The closed formation is the fighting technique
most suitable for one willing to die."50
By the 9th century, salaried guards, largely made up of slaves
- at first Turks and Sudanese and later, complements of Slavs,
Greeks, Georgians and Armenians- had come to constitute the
standing army of the Muslim state (although according to hadith,
of all categories of able-bodied men in the Muslim community,
slaves were the least qualified to engage in jihad "51")
supplemented by the small, private mercenary armies maintained
by . individual amirs."52"The use of mercenaries,
as such, in jihad is more offensive to the juridical understanding
than the use of slaves."53"
Commenting on the nature of Muslim military organization on
the eve of the Crusades, Gibb observes: "Few students
of the Crusades will need to be reminded that the Muslim nation-in-arms
had long since ceased to be. "54"
But the sense of jihad as an individual duty regardless of
the juridical responsibility of the Muslim ruler to lead jihad
lingered on, particularly on the frontires of Islam where
circumstances fit the juridical definition of jihad as an
The chronicles record the appearance on the battle-field
of volunteers. even under the Ummayads, and still more so
at the time of the Abbasid dynasties. Whenever the frontier
cities of Islam were attacked it was not the army of the caliph
but the local inhabitants, to a man, who fought to defend
the territory. And when the caliph was unwilling or unable
to take action to relieve the beseiged cities, individual
Muslims living far from the scene of fighting would send assistance
in men and materials to their brethren defending the frontiers".55"
By the time of Salah ad-Din even the remnants of the old militia
organization of Syria had fallen into such disuse that their
last lingering role, as auxiliary forces, had been taken over
by the volunteers - muttawwia for jihad."56"
And if the volunteers played a minimal military role as foot-soldiers
in field campaigns until Salah ad-Din's time, it was most
likely because the phenomenon of mujahadin in the strict ethical
sense of the word was distrusted by the typical Muslim ruler.
However, by the mid-12th century (the time of Nur ad-Din Ibn
Zanki and Salah ad-Din [SaladinJ), we read in Ibn Q,alanisi's
Chronicle not only of appeals to amirs to join in jihad against
the Crusaders but of proclamations to the population as a
. . . calling upon those who had undertaken to engage in
the Holy War and upon the volunteer bands from both the men
of the city and strangers to equip themselves and prepare
to wage a struggle with the Franks, the upholders of polytheism
The Chronicles are not clear as to who exactly are these
volunteers, and in particular, the strangers among them. Certainly,
a spiritual elite: beyond the invaded district or beseiged
city, jihad is not fard' ayn and men or tribes of warrior
nature could find employment in the ranks of Islam's standing
armies. Al-Qalanisi provides a hint in his description of
turmoil in the Sultan's mosque in Bagdad in the early 12th
century when the clamour and crise of sufis who had to invaded
the mosque called,for a jihad to rescue the victims of Crusader
offensives mar the spectacular arrival in the city of caliph's
What is involved here is a historic junction of two institutions,
the mercenary army of the Islamic state system and the emerging
institutional expression of lasazenwuf, that share a common
origin in history - the Prophet's Community-in-arms.
The lariqa (plural, turuq) both as a spiritual Way (a method;
literally, a path) and as an institutional expression of any
particular branch of the Path as a spiritual fraternity or
order, invariably traces its initiatory inheritance of method
and grace (baraka) and thus its spiritual legitimacy back
to the Prophet Muhammad via Sayedna 'Ali, cousin and son-in-law
of the Prophet and the last of the Rashidun caliphs. "60"
What most characterizes 'Ali in the sunni perspective is his
role as the Prophet's most exemplary mujahid and as the epitome,
after the Prophet, of pious chivalry.
One of the first and youngest of the original Meccan converts,
'Ali served as a decoy for the Prophet's escape to Medina
and he accompanied the Prophet in all of the critical set-piece
battles, and nearly all his expeditions. His courage became
legendary. He was the "Lion of Islam." He slew many
Meccans at Badr, received sixteen wounds at Uhud, and protected
the Prophet at al-Khandak. 'Ali was honoured by the Prophet,
with the standard at the storming of Khaibar, and with the
double-bladed sword, dhu'l fikar. Displayed by the Abbasid
caliphs as a relic, it became the symbolic if not the actual
model for thousands upon thousands of Muslim swords finely
inscribed, "There is no nobler knight than 'Ali; there
is no sword like dhu'l fMar."61"
At the same time the canonic collection of hadith stresses
his spiritual dimension, his austerities in the practice of
the greatest jihad, and his indifference to wealth. He is
closely associated in both hadith and the early biographies
of the Prophet with the ahl al-suffa, a large group of disciples
(that included some of the Prophet's closest companions and
ultimate transmitters of hadith) who lived in the covered
portico of the Prophet's mosque in Medina, where they spent
their time under the direction of the Prophet in special study
and worship unless ordered into battle. They were fighting
contemplatives, believed to be among those described by the
Qur'an as "Men whom neither merchandise nor sale beguileth
from Remembrance of Allah and constancy in prayer and paying
to the poor their due."62"
They have served as models of piety and spiritual cultivation
for generations of Muslims.
The Sufi sheikhs describe tasawwuf as the unnamed spiritual
aptitude and superogatory practices of the Prophet and his
earliest companions but they identify in particular with the
ahl al-suffa, several of whom figure prominently both in the
silsila (chain or initiatory line) of the turuq and in the
histories of the Prophet's military expeditions.
