Remarks on Al-Niffarī's Neglect in Early Sufi Literature

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This short article seeks to re-evaluate the unique case of al-Niffarī and the sophisticated framework of his total omission in the great Sufi compendiums of the fourth/tenth and fifth/eleventh centuries. Among the well-known explanations of this omission provided by modern scholarship are al-Niffarī himself neglecting to collect his writings, the obscurity of his shocking sayings, and the historical fact that he was not affiliated with any mystical school or Sufi sheikh of his time. A significant question should be inserted here: if the writings of al-Niffarī were really shocking for his contemporaries, why do we not come across any evidenced attempts to confront him or accuse him of heresy as was the case with other controversial Sufi figures? In order to answer this question, comparing al-Niffarī's case with the cases of other controversial figures from the same phase might be useful and interesting. Besides al-Niffarī's asocial temperament, the ‘silent’ and ‘personal’ tone of his writings had nothing to do with the Sufi reality that followed his death, a new reality that witnessed a rapid process of institutionalising the Sufi spirituality, where the controlling tone became communalised par excellence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-418
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © 2014 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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