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journal of Sufi studies 3 (2014) 132156

brill.com/jss

The Ladies of Rm: A Hagiographic View of Women


in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Anatolia
Bruno De Nicola

University of St. Andrews (uk)

Abstract
In the medieval Middle East, the Sufi experience was not only a male enterprise.
Women also participated in the development of this mystical representation of Islam
in different ways. Despite the existence of scholarly studies on Sufism in medieval
Anatolia, the role played by women in this period has generally been overlooked. Only
recently have studies started to highlight the relevance that some of these Sufi ladies
had in spreading Sufism in the Middle East. Accounts of womens deeds are especially
abundant in hagiographic literature produced in the seventh/thirteenth and eighth/
fourteenth centuries. However, it has been generally downgraded as historically unreliable for consisting of biased inside accounts of the lives of Sufi shaykhs and their
followers. This article has a twofold goal: first, to investigate what information hagiographies provide about the role of women in medieval Anatolia; and second, to try to
vindicate the option of using hagiographic literature as a relevant source of information in researching aspects of cultural history that cannot be found in other source
materials.

Rsum
Le soufisme dans le Moyen-Orient mdival ntait pas lapanage des hommes. Les
femmes ont galement particip de diffrentes faons llaboration de cette tradition
mystique de lislam. En dpit de lexistence dtudes acadmiques sur le soufisme en
Anatolie mdivale, le rle des femmes dans cette priode a gnralement t nglig.
Ce nest que rcemment que des tudes ont commenc mettre en vidence le rle de
* The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research
Council under the European Unions Seventh Framework Programme (FP/20072013) / ERC
Grant Agreement n. 208476, The Islamisation of Anatolia, c. 11001500.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 4|doi 10.1163/22105956-12341267

The Ladies of Rm

133

certaines de ces femmes soufies dans la propagation du soufisme au Moyen-Orient.


Des comptes rendus de laction de ces femmes sont particulirement abondants dans
la littrature hagiographique produite aux viie/xiiie et viiie/xive sicles. Toutefois,
parce quelle est perue comme une suite de comptes rendus de lintrieur de la vie
des cheikhs soufis et de leurs partisans, cette littrature a t gnralement considre
comme peu fiable dun point de vue historique. Cet article a un double objectif. Le
premier est dtudier quels types dinformations les hagiographies fournissent sur le
rle des femmes dans lAnatolie mdivale. Le second est de tenter de justifier la pertinence de la littrature hagiographique comme source dinformations dans la recherche
de certains aspects de lhistoire culturelle qui ne peuvent tre trouvs dans aucune
autre source historique.

Keywords
Awad al-Dn Kirmn hagiography Jall al-Dn Rm medieval Anatolia
Sufism women

A Hagiographic Approach to Womens History

In medieval Anatolia, Sufismas an expression of Islamic values and


practicesplayed an important role in social and religious life.1 From the late
sixth/twelfth century onwards, religious scholars and Sufi masters from Central
Asia and Iran moved westwards in search of patronage and protection from
the Sultans of Rm, who were eager to attract religious legitimation, not only
of their claims over long-standing Christian territory but also of their independence as rulers within the Islamic lands.2 The Mongol invasion of Central
Asia and Khurasan in the seventh/thirteenth century may have increased the
1 Speros Vryonis, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization
from the Eleventh through the Fifteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971);
Mehmet Fuat Koprulu, Islam in Anatolia after the Turkish Invasion: (Prolegomena), trans. Gary
Leiser (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993); and, V.L. Mnage, The Islamization of
Anatolia, in Conversion to Islam, ed. Nehemia Levizion (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1979),
5267.
2 Andrew Peacock, Local Identity and Medieval Anatolian Historiography: Anavis Anis
al-Qolub Ahmad of Nides al-Walad al-shafiq, Studies on Persianate Societies 2 (1333/2004):
11525; and Claude Cahen, Pre-Ottoman Turkey: A General Survey of the Material and Spiritual
Culture and History, c. 10711330, trans. J. Jones-Williams (New York: Taplinger Pub. Co., 1968),
6684.

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displacement of religious scholars and Sufi masters.3 The increasing religious


authority of these individuals and their growing political and economic relevance progressively generated a process in which the teachings, properties
and disciples of these masters were structured into orders (uruq), integrated
by members sharing a more or less common set of beliefs and practices.4
In this context of Islamisation, dynastic legitimation and the emergence of
Sufi orders, women also played a role. The scholarly research on their involvement in society and contribution to the development of medieval Anatolia
has been traditionally limited. Only recently have some attempts been made
to try to re-evaluate from different perspectives womens contribution to this
period of Anatolian history. Other scholars have explored aspects of the political involvement and social status of women in Muslim Anatolia by looking at
inscriptions and chronicles.5 Despite these efforts, we still know little about
the s ocio-political and religious lives of women in this period. One of the reasons for this is that these sources generally provide minimal references to the
private lives of women from the high classes. For this reason, one of the aims of
this article is to discuss the evidence for medieval Anatolian women from hagiographic accounts, to contribute to the ongoing debates on the role of women
under the Seljuqs of Rm.
Accounts of the lives of Sufi saints were first recorded in the early fourth/
eleventh century in the form of collections of biographical notes (abaqt)
in Arabic and some works devoted to individual mystics in Persian.6 In the
seventh/thirteenth and eighth/fourteenth centuries, hagiographic literature
3 The conventional view on the migration of Sufis from Central Asia as a result of the Mongol
invasion has recently been challenged, suggesting that the mobility of learned men had been
taking place since at least the sixth/twelfth century, and not only in the EastWest direction suggested by the presence of the famous Murcian-born Ibn Arab in Anatolia in the
early seventh/thirteenth century. See Andrew Peacock, Imad al-Din al-Isfahanis Nusrat alFatra, Seljuq Politics and Ayyubid Origins, in Ferdowsi, the Mongols and Iranian History: Art,
Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia, ed. Robert Hillenbrand et al. (London:
I.B. Tauris, 2013), 867.
4 Leonard Lewisohn, Overview: Iranian Islam and Persianate Sufism, in The Heritage of Sufism,
vol. 2, The Legacy of Medieval Persian Sufism (11501500), ed. idem (Oxford: Oneworld, 1999),
1213.
5 See Antony Eastmond, Gender and patronage between Christianity and Islam in the
thirteenth century, in Change in the Byzantine World in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries,
ed. A. dekan, E. Akyrek, and N. Necipolu (Istanbul: Vehbi Koc Vakf, 2010), 7888.
6 Denise Aigle and Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, Miracle et karma, une approche comparatiste, in Miracle et karma: hagiographies mdivales compares, ed. Denise Aigle (Turnhout:
Brepols, 2000), 17.

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ushroomed as a way to transmit these teachings and practices and, in turn,