What there is of a recorded history of institutional Sufism
image of origin as fighting contemplatives. The Prophet is
reported to have declared in a hadith that condemns celibacy
(but not the
contemplative dimension of monasticism) that, "the wandering
life of the devotee among my people is jihad in God's path."63"
Accordingly, the origin of the Sufi zawiya (meeting place
or communallcentre) is not to be found in the Christian monastery
or convent but in the ribat - a fortress or advance communication
post built at exposed points on the frontiers of daral-Islam
or along the sea coast, to resist the enemy and signal a warning
of their approach ."64" The "first stage"lof
jihad is classified as murabata - serving on the frontiers
(as is the "constant vigilance" against the nafs
in the terminology of tasawwuf and the greater jihad) - kept
by the "proven ones"
in the Qur'anic passage extolling those who serve. "65"
The same idea of an Order of Battle appears in the stages
of the Greater Jihad in which spiritual struggle is joined
to overcome and transform the condition of al-nafs al-ammara
-- the uncontrollable soul or "the soul prone to evil"
- into al-nafs al-lawama ("the self-accusing soul"
or the soul as conscience) and, in turn, into the highest
condition, al-nafs al-mutma'inna ("the soul at rest");
the language and description of these conditions being derived
directly from the Qur'an."66"
The ribat was simultaneously a military and religious establishment
built by pious individuals or by the state and staffed by
volunteers for jihad, who spent their time in military training
and devotional exercises under the direction of a spiritual
guide or sheikh (who served as military commander of the ribat),
preparing themselves for martyrdom.
The Chronicles report the existance of a ribat as early as
the 8th century or the island of' Abbadan in the Persian Gulf,
as well as others in Khurasan, it North Africa, and on the
frontiers with Byzantium. At 'Abbadan the families of the
murabitun lived inside the fortress; elsewhere, they lived
in at compound or village adjacent to the ribat.
It is most likely here that the disciplined, hierarchical,
"authoritarian' relationship between the Sufi disciple
and his guide led to the development of the tariqa as a militant
institution in which the sheikh commanded force engaged in
both outward and inward battle.
According to Shah Wali'Allah the turban is bestowed as a sign
o initiation in the tariqa in imitation of the Prophet whowrappeda
turbal around the head of Abd-ar-Rahman bin Auf, upon appointing
him commander of the army. There are reports that the dancing
form of dhikr developed here, in the tribal war dances of
the Arabian mujahadin, and the loudly recited dhikr has been
described in the poetry of the Sufis as
"war cry against infidelity and heedlessness."64"
The late 9th century Sufi al Junaid, considered to be the
decisive link in the chain of teachers who connect the most
orthodox turuq back to the Prophet and his companions, is
described in Attar's biography of the awliya (the "saints")
as a vigorous mujahid"67 of his time, as was the early
9th century Ascetic of Nishapur, Ahmed Ibn Harb."68"
With the extension of the frontiers of dar-al-Islam beyond
Persia and the eastern Mediterranean, the military aspect
of the early ribat ceased to b functional. But the idea of
a centre for superogatory service and spiritual development
under the discipline and guidance of a sheikh survived, along
with the concept of the greater jihad. The inward (and in
an esoteric sense more real) struggle continued to retain
for the Sufi all of the combative" imagery of its most
outward occasional form, and it developed into a system tariq
al mujahida, and first station for almost all other subsequent
systems E the initiatory Way of purification."69"
Thus Abdul-Qadar Gilani, the 12th century "Saint of Baghdad"
(whose life and thought inspired one of the great classic
orders, the Qadiri tariqa), speaks of believers who persist
in a spiritual jihad up to the point of dead meeting Allah
" . . . with drawn sword besmeared with the blood of
his se and his desires."70"
The inward jihad is simultaneously a continuous struggle until
the moment of death that the believer wages "in this
world every day, every hour and every moment," and the
first and fundamental stage of the rnaqamat (stages or stations)
to be transcended at another level of meaning in the technical
vocabulary of tasawwuf, in the spiritual ascent of the adept
towards illumination and knowledge of God."71"
The understanding of jihad as a first station also becomes
the most accessible method for developing the sense of relationship
between outward practice and inward meaning that is intrinsic
(as noted earlier, by virtue of Qur'anic usage in defining
Allah's Unity) in Islamic consciousness, and a running theme
through the post-Prophetic summa of traditional Islamic thought,
al-Ghazali's ihya `ulum ad-din: ". . . every act of worship
is possessed of an outward form and an inner (secret), an
external husk and internal pith. "72"
The ihya is devoted entirely to developing that understanding
and it was viewed, in the words of the 12th century mystic
'Ain al-Qudat as the
textbook of the "science of jihad . . . from beginning
to end."73" The need for systems, "science",
and increasingly elaborate explanation was seen not as "progress"
but as necessary compensation for the falling away of spiritual
grace that had accrued to the Prophet's community by virtue
of the Prophet."74"
Far from the frontiers, and particularly in the cities, the
atrophied military function of the ribat was also supplemented
but never entirely displaced by alternative superogatory forms
of service, such as providing hospitality to the traveller.
The accounts of Ibn Jubayr, who travelled in the Near East
during the reign of Saladin, and still later, Ibn Batuta,
read at times like a Badaeker's guide to Sufi hospices."75"
In North Africa, where military confrontation between Islam
and the West remained constant up until the modern period,
the ribat retained its dual character. With the outward transformation
of the tariqa as a Way into an institution still actively
associated with the concept of ribat, the leadership of ribat,
the leadership of 15th century Moroccan resistance to the
Portuguese invasion was openly assumed by the sheikhs of the
shadhiliyya tariqa (most notably by al Jazuli, author of that
extraordinary litany of Blessings upon the Prophet, dala'l
al-khairaat,which perhaps remains to this day the best selling
book in the Arab world after the Qur'an) or be worldly rulers
closely identified with one another of the turuq."76"
This continuous Sufi assocation with jihad as qital is preserved
in the word marabut to describe a holy man in northern and
western Africa, and is derived from murabit, the inhabitant
of a ribat.
Along the frontiers of Central Asia the entire phase of ascendent
Turkish tribal militance - the ghazi states from Mahmud of
Ghazna to the Ottomans - can be understood as a Sufi-guided
epoch, "77" just as popular Egyptian resistance
to the Seventh Crusade was inspired by a Rifa'i disciple.
