Muslim Saints and Mystics. Translated by A. Ames, Iowa. Commercial reproduction or distribution of this file is strictly prohib- ited. To reproduce, post, or mirror this document, please contact info omphaloskepsis.

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Muslim Saints and Mystics. Translated by A. Ames, Iowa. Commercial reproduction or distribution of this file is strictly prohib- ited. To reproduce, post, or mirror this document, please contact info omphaloskepsis. For additional information, please visit:. Hasan of Basra. Malek Ibn Dinar. Habib al-Ajami. Al-Fozail Ibn Iyaz. Ebrahim Ibn Adham. Beshr Ibn al-Hareth. Abu Yazid al-Bestami. Abd Allah Ibn al-Mobarak.

Sofyan al-Thauri. Shaqiq of Balkh. Ahmad Ibn Harb. Hatem al-Asamm. Sahl Ibn Abd Allah al-Tostari. Sari al-Saqati. Ahmad Ibn Khazruya. Yusof Ibn al-Hosain. Abu Hafs al-Haddad. Abu Othman al-Hiri. Ibn Ata. Khair al-Nassaj. Abu Bakr al-Kattani. Ibn Khafif. Ebrahim al-Khauwas. Farid al-Din Attar, author of the book here pre- sented in an abridged translation, is to be accounted amongst the greatest poets of Persia; his dimensions as a literary genius increase with the further investigation of his writings, which are still far from completely explored, though welcome progress has been made of late in their publication.

The existence of a number of remarkable studies of Attar, listed in the Bibliography below, absolves the present writer from the necessity of going into lengthy detail about the keenly disputed details of his life and works. Here it will suffice to state that he appears to have died between a. The origins of Sufism. And when My servants question thee concerning Me—I am near to answer the call of the caller, when he calls to Me; so let them respond to Me, and let them believe in Me: haply so they will go aright.

Sura 2: I We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein. Sura 5I. All that dwells upon the earth is perishing, yet still abides the Face of thy Lord, majestic, splendid. Sura One pregnant context was taken to refer to a pre-eternal covenant between God and man, the re-enactment of which became the earnest aspi- ration of the enthusiastic Sufi. And when thy Lord took from the Children of Adam,.

Sura 7: The ascetic outlook and practice, an indispens- able preparation to mystical communion, char- acterized the life not only of Mohammad himself but of many of his earliest followers. Even when the rapid spread of Islam and the astonishing military conquests of neighbouring ancient king- doms brought undreamed-of riches to the public exchequer, not a few of the leading men in the new commonwealth withstood all temptation to abandon the austere life of the desert, and their example was admired and emulated by multi- tudes of humbler rank.

Nevertheless with the passage of time, and as Islam became increasing- ly secularized consequent upon further victories and rapidly augmenting complications of state- craft, the original ascetic impulse tended to be overwhelmed in the flood of worldly preoccupa- tion. Towards the end of the eighth century a. These circles of devotees, and many isolated anchorites besides, appeared simultaneously in various parts of the Muslim empire; anecdotes from their lives and conversations, such as are told in the following pages, constitute the hagiography of Islam.

A strong tradition con- nects the growth of this movement with the Prophet through his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Taleb, the fourth caliph whose abdica- tion led to the greatest schism in the history of the faith, the separation between Sunni and Shiite. According to this version, the Prophet invested Ali with a cloak or kherqa on initiating him into the esoteric mysteries, imparting to him therewith the heavenly wisdom which transcends all formal learning.

In his turn Ali invested his own initiates, and through them the selselas or chains of affiliation passed on the inner lore of mystical truth to succeeding generations. Another prominent figure in some versions of. If any credence can be attached to this legend, Salman would certainly be the first Persian Muslim to become a Sufi; he was the forerunner of a great multitude of Persian Sufis.

Sufism and Persia. The cities of Basra, Kufa, Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad feature, along with the desert wastes of Arabia, Sinai, and Mesopotamia, as centres where the Sufi movement took root and flour- ished. It may be noted in this connection that in pre-Muslim times Balkh was the centre of a large Buddhist community, and the ruins of the massive Buddhist monastery called Naubahar were still pointed out centuries after the coming of Islam.

However spectacular the example of Ebrahim ibn Adham may have been, his influence upon the history of Sufism was soon overshadowed by the emergence in Khorasan of a mystical genius of the first order, Abu Yazid of Bestam, who died about The early years of the tenth century witnessed the climax of a sharp orthodox Muslim reaction against the individualistic transcendentalism of the Sufis some of whom deliberately flouted the proprieties to prove their contempt for human judgments , when the Persian-born al-Hallaj, who declared himself to be the Truth, was exe- cuted for blasphemy in Baghdad in Thereafter the majority of vocal Sufis laboured to effect a reconciliation with traditionalism and accepted theology; and Persians played a notable part in this irenic endeavour.

Textbooks aiming to prove the essential conformity of Sufi claims within the framework of strict Islamic doctrine were compiled by al-Sarraj of Tus d. To Nishapur whose most famous son to the world at large was of course Omar Khayyam belonged also al-Solami d.