m
provide a legitimation of the existence of an order in a place or in opposition to another order.7 Despite providing a differing insight into the period
compared, for example, to official chronicles, travel accounts or geographical
worksthey have been generally disregarded as historical sources because of
their implicit bias.8 Yet, they also contain information that is otherwise inaccessible, offering a window into aspects of the social history and daily life of
the period. This does not mean that the information on women in hagiographies can be taken literally or assumed to be historical reality. We are aware
of the limitations for the historical analysis that hagiographies present. For
example, their concentration on elite women of the court and on the arqa of
the shaykh or their legitimatory agenda in favour of the founder of the order
and his descendants must not go unrecognised.9
One of the three works explored here with that purpose is the manaqib of
shaykh Awad al-Dn Kirmn (d. 635/12378), a Sufi master originally from
Kerman who lived in Anatolia under the Seljuq dynasty of Rm in the early seventh/thirteenth century.10 He became polemically famous in pre-modern times
through allusions to his apparent predilection to ritual performances involving
physical contact with young boys, which led some scholars to accuse him of
pederasty.11 He also wrote some poetry, which was noticed by the early tenth/
7 Jrgen Paul, Hagiographic Literature, in Encyclopaedia Iranica, http://www.iranicaonline
.org/ (hereafter EIr).
8 Ibid.
9 As Peacock has shown, the exchange of letters between shaykhs and secular powers suggests that at least part of the message of the hagiographies is undercut by a more realistic
account found in those letters. See Andrew Peacock, Sufis and the Seljuk Court in Mongol
Anatolia: Politics and Patronage in the Works of Jall al-Dn Rm and Suln Valad, in The
Seljuks of Anatolia: Court and Society in Medieval Middle East, ed. Andrew Peacock and
Sara Nur Yildiz (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), 211.
10 For this article I used the Persian edition of this text, see Anonymous, Manaqib-i Awhad
al-Din Hamid ibn-i Abi al-Fakhr-i Kirmani, ed. Badi al-Zaman Furuzanfar (Tehran: Sursh,
1347 sh. / 1969; hereafter referred to as Manaqib). There is also a Turkish translation, see
Anonymous, Seyh Evhadud-din Hamid el-Kirman ve Evhadiyye hareketi, ed. and trans.
Mikail Bayram (Konya: O mer Faruk Bayram, 1999).
11 On this see the comment in Lloyd Ridgeon, The Controversy of Shaykh Awad al-Dn
Kirmn and Handsome, Moon-Faced Youths: A Case Study of Shhid-Bz in Medieval
Sufism, Journal of Sufi Studies 1 (2012): 5, n. 3. References to Kirmns rituals can also
be found in Hamdallah Mustawfi Qazwini, Trkh-i guzda, ed. Abd al-usayn Naw
(Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1387 sh. / 2008), 6678; and in Jm (d. 8989/1492), who was critical
of some of Kirmns acts. See Abd al-Ramn Jm, Nafahat al-uns min haarat al-quds,
ed. Mamd A bid (Tehran: Sukhan, 1386 sh. / 2007), 58690.

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sixteenth-century historian Khwndamr and was translated into English in the


twentieth century.12 Apart from a very instructive recently published article by
Lloyd Ridgeon and the analysis of the text by Mikail Bayram in his translation
of the work, very little research on Kirmn has been conducted in European
languages.13 The other material we will investigate here are the two works dealing with the life of Jall al-Dn Rmi (d. 672/1273) and his descendants. Both
of these, the Risla-yi Sipahsalar and the Manaqib al-arifin were written in
Anatolia respectively by Faridun b. Ahmad Sipahsalar (d. early eighth/fourteenth century)14 and Amad Shams al-Dn Aflk (d. 761/1360) at the end of
the seventh/thirteenth and the beginning of the eighth/fourteenth century.15
We are aware that the limited availability of hagiographic material for this
period (three accounts about two Sufis) implies that conclusions and generalisations should be taken with caution. Despite this limitation, which all
medieval historians have to face, this article will analyse the depiction of noble
ladies in hagiographic material by looking first at the role they played in the
narrative of the hagiographies as members of the shaykhs family. This article will aim to show how both secular and religious pedigrees were granted
by these ladies in the composition of a genealogy (silsila) for the shaykh and
his descendants. Further, I will explore the different roles that women from
the local high classes and from the masters family played in the Sufi order
as patrons, devotees and even inheritors of the shaykhs teachings. Overall, I
12 Ghiyas al-Din Khwandamir, Habibus-siyar = Habb us-siyer, trans. Wheeler M. Thackston
(Cambridge, Mass.: Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard
University, 1994), 1256; and Bernd Manuel Weischer (ed.), Hearts Witness: The Sufi
Quatrains of Awhaduddin Kirmani, trans. Peter Lamborn Wilson (Tehran: Imperial Iranian
Academy of Philosophy, 1978).
13 Lloyd Ridgeon, The Controversy, 330. There are also references to him in major works
like Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1975), 181, 313; also William Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love (Albany: State
University of New York Press, 1983), 288.
14 Some questions have been raised concerning the authenticity and dating of Sipahsalars
account. This is still an open debate; it was initiated by Bahram Bihizad in his Risala-yi
manhul-i Sipahsalar: nuskhah-yi gumshuda-yi Masnavi (Tehran: Muassasa-yi Khadamat-i
Farhangi-i Rasa, 1997) and has been briefly discussed in Franklin D. Lewis, Rumi: Past and
Present, East and West (Oxford: Oneworld, 2000), 2434.
15 Faridun b. Ahmad Sipahsalar, Risala-yi Sipahsalar dar manaqib-i harat khudavandgar,
ed. Muhammad Afshin Vafai (Tehran: Sukhan, 1385 sh. / 20067; hereafter Sipahsalar);
Amad Shams al-Dn Aflk, Manaqib al-arifin, ed. Tahsin Yazc, 2 vols. (Ankara:
Chapkhanah-i Anjuman-i Tarikh-i Turk, 195961; hereafter, Aflk); English translation of
Aflaki as The Feats of the Knowers of God: Manaqeb al-arefin, trans. John OKane (Leiden:
Brill, 2002; hereafter, Feats).

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will argue that these sources can provide new and interesting insights into the
social history and daily life experience of women in seventh/thirteenth- and
eighth/fourteenth-century Anatolia.

Secular and Religious Credentials: Mothers and Wives of Shaykhs

In manqib literature, describing family relations is an important part of the


narrative. Both male and female members of the saints family play an important role in contextualising the teachings of the shaykh and are used as characters to illustrate examples of correct or incorrect behaviour that are, in turn,
encouraged or redirected by the pious action of the shaykh. In the case of
Rm, for example, some information about his relationship with members of
his family and the assistance that he provided to some of them when in need
is given in the letters written by him and contained in the Maktubat.16 In the
hagiographic material, the shaykhs are sometimes presented as supporters of
family members in need, and the role of the shaykh as father, brother or son is
also highlighted through the inclusion of anecdotes where family relationships
are described as a way to illustrate a deed or highlight a virtue of the shaykh.
Apart from serving the narrative of the hagiography to illustrate the virtues
of the shaykh, women in the family of the shaykhs play other roles separate
from those of the male relatives. As structures more typical of a formal Sufi
order began to form around some shaykhs, hagiographical literature began to
address emerging issues17for example, aspects such as the role of the pr, the
line of transmission of mystical knowledge from master to disciple (silsila) and
a growing need for showing a genealogical connection between the shaykh
and relevant secular and religious figures of the recent and distant past.18 It is
16 Lewis, Rumi, 242. This article focuses on hagiographical material; consequently, the
letters of Rm have not been used extensively for this article. However, the relevance of
Rms letters as a source for his life and family connections should be highlighted. For
the edition of these letters see Jalal al-Din Rumi, Maktubat-i mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi,
ed. Tawfiq Subhani (Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Danishgahi, 1371 sh. / 1992). For an analysis
of these letters, see Peacock, Sufis and The Seljuk Court, 20626.
17 See Monika Gronke, La religion populaire en Iran mongole, in LIran face la domination
mongole, ed. Denise Aigle (Tehran: Institut francais de recherche en Iran, 1997), 20530.
Both Aflk and Sipahsalar wrote their works in the eighth/fourteenth century when the
Mawlawi arqa started to form in Anatolia. In the case of Kirmn, his hagiography was
composed in the seventh/thirteenth century, but his followers do not seem to have consolidated an order, although the intention to form one cannot be ruled out.
18 Paul, Hagiographic Literature.