Sheik Ahmed al-Badawi, who formed what was to become the most
popular "rustic" tariqa in_Egypt as a jihad-ist
or ghazi type of association.
Three luminaries of tasawwuf in Egypt, the North African Sheikh
Abu Hassan as-Shadhili, his son-in-law and disciple Sheikh
Ibrahim Dessouki. and Sheikh al-Qanawwi reportedly, fought
together against the Crusaders at the decisive battle of Mansura."78"
South of the Sahara where the frontier was shared with animist
Africa, the turuq played the same militant role as the ghazi
states of Central Asia. The Fulani jihad which finally swept
across West Africa in the late 18th century was led by a Qadariyya
sheikh and had been prepared by generation of Qadariyya activity
in the area.
With the quickening of modern Western colonial expansion ill
the 19th century and the generally rapid collapse of local
Muslim government in nearlyall of these encounters, the importance
of jihad became paramount as the turuq invariably assumed
the leadership of the doomed Muslim Resistance - the Naqshabandiyya
in the Caucasus, the Qadariyya and Darqawiyya in Algeria and
Morocco, the Tijaniyya in West Africa, the Senussiyya in Libya."79"
This resistance, played out on what could be categorized as
a Muslirll stage, bare at the tragic finale of nearly any
other actors, was only possible at all because the necessary
tension required for the turuq to attempt, jihad against the
outrageous odds they faced had been sustained for centuries
on a doctrinal plane.
For just as the juridico-political description had reduced
jihad far earlier to its most outward domain, there is always
a danger in esotericism of isolating the inward aspect, the
way of mujahada, from the outward aspect and thereby, from
a different perspective, depriving the men of mujahada of
the ethical responsibility to wage jihad in its outward forms.
In the work of the 13th century poet Jalal ud-Din Rumi (whose
a poetic commentary upon Qur'an and hadith, assumed almost
first among the Sufi-guided ghazis of the frontier and in
time within the
entire literary domain of Ottoman and Persian cultures), the
connecting the two most distant dimensions of jihad is sustained
entirety to ethical advantage.
In one of the tales of the Mathnawi an arrogant Sufi, misguided
by the, adulation of the masses for his supposed accomplishments
as a spiritual warrior, sets out in a spirit of contempt for
the "lesser jihad" to join the troops in order to
" . . . show my valour, outwardly too." But it is
precisely in a series of humilating experiences while on the
"lesser jihad" exposing the Sufi as a coward, that
the unreality of his spiritual claims are also exposed ."80"
Rumi is suggesting that the truth or illusion of personal
spiritual progress can only be tested by moral confrontation
in the community of men and in defense of the community of
Islam. Conversely, in an accompanying tale, The Great Warfare"
of a heroic warrior who flees the rigours of attempted spiritual
struggle for the ease of the battlefield, Rumi argues that
man's potential for egoism, heroics and grand gesture can
also be "food" for the carnal soul."81"
Thus, in waging jihad (and by implication all outward struggle
to enjoin good in the community of Islam), the warrior (and
by extension, all believers) risks forgetting that this world
("the body," in Rumi's tale) is only an instrument
for the spirit; external sacrifice in socio-political struggle
can come an evasion of the need to personally confront one's
own self-serving passions and greed in the far more difficult
spiritual struggle for the "greater jiad." The need
to simultaneously synthesize the requirements of both aspects
of jihad is resolved in the concept of futuwwa - pious chivalry
-which begins to emerge as a collective concept in the 8th
Because this synthesis is in fact a re-synthesis, its origin
in the person of the Prophet, whose identity as a fata (a
young, noble, pious knight, from which the word futuwwa as
concept and fityan are derived) pre-dates Revelation. In his
youth, the Prophet entered into an association of young men
(fityan) organized by his Uncle Zubayr, pledged to aid the
oppressed and weak of Mecca regardless of their tribal status,
and not to abandon their cause until justice was done.
The fata in pre-Islamic Arabia was a chivalrous young man,
valiant and noble in battle. In the Prophet's example these
ethical virtues transcended the tribe, which was the respository
of religion; the piety and ethical standards were intensely
personal and the source of that piety we can only assume drawn
from the residual hanif Arabian tradition "83"
suggested by the Qur'anic description of the youthful sleepers
in the cave, described as fitya."84"
According to the earliest sira literature, the Prophet renewed
his pledge as a fata after the event of Revelation, reconfirming
the importance to him of that personal commitment: "I
have participated in it and I am not prepared to give up that
privilege even against a herd of camels; if somebody should
appeal to me even today, by virtue of that pledge, I shall
hurry to his help."85"
Thus Qushayri, who devotes an entire chapter of his Risala
to the futuwwa, declared: "The fata is he who has no
enemy, and who does not care whether he is with a Friend or
an infidel; and Muhammad was the perfect fata, for on the
Day of judgement everybody will say `I', but he will say `My
The inheritor of this rank from the Prophet in traditional
Islamic consciousness is 'Ali, and it is as the model of futuwwa
that 'All is most beloved in specifically sunni consciousness,
since this mode does not threaten to appropriate the prophetic
characteristics of the Prophet as is the case in shia' consciousness.
But the appeal of this early sunni perception of 'Ali as
the model for futuwwa (along with the perception of 'Ali as
standard bearer in both jihad and the greater jihad) to the
shia'-coloured consciousness of the turbulent urban masses
in the centuries of Abbasid power must have been extraordinary
and a major factor in winning them over to sunni orthodoxy."87"
On an institutional plane this was reflected by the gradual
integration of the craft guilds (frequently shia' in origin)
and the 'ayyan (the armed urban bands of youth in the earliest
capital cities of Islam that appear to have vacillated between
a voluntary police-militia role and the typical criminality
of street gangs) within the social and spiritual sphere of
the emerging institutional life of the turuq."88"
The doctrine of futuwwa as it emerges and matures in the
same period at one and the same time embraces all of the strands
of this social integration and deepens the process, extending
it through the social fabric of Pre-Modern Islam.
