Browse results


Edited by Joseph Verheyden

Solomon is one of the more complex and fascinating characters in the history of Israel. As a king he is second only to David. As the king who gave Israel its temple he is unsurpassed. As the prototype of the sage his name lives on in numerous biblical and non-biblical writings. As the magician of later tradition he has established himself as a model for many other aspirants in this field.

This volume contains the proceedings of an international conference on Solomon that was held at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Leuven, September 30 – October 2, 2009 and discussed various aspects of this multifaced character as he appears in Jewish, early Christian, and Islamic tradition.

Isaak von Ninive und seine Kephalaia Gnostika

Die Pneumatologie und ihr Kontext


Nestor Kavvadas

Isaac of Nineveh (7th century AD), or Isaac the Syrian, was, among all the Syriac writers, the one to exert the greatest influence outside the Syriac-speaking world, becoming a highly venerated Father of Byzantine Orthodox spirituality and theology. In Isaak von Nineve und seine Kephalaia Gnostika, Nestor Kavvadas first draws out the frictions between East Syrian episcopacy and the anchorite mystical movement as represented by Isaac, in search of the historical context of Isaac’s teaching on the working of the Holy Spirit on the monk. Then, he draws out of Isaac’s writings, and especially the Kephalaia Gnostika, the underlying structure of Isaac’s thought on the working of the Holy Spirit, with the tension here between the here and now and the ‘New World’ that can be momentarily anticipated in the present world.

Isaak von Ninive (7. Jh. n.Chr.), oder Isaak der Syrer, war unter allen Syrischen Autoren derjenige, der den größten Einfluss außerhalb der syrischsprachigen Welt ausübte, indem er ein besonders verehrter Vater der byzantinischen orthodoxen Spiritualität und Theologie wurde. In Isaak von Ninive und seine Kephalaia Gnostika zeichnet Nestor Kavvadas zuerst die Reibungen zwischen dem ostsyrischen Episkopat und der v.a. durch Isaak vertretenen, anachoretischen mystischen Strömung nach, auf der Suche nach dem historischen Kontext der Lehre Isaaks vom Wirken des Heiligen Geistes auf den Mönch. Dann rekonstruiert er aus den Schriften Isaaks, insbesondere aus den Kephalaia Gnostika, die Isaaks Denken vom Wirken des Heiligen Geistes zugrundeliegende Struktur; leitend ist hier die Spannung zwischen dem „hier und jetzt“ und der „Neuen Welt“, die in dieser Welt augenblicklich antizipiert werden kann.


Mahdi Tourage

This is the first systematic examination of the esoteric significance of the bawdy tales and explicit sexual passages present in Rūmī’s (d. 1273) Mathnawī, a masterpiece of medieval Perso-Islamic mystical literature and theosophic teachings. Using the relevant features of postmodern theories as strategic conceptual tools, and drawing on the recent interpretations of medieval kabbalistic texts, it is a fascinating examination of the link between the dynamics of eroticism and esotericism operative in Rūmī’s Mathnawī. In some of these bawdy tales, the phallus is used as an esoteric symbol. The book concludes that these tales are used primarily to communicate esoteric secrets, particularly when this communication is contemplated along gender lines, mediated through erotic imagery, or expressed in sexual terms.

Sufism in an Age of Transition

ʿUmar al-Suhrawardī and the Rise of the Islamic Mystical Brotherhoods


Erik Ohlander

Although the early thirteenth century was a critical period in the development of Sufism, it has received little scholarly attention. Based on heretofore unexplored sources, this book examines a pivotal figure from this period: the scholar, mystic, statesman, and eponym of one of the earliest ṭarīqa lineages, ʿUmar al-Suhrawardī. In situating Suhrawardī’s life work in its social, political, and religious contexts, this book suggests that his universalizing Sufi system was not only enmeshed within a broader economy of Muslim religious learning, but also furnished social spaces which allowed for novel modes of participation in Sufi religiosity. In doing so, this book provides a framework for understanding the increasingly ubiquitous presence of intentional Sufi communities and institutions throughout the late-medieval Islamic world.

Letters of a Sufi Scholar

The Correspondence of `Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (1641-1731)


Samer Akkach

As a leading Muslim thinker, ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī of Damascus creatively engaged with the social, religious, and intellectual challenges that emerged during the early modern period in which he lived. Yet, at a time of high anti-mystical fervour, his Sufi-inspired views faced strong local antipathy. Through extensive correspondence, presented here for the first time, ‘Abd al-Ghanī projected his ideas and teachings beyond the parochial boundaries of Damascus, and was thus able to assert his authority at a wider regional level. The letters he himself selected, compiled, and titled shed fresh lights on the religious and intellectual exchanges among scholars in the eastern Ottoman provinces, revealing a dynamic and rigorous image of Islam, one that is profoundly inspired by humility, tolerance, and love.