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in this latter necessity that women in the family of the shaykhs played a fundamental role as those who establish the link between past and present.19 Patterns
generally repeat themselves in this respect, proving that, in the h
agiographical
narrative, those women chosen to marry shaykhs are claimed to have family
connections with relevant political or religious figures of the time.
Aflk falsely claims at the very beginning of his manaqib that the family of
Rm is connected directly through his father Bah al-Dn Valad (d. 628/1231) to
Sultan Muammad ii Khwrazmshh (d. 617/1220).20 This is done by mentioning a marriage between a daughter of the sultan and Mawlns grandfather
usayn Khab.21 The chronology of this union does not really stand historical
analysis, but the fact that all three hagiographies on Rm echoed the union
highlight the need of the order to claim some linkage to secular authority.22 It
might seem strange at first trying to establish a link with the Khwrazmshh
dynasty. After all, they were descendants of slaves who had ravaged much of
eastern Anatolia, waged war on the Seljuqs and eventually collapsed humiliatingly in the face of the Mongol invasion.23 However, immediately following
19 Ethel Sara Wolper, Princess Safwat al-Duny wa al-Dn and the Production of Sufi
Buildings and Hagiographies in Pre-Ottoman Anatolia, in Women, Patronage, and
Self-Representation in Islamic Societies, ed. D. Fairchild Ruggles (Albany: State University
of New York Press, 2000), 36.
20 Aflk, 1:710 / Feats, 79. The armies of Muammad b. Tekish Khwrazmshh were
defeated by Chinggis Khan during the Mongol invasion of Central Asia between 616/1219
and 618/1221. The sultan escaped and the Mongols followed him across Khurasan until
he found refuge on an island in the Caspian Sea, where he died. See John Andrew Boyle,
Political and Dynastic History of the Ilkhans, in The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 5, ed.
idem (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 30817. On the successor of the rulers of
Khwarezm in India see Peter Jackson, Jall al-Dn, the Mongols, and the Khwarazmian
Conquest of the Panjb and Sind, Iran 28 (1990): 4554.
21 Another false genealogical connection is made in Feats, 56, when Aflk quotes Bah
al-Dn Valad telling his companions that his grandmother on his fathers side was the
daughter of Ibrhm al-Adham (d. 161/778), who is credited in Sufi tradition with abandoning his position as ruler of Balkh in search of a path of spiritual asceticism. See
Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions, 37; and Erik S. Ohlander, Sufism in an Age of Transition:
Umar al-Suhrawardi and the Rise of the Islamic Mystical Brotherhoods (Leiden: Brill,
2008), 275.
22 Sipahsalar, 6; Aflk, 1:810 / Feats, 89; and Jm, Nafahat al-uns, 459.
23 On the relationship between the Seljuqs, the Mongols and Mawlns order as it appears in
Aflks work see Speros Vryonis, The Political World of the Mevlevi Dervish Order in Asia
Minor (1314 century) as Reflected in the Mystical Writings of Eflaki, in Philellen: Studies
in Honour of Robert Browning, ed. Costas N. Constantinides, Nikolaos M. Panagiotakes,
et al. (Venice: Istituto ellenico di studi bizantini e postbizantini di Venezia, 1996), 41119.

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the marital union, the events leading to the break between the Khwrazmshhs
and Rms family are described, making clear to an Anatolian audience where
the loyalty of Rms family lies.24 A final commitment in the narrative to the
dynasty of the Seljuqs of Rm is added, as Suln Valad is mentioned as predicting the defeat of the Kwrazmshh at the hands of his new protectors in
Anatolia. In addition, a blood-link is established to Ab Bakr (d. 11/634), the
first caliph of Islam, but this claim appear to have as little historical validity as
it is charged with symbolic value.25
Kirmns ancestry is something of a mystery. We know that he left Kerman
at the age of sixteen, approximately in 584/118990, due to the turmoil in the
city provoked by the constant incursion of Turkish tribes into the area.26 He
settled in Baghdad, where he had a brilliant career in Islamic law, which, in
turn, granted him the title of Shaykh al-shuykh, directly named by the caliph
al-Mustanir (r. 62340/122642).27 However, his vita does not mention his
mothers name; only a short reference to the shaykhs mother appears at the
beginning in which she advises Awad al-Dn to leave Kerman.28 The omission
of the name suggest that either she might not have been of very noble stock
or that his account precedes that of Rm, and consequently the process of
forming genealogy was still developing at the time when Kirmns manqib
was being written.29 On the contrary, we are told that the mother of Jall al-Dn
Rm was called Mumina Khtn, and that she left Balkh with him and his
father and travelled with them until she finally died in the city of Karaman
in Anatolia.30 She appears to have been one among the, at least four, wives of
Bah al-Dn Valad, but received little attention in the hagiographic material.31
The fact that she died when Mawln was still young might be the reason why
Rms hagiographies mostly omit references to her.
24 Aflk, 1:915 / Feats, 913.
25 Aflk, 1:8 / Feats, 7; and Sipahsalar, 9. For a discussion of the genealogy of Bah al-Dn
Valad see Hamid Algar, Bah-al-Dn Moammad Walad, in EIr.
26 Weischer, Hearts Witness, 1. Apparently, Rms companion Shams-i Tabrz (d. 645/1248)
was also a disciple of Sujs. See Ridgeon, The Controversy, 14.
27 Manaqib, 1213; and Ridgeon, The Controversy, 1415.
28 Manaqib, 12.
29 In Sipahslr, 141, the editor suggests that he fled Kerman due to the insistence of his
mother, but the origin of this claim is not provided.
30 At the time of Rm, the city was called Larende and had a large Greek-Christian population. See Lewis, Rumi, 71. There is now a mosque in the city where the grave of Mumina
Khtn was discovered. See Azmi Avcolu, Karamanda Mader-i Mevln Cami ve
Trbesi, Konya dergisi 5.35 (1941): 20889.
31 On the controversy about the number of wives of Bah al-Dn Valad see Lewis, Rumi, 45.

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Missing references to the mothers of these shaykhs might be circumstantial,


but it might also show some sort of established family structure in the narrative of these accounts whereby, as the life of a male character continues, the
relevance of women in his life is transferred from mother to wife. In the case of
Rm, during the short period he spent in Larende/Karaman, he did not only
bury his mother but also was married to a lady of noble stock with connections
to the secular and the religious elite. This lady, his first wife and the mother of
his successor Suln Valad, was Gurwar Khtn (d. 640/12423). According to
Aflk, who, unlike Sipahslr, provides her family background, she was the
daughter of Khwja Sharaf al-Dn Ll-yi Samarqand, a travelling companion of Bah al-Dn who travelled to Anatolia with Rms family.32 We do not
know much about this man apart from the description of him as (...) a man of
high repute, of noble stock and honourable descent.33 We can assume that he
was an important support for the shaykhs family during the trip from Central
Asia, and that Rms marriage to his daughter represented a beneficial union
with the homeland elite in a foreign land.34 Apart from providing a noble stock
for the shaykhs offspring, Gurwar also brought an extra spiritual value to the
union. Great Ker,35 the mother of Gurwar, was one of the favourite female
disciples of Bah al-Dn back when he lived in Central Asia. Her mystical credentials are highlighted in anecdotes attributed to Suln Valad, in which she
is made responsible for introducing Rm to sam performances and knowledge of the Sufi path. She is also mentioned as being held in high esteem by
Bah al-Dn.36
It is the second wife of Rm, Ker Khtn,37 who is a really active character in the hagiographical accounts of Mawln. Ker was apparently the
widow of a certain Muammad Shh, and married Mawln after the death
32 Aflk, 1:26/Feats, 21.
33 Ibid.
34 It has been suggested that the marriage could have been previously arranged en route, and
only materialised in Anatolia. See Lewis, Rumi, 71. Apparently he was also very wealthy;
see Aflk, 2:681 / Feats, 472.
35 In the Persian edition of Aflk, the name of this lady is written simply as Ker, but I
will follow here the name used in the translation by OKane to differentiate her from the
second wife of Rm, Ker Khtn. There is a mistake in OKanes translation, as Great
Ker is mentioned as the mother of Ker Khtn and not of Gurwar Khtn. See e.g.
Feats, 748.
36 The accounts about Great Ker are contradictory. Aflk mentions that the transmitter of
these anecdotes was not sure about the life of this lady, her death, or if she ever came to
Rm (Aflk, 2:6801 / Feats, 4712).
37 It is not certain whether Ker is a name or a title of Greek or Anatolian origin (Lewis,
Rumi, 122).