The craft guilds as "economic units" were sacralized
by the concept of futuwwa which characterizes the jihad as
vocation, implicit in the frequently quoted canonic hadith
appearing in one of the most popular collections of medieval
(13th century) Islam:
Verily Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus,
if you kill, kill well; if you slaughter, slaughter well.
Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering
to the animal he slaughters."89"
The critical concept here is ihsan which in the above hadith
means "proficiency" or "perfection" or
"mastery," and which, in still another hadith from
the same popular collection is used by the Prophet in a way
that approximates what the commentators would call "sincerity,"
but in the sense indicated by the definition of ihsan given
by the Prophet in this latter hadith:
It is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him and while
you see Him not yet truly
He sees you." 90"
In other words, "sincerity" in the traditional
sense of sincerity that does things for the sake of God alone
and not for outer appearance or convention. The commentators
also translate ihsan as "right action" or "the
The concept of the futuwwa of the craft guilds synthesized
these two meanings, whereby the perfection of their work for
which the craftsmen strived under the tutelage of a master
was not for his own sake (a livelihood can be made with shabby
goods) but the sake of God and thus a Way for the perfection
of his soul."91" Sheikh Ahmad ar-Rifa'i,
founder of one of the earliest and most enduring of the turuq,
is reported to have said, "Futuwwa means working for
God's sake, not for any reward"."92"
It can then be suggested that futuwwa could penetrate into
such seemingly ruthless domains as traditional parade ground
and palace not only because of its chivalrous challenge to
be truly noble and brave but also for its promise of ma'rifa
(the intuitive knowledge of God) in the perfection of one's
Indeed, the traditional Muslim military manuals perceive
of weaponry as a sacred inheritance. Before undertaking a
precise, matter-of-fact discussion of the uses of the bow
and arrow or even alluding to the legal duties of the jihad,
a medieval military manual for archers first discloses that
the model of the Arab bow, the tool with which the archer
will perfect himself, was sent down to Adam from Paradise,
and that the first to make the Arab bow was Ibrahim (Abraham)
who made one for each of his sons Isma'il and Isaac. "93"
The model for the deportment of the archer in carrying the
bow and arrow is the Prophet, who acquired his knowledge when
Gabriel appeared before him on the day of the battle perfectly
parallels the Qur'an's historiography of Revelation - the
fundamental Descent: Adam is the first prophet and first Muslim
as a state of nature; Ibrahim is the first self-conscious
Muslim and first Prophet of the semitic cycle; Muhammad revives
Ibrahimaic religion by virtue of Revelation, and is the seal
This process of sacralization is particularly clear in the
command to the archer to walk barefoot towards his target
when searching for fallen arrows, since the Prophet described
the course between the archer and his aim as a "strip
of paradise." The unmentioned worldly benefit will be
that the barefoot archer will not break any "snaked"
(slightly buried) arrows hidden from sight, but will be able
to feel them with his foot."
Still later, in the elaboration of this theme in an Ottoman
futuwwa manual, the archer understands the entire exercise
as spiritual striving; his target is ma'rifa and the bow,
its grip, and the devotion with which he perfects his craft
are all vehicles, once he is initiated into the archers' guild,
of the knowledge. "97"
Before the close of the 12th century the Abbasid caliph
Nasir had created a formal order of knighthood on futuwwa
lines, under the guidance of Sheikh Abu Hafs as-Suhrawardi,
who guided the nobles that the caliph wished to honour. Abu
Hafs was the author of the Sufi classic, Awarif, al-ma'arif,
but it is in his uncle's work, Sheikh Abu an-Najib's Kitab
'adab al-muridin, that we can detect an aristocratic futuwwa
code of conduct for the "associates" of the tariqa
who are allowed "ruksas" or compensations because
of their worldly obligations from the stricter austerities
of the tariqa."98"
The associate is allowed to possess an estate or rely on
any other legal regular income but he must distribute the
income to public charities taking only enough necessary to
maintain his family for a year.
Modesty and asceticism is commended but the associate is
allowed to practice courtly etiquette, to joke, to embrace
friends, to accept political leadership, to associate with
sultans and to visit them, to watch amusements as long as
the amusement is in itself not forbidden by shari'a, to keep
company with young men and to deal however roughly as may
be necessary with riffraff; even to boast of merit, but only
as long as the intention is to reveal to others the favours
that God bestows:
One should try not to get angry for one's own rights; rather,
if one gets angry, it should be out of jealousy for the rights
of God and of one's brethren. It is said that the Prophet
never sought to take revenge for a wrong done to him, but
only took revenge on those who had violated the prohibitions
of God . . . Love for the sake of God and hate for the sake
of God are amongst the firmest ties of the faith. It is obligatory,
within the limits of capability, to commend the good and forbid
The caliph's vision was of a spiritually renewed aristocracy
of the political military elite that he attempted to draw
into the futuwwa linked through his own person to the turuq
and popular futuwwa of Baghdad, and the chronicles indicate
that he exhorted the princes of the whole Muslim East to enrol
in the futuwwa and develop its organization in their respective
states. "100" Nasir's vision of a revived
universal caliphate via a cosmopolitan and aristocratic order
of pious chivalry that would reintegrate the effective power
of sunni Islam, drained and dispersed by the petty dynasty
state system seems to have been an almost administrative mirror
of the motivating vision of Salah ad-Din, whose last years
as sultan briefly overlap with the first years of Nasir's
The elements of possible influence are all in place - an
intense orthodox sunni identity, attachment to and support
for the turuq, and a vision of re-establishing the unity of
the Muslims on the basis of a revived Abbasid caliphate -
but above all in the very person of Salah ad-Din as the personification
in his time of pious chivalry."101"
Approaching the same goal from opposite directions, there
is also an extraordinary parallel between the ethically inspired
but in spiritual terms practical politics that al-Ghazali
offered more than a century earlier in his Nasihat al-muluk,
and Nasir's visionary politics of a practical spirituality.