Bernd Radtke

Arabic texts dating from the 3rd-4th/9th-10th centuries by the following five authors are here presented: Abū Shaykh al-Burjulānī, Ibrāhīm al-Khuttalī, Ibn al-Naḥḥās, Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Rūdhabārī and Ibn Ḥamakān. The texts appear in transliteration along with a German translation. Their chains of transmission (isnāds) are analyzed and parallels with other authors are noted. The subject dealt with throughout is mystical piety. These highly interesting materials throw light on Islamic mysticism's early stage of development.

Islamic Mysticism

A Short History


Alexander Knysh

The book provides a general survey of the history of Islamic mysticism (Sufism) since its inception up to the modern time. It combines chronological and personality-based approaches to the subject with a thematic discussion of principal Sufi notions and institutions. Sufism is examined from a variety of different perspectives: as a vibrant social institution, a specific form of artistic expression (mainly poetic), an ascetic and contemplative practice, and a distinctive intellectual tradition that derived its vitality from a dialogue with other strands of Islamic thought. The book emphasizes the wide variety of Sufism's interactions with the society and its institutions from an ascetic withdrawal from the world to an active involvement in its affairs by individual Sufi masters and organizations.

Islamic Mysticism by Knysh is a comprehensive survey of the interesting and fascinating world of Islamic Mysticism.

Mysticism and Philosophy in al-Andalus

Ibn Masarra, Ibn al-ʿArabī and the Ismāʿīlī Tradition


Michael Ebstein

Muslim Spain gave rise to two unusual figures in the mystical tradition of Islam: Ibn Masarra (269/883-319/931) and Ibn al-ʿArabī (560/1165-638/1240). Representing, respectively, the beginning and the pinnacle of Islamic mysticism in al-Andalus, Ibn Masarra and Ibn al-ʿArabī embody in their writings a type of mystical discourse which is quite different from the Sufi discourse that evolved in the Islamic east during the 9th-12th centuries.
In Mysticism and Philosophy in al-Andalus, Michael Ebstein points to the Ismāʿīlī tradition as one possible source which helped shape the distinct intellectual world from which both Ibn Masarra and Ibn al-ʿArabī derived. By analyzing their writings and the works of various Ismāʿīlī authors, Michael Ebstein unearths the many links that connect the thought of Ibn Masarra and Ibn al-ʿArabī to the Ismāʿīlī tradition.


Anne K. Bang

In the period c. 1880-1940, organized Sufism spread rapidly in the western Indian Ocean. New communities turned to Islam, and Muslim communities turned to new texts, practices and religious leaders. On the East African coast, the orders were both a vehicle for conversion to Islam and for reform of Islamic practice. The impact of Sufism on local communities is here traced geographically as a ripple reaching beyond the Swahili cultural zone southwards to Mozambique, Madagascar and Cape Town. Through an investigation of the texts, ritual practices and scholarly networks that went alongside Sufi expansion, this book places religious change in the western Indian Ocean within the wider framework of Islamic reform.

Le pouvoir de guérir

Mythe, mystique et politique au Maroc


Zakaria Rhani

Au Maroc, les mythes fondateurs des cultes et rituels de guérison illustrent de manière probante les processus d’élaboration des significations et des dynamiques du pouvoir dans le passé proche et leurs articulations actuelles. Des dynamiques qui se déploient en termes généalogiques, initiatiques et en des capacités socialement reconnues de susciter une communication avec le monde surnaturel. L’analyse centrée sur la confrontation entre saints et rois permet, par ailleurs, d’élargir à la dimension nationale, et au-delà, le rapport, hiérarchique, de conflit et d’articulation entre charisme personnel et charisme sharifien. Le mythe et ses expressions rituelles ouvrent, ainsi, les possibilités du renouvellement sociopolitique par les marges, voire même, dans l’actualité, sous couleur d’une révolution à l’horizon d’un millénarisme du califat.

In Morocco, the founding myths of healing cults and rituals illustrate conclusively the elaboration of the symbolism and dynamics of power, both in local and national contexts. These dynamics unfold specifically in terms of genealogical representations and mystical initiations, as well as in socially-recognized capacities to communicate with the supernatural. The analysis centered on the confrontation of saints and kings permits the expansion, to the national level and beyond, of the hierarchical tensions between personal charisma and sharifian charisma. Thus, the myth and its ritual expressions open up possibilities for socio-political renewal by the margins, or even more a renewal, taking place presently, in the form of a revolutionary millenarianism.