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of Gurwar.38 She gave Rm two sons and one daughter, but neither of his sons
were considered as successors in the line of shaykhs, which went through the
more noble and virtuous descent of Gurwar Khtn.39 It appears that becoming a shaykh was connected to the prestige of descent, and, in this case, the
credentials of Gurwar Khtn favoured her offspring instead of Kers as the
legitimate line of descent of Rm. Both Aflk and Sipahslr include anecdotes in which Ker, deprived of the noble stock of Rms first wife, is not
only seen as actively involved in the organisation of the order and interacting
with the Seljuq court, but is also portrayed as superstitious and harbouring
a number of personal fears. By giving room to these personal attitudes, the
narrative allows for Rms skills, in particular the performance of miracles in
response to such attitudes, to be related.40 The role adopted by Ker is much
more active in the narrative, and contrasts with the passivity and scarcity of
stories encountered in Aflk about Gurwar Khtn. In fact, her position in
the order can be seen in the fact that she was buried in Rms mausoleum,
together with other women of her family such as her daughter Malika Khtn.41
In the case of Awad al-Dn Kirmn, we know that he had a main wife and
at least one concubine. As in the case of Rm, his wife also played an important role in legitimising the spiritual credentials of the shaykh. He married
Rukn al-Dns daughter, whose name is not given in the text, but clear mention
of her pedigree is provided.42 Her lineage can be traced back to the famous
Sufi master Ab l-Najb Suhraward (d. 563/1168), a disciple of Amad Ghazl
(d. 520/1126) and founder of the Suhrawardiyya Sufi order.43 Interestingly, the
genealogical connection between both Kirmn and Suhraward is made by
a succession of marriages, firstly the marriage of the daughter of the latter to
Qub al-Dn Abhar, who in turn marries his daughter to Sujs, who finally
marries his daughter to Kirmn.44 In this way, the line of Kirmns wife helps
the hagiographic narrative to construct a spiritual lineage that in turn helps
to legitimise his religious status.45 Yet, in contrast to the position reserved by
38 This information is only provided by Abdulbaki Golpnarl, Mevlanadan sonra Mevlevilik,
trans. Tawfiq Subhani (Tehran: Intisharat-i Kayhan, 1366 sh. / 19878), and referenced in
Lewis, Rumi, 122.
39 Her son was Muaffar al-Dn Amr lim, who unsuccessfully tried to make a career in the
Seljuq administration with the support of her father and the Parvanah of Rm (Lewis,
Rumi, 122). They also had a daughter called Malika Khtnsee below.
40 Aflk, 1:923 / Feats, 68. On her interaction with the Seljuq court see below.
41 Lewis, Rumi, 428.
42 Manaqib, 5960.
43 Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions, 2446.
44 Manaqib, 56.
45 Ridgeon, The Controversy, 17.

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Aflk for at least one of Rms wives, the manaqb of Kirmn does not make
his wife a character in anecdotes to contextualise the life of the master. It
seems that Kirmns wife occupied a similar role to that of Gurwar Khtn in
Rms hagiography, but the equivalent of Ker Khtn is missing.

Carrying the Prestige Forward: the Daughters of the Shaykhs

If wives played an important role in tracing religious and secular legitimacy in


the masters past, daughters were important in carrying this legitimacy forward
and setting up a continuation of the masters teachings and legacy. Awad
al-Dn Kirmn was the father of three children: a son and two daughters from
different women.46 One of his daughters, called mina, was the daughter of his
main wife (the granddaughter of Suhraward).47 She is portrayed as a woman
of great virtue and knowledge who received an Islamic education in Damascus
at the request of Shaykh Shihb al-Dn Suhraward (d. 632/1234), and accompanied her father on pilgrimage to the Hejaz during the first years of the seventh/
thirteenth century.48 On the way, they stopped in Damascus, where they stayed
for several days at the khnaqh of Shaykh Usman Rm, who was considered
the master of the Ayyubid amir dil I of Damascus.49 In this city, mina was
requested as a wife by a certain Imd al-Dn, the son of the vizier of Akhl
in Eastern Anatolia, who was part of the convoy on the way to Arabia.50 The
shaykh accepted the request and the couple married in Mecca when the group
arrived there a few months later. The marriage did not last long because of
Imd al-Dns disrespect for and repeated beating of mina, which forced the
couple to divorce despite the efforts of the shaykh to modify the behaviour of

46 On his son see Manaqib, 37.


47 Amna Khtns name also appears as Aymana. See Manqib, Introduction, 36.
48 The trip occurred during the rule of Malik dil I of Damascus (r. 596615 /12001218).
Also known as al-Malik al-dil Sayf al-Dn Ab Bakr b. Ayyub, he was a commander close
to Saladin and had been to Egypt several times. See Ibn Athir, The Chronicle of Ibn Al-athir
for the Crusading Period from Al-kamil Fil-tarikh: The Years 541589/11461193: the Age of
Nur Al-din and Saladin, ed. and trans. D.S. Richards, vol. 2 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), 370.
49 The lodge had more than 100 dervishes, and the account tries to highlight the wealth of
this Sufi master in contrast to the humility of shaykh Kirmn, who had to leave three
dervishes each day to be beggars (har rz sih nafr-i darwish bih darweza brn ravand) to
raise money for the journey. Despite this, it is stated that Usman Rm was at the service
of Kirmn while he hosted him. See Manaqib, 63.
50 Manaqib, 63.

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his son-in-law.51 Despite the unsuccessful attempt to marry his daughter, the
attempt to intermarry with secular dynasties is revealed here. If we take into
account that Kirmn was a contemporary of Rms father Bah al-Dn, then
both appear to be following the similar marriage strategies of linking their
own families to those of local secular leaders. While the former tried to link his
daughter to the son of the vizier of the region of Akhl, the later was marrying
the young Jall al-Dn Rm to the noble stock carried by Gurwar Khtn.
While mina is presented as coming from a line of shaykhs and was intended
to be married to a local ruler, the story of Kirmns second daughter, Fima,
is very different. She was not only born of a concubine, which in itself would
not have necessarily determined her upbringing,52 but also of a slave whom
his father had bought in a bazaar from a merchant who could not handle this
woman because of her bad temper (bad kh).53 She seems to have passed this
bad temper down to her daughter Fima.54 The worries and concerns to which
the shaykh was subjected by her behaviour are reflected in a few anecdotes
in the hagiography.55 Further, her personal story is also connected to the historical development of Anatolia. Apparently, she was captured by the Mongols
during the invasion of the city of Kayseri in 641/1243 and taken to the region of
Chaghat.56 Her return to Rm was only possible thanks to the intervention of
some Seljuq dignitaries who begged Hleg for her release, which might have
occurred when Hleg invaded Iraq in 656/1258.57 After her return, she married shaykh Amn al-Dn Yaqb, with whom she had a son who died at the age
of eight.58 Hence, despite different backgrounds, both ladies shared a troubled
51 Ibid., 64.
52 See, for example, how Aflk glorifies the role of concubines when speaking of the marriages of Suln Valad (Feats, 698).
53 Manaqib, 68.
54 On her see also Mikail Bayram, Fatma Bac ve Bacyan- Rm (Istanbul: Nve Kltr
Merkezi, 2008), 4558.
55 Manaqib, 6871.
56 Ibid., 701. This is most probably the Jaghatu in present day north-western Iran, where
the Ilkhanid dynasty was particularly active and the Mongol ordos usually camped. See,
for example, Rashd al-Dn Tabib, Rashiduddin Fazlullahs Jamiut-tawarikh: Compendium
of Chronicles, trans. W.M. Thackston (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1998), 548.
57 Manaqib, 36. Among those who interceded on her behalf was Mun al-Dn Parvanah
(d. 6756/1277), husband of Gurj Khtn and patron of Jall al-Dn Rm (ibid. 71).
58 Ibid., 71. In the introduction to the manqib, Furznfar mentions that she married one
of the sons of one of the disciples of Yaqb. See Manqib, Introduction, 37. I was not able
to identify Shaykh Amn al-Dn Yaqb.

