The Emergence of Early Sufi Piety and Sunnī Scholasticism

ʿAbdallāh b. al-Mubārak and the Formation of Sunnī Identity in the Second Islamic Century


In the figure of ʿAbdallāh b. al-Mubārak (118–181/736–797), we find a paragon of the fields of ḥadīth, zuhd, and jihād, as attested to by the large number of references to him in the classical Islamic texts. His superior rank as a ḥadīth transmitter earned him the title “commander of the faithful” in ḥadīth. He contributed to Islamic law at its early phases of development, practiced jihād, composed poetry, and participated in various theological discussions. In addition, Ibn al-Mubārak was a pioneer in writing on piety and was later regarded by many mystics as one of the earliest figures of Sufism. Ibn al-Mubārak’s position during the formative period of Islamic thought illustrates the unique evolution of zuhd, ḥadīth, and jihād; these form a junction in the biography of Ibn al-Mubārak in a way that distinctively illuminates the second/eighth-century dynamics of nascent Sunnī identity. Furthermore, Ibn al-Mubārak’s status as a fighter and pious figure of the Late Antique period reveals a great deal about the complex relationship between the early Muslim community and the religiously diverse setting which it inhabited. This critical and comprehensive monograph of ʿAbdallāh b. al-Mubārak situates him within the larger context of the social and religious milieu of Late Antiquity. It explores the formation of Sunnī identity in the second Islamic century and demonstrates the way in which it manifested itself through networks of pious scholars who defined, preserved, and passed on what they understood to be normative Islamic practice and beliefs from one generation of Muslim intellectuals to another.

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Biographical Note
Feryal Salem, PhD (University of Chicago, 2013) is Assistant Professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law at the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary.
Table of contents
1 Biography of ʿAbdallāh b. al-Mubārak
The Sources of Ibn al-Mubārak’s Biography
ʿAbdallāh b. al-Mubārak: His Life and Career as Presented in Classical Texts
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Recording of Ḥadīths through Writing
Ibn al-Mubārak the Merchant
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Fiqh
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Theology
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Jihād
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Role in Ḥadīth Transmission
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Zuhd
2 ʿAbdallāh b. al-Mubārak and Ḥadīth
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Role in Ḥadīth Transmission
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Unpublished Books
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Published Works
Teachers and Students of ʿAbdallāh b. al-Mubārak
Ibn al-Mubārak and the Ḥadīth Networks in the Second/Eighth
3 Jihād in the Career of Ibn al-Mubārak
The Thughūr before Ibn al-Mubārak
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Martial Pursuits as Depicted in the Classical Sources
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Kitāb al-Jihād
Transmitters of the Kitāb al-Jihād
Intentions and Jihād
4 Ibn al-Mubārak and His Zuhd
What is Zuhd?
Ibn al-Mubārak: The Rich Ascetic
Ibn al-Mubārak’s Kitāb al-Zuhd
Analysis of the Kitāb al-Zuhd
The Genre of Books on Zuhd (Kutub al-Zuhd)
Bibliography of Primary Sources
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Index of Names
Index of Subjects
All undergraduates, graduate students, and educated readers interested in understanding the foundations of Sunni Islam and Sufism.
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