1992: vi + 665pp., notes, index.
ISBN:0-939214-87-3 (cloth): $55.00
ISBN:0-939214-88-1 (paper): $28.00
Persian Heritage Series, No. 38
This charming medieval biography of the 11th century antinomian Sufi Abu
Sa`id ibn Abu'l-Khayr (967-1049 AD) stands out as one of the most unusual
and engaging images of a Sufi Shaikh in the history of Islamic mysticism.
The ingenuity of the mystical feats attributed to him and his pronounced
antinomian character allow him to be portrayed as behaving outrageously
and with great panache in the face of the conservative religious establishment.
The accumulation of picturesque anecdotes, the direct, almost naive, simplicity
of the narrative style with its surprises and subtle humor, the remarkable
intimacy and humanity of the Shaikh's personality justify ranking the Asrar al-Tawhid as a great classic of Sufi literature. In addition, the variety of settings
and wide range of circumstantial detail make the book a rich source of medieval
Islamic social and cultural history.
Ebn-e Monavvar, the author, was a descendant of the Shaikh and compiled
the work to preserve for posterity the deeds, sayings, and spiritual biography
of his great ancestor. The work consists of three books combined into one
text. The first deals with the Shaikh's childhood, studies, mystical masters,
and struggle for spiritual purification. The second book presents the teachings
of the Shaikh, including anecdotes about his miracles and methods of instruction,
poetry, prayers, and letters attributed to him, and sayings of earlier Shaikhs.
The final book treats the Abu Sa`id's last instructions to his disciples,
the circumstances of his death, and the miracles that took place after his