Articles and Translations

“At the distance of two bows’ length or even closer”

The Figure of the Prophet in the Work of ‘Abdal Karīm Jīlī – Part I

“I was sent to bring perfection to the Noble Characters”

I. The Unsurpassable Model

I.1. ”His character, it was the Quran… “

From the start of his calling, the Prophet’s comportment in all aspects of daily life was regarded by his Companions as the model par excellence because it was necessarily exemplary and in conformity with the Revelation: “There is for you in the Envoy of God an excellent example (uswa)” (Q. 33:21). As the very first Muslims had set their hearts on finding out about the behaviour of the Prophet, they were incessantly interrogating either him or those close to him to acquaint themselves with even the minutest details of his tastes, his preferences, and his way of reacting in any given circumstance.

Deprived of the physical presence of the Messenger, the succeeding generations did everything possible to conserve the memory of his Sunna, his “Custom”, by collecting together the hadiths. These are testimonies supposedly going as far back as the first generation of Muslims, which rescued the sayings and actions of the Prophet or of his Companions, and they were gathered into a vast corpus of which six books are reputed to be canonical. A mere glance at the table of contents of any one of these huge collections is sufficient to see that the space given to the actual rituals (the ‘ibādāt) is certainly considerable; in contrast, that which is granted to everything which arises from social behaviour (the mu’āmalāt) and, even more so, from everything which deals with everyday actions (eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.) is nothing less than negligible.

During the first three centuries the early Muslims attempted to establish with the greatest possible attention to detail the habits and customs of the Prophet with much fervour. Equally, and more generally, the attachment which the faithful hold, today as in the past, to their observance of the Sunna (which, we recall, has as much authority as the Qur’an in matters of jurisprudence) nevertheless disconcerts the western observer. Indeed, it may even be seen to irritate – for instance, a certain Goldziher who, in his monumental study on Muslim Tradition, denounces “these fanatics of the Sunna who search to unearth traditions on the lifetime habits of the Prophet and his Companions in order to find a later occasion to put these habits into practice and to rescue them from oblivion.”[1] It is undeniable that this desire to imitate the Prophet in every way has sometimes led the ‘ulamā’ to ludicrous debates – such as, “what was the exact length of the Prophet’s beard?” – and even to violent polemics, particularly for everything related to the gestures and movements of prayer.[2] It is exactly the same with many of the faithful, that implementation of the Sunna consists, first and foremost, of reproducing the outward behaviour of the Prophet as he was in his daily life, and to model their eating and dressing habits, etc., on his. For all that, one would not wish to confine the practice of ittibā’ al-nabī, also referred to as the sequela prophetae (prophetic following),[3] to these easily observable formal demonstrations. Perhaps before anything else, conformity to the Muhammadan model is the keystone of all initiatic training in Islam.


It is this that the Qāb Qawsayn by ‘Abd al-Karīm Jīlī (d.811/1409) – a brief pamphlet which is to be the subject of this study – attempts to demonstrate. Innumerable texts belonging to the literature of tasawwuf deal with the prophetic following, so much so that the idea of the exemplary nature of the Prophet, which is at the heart of the process for spiritual Muslims, is also part of the common inheritance of the umma and participates in the genesis of Islam. I have concentrated my attention on this short pamphlet because it forms a remarkable and well-respected document on this question. We would say straightaway that this in no way indicates that the doctrine that the author professes therein is fundamentally new – far from it.

“I was sent to bring perfection to the Noble Characters”[4] was the message of a hadith contemplated by generations of Sufis at a time well before the fourteenth century in which Jīlī lived. More than simply a way of life, the uswa of the Prophet constituted in their eyes a way of being: exemplary in his exterior attitude, the Envoy of God is also all the more so in his interior attitude, such that it characterises his relation to God, and qualifies him as the most perfect of servants that this world has ever contained. As a result, he is the unsurpassable paradigm of sainthood.[5]

It is important to remember that from the perspective of the Muslim mystical tradition, it is only by fully assuming man’s condition of ‘abd, of “servant of God”, which belongs to him from all eternity, that he is in a position to actualise the theo­morphism that his original status as Divine Image in potential confers on him; consequently, he is able to realise the highest degree of sainthood, wherein he is truly the unblemished mirror in which God contemplates His Names. The palingenesis, or the restoration of primordial man, actually imposes the most radical renouncement of all self-will, of all so-called autonomy, until the dissolution of every trace of ego, which in fallen man acts as a screen for the divine “I”.

It is thus in the most naked obedience to divine prescriptions that theomorphosis is kindled in the spiritual person; he is subservient to the divine law with all his being, which dictates his conduct at each moment and in every circumstance. He actively assumes the “Noble Characters”, which are no less than the divine characteristics that all men have received in their portion at the dawn of creation, and of which, according to the masters of tasawwuf, the Prophet is the full and complete revelation. His wife ‘A’isha affirmed that “His character, it was the Qur’an”;[6] from this Ibn ‘Arabī concluded: “It is as if the Qur’an had taken on a bodily form under the name of Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allāh”.[7] In other words, what the Qur’an, the Word of God, expresses in book form, the Prophet represents in his person: by example he is the incarnation of the most absolute service, by virtue of which he is the “best of creatures” (khayr al-anām).[8]


I.2. ”Follow me… “

The spiritual path (sulūk) is necessarily dependent upon conformity to the “muhammadian model” (which, as we have seen, implies rigorous observance of the divine commandments), which is its point of departure as well as its outcome. “Verify your love for Me by following My beloved, for none attains to loving Me without loving him first and following his way, for his way is the ideal way and gives access to the supreme Beloved.”[9] According to Sulamī (d.412/1021), we are indebted to Abū ‘Uthmān al-Hīrī (d.298/910) for this beautiful interpretation of Q. 3:31, the very verse which establishes the reputation of ittibā’ al-nabī as the origination of all spiritual quests in Islam: “Say, if you love God, follow me (ittabi’ūnī),[10], God will love you”. A distinguished representative of the Malāmatī movement in Nishapur during the third century Hegira, al-Hīrī here recalls the main principle within mystical Islam which governs all representation of the journey in God. According to this, the prophetic following is the only means of access to the highest spiritual realisation, that of assuming the character traits of God (al-takhalluq bi akhlāq Allāh), which leads the spiritual person to the supreme union, or realisation of the character traits of God (al-tahaqquq bi akhlāq Allāh). Let us make no mistake here: according to the masters, rare are the ones who attain to this ultimate degree of sainthood, which assumes a “dispossession of self” so that this spiritual one is from then on “without name and without quality”.[11] Nevertheless, it is only at this cost that man becomes, strictly speaking, the khalīfa of God, His representative in the strongest sense of this term, and also known as His “Likeness” (mithl).[12] Still, he will never attain to the height of this spiritual abode: only the Prophet holds this privilege. This is what Imām Ja’far al-Sādiq (d.148/765) stresses as early as the second century Hegira when he comments on the above-mentioned verse of Sura 3: “God enjoins the consciences of the Just to follow Muhammad so they should know that, whatever may be the excellence of their states and height of their ranks, they can neither overtake him, nor even equal him.”[13]

What is being explained to us here is that the spiritual status of the Prophet constitutes a unique event within the wealth of sacred history: none other than he has realised perfection in its most absolute form. He is also frequently referred to by spiritual Muslims as al-Insān al-Kāmil, “the Perfect Man”, an expression which made a late appearance in the technical lexicon of tasawwuf,[14] although the idea it described was already present in seed from the second century Hegira, as the words of Imām Ja’far confirm.

