Amina Steinfels


For the historian of a religious tradition, the interpretation and decipherment of texts produced by religious communities remain a central challenge. The genres of religious writing particular to specific traditions, such as hagiography, scriptural commentary, or devotional handbooks, require hermeneutic approaches tailored to the form and function of such texts in their historical and social contexts. To that end, this essay is an examination of the South Asian Islamic genre of malfuzat, the teachings and memoirs of Sufi masters compiled by their disciples. Central to Sufism as a socioreligious phenomenon in medieval South Asia is the figure of the Sufi master (shaykh or pir), widely viewed during and after his lifetime as a saint, one of the awliyaª or friends of God. For the initiated disciple, his relationship with his guide on the Sufi path was his means of access to the teachings and practices of the tradition, as well as to the initiatic lineage leading back through generations of Sufi masters all the way to the prophet Muhammad and the early exemplars of Islam. For the larger public, the person of the Sufi saint was a source of religious authority and charismatic power: to heal, to protect, to bless, or to harm. In this context, access to the personality and teachings of a Sufi shaykh was of significant interest to a wider populace than could gain direct personal contact with him. Tombs and shrines provided a physical connection with a deceased or absent saint, but written texts were a strat-

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2001). Mojaddedi. was such a contemporary record of the teachings of a Sufi shaykh as observed and compiled by a disciple. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 36– 43. Eternal Garden: Mysticism. 1992). A. N. .5 1 Bruce B. Lawrence. or. the genre I will be analyzing in this essay. See Jamal J. format. Abu Saºid-i Abu l-Hayr (357– 440/967–1049): Wirklichkeit und Legende (Leiden: Brill..: SUNY Press. as a memorial. 1976). though written collections of the utterances of individual figures like Abu Yazid Bistami (d. would become a significant source of information about these figures. Poetic and Theological Writings (Mahwah. trans. looking back at figures already famous for their saintliness. All dates are in the common era. 4 Ibid. 63–64..History of Religions 57 egy for a more detailed and intellectually complex preservation and dissemination of a shaykh’s religious guidance.2 Within the Sufi tradition.: Mazda. Carl W. 1049) and ºAlaª al-dawla al-Simnani (d. 1996). History. 875) were also undertaken. a tadhkira. 1992). p. and teaching. Fritz Meier. Michael Sells. 2 See Dwight F. 179. 25. p. Qurªan. were also produced.: Paulist.J. 1978).. Ernst.1 Tadhkiras. 2001). but most were composed at a later time. Much of what we know about pre-Mughal South Asian Sufism is derived from malfuzat texts. rather than being a biography of a contemporary. The Secrets of God ’s Mystical Oneness. mostly in Persian. is always retrospective.3 These early biographical dictionaries were largely based on an oral transmission of the teachings of Sufi masters. or c. Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press. Malfuzat. 5 John O’Kane. ed. Elias. The Spiritual Stations of Shaikh Abu Saºid (Costa Mesa. and teaching sessions. The Biographical Tradition in Sufism: The Tabaqat Genre from alSulami to Jami (Richmond. biographical notices of significant figures and compilations of their utterances were combined in works such as ºAbd al-Rahman al-Sulami’s (d. Calif. activities.e. and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center (Albany. few of the great Sufi shaykhs composed significant prose treatises or poetical works. such as Abu Saºid ibn Abi al-Khayr (d. when the major Sufi orders were establishing their hold on South Asian Islamic piety. Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi. Reynolds. Miºraj. pp. Notes from a Distant Flute: The Extant Literature of Pre-Mughal Indian Sufism (Tehran: Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy. Furthermore. by the disciple of a Sufi shaykh recording as much as possible of the shaykh’s conversations. of individual Sufi masters.4 Monographs recording the oral teachings. An Arabic word. N. 1336). Malfuzat can be viewed as a logical development of the twin Islamic traditions of biography and collection of dicta inaugurated in the early centuries of the Islamic era to preserve the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad in the forms of sira and hadith. malfuzat literally means “what has been said” and refers to texts written. 1021) Tabaqat al-suf iya. The Throne Carrier of God: The Life and Thought of ºAlaª ad-dawla ass-Simnani (Albany.Y. 3 J. pp. Surrey: Curzon.. memorials or compendia of biographical notices of saints.

and Maghribi lineages. pp. trans. Khwaja Hasan Dihlawi (Tehran: Rawzanah. 1992). is Fawaªid al-fuªad by Amir Hasan Sijzi.” in Fawaªid al-fuªad: Malfuzat-i khwaja Nizam ala-din Awliyaª. 23. Ziya-ul-Hasan Faruqi (New Delhi: D. as in the case of malfuzat. Although there are a number of malfuzat of earlier Chishti figures.Y. and it was especially among the Chishtis that the genre of malfuzat flourished. Other orders. 8 See George Makdisi. Fawaªid al-fuªad is the earliest such text considered authentic by most scholars. . Department of History. each text focusing on a single figure whose teachings were recorded during his lifetime by a disciple in direct contact with him. trans. 1995). Ahsan al-aqwal. followed suit. Lawrence (New York: Paulist. As George Makdisi has demonstrated. 1–6. 1998). such diaries were intended only as source material for other historical compositions. by Hamid Qalandar (Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University. Nafaªis al-anfas. See also Khaliq Ahmad Nizami. Fawaªid al-Fuªad: Spiritual and Literary Discourses of Shaikh Niôamuddin Awliya. including the Suhrawardi. not for publication. His successors Nasir aldin Mahmud Chiragh-i Dihli (d. 6 Khwaja Hasan Dihlawi. Imitation took the form of malfuzat of later shaykhs written by their disciples as well as forgeries claiming to be the malfuzat of Nizam al-din Awliyaª’s predecessors. pp. p.: SUNY Press. “Introduction. “The Diary in Islamic Historiography: Some Notes. Bruce B. Fawaªid al-fuªad became a widely read and much imitated text. and Shamaªil alatqiya. malfuzat are peculiar to South Asian Muslim culture. 1325). 1337) both had disciples who compiled their teachings in Khayr al-majalis. 1998). “Introduction. Amir Hasan ºAlaª Sijzi Dehlawi. Gharaªib al-karamat. pp. 1996). 176–77. Because of the popularity of this saint and the literary abilities of his disciple. They are an independent genre. 1356) and Burhan al-din Gharib (d. Firdawsi.7 Fawaªid al-fuªad was composed as a day-by-day memoir of Nizam aldin Awliyaª’s teaching sessions. that firmly established both its form and its popularity in South Asian Sufism. Printworld. The paradigmatic example of this genre. Nizam ad-din Awliya: Morals for the Heart: Conversations of Nizam ad-din Awliya Recorded by Amir Hasan Sijzi. ed. Muhammad Latif Malik (Tehran: Rawzanah. Nearly every subsequent Chishti shaykh with a claim to inheriting Nizam al-din’s role had his malfuzat compiled. 7 For the development and elaboration of the malfuzat genre within the Chishti order see Ernst.” Khayr al-majalis.” History and Theory 25 (May 1986): 173–85.8 A significant minority of malN. 1959). Fawaªid al-fuªad recorded the conversations of the widely revered Chishti saint Nizam al-din Awliyaª (d. 62–84. Fawaªid al-fuªad: Malfuzat-i khwaja Nizam al-din Awliyaª. and this diary structure has continued to be the dominant format for malfuzat texts. Muhammad Latif Malik. K.6 Nizam al-din Awliyaª was the preeminent shaykh of the Chishti order.58 Sufi Genre of Malfuzat Despite these antecedents from the Arab and Iranian regions. However. the keeping of personal diaries by students of hadith dates back to the ninth century and perhaps earlier.

