The Quran claims to be flawless


1Did Ibn Hanbal eat melons? I confess my embarrassment to those dying to hear a categorical answer to this question. If one believes Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597 / 1200–1) 1, “[Ibn Hanbal (d. 241 / 855–6)] did not buy pomegranate, quince, or any fruit except for the melon«. So then we know that, you might think. According to a very common tradition followed by numerous eminent authors, 2 Imam Ahmad strictly refused to eat melons because he did not know how the Prophet ate them.3 Although I am not sure, I suspect that the historical truth can be found in Ibn al-Jawzī. However, for the purposes of the following, I will refer to the other version for it illustrates, in a way that may seem ridiculous to a non-believer, a single aspect of the ubiquitous theme of Islamic culture imitatio prophetae.

2Laqad kāna lakum fī rasūlī llāhi uswatun ḥasana. This verse of the Koran, which incidentally is part of a sura with a pronounced prophetological character - Al-aḥzāb (Koran 33:21) - ist, 4 undoubtedly establishes the paradigm upon which every conceivable form of perfection is based Islam has to call. This reference, which appears so frequently in writings and utterances, can be an expression of true faith. Of course, it can also be an expression of conformity that disguises interests, calculations or fears. In any case, however, the history of Islamic societies cannot be understood without taking into account the important role this reference plays both in the formation of individual and community norms and in the definition of the ideal to which these norms are committed: Because it doesn't matter under which aspect the imitatio prophetae presented, it always has the form of an asymptote. It must aim to get closer and closer to the unsurpassable abundance of the "excellent role model" without ever reaching it.

3At the ʿĀmma- the ordinary believers - the imitation will often retain a very external character: Beyond the observance of the legal forms that result from the example and the rules of the prophet and are binding for all, the pious Muslim will endeavor to find among various equally permissible ones Behaviors to choose those who have been honored by the Prophet and consequently prefer certain behaviors, clothing, and foods. It is more than obvious that such conformity can amount to pure conformity. The fact that it opens the door to an endless casuistry and leaves the field to the ardent zeal of innovation fanatics has been sufficiently shown in older and more recent history. Yet Muhammad was sent by God to help makārim al-akhlāqto "perfect" the "noble virtues" 5, and the imitatio prophetae should not limit himself to scrupulously following apparent behaviors exemplified by tradition. As far as possible, it should also be aimed at bringing the inner being of the believer into harmony with the example of the prophet. No system of ethical values ​​is actually derived from this principle - these are already formulated in the Koran - but a way of representing these values ​​based on the historical existence of a person who embodies them.

4These are therefore the two aspects of loyalty to the "excellent role model" - the former being more important for social behavior and the latter for ethical behavior - on which research is most frequently focused. Annemarie Schimmel, to whom we owe a work6 that admirably emphasizes the central role of the prophet for Islamic spirituality, takes up an interpretation by Armand Abel in which the imitatio prophetae is reduced to the imitation of "his actions and activities." 7 In general, it can be said that only a few jobs take sufficient care to the person of Muhammad in the doctrine and faith of his community to illuminate - to take up the title of the book by Tor Andrae published in 1917.8 But even rarer are the works that adequately appreciate the importance of the reference to the prophet in hagiology and hagiography. Admittedly, the idea is vaguely and casually admitted, but it remains rather inconsequential lip service and is not further developed. This applies, for example, to older works such as Mystique musulmane by Gardet and Anawati (the entry "walī" in the first edition of Encyclopédie de l’Islam Bernard Carra de Vaux gives no information in this regard). It also applies to Julian Baldick's book Mystical Islam (London 1989) or for 1985 in the magazine Islamochristiana published essays by Farūqī and Niẓāmī dealing with the concept of holiness in the Islam deal with 9

5Two current controversies have now led me to address this problem in more detail. The first is an intra-Muslim controversy. It was made in Egypt through the practices of ṭarīqa burhāniyya (of the Sufi order) and especially the teachings of its founder, the Sudanese who died in 1983 shaykh (Sheikh) Muḥammad ‘Uthmān‘ Abduh al-Burhānī, evoked. Pierre-Jean Luizard in France and Valérie Hoffman-Ladd in the United States have summarized the points of contention and the twists and turns of this debate.10 Without going into the details of the heated disputes that led to the publication of the Tabri’at al-Dhimma fī Nuṣḥ al-Umma this shaykh (and later the dissemination of writings that he supposedly some of his students still did post mortem in Arabic ... and in German! dictated), it should be pointed out that a major reproach against his teaching is that of the "deification of the prophet."