We should also mention that if certain authors sometimes use this term to refer to the qutb (the one who, from among the saints, at any given era occupies the highest function at the heart of the initiatic hierarchy), it is by transposition, and inasmuch as that the person in question is at that precise moment the “substitute” (nā’ib) of the Prophet, or more exactly of the Rūh muhammadī, “the Muhammadan Spirit”, which is throughout history the only real Pole of the universe. We are dealing here with another fundamental aspect of the figure of the Prophet, such as is described in the literature of tasawwuf and which is narrowly linked, moreover, to the one just mentioned. This touches on the singularity of his ontological status, that of being the first human being created by God, so that the universe, and thus humanity, derive their existence from his existence. In other words, the spiritual supremacy of the Prophet is also attached to his ontological pre-excellence.


I.3. ”The first thing God created… “

Once again, we are indebted to Imām Ja’far for one of the very first doctrinal formulations of this notion of the Muhammadan primogeniture, where he reports in connection with the significance of the letter Nūn which appears right at the beginning of Sura 68: “Nūn, it is the pre-eternal Light from which God will draw out all creatures and which He attributes to Muhammad”.[15] Admittedly this is a concise statement but one which, again, brings to light the two principal reasons which govern the reflection of spiritual Muslims, as regards the pre-existence of the Prophet: on the one hand, his ontological primacy, and on the other, his motivating role in the cosmogonic process. I have already elaborated at length elsewhere on this question, which over time has undergone significant developments within both Shi’ite and Sunni knowledge,[16] consequently I will restrict myself here to pointing out a few essential elements.

As for the mystical Sunnis, it was Sahl al-Tustarī (d.283/896) one century after Imām Ja’far, who gave full scope to this theme of the Nūr Muhammadī, the “pre-eternal Muhammadan Light”: in a well-known passage of his Tafsīr he describes the divine drama which gives birth to Creation by means of a “column of light”, which is the revelation of the essence of the Prophet.[17] Over the following two centuries as tasawwuf literature really began to take shape, clues emerged here and there which attest to the gestation of this idea of the Muhammadan primogeniture, which served as a vehicle for a terminology as rich as it was shifting; to the term nūr, such words as habā’, “dust”; qabda, “handful”; durra, “pearl”, etc. came to be added. By the beginning of the sixth century signs of a change were underway, marked primarily by the arrival on the scene of the works of ‘Ayn al-Qudāt (d.525/1131). Until then, with the exception of Sahl al-Tustarī, the notion of Nūr Muhammadī had not surfaced other than through veiled intimations in the writings of the masters of tasawwuf. Priority was most often given to a description of the spiritual journey, its conditions, stages, dangers, outcomes, etc. The Tamhīdāt of ‘Ayn al-Qudāt belongs to an altogether different register; its author, accused of heresy and executed, like Hallāj, at the age of thirty-three, had no fear of openly tackling some of the themes considered most suspect in the eyes of the doctors of Law. One example was that of the ontological primacy of the Prophet – widely accepted within the Batinite element – in support of which he quotes on many occasions a hadith of whose Shi’ite origin there was little doubt: “The first thing that God created was my light”.[18] In this respect, the work of ‘Ayn al-Qudāt heralded those of Najm al-Dīn Kubrā (d.618/1221) and his disciple Najm al-Dīn Rāzī, with whom the notion of Nūr Muhammadī acquired a considerable importance.

In the end, it is Ibn ‘Arabī to whom we turn to elaborate on a real “muhammadology”, in the sense where all his initiatic teaching (and here I mean everything in his writings that revolves around the sulūk and the actual spiritual journey), and equally all his hagiological, prophetological and soteriological doctrines are ordered by the notion of the “Muhammadan Reality”. This Haqīqa Muhammadiyya appears as the Principle of all spiritual life, and is the preferred expression of all those in the terminology of tasawwuf which refer to the archetypal Muhammadan entity. On this question there is a clear difference between Ibn ‘Arabī’s approach and that of his predecessors: according to the latter, the idea of the Prophet’s primogeniture essentially meant his germinal role in the unfolding of creation. The author of the Futūhāt added to this a second thesis: that of the necessarily transhistoric and cosmic dimension of the Prophet’s spiritual office, by virtue of which he is, since the beginning of the human odyssey until its end, the spiritual master of the universe. This was a position that he had exercised in a concealed way to begin with, through a series of “substitutes”, i.e. each of the prophets sent successively to man, and in an apparent way thereafter, from the time of his physical appearance.[19]

At first glance this specifically universal conception of the Muhammadan risāla seems to have been unknown before Ibn ‘Arabī. In terms of its formulation it is indisputable, in that its rigour, precision and exhaustiveness all contrast with the cursive and disparate nature of the statements on this matter encountered in his predecessors; but also it comes within the framework of a wonderfully arranged and vast doctrinal structure, of which it is the keystone. The idea that the Prophet has not ceased to live in this world, in one form or another, since the beginning of Creation has been acknowledged since the first days of Islam. This is also reported in various traditions recording the journey of the “Muhammadan seed”, which was contained in the loins of Adam and was passed from prophet to prophet until coming to fruition in the person of the Prophet.[20]

We should also note in this connection that the author of the Futūhāt, who must have been aware of these widespread traditions in his lifetime, hardly mentions them in the numerous texts where he exposes his doctrine on the universality of the spiritual mandate handed down to the Prophet from eternity. In fact, he makes no reference to the hadith going back to Jābir b. ‘Abd Allāh, “The first thing that God created was my light”,[21] which authors after ‘Ayn al-Qudāt systematically relied on to legitimate the thesis of the Muhammadan primogeniture. There is little doubt that the Shaykh al-Akbar’s reluctance to resort to these traditions is because, for one reason or another, he views them with suspicion. In any case, this is not a point of view shared by the author of the Qāb qawsayn who quotes the hadīth reported by Jābir on several occasions, as well as other traditions, the authenticity of which are open to question.