10 There were other shaykhs with several different malfuzat texts. 10 Ahmad al-Bhatti. Malfuzat have continued to be compiled to the present day. Until the nineteenth century malfuzat were composed in Persian. popularly known as Makhdum-i jahaniyan Jahangasht.D. 2003). Qadi Sajjad Husayn (New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research. Tuhfat al-saraªir. and economic history. Such topics might include prayer. Yale University. Siraj al-Hidaya: Malfuzat-i Husayn al-maºruf bi Jalal al-din Makhdum-i jahaniyan Jahangasht. Steinfels. a point made repeatedly by scholars familiar with the 9 For the life and significance of Sayyid Jalal al-din. though Urdu has become the language of choice in the past two centuries. usually referred to as Jamiº al-ºulum) compiled by ºAlaª al-din Husayni in 1379 and 1380.History of Religions 59 fuzat have a variant structure in which a shaykh’s teachings are organized into chapters according to topic.. Arabic and Persian. My examination of the genre is based on several malfuzat compiled by the disciples of Sayyid Jalal al-din Husayn Bukhari (1308–84). They also often included significant amounts of quoted material in Arabic and sometimes verses in the vernacular languages. Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya. the virtues of the family of the Prophet. Kitabkhana-yi Data Ganjbakhsh. At the time of their compilation. “The Travels and Teachings of Sayyid Jalal al-din Husayn Bukhari (1308–1384)” (Ph. They are also particularly valuable because there are a number of compilations done by different disciples at different times in Jalal al-din’s life. see Amina M. the late fourteenth century. political. but Jalal al-din Bukhari’s record stands out. There are seven titles described as malfuzat of Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari of which I have used four: Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya (Treasury of Jalalian morals) compiled by Ahmad Bhatti between 1351 and 1366. 1983). Since they present a detailed depiction of Sufi life in its social context. Madras. the literary language of South Asian Islamic society. Ghulam Sarwar (Islamabad: Markaz-i tahqiqat-i farsi-yi Iran o Pakistan. ed. the manners of initiation and discipleship. and Siraj al-hidaya (Lamp of guidance).9 Jalal al-din Bukhari’s malfuzat are some of the earliest extant Suhrawardi examples of this genre. Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari was the leading shaykh of the Suhrawardi Sufi order and one of the most influential and widely respected religious figures of his day. Islamabad. ed. Muhammad Ghaznawi. Government Oriental Manuscripts Library. ºAlaª al-din Husayni. . Khulasat al-alfaz-i jamiº al-ºulum (Abstract of the words of the collector of knowledge. 1992). Having four separate texts devoted to a single figure allows not only a rich description of Jalal al-din Bukhari’s life and teachings but also a fuller understanding of the nature of malfuzat texts. malfuzat had become an established genre beyond the confines of the Chishti order. MS 1090. diss. legal rulings on dietary issues. Khulasat al-alfaz-i jamiº al-ºulum. MS 15427. malfuzat are an invaluable source of information on social. Tuhfat al-saraªir (Gift of secrets) compiled by Muhammad Ghaznawi in 1376. and so on.

these texts contain much incidental material on the various activities of their masters. Askari have very productively mined various malfuzat for this type of information. 1961). Ultimately. Desai. and even pasttimes of particular periods and localities. malfuzat can be used to explore such disparate issues as the culinary habits. Muhammad Aslam. Khaliq A. Malfuz Literature as a Source of Political. pp. 62–84. it also seems obvious that the disciple is the author: he has usually in11 S.12 Some of the issues that need to be addressed are the complex relationships between shaykh and disciple-amanuensis. who is responsible for the content of the malfuzat? In bibliographies. is the question of how and why such all-inclusive compendia of historical data and religious doctrine were created. Thus. the authorship is sometimes attributed to the disciple who compiled it and sometimes to the shaykh whose teachings it contains. While most medieval historical writing focused on the royal courts and military campaigns. the key to understanding the structure of the malfuzat is the master-disciple relationship in premodern Sufism and the nature of spiritual authority generated by it. library catalogs. Z. Nizami. 1995). malfuzat illuminate whole other segments of Indo-Muslim society. economic conditions. malfuzat are explicitly claiming to be the words spoken by the shaykh. 2 above). the ambiguity of their authorship. a passive participial noun meaning “uttered” or “utterance. However. and the relation between form and function. Nizami. A. H. topography. Some Aspects of Religion and Politics in India during the Thirteenth Century (Bombay: Asia Publishing House. vernacular languages. Why is there this confusion? Malfuzat is the plural form of malfuz. 1991). What has been neglected in the study of malfuzat. Social and Cultural History of Gujrat and Rajasthan (Patna: Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library. A. and even the title page of printed works. Punjab University. Desai.11 The historical importance of these texts has led to an attempt to determine the authenticity of particular malfuzat. Z. Askari. not literary texts produced by disciples. 12 Ernst (n. and S. besides Carl Ernst’s useful comments in this direction. the question of authorship Malfuzat are puzzling texts. H. Maktub and Malfuz Literature as a Source of Socio-Political History (Patna: Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library. .60 Sufi Genre of Malfuzat genre. 1981). Khaliq A. and Muhammad Aslam has summarized the historical value of twenty-nine malfuzat texts from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. whether it is actually by the disciple and about the shaykh that is claims to be. that is. Because of the authors’ tendencies to include almost everything that happens to or is done by the shaykhs in the presence of their disciples. Malfuzati adab ki tarikhi ahmiyat (The historical importance of malfuzat literature) (Lahore: Idara-yi tahqiqat-i Pakistan. and the first puzzle presented to the reader is the question of authorship: whose words are being read.” Therefore.

