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Al-Qushayri's Epistle on Sufism Al-Risala al-qushayriyya fi 'ilm al-tasawwuf

by Abu'l-Qasim Al-Qushayri translated by Professor Alexander D.Knysh 

reviewed by Dr Muhammad Eissa 

496 pages Pb 2007  UK 

Abd Ul Karim ibn Hawazin al-Qushayri, (Persian: عبدالکریم قُشَیری)(also Kushayri) was born in 986 CE in Nishapur which is in the Khurasan province of Iran.[1] This region was widely known as an epicenter of Islamic civilization up to the 13th Century CE.[2]

As a young man he received the education of an average young man of that time, but that all changed when he journeyed to the city of Nayasabur an d was introduced to the Sufi shaykh Abu Ali al-Dakkak. Al-Dakkak later became the master and teacher of the mystical ways to al-Qushayri. He later married the daughter of Al-Dakkak, Fatima. After the death of Abu Ali al-Dakkak, Al-Qushayri became the successor of his master and father in law and became the leader of mystic assemblies. The madrasa that Abu Ali al-Dakkak built in 1001 CE became known as Al-Madrasa al-Qushayriayya or “the madrasa of the Qushayri family. In later years al-Qushayri performed the pilgrimage as well as traveling to Baghdad and during these travels he heard hadith. Upon his return he began teaching hadith, which is something he is famous for. He returned to Baghdad where the Caliph had him perform hadith teachings in his palace. Political unrest in the region forced him to leave Naysabur, but was eventually able to return and lived there until his death in 1072. He left behind six sons and numerous daughters between Fatima and his second wife and was buried near al-madrasa al-Qushayriayya next to his father in-law Abu Ali al-Dakkak.
Lata'if al-Isharat bi Tafsir al-Qur'an is a famous work of al-Qushayri that is a complete commentary of the Qur'an. He determined that there were four levels of meaning in the Qur'an. First, the Ibara which is the meanings of the text meant for the mass of believers. Second, the ishara, is only available to the spiritual elite and lies beyond the obvious verbal meaning. Third, lata’if, which was subtleties in the text that were meant particularly for saints. And finally, the haqa’iq, which he said was only comprehensible by the prophets. This text placed him among the elite of the Sufi mystics and is widely used as a standard of Sufi thought.
His fame however, is gained mostly from his Risala, or ar-Risala al-Qushayriya, or Al-Qushayri's Epistle on Sufism.[4] This text is essentially a reminder to the people of his era that Sufis had authentic ancestral tradition as well as defending Sufism against the doubters that rose during that time of his life. It has sections where al-Qushayri discusses the creed of the Sufis, mentions important and influential Sufis from the past, and important terminology to Sufism and al-Qushayri’s interpretation of these Sufi terms. Al-Qushayri finally goes through specific practices of Sufism and the techniques of those practices.[5] This text has been used by many Sufi saints in later times as a standard and is shown by the many translations into the numerous Muslim languages.

This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 03 November, 2012.

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