The fact remains that Jīlī is in complete agreement with Ibn ‘Arabī on this question of the spiritual supremacy of the Prophet and of his primordial role in the sphere of sainthood. In fact, as we shall see, the Qāb qawsayn appears in certain respects as an apotheosis of the muhammadology refined by Ibn ‘Arabī.



II. The Muhammadan Way


II.1. Ibn Idrīs: an emulator of Ibn Taymiyya?

It is thanks to Valerie Hoffman that I was introduced to Jīlī’s Qāb qawsayn and the considerable interest it offers on the question of following the example of the Prophet, and its practical and doctrinal implications in the realm of tasawwuf. To the best of my knowledge, American academics were the first to have brought the importance of this short treatise by Jīlī to the attention of researchers in this field during a conference, which took place in Berkeley in 1994.[22] Entitled “Annihilation in the Messenger in the writings of al-Jīlī”, Hoffman’s contribution focused essentially on the passages where Jīlī concentrates on fanā’ fī l-rasūl, “extinction in the Envoy” – although he himself does not use this expression – and of the means of achieving this through the practice of ta’alluq, of attachment to the Prophet. The passages to which this refers appear especially in the penultimate chapter of the seven which make up this work.

We should point out that if Valerie Hoffman chose to concentrate her ideas on these parts of the Qāb qawsayn, it is simply because the theme of fanā’ fī l-rasūl is at the heart of a polemic which over the last fifteen years has been raging among such well-known islamicists as B. Radtke and R. O’Fahey, and other colleagues, concerning the concept of “neo-sufism” and it seems to them that Jīlī’s text contributes to advancing the debate.

In any case, like Valerie Hoffman, it seems to me that the Qāb qawsayn constitutes fundamental evidence on this matter of fanā’ fī l-rasūl, and my own investigations have led me to discover further information which she did not make use of and which reinforces her point of view. At this point let us remind ourselves of the parameters of the controversy.

According to a point of view that prevailed until recently, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were marked by the emergence in Africa of new brotherhoods such as the Sanūsiyya, the Khatmiyya, the Idrīsiyya, the Rashīdiyya, etc. These all shared the common theme of promoting a Sufism which had been purified of the doctrinal influences emanating from the school of Ibn ‘Arabī, as well as from certain popular and suspicious practices (samā’, ziyārat al-qubūr, etc.). These were characterised by an allegedly new “prophetocentrism”, which was evidenced by the importance that the founders of these turuq gave, on the one hand, to the ittibā’ al-nabī in spiritual life in general, and on the other to fanā’ fī l-rasūl in the process of spiritual realisation.[23]

The main proponent of this neo-sufism was Ahmad b. Idrīs (d.1253/1837). He is said to have wanted to establish the foundations of a vast pan-Islamic movement whose mission was to fight against the invading Christians, and whose doctrine was that of following the Muhammadan Way (al-tarīqa al-muhammadiyya). In short, he was an emulator of Ibn Taymiyya.

Originating in the works of F. Rahman, and subsequently endorsed by John O. Voll and J.S. Trimingham who were the main advocates, this vision of things was seriously called into question early in the 1990s, particularly by the work of O’Fahey and Radtke. O’Fahey published a reliable monograph devoted to Ahmad b. Idrīs[24] in which he relied on Radtke’s work – and not, as had been the case until then, on the accounts that were given of these events by authors who were in the service of the colonial authorities. He paints quite a different picture of the Moroccan shaykh, as that of a murshid who never dreamt of founding a tarīqa as such, let alone a pan-Islamic movement, but who restricted himself to the spiritual education of his disciples (tarbiya), in which the teaching was rightly based on ittibā’ al-nabī, and clearly carried the imprint of Ibn ‘Arabī.

Apart from a famous article by Radtke, co-authored by O’Fahey, which appeared in Der Islam in 1994, in which the two academics dismantle point-by-point the arguments put forward by adherents of neo-sufism,[25] we are indebted to him for a series of articles of exemplary scholarship and methodical rigour which have allowed huge advances to be made in our knowledge of eighteenth-century African Sufism.


There is scarcely any doubt that this Sufism is strongly centred on the figure of the Prophet, as Radtke himself admits.[26] In this respect the presence of explicit references to the notion of nūr muhammadī in the writings of Ibn Idrīs is worthy of interest, especially in his ‘Iqd al-nafīs.[27] However, as we have seen, this is in no way a new phenomenon. As pointed out earlier, this doctrinal theme continued to develop over the centuries until it became a leitmotif of literature dedicated to the good qualities of the Prophet (shamā’il al-nabī). A reading of Nabhānī’s Jawāhir al-bihār is from this point of view edifying: in this collection of at least four volumes, he gathered together a considerable number of writings focusing on the pre-excellence of the Prophet, the great majority of which come from later authors – mainly fifteenth to nineteenth century – and mostly belonging to the tasawwuf milieu. It is clear that not only is the theme of nūr muhammadī omnipresent, but that it tends over time to stand out as a fully formed credo.

More specifically, as regards Ahmad b. Idrīs and his main disciples, and particularly Muhammad al-Sanūsī (d.1276/1859), we should not forget, as acknowledged by Radtke,[28] the decisive influence of the widely known Kitāb al-Ibrīz in which Ibn Dabbāgh (d.1132/1719) developed, in his own language, a muhammadology in which the notion of nūr muhammadī is at the centre. In addition, the great Moroccan sufi is the second link in one of the chains of transmission (silsila) to which Ibn Idrīs is affiliated, not least because it is one which through the intermediary of Khadir directly connects him to the Prophet.[29]

For Ibn Idrīs and his spiritual heirs, this prophetocentric vision of walāya is nevertheless made up of practices and specific rituals, such as that of assiduous recitation of the tasliya, which has as its goal fanā’ fī l-rasūl.[30] A clarification is necessary here: on several occasions I have used the term “muhammadology” which, by definition, describes the elaboration of a science, a doctrine. However, it is important to understand that for all the spiritual people that I have described and who have to one degree or another participated in its formulation and practice, what is involved here does not pertain at all to abstract and highly intellectual speculation. That the Prophet is the “Perfect Man” (al-insān al-kāmil) is the certainty which animates them, and is indissoluble from their faith in God; just as the second proposition of the shahāda – “and Muhammad is His Envoy” – is inseparable from the first – “There is no God but God”, which necessarily translates itself on the one hand by means of the prophetic following into action, and on the other by implementing certain devotional practices likely to create a link (rābita) uniting them directly to the Prophet. In this respect it is significant that the salāt ‘azīmiyya – i.e. the form of tasliya specific to Ibn Idrīs, which he maintains is held by the Prophet himself[31] – closes with this request: “Unite me to him [the Prophet] as you unite the spirit to the body, outwardly and inwardly, in the state of wakefulness and in sleep, and make him the spirit of my being,[32] at every instant, in this world before the Other.”

