Knowledge before Action
Islamic Learning and Sufi Practice in the Life of Sayyid Jalal al-din Bukhari Makhdum-I Jahaniyan
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
Series: Studies in Comparative Religion
List of Illustrations
Series Editor’s Preface
This is the “first ever critical academic evaluation of a figure exceedingly significant for understanding Islamic intellectual history in South Asia,” according to a distinguished scholar of Sufism in an external review of the manuscript as it was being considered for publication. ...
I would like to express my profound thanks to my mentor, Professor Gerhard Böwering, for his guidance, encouragement, and generosity, without which this project would have foundered long ago. Jamal J. Elias introduced me to the academic study of Sufism more than twenty years ago, ...
Note on Transliteration
Sufis tell stories. They tell stories to teach moral points or religious ideas, they tell stories of the pious or miraculous actions of past saints, and they tell stories of their own journey on the Sufi path. Anecdotes, myths, fables, hagiography, and personal reminiscences are all constant features of Sufi teaching. ...
Part One: The Education of a Sufi Shaykh
One: Initiation into the Sufi Path
By the time of his death in 784/1384, Makhdūm-i jahāniyān Sayyid Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī1 was a widely respected Sufi shaykh and a recognized authority on Islamic religious practice and the Islamic intellectual traditions. Bukhārī’s later status was largely a product of his learning and Sufi affiliations. ...
Two: Pilgrimage and Travel
According to the various travelogues ascribed to Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī, he truly deserved the title Jahāngasht (world-wanderer). In these tales, besides performing the hajj, Bukhārī roamed from one end of the Muslim world to the other, from Egypt to Kashmir, from Mount Sarandīb (Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka) to Mount Sinai to Mount Qāf, ...
Part Two: Teaching and Practice
Three: Book-Learning and Islamic Law
The twin concepts underlying Bukhārī's teachings were ‘ilm (knowledge) and ‘amal (action). ‘Ilm is an inescapable term in Islamic religious discourse and one with a rich semantic field.1 For Bukhārī, knowledge precedes action. While both knowledge and action are indispensable for his conception of the good Muslim and Sufi, knowledge has priority: ...
Four: Ritual and Practice
In the previous chapter, I discussed the place of ‘ilm, knowledge of Islamic law and the related religious sciences, in Bukhārī’s teaching. ‘Ilm, according to Bukhārī, is the prerequisite for ‘amal, the devotional and contemplative practices of a darwēsh, while the khirqa is a sign of the darwēsh’s commitment to such practices. ...
Five: Money, Non-Muslims, Women, and Saints
The primary means of support for Bukhārī, his khānqāh, and his disciples were unsought donations (futūḥ) from the community at large, especially its wealthiest members, the king and the nobility. Whether or not it was appropriate to accept such donations was a topic of some disagreement among Sufis at this time. ...
Part Three: Served by the Inhabitants of the World
Six: A Public Figure
Sayyid Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī, having established himself as the head of his family’s khānqāh in Uch and as the leading heir to the Suhrawardī lineage in India, spent the last few decades of his life as an increasingly well-known public figure. From the mid-750s/1350s onward, he was sought out, not only by would-be disciples and students, ...
For a Christian saint, death is the real beginning of one’s identification as a saint. For a Sufi saint too, though public recognition and activity as a holy person during one’s lifetime is important, death is not the end of one’s spiritual functions as guide, intercessor, and teacher. ...
While recent scholarship on Islam has grown increasingly nuanced, much of it continues to presume a binary opposition between legalistic orthodoxy and the mystical tradition of Sufism. There is an underlying presumption that mysticism and legalism, identified respectively with Sufis and the ‘ulama, are essentially two independent and oppositional trends within Islam. ...
Appendix A: Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī’s Khirqas
Appendix B: The Malfūẓāt of Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī
Appendix C: Works Attributed to Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī
Appendix D: Taẕkira Entries on Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī
Appendix E: Jalāl al-dīn Bukhārī’s Bibliography