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), was once a recognized Sunni Shafi'i Ash'ari pupil and mystic (Sufi) from Khurasan in Iran. His Epistle is one of the most well-liked Sufi handbook ever. Written in 437 H / 1045 CE, it has served as a first-rate textbook for plenty of generations of Sufi newcomers 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 existence in a society ruled by means of rank, wealth, and armed forces strength. In al-Qushayri's narrative, the Sufi 'friends of God' (awliya') are depicted because the actual, if uncrowned, 'kings' of this international, now not these worldly rulers who seem to be lording it over the typical herd of believers. but, even the main complex Sufi masters will not be take salvation without any consideration. Miracle-working, irrespective of how astonishing, can't warrantly the Sufi a 'favorite final result' within the afterlife, for it can be yet a ruse at the a part of God who desires to try out the ethical integrity of his servant. within the Epistle, those and lots of different Sufi motifs are illustrated by way of the anecdotes and parables that exhibit al-Qushayri's fellow Sufis in a large choice of contexts: struggling with starvation and thirst within the wilderness, whereas acting pilgrimage to Makkah, partaking in 'spiritual auditions', reciting the Qur'an, waging struggle opposed to the 'infidel' enemy and their very own wants, incomes their livelihood, meditating in a retreat, praying, operating miracles, interacting with the 'people of the market-place', their kinfolk and friends, dreaming, and demise.
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Extra resources for al-Qushayri’s Epistle on Sufism: al-Risala al-Qushayriyya fi Ilm al-Tasawwuf
Then I closed my eyes and fell asleep. In my dream I saw a most beautiful slave girl who had descended from heaven. I asked to whom she belonged. She said that she would belong to whoever did not drink the water that was cooled in a pitcher. ”//42 Abu Nasr Bishr b. 54 He lived in Baghdad, where he died. He was a son of ∏Ali b. Khashram’s sister. He died in the year 227 . He was a man of great stature. 55 He found on the road a small piece of paper upon which was written the name of God – may He be great and exalted.
He was unique in his age as regards pious scrupulosity and the knowledge of the Prophet’s custom and divine oneness. I heard Muhammad b. al-Husayn say: I heard ∏Abdallah b. ∏Ali al-Tusi say: I heard Abu ∏Amr b. ∏Alwan say: I heard Abu πl-∏Abbas b. Masruq47 say: “I heard that Sari al-Saqati was plying his trade at the bazaar, while he was a companion of Ma∏ruf al-Karkhi. Once Ma∏ruf came to him with an orphan boy. ” I heard Shaykh Abu ∏Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami – may God have mercy on him – say: I heard Abu Bakr al-Razi say: I heard Abu ∏Umar al-Anmati say: I heard al-Junayd say: “I have never seen anyone more devoted to God than al-Sari.
58 On this legendary personage (usually identified with Moses’ mysterious companion in Q. 18:59–81), whom the Sufis consider their holy patron, see the article “al-Khadir” in EI. 59 A great jurist and the founder of one of the four Sunni legal schools. See the article “al-Shafi∏i” in EI. 60 That is, a member of the invisible hierarchy of the saints who are the real rulers of the universe. The peg (watad) is a high, although not the highest, rank in this saintly hierarchy. His name indicates that his function is to keep the universe stable.
al-Qushayri’s Epistle on Sufism: al-Risala al-Qushayriyya fi Ilm al-Tasawwuf by Abu 'l-Qasim Al-Qushayri, Alexander Knysh