Furthermore. explaining when and where he was in the company of his master and frequently citing earlier malfuzat as his models. Despite this obvious authorial-editorial role of the disciples. The two richest malfuzat of Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari each follow a different format. At the same time. the claim made by the label malfuzat. the purpose of such . As mentioned earlier. Husayni. Husayni appears as a participant in the events and conversations recorded. Therefore. he has removed most of the narrative context for those teachings. In contrast. with editorial input from both. almost wholly absents himself from the context of Jalal al-din Bukhari’s teachings. or prayers to make sure that the disciple had the correct spelling or formulation. and by reading and commenting on the completed text. In some cases. spoken by the master but written by the disciple. Husayni includes as much as possible of whatever he saw and heard Jalal al-din Bukhari do. produces a text in which both disciple and master are more vivid presences. verses. the malfuzat are a collaborative project. is not a lie. by not editing his master’s teachings he allows a richer image of Jalal al-din Bukhari to appear—as a teacher. Thus. In this sense then. Though the compilers of the malfuzat may sometimes include their own religious experiences and questions. the master might involve himself in the shaping of the written text by suggesting specific points that the disciple should include. the compiler of Jamiº al-ºulum. stating his intention to compile the teachings of his master. The words of the shaykh make up the greater portion of most malfuzat texts. It is the disciple who chooses which of these two patterns to follow and thus exercises significant control over the form of the final text. in rearranging the teachings by topic. or at least the speaker of the words preserved. Bhatti. the compiler of Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya. that these texts are the words of the master. malfuzat either follow a diary structure or are organized into topical chapters. and Jamiº al-ºulum is a day-by-day record. Since he has arranged Jalal aldin’s teachings according to topic. a mystic. While that means that neither he nor any other specifically named disciples make much of an appearance in the text. Within his diary format.History of Religions 61 cluded a preface with his own name. Bhatti is a constant editorial presence pushing Jalal al-din’s free-flowing teaching style into a narrow mold. Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya is organized by topic. and an interlocutor of royalty. by writing down choice quotes. the shaykh is also an author of these texts. The two formats reveal the editorial-authorial activity of the compilers in different ways while simultaneously functioning as strategies of effacement in which the master’s teachings are presented with as little interference as possible. it also means that Jalal al-din’s personality is obscured. Husayni’s abilities as a writer and narrator of events are also more apparent. an old man looking back over his life.

for example. Vt. are simply conversation. textual explanation. and they provide some of the most interesting insights into the shaykh’s personality. about. M. Thackston as Signs of the Unseen: The Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi (Putney. including informal conversation. In each of the different texts devoted to Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s teachings. in looking at several malfuzat of the same figure. it is the master’s speaking voice. 360. such as Jalal al-din Rumi’s Fihi ma f ihi or ºAbd al-Qadir Jilani’s so-called Malfuzat. being in debt or the influence of young concubines. 14 Jamiº al-ºulum. and historically significant. it is possible to distinguish a number of different modes and activities. In the teaching sessions or conversations of Sufi masters recorded in the malfuzat. hagiographic. and. In the solutions to legal problems. it is the master’s voice that unites them and makes them into a coherent body of work. 1994). we can sense the same intelligent. he reminisces about the same events and people and quotes from the same texts. that we find in the malfuzat.: Threshold. and other interactions between the shaykh and his audience.14 Though perhaps not meant as educational. confusing. minilectures. Ultimately. Muhtar Holland (Houston: Al-Baz. 13 Translated by W. However. as well as in commonplace conversations. much of what he said in conversation had a didactic purpose and was not idle chatter. therefore. this mode is most apparent in Jamiº al-ºulum since that work records in detail the compiler’s daily witness of Jalal al-din’s activity. Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s voice as embodied in his malfuzat is present in four modes: incidental. and orthodox mind at work. 1992).62 Sufi Genre of Malfuzat inclusions is always to provide the context for the master’s interpretation or explanation. the voice of the shaykh Unlike compilations of formal discourses or discreet lectures. . Among Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s malfuzat. and what he chose to say with it. autobiographical. the compiler felt compelled to include these comments. South Asian malfuzat record actual teaching sessions. pp.13 It is this presentation of the full range of teaching activities that produces the variety of subject matter that makes malfuzat texts fascinating. 107. Utterances of Shaikh ºAbd al-Qadir al-Jilani (Malfuzat). and scholarly. pragmatic. rather than textual or editorial participation. some of his comments. 470. the incidental voice. Jalal al-din Bukhari was nearly constantly focused on the education and enlightenment of those around him. The first of these. trans. It is the master’s voice. that gives unity and coherence to each malfuzat. is the master’s participation in conversation with his disciples and guests.

it seems clear that a coherent life narrative was being purposefully disseminated by him or elicited by his audience.” “to establish one’s family background. 89a. . certain significant events in Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s life are narrated by him repeatedly. especially when the events in question cannot be confirmed by outside observers. His travels to Mecca and Medina occupy a central place in these anecdotes.History of Religions 63 The master’s recollection of events from his own life. In order to have disciples interested in collecting one’s teachings. and didactic nature of these anecdotes.”16 To claim authority and authorization was equally of importance to the Sufi shaykh and was necessitated by the lineage system of medieval Sufism. was delivered orally and in fragments over many months. Thus. 421–22. along with accounts of his interactions with shaykhs of various orders and the acquisition of khirqas (initiatic robes) from them. Given the repetition.15 The events in Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s life that are highlighted by repetition—his visit to the holy cities and his instruction. 1334) that he was a qutb (lit. pp. 17 Biographical material played a role in establishing the authority of not only individual figures but also whole schools of doctrine and practice. might also be considered idle chatter if it were not for the structured. Stories that substantiate this authority would also be of particular interest to his disciples. and how he was told in a dream by his own deceased master Rukn al-din Multani (d. 18 Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya. 177–78. 3 above). though coherent and consistent. pp. Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari repeatedly tells how the prophet Muhammad spoke to him from his tomb in Medina to confirm that he was a sayyid (descendant of the Prophet). As such it should be distinguished from the genre of autobiographical writing discussed in Reynolds. initiation. Thus. axis. that is. 35. the authenticity of whose spiritual training and religious learning depends on the legitimacy of their master. 16 Ibid. 194. As Dwight Reynolds and colleagues have pointed out. and investiture by numerous shaykhs—are those which serve to authenticate his legitimacy as a Sufi master and an authority on religious matters.18 15 This autobiographical narrative. and the shaykh’s awareness that malfuzat were being compiled by his disciples. See Mojaddedi (n. repetitive. 160.17 This focus on claims to status and spiritual authority can often appear as boasting. the value of the malfuzat text itself depends on the authority of the saint whose words are enshrined in it. 2 above). the Sufi shaykh has to claim the authority and authorization to initiate and to teach. a rank of sainthood). Ultimately.” and “to delineate one’s acquired authority. ed. some of the motivations of Arabic autobiographical writing were “to portray one’s place within the larger transmission of knowledge. Jamiº al-ºulum. p. (n. sometimes with slight variations.. fols. the autobiographical mode. over the course of months or years. 247.

he refers to recognized holy figures and asks how he can be compared with such men. he says he is not one and claims only to be a representative of his predecessors. p. 192. 335–36. Thus. 578. 138a–b. he also frequently adopts a tone of self-deprecation. fols. On the one hand. was something of a coup. was itself something of which Jalal al-din boasts. Tughluq (r. 1364) insisted on bringing him food because he was a sayyid.64 Sufi Genre of Malfuzat One anecdote recounted several times by Jalal al-din Bukhari is particularly interesting for its implications. 420. he responds to his own disciples’ flattery with gentle negations. who feared that he would become proud. 260a–b. 35. . 21 Jamiº al-ºulum. 1366) was astonished and impressed by his humility in praying behind. as well as his obedience to his spiritual master rather than his temporal ruler.20 While many of Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s autobiographical anecdotes reaffirm his status as a Sufi master and a saint. fols. rather than on. Anecdotes about the shaykh’s interactions with his own spiritual guides overlap with the next category of speech. pp. 568–69. 10. Furthermore. Jamiº al-ºulum.21 In both of these examples Sayyid Jalal al-din’s humility is expressed through a deferral of authority and sanctity to his own spiritual masters. Jamiº al-ºulum. Absolute obedience and humble respect. Sayyid Jalal al19 Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya. When they speak of his miracles. the positions frequented by his South Asian masters Nasir al-din Chiragh-i Dihli and Rukn al-din Multani. 20 Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya. Sometime in the late 1330s Jalal al-din was appointed by the ruler Sultan Muhammad b. is the requisite attitude of a Sufi aspirant toward his or her spiritual guides. instead left India to go on pilgrimage. 1325– 50) to the position of regional shaykh al-islam (head of the Sufi shaykhs) with control over forty Sufi hospices. in his rejection of the position Sayyid Jalal al-din proved his own spiritual purity and disinterestedness. in Mecca. Jalal al-din was also fond of recounting how. Tuhfat al-saraªir. On the other hand. Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari recalls that. even as Jalal al-din protested that he was Matari’s humble pupil. in Medina. his shaykh ºAbdallah al-Yafiºi (d. hagiography. 419. Sayyid Jalal al-din is making a number of different claims about his own status. pp. authenticated by praise from his masters. to have been honored by him with such a title. For example. on the posthumous advice of Rukn al-din Multani. Sultan Muhammad b. the value of investiture. Tughluq was notorious for his poor relations with the Sufi community. When they call him a shaykh. Humility. Jalal al-din chose not to hold this position for very long and.19 In recounting this event. and initiation by a particular shaykh depends partly on the sanctity of that shaykh. even awe. awareness of which is shown through acts of humility. therefore. his teacher ºAfif al-din al-Matari (d. instruction. pp.

