A Treatise on Mystical Love

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A Treatise on Mystical Love

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies Monograph Series 1 Editorial Board

Joseph Norment Bell ~Bernt Brendemoen ~Michael G. Carter Agostino Cilardo ~ Kinga Devenyi~ Josef van Ess ~Carole Hillenbrand John 0. Hunwick ~Alan Jones~ David A. King~ Pierre Larcher ~ Stefan Leder Wilferd Madelung ~Alex Metcalfe~ James E. Montgomery~ Bernd Radtke Paul G. Starkey~ Rudolf Vesely~ John 0. Voll ~ Petr Zemanek

A Treatise on Mystical Love Abu :Jl-I:Iasan c Ali b. Mul_lammad al-Daylami

Translated by Joseph Norment Bell and Hassan Mahmood Abdul Latif Al Shafie

Edinburgh University Press

©in this edition Joseph Norment Bell and Hassan Mahmood Abdul Latif Al Shafie, 2005 Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPT Antony Rowe, Eastbourne, East Sussex Transferred to digital print 2008 A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0 7486 1915 1 (hardback) ISBN 978 0 7486 1915 3 (hardback) The right of Joseph Norment Bell and Hassan Mahmood Abdul Latif Al Shafie to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

CONTENTS Acknowledgments Introduction Manuscript title page in English Author's Preface I. On the Chapters of the Book II. May the Word clshq Be Applied to Love for God and from God? III. Preliminary Considerations i. On the Excellence of Beauty ii. On the Excellence of the Beautiful 111. On the Excellence of That Which Is Perceived to Be Beautiful iv. On the Excellence of Love [and Eros] [iv. a.] The Opinions ofTheologians and Scholars on [Eros] v. On the Excellence of the Lover, or the Perceiver of Beauty vi. On the Virtues of the Beloved IV. On the Word Love, Its Derivation, and Its Meanings 1. The Opinions of the Belletrists 11. The Opinions of the Sufi Masters iii. Our Opinion v. On the Origin and Beginning of Love and Eros i. The Opinions of the Divine Philosophers among the Ancients ii. The Opinions of the Astrologers on the Origin of Eros and the Conditions under Which It Is Generated 111. The Opinions of the Physicians on Eros and Love lV. The Opinions of the Theologians on the Origin of Eros and Love and That from Which [They] Are Generated v. The Opinions of the Sufis on the Origin of Eros and Love and That from Which [They] Are Generated vi. Our Opinion VI. On the Essence and Quiddity of Love i. The Opinions of the Philosophers

ix Xl

1 5 8 10 11

14 15 16 19 21 21 24 24 27 30 38 38

44 46

49 51 59 65 65









ii. The Opinions of the Theologians on the Essence of Love lll. Statements of the Sufis on the Essence of Love IV. Our Opinion on the Essence and Quiddity of Love v. The Kinds of Love On the Diverse Views People Hold about Love i. Beginning of the Commentary on the Preceding Sentence ii. Section iii. Section IV. Section v. Section VI. Section V11. Section On the Description and Character of Eros i. The Opinions of the Belletrists 11. The Opinions of the Bedouin Arabs On Praiseworthy Love 1. Sayings of the Followers and the Jurists and Religious Authorities Who Came after Them on the Description of Love and Lovers 11. What the Bedouin Arabs Say about Eros iii. The Opinions of the Sufis on the Description of Love IV. Our Opinion On Those Who Disparaged Love for Some Cause i. The Opinion of the Physicians ii. On Those Who Disparaged Love Because They Were Unable to Bear It 111. On Those Who Disparaged Love Because They Had Risen above It On the Effects of Love [and Eros] and Their Signs and Symptoms i. The Opinions of the Philosophers 11. The Opinions of the Theologians on the Effects of Eros and Its Signs 111. What Lovers Have Said about the Signs of Love On the Signs of Love, Including the Sayings ofUnimpeachable Spiritual Authorities among the Mystics and the Righteous

67 67 73 74 77 77 78

79 79 80 81 82 84 84 86 88

89 99 103 107 109 109 110 112 116 116 120 122


Contents XIII. On the Classification of Love according to Our Opinion XIV. On the Signs of God's Love for Man XV. On the Explanation of the Signs of Man's Love for God XVI. On the Signs [of the Love] of Those Who Love One Another in God XVII. On the Love of the Elite among Believers XVIII. On the Love of the Commonality of Muslims XIX. On the Love of All Other Animate Beings XX. On the Meaning of the Word Shiihid XXI. On the Definition of the Perfection of Love XXII. On Those Who Died of Natural Love XXIII. On Those Who Killed Themselves for Love XXIV. On the Death of Divine Lovers i. [Section] 11. Section iii. Section Bibliography Index of Persons, Peoples, and Places