The idea that the Envoy of God remains accessible only to the faithful of his community, which might usually be seen as the privilege of the ahl al-tasawwuf, is in fact far from the point. Rather, this falls within the scope of a belief to which the great majority of Muslims adhere, whether educated or not, and takes as its source various hadīths which assert that the Prophet hears the one who calls blessings on him and responds to him.[33] Hence we see the widespread practice of istighātha bi-l-nabī (seeking help from the Prophet),[34] which doctors of the law accept as legitimate. One could also mention numerous texts relating to visions of the Prophet which occur during sleep or, in a more general way, the abundant literature of the fadā’il al-salawāt, collections which list various forms of blessings on the Prophet reputed to have such-and-such a virtue, especially of provoking a dream-vision of the Chosen One.[35]

To “encounter” the Prophet in a subtle form is not a privilege reserved only for those who have dedicated themselves, body and soul, to God. More exactly, their ambition – at least that of Ibn Idrīs and his disciples – does not stop there, as is given in this well-known passage from the Salsabīl al-mu’īn, in which Muhammad al-Sanūsī (d.1276/1859) recalls the principles of the Muhammadan Way into which he was initiated by Ibn Idrīs. The application of these principles eventually leads to fanā’ fī l-rasūl:

As for the tarīqa muhammadiyya – which derives from his name Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him – the master of masters, Abū Sālim al-‘Ayyāshī, God’s mercy upon him, declared in this connection: [this Muhammadan Way] is specific in that it draws inspiration from the Prophet, even though all ways lead to him and benefit from his assistance; it consists of the one who is following it […] applying himself constantly to the recitation of the tasliya until it predominates over his heart, and that the reverence which he experiences for him [i.e. the Prophet] sweeps through his consciousness to the point that when he hears his name mentioned, he starts to tremble and his heart becomes dominated by his state of contemplation, and he appears present to him in his interior vision.[36] Then God gives blessings to him in profusion, inwardly and outwardly, and allows no other creature to have power over him other than the Prophet; he sees him, whether waking or sleeping, and he asks of him whatever he wishes.[37]

Various versions and quotations of this text exist, so many in fact that it has held the attention of both Muslim authors and islamicists alike.[38] Could it be that the ideas that are found therein are particularly innovative? Certainly not. Incidentally, Sanūsī himself attributes this definition of the Muhammadan Way to Shaykh Abū Sālim al-‘Ayyāshī (d.1090/1679), who lived in the seventeenth century, and which therefore proves that the concept of the tarīqa muhammadiyya owes nothing to the “reformers” of eighteenth-century African Sufism. Furthermore, we can confirm that this text appears word for word at the beginning of the ‘Iqd al-jawhar al-thamīn by Murtadā al-Zabīdī (d.1205/1790);[39] he himself refers neither to ‘Ayyāshī nor to Hasan al-‘Ujaymī (d.1113/1702), who Sanūsī mentions at the beginning of the Salsabīl, and from whom he appears to have taken this long extract on the matter of the tarīqa muhammadiyya.

Whatever the reason, and whoever the real author of this statement might be, this latter – as well as Muhammad Sanūsī who transcribed his words – was well aware that the concept of tarīqa muhammadiyya belongs to the ancestral inheritance of tasawwuf. In the lines which follow this extract, he uses some major figures of Egyptian Sufism as examples of those who practised this “Muhammadan Way”, notably Ahmad al-Zawāwī (d.923/1517) and ‘Alī Nūr al-Dīn Shūnī (d.944/1537). Sha’rānī (d.973/1565), who kept company with both of them, was most impressed by the intense devotion which they dedicated to the Prophet. Ahmad Zawāwī, he says,[40] recited the tasliya forty thousand times a day and told him in this connection:

Our Way consists of constantly reciting the tasliya until the Prophet takes hold of us in the state of wakefulness, and we become his companions in the same way as the original Companions (Sahāba), and we are in a position to ask him about questions of religion and those hadiths considered weak by our learned scholars, so that we might strive according to his word. And for the one for whom this doesn’t happen, it is because he is not one of those who practise the tasliya assiduously.[41]

It is acknowledged that this description summarises the essence of the text from the Salsabīl mentioned earlier. Sha’rānī points out that Nūr al-Dīn Shūnī (d.944/1537) recited the tasliya ten thousand times a day;[42] he is the origin in Egypt of the institution of laylat al-mahyā, or “night of wakefulness” – usually Friday night – during which a group of believers would dedicate themselves to the recitation of the prayer over the Prophet.[43] According to Najm al-Dīn Ghazzī, Shūnī established this practice in the Al-Azhar Mosque in ah 897 and within less than a century it had spread to most regions of the Muslim world, especially Syria.[44] However, as Meier quite rightly emphasises, it is difficult to determine with certainty the origin of this institution in the various Muslim countries where the Prophet’s influence has continued to expand over the course of the centuries, assuming some very diverse forms according to time and place.[45] Likewise, in the Maghreb during the same era the recitation of the Dalā’il al-khayrāt by Jazūlī (d.869/1465) gave rise to weekly gatherings dedicated to the collective reading of this compendium of blessings on the Prophet.


II.2 On “attachment” to the Prophet

Be that as it may, there is evidence of the notion of the tarīqa muhammadiyya at some point well before the sixteenth century. Ibn Taymiyya (d.728/1328) himself used this expression in the opening lines of a letter addressed to Shaykh Manbijī;[46] his disciple Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d.751/1350), according to Safadī, was the author of a treatise entitled al-Risāla al-Halabiyya fī l-tarīqa l-muhammadiyya.[47] Furthermore, this notion of the Muhammadan Way is at the heart of a mystical treatise dating from the seventh-century Hegira, to which Eric Geoffroy has dedicated a rich and detailed study, the Sulūk wa l-sayr ilā Llāh by ‘Imād al-Dīn al-Wāsitī (d.711/1311).[48] The son of a Rifā’ī shaykh who was subsequently affiliated to the Shādhiliyya, ‘Imād al-Dīn eventually joined the little circle of disciples of Ibn Taymiyya, for whom he had boundless admiration. He was a somewhat ambiguous character: following the example of his master, he denounced the Akbarian doctrine of wahdat al-wujūd,[49] and he defied certain of the practices established in the turuq; on the other hand, he didn’t hesitate to quote Tirmidhī’s Khatm al-awliyā’ or to defend tasawwuf, if need be, against its detractors. This ambivalence permeates his ideas on the initiatic path, combining a twofold heritage: that which he received through his own initiation into Sufism in his youth, and that which was transmitted to him by Ibn Taymiyya, who we may recall was affiliated to the Qādiriyya.[50]

