ʿAṭṭār’s Taḏkirat al-awliyāʾ and Jāmī’s Nafaḥāt al-uns

Two Visions of Sainthood

In: Oriente Moderno
Denise Aigle EPHE, CNRS UMR 8167, “Orient et Méditerranée”

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This article presents two famous collections of the lives of saints: ʿAṭṭār’s Taḏkirat al-awliyāʾ and Jāmī’s Nafaḥāt al-uns. Every collection of the lives of saints shares the common tradition of Arabic-language works. Indeed, Hujvīrī’s Kašf al-maḥjūb and Anṣārī’s Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyyah ensured the transition with Sufi literature written in Arabic. However, the Taḏkirat al-awliyāʾ is the first truly original work in Persian. ʿAṭṭār and Jāmī sought to make known to their respective communities of belief the words and deeds of spiritual masters, but they did so in two different ways. ʿAṭṭār chose a limited corpus of saints that, in his eyes, represented the primary movements of the first centuries of Sufism. Jāmī instead favoured exhaustiveness, amassing a great number of biographies, especially on the shaykhs of the Naqshbandi order. While Jāmī conveyed the paths of saintliness in accordance with the religious orthodoxy of his order, ʿAṭṭār showed a special attachment to the ecstatic masters. The Taḏkirat al-awliyāʾ and Nafaḥāt al-uns thus represent two different ways of commemorating the memory of the spiritual masters who embodied the mystical thought of Islam.

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