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life of mistreatment and kidnapping; also, both mina and Fima fulfilled the
role of linking the shaykh or the order to both secular and religious powers.
Both women were alive at the time in which the manqib of Kirmn was written, and we do not know what their fate was after the work was completed in
the second half of the seventh/thirteenth century.
An important difference that emerges from the hagiographic account is
the position the daughter (and daughter-in-law) of Rm seem to have had
within the Sufi order in comparison to the daughters of Kirmn. If the lives of
Kirmns daughter and daughter-in-law are rendered in the manqib as biographies of their life and deeds, Rms female offspring are more connected
with the compilation of the stories. In other words, they actively participate in
the consolidation of the order by being included by both Aflk and Sipahslr
as sources for the compilation of the miracles of Jall al-Dn Rm.59 Rms
only daughter, Malika Khtn, was born of his second wife Ker and survived
her father into the eighth/fourteenth century.60 She was married to a wealthy
merchant called Khwja Shihb al-Dn of Konya, who is presented by Aflk
as a miser, Aflk making classic literary use of his professions stereotype.61
The marriage also seems to correspond to the needs of the family to establish
connections with the local community. Being new to the town, marrying his
daughter to a wealthy merchant of the city appears to have been a pragmatic
way of securing status for the shaykh and wealth for the order. Malika Khtn
appears in Aflks account on a number of occasions as a transmitter of stories of her father and as the main character in anecdotes with clear pedagogic
meaning.62 She certainly enjoyed a high degree of respect in the community
for her status as the daughter of Mawln, and her marriage might have contributed to securing some financial and political favour in Konya for the order.63
However, having only one daughter prevented Rms hagiographers from
generating a religious pedigree to the next generation of women. Aflk uses,
then, another character to fill this gap by expanding the hagiographic description
59 See, for example, Feats, 4950, 224, 268, 271, 289, 319, 486, 500, and 644 among others. Also
Sipahsalar, 76.
60 Apparently, she died between 7023/1303 and 706/1306; her funerary inscription at the
mausoleum in Konya is not clear about the date. See Lewis, Rumi, 123.
61 In Aflks story, Rm ridicules his son-in-law in front of his daughter by telling the story
of an extremely miserly wealthy man. See Feats, 224. His businesses might not have been
totally successful when Rm had to write a letter to the Parvanah to forgive Shihb al-Dn
for the tolls and taxes he paid for his business that led to his economic ruin. See Rm,
Maktubat, 956 (quoted in Lewis, Rumi, 123).
62 See the anecdote between Malika Khatn and her slave girl in Feats, 280.
63 See, for example, how the light of Mawln emanated from her in Feats, 438.

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of Rms daughter-in-law Fima Khtn, who was married to Rms son and
successor Suln Valad.64 This lady was the daughter of Rms companion
shaykh Sal al-Dn Fardn (d. 657/1258), who was a disciple of Rms master
Burhn al-Dn and a companion of Mawln until his death.65 The role of this
lady is glorified, as she is not only the daughter of an important member of
the Mawlawi tradition and the daughter-in-law of Rm, but also the wife of
Suln Valad and the mother of the third master of the order, rif Chalab
(d. 719/1320), who was the religious mentor of Aflk and the person who
inspired the writing of his Manaqib al-arifin.66 As we will see later, the position that this lady occupied within the order goes beyond her role as a legitimiser of a line of descent. So, with her, a similar structure is constructed to that
of Kirmns hagiography for his daughter; in this case Malika Khtns marriage provides a secular and wealthy link to the society of medieval Anatolia,
and Fima Khtn brings a religious background not only to Rms female
descent but also to Suln Valads marriage and offspring. From a mythical past
to the security of succession, the idea that women played a fundamental role
in securing the line of descent of the shaykhs is not only reflected but also
highlighted in the hagiographic narrative.67 Even further, it appears that this
was a complex mechanism whereby women provided either political support
from secular powers, economic viability from rich elements in society or spiritual legitimation for the male members of the order.

The Shaykhs and Women of the Court in Anatolia and the Caucasus

Outside the family of the shaykhs, women represented in this hagiographic


material can be described as being financial supporters or spiritual followers of the saints and their family.68 Yet, it is sometimes difficult to clearly
separate patrons from followers in the hagiographic narrative, as accounts of
64 They had three children: one boy called rif Chalab (the successor of Valad) and two
girls named Miahhara Khtn and Sharaf Khtn (Feats, 6978).
65 For a short account of his life see Lewis, Rumi, 20515.
66 See Aflk, 1:45.
67 This was not an attribute exclusive to women in the family of shaykhs but also a phenomenon extended to women in the Seljuq court. For example, it was common among
Seljuq princes to marry Christian wives, who were generally allowed to continue professing Christianity in the court; see Rustam Shukurov, Harem Christianity, in The Seljuks of
Anatolia, 122.
68 A good account on the role of some noblewomen in Medieval Anatolia is Redford, Paper,
Stone, Scissors, 15170.

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womenas well as menfrom outside the family of the shaykhs are at times
confusing, and it is occasionally difficult to identify the ladies with historical
characters. This is especially the case for wealthy women who are mentioned
as giving donations at the same time as being described as followers of the
shaykhs.69 An anecdote illustrating this can be found in a famous episode
narrated by Aflk in his section on the life of Bah al-Dn Valad. At the time
when his whole family finally arrived in Anatolia, they stayed for a while in
the vicinity of the city of Erzincan. It is mentioned that a lady called Imat
Khtn, the wife of Malik Fakhr al-Dn Arzanjn, had a revelation which told
her that a pole (or pillar) of the world (qub lam) was arriving in the region.70
Immediately after this, she took a horse and rode to the shaykh, who was in
Aqshahr.71 When her husband was informed of the event, he and some of his
guards also mounted horses and went after his wife. After arriving in the presence of the shaykh, they dismounted, kissed the ground in front of the shaykh
and were taken by Bah al-Dn as disciples (murd).72 But the story continues,
mentioning that once the malik invited Rms father to come with him and
stay in the city of Erzincan, the shaykh refused and asked him instead to build
a madrasa in Aqshahr. The request was granted, and the lady is said to have
received religious education under Bah al-Dn in that place for four years.73
Throughout these works, it is possible to find several references to women
becoming disciples or followers, in general terms, and mentions of specific
ladies embracing the Sufi path by joining the master. This is especially present in the work of Aflk, which might suggest that some literate audiences
of women might have existed, to whom writers like Aflk were trying to
appeal as part of their audience.74 As we have seen, Rms mother-in-law was
69 The opposite phenomenon also occurred, as there are many references to personalities
in inscriptions dealing with donations around Anatolia that cannot be attested to in the
historical record, be it hagiographies, chronicles or waqfiyyas. See Redford, Paper, Stone,
Scissors, 15170; and Wolper, Princess Safwat al-Duny wa al-Dn, 37.
70 Aflk, 1:245 / Feats, 1920. Sipahsalar names this lady as Tj Malik Khtn, see
Sipahsalar, 13.
71 There is some confusion as to the location of his town in the narrative. Aflk seems
to indicate that this town was close to Erzincan, where Imat and her husband lived.
However, the location of Aqshahr is a few kilometres north-west of Konya and therefore
nowhere near Erzincan.
72 Aflk, 1:25 / Feats, 20.
73 Aflk, 1:25 / Feats, 20. The account in the Risla of Sipahsalar describes the place as a
khnaqh, or Sufi lodge, instead of a madrasa; see Sipahsalar, 13.
74 In fact, Aflk himself mentions the existence of a woman tutor at the Seljuq court in
charge of the education of the sultans daughters. See Aflk, 2:727 / Feats, 506.