Salah ad-Din's heirs entered Nasir's futuwwa and the Order
lived on among the Syrian and Egyptian Mamluks as a chivalrous
aristocracy until the 15th century. On the popular level it
spread throughout Central Asia, inspiring the ghazi states,
and in this form as futuwwa, tasawwuf also penetrated the
very core of the Turkish craft guilds. "102"
The revival of a cosmopolitan spiritual community that was
part of Nasir's vision was to be fulfilled by the futuwwa-guiding
turuq which were to span the entire Muslim world. The rest
of the vision, a revived universal sunni caliphate, was nearly
realized by the Ottoman state, also heir of Nasir's futuwwa
by virtue of its own origin as a ghazi state.
These two aspects of futuwwa realization on the spiritual
planes were in practical terms one - the triumph of the Ottoman
beneficiary and patron to the flowering of a social order
sacralized by the
doctrine and institutions of the Sufis, a flowering in the
domain of jihad that was symbolized by the Janissaries, a
futuwwa by necessity, chaplained by the Bektashiyya and the
terror of dar-al-harb. The source of that unity was futuwwa
The focus of this doctrine in the combative settings of jihad
is amplified by Rumi, who returns to it several times in the
Mathnawi, most notably to meditate upon the meaning of a singular
incident on the battlefield:
'All has gained the upper hand in combat with an infidel
and is about to slay him when the infidel spits into 'All's
face. 'All puts his sword away; the infidel (who was certain
he would die) is astounded and asks 'All for an explanation.
I am wielding the sword for God's sake. I am the servant
of God, I am not under the command of the body. I am the Lion
of God, I am not the lion of passion; my deeds bear witness
to my religion. "103"
'Ali is angered; he puts his sword away, since the kill
the infidel now would mean at least in part to kill him out
of anger and not solely for the sake of God.
In war I am [manifesting the truth of] 'thou didst not
throw when thou threwest.' I am [but] as the sword, and the
wielder is the [Divine] Sun.
Since [the thought of something] other than God has intervened,
it behooves [me] to sheathe my sword.
That my name may be `he loves for God's sake,' that my
desire may be `he hates for God's sake,'
That my generosity may be `he gives for God's sake,' that
my being may be `he withholds for God's sake."104"
'Ali's anger, his pride of self, has interrupted his continuous
Remembrance of God; the Presence is veiled and 'All no longer
is fighting as literal instrument of God, so he stops. 'All
also explains his act to the infidel as one of divinely inspired
mercy, an opportunity to witness Divine qualities and have
faith as a compensation for the infidel's own inspired sin,
as it were, of spitting in 'Ali's face, just as the magicians'
sin of denying Moses and practicing magic led them to the
trial before Pharaoh, and thus to faith in God.
'Ali tells the infidel of still another extraordinary event:
how the Prophet tells 'Ali's servant that it is his destiny
to slay 'Ali. The servant comes to 'Ali and pleads that 'Ali
kill him to prevent such a crime. 'Ali refuses, since the
Prophet has foretold Divine Will, which 'Ali totally accepts.
For what reason, then, is retaliation (the shari'a punishment
of murder by death) sanctioned in Islam? 'Ali replies, ...
from God, too . . . and that is a hidden mystery."' But,
'Ali declared, when God takes offence at His own act (by punishing
that which He willed), mankind benefits from His taking offence,
as when God abrogates earlier Revelations with new ones."105"
Rumi then returns to his earlier theme:
The Prince of the Faithful said to that youth, `In the hour
of battle, O knight,
When thou didst spit on my face my fleshly self was aroused
and my good disposition was corrupted.
Half (of my fighting) came to be for God's sake, and half
(for) idle passion; in God's affair partnership is not allowable.
Thou art limned by the hand of the Lord, thou art God's (work),
thou art not made by me. Break God's image, (but only) by
God's command; cast (a stone) at the Beloved's glass (but
only) the Beloved's stone."106"
The infidel, so awed by this state of grace, embraces Islam
on the spot and so do nearly fifty of his tribe.
By the sword of clemency he ('Ali) redeemed so many throats
of such a multitude from the sword. The sword of clemency
is sharper than the sword of iron - nay, it is more productive
of victory than a hundred armies.' 107"
Rumi compares 'Ali to the Prophet, who fought solely at God's
command and in utter indifference to dominion of the world
and he goes on to define 'Ali's role:
Outwardly he strives after power and authority, (but only)
that he may show to princes the (right) way and judgement;
That he may give another spirit to the Princedom; that he
may give fruit to the palm-tree of the Caliphate."108"
The theme of the poem is stated in its very first line; "Learn
how to act sincerely from 'Ali "- in the Qur'anic sense
of sincerity: to act, according to the commentary, for God's
sake alone (which recalls Sheikh Ahmed Rifai's very definition
of futuwwa and the equivalent understanding of sincerity (ihsan)
in its most vocational sense in the futuwwa of the guilds).
The chivalry that 'Ali displays is not sentimental, but a
rigorous insistence on maintaining the spiritual and ethical
content of his actions in the domain of war, while complying
at all times with shari'a which he accepts as the mysterious
given, for Man to implement and, by definition, benefit from.
But the source of the spiritual and ethical content of his
actions comes from constant Remembrance of God, in that by
constant Remembrance he becomes a vehicle or instrument of
Rumi is saying: Jihad can only be waged by constant waging
of the greater jihad; without spiritual-ethical content, the
jihad becomes an instrument for ego and rebellious masquerading
in the hypocritical soul as fighters for the sake of God.
In the domain of political thought this doctrine might be
classified as a theory of "the spiritually correct political
action" (in contrast to more outward and immediately
moralizing criteria which from this perspective are concepts
that lend themselves in struggle too easily, to dangerous
deceptions and illusions of righteousness).
But it is perhaps in Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani's concept
of the duty of the valiant warriors against the carnal soul
illuminated and expanded as "spiritual guardians (of
the) city" that the Islamic basis for ethical content
in political action is most graphically presented.
Gilani's "spiritual guardians" enter "the
market place" with "their hearts filled on account
of God, the Mighty, the Glorious, with mercy for the people
in it . . . seeking the protection of God and intercession
for its people [of the market place] in an attitude of affection
and mercy. So their hearts burn to seek their benefit and
to prevent their loss. . . (as) ambassadors and executors
of good, sweet of expression, guides, rightly-guided people
and spiritual instructors."109"
Transformed into an elaborate cosmopolitan corporate organization
the turuq inspired the revival of a spiritual and thus ethical
dimension within the institutions of holy war, and institutionalised
the internal jihad on a social plane that was "political"
in relation to the state by moral influence; influential by
virtue of a base rooted in the intentions of strictly personal
spiritual concerns that generated centres for the social integration
and education of the urban man and woman in the essentials
of religious life. As spiritual coordinates both for pious
rulers and for popular movements counter-balancing oppressive
rule: as source of doctrine and guidance for the guild system
that provided a profound measure of vocational dignity and
social security in ordinary economic life, and centres of
practical social benefit for the community, caring for the
sick and the poor and offering hospitality and social integration
for the traveller, the turuq practiced a politics of anti-politics,
1. H. A. R. Gibb, "Al Mawardi's Theory...," p.
154 (see Footnote 14, Introduction).
2. Ibid. pp. 153-155; Yusuf Ibish, "The Political Doctrine
of al-Baqillani, pp. 24-25 (see Footnote 14. in Introduction,
3. Edward Lane, The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians,
Everyman's Library (London: Dent. 1966, reprint of 1860 edition),
pp. 86-87. For mention of the use of the word "sword"
in 19th century Cairo mosques, see Nabil A. Faris and Robert
Potter Elmer, translators and editors, Arab Archery, "A
Book the Excellence of the Bow and Arrow (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1945), p. 9.
4. Gibb, "An Interpretation of Islamic History,"
in Shaw and Polk, eds., Studies...,"p. 5.
5. Gibb, "The Evaluation of Government in Early Islam,"
in Studies...," pp. 34-36.
6. Bernard Lewis, "Islamic Concepts of Revolution, in
P.J. Vatikiotis, ed., Revolution in the Middle East (London:
George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1972) pp. 30-31.
7. Gibb, "An Interpretation," pp. 7-9; SEI, s.v.
8. Gibb, "Religion and Politics in Christianity and
Islam," in J.H. Poretor, ed., Islam and International
Relations (London: Pall Mall Press, 1965), pp. 6-7.
9. Hamidullah, Muslim Conduct of State, pp. 63-66; Khadduri,
War and Peace..., pp. 42-48.
10. Hamidullah, Ibid. p.168.
11. Sarakhsi, cited by Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zahra, "The
Jihad (Striving)..., "pp. 54-55 (see Footnote 25, Ch.
13. Khadduri, War and Peace..., pp. 81-82; see discussion
by the 9th c. Maliki jurist Ibn Abi Zayd of Qayrowan, cited
by Johan Alden Williams, ed., Themes of Islamic Civilisation
(Berkely; University of California Press, 1971), pp. 266-267.
14. Khadduri, War and Peace... pp. 44-48.
15. Hamidullah, The Muslim Conduct of State, p. 176.
16. Hamidullah, ibid., pp. 176-179; Khadduri. War and Peace...,
17. Ibn Rushd, in R. Peters, f had in Medieval and Modern
Islam, pp. 21-23 (see footnote 13, Introduction).
18. Qur'an VIII:61.
19. Qur'an IX:5, IV:29.
20. Ibn Rushd, in Peters, Jihad... pp. 21-25.
21. Sahih Muslim, Book XVIII, Ch. DCCIV (4294), and discussed
by Hamidullah in Muslim Conduct of State, p. 311.
22. Ibn Rushd, in Peters, jihad..., pp. 24-25; Hamidullah,
ibid., p. 311.
23. Ibn Rushd, in ibbid., pp. 19-20.
24. See list of al-Bagillani's qualities of the Imam in Ibish,
pp, 97-100. Two of the five conditions are directly concerned
with warfare. The same two conditions appear in al-Mawardi's
list of seven conditions. In additions, five of the ten items
listed by al-Mawardi as things incumbent "upon the Imam
as matter of interest" directly involve uses of armed
coercive power. See selection from al-Mawardi, "The Governing
Statutes," in Williams, ed. (and trans.), Themes of1slamic
Civilisation, pp. 85-887.
25. Gibb, "Religion and Politics...," pp. 6-7.
26. Gibb, "An Interpretation...," pp. 7-8.
27. SEl. s.v. "Khawarij." The Quraish were the
leading tribe of Mecca; the Prophet was of the Quraish and
he specified according to canonic hadith that the highest
command in the community should remain with the Quraish. One
of the reasons for this condition is that the Qur'an was transmitted
in the dialect of the Quraish.
28. Salem, Political Theory and Institutions of the Khawarij,
29. Ibid., p. 83.
30. AI-Mawardi, Droit public Musulman: le Droit du Califat,
L. Ostrogog, trans. (Paris: Leroux, 1901), I, p. 87.
31. Salem, op. cit., pp. 55, 85; Ibish, The political Doctrine
of al-Baqillani, pp. 94-95; Al-Mawardi, ibid., I, pp. 109-112.
32. The Khawarij consistently refused to be called al-mariq
(dissenters) because they meant to be reformers not merely
schismatic." Salem, op. cit., p. 26.