Certain principles which are at the root of the Muhammadan Way bear a resemblance to those which underlie the doctrine of fanā’ fī l-rasūl, in the way in which Ibn Idrīs and his successors were to develop it. The author of the Sulūk advocates the strictest conformity to the prophetic model, emphasising that such conformity should be as much interior as exterior;[51] he also recommends to the novice that he “attach himself” (ta’alluq) to the spiritual Presence (rūhāniyya) of the Envoy[52] until he is in a position to visualise this Presence, which “will then accompany him throughout his initiatic journey”.[53]

The term ta’alluq, which he uses on many occasions[54] to designate this way of attachment to the Prophet, is, as we shall see, the very same as that employed by Jīlī in a similar context in his Qāb qawsayn. In addition, it is also this term that a much later author, Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Sammān (1189/1775), uses in a pamphlet entitled al-Futūhāt al-ilāhiyya fī l-tawajjuhāt al-rūhiyya li l-hadra al-muhammadiyya, which Radtke has emphasised the importance of,[55] specifically pointing to the emergence of the concept of tarīqa muhammadiyya, an expression which according to him appears for the first time in the sixteenth century through the pen of Muhammad Birkawī (d.981/1573).[56] This latter is in fact the author of a well-known treatise entitled “The Muhammadan Way” in which he denounces the numerous “heretical innovations” (bida’) introduced over time by Sufis into their religious practices and which perverted the original Islam. According to him, this could only be re-established by a return to the strict practice of the Sunna, the Way of the Prophet seen here exclusively in its most formal aspect.[57] The work of Birkawī had certain repercussions in the Ottoman world and inspired notably a very virulent anti-sufi movement, the Kadizadelis, who were set loose upon Istanbul, and equally in Cairo and Damascus.[58] Nābulusī (d.1143/1731), ever ready to take up his pen, undertook to compose a commentary on the work in question, in which he naturally refutes this taymiyyan concept of the Muhammadan Way.[59] Now, according to Sedgwick, this commentary by Nābulusī would have had an important part to play in spreading the idea of the tarīqa muhammadiyya, such that it was taught and practiced during the eighteenth century in the African Sufism emerging from the circle of Ibn Idrīs.[60]

Not only do we meet the term tarīqa muhammadiyya on several occasions in Wāsitī’s Sulūk, dating from the seventh century, but it also appears in the work of Shaykh Ibn Maymūn al-Fāsī (d.917/1511),[61] and periodically in the Mughlī al-huzn of Shaykh ‘Alwān (d.936/1530).[62] Moreover, it is likely that further investigations will bring to light other instances in authors prior to the sixteenth century.[63]

Nevertheless, Muhammad Sammān’s treatise occupies a significant place, not only in the genesis of the concept of tarīqa muhammadiyya, but also in its resurgence at the heart of eighteenth-century African sufism. Sammān was a disciple of Mustafā Bakrī (d.1162/1749), who was himself a disciple of Nābulusī (d.1143/1731), a distinguished representative of the Akbarian school in Ottoman Syria. He was also the founder of the brotherhood which carries his name[64] (the Sammāniyya, a branch of the Khalwatiyya), Ahmad Tijānī being one of his pupils.[65] Furthermore, in the matter of hadith, he was the master of Ibn Sūda (d.1209/1795), who also frequented Murtadā al-Zabīdī (d.1205/1790), celebrated traditionist and lexicographer who appeared among the transmitters of the khirqa akbariyya.[66] Now, Ibn Sūda was Ibn Idrīs’s[67] hadith master before the latter left Morocco, as well as Ibn Kīrān’s (d.1227/1812) who, in his turn, would teach it to Muhammad Sanūsī[68] and to Ahmad Ibn ‘Ajība (d.1224/1809) – Moroccan sufi and contemporary of Ibn Idrīs – who, in his Autobiographie, describes his ability as that of lexicographer.[69] As with Ibn Sūda, Ibn Kīrān made his mark as a Malikite faqīh and because of this most of his works concern this field, with the exception of two: a commentary on Ibn ‘Atā’ Allāh’s Hikam, and another related to the Salāt Mashīshiyya, otherwise known as the tasliya prayer associated with Ibn Mashīsh, which also generated numerous commentaries over the centuries.[70] Published several years ago in Abū Dhabī,[71] this commentary is steeped in Ibn ‘Arabī’s doctrine from beginning to end, especially in relation to the theme of the Muhammadan Reality.[72]

We come now to the text of the Tawajjuhāt al-rūhiyya by Sammān, a brief treatise of no more than seven folios[73] comprising three chapters. The first, and by far the most dense, tackles in detail the question of attachment (ta’alluq) to the Prophet. The author distinguishes two complementary forms of attachment: the formal (sūrī), consisting of a full and complete conformity with the prophetic model; and the subtle (ma’nawī) which comprises two stages: on the one hand, the novice is invited to visualise the corporeal form of the Prophet, while on the other, he must always keep in mind the Prophet’s unsurpassable perfection until he is able “to annihilate himself in the Muhammadan Light”.[74] There is then a long explanation on the notion of the Muhammadan Reality. In the second chapter the author describes some of his own visionary experiences, whilst in the third and final chapter he returns to the theme of the sublime perfection of the Prophet as seen from the side of his physical appearance, his actions and his words. As Radtke succinctly remarks,[75] it is the concept of tarīqa muhammadiyya which is at the heart of the work. Sammān is trying, in effect, to define the methods which allow the murīd to attain to the close companionship (suhba) of the Prophet, in such a way that he can commune with him at any moment.[76] Thus we are presented here with a particularly detailed reflection, though somewhat untidy, on the concept of the Muhammadan Way. All in all, this is an innovative text… except that Muhammad Sammān is not the real author of it. Of the three chapters of this treatise, only the second can be attributed to him, being autobiographical and, incidentally, extremely brief. All the rest is borrowed word for word from Jīlī’s Qāb qawsayn, especially from chapters 6 and 7, the very ones which aroused the interest of Valerie Hoffman.