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a pparently a student of his own father Bah al-Dn, who once having arrived
in Anatolia and attracted so many men and women that the Sultan himself was
amazed by the situation.75 In fact, the hagiographies try to show this intrinsic
connection between the attraction of the shaykhs and their relationship with
the secular powers that existed in medieval Anatolia.76 Certain ladies of the
Seljuq court appear among those who, according to the hagiographers, felt the
need to engage with the shaykhs.
In the case of Awad al-Dn Kirmn, his relationship with secular powers is
less apparent than that of Rm and his followers.77 However, he is portrayed
on some occasions as spiritually intervening in favour of Seljuq rulers such as
Sultan Al al-Dn Kayqubd I (r. 61834/121937) or as preventing the Mongol
invasion of Rm.78 Also, as has been suggested, it is difficult to imagine that
he could have achieved the high position he held in Baghdad before coming
to Rm without some skills in manoeuvring the complexities of politics and
intrigues at the court of the caliph.79 The image given in his biography with
regard to the proximity of Kirmn to secular powers is not clear. For example,
while he was in Damascus at the khnaqh of shaykh Usman Rm, there is a
mention of the large amount of delicious food sent by Malik dil of Damascus
to this shaykh.80 The story continues by saying that Usman preferred the food
brought by Kirmns beggars because the latter gave him peace, in a clear
attempt to portray Awad al-Dn as above the secular powers. Despite this,
the only woman who appears in this work in full is Rasudn Khtn (r. 61943/
122345), the queen who ruled the Kingdom of Georgia in the seventh/
thirteenth century.81 The story is narrated as a visit paid by the shaykh and some
of his companions to that kingdom. After arriving in the royal palace and being
told at the door that Georgia was ruled by a queen and not a king (pdshh),
they enter the palace and the sight of the lady falls upon the shaykh immediately. She invites him to stay at her palace and he accepts. For a while Kirmn
stays with her, cultivating her love and affection for him. The text mentions
75 Aflk, 1:29 / Feats, 23.
76 Peacock, Sufis and the Seljuk Court, 20626.
77 A list of Kirmns disciples is given in Manqib, Introduction, 456.
78 Manaqib, 18. On the use of powers by shaykhs to promote rulers to power or to prevent
them from attacking, see Peacock, Sufis and the Seljuk Court, 2078.
79 Ridgeon, The Controversy, 21.
80 This was Malik dil Sayf al-Dn Ab Bakr b. Ayyb (d. 615/ 1218), the Ayyubid governor
of Damascus, who in the Manqib is described as a murd of shaykh Usmn Rm (see
Manqib, 62).
81 Marius Canard, Les reines de Georgie dans lhistoire et la legende musulmanes, Revue des
tudes islamiques 37 (1969): 320.

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that the shaykh is constantly consulted by her.82 Although no specific mention


of patronage or economic support by Rasudn is mentioned, her mention in the
hagiography might have another goal. At the time when the manqib was being
composed, the daughter of the Georgian queen Rusudn, Gurj Khtn, was not
only living in Anatolia as a product of her marriage to the Parvanah, but was
also financially supporting Sufi shaykhs, as we will see below. The inclusion of
this anecdote might, therefore, be an appeal to attract the wealthy and powerful
Gurj Khtn to Kirmns supporters at the same time as connecting the shaykh
to a ruler who was not only a woman but also a Christian.
Rms close interaction with the Seljuq court has been noted already, even
after the time when, the hagiographies claim, he retired from public life after
the disappearance of his mentor Shams al-Dn Tabrizi (d. 645/1247).83 He
appears to have developed a particularly interesting relationship with the
ladies of the high classes in Seljuq Anatolia, who, on different occasions, sent
him and his disciples money and donations. The contextual information provided in the account of a miracle performed by Rm gives us some information about this interaction. Aflk mentions that a wealthy unnamed merchant
who was a murd of Rm was away on pilgrimage to Mecca and that his wife
was sharing some alw among the poor as a charitable act. Aflk relates that
the lady separated a portion of this food and sent it to the master and his disciples.84 Similarly, when a judge from Rm became a follower of the saint by
recommendation of some of his eminent friends of the court and after making his own sons follow Mawln, he tried to organise a big sam session in
the city. The number of people who gathered generated some supplies-related
problems and the wife of the sultan, asked to help, donated ten sugar-loafs to
the gathering.85 In neither of these two stories are the ladies the main character, nor do they have any special influence in the story except to illustrate the
miracle performed by Rm. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that these
acts of patronage in the form of donations were uncommon in the interaction
between the shaykh and the ladies of the Seljuq aristocracy.
The proximity of Rm to ladies of the Seljuq court is represented mainly
by two characters in the hagiographic anecdotes.86 The first of these is Gmj
82 Manaqib, 201.
83 See Lewis, Rumi, 295.
84 Aflk, 1:169 / Feats, 118.
85 Aflk, 1:169 / Feats, 118.
86 References to Mongol ladies such as Pdshh Khtn (Pash in Aflks work), wife of the
Ilkhan Gaykhatu, also appear in the Manaqib al-rifn. However, although the veracity of
the account is easily dismissed, given the fact that the hagiography claims that rif fore-

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Khtn, wife of Rukn al-Dn Qlc Arslan iv (r. 647/1249; 65763/125965) and
mother of Ghiys al-Dn Kaykhusraw iii (r. 66383/126584) whom we cited
above as a donor of sugar.87 The second is Gurj Khtn, a name given by
Aflk to Princess Tamar, a lady of Georgian origin who was probably Christian
or converted to Islam on marriage.88 She was the wife of Ghiys al-Dn
Kaykhusraw ii (r. 63444/123746) and mother of Al al-Dn Kayqubd ii
(r. eastern Seljuq territories 64755/124957).89 Both women financially supported the congregation of Rm supporters and were considered followers of
the shaykh himself.90 In the case of the former, Sipahslr includes her as one
of the transmitters of the shaykhs anecdotes in which she saw Rm entering
the dwellings where the lady was seated with other ladies of the court and
order them to exit the house quickly.91 The ladies ran barefoot out of the house
before the vault of the building collapsed at the feet of the master, thus saving
their lives. In response, the ladies thanked God for bringing the shaykh to them
and gave alms (adaqt) to the poor and the master.92
saw the death of the Lady in Erzurum while he was in Konya, when we know that Pdshh
Khatn died in Kerman in 694 /1295. However, this woman lived in that city for a while,
suggesting that maybe some sort of interaction existed between her and the Mawlawi
order. See Feats, 6223; on her death see Shabnkra, Majma al-ansb, ed. Mir Hashim
Muhaddis (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1363 sh. / 1984), 2023.
87 A qada poem was composed for her by Rms son Suln Valad in his Dvn. See
Sipahsalar, 169. The name appears as Gmj in Aflk and as Kmj in Sipahsalar.
The mausoleum of this lady is still standing in the city of Konya today. It is known as
the Kz Kulesi; see S. Kemal Yetkin, The Turbeh of Guma Hatun, a Seljuk Monument,
Ars Orientalis 4 (1961): 35760.
88 She was the daughter of the Georgian Empress Rasudn (r. 619643/122345) mentioned
in Kirmns manaqib. On Gurj Khtn see D.M. Lang, Georgia in the Reign of Giorgi
the Brilliant (131446), Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 17.1 (1955): 86;
and C. Toumanoff, Armenia and Georgia, in The Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 4, ed.
J.M. Hussey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), 625. Her conversion is mentioned by Bar Hebraeus, The Chronography of Gregory Abul Faraj, the son of Aaron, the
Hebrew physician, commonly known as Bar Hebraeus (London: Oxford University Press,
1932), 4034, but challenged by Vryonis, who suggests that her proximity to Rm might
the reason why Bar Heraeus thought she converted. See Speros Vryonis, Another Note on
the Inscription of the Church of St. George of Beliserama, in Byzantina 9 (1977): 19.
89 Lewis, Rumi, 125.
90 Rustam Shukurov, Harem Christianity, 119.
91 In Aflks account, the children of the ladies were also present. See Aflk, 1:335 /
Feats, 232.
92 Sipahsalar, 78. Aflks version of the story specifies that the lady gave the sum of 7,000
suln dirhams for the shaykhs disciples (Aflk, 1:335 / Feats, 232). A similar miracle is

