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Close Encounters of the Sufi Kind

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Ibn al-Fāriḍ, ʿUmar al-Suhrawardī, and Two Poems by Ibn al-Khiyamī

In a well-known story, ʿUmar Ibn al-Fāriḍ appears to ʿUmar al-Suhrawardī in Mecca during the Hajj with good news from the Unseen world. The two Sufi masters later meet again, and al-Suhrawardī invests Ibn al-Fāriḍ’s sons and others with the khirqah, or Sufi robe. Despite the wondrous elements in this account, new evidence suggests that much of this story is true. The proof texts are two poems by Muḥammad Ibn al-Khiyamī, and they underscore the value of poetry, particularly the ikhwāniyyāt, or verse exchanged between friends and colleagues, as a vital source for the social history of Islamic mysticism at that time.

Affiliations: 1: University of RochesterUSA


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