Hoffman mentions at the end of her article that she had found no evidence that Jīlī’s Qāb qawsayn had been distributed widely enough to establish a link with the eighteenth-century master of African Sufism.[77] Muhammad Sammān’s treatise, without ever acknowledging it, reproduces the most significant passages from the Qāb qawsayn that concentrate on the various methods of attachment to the Prophet, demonstrating that this link exists. It is important to clarify in this connection that Muhammad Sammān was born and lived in Medina. In his Jawāhir al-bihār Nabhānī states that, out of the three manuscripts of the Qāb qawsayn in his possession, one came from the library in Medina.[78]

Furthermore, we discover another loan from the Qāb qawsayn within the same circle, but this time by Ahmad b. Idrīs. In his work entitled fath al-rasūl wa iftāh bābihi, ‘Uthmān Mīrghanī (d.1268/1852), the youngest disciple of Ibn Idrīs and founder of the Khatmiyya, quotes a shortened version of the famous passage from the Qāb qawsayn concentrating on the two types of attachment to the Prophet.[79] But unlike Sammān, he cites Jīlī by name, and in the passage which immediately follows this extract he refers to the Nāmūs, the vast collection which, as we shall see, notably contains the text of the Qāb qawsayn.

We can also add that Radtke suggests the existence of an unpublished treatise by Ismā’īl al-Nawwāb, focusing on orientation (al-tawajjuh) and attachment (ta’alluq) to the Prophet – two key terms from the Qāb qawsayn and Sammān’s Tawajjuhāt.[80] Sadly I have not had the opportunity of consulting the manuscript in question, which is held in Khartoum, but I would not be surprised to discover therein material borrowed, direct or other­wise, from the Qāb qawsayn. If such is the case, and insofar as this author was the disciple of Ismā’īl Rashīd, who was himself a disciple of Ibn ‘Idrīs, we would then have a further link in the dissemination of Jīlī’s Qāb qawsayn and the doctrine which it conveys at the heart of the “reformist” movements of the eighteenth century.


Reproduced from the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, Volume 45, 2009. Please refer to the original if citing. Translated by Judy Kearns.

Go to Part II of this article


[1] See Goldziher, I., Etudes sur la Tradition Islamique extraites du tome II des Muhammedanische Studien, trad. L. Bercher (Paris, 1984), p. 23.

[2] See Fierro, M., “La polémique à propos du raf’ al-yadayn fî-l-salāt dans al-Andalus”, Studia Islamica, LXV, 1987, pp. 69–90.

[3]. With Islamicists it is usual to render ittibā’ al-nabī as imitatio prophetae, but the expression sequela prophetae seems to me more appropriate, in reference to sequela Christi to which the famous adage “nudus Christum nudum sequi” refers.

[4] Wensinck, A.J. et al., Concordances et indices de la tradition musulmane (Leiden, 1936–69), II, p. 75.

[5] On this question, cf. Chodkiewicz., M., “Le modèle prophétique de la sainteté en Islam” in Al-masaq, Studia Arabo-Islamica Mediterranea, vol. 7, Leeds, 1994, pp. 20 1–226.

[6] Ibid., these words attributed to ‘A’isha are frequently related to the Quranic verse 68:4, “In truth, you are of a sublime character”, cf. Ibn ‘Arabī, Fut. IV.60.

[7] Fut. IV.61; Ibn ‘Arabī affirms in the same passage: “One who has not lived at the time of the Prophet but desires to see him, should contemplate the Qur’an for there is no difference between the act of contemplating it and the act of contemplating the Envoy of God.” This affirmation should be related to the episode described at the beginning of the Futūhāt (I.48), where Ibn ‘Arabī refers to his meeting with the fatā in which “he reads” the contents of the Futūhāt; on this point, cf. Chodkiewicz, “Le paradoxe de la Ka’ba” in Revue de l’histoire des religions (Paris, 2005), vol. 222/4, pp. 43 5–461. See also a similar episode reported in the K. Manzil al-qutb (Hyderabad, 1948), p. 14 where Ibn ‘Arabī describes his meeting in Fez with the Pole, in whom he “contemplates the secrets”.

[8] The author of “Profession de foi” attributed to Ibn ‘Arabī and translated under this title by R. Deladrière (Paris, 1978) affirms (p. 14 3) in connection with the Prophet: “the Qur’an is merged with his flesh and his blood to the point of becoming his own nature”.

[9] Sulamī, Haqā’iq al-tafsīr (Beirut, 2001), I, p. 96.

[10] This Quranic injunction is reminiscent of the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 14, v.25 and Matthew 10, vs.37–38.

[11] Fut. IV.13.

[12] On this see the interpretation which Ibn ‘Arabī gives (Fut. II.563; III.165; IV.135–136) of Q. 42:11: laysa kamithlihi shay’un, that the commentators interpret as signifying “nothing is like unto Him” but which, if one keeps to a strictly literal reading, can also mean “nothing is like unto His likeness”, this ‘likeness’ being, according to Ibn ‘Arabī, the Perfect Man; see also Chodkiewicz, An Ocean without shore (Albany, 1993), p. 37.

[13] Sulamī, Haqā’iq, p. 95 ; our translation improves, with some very slight changes, on that of Nwyia, P., Exégèse coranique et langage mystique (Beirut, 1991), p. 18 3.

[14] S. al-Hakīm, in Mu’jam al-sūfī (Beirut, 1981), p. 16 0, affirms that Ibn ‘Arabī is the very first author to make use of this expression but, to the extent that there are still many texts to be explored by authors earlier than Ibn ‘Arabī, one cannot be certain.

[15] Sulamī, Haqā’iq, II, p. 34 3; Nwyia, Exégèse, p. 16 7.

[16] Addas, Une victoire éclatante, the Verus Propheta in the doctrine of Ibn ‘Arabī (2005, private publication).

[17] Tustarī, Tafsīr al-qur’ān al-‘azīm (Beirut, 2002), pp. 68–69; Böwering, G., The Mystical Vision of Existence in classical Islam (Berlin/New York, 1980), pp. 14 9–151.

[18] ‘Ayn al-Qudāt Hamādhānī, Tamhīdāt, French trans. C. Tortel, Les tentations métaphysiques (Paris, 1992), pp. 13 0, 169, 229, 238, 266; on this hadith cf. ‘Ajlūnī, Kashf al-khafāwa muzīl al-ilbās (Beirut, ah 1351), no.  827; Rubin, U., “Pre-existence and light, Aspects of concept of Nūr Muhammadī“, in Israel Oriental Studies, V, 1975, pp. 98–104; Amir-Moezzi, M.A., Le guide divin dans le shiisme originel (Paris, 1992), p. 74 ff.; the question of this hadith will be explored further in the third section of this study.

[19] See Chodkiewicz, M., Seal of the Saints (Cambridge, 1993), chapter IV.