therefore. a significant portion of Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s malfuzat consists of quoted material. The Doctrine of the Sufis (Kitab al-Taºarruf li-madhab ahl altasawwuf ) (Cambridge: University Press. of his own authority as their disciple. Much of what he tells about the saints of Multan. hadith. For a recent study of ºAwarif al-maºarif. both genuine and spurious. But the difficulty of isolating any one element in this mixture serves a purpose—it reinforces the idea that there are no breaks between what the disciple learned. Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari acted as a teacher of hadith. of the Chishti saints were a source of information about them.22 The quotation and explication of texts is part of what I call the “scholarly mode” of the shaykh’s voice. compendia of legal decisions. nor was he a witness to all the pious deeds or miracles of the saints. Arberry. chorus or cacophony? A text that switches from a frame narrative by the compiler (in Persian) to anecdotes and explanations by Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari (in Persian and Arabic) to hadith (in Arabic) to extracts from collections of legal decisions (in Arabic) to fragments of poetry (in Persian and Arabic) creates a confusion between the different voices and sources. The malfuzat. there is also a wide range of borrowed text. Points of Arabic grammar and vocabulary were another component of his instruction. But such accounts of the saintly nature of various people he has known also serve the purposes of illustrating the nature of sainthood and of providing a legitimizing source for various ideas and practices. Qurªan. Because of the use of received texts in his teaching.) This means that in addition to the authorial voices of the compilers and Sayyid Jalal al-din. and Sufi practice through the transmission and explanation of texts. Thus. Striving for Divine Union (London: RoutledgeCurzon. what Jalal al-din taught. his predecessors in the Suhrawardi order. what we might call the voices of tradition—quotations from the Qurªan. Jalal al-din’s quotation of poetry demonstrated a different aspect of his learning. 2003).. law. Standard Sufi texts such as Shihab al-din al-Suhrawardi’s ºAwarif al-maºarif and Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Kalabadhi’s al-Taºarruf li madhhab ahl al-tasawwuf provided quotes from earlier figures. Finally. He also used these sources to give answers to legal problems raised by his disciples. was probably derived from the local oral tradition of the order. and Sufi handbooks—add to the polyphonic nature of the malfuzat. see Qamar-ul Huda. J.History of Religions 65 din Bukhari’s tales about his own shaykhs are an affirmation of those shaykhs’ spiritual authority and. Not every saint discussed by Sayyid Jalal al-din was personally known to him. and the mainstream orthodox tradition of Islam (as he 22 A. 1935). (It is not always clear whether it is Jalal al-din or the compiler doing the quoting. trans. .

as an orthodox. The biographical narratives are lost in a wilderness of legal arguments. in favor of Madarik al-tanzil by al-Nasafi (d. legal rules. On the other hand. first and foremost. Therefore. form and function The mixture of materials present in the malfuzat is related to their multiple functions. passed back from the disciple to Jalal al-din. these figures. is on principle opposed to bidºat (innovation). not to pick holes in it.23 The disciple never contradicts the shaykh. legalistic Sunni. they are all used to support coherent and unified doctrinal points. interrupted. and Sufi practice. Similarly. between the compilers and Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari is representative of the appropriate attitude adopted by a disciple toward his shaykh. his authority as a shaykh depends on his initiatory links to past shaykhs and saints. The lack of explicit contradiction. Furthermore. 76–77. and his disciples. Given the hybrid product. despite the multiplicity of voices in the malfuzat. or even analytic distance. they are acting as textbooks and anthologies summarizing Islamic doctrine. rather than isolating the distinct elements and simply producSee also Ernst (n. as biography-hagiography of the shaykh. and the shaykh never quotes textual sources in order to dispute or disprove them. and from him to past masters and to the whole textual tradition. The disciple’s purpose is to absorb whatever it is that his shaykh is teaching him. p. must show that what he teaches is derived from received knowledge. 2 above). Thus.66 Sufi Genre of Malfuzat presented it). On the one hand. is reflected in the problem of finding the author of a malfuzat text. the Qurªan commentary by the Mutazilite al-Zamakhshari (d. pp. the malfuzat are narrating life stories: as a memoir of the disciple’s time with the shaykh. have to be called on to demonstrate the continuity between their spiritual authority and Jalal al-din’s. why did the compilers of the malfuzat choose this format. For the reader. What he says must conform to Qurªan and hadith. 24 23 . too. 549). 10 above]. disorganized. The one exception to this is Jalal al-din’s advice to his disciples to abandon al-Kashshaf ºan haqaªiq al-tanzil. and to the accepted legal and Sufi texts.24 If there are controversial points they are explained away so that the text and the teaching are reconciled. The doctrinal expositions are fragmented. the blending of these two different modes makes each one less effective. and sometimes arranged by order of explanation rather than by logical development. Jalal al-din. and as the autobiography of the shaykh. The way in which authority to teach or guide is constantly deferred. 1144). 1310) (Jamiº al-ºulum [n. and therefore he. Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s authority as a teacher depends on his mastery of texts. for these texts to be worthy of such an authoritative role it must be assumed that they are also all in conformity with each other and with the Qurªan and hadith.

But beyond this. 76–77. p. has already been noted briefly by Ernst.” Journal of Islamic Studies 3. 234.”26 No Sufi handbook claims to replace the guidance of a shaykh without which any aspirant on the Sufi path is lost. the point of the malfuzat is to allow those who cannot learn from the shaykh in person. The guidance and charisma of a Sufi shaykh and saint have to be personally experienced by the disciple in order to receive the benefit of his spiritual standing.. “Introduction. “Oral Transmission and the Book in Islamic Education: The Spoken and the Written Word. “Hagiography in Medieval Marathi Literature. As Husayni.”27 “What they [hagiographers] sought in writing about the lives of saints was their company. literally one who has ‘seen’ a master. pp.” Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari said much the same thing: “Those who have not been with me. wrote: “[Reading and understanding this] will be as if one were in the company of the speaker of these words (sahib-i malfuz).”28 If hagiography 25 Ibid. Callewaert and Rupert Snell (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz.”25 Thus. . both Hindu and Muslim. one who has benefited from the oral teachings and also the presence (hudur) of the master who embodies those teachings and who renews and revives them through the very act of living their truths. such as irrelevant jokes and complaints made by Jalal al-din and his companions? In other words. this will suffice for them. why did the compilers choose a form that obscured both the educational and the biographical information being presented? Partly. it is the compiler’s desire to efface himself behind the words of his shaykh. As Seyyed Hossein Nasr writes: “In gnosis. the compiler of Jamiº al-ºulum. as facilitating a “retrospective dar¶ana (seeing) of their subject. to receive the same benefits as his disciples and students. 166. the reason for the structure of the malfuzat can be found in their overriding purpose: to reproduce the experience of being in the presence of the shaykh. The malfuzat try to remedy this difficulty by reproducing the whole experience of a saint’s company: everything he taught. did.” in According to Tradition: Hagiographical Writing in India. Similar language has been used to describe the writing of South Asian hagiography. 27 Rupert Snell. 9. that is. Tulpule. 1 (1992): 9. a person who is said to have really studied the subject is called ustad didah. 1994). 28 S. as in philosophy. pp. But it is impossible for all of those who would wish to be among the disciples of a famous figure like Jalal al-din really to sit in his presence.History of Religions 67 ing biographies. G. rather than asserting the authorial stance necessary to produce biography or handbook. 3. no. and the quoted texts. Winand M. eds. ed. or anthologies? And why did they include material with no apparent informational or didactic purpose. or be guided by him on the Sufi path. This point. or said. 26 Seyyed Hossein Nasr. p.” in Callewaert and Snell. as well as some of my further analysis.. synthetic religious handbooks.