6The second is a scientific and therefore polite controversy - which, as is well known, does not mean that it is perfectly peaceful. Here our colleagues Bernd Radtke and R. S. O’Fahey face each other on the one hand and experts such as Fazlur Rahman, J. S. Trimingham, John O. Voll or B. G. Martin on the other; it is carried out around the concept of ṭarīqa muḥammadiyya, defined as the goal of "union with the spirit of the prophet". In one entitled "Neo-Sufism reconsidered" in The islam published article, Radtke and O'Fahey criticize the thesis of these scholars that in the 18th century - especially with Ibn Idrīs (d. 1264/1897), Muḥammad al-Sanūsī, Ahmad al-Tijānī - a "reformed" Sufism arose, which characterized by the appearance of the so-called "Mohammedan path" which, breaking with the past, placed the prophet at the vital center of his hagiology.12 Radtke and O'Fahey, on the other hand, see this alleged "Neosufism" in perfect continuity with a very old tradition because he sees "the development in the prophet" as a decisive stage on the path of life leading to walāya (Holiness) leads.

7These two controversies are certainly very different. The first ended with the curse against the heretic. The second - not yet completed - calls into question the commonly accepted results of historical research. The people whose writings or deeds start these debates - Ibn Idrīs or Aḥmad al-Tijānī on the one hand and Muḥammad ‘Uthmān on the other - also have quite different characteristics. But they share one basic attitude: In their view, the possibilities of the Muslim model are not limited to the common forms of active acceptance of the etc asana (the "beautiful model"). In their eyes, the person of the prophet is at the same time what, in terms of scholasticism, is called the "cause of form" (causa formalis) and the "effective cause" (causa efficiens) could call all holiness. The walāya possesses in Muhammad both its source and its exemplary perfection.

8 Personally, however, I am convinced that this doctrine was not new in either the 18th or 20th centuries. But to prove the validity of the prophetic example understood in this way is no easy matter. One has to look at the problem from different perspectives: in that the prophetic model is a model for the saints themselves; insofar as it is a model for hagiology, the theory of holiness; and insofar as it ultimately more or less consciously imposes itself on hagiography, whereby the archetype threatens to degenerate into a stereotype. These three aspects are often mixed up in our sources. The elements of a saint's life may have been reorganized in function of this model, and such pious manipulations, if discovered or suspected, cast doubt on the authenticity of the teachings or spiritual experiences ascribed to that personality. The historian consoles himself with the thought that the return of a stereotype is never meaningless, that, in other words, the "golden legend" has something to say to him.

Be that as it may, I would like to limit myself at this point to giving a few pointers, to referring to some facts or texts on which I base my conviction. As for the downright magnetic attraction of the etc asana on hagiography and its consequences for the image of the walī As for (the holy), I mention them only as a reminder. Their effects are usually easy to determine, even when redundant details sometimes obscure the obvious. For this reason one must of course rather focus on the recurring use of the obvious from the Sīra nabawiyya (Prophet's biography) pay attention to the suggested topoi than to the isolated occurrence of one or the other topos. Without making any claim to completeness, I will cite a few characteristics whose signal character is recognizable to specialists as a well-known signal. The omens and miracles that accompany the birth of a saint are among the most common. In particular, the reports pertaining to the founders of the ṭuruq (the "spiritual ways" or orders - plural of arīqa, A.d.T.), for example to ʻAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī, Ahmad al-Rifāʻī, Bahā al-Dīn Naqshband or ʻAbd al-ʻAzīz al-Dabbāgh, are rich in mirabiliathat heralds an extraordinary fate. Aḥmad al-Badawī's mother appeared one after the other in the course of her pregnancy to Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Ali and Hussein, who prophesied her son's future glory. When he is born, the Kaaba is enlightened ... 13 And one incidentally notes with amusement that the biographers Muḥammad Ibn'Abd al-Wahhābs, that great opponent of the cult of saints, could not resist the temptation of mimeticism. In a Wahhabi work published a few years ago, one can read that the grandfather of this Imam of Tawheed saw a fire in his sleep before his birth, which rose from his navel and illuminated all deserts. He concluded that his loins should produce a man to lead the people. 14

10Another significant characteristic, namely the orphanage, is in the awliyā (the friends of God [in the sense of: saints; A.d.Ü.]) to be found very often. Their childhood also often followed the example of the prophet. Puer senex or the mature child: "When did you know that you were a saint?" Jīlānī was asked - "When I was ten years old," he replied. The saint has a pronounced sense of shame - al-Rifā'ī has barely emerged from his mother's stomach, he covers his genitals with his left hand - 15 he avoids distractions and games, he tends the cattle. He says straightforwardly: He is like the prophet amīn, he instills confidence in everyone. At least in a dream he has experiences whose obviously purifying symbolism evokes the purification of the heart of Muhammad by angelic hands. Sometimes he lives through that episode from the sīra even in an identical way. This is reported in detail by Yāfiʻī, Abū Rabī ‘al-Malaqī and the Salwat al-Anfās by Sīdī ‘Umar al-Kattānī.16 The encounter with Baḥīrā also often finds its echo: a mysterious figure, like the enigmatic one baqqālwho sent Ibn al-Fāriḍ (d. 632 / 1234–5) to Mecca, 17 was told by God about the fate of the future walī in order to bring him to his calling. Often it is an old man; and it is not uncommon for this providential old man like Baḥīrā to be a monk. The role of the rāhib (of the monk) in hagiography needs further comment. 18

11The retreat - into a grotto, into the desert, to cemeteries, in ruins - is a typical stage in the training of saints. Since the prophecy is actually closed, he cannot experience a revelation there, but he is rewarded with those dream visions that represent the 46th and only part of the nubuwwa (of the prophecy) make out. He interrogates there hātif, a psychic voice. This is followed by the "descent from the mountain" - in the real sense of the word for an Abu al-Ḥasan al-Shādḥīlī (d. 657/1258), 19 in the metaphorical sense for others: He returns by divine instruction walī back to the people to guide them. In the course of his mission he has to pass exams. He has to go into exile. His persecutors are finally repulsed: the hijra (the excerpt) is followed by the fatḥ, the victorious conquest of hearts.

Such correspondences with the actions of the prophet need not necessarily be lacking in historical truth. But the all too obvious homologies, especially when they occur in series, are almost always invented. This is evidenced by the fact that they are usually only mentioned in late reports and do not appear in older sources about the person concerned. It should also be noted that of the homologies that have been found frequently since the 13th century in the first collections of the Vitae sanctorumlike that Ṭabaqāt of the Sulamī or the Ḥilyat of the Abū Nuʻaim, there is still no talk. As pious lies they pay homage to a truth that surpasses them. However, they do not play a role in my thesis and, in my opinion, are more likely to distract from fruitful research.

The historian knows, of course, that he cannot get hold of anything other than representations of the sacred; this also applies to the primitive layer of testimonies and the autobiographical documents themselves. But even if that sirr (Secret) of holiness withdraws from his grasp, he must try to get as close as possible to it. The writings of the awliyāif they describe their own career or try to find out what walāya so deserve to be studied carefully: from them one can in fact derive certain insights into the two controversies mentioned. Against the background of such an investigation, one can see that the supposedly scandalous theses of the Tabri’at al-Dhimma have been in circulation for many centuries and that shaykh Muḥammad ʻUtmān can therefore at best be considered the author of this book in the broader sense. In reality it is essentially a compilation of long quotations - some of them from dozens of pages - whose accuracy I was able to check point by point. They come from works that are to a small extent unpublished, but mostly printed and can be found in Cairo without major difficulties - which the critics of the founder of the arīqa burhāniyya need to know of course. I will come back to the nature of these texts.

Strictly speaking, holiness belongs to God alone: ​​the name al-Quddus (the only saint) who speaks of her is reserved exclusively for him. For the human creature, holiness can therefore mean nothing other than participation in the holiness of God. From a theological point of view, the possibility of this participation is based on the dual nature of the name al-Walīwhich the Koran relates to both man and God and which affirms closeness to both. During this walāya is pure possibility for most beings, it is realized for some. From an anthropological point of view, the justifies Hadithaccording to which God Adam ‘Alā ṣūratihi, "In his own image," created the ability of man to ta’alluh, to Theomimesis or closest possible approach to God. Man finds walāyawhen this resemblance to God is restored, which he is through his fall fī asfali sāfilīn (Koran 95: 5) has lost. But his dilapidation forbids him to see that God whom he is supposed to be like. He can only regain his original theomorphism if he sees the - in the created world - the only intact image of the divine form, the incomparable model of the takhalluq bi-akhlāq Allaah assimilates that of the prophet or better still: the ḥaqīqa muḥammadiyya or embodied Muslim reality.

