Reviews

In this substantial and somehow iconoclastic article, Devin DeWeese reconsiders the ways of legitimisation of the famous Bukharan shaykh Baha’ al-Din Naqshband.  The author’s main (though not exclusive) primary source is the anonymous Anis al-talibin wa ‘uddat al-salikin partially translated by Marijan Molé in the 1950s.  Improving the translation of a long key chapter (a visionary narrative), and resituating the text in the broader perspective of the Sufi legitimisation processes from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, the author shows that Baha’ al-Din is legitimised by multiple ways beside his silsila.  Of special importance are the visionary encounters with the spirits of previous shaykhs—this experience is not called uwaysi and looks superior to this latter category.  As well, the shari‘a-mindedness that is said to distinguish Baha’ al-Din proves to be decisive.  Through this argumentation, the narrative discusses the issues of the dhikr and of the kulah in terms of, respectively, mode of practice and mode of succession.  In conformity with the “spiritualisation” of the order carried out by Baha’ al-Din, the transmission of the kulah and other Sufi insignia (the khirqa, for example) are apparently abandoned here.  (They will, of course, reappear later in the history of the Naqshbandiyya.)  In this respect, one wonders whether the transmission of books (Qur’an, tadhkiras, risalas, etc.) or any written documents (silsila diagrams, ijazat letters—if these already existed among the Khwajagan) has met with the same fate under Baha’ al-Din’s shaykh-hood.

Alexandre Papas, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.3.D-468