[20] Rubin, “Pre-existence and light”, pp. 80–81; Amir-Moezzi, Le guide divin, p. 10 5.

[21] It is important to stress here that ‘Ayn al-Qudāt appears to be the first Sunni author to quote this hadith in this form, which he may have taken from Ahmad Ghazālī; whatever the case, it is not Ibn ‘Arabī – who never quoted this hadith in this form – who put it into circulation, contrary to what B. Radtke seems to think in his article “Sufism in the 18th Century: An Attempt at a Critical Appraisal” in Die Welt des Islams, 36,1996, pp. 326–364, n.  272, and who bases himself in this connection on the Bulghat al-ghawwās; it actually appears there (ms. BN., f.189), but this work is not by Ibn ‘Arabī but by a later author.

[22] Symposium organised by the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society at the University of Berkeley in November 1994; a revised version of this contribution was published in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 31, no. 3, August 1999, pp. 351–369.

[23] For a detailed account of the concept of neo-sufism and the underlying arguments, cf. O’Fahey, R., and Radtke, “Neo-Sufism Reconsidered”, in Der Islam, 1993, pp. 52–87.

[24] O’Fahey, Enigmatic Saint, Ahmad Ibn Idrīs and the Idrisi tradition (London, 1990).

[25] O’Fahey and Radtke, “Neo-Sufism”; O’Fahey has since gone back on his position, cf. “Pietism, Fundamentalism and Mysticism” in Festkrift til Historisk institutts 40-ars jubileum 1997 (Bergen, 1997); and Radtke, “A Reconsideration Reconsidered”, in Neue kritische Gänge: Zu Stand und Aufgaben der Sufikforschung (Utrecht, 2005), p. 29 3.

[26] Radtke, “Sufism in the 18th Century”, p. 36 0.

[27] Ibn Idrīs, ‘Iqd al-nafīs, in Nabhānī, Jawāhir al-bihār (Beirut, 1998), vol. III, pp. 62–64; cf. also Thomassen, E., and Radtke, The Letters of Ahmad Ibn Idrīs (London, 1993), p. 18.

[28] Radtke, “Sufism in the 18th Century”, pp. 331, 355–56; “Ibrīziana” in Sudanic Africa, 7, 1996, pp. 113–158, see p. 11 7; see also Hoffman, V., “Annihilation in the Messenger of God: The Development of a Sufi Practice”, in International Journal of Middle East Studies, 31, 1999, Cambridge, pp. 351–369, see pp. 359–361.

[29] O’Fahey and Radtke, “Neo-Sufism”, p. 69 ; Radtke, O’Fahey and O’Kane, J., “Two Sufi Treatises of Ahmad Ibn Idrīs” in Oriens, 35, 1996, pp. 143–178, p. 51 ; Two Sufi treatises, p. 151; Thomassen and Radtke, Letters, p. 46.

[30] Thomassen and Radtke, Letters, pp. 128–131, 148–149.

[31] The Arabic text of this tasliya is found in Nabhānī, Afdal al-salawāt (Beirut, 1996), p. 91 ; for the translation, see O’Fahey, Enigmatic Saint, pp. 194–195, and Radtke, O’Fahey and O’Kane, Two Sufi Treatises, p. 16 2, where evidence by Ibn Idrīs can also be found on the circumstances in which he received this prayer from the Prophet.

[32]Rūhan lidhāti; on the sense of the term dhāt given here, see Radtke’s remarks on the use of dhāt in the K. al-Ibrīz in “Sufism in the 18th Century”, p. 350, Ibrīziana, pp. 119–121.

[33] On this subject see Meier, F., “Invoking Blessings on Muhammadan Prayers of Supplication and When Making Requests” in Essays on Islamic Piety & Mysticism (Leiden, 1999), pp. 549–589.

[34] This “cry for help” addressed to the Prophet can be expressed verbally, which is usually the case, but it can also be written, hence the Rasā’il ilā l-nabī, which Maqqarī offers some examples of in his Nafh al-tīb (Beirut, 1968), IX, 80–104; II, 49ff.; X, 283–289.

[35] Cf. Padwick, Muslim Devotions (London, 1961), pp. 154–165, 222–225; Schimmel, A.M., And Muhammad is His Messenger (Chapel Hill, 1984), pp. 94–104.

[36] The text of the Salsabīl (Sanūsī, M., al-Salsabīl al-mu’īn fī l-tarā’iq al-‘arb’īn, Beirut, 1968, p. 74 ) of Murtadā al-Zabīdī (ms. belonging to the author) gives mutammathilan which can also be applied to a Quranic passage where it has a positive connotation since it concerns a verse which relates to the appearance of the Angel Gabriel at the time of the Annunciation (Q. 19:17); it is this second reading which I have retained.

[37] Sanūsī, Salsabīl, p. 74.

[38] A slightly different version of this text appears in Sanūsī’s al-Manhal al-rawī (Beirut, 1968, p. 49 ) which has become the subject of a translation annotated by Radtke in “Between projection and suppression: Some considerations concerning the study of Sufism” in De Jong, F. (ed.), Shi’a Islam, Sects and Sufism (Utrecht, 1992), pp. 70–82, see pp. 74–75; see also his translation in “Sufism in the 18th Century”, pp. 35 5–356; Padwick, C., Muslim Devotions, pp. 150–151; Schimmel, A., And Muhammad, p. 226.

[39] Zabīdī, ‘Iqd al-jawhar, f. 74.

[40] Al-Sha’rānī, Lawāqih al-anwār al-qudsiyya fī bayān al-‘uhūd al-muhammadiyya (Aleppo, 1993), p. 284.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Sha’rānī, al-Tabaqāt al-kubrā (Cairo, 1954), II, pp. 171–172; EI2, s.v. Mahyā; E. Geoffroy, Le soufisme en Egypte et en Syrie (Damascus), pp. 95, 103.

[44] Ghazzī, al-Kawākib al-sā’ira bi a’yān al-mi’a al-‘āshira (Beirut, 1945), II, p. 21 8.

[45] Meier, F., “Poetic Refrain and Mahyā” in Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism (Leiden, 1999), pp. 67 1–672.

[46] Ibn Taymiyya, Majmū’at al-rasā’il wa l-masā’il (Cairo, n.d.), I, p. 16 1.

[47] Al-wāfī bi l-wafayāt,, p. 26 1; Idem, A’yān al-‘asr,, p. 77 6; Hājjī Khalīfa, Kashf al-zunūn,, p. 43 6.

