Scriptural Sufism and Scriptural Anti-Sufism: Theology and Mysticism amongst the Shī̔ī Akhbāriyya<sup>1</sup>

Robert Gleave

in Sufism and Theology

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748626052
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653126 | DOI:
Scriptural Sufism and Scriptural Anti-Sufism: Theology and Mysticism amongst the Shī̔ī Akhbāriyya1

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This chapter examines some remarks in relation to the Akhbarī movement within Imāmī Shī'ī thought during the Safayid period in Iran (11th/17th –14th/19th centuries). This chapter characterises the Akhbarī movement as ‘scripturalist’ since Akhbarīsm was founded on a commitment to the legal efficacy of scripture (in particular the akhbār of the prophet and the Shī'ī imams). This commitment led to concomitant rejection of other sources of legal knowledge. Akhbarī's reasoning was based on a fundamental epistemological division between knowledge and opinion. True knowledge is based on scripture; opinion is based on personal experience. The basic elements of this position were outlined by Muhammad Amīn al-Astarābādī in his famous al-Fawā'id al-Madaniyya though the view was subjected to individual modifcation and nuance by subsequent Akhbārī scholars. New versions of this epistemology were devised as Akhbārīs grappled with questions which were not addressed in scripture, or were addressed but in an unclear manner, or were addressed in different scriptural locations but with contradictory answers. However, the unifying element within the Akhbārī school was a commitment to this binary epistemology and the inadequacy of ijtihād which it entailed. The discussions of this chapter focus on the relationship between anti-Sufi Akhbārism and Sufism.

Keywords: Akhbarī movement; Imāmī Shī'ī thought; Safayid period; Iran; anti-Sufi Akhbārism; Sufism

Chapter.  8970 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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