By Abu 'l-Qasim Al-Qushayri, Alexander Knysh

Translated through Alexander D. Knysh

The writer of the Epistle on Sufism, Abu'l-Qasim al-Qushayri (376-465 H / 986-1074 CE), used to be a well-known Sunni Shafi'i Ash'ari pupil and mystic (Sufi) from Khurasan in Iran. His Epistle is definitely one of the hottest Sufi handbook ever. Written in 437 H / 1045 CE, it has served as a main textbook for plenty of generations of Sufi newbies all the way down to the current. al-Qushayri has given us an illuminating perception into the standard lives of Sufi devotees of the 8th to 11th centuries CE and the ethical and moral dilemmas they have been dealing with in attempting to strike a fragile stability among their ascetic and mystical convictions and the exigencies of lifestyles in a society ruled via rank, wealth, and armed forces strength. In al-Qushayri's narrative, the Sufi 'friends of God' (awliya') are depicted because the real, if uncrowned, 'kings' of this global, no longer these worldly rulers who seem to be lording it over the typical herd of believers. but, even the main complex Sufi masters usually are not take salvation without any consideration. Miracle-working, irrespective of how superb, can't warrantly the Sufi a 'favorite consequence' within the afterlife, for it can be yet a ruse at the a part of God who desires to try the ethical integrity of his servant. within the Epistle, those and lots of different Sufi motifs are illustrated through the anecdotes and parables that exhibit al-Qushayri's fellow Sufis in a wide selection of contexts: being affected by starvation and thirst within the desolate tract, whereas acting pilgrimage to Makkah, partaking in 'spiritual auditions', reciting the Qur'an, waging conflict opposed to the 'infidel' enemy and their very own wishes, incomes their livelihood, meditating in a retreat, praying, operating miracles, interacting with the 'people of the market-place', their kinfolk and friends, dreaming, and death.

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11 A famous early ascetic, whom a pious legend portrays as a repented highway robber. See his biography on pages 20–21 and IM, pp. 23–24. 12 According to the Islamic tradition, God has ninety-nine “most beautiful names”. His hundredth name is hidden from the common people, but may sometimes be revealed by God to His elect friends (awliyaπ). For details see Daniel Gimaret, Les noms divins en Islam. 13 On this legendary person, who is usually identified with the unnamed companion of Moses in Q. 59:81, see the article “al-Khadir” in EI.

Al-Husayn al-Sulami say: I heard Abu πl-Husayn al-Farisi say: I heard Ibrahim b. Fatik say: I heard al-Junayd say: “When would He Who has neither a like nor an equal join the one who has both a like and an equal? Is this at all possible? ”76 Muhammad b. al-Husayn – may God have mercy on him – informed us: I heard ∏Abd al-Wahid b. Bakr say: Ahmad b. Muhammad b. ∏Ali al-Barda∏i told me: Tahir b. Isma∏il al-Razi told me: someone asked Yahya b. ”80 The inquirer said to him: “I did not ask 72 According to Ash∏arite theologians, God’s attributes are divided into two categories.

Al-Husayn – may God have mercy on him – said: I heard Mansur b. ∏Abdallah say: I heard Muhammad b. Hamid say: I heard Ahmad b. Khadrawayh (Khidruya) say: Ibrahim b. Adham said to a man who was performing a circumambulation [of the Ka∏ba]: “Know that you will not attain the rank of the righteous until you have climbed six mountain peaks. First, you must shut the door of pleasant life and open the door of hardship. Second, you must shut the door of [self-]glorification and open the door of humility.

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