiblī. Also b. Ḫafīf’s stories, assembled by his biographer Daylamī, served a pedagogical purpose, i.e. “to strengthen the seeker’s aspiration” (Daqqāq).

18 The word ascribed to al-Dārānī runs: “When the soul obtains its nourishment, it comes to rest” (iḏā aḥrazat al-nafs qūta-hā iṭma’annat), Šiblī’s commentary: “when it realizes by whom it is nourished, it comes to rest” (iḏā ‘arafat man yuqawwitu-hā iṭma’annat).

19 Other disciples of Šiblī who composed literary works in which his apophtegmata were or may have been included are e.g. b. Ǧumay‘ of Ṣaydā (d. 394/1003-4; an itinerary entitled Mu‘ǧam al-šuyūḫ; Ansāb 1988, vol. vii, p. 282) or ‘Abdalwāḥid b. Bakr al-Waraṯānī (d. 372/982-3; Ṭabaqāt al-Ṣūfiyya; see GAS, vol. I, p. 665).

20 See Sara Sviri 1993, p. 583-613.

21 The story has been recorded, in different versions, by the Sufi authors Sulamī (Ḥaqā’iq, fo. 30r-31r), Ḫarkūšī (Tahḏīb, fo. 120r) and b. al-‘Arabī (Futūḥāt, vol. I, p. 677).

22 The second version has been transmitted by one ‘Abdalwāḥid b. Muḥammad (Ibn ‘Asākir, loc. cit.).

23 The variant has: inna ṯamma sabab.

24 An analogous instruction regarding repentance given to an anonymous person by Šiblī, included in a ḥikāya, has been related by his servant Bakrān al-Dīnawarī al-Ǧabalī. Here the man, expressing his intention to perform tawba, is told to sell his possessions, pay his debts and even divorce his wife. Thereafter he is told to “make his children orphans” by causing them to “despair over their attachment to him”. Finally he is told to “sit and eat with the poor” (aytim awlāda-ka bi-an tu’yisa-hum min al-ta‘alluq bi-k; Talbīs, 1989, p. 459-60).

25 After the death of Šiblī, Ḥuṣrī directed a convent, later called ribāṭ al-Zawzanī, situated opposite the mosque of Manṣūr in Baġdād (Ibn al-Ǧawzī, Muntaẓam, vol. viii, p. 4154). Revered as “the master of the ‘Irāqīs” Ḥuṣrī trained many Sufis (Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 489).

26 Šiblī’s disposition towards violent behaviour showed itself e.g. in the threats he hurled at a young Sufi visiting Ǧunayd. Unwilling to join the games played by Šiblī’s disciples the visitor is reduced to silence by the shaykh who warns him that he would tear his head off. According to Ǧāmī (Nafaḥāt, 250-1), this rude method of treating a stranger caused the young Sufi to slip away in the night. Threats also had their place in Šiblī’s sermons. ‘Umar al-Naqqāš relates that one day, as Šiblī discoursed in his assembly he was overtaken by anger. The threat took the form of telling the audience that if they [chose to] belong to this world he would “hand them over to that which they have taken as friends apart from God” (Ibn Ǧahḍam, Bahǧa, fo. 84r).

27 The ‘ilm which Šiblī meant to impart to his disciples was an experiential knowledge he placed above that of the scholars. A rhetorical question answers the request directed to him by one al-Rāzī in which Šiblī implies that the “science of Sufism” is marked by a certainty of a higher order: “What do you think about a knowledge compared to which the knowledge of the ‘ulamā’ is only guessing?” (‘ilm al-‘ulamā’ fī-hi tuhma; Sulamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 339).

Table des illustrations

Légende Ibn Ḫamīs al-Mawṣilī (d. 552/1157), Manāqib al-abrār wa-maḥāsin al-aḫyār, Ms. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Pet. 376 ( = W. Ahlwardt, Handschriften-verzeichnisse, Berlin, 1897, no. 9980), fo. 82v, an excerpt from the biography of al-Šiblī.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/3080/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/, 222k

Auteur

Université d’Iéna

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2012

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540