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The Mir'āt al-Ṭālibīn, by Zain al-Dīn al-Khawāfī of Khurāsān and Herat

  • H. T. Norris


Muhammad b. Muhammad b. ‘Alī Abū Bakr al–Khawāfī al–Harāwī was born in Khurāsān in 757/1356 and he died at Herat in 838=1435. Praised by Jāmī as one who personified wisdom, both exoteric and esoteric, he was, without doubt, an important master of the Suhrawardiyya Sūfī order, though he established his own silsila, the Zainiyya. None the less, he was schooled in a number of other Sūfī orders. Dr. Leonard Lewisohn has revealed in his studies of the mystic poet, Mawlānā Muhammad Shīrīn, otherwise known as al–Maghribī, that al–Khawāfī is listed at the end of the Ṭaifūrī silsila by Ḥājj Zain al-‘Ābidīn al-Shirwānī. According to Ibn Karbalā'ī, he was a part-time student of Ishāq Khuttalānī and he was also affiliated to ‘Ala’ al-Dawla Simnānī, though it is ultimately to Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī that his silsila is usually traced.



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1 On the Zainiyya see Trimingham, J. Spencer, The Sufi orders in Islam (Oxford, 1971, 78, 149) and the article by Margoliouth, D. S. on Zain al-DIn Abū Bakr Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Khawāfī in the Encyclopedia of Islam; see also Brockelmann, GAL, II, 206. Our scholar, Zain al-Dīn al-Khawāfī, is included in The Darvishes or Oriental Spiritualism by John P., Brown (Oxford, 1927, Appendix 11, pp. 452–3), where he quotes the Mir'at al-Maqīsid and also refers to Mir'at al-Tālibān:

The Mirāt ul-Muqāsid gives the following as the line of Zainī descent:



Shaikh Mimshād Dīnwarī.

" Muhammad Dīnwarī.

" Muhammad Bākrī.

" Wasīyy-ud-Dīn al-Qāzī.

" ’Umr Bākrī.

" Abū’l Najīb ’Abd-ul-Qāhir Ziā-ud-Dīn Muhammad al-SUHARWARDI.

" -ush-Shuyūkh Shihāb-ud-Dīn ’Umr b. Muhammad Bakrī al-Suharwardī.

" Najīb-ud-Dīn ’Alī b. Yazghīsh Shīrānī.

" Nūr-ud-Dīn ’Abd-ul-Samad b. ’Alī.

" Najm-ud-Dīn Muhammad Isfahānī.

" Husain Hisām-ud-Dīn.

" Jamāl-ud-Dīn Yūsuf.

" Nūr-ud-Dīn ’Abd-ur-Rahmān.

" ZAIN-UD-DIN Abū Bakr Khwāfī (Hwāfī in the lithograph).

" ’Abd-ul-Latīf Qudusī Rūmī.

" Wafā Mustafā b. Ahmad Wafā.

" ’Alī Dada Wafāī.

" Dāīd Wafāī Rūmū.

" ’Abd-ul-Latīf Wafāī Rūmī.

Brown notes elsewhere:

The Zainīs were once an important Order. Evliya mentions as a divine of the time of Sultān Muhammad I. (1413–21)the Shaikh ’Abd-ul-Latīf Mokadessi (Muqaddasī would mean ‘of Jerusalem’, but Qudusī must be meant) bin ’Abd-ur-Rahmān b. ’Alī b. Ghānim (Travels, ii. p. 22). But five pages farther on he mentions a Sh. ’Abd-ul-Latīf Mokadessi as the Imām of Ilderīm Khān. Then adding the title al-Ansārī to the divine's names he describes how he built the Zainī-lar convent at Brūsa after he had visited the tomb of Sadr-ud-Dīn at Qonia, where the dead saint stretched out his hand from his grave and bade the Shaikh read the sura Yā-sūn. Under Muhammad II. (1451–81) the Zainīs formed, like the Naqshbandis, a militant Order, and led by Jubbah ’Alī, the spiritual guide of the Sultān of Egypt, three hundred of them, unfurling the standard of Zain-ud-Dīn Hāfī, embarked on skins which floated on the sea, and attacked the enemy (ibid., pt. i, p. 34).