15The expression ḥaqīqa muḥammadiyya shows up very late. Ibn al-'Arabī (d. 538 / 1240–41) gave him his position in the technical vocabulary of Sufism at the end of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth century and formulated the corresponding doctrine.20 But the idea he expresses has come a long way under various names. You can already find it in Ibn Isḥāq (d. 159/768) in a report about the father of the Prophet: The theme of only muḥammadī, the Muslim light, which travels through the ages until its perfect and final manifestation in the person of Muhammad, begins here.21 Based on the traditional designation of the Messenger as sirāj munīr (light-emitting lamp) (Koran: 33:46) it is - for example by Sahl al-Tustarī, 22 Ḥallāj (d. 310 / 922-3) 23 and many others - elaborated and specified more and more. The prophecy represents nothing else than the external and transitory aspect of the Muslim function (because nubuwwa and risāla, Prophecy and message, will be irrelevant in the future life). The prophet's interior is pure walāya. Incidentally, certain authors will later emphasize that the etc asana according to the wording of the Koran, fī rasūli llāh, Is to be sought "in" the Messenger of God.24 Much earlier, however, in the second or eighth century, Ja'far Ṣādiq made a distinction among believers between those who did ẓāhir (explicit wording) of the Prophet, and those who are his bāṭin (inner sense) follow. With him, as Paul Nwyia observes, Muhammad is "the unsurpassable example of all holiness" and not just a judge of the good life or the paradigm of virtues. Many texts from the third and fourth centuries express similar ideas in different ways. “I plunged into a sea of ​​doctrines until I reached the sea of ​​Muhammad,” explains Abū Yazīd al-Bisṭāmī, “and then I saw that there were a thousand stations between him and me, and that if I was even one, I would only approached, would burn in the fire ”.26 The admirable - but unfortunately mutilated - autobiographical report in which Hakīm al-Tirmidhī made his way to the walāya describes, testifies in a moving way that the spiritual perfection for him includes the most complete possible identification with the prophet. In one of the visions he talks about, he describes himself - repeated five times in five lines - as literally "following in the footsteps" ('Ala atharihi) stepping on the Messenger of God. In another vision of rich symbolism, he shares his bed with the prophet. 27

16This conception of the Muslim function, which is examined in all its fullness, is clearly a characteristic of an elite. But it would be unwise to conclude from this that it is limited to specific milieus. Because even if it is a pious literature - the most famous example of which is the Shifā of the qāḍī ʻIyyād is - certainly lacks the technical accuracy and the elaboration that one finds in the doctrinal treatises that will be discussed later, since it largely spreads an image of the Prophet, about which Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728 / 1327–8 ).28 Above all, however, it is poetry - often with daring linguistic expressions that prose refuses to use - that will contribute to the transmission of ideas which one might believe are confined to narrow mystical circles : The genre of madā’iḥ nabawiyya (Elogenies on the Prophet), which has spread since the seventh and thirteenth centuries of the celebration of the Mawlid (the Prophet's birthday) blossomed, will inspire innumerable - unknown or famous - poets, whose works will bring an enormous - and incidentally to this day - lasting public success

Nevertheless, it is precisely in more theoretical works that one will find the most explicit formulations of the prophetic model of holiness. Ibn al-'Arabī plays a crucial role in this regard through his own books and - indirectly - through the books of his disciples, because he is the doctrine that the Prophet said insān kāmil (perfect people) and for nuskhat al-ḥaqq (Image of God) explains, gives its most comprehensive expression.30 But this doctrine is now substantial and through the shayk al-akbar ("The greatest master" - designation of Ibn al-ʻArabi; A.d.T.) clearly defined consequences for the modalities of spiritual realization: "The most perfect view of God," he writes, "is that one in and by attains the Mohammedan form. ”31“ Do not try to look at God in any other way than in the mirror of the Prophet, ”reads a treatise that cannot be ascribed with certainty to Ibn al-'Arabi, but which clearly comes from the Akbar school .32 The relation of this idea to a decidedly prophet-centered practice is further emphasized by the fact that Ibn al-'Arabi formulated it in the first passage with reference to an Andalusian saint who was a blacksmith by profession, but exclusively devoted to the uninterrupted recitation of the » Prayer of the Prophet «. 33 If the fuqahāʻ (Islamic legal scholars) keep the norms used by the Prophet, as stated in another passage in the Futūḥat explains that this is how other people - he cites Dhu l-Nūn al-Miṣrī and Bisṭāmī as examples - keep his "states" and "secrets." 34 A little later, Qāshānī also explains in his Taʻwīlātthat the orientation is based on the etc asana not limited to imitating the actions of the Prophet, but also imitating his "states" (aḥwāl) and apparitions of God (tajalliyāt) extends 35