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Gurj Khtn is mentioned many times by Aflk as a follower and a strong


financial supporter of the order.93 Her support for the order is highlighted
repeatedly in the narrative of Aflk, either in the form of donations of food or
cash.94 The role of the queen as a generous patron appears on different occasions, rewarding with money acts by followers of the shaykh or helping the
order financially in times of need.95 Regarding the latter form of assistance,
especially interesting is an anecdote in which shaykh al al-Dn wanted
to marry his daughter Hadya Khtn to a wealthy calligrapher of the Seljuq
court called Nim al-Dn Kha. Not having enough funds to pay for the
wedding of his daughter, al al-Dn asked Rm for help, who immediately
made a request to Gurj Khtn to explain the situation through the mediation of another lady called Ust Khtn.96 The queen immediately sent the
funds and all the necessary utensils and furniture for the wedding.97 Similarly,
at the request of both Suln Valad and Mawlns son Alam al-Dn Qayar,
and together with her second husband Mun al-Dn Parvanah (d. 676 /1277),
she financed the construction of the mausoleum of Rm after his death.98
Therefore, from the hagiographical account, this Christian lady is among the
major supporters of the order in the middle of the seventh/thirteenth century.
It is important to stress the fact that the economic support of these ladies is
not described as a simple act of charity, but instead an effort is made by Aflk
to show the devotion that these woman had for Rm and his followers.99 In
addition to the above references to financial support, women like Gurj Khtn
are mentioned in a number of other stories as interacting with the shaykh and
his followers in a much closer relationship than just donorreceiver. For example, Rm is credited with being the only person from among the notables of
attributed later to rif Chalab, in which he saves Gurj Khtn from a falling roof (Aflk,
2:754 / Feats, 526).
93 A probable reference to her appears in one of Rms letters. See Lewis, Rumi, 283.
94 For example, she sends delicacies (khub) to Rm and his followers while they are gathering to engage in sam. See Aflk, 1:377 / Feats, 260.
95 See, for example, Aflk, 1:1423, 1:459 / Feats, 100, 317.
96 This lady is described as one of the sultans daughters in the Seljuq court. This is probably
not her real name, as Ust seems to be a title deriving from the word ustd meaning tutor
in Persian/Arabic.
97 See, for example, Aflk, 2:727 / Feats, 5067.
98 Aflk, 2:792 / Feats, 553.
99 A daughter of Gurj called Ayn al-ayt is also mentioned as being a follower of Rms
grandson rif Chalab. She visits the tomb of Rm and goes to see him in the madrasa
of the complex to talk about the virtues and actions of Mawln (Aflk, 2:9156 / Feats,
640).

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Rm to convince the queen to forgive her husband Mun al-Dn for a mistake
he committed and thereby save their marriage.100 Similarly, other non-Muslim
or recently Islamised members of royalty, such as the Mongol Ilkhans and
Khtns, are included in the accounts of similar devotional stories. Although
there is confusion in the account about the chronology and the historical facts,
the charismatic presence of rif Chalab is said to have been requested by
the Ilkhan Ghzn Khn (r. 694703/12951304) through the mediation of his
supposed wife Il-Tuzmish.101 After initially refusing to meet the Mongol ruler,
rif then accepts the invitation and leaves with some of his disciples to the
Mongol court. On the way, he is received by the lady in her tent and engages
in reading the Quran, reciting ghazals and performing sam sessions together
with the lady.102
The religious observance of these ladies towards the shaykhs is also des
cribed in an interesting anecdote in which, again, on the occasion of a trip
she had to make to Keysari, Gurj Khtn ordered that a portrait of the shaykh
should be drawn so she could take it with her on the trip.103 This iconographic
practice appears closer to Christian beliefs than what we would expect from a
Muslim lady, but perhaps it shows indirectly the syncretic nature of religious
life in Anatolia. The proximity of this Christian lady, with her Christian practices, to the Muslim shaykh should not be a surprise but a reflection of the
religious milieu of the time and place. Although their approaches are different, both hagiographies appeal to images of noble Christian ladies to highlight
the virtues of the shaykhs. While in Kirmns case he is depicted as attracting through his charisma the queen of the Christian kingdom of Georgia,104
in Aflk the allegory is a bit more subtle. On one occasion, Gurj asks Alam
al-Dn Qayar (d. 683/1284),105 the architect of Rms mausoleum, why she
100 Aflk, 1:4323 / Feats, 298.
101 Aflk, 2:3123/ Feats, 5912. The confusion comes from the fact that there are two women
called Il-Tuzmish in this period. One was the first wife of Abaqa Ilkhan (r. 66381/1265
82), and then of Gaykhatu (r. 6904/12915), and was therefore not the wife of Ghazan as
Aflk implies. On the wife of Abaqa and Gaykhatu, see Rashd al-Dn Tabib, Rashiduddin
Fazlullahs Jamiut-tawarikh, 515. However, there was another Il-Tuzmish, who was the
granddaughter of Amad Tegder Ilkhan (r. 6813/128284) by his son Mubrak Shh
and who was involved in the process of the conversion of Ghzn Khn and his struggle
with Baidu for the rule of Iran between 694/1295. On this lady, see Rashd al-Dn Tabib,
Rashiduddin Fazlullahs Jamiut-tawarikh, 6012.
102 Aflk, 2:847 / Feats, 592.
103 Aflk, 1:425 / Feats, 2923.
104 Manaqib, 201.
105 Lewis, Rumi, 236.

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should believe in Rms sainthood. The answer is an interesting summery of


the message that these hagiographies try to highlight in the religiously diverse
Anatolian landscape: because all nations adore and respect Mawln.106

Women as Disciples and Scholars

Apart from a relationship comprising both economic and devotional interaction between shaykh and courtly ladies, hagiographies show some inter-female
relationships between women of the shaykhs family and ladies of the Seljuq
court. There is an anecdote in which the wife of Rm, Ker Khtn, received
from her husband a bowl of rose petals brought to him by six men from the
invisible realm while he was praying with Shams-i Tabrz.107 The petals had
curative properties when rubbed over a wounded eye. Although Ker kept
these petals with her until she died as a precious treasure, the final part of the
story adds that she only shared them once with Gurj Khtn with Mawlns
consent.108 Similarly, another account has the same main characters and a
similar narrative construction. In this case, the shaykh disappears overnight
and appears the following morning with his feet covered in sand. Ker Khtn
collected this sand, which a dervish from the order immediately identified as
being from the Hejaz desert. The wife of the shaykhs first reaction was to send
the sand, as she did with the rose petals, to Gurj Khtn, whose belief in the
shaykh increased a thousand times.109 Both stories portray a close connection
between influential people of the court, such as the sultans wife, and members
of the order, by making them participants in the miracles of the shaykhs. These
stories also create a certain intimacy between the court and the shaykhs family
by generating proximity between women of the court and women of the lodge.
This story is not an isolated one; Suln Valads wife Fima is not only described
as someone who performed miracles and a committed ascetic, but also, in passing reference, Aflk claims that she shared these virtues and practices with
both Gmj Khtn and Gurj Khtn.110 This type of inter-female interaction
106 Aflk, 1:519 / Feats, 358.
107 These six men were said to have entered the room by walking through the walls of the
room. In the story, a merchant tells Ker Khtn that this rose only grows in Ceylon (Sri
Lanka) and wonders how it has arrived in Rm (Aflk, 1:901 / Feats, 67).
108 Aflk, 1:92 / Feats, 68.
109 Aflk, 1:2623 / Feats, 1823. The story also appears in Sipahsalar, 7677.
110 Aflk, 2:7201 / Feats, 502. The wife of the Parvanah of Topak is also mentioned among
the ladies who shared experiences with Fima.

