Sainthood and Authority in Early Islam: Al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī’s Theory of wilāya and the Reenvisioning of the Sunnī Caliphate

Author: Aiyub Palmer
In Sainthood and Authority in Early Islam Aiyub Palmer recasts wilāya in terms of Islamic authority and traces its development in both political and religious spheres up through the 3rd and 4th Islamic centuries. This book pivots around the ideas of al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī, the first Muslim theologian and mystic to write on the topic of wilāya.

By looking at its structural roots in Arab and Islamic social organization, Aiyub Palmer has reframed the discussion about sainthood in early Islam to show how it relates more broadly to other forms of authority in Islam. This book not only looks anew at the influential ideas of al-Tirmidhī but also challenges current modes of thought around the nature of authority in Islamicate societies.

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Aiyub Palmer, Ph.D. (2015), University of Michigan, is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islam at the University of Kentucky. He has written on the topic of wilāya in Sufism and has published an article on the influence of al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī’s ideas on the development of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s notion of wilāya ( Journal of Sufi Studies, 2018).
'Dr. Palmer’s thoughtful and well documented examination of the rise and development of the concept of “sainthood” in ascetic-mystical Islam is intimately relevant to the ongoing intellectual and theological debates in the Muslim world and in Muslim diaspora communities over normative notions of Islamic doctrine and practice.'
Alexander Knysh, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
List of Abbreviations
System of Transliteration for Arabic Letters

 0.1 The Study of Islamic Sainthood
 0.2  Wilāya/Walāya in the Qurʾān and Ḥadīth Literature
 0.3 The Cult of Saints
 0.4 Sainthood and Authority in the Age of Sanctification
 0.5 Methodology
 0.6 Sources
 0.7 Thematic Classification of al-Tirmidhī’s Works
0.7.1  Wilāya
0.7.2  Disciplining the Lower Self
0.7.3  Esoteric Vocabulary
0.7.4  Esoteric Interpretation
0.7.5  Polemical and Theological Works
0.7.6  Knowledge and Men of Learning
0.7.7  Moral and Ethical Teachings
0.7.8  Correspondence
0.7.9  Autobiography
 0.8 Secondary Sources
1 Wilāya/Walāyaand the Basis of Authority in Early Islam
 1.1 Introduction
 1.2 The Language of Authority
 1.3  Wilāya/walāya as a Socio-political Construct in Early Islam
 1.4  Walāʾ as a Pattern of Social Relations in the Umayyad Period
 1.5 The ʿAbbāsid Revolution: Wilāya and Walāya in Action
 1.6 Legal Authority and the Development of the Schools of Law
 1.7 The Ḥanābila as a Solidarity Group
 1.8  Wilāya/Walāyaand the Rise of the Ṣūfiyya
 1.9 The Appearance of the Awliyāʾ
 1.10 Al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī and the Early Awliyāʾ
2 The Historical and Social Context of Al-Tirmidhī’s Life and Times
 2.1 Introduction
 2.2 Al-Tirmidhī’s Clash with the Local ʿUlamāʾ
 2.3 The Scholarly Class or the ʿUlamāʾ
 2.4 The Shīʿīs and the Ṣūfī Alternative
 2.5 Al-Tirmidhī and the Shīʿī Challenge
 2.6 Clientage ( walāʾ) as a Social basis for Understanding Sunnī Authority
 2.7 The Wilāya-authority Paradigm
3 Wisdom Mediates the Terrestrial and Celestial
 3.1 The Importance of Ḥikma
 3.2 Ḥikma and the Ḥakīm in the Near East
 3.3  Ḥikma and the Ḥakīm in Jewish and Christian Thought (7th- and 10th-centuries ce)
 3.4  Ḥikma and the Ḥakīm in 9th- and 10th-Century ce Khurāsān and Transoxania
 3.5  Ḥikma and the Ḥakīm among the Ṣūfīs
 3.6  Ḥikma and the Ḥakīm among the Early Ismāʿīlī Shīʿīs
 3.7  Ḥikma and the Ḥakīm in the Theosophy of al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī
 3.8 The Uṣūlī Roots of Ḥikma
4 The Theological Significance of Wilāya
 4.1 Al-Tirmidhī’s Scholarly Background
 4.2 Major Texts of the Ḥanafī Theological Tradition
 4.3 The Development of Ḥanafī Theology
 4.4 Al-Tirmidhī’s Ḥanafī Credentials
 4.5 Al-Tirmidhī’s Ḥanafī Theology
 4.6 Al-Tirmidhī’s Relationship to Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī
 4.7 Al-Tirmidhī and the Later Ḥanafī Tradition
 4.8 Mysticism in the Ḥanafī Tradition
 4.9 The Effect of Ḥanafism on al-Tirmidhī’s Doctrine of Wilāya
 4.10 The Awliyāʾ in early Creedal Texts
5 Al-Tirmidhī’s Gnoseology of Sainthood
 5.1 Introduction
 5.2 Sainthood in the Homilies of Isaac of Nineveh
 5.3 Sainthood in the 9th-Century ce
 5.4 The Light-basis of al-Tirmidhī’s Doctrine of Wilāya
 5.5 Restricting Sainthood
 5.6 The Optimism of al-Tirmidhī’s Doctrine of Wilāya
 5.7  Wilāya Creates a Third Space
 5.8 The Political Ramifications of Ḥikma
 5.9 The Khātim al-Awliyāʾ
 5.10 The “Hierarchy of Saints”
6 A Ṣūfī by Any Other Name: Al-Tirmidhī’s Relationship to Islamic Mysticism
 6.1 Introduction
 6.2 Was al-Tirmidhī a ‘Ṣūfī’?
 6.3 Sufism and Hellenism
 6.4 Early Sufism
 6.5 Al-Junayd and al-Tirmidhī Build on the Work of al-Muḥāsibī
 6.6 Nīshāpūr and the Development of Sufism as a Meta-Identity
 6.7 Al-Sarrāj and al-Kalābādhī
 6.8 Al-Sulamī and al-Qushayrī

All those interested in early Islamic history and Islamic notions of sainthood and authority. Also, anyone concerned with the ideas of al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī and early Muslim mystics and theologians.