18'Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī becomes this subject in the eighth and fourteenth centuries in all of his writings and especially in Nasīm al-Saḥar, one of the surviving parts of his extensive treatise Nāmūs al-Aʻẓam, develop on a large scale. 36 The Nasīm consists of twelve sections, each related to an event in the life of Muhammad: his journey to Syria, his retreat to the mountain Jabal al-Nūr, his last words, etc. According to al-Jīlī, each of these events must be attended by the traveler (viator) really be internalized and must not just remain the subject of his meditation. It is no longer just a question of sympathy (adhesion), but really about one Participation (adherence), and this expression has all the power here that it also had in Cardinal Bérulle's vocabulary: Sulūk (traveling in the paths of the Prophet) implies the participation of the whole being in the conditions of the Prophet. The sālik (spiritual traveler) must therefore - after the Qab Qawsayn, another fragment of the Nāmūs - permanently the ṣurā (Form) and the ḥaqīqa (inner reality) to realize Muhammad's in oneself. It would be a mistake to regard these as prescriptions only: Al-Jīlī relies on a personal experience given to him insān kāmil revealed in all its splendor and of which he reports to us repeatedly in his works: In the year 796 or 1393 he sees the prophet in Zabīd, first enveloped by the seven attributes of the divine being, then becoming one with this being.37 A comparable vision came over him in Medina in 802 and 1399.38 It is therefore not uninteresting to point out that the "scandalous" Tabri'a of shayk Muḥammad ʻUthmān, the long, carefully chosen excerpts from Ibn al-ʻArabīs Futūḥat (Pp. 221-252) meticulously reproduced and the recovered parts of al-Jīlīs Nāmūs al-Aʻẓam (Pp. 37–74) reproduces in full text, ultimately restricts itself to filling old wine into new bottles. 39

Long before ʻAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī - an author who is widely regarded as orthodox and whose work is above all ṭuruq was widely spread across the board - Ibn 'Ata Allaah (d. 709/1309) had already assured that »the haqīqa muḥammadiyya [Mohammedan reality] as the sun is and the shining hearts of awliyā [Friends of God] moons are like ".40 The muqaddima (Introduction) his Laṭāʻif al-Minan is a hagiological treatise which - in abbreviated form - clearly reproduces Ibn al-'Arabī's theses, even if his name is not mentioned. Notes like those at the end of the first chapter of the Laṭāʻif but appear even more significant as they underscore the role of the prophet in the lives of certain saints. There some of the companions of Abū l-Ḥasan al-Shādhilī are described: “I was raised by none other than the Messenger of God (mā rabbānī illā rasūl Allaah) «, Explains Makin al-Din al-A'mar. 'Abd al-Rahīm al-Qinawī also explicitly claims the Prophet as his only master. And as for Abū l-ʻAbbās al-Mursī, the successor of al-Shādhilī, he declares: "For forty years no veil has separated me from the Messenger of God." 41

