Ibrahim Mansour

  • Fellowship Dates 2017-2017
  • Research Topic An Intellectual History of the Early Shadhili Order
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of California, Santa Barbara

This research explores the intellectual, doctrinal and spiritual history of the early Shādhilī tradition. Recent works have been primarily concerned with sociopolitical and cultural history, with little attention on the devotional literature of the Shādhilī order to delineate an intellectual and doctrinal history. In part due to this emphasis, the textual history of the Shādhilī tradition remains unexplored. The full range of prayer books, liturgical compositions, didactic treatises, hagiographical compendiums and spiritual narratives of the Shādhilī tradition not received proper academic treatment. Most of the relevant works have yet to be published in critical editions, and, in many cases, the relevant manuscripts still await identification. This research makes use of the considerable archival resources in Egypt to produce a study of the early Shādhilī tradition that incorporates the full range of such materials, including manuscripts. The study investigates the concept of tafwīḍ, or detachment, in the Shādhilī Sufi tradition, particularly how this concept is articulated and alluded to in the writings of the 13th-century Egyptian sage and scholar Shaykh Ibn ʿAṭāʾil- lāh al-Sakandarī. Despite its centrality to the Sufi tradition as a whole, the concept of tafwīḍ (as opposed to mere tawakkul) is widely misunderstood by those outside of the Sufi tradition, who understand it to be a sort of indolent, apathetic fatalism. This characterization is often employed to buttress critiques of the Islamic spiritual tradition as a whole, at whose feet the demise of the Muslim world is laid for its supposedly debilitating submissive pre-determinism. The importance of this study is both the salience of this teaching within the Sufi tradition and the degree to which those writing from outside of that tradition have distorted it beyond recognition. Perhaps even more disturbing is the degree to which such characterizations have begun to dominate the public imagination in the Muslim world, maligning the Islamic spiritual tradition in the public conscious. This research aims to elucidate one of the most salient – yet oft-misunderstood – teachings of one of the world’s richest spiritual traditions.

ThemeGods & Goddesses, Hieroglyphs & Literature, Language, ReligionHistoric PeriodIslamic, Medieval


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