33. Based on canonic hadith transmitted by al-Bukhari and
Muslim, cited by an-Nawawi, Forty Hadith, pp. 5859.
34. SEI, s.v. "Khawarij."
35. Salem, op. cit., pp. 90-91, for discussion of the doctrine
36. Muslim, Mishkat, XVI1, Ch. I.
37. Khadduri, War and Peace..., p. 74.
38. Mishkat, XYIII, Ch. I.
39. Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Mishkat, XVII, Ch. 1
40. Ibn Hambal, cited by H. Laoust, "Ahmed b. Hambal,"
in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1st. ed., 1965.
41. Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah, Mishkat, XVIII, Ch. II.
42. An-Nawawi, Riyadh as-salihin. Gardens of the Righteous,
M. Z. Khan, trans: (London: Curzon, 1975), p. 48.
43. Hamidullah, Muslim Conduct of State, pp. 64-66.
44. Ibish, op. cit. p. 103.
45. L. Gardet, "Fasik," in Enc. Islam,
46. Ibish, op. cit. pp. 104-105.
47. Cited by Gibb, in "Al-Mawardi's Theory...,"
48. This is but the other side of the coin of the concept
of "Islamic Conformism." To the degree wrongdoing
is public is to the degree the wrongdoer sins against his
fellow man(by corrupt example, by seductive intention, by
defiance of community) as well as he sins against God. Examination
of the fikr literature on the hadd (unalterable punishment
prescribed by shari'a) and the hadith dealing with the hadd
penalties will bear out the above analysis not to mention,
as more immediately relevant to this study, the 'ulama's discrimination
between the ruler as public fasiq or private fasiq.
49. Ibn jama's, Emancipated Judgement in the Government of
Muslims," in Williams, Themes of Islamic Civilization,
pp. 90-94. Ibn Taimiyya, Private and Public Law in Islam,
Omar A. Farruhk, trans. (Beirut: Khayats, 1966). pp. 187-188,
50. A1 Ghazali, Nasihat al-muluk, F.R.C. Bayley, trans.,
Ghazali's Book of Counsel for Kings (London: Oxford University
Press, 1971), 2nd ed.
51. Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1957), pp. 417-421: V.J. Preey,
"Warfare", in The Cambridge History of Islam, P.M.
Holt, K.S. Lambton, and B. Lewis, eds. II (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1970) pp. 822-824; Edward Bosworth, "Armies
of the Prophet," in B. Lewis, ed., Islam and the Arab
World (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976), pp. 204-205.
52. Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, II, p. 79.
53. Sahih Muslim, XVII, DCCL (4456, 4458) al-Hidayah, extract,
s.v. "Jihad," Hughes' Dictionary of Islam (1885
54. Ibn Qalanisi, The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades,
H.A.R. Gibb, trans (London: Luzac, 1932), p. 32; al-Hidayah,
loc. cit., p. 245.
55. Al-Hidayah, ibid.
56. Bibb. "Introduction," The Damascus Chronicle,
57. At-Tabari and Ibn Athir, cited in Levy, The Social Structure
of Islam, p. 421.
58. Gibbn "The Armies of Saladin," in Shaw and
Polk, Studies, p. 83.
59. Ibn Qalanisi, in Gibb, The Damascus Chronicle, pp. 27,
60. Ibid. p. 333.
61. Ibid., pp. 111-112.
62. SE]. x.v. "Tarikah," Martin Lings, A Sufi Saint
of the Twentieth Century, 2nd ed. (London: George Allen &
Unwin, 1971), pp. 34-47; J. Spencer Trimingham, The Suf Orders
in Islam (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 134-136. Many
a silsila (line: literally, chain) includes Sayedna Abu Bakr
and at least one includes Sayedna 'Umar but the primary line
to the Prophet is invariably 'Ali. There are exceptions: tariq
whose silsila is exclusively via Sayedna Abu Bakr; another,
via Sayedna 'Umar, and 18th century turuq that are indifferent
to their actual silsila and claim legitimacy by their founding
sheikhs' receiving a visionary initiation directly from the
Prophet. But it is the overwhelming generality that is of
concern. Trimingham uses the from "ta'ifa" to describe
the institutional expression of the Way but contemporary conventional
use if "tariqa" in both capacities.
63. L. Veccia Vaglieri, "Abi B. Abi Talib," and
E. Mittwoch, "Dhu'I fakar," in Encyclopaedia of
64. Qur'an XXIV:37 See Enc. Islam, "Ahl al-suffa."
Abu Harayan, Abu Dharr, Bilal, Salman al-Farisi, Abu Lubba,
are among the ahl al-suffa.
65. Baghawi, Mishkat IV, Ch. III. Another version: "In
every community there has been a monasticism and the monasticism
of this community is jihad." (Sarakhsi, cited by Abu
Zahra in "Jihad (Striving)".)
66. Trimingham, Suf Orders, pp. 4-5, 188; al-Mukaddasi, quoted
in Guy Le Strange, ed., Palestine Under the Moslems (Beirut:
Khayats Reprint, 1965), p. 23.
76. A process in thought that has been described by Lings
(A Sufi Saint, pp. 42-43) as "the inevitable movement
from concentrated synthesis to differential analysis [which]
was largely the result of an analogous change that was taking
place in human souls."
67. Abu Zahra, op. cit., pp. 71-72; SEI, s.v. "Ribat;"
Trimingham, Sufi Orders, p. 170.
68. Qur'an X1153: LXXV:2; LXXXI: (30 See also discussion
in Ahmad A. Gabwash. The Religion of Islam (Cairo Gro 1977):
69. Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, p. 175.
70. A. J. Arberry, trans., Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes
from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya by Farid-al-Din Attar (London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973), pp. 199, 210, 145.
71. AI-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub, R.A. Nicholson, trans. (London:
Luzac, Gibb Memorial Trust Reprint, 1967), p. 292; Trimingham,
Sufi Orders, pp. 4-6.