20 Other personalities are uttering similar things at the same time: this is particularly true of two of the awliyā to that of Ṣafī al-Dīn (d. 682/1283) in his Risāla to be honored in more detail: on shayk Abū l-Suʻud and on shayk Abū l-ʻAbbās al-Ṭanjī, who received the abundance of Muslim scholarship in Jerusalem under the dome of the Dome of the Rock.42 Similar reports from later times can be found in the famous Tabaqāt Kubrā from al-Shaʻrānī (d. 973/1565). They allow us to understand why the latter insists so emphatically in another book that “the Messenger of God is the true master (al-shayk al-ḥaqīqī bi-wāsiṭat ashyākh al-ṭarīq aw bilā wāsiṭa) «Is» through mediation of the Masters of the Way or without intermediaries«- this extraordinary favor, a consequence of absolute loyalty to the etc asana, became, according to al-Sha'rānī, among those he knew personally shuyūkh (Sheikhs) granted to the ʻAlī l-Khawwāṣ and ​​the Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī (d. 911 / 1505-6) awliyā the Mamluk era, for example, add the name of Ibrāhīm al-Matbūlī, from which the Ṭabaqāt Kubrā report “that he has no shayk besides the Messenger of God ”, 44 or that of Abū l-Mawāhib al-Sha'rānī, who asserted that“ the Messenger of God had me with the robe of taṣawwuf [Sufism] ”.45 So we are dealing here with a privileged form of sanctification that Islamic hagiography recognized and described very early on, and that of the type uwaysī (without personal contact with the spiritual teacher; A.d.T.): Whether he has earthly masters or not - a sālik in this category actually lived his spiritual apprenticeship under the guidance of the rūḥāniyya (Spirituality) of a saint or a deceased prophet, and in the most prominent case it is that rūḥāniyya Muhammad's taking care of his upbringing.

By the way, al-Sha'rānī has a precious personal experience - also in the Tabaqāt - at the point where he speaks of Nūr al-Dīn al-Shūnī, one of his masters who is known for his extreme devotion to the Prophet - in particular, he had the practice of a collective recitation of the taṣliyya (Eulogies) introduced. Repeatedly, al-Sha'rānī had seen Nūr al-Dīn al-Shūnī on the Prophet's left in dreams. But when he was visiting his master one day, something even more grandiose happened: “The body of the shayk disappeared ", he writes," and the body of the Prophet appeared. "46 The occurrence of such a phenomenon is anything but unique: in the year 790/1388, ʻAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī in Zabīd tells us that the Prophet is in the The figure of his master Isma'īl al-Jabartī (d. 806/1403) appeared, recalling that the Prophet would also have appeared in his form to one of Shiblī's disciples. "Testify that I am the Messenger of God," Shiblī ordered his disciple - which she then did.

22With Shiblī we return to the third or ninth century and already recognize here that a hagiology that the prophet literally called al-shayk al-ḥaqīqī is rooted in a long tradition. That this prophetocentrism can lead even further, namely to "extinction in the prophet", to al-fanā fī l-nabīAs it is called in later Sufism, is illustrated by a curious anecdote, the Suyūṭī in one of his fatwās47 tells: One of the ṣaḥāba (Companions of Muhammad) went to one of the Prophet's wives after Muhammad's death. She held up to him the mirror that the latter used to use - and there appeared to him not his own reflection, but the face of the ambassador. This very factual, uncommented report heralds a form of spiritual experience that many other personalities will have in one way or another. In his account of a vision that overtook him in the mosque of Medina, the Emir ʻAbd al-Qādir explains: "The noble person of the Prophet was so mingled with mine that we became a single being."

23These words were written towards the end of the 13th and 19th centuries. But I insist that one should not see in them the expression of an alleged Neosufism, which in certain ṭuruq completely new forms of access to walāya would have introduced: Any arīqa is - before the era in which some would like to see a radical change at work, as well as after it - in reality one ṭarīqa muḥammadiyya, even if this term may not always be common. When the reformers of the 19th century next to the long silsila (spiritual chain), which they can all claim for themselves without exception, a short one silsila, that is, claiming a direct relationship with the prophet, do not break with tradition: With everyone shuyūkhwho are not simply administrators of the sacred, but as authentic ones awliyā can be viewed is the connection or, better still: the union (irtibāṭ) with the rūḥaniyya of the Messenger is a condition for spiritual fulfillment.The experience of this union is lived in different ways and expressed with the help of the diverse resources of the symbolic repertoire of Islamic culture. But since it is based on the doctrine and is confirmed in the testimony of the Masters, it is considered inevitable. Even a disciple of Ibn Taymiyya like the Sufi and Aḥanbali faqīh (Islamic legal scholars) ʻImād al-Dīn al-Wāsiṭī (d. 712/1312) confirms this.49 In the Maghreb of the 15th century, Jazūlī, the author of the Dalāʻil al-Khayrāt, and his most important students - also outside the scholarly circles - exert considerable influence in this regard. Ghazwānī, the third shaykh the Jazūliyya, gives one of his writings the title »The Eternal Point. About the mystery of the Muslim nature "(Al-nuqṭa l-azaliyya fī sirr al-dhāt al-muḥammadiyya). Abū Amr al-Qastālī, another Jazūlī-shayk, is dated Imprint which the image of the Prophet leaves in the heart of the initiate.50 It should also be remembered that Ibn Idrīs, who is gladly regarded as the founding father of Neosufism, spoke through the mediation of his master ʻAbd al-Wahhāb al-Tāzī, Abd al-ʻAzīz al-Dabbāgh, a great saint from Fez, 51 the latter now expressly asserts that every person who enjoys enlightenment (al-maftūḥ 'alayhi), is in great danger and is close to extinction (khaṭar 'aẓīm wa halak qarīb), »As long as he has the spiritual position (maqam) of the Messenger "because" in the noble nature of the prophet there resides a power of his own, with which he draws [the creature] to God ".52 The Mohammedan meditation thus also appears here as a point at which the path of initiation is inevitable must pass.

