Reading the Sufis as Scripture through the Sharḥ Mamzūj: Reflections on a Late-Medieval Sufi Commentary

In: Oriens
Matthew B. Ingalls
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This article examines Zakariyyā al-Anṣārī’s (d. 926/1520) Iḥkām ad-dalāla, a commentary on ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Qushayrī’s (d. 465/1072) Risāla on Sufism, particularly those areas where the commentator employs a legal language to relieve tensions between his worldview and that of the Sufis in the Risāla. The commentator’s approach effectively treats the Sufis’ lives as scripture and is a function of the integration of the legal, theological, and mystical realms within the worldview of late-medieval scholars. Moreover, a commentarial form known as the sharḥ mamzūj facilitated such an approach by endowing commentators with new forms of control over the received tradition while influencing the appreciation of such commentaries by increasing their processing fluency.

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