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between women belonging to the secular power and the religious Sufi family
might be one of the ways in which the Mawlawis attracted some of the wealthy
women of the Seljuq court into their area of influence.111 It might also be simply
one more example of the close relationship between the court and members of
the order, but in this case through a womenwomen relationship. Stories relating this type of connection are exclusive to hagiographic material and provide
an insight into social interaction in seventh/thirteenth- and eighth/fourteenthcentury Anatolia that is not generally present in other historical sources.
The hagiographies analysed here also include anecdotes about women that
denote female activities that are less apparent in other types of sources of the
period. A good number of references are made to women acting as disciples
of the shaykhs and consequently being introduced in Sufi rituals. Among
these rituals, gatherings to perform sam appear to have been common in
seventh/thirteenth- and eighth/fourteenth-century Anatolia.112 On different
occasions, the manqib of Kirmn shows the shaykh organising these social
events to receive noble members of society such as members of the local elite,
merchants and foreign dignitaries.113 Women were also included in these
gatherings and were considered as followers (murdn) of these shaykhs. In
the case of Kirmn, on at least one occasion the performance of sam with
women is recorded with one of his favourite disciples, Zayn al-Dn adaqa.114
As Ridgeon has noted, the apparent opposition of this disciple to the involvement of women in these practices has been used to imply that Kirmn also
viewed female participation of women in sam gatherings with reluctance.115
However, this might be an ad hoc conclusion if we consider the care that
Kirmn put into the religious education of his daughters or, as seen above,
the efforts he made to attract noble ladies to his cause. Further, references to
111 Another example of this inter-female religious interaction can be seen in an allusion to
Moahhara Ktn and Sharaf Khtn, the daughters of Suln Valad and Fima Khtn,
who were allegedly responsible for converting many women in Rm to the Mawlawi order
in the early eighth/fourteenth century. See Aflk 2:995 / Feats, 6978.
112 On sam performances and their controversies see Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions,
17886.
113 See, for example, Manaqib, 40 (while on a trip to Akhl), 65 (he is invited to the session,
assists the meeting but then leaves, promising to come back) or 97 (during a meeting with
other shaykhs in Aleppo). This has been noted in Ridgeon, The Controversy, 23. Similar
sessions were organised for Rm by local elites in Konya, see e.g. Aflk, 1:4889 / Feats,
3367. Sessions at the house of the Parvanah Mun al-Dn and Gurj Khatn were also
organised, see Aflk, 1:48990 / Feats, 337.
114 Manaqib, 1845.
115 Ridgeon, The Controversy, 25.

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women actively participating in Sufi practices also appear in Aflks work. It


is related that every Friday after prayers, the wives of some high-ranking officials of Konya would go to the house of the wife of Amn al-Dn Mkhl, a
lieutenant of the Sultan of Rm, to have a mystical session with Mawln.116
Organising sam sessions for women certainly served as a good way of attracting women to the Mawlawi order and benefitting from female patronage, but
the devotion depicted in the hagiographies and the continuation of these
practices by Rms family members suggest that a genuine desire for religious
practice existed among women in medieval Anatolia.117
The importance acquired by women in the support of these uruq, and the
need to have them incorporated into the organisation of Sufi orders whose
internal structures were starting to become more consolidated, might be
responsible for the constant references to individual female disciples of the
shaykhs in the hagiographic material. The role of women as figures possessing religious sensibility and authority is mentioned at the beginning of Aflks
account of Rumis family. According to Aflk, Bah al-Dns daughter, and consequently Rms sister, was called Fima, and stayed in Central Asia when
her family departed to West Asia. She is described as a scholar who issued
fatwas and had the respect of her community.118 We might never be able to
confirm the veracity of this story, but it certainly served the narrative by giving legitimacy to the appearance of other women of the Mawlawi order who
were active members of the religious community in Anatolia. The clear analogy here can be seen with Suln Valads wife, who, apart from sharing her
husbands aunts name, is also described as a religious disciple of Rm who
was constantly present at the meetings between her father shaykh Sal al-Dn
Fardn and her father-in-law.119 Other individual female disciples are mentioned in the sources, as in the case of a certain Nim Khtn, who is specifically mentioned as a murd of Rm who organised sam with her master and
other disciples.120 Finally, some of the prominent roles assumed by women in
the Sufi orders may also be seen in the manqib of Kirmn. Even though there
are fewer references to women in this text than in Aflaks, it saves an especially
important role in the religious hierarchy of the order and initiation into the
116 Aflk, 1:3901 / Feats, 3378.
117 For example, the above-mentioned daughters of Suln Valad organised Sufi sessions for
women; see Lewis, Rumi, 283.
118 Aflk, 2:994 / Feats, 697.
119 Aflk, 1:405 / Feats, 279. Another woman called Kmiy Khtn was also raised in the
house of Rm and might have received a religious education up to the point at which
Shams al-Dn Tabrz requested her in marriage from Rm. See Sepahsalar, 111.
120 Aflk, 2:601 / Feats, 412.

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Sufi path for one of them. If we are to believe the account, the daughter of the
shaykh, mina Khtn, after divorcing her husband, went to live in Damascus,
and was there when the work was being written.121 The author claims that in
that city most people were her followers, and because she was the shaykh of seventeen khanaqhs in that town she was known in Syria as the Lady of Scholars
(sitt al-ulama).122 This completes a circle whereby women appear in this
material beyond their role in the shaykh genealogy. Patrons, followers and
scholars were also some of the areas of female involvement in Anatolia, suggesting that women played a more important role in articulating Sufi orders
and Rms political life than previously anticipated.
Conclusions
Despite the general mistrust in scholarship towards looking at hagiographies
as a valuable historical source, when looking at how women are depicted in
them, certain interesting features of womens life in medieval Anatolia can
be observed. Firstly, they confirm the scholarly approach that argues that
women were used as a means to enhance the pedigree of the shaykhs to the
point that succession of the shaykhs depended on the family credentials of
the mother. However, a closer look at this material also suggests that marriage
practices among Sufi shaykhs in the seventh/thirteenth and eighth/fourteenth
centuries respected certain patterns that tried to connect, whenever possible,
female members of the family to both secular and religious establishments
to secure the sociopolitical legitimation and economic viability of Sufi orders.
Hagiographies articulate a narrative to contextualise this process and present
it in a comprehensive way to their public, be it followers of the order, wealthy
local elites or rival religious uruq.
At the same time, hagiographic literature provides a unique insight into
aspects of female religiosity and daily life that are difficult to find in other
source materials. The examples given in this article show that women in
the life of shaykhs were not only those ladies belonging to their family but a
diverse group of women who supported them, followed their teachings and
turned to them in times of need. Also, the role of women who were part of
the shaykhs families was not merely as simple transmitters of a noble pool
of genes from one generation of holy men to the next: some of them played a

121 See also supposedly received a religious education at a young age in Damascus with
Shaykh Shihb al-Dn Suhraward. See Manaqib, 61.
122 Ibid., 64.

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prominent role in different aspects of the political, economic and religious life
of these medieval Sufi orders. Finally, hagiographies show social dynamics that
cannot be found in other source materials of the period. As we have tried to
show, aspects of inter-female interaction revealed in the anecdotes contained
in these works suggest that women played a more active role in the religious
milieu of the time by spreading Islamic ideas and practices from woman to
woman. The sources not only show a high degree of social integration between
the Seljuq aristocracy and the family of the shaykhs (especially in the case of
Mawln), but also point towards a possible alternative channel of female solidarity through which processes of Islamisation and acculturation might have
occurred in pre-Ottoman Anatolia.

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