24 Among the episodes in the life of the Prophet, there is one of the greatest importance that I did not mention when I referred to that of the sīra nabawiyya inspired hagiographic topoi: I mean the Ascension (mi‘rāj), because their understanding in the life of the awliyā is attested by numerous autobiographical texts, so that in the majority of cases one should see in them the transcription of a real inner experience and not just a literary imitation. Participation in the conditions of the prophet finds its most perfect expression in the fact that the walī recapitulates the "nocturnal journey" that took Muhammad to the threshold of the divine presence. The earliest evidence of such an experience is the well-known account of Abū Yazīd al-Bisṭāmī.53 Nevertheless, Ibn al-ʻArabī has the most accurate doctrinal accounts54 of this mi‘rāj al-awliyā, but at the same time the most differentiated personal experience report of the stages and the goal of this ascent to God following the Prophet, which he reproduces in several testimonies.55 Semnānī56 and ʻAbd al-Karīm al-Jiīlī57 also reveal some secrets of this ecstatic ascension to heaven. Lots awliyāLess known in the world, like them travel from one celestial sphere to the other towards the divine mystery: for example the Moroccan ʻAbd al-Raḥmān al-Khazrajī58 or the holy patron of Luxor, Abū l-Ḥajjāj al-Uqsurī, dem it is attributed that he participated in this supernatural favor on the night of the middle of the (month) Sha'bān. 59

25But, as I said, the imitation of the prophetic model, however perfect it may be, is never more than an asymptote. This is confirmed in the case of the mi‘rāj of the saints. "Our mi‘rāj is not identical to his "(inna mi‘rājanā laysa ka-mi‘rājihi), explains al-Jīlī.60 Die physical Ascension remains a privilege of Muhammad: »The awliyā«, Writes Ibn al-ʻArabi at one point where he says Tabri'a reproduces, »undertake nocturnal journeys in the spirit (isrā‘at rūḥānniya) […], Their journeys into heaven do not take place in a form that can be perceived by the senses. ”And at the end of the report about his own journey from one heaven to the other to the place he calls the“ stay of Muhammad ”, he specifies:“ Me have traveled within myself. ”61 Nonetheless, the idea remains that a walī claims for himself to have experienced - even if only - a fraction of the very special grace granted to the Prophet for himself ‘Ulamā‘ (Islamic religious scholars) a scandal: In 16th century India, Muḥammad Ghawth Gwalyorī, the author of a RisālaMi‘rājiyya, sentenced to death for blasphemy and can only save himself by hasty flight.62 Numerous shuyūkhThose who would have threatened the same verdict according to these criteria were more lucky or more cautious and could thus escape the view of the censors. It is true that one stirs with that mi‘rāj to the extreme point of the very real, but also very porous border between the walāya and the nubuwwa, between holiness and prophethood. But who could be surprised that in a mysticism for which the ḥaqīqa muḥammadiyya is the summit and center at the same time, the inner adventure, that of the pilgrimage to God, that itinerarium in Deum for the walī represents, is experienced and described based on the scheme which a text from the Western Middle Ages calls the "ladder of Muhammad"?