That the Order took its name from Zain-ud-Dīn is certain, but its founder's title is variously given as Khāfī (cf. p. 268 infra) and Hāfī, which latter terms means ‘barefoot’ (Beale, Or. Biog Dict., p. 147). Born in Khurāsān in 757 H (A.D. 1356) Zain-ud-Dīn taught at Aleppo, one of his would-be pupils being Aq Shams-us-Dīn, who was, however, led by a vision to follow Hājī Bairām. Zain-ud-Dīn died in 838 H. (A.D. 1435) (Gibb, Hist. of Ottoman Poetry, ii. p. 139). His biography is in the Shaqā'iq. The Zain-ud-Dīn al-Khwāfī, ‘the Secret’, who wrote a Persian tract on Sūfī ethics called the Ābāb-us-Sūfiyyat and a work entitled the Mirāt-u-Tālibīn, mentioned by Prof. E. G. Browgne in his article on ‘The Literature of the Hurufis’ in J.R.A.S., 1907, pp. 553 and 576, would seem to be our Zain-ud-Dīn. Zain-ud-Dīn Hāfī had a college at Brūsa named after him, and that city was a great Zainī centre.

2 I would especially draw attention to the thesis submitted by Lewisohn to the University of London, in the School of Oriental and African Studies, in August 1988, entitled, ‘A critical edition, of the Divan of Maghrebi (with an Introduction into his life, literary school and mystical poetry)’; see pp. 75–84, 182–3. This thesis is to be published as The Occident of mysteries: Mohammed Shirin Maghrebi, his life, literary school and mystical poetry. Extremely relevant likewise is Lewisohn's, article, ‘Mohammed Shirin Maghrebi’ in Sufi, I, 1988–9, 3035. On the Taifūrīs, specifically, see Trimingham, op. cit., 4, 11.

3 See the following silsila which is to be found in full in Trimingham, op. cit., 270, Appendix C.

Shihāb ad–Din Abū Hafs ’Umar as–Suhrawardī (d. 1234)

4 On ‘Abd al–Rahmān al–Khalwatī, known as al–Mashriqī, see Lewisohn's thesis and article, cited in n. 2 above, together with his sources.

5 On Ismā'īl Sīsī see the references in Lewisohn's thesis and pp. 32, 33 of his article.

6 See the references to Ibn Karbalā'ī in Lewisohn.

7 See al-Dīn, Nūral–Rahmān, ‘Abd, JāmīsNafahāt al–Uns (ed.) Gholam Has ’Abd al–Hamid and Kabir al–Din Ahmad, (Calcutta, 1859, 568–9).

8 See Trimingham, op. cit., 36–7.

9 See Brockelmann GAL, II, where this work is specifically mentioned.

10 Jāmī, , Nafahāt al-Uns, op. cit., 569–72.

11 See Further notes on the literature of the Hurufis and their connection with the Bektashi Order of Dervishes’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1907, 533–81(6). One work by Zain al-Dīn al-Khawāfī is entered as being in Professor E. G. Browne's own manuscript collection, A41, bought at the sale of the effects of a Bektāshī dervish in May 1901, (10), ‘A Persian tract by Zaynu'd-Din al-Khwāfi on Sūfi ethics (Ādāb al-Sūfiyya) in 19 chapters (ff. 186b–189b)’ (p. 553) and, another, in the section on Cambridge University Library, Or. 544 (Arabic–Turkish), (1) ‘bought 21st January, 1905, Mirátū'–Tálibin (ff. lb–2b), by Zayn'd–Din al-Khwáfi’; this is followed by a work in Turkish to which it is wholly unrelated and is attributable to another author. In Browne, E. G., A Supplementary hand list of Muhammadan manuscripts in the libraries and the colleges of the University of Cambridge (1922), the manuscript number is entered on page 239 as OR 544 (7) and dated 1033/1623–4, ‘bought from Gèjou on January 4, 1905’ (p. 7). Browne's inclusion of our text amongst the works of the Hurūfis was accepted by Ivanow, W.. He included it in the works listed in his Ismaili literature: a bibliographical survey (Tehran, 1963, 191). It is numbered 888 and it appears as the only Arabic text. However, Ivanow was clearly unsure to what extent the list he gave formed a coherent corpus of Hurufi works, since he remarks on p. 190:

About the Hurufi's association with the Bektashis I may add here just a few words from my own experience. In 1948, while in Cairo, I had a talk with the dede (head) of the famous Kaygusuz teke, asking him about the Jāwīdān and Hurufi books. He said that he was an Albanian, did not know Persian, never heard of the Hurufi books or Jāwīdān. Was it taqiyya or truth? It is of course quite possible that many Hurufi books, incorporated into Bektashi literature are no longer regarded as Hurufi, and such a question is never raised. But the dede's ignorance about the Jāwīdān is strange.

12 Baba, Rexheb, The mysticism of Islam and Bektashism, translated from the Albanian by Bardhyl Pogoni, who furnishes the Bibliography, Vol. 1 (Naples), 1984, 166. The reference in Birge's, J. Kingsley, The Bektashi Order of Dervishes (London, 1937), is to page 60.

13 For a complete context to these passages see The Cloud of Unknowing and other works, Penguin Classics, translated with an introduction by Clifton, Wolters (Harmondsworth, 1980), 109.

14 ibid., 104.

15 The Cloud of Unknowing, 95.

16 In reproducing extracts from this work in photographic form I am much indebted to Cambridge University Library, Photographic Department, and to Paul Fox at SOAS.

17 On this notion of immaterial light, ‘la lumiere noire’, as it has been portrayed and explained in the conceptions of Iranian Sūfism, see Henry, Corbin, L'Homme de lumière dans le soufisme iranien (1971, 149–78). The following passage from page 173 seems to be relevant here:

Autrement dit: la lumiere ne peut être vue, précisément parce qu'elle est ce qui fait voir. On ne voit pas la lumière, on ne voit que les réceptacles de la lumière. C'est pourquoi les lumières visibles aux plans du suprasensible nécessitent la notion de couleurs pures telle qu'on l'a esquissée précédemment, couleurs que leur acte de lumiere actualise eo ipso comme réceptacles, «matiere» de pure lumière, sans qu'elles aient à tomber dans une matière étrangère à leur acte de lumière. Dès lors, il est impossible de prendre un recul suffisant pour voir la lumière qui fait voir, puisque dans tout acte de voir elle est d'ores et déjà là. C'est cette proximité que le mystique exprime endisant son émerveillement «que tu te fasses si proche de moi que j'en vienne à penser que tu es moi» (supra IV, 9). On ne peut voir la lumière ni là oū rien ne la reçoit, ni là ou elle est engloutie. En cherchant à se trouver devant ce qui fait voir et ne peut que rester soimême invisible, on se trouve devant la Ténèbre (et c'est cela «la Ténèbre aux abords du pôle»), car on ne peut prendre comme objet de connaissance ce qui précisément fait connaître tout objet, fait qu'il existe de I'objet comme tel. C'est pourquoi Lâhîjî parle d'une proximité qui éblouit. En revanche I'ombre démoniaque n'est pas la lumière qui, elle-même invisible, fait voir; elle est la Ténèbre qui empêche de voir, comme empêche de voir la ténèbre de la sub-conscience. Mais la lumiére noire est celle qui ne peut être vue elle-même, parce qu'elle est ce qui fait voir; êlle ne peut etre objet, parce qu'elle est Sujet absolu.

18 In certain details in regard to the translation of this work and to a certain passage in Jāmī, I am indebted to Professor T. O. Gandjeï, to Dr. N. F. Safwat, most especially, and to Dr. H. el-Shammari, all friends or colleagues at SOAS.

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The Mir'āt al-Ṭālibīn, by Zain al-Dīn al-Khawāfī of Khurāsān and Herat

  • H. T. Norris


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