malfuzat texts try to preserve or capture the compiler’s actual experience of being with the saint. This de-emphasis of the visual is in contrast to the notion of darshan. that the malfuzat attempt to reproduce the presence of the shaykh. there would be no need to record his every action. But.30 It is ultimately his speech. experiencing the holy through sight. If everything he knew and taught was already in books or could take the form of commentary on books and lists of instructions. reading. that is reproduced in the malfuzat and that embodies Sayyid Jalal al-din’s presence for the reader. and teaching particular texts. malfuzat are remarkably effective. All the quotations from Qurªan. 28. these quotes are also part of that representation. and ritual requirements. In their attempt to preserve the personality and the flavor of a saint’s presence. But this cannot be transferred to the reader of the malfuzat. His immediate. the malfuzat also contain much that did not originate in Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari’s speech. This is where it becomes clear that to his disciples Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari was not just a teacher of texts. so prevalent in South Asian religion. which is his speech. particularly in the process of initiation. what he says and how he says it. legal points. assimilates those texts into his teaching. seeing the shaykh. Visual experience. 1 above). that are not his words in the sense that he did not make them up. p. audience experiences his presence by hearing him teach (which is why they are an audience). hadith. It is particularly in the aspect of speaking that Jalal al-din is recreated for the reader. allows us to understand the inclusion of all the different things that Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari said. these quotations are there precisely because they reveal a particular aspect of his presence as a teacher and scholar. And since it is his speech that represents his presence to the reader. who has spent his whole life learning. and other texts could be understood as a barrier between the shaykh’s presence and the reader of the malfuzat. Lawrence (n. actual. as pointed out earlier. What they demonstrate is the degree to which an individual like Sayyid Jalal al-din. Physical contact plays a part in the relationship between the shaykh and his disciples. 30 29 .”29 the presence of the shaykh This idea. does not seem to have great significance for the authors of the malfuzat—they contain no descriptions of his appearance.68 Sufi Genre of Malfuzat tries to create an (imaginary) moment in which the author and reader can be in the presence of a long dead saint. As Bruce Lawrence has said of Fawaªid al-fuªad’s representation of Nizam al-din Awliyaª: “We hear him crying and laughing and praying. what I have called his different voices. However.

it is the daily life and the manner in which the saint lives and teaches that is represented. pp. 176–98. “Religious Literature and the Inscription of Identity: The Sufi Tadkhira Tradition in Muslim South Asia. there is also a significant difference between the two types of preservation. the malfuzat also serve as a continuation or furtherance of his educational and spiritual project. it is the content of the shaykh’s teaching that comes through most clearly. . The tomb preserved not only the physical remains of the saint but was also the most likely place to come into contact with.History of Religions 69 The different organizational schemes adopted in the malfuzat represent different emphases in the portrayal of the shaykh. Mount Holyoke College 31 Marcia K. Just as he did.” The Muslim World 87 (July–October 1997): 326– 27. though that is present. the malfuzat is the place to learn what a shaykh had to teach. Hermansen.” in Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia. ed. In works organized by topic. such as Khizanat al-fawaªid al-jalaliya. David Gilmartin and Bruce Lawrence (Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Marcia Hermansen has commented on the association between tadhkiras (memorials or hagiographies) and graveyards as two sites and means of memorialization. In their preservation of a Sufi master’s personality and instruction long after his death. or receive a communication from. 2000). In works organized on a diary model. the focus of the parallel between malfuzat and tombs is in their preservation of the spiritual function of the saint as guide and teacher. the texts instruct the reader on numerous points of law and doctrine as well as disseminating hadith and particular authoritative Arabic works of law and religious practice. In their reproduction of the Sufi master’s teachings. such as Jamiº al-ºulum and the classic Chishti malfuzat. “Indo-Persian Tazkiras as Memorative Communications.31 Rather than memorialization. Hermansen and Bruce B. the malfuzat can be compared with that other structure by which the power of saints is preserved after death: the tomb. While the tomb might be an ongoing source of charismatic and miraculous power. Lawrence. the dead saint. Marcia K. usually of a communal or local nature. However.

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