[48] Eric Geoffroy, “Le traité de soufisme d’un disciple d’Ibn Taymiyya: Ahmad ‘Imād al-Wāsitī (m.711/1311)” in Studia Islamica, 1995, no. 82, pp. 83–103; instances of the term tarīqa muhammadiyya are given in n. 79.

[49] In particular, he is the author of a short epistle condemning the doctrine of the Fusūs; cf. O. Yahia, Histoire et classification de l’oeuvre d’Ibn Arabī (Damascus, 1964), I, p. 114.

[50] See G. Makdisi, “L’islam hanbalisant” in Revue des études islamiques, 10 (1983), and Geoffroy, “Le Traité de soufisme”, n. 91.

[51] Geoffroy, “Le Traité de soufisme”, p. 90.

[52] Ibid., p. 89.

[53] Ibid., p. 90.

[54] Wāsitī, ‘Imād al-Dīn, Al-sulūk wa l-sayr ilā Llāh (ms. Damascus, n. 4709), f. 58b, 59a, 96a, 97b, etc.

[55] Radtke, “Sufism in the 18th Century”, p. 35 5.

[56] Ibid. Vincent Cornell believes that the first to have elaborated this conception of the Muhammadan Way was the Jazūlī Shaykh, ‘Abd Allāh al-Ghazwānī (d.935/1528); cf. “Mystical doctrine and political action in Moroccan sufism: the role of the exemplar in the Tarīqa jazūliyya” in Al-Qantara, vol. XIII, fasc.1, Madrid 1992, pp. 20 1–231, see p. 20 3.

[57] See B. von Schlegell, Sufism in the Ottoman Arab World: shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (d.1143/1731), Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California at Berkeley, 1977, pp. 85–95.

[58] Ibid., pp. 80–85.

[59] Ibid., pp. 88–95.

[60] In this connection Sedgwick highlights that Mahmūd al-Kurdī (1195/1781), disciple of Muhammad al-Hifnī (d.1181/1767), who was the disciple of Mustafā al-Bakrī (1162/1749), himself disciple of Nābulusī, met A. b. Idrīs and his master al-Tāzī, who was equally in relationship with M. al-Hifnī; see Sedgwick, M., Saints and Sons: The Making and Remaking of the Rashīdī Ahmadī Sufi Order 1799–2000 (Leiden/Boston, 2005), pp. 39–42.

[61] Cf. Geoffroy, E., “La voie du blâme: une modalité majeure de la sainteté en islam d’après l’exemple du cheikh ‘Alī b. Maymūn al-Fāsī” in N. Amry and D. Gril (eds), Saints et sainteté dans le christianisme et l’islam (Paris, 2008), pp. 13 9–151, see p. 14 1.

[62] Geoffroy, Le soufisme en Egypte, p. 27 0, n. 3.

[63] Jīlī uses the expression tarīq muhammadī in his Kamālāt ilāhiyya (Beirut, 2004), p. 13.

[64] On this subject, cf. Gaborieau, M. and N. Grandin, “Le renouveau confrérique” in A. Popovic and G. Veinstein (eds), Les voies d’Allāh, les ordres mystiques dans le monde musulman des origines à aujourd’hui (Paris, 1996), pp. 68–83, see p. 72.

[65] Cf. Radtke, “Sufism in the 18th Century”, p. 32 2; O’Fahey, Enigmatic Saint, pp. 35, 143, 176.

[66] Addas, Ibn Arabī ou la quête du Soufre Rouge (Paris, 1989), p. 37 1; English trans. by P. Kingsley, Quest for the Red Sulphur: the Life of Ibn ‘Arabī (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 29 1–292.

[67] O’Fahey, Enigmatic saint, p. 35.

[68] Ibid., pp. 36–37; O’Fahey and Radtke, “Neo-sufism”, p. 66 ; on Ibn Kīrān, cf. Ziriklī, al-A’lām, 8 vols. (Beirut, 1984), VI, p. 17 8.

[69] J.L. Michon, L’Autobiographie (Fahrasa) du soufi marocain Ibn ‘Ajība (Milan, 1982), p. 53, where Ibn ‘Ajība also mentions Ibn Sūda among his hadith masters.

[70] Several of these commentaries are retranscribed in Nabhānī’s Jawāhir al-bihār, notably that of ‘Abd Allāh Mīrghanī al-Mahjūb (d.1207/1793), in II, pp. 51 9–531, in which the story appears – which Mīrghanī said takes after one of his masters – and related by Ismā’īl Haqqī in the Rūh al-bayān (Tafsīr rūh al-bayān, 10 vols., n.p., n.d., vol. I, p. 24 8) and according to which Abū-l Hasan al-Shādhilī took part in a general assembly of prophets reunited to intercede in favour of Hallāj who had lost respect towards the Prophet; on this, see also the similar story (Rūh al-bayān, X, p. 45 6) but in this case the protagonist is Ibn ‘Arabī. On the problems posed by these two texts, cf. Chodkiewicz, Le sceau des saints, prophétie et sainteté dans la doctrine d’Ibn ‘Arabî, (Paris, 1986), pp. 16 6–168; as for the incoherences by the author which arise in connection with these two stories, we should add that Ismā’īl Haqqī indicates in the story about Shādhilī that he was relying on the Muhādarāt of Rāghib Isfahānī, who died well before Shādhilī, in ah 502 at the latest (cf. EI2 s.v.); in any case, the story in question does not appear in the Muhādarāt.

[71] Ibn Kīrān, Sharh al-salāt al-mashīshiyya (Abu Dhabi, 1999); on the tensions between Ibn Kīrān and Ahmad Tijānī, see El Adnani, J., “Les origines de la Tijāniyya: quand les premiers disciples se mettent à parler” in J.L. Triaud and D. Robinson (eds) La Tijāniyya, Une confrérie musulmane à la conquête de l’Afrique (2005), pp. 46–47.

[72] See Addas, Une victoire éclatante, p. 32, n. 92.

[73] This concerns the ms. by Sammān, al-Futūhāt al-ilāhiyya fī l-tawajjuhāt al-rūhiyya li l-hadra al-muhammadiyya (ms. le Caire, 602, general no. 28934), fols. 53–59; the text is reproduced in full by Nabhānī in his Jawāhir, IV, pp. 17 2–180.

[74] Sammān, fol. 56.

[75] Radtke, “Sufism in the 18th Century”, p. 33 2.

[76] Sammān, fol. 55b.

[77] Hoffman, “Annihilation in the Messenger”, p. 358.

[78] Nabhānī, Jawāhir, IV, p. 259.

[79] Cf. Nabhānī, Jāmi’ karamāt al-awliyā‘, I, p. 366.

[80] O’Fahey and Radtke, “Neo-sufism”, p. 71, n. 72.