26There we are now far, very far from where we started - the melon that Ibn Ḥanbal either ate or did not eat. I let you gallop through several centuries of history and a considerable number of square kilometers - from west to east. So a mere overview, by no means an exhaustive treatise. But even a more methodical research into the Arabic sources would probably be inadequate. Because the investigation should also extend to Central Asia (where the Naqshbandiyya in particular has provided valuable testimony from its beginnings), to India, which I en passant mentioned, to the Malay world where the doctrine of insān kāmil has found original forms of expression ... Nevertheless, I now dare to make a few conclusions which, in fact, are largely anticipated in some of my remarks.

27that you shayk I believe that Muḥammad ʻUthmān tried an unjust trial in Egypt: Whatever one may think about the compatibility of his teaching with Orthodoxy - and this is not the problem that concerns us here - this is it Do not teach provocatively in any way. One of his first students gave Valérie Hoffman a copy of the Tabri'a and explained to her, very rightly, “Muḥammad 'Uthmān did not write this book. It is the work of more than eighty authors. ”63 What is astonishing about this process is not that the usual opponents of Sufism bitterly attacked this banal collection of texts - but that the dignitaries of the official“ Supreme Sufi Council ”also attacked them with the same vehemence denounced. In the person of the Sudanese shaykh the masters he claims were actually targeted and an abundant, remarkable legacy thrown overboard. A confirmation of this attitude - which responds to criticisms of fundamentalist movements with a suicidal surpassing of these very criticisms - can be found, for example, in an interview published in 1992 with Muḥammad Zakī Ibrāhīm, the head of the Sufi order ṭāriqa muḥammadiyya shādhiliyya: 64 For him, authors such as Ibn al-ʻArabī or al-Jīlī represent a Sufism that "is alien to Islam". But he affirmed with satisfaction: "Today you have neither students nor heirs." An obviously false assertion, like the existence of the Burhāniyya and, in a more discreet way, existence is less vocal, but undoubtedly more legitimate ṭuruq shows. At the same time, however, this assertion reveals the rupture between the facade of an institutional Sufism impaired by the epigones of Ibn Taymiyya and the very old certainties that exist in the depths of the umma (Community of Muslims) incessantly spark new passions.

The fathers of "Neosufism" inherited these certainties and passions themselves. They were undoubtedly reformers. But is the story of the ṭuruq - just like that of the monastic orders - isn't it simply the history of reforms that are constantly beginning anew? In reverse of a well-known saying that illustrates the exceptional position of the Carthusians in the Occident, one could say that the basic rule is everyone ṭariqā"Semper deformata, semper reformata" should be. Every century experiences the work of masters who, under the respective conditions of their epoch and their milieu, set about reviving the original vigor and clearly emphasizing the special charisma that makes up the raison d'être of their path. To face the current challenges, one must emphasize one aspect or another of beliefs or practices - find different words to say the same things. But the appearance of one āriqa with a brand new name must not deceive us. "Neosufism" is not a myth if one understands that the late 18th and early 19th centuries were shaped by well-known figures - Tijani, Sanūsī, Mirghānī, Mawlānā Khālid, Mawlāy al-ʻArabī l-Darqawī - the very breathed new life into old traditions. But it becomes pure fiction if one tries to cut it off from those roots which its masters have never denied.

I will not go into the nine peculiarities that, according to Radtke and O’Fahey's analysis, make up the originality that some scholars want to recognize in Neosufism at all costs. There is only one point that is of immediate interest to my project: the indispensable reference to the prophet in the teaching of these reformers. The examples cited here sufficiently show, it seems to me, that this reference - in simple or learned, convoluted or explicit forms - has always been fundamental for a very simple reason: namely, because holiness is inconceivable in Islam without it. Between God and man is the Prophet barzakh, the barrier or isthmus that connects creature realities with heavenly realities and enables the transition from one to the other.65 In him shines this visible image of the invisible God, which every son of Adam is called to restore in himself. The restoration of this theomorphism destroyed by the Fall can only consist in bringing oneself into agreement with the Prophet, who is the only true Master and the only flawless example. The union with the rūḥaniyya of the Messenger, the becoming in her, is the only way to becoming in God. Beyond the naive decals of hagiography, that remains etc asana an indispensable point of reference for the historian of holiness in Islam. It doesn't explain everything, but nothing can be explained without it. Attention to this invariant must certainly not lead to forgetting the variables. But conversely, the idiosyncrasies of the walī, the peculiarities of its environment, the contingencies of local history never make up the phenomenon of walāya to be brought to mind as long as one forgets that the prophet in Islam is the mirror of God, but the holy mirror of the prophet.

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