Jaʿfar al-Khuldī (d. 348/959) and the Early Sufi Textual Tradition: Text-critical and computational approaches Restricted; Files Only

Farrell, Jeremy (Summer 2021)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/44558f69m?locale=en


Similar to many religious and social movements that arose during the first four Islamic centuries, there exists a considerable temporal gap between the hypothesized emergence of Sufism in Iraq in the third/ninth and fourth/tenth centuries and systematic documentation thereof, a situation that presents serious challenges to the study of this period of Sufi activity. This dissertation presents new textual and methodological resources to analyze the formation of early Sufism as a new religious movement, with special reference to the Baghdadi Sufi Jaʿfar al-Khuldī (d. 348/959). Although al-Khuldī has long been recognized as heir to important early Sufis and a chronicler of their exploits, his considerable textual legacy has never been systematically analyzed or contextualized. The diverse body of texts associated with him spans the genres of geography, biography, Prophetic ḥadīth, philosophical and doctrinal treatises, and advice literature. The structured nature of this data, which is largely unique to the field of Arabo-Islamic bibliography, makes it possible to apply and extend the types of text-critical and computational modes of investigation that have been proposed to analyze earlier phases of the development of the early Arabic textual corpus. Such analyses offer new insights into the structure of the early Sufi movement, including its intellectual bases, the membership of the early community, the nature of in-group relations, and the formation of a group-level alliance with the Shafiʿi legal school. This dissertation thus makes an original contribution to the study of early Sufism by expanding the archive of available texts for this period, as well as delineating key organizational features of the early Sufi movement. Furthermore, it demonstrates the complementarity of computational methods with traditional scholarly approaches to Arabic texts and Islamic prosopographical material.

Table of Contents

Introduction ... 1


Ch. 1: A Sufi “bookman” of the fourth/tenth century: Al-Khuldī’s literary legacy ... 18

1.                            Previous scholarship on Jaʿfar al-Khuldī’s works

2.                          Material compiled after al-Khuldī’s death

                                  A.            Waṣiyyah (BNRM 486 ك)

                 3.             Material compiled by al-Khuldī

                                   A.           Majālis al-ḥadīth (M10)

                                   B.             Majālis al-ḥadīth (M3)

                                   C.             Miḥnat al-imām al-Shāfiʿī

                                   D.            Al-Fawāʾid wa-l-zuhd wa-l-marāthī wa-l-raqāʾiq (FZRM)

                 E.             Excursus: The circulation of copies of Jaʿfar’s compilations

4.             Material compiled by others and transmitted by al-Khuldī

A.             Akhbār al-Madīnah, Muḥammad b. al-Hasan Ibn Zabālah

(d. after 199/814)

B.            K. al-ʿAql, Dāwūd b. al-Muḥabbar al-Baṣrī (d. 206/821)

C.           Masānīd al-khulafāʾ min Banī l-ʿAbbās, Abū ʿAbd Allāh

al-Ḥusayn b. ʿUbayd Allāh b. al-Khaṣīb al-Abzārī al-Minqarī (d. 295/907)

D.          Taʾrīkh, Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh b.

Sulaymān al-Ḥaḍramī al-Muṭayyan (d. 297 or 298/909-10)

E.             Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Muḥammad Ibn Masrūq al-Ṭūsī (d. 298/911-12)

i.               K. al-Qanāʿah

ii.             K. al-Inbisāṭ

5.              Conclusion


Ch. 2:    Reconstructing al-Khuldī’s lost prosopography ... 73

1.               Al-Khuldī’s lost prosopography: Early indications of text-reuse

2.             The main lines of transmission of the al-Khuldī corpus:

A Source-critical study

A.            Abū Nuʿaym’s citational style

B.            Did al-Khuldī and Abū Nuʿaym meet?

C.             Abū Nuʿaym’s intermediaries

                 3.             Ḥikāyāt al-Khuldī obtained by Raḍī al-Dīn al-wāʿiẓ (d. 590/1194)

                                   A.            Abū Bakr al-Bayhaqī (d. 458/1066)

                                   B.            Al-Ḥākim al-Nīsābūrī (d. 405/1014)

                                  C.             Abū ʿAbd al-Rahmān al-Sulamī (d. 412/1021)

4.             Juzʾ fīhi ḥikāyāt/akhbār Ibrāhīm b. Adham, obtained by

Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 852/1449)

5.             Descent from a common source: Assessing the similarity

of text-reuse across the al-Khuldī corpus using Levenshtein distance

6.             The chronological development of al-Khuldī’s prosopography

 7.             Conclusion


Ch. 3:    Organizational strategies in early Sufism (3rd/9th and 4th/10th cs.): Evidence from the ‘ethical testament’ (waṣiyyah) tradition ... 133

1.           The Arabic waṣiyyah tradition

2.         Early Sufi waṣāyā

a.         Early Sufi waṣāyā extant in MS

b.         Early Sufi waṣāyā preserved in Sufi compendia

3.         Organizational strategies in early Sufism reconsidered

a.         Legitimacy as descent from the early Muslim community

b.         Power-sharing through non-empirical rewards structures

c.          Recruitment through youth involvement

4.         Conclusion


Ch. 4:   The origin of the Sufi-Shafiʿi interlock: A Network investigation ... 175

1.           Introduction

2.         Sources and methods

a.         Early lists of Sufis and Shafiʿis

b.         Network construction through two-stage sampling

c.          Evaluation of the two-stage sampling

3.         Network concepts and metrics for evaluating the Sufi-Shafiʿi

corporate interlock

a.         Identification of early Sufi and Shafiʿi networks

                          i.        Network modularity

                         ii.        Geodesic distance

b.         Identification of the Sufi-Shafiʿi interlock in the

mid-fourth/tenth century

                              i.        k-core component perturbation

                             ii.        Degree-threshold perturbation

c.          Al-Khuldī as key interlocking-figure

4.         Motivation for the interlock: Ascendant Shiʿism as a

catalyst for “Sunni” alliances

5.         Conclusion


3               Conclusion ... 218


4              Appendices ... 221

                 Appendix A: Reconstructions of texts by Jaʿfar al-Khuldī

                                   1.              Juzʾ fīhi akhbār/ḥikāyāt Ibrāhīm b. Adham

                                   2.             Untitled prosopographical work

                 Appendix B: Bibliography of Sufi waṣāyā in Arabic

Appendix C: Code for computational analyses

1. Ch. 2 code: Levenshtein distance (Levenshtein-distance – Python)

and visualization (ggplot2 – R)

                                   2. Ch. 4 code: geodesic distance (igraph – R) and visualization (ggplot2)


5               Bibliography ... 328

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