Awhad al-Dīn Kirmānī and the Controversy of the Sufi Gaze: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Awhad al-Dīn Kirmānī and the Controversy of the Sufi Gaze

1st Edition

By Lloyd Ridgeon


290 pages

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pub: 2017-11-30
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Awḥad al-Dīn Kirmānī (d. 1238) was one of the greatest and most colourful Persian Sufis of the medieval period; he was celebrated in his own lifetime by a large number of like-minded followers and other Sufi masters. And yet his form of Sufism was the subject of much discussion within the Islamic world, as it elicited responses ranging from praise and commendation to reproach and contempt for his Sufi practices within a generation of his death.

This book assesses the few comments written about Kirmānī by his contemporaries, and also provides a translation from his Persian hagiography, which was written in the generation after his death. The controversy centres on Kirmānī’s penchant for gazing at, and dancing with, beautiful young boys. This anonymous hagiography presents a series of anecdotes that portray Kirmānī’s “virtues”. The book provides an investigation into Kirmānī the individual, but the story has significance that extends much further. The controversy of his form of Sufism occurred at a crucial time in the evolution of Sufi piety and theology. The research herein situates Kirmānī within this critical period, and assesses the various perspectives taken by his contemporaries and near contemporaries. Such views reveal much about the dynamics and developments of Sufism during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the Sufi orders (ṭurūq, s. ṭarīqa) began to emerge, and which gave individual Sufis a much more structured and ordered method of engaging in piety, and of presenting the Sufi tradition to society at large.

As the first attempt in a Western language to appreciate the significant contribution that Kirmānī made to the medieval Persian Sufi tradition, this book will appeal to students and scholars of Sufi Studies, as well as those interested in Middle Eastern History.

Table of Contents


Part I

1. Persianate Sufism in the Twelfth–Thirteenth Centuries

2. The Rise of Awḥad al-Dīn Kirmānī

3. The Fall of Awḥad al-Dīn Kirmānī

4. Friend or Foe? Ibn Jawzī’s Criticisms of shāhid bāzī assessed through Kirmānī’shagiography


Part II

The Virtues of Awḥad al-Dīn Kirmānī

Notes to the Anecdotes

About the Author

Lloyd Ridgeon specialises in Sufism, particularly the medieval Persian Sufi tradition. His 1996 PhD on the thirteenth-century Persian Sufi, ?Aziz Nasafi has been published in the Sufi Series, as have his monographs on A?mad Kasravi and on Javanmardi. He is the Editor of IRAN, and also the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

About the Series

Routledge Sufi Series

The Routledge Sufi Series provides short introductions to a variety of facets of the subject, which are accessible both to the general reader and the student and scholar in the field. Each book will be either a synthesis of existing knowledge or a distinct contribution to, and extension of, knowledge of the particular topic. The two major underlying principles of the Series are sound scholarship and readability.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Islam / Sufi
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies