Some scholars have attempted to identify a distinctive, feminine spirituality among early Muslim renunciants and Sufis. Studies by Roded, Azad, Dakake, and Silvers are reviewed. Content analysis of Ibn al-Jawzī, Ṣifat al-ṣafwa, suggests that renunciant women and men (of the period before classical Sufism) were remembered for similar devotional activities in similar frequencies. The Damascene Yazīd b. Maysara (fl. earlier 2nd/8th cent.) is quoted as saying, “A reprobate woman is like a thousand reprobate men, while a virtuous woman will be credited with the work of a hundred male saints.” There is no room here to say that collections of renunciant sayings name surprisingly many saintly women, or that the tradition systematically suppressed reports of saintly women from disbelief in female saintliness. On the contrary, saintly women were part of the prevailing ideology.
Arezou Azad, ‘Female mystics in mediaeval Islam: the quiet legacy’, Journal of the economic and social history of the Orient56 (2013): 53–88, esp. 68–77. The story of her marriage to Abū Yazīd and his advice to her husband is earliest found in Abū Nuʿaym, Ḥilya, 10:42. Azad cites the slightly later account of Hujwīrī, Kashf al-maḥjūb, ed. Maḥmūd ʿĀbidī (Tehran: Surūsh, 1383), 183–4 = ed. Valentin Zhukovskii (Leningrad: Gosydarstvennaya Akademicheskaya Telegrafeya, 1926), 149–50.
Ibid., 132–3, substituting my own translation for Cornell’s: ‘A slave should not seek his Lord unless he resolves to see himself fulfill all of his service to God. For if the slave delays fulfilling his service near to his goal, it is as if he had failed to fulfill any of it.’
Sulamī, Early Sufi women, 116–17; Ibn al-Jawzī, Ṣifa, 4:27–8, § women of Basra. I think Cornell misinterprets the last pronoun suffix, whose natural antecedent seems to me to be ‘anyone’ (aḥad); that is, I see no reference here to the great ones’s possessions, rather Kurdiyya reports having no lust directly for any of the great ones (lit. ‘lords of the world’).
Marina Tolmacheva, ‘Female piety and patronage in the medieval “ḥajj” ’, in Women in the medieval Islamic world, ed. Gavin R. G. Hambly, The new Middle Ages 6 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), 161–79, at 165.