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Full Access Crafting Piety for Success: Gülşeniye Literature and Culture in the Sixteenth Century*

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Crafting Piety for Success: Gülşeniye Literature and Culture in the Sixteenth Century*

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Abstract Today, scholarship on Islamic mysticism mostly prioritizes the poetry and mystical teachings of famous Sufi masters, with limited efforts to historically contextualize them. One of the sub-branches of the Halvetī order, the Gülşeniye, while being an influential participant in early modern Ottoman politics and society, presents the historian of Sufism with a rare opportunity to approach this gap. Despite offering a wide range of untapped literary, hagiographical, and historical sources, studies on the Gülşeniye remain in the margins. Through Gülşeniye literary production, including poetry and hagio-biographies by dervish-authors, this article explores the mystical thought and piety of İbrāhīm-i Gülşeni (d. 940/1534), the founder of the Gülşenī order of dervishes in Egypt. Close textual analysis of sources reveals that Gülşenī’s inspirations formed the contours of the order’s early literature and culture. I argue that the Gülşeniye literary corpus, and the culture formed alongside it, was a product of changing socio-political environments, not a replica of the doctrines of the order’s founder. The shifts in the corpus unveil the order’s changing practical priorities and shed light on how the Gülşeniye secured a stable niche for itself in Ottoman Egypt in the sixteenth century.

Affiliations: 1: Texas A & M University USA

10.1163/221059512X626117
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Abstract Today, scholarship on Islamic mysticism mostly prioritizes the poetry and mystical teachings of famous Sufi masters, with limited efforts to historically contextualize them. One of the sub-branches of the Halvetī order, the Gülşeniye, while being an influential participant in early modern Ottoman politics and society, presents the historian of Sufism with a rare opportunity to approach this gap. Despite offering a wide range of untapped literary, hagiographical, and historical sources, studies on the Gülşeniye remain in the margins. Through Gülşeniye literary production, including poetry and hagio-biographies by dervish-authors, this article explores the mystical thought and piety of İbrāhīm-i Gülşeni (d. 940/1534), the founder of the Gülşenī order of dervishes in Egypt. Close textual analysis of sources reveals that Gülşenī’s inspirations formed the contours of the order’s early literature and culture. I argue that the Gülşeniye literary corpus, and the culture formed alongside it, was a product of changing socio-political environments, not a replica of the doctrines of the order’s founder. The shifts in the corpus unveil the order’s changing practical priorities and shed light on how the Gülşeniye secured a stable niche for itself in Ottoman Egypt in the sixteenth century.

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/content/journals/10.1163/221059512x626117
2012-01-01
2016-12-05

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