Reviews

A careful reader of the French historian Michel de Certeau, the author proposes a study in micro-history of Badakhshan as a crossroads of spiritual paths, and as a land of welcome for the Sunni Naqshbandi and Qadiri mystical traditions.  The paper is based on the analysis of a recently published monograph of the Naqshbandi gnostic poet Mawlana Mir Ghiyath al-Din Badakhshi, alias Ghiyathi (1705-68).  It provides an account on the diffusion of the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya path from India towards Central Asia during the decisive eighteenth century, through the prism of its Badakhshani station.  The first chapter is devoted to elements of the biography of Ghiyathi, from his origin out of a great muhajir family of the religious aristocracy of Badakhshan to the posthumous emergence of the cult of his grave—notably during the Nawruz season—, through his education with a leading Mujaddidi Naqshbandi master of Lahore, Shah Ma‘sum Wali-Allah Thani (1703-63).  The author then analyses Ghiyathi’s work and thought, stressing notably his hesitations between the theories of the orthodox (from a Mujaddidi viewpoint) wahdat-i shuhud and the more classical wahdat-i wujud.  A third, more general chapter properly introduces eighteenth-century Badakhshan as a blossoming place for madrasas and Sufi hospices.  One of the paper’s most original, though yet poorly documented, conclusions is the suggestion that Ghiyathi—who was familiar with the jahr—may have introduced in Badakhshan a synthesis between the Mujaddidiyya, the Qadiriyya, and perhaps even the Qalandariyya mystical paths.  The author insists on the original role played by the Sunni shaykhs of Badakhshan in the adaptation of the Northern Indian reformed Naqshbandi tradition to a specific regional substratum deeply marked by the Qadiri and Qalandari heritages.  So doing, A.P. properly stresses the importance of micro-historical approaches in the study of the diffusion of intellectual and spiritual traditions:  In the case of the Mujaddidiyya in Badakhshan, “the medieval tradition of mystical poetry remains vivid; it seems to be integrating into its own classical language the new teaching without ever contradicting its own spiritual tradition (98).”  One detail, perhaps, should have deserved the author’s attention: the name of the Badakhshani town of جرم is usually vocalised as “Jurm”— instead of Jirm as in the paper.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.3.D-489