These men all wrote in Arabic, the learned and prestige language of Islam. Meanwhile the politi- cal renaissance of Persia under the virtually inde- pendent tenth-century dynasties of Saffarids and Samanids led to a revival of the Persian language, transformed as dramatically out of the old Pahlavi as English out of Anglo-Saxon, both phe- nomena the results of foreign conquest; and the eleventh century produced the first Sufi composi- tions in that tongue.

Then al-Ansari of Herat, an eminent Hanbali lawyer d. The following extract from the Monajat , made into rhyming and rhythmical prose in imitation of the original, shows how closely Ansari adhered to the thought and expression of the earlier Sufis. O my friend, behold yon cemetery, and see how many tombs and graves there be;. Much toiled they every one and strove, and feverishly burned with barren hope and selfish love, and shining garments jewel-sprinkled wove.

Jars of gold and silver fashioned they, and from the people profit bore away, much trickery revealing, and great moneys stealing; but, at the end, with a full regretful sigh they laid them down to die. Their treasuries they filled, and in their hearts well-tilled planted the seed of lustful greed; but, at the last, from all these things they passed.

So burdened, suddenly at the door of death they sank, and there the cup of destiny they drank. O my friend, ponder well thy dissolution,. His contemporary Baba Taher, a wandering dervish, composed dialect verses in a somewhat similar quatrain form to court the Heavenly Beloved, pictured as coy and cruelly reluctant as any rustic maiden. Like hyacinths on roses Thy tangled locks are strung; Shake out those gleaming tresses, And lo, a lover young On every hair is hung.

The breeze that fans thy tresses Surpasseth fragrant posies. In sleep I press thine image,. And as mine eye uncloses I breathe the scent of roses.

Thou hast me, soul and body, My darling, sweet and pure; I cannot tell what ails me, But this I know for sure, Thou only art my cure. The rise of Persian Sufi Literature. The central theme of this ecstatic literature of early Persia Sufism was the yearning of the lover the mystic for the Beloved God , and for a renewal of that intimate union which existed between the two before the dawn of creation.

The language and imagery of old Arab erotic poetry became transformed into a rich and high- ly symbolical vocabulary mystical aspiration. This theme was taken up again by Ahmad al- Ghazali of Tus, brother of the more famous Hojjat al-Islam whose learned and eloquent Arabic writings completed the reconciliation between Sufism and orthodoxy. The Savaneh of Ahmad al-Ghazali d. The nightingale hath no repose For joy that ruby blooms the rose; Long time it is that Philomel Hath loved like me the rosy dell.

O saki, when the days commence Of ruby roses, abstinence By none is charged; then pour me wine Like yonder rose incarnadine. Attar, Rumi, and thereafter by a host of notable emulators. To historical or semi-historical anecdote, the raw material of Sufi hagiography, now came to be added the apologue, the invented parable.

A certain king possessed a garden which through all the four seasons never lacked for fra- grant herbs, verdant grasses and joyous pleas- ances; great waters therein flowed, and all man- ner of birds sitting in the branches poured forth songs of every kind. Indeed, every melody that could enter the mind and every beauty that imag- ination might conceive, all was to be found in that garden.

Moreover a company of peacocks, exceedingly graceful, elegant and fair, had there made their abode and dwelling-place. One day the king laid hold of one of the pea- cocks and gave orders that he should be sewn up in a leather jacket, in such wise that naught of the colours of his wings remained visible, and howev- er much he tried he could not look upon his own beauty. He also commanded that over his head a basket should be placed having only one aperture, through which a few grains of millet might be dropped, sufficient to keep him alive.

Some time passed, and the peacock forgot him- self, the garden-kingdom and the other peacocks. Whenever he looked at himself he saw nothing but a filthy, ugly sack of leather and a very dark and disagreeable dwelling-place.

To that he rec- onciled himself, and it became fixed in his mind that no land could exist larger than the basket in. He firmly believed that if anyone should pretend that there was a pleasurable life or an abode of perfection beyond it, it would be rank heresy and utter nonsense and stupidity.

For all that, whenever a breeze blew and the scent of the flowers and trees, the roses and violets and jasmine and fragrant herbs was wafted to him through the hole, he experienced a strange delight and was curiously moved, so that the joy of flight filled his heart. He felt a mighty yearning within him, but knew not the source of that yearning, for he had no idea that he was anything but a piece of leather, having forgotten everything beyond his basket-world and fare of millet.

Again, if ever he heard the modulations of the peacocks and the songs of the other birds he was likewise trans- ported with yearning and longing; yet he was not wakened out of his trance by the voices of the birds and the breath of the zephyr. The rest of this myth, with its subtle use of quotations from ancient Arabic poetry and the Koran, may be read in my Classical Persian Literature. It recalls a greater animal fable with a spiritual meaning, the sublime Manteq al-tair of Attar which Edward FitzGerald epitomized in his Bird-Parliament.


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