72. Muhyuddin Abdul Qadir Gilani, Futuh al-Gaib: The Revelations
of the Unseen, Maulvi Aftab-ud-Din Ahmed, trans. (Lahore:
Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1972), p. 183.
73. Gilani, toe. cit., p. 182; Trimingham, Sufi Orders, pp.
74. Al-Ghazali, The Mysteries of Fasting, Nabil Amin Paris,
translating from Ihya 'ulum ad-Din (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf,
1971), p. 33 See earlier reference to at-tawhid and relevant
verse from Qur'an.
75. 'Ain al-Qudat al-Hamadhani, Shakwa 'l-gharib, as A. Sufi
Martyr, A.J. Arberry, trans. (London: George Allen & Unwin,
1969), p. 42.
77. H. A. R. Gibb and Harold Bowen, Islamic Society and the
West, Part 2 (London: Oxford University Press, 1957), pp.
179-206; Trimingham, Sufi Orders, pp. 9-38, 234-240, 38-39.
Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot estimates that by the 18th century,
"every man in Cairo and probably in Egypt was a member
of at least one Sufi brotherhood." ("Ulama of Cairo,"
in Scholars, Saints and Sufis, N. R. Keddie, ed.; Berkeley,
University of California Press, 1972; p. 151).
78. Trimingham, Sufi Orders, pp. 240, 84-90.
79. Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (London:
Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 1 1-13; Gibb and Bowen,
Islamic Society and the West, pp. 181-184, 188.
80. Trimingham, Sufi Orders, p. 240; Sheikh Abdel Halim Mohmud,
Al Madrassa al-Shadhliyya al-Haditha wa Immamuha Abu Hassan
al-Shadhili (Cairo: Dar al-Katib at-Arabi, 1967), pp. 20-22.
81. Martin, Muslim Brotherhoods; Dunn, Resistance in the
Desert (see footnote 7, intro.); Trimingham, Sufi Orders,
pp. 240-241; N.A. Ziadeh, Sanusiyah (Leiden: Brili 1958);
Jamil M. Abu-Nasar, The Tyaniyya A Sufi Order and the Modern
World (London Oxford University Press, 1965).
82. Jalal ud-Din Rumi, The Mathnawi, R.A. Nicholson, trans.,
Gibb Memorial Series IV.6 (London: Luzac, 1934), pp. 224-226.
83. Ibid. p. 228.
84. Fr. Taeschner, Futuwwa," in Enc. Isla. See also
Mickal Chodkiewics' introduction to al-Sulami, "The Book
of Sufi Chiraly (Kitab al-Futuwwa): NY. 1983.
85. W. Montgomery Watt, "Hanif," in Enc. Islam.
86. Qur'an XVIII:9-25; Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of lslam,
87. Ibn Hasham, cited in Hamidullah, Muslim Conduct of State,
88. Cited in Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions, p. 246.
89. "Futuwwa" in Ene. Islam; Trimingham, Sufi Orders,
pp. 24-25; H. A.R. Gibb, Saladin: Studies in Islamic History,
Y. Ibish, ed. (Beirut: Arab Institute for Research and Publishing,
1974), pp. 32, 41-42.
90. Discussion of `ayyan in "Futuwwa," Enc. Islam;
also, Gibb, Saladin, p. 40.
91. An-Nawawi, in Forty Hadith (footnote 99, Ch. 3); the
17th in this collection of (actually) 42 hadith. We may safely
assume that the contents of this little book have been memorized
by millions upon millions of Muslims over the centuries.
92. Ibid. p. 30 (hadith no. 2).
93. Sheikh Abdul Wahad Yahya (as Rene Guenon), Initiation
and the Crafts (Ipswich: Golgnooza Press, 1974), reprint from,
Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art, VI (1938);
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Christian and Orien
tal Philosophy ofArtr (New York: Dover, 1956), Chs. V, VI.
Also see relevant discussion ofsymbofsm and the process of
sacralization in Seyyed Hossein Nasar, The Encounter of Man
and Nature (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1968), pp. 129-136.
An extended variation on the same theme occurs in still another
popular saying of the Prophet, citd by Abu Zahra: "God
loveth anyone who brings his work to perfection, who knows
that God the Almighty watches him carefully while he is doing
his work, and that he would be reckoned with, by Him. He would
be requited, either for good or evil, in accordance with the
quality of his work." ("'The Jihad; Striving",
94. Trimingham, Sufi Orders, p. 24.
95. Faris and Potter, Arab Archery, p. 9
96. Ibid. pp. 24-25.
97. Mishkat, XXVI, Ch. XVIIL
98. Faris and Potter, Arab Archery, p. 25.
99. Ananda K. Commaraswmay, "The Symbolism of Archery,"
"Ars Islamica, X (1943), pp. 106-107, 117118.
100. Trimingham Sufi Orders, p. 14; Enc. Islam, "Futuwwa;"
Menahem Milson, "Introduction" to abu anNajib, as
Suhrawardi's Kitab Adab al-Muridin (A Sufi Rule for Novices),
M. Milson, trans. (Chambridge: Harvard University Press 1975),
p. 17. According to medieval biographer Ibn Khalican, Sheikh
Abu an-Najib asSuhrawardi was disciple of Sheikh Abdul Quadar
101. As-Suhrawardi, in Milson, Suhrawardi's Kitab, p. 81.
102. Enc. Islam, "Futuwwa".
103. Gibb, Saladin, pp. 104-137.
104. Enc. Islam, "Futuwwa".
105. Jalal ud-Din Rumi, in Nicholson, The Mathnawi, IV. 2,
106. Ibid. p. 205-208.
107. Ibid. p. 208-209.
108. Ibid. p. 215-216.
109. Ibid. p. 216.
110. Ibid. p. 214.
111. Gilani, Futuh al-Gaib, pp. 194.195.