132 135 142 151 157 159 160 163 166 170 181 185 185 190 194 207 219

To the memory of Florence Willis Cralle Bell

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This translation and the edition from which it was made were supported by two grants from the American Research Center in Egypt, a Title F grant from the State University of New York, and research and travel funds from the University of Bergen. Publication of the translation was supported by the Norwegian Research Council and the University of Bergen. Numerous friends and colleagues have helped us in the course of our work, and we have acknowledged the assistance of some of them in the notes. We should like to mention in particular Muhsin Mahdi, who encouraged us to undertake this project. The many others who have helped us include El-Said Badawi, Diana deTreville, Carl W. Ernst, Josef van Ess, Ellen Finamore, Angelika Hartmann, Waltraud Hartje, Abd al-Fattah al-Hilw, John 0. Hunwick, Ahmed Mahmoud Ibrahim, David A. King, E. Kiimmerer, Father Regis Morelon, Albrecht Noth, Richard Holton Pierce, David Pingree, Bernd Radtke, George Saliba, Fuat Sezgin, Abdel Bari Taher, Hamed Taher, Manfred Ullmann, and Ali Ashri Zayed. Their assistance or their advice and support at various stages of our work we have not forgotten. Wilferd Madelung kindly reviewed drafts of the introduction and the text of the translation. Further we wish to acknowledge our debt to Jean-Claude Vadet, many aspects of whose previous edition and translation of al-Daylami's treatise are reflected in ours, and to Florian Sobieroj, who allowed us to consult his doctoral dissertation on Ibn Khafif before its publication and who provided us with information that allowed us to improve or correct our arguments in the Introduction at a number of places. At this point we should also mention our indebtedness to the efforts of Louis Massignon, Hellmut Ritter, Richard Walzer, Franz Rosenthal, Hans Hinrich Biesterfeldt, and Dimitri Gutas, whose previous work on various passages of the Kitiib caif al-alifhas made our task easier. Thanks are likewise due to Helen Miles, whose careful reading of our draft helped us eliminate a number of mistakes and infelicities of style. We are also especially indebted to our departed friend and collea&Ue Father G. C. Anawati and to the library of the Institut Dominicain d'Etudes Orientales in Cairo.

INTRODUCTION As nearly as can be determined, the major literary activity of Abu 0 1I:Iasan c Ali b. Mul:mmmad al-Daylami belongs to the latter quarter of the tenth century A.D. His Kitiib caif al-a/if al-ma"liif calii al-liim al-mac!iif is one of the earliest extant treatises on mystical love in Arabic literature. The work represents a Sunni spirituality grounded in the teachings of alDaylami's master Ibn Khafif of Shiraz (d. 3711982), but it reveals what may be the remnants of Shiite influence in certain of the author's expressions.! In some of its theoretical passages the work is indebted to the doctrine of the extremist mystic al-I:Iusayn b. Man~ur al-I:Iallaj, who was executed for his controversial teachings in 309/922. Although alDaylami's text propounds a mysticism that includes I:Iallajian elements and makes room for a certain notion of union of the mystical lover with God, it seems to repudiate outright al-I:Iallaj's ecstatic claims to identity with the divine essence.2 The book gives a well-rounded picture of the religious, philosophical, and literary trends of the author's time as these are reflected in theoretical discussions about love, both sacred and profane, and in the author's selection of anecdotes, poetry, and hagiographicalliterature relevant to the topic. In addition, through its many valuable citations of authorities from prior generations, the text helps explain how the ideas it deals with developed in early Islamic society. Although now surviving in only one known manuscript, the work appears to have exercised a profound and continued influence, directly and indirectly, on the later mystical tradition in Shiraz. This influence is most clearly evident in the writings ofRuzbihan Baqli, who died in 606/1209, or some two hundred years after al-Daylami.3 Perhaps al-Daylami's work was also of some significance for the subsequent literary flowering of Persian mysticism, a matter continuing research on Ruzbihan Baqli 1 The author refers to the family of the Prophet as "our leaders" or "our imams" in his preface (cf. MS, p. 2 and n. 6 there), and on occasion he uses, or retains when narrating, the benediction "may God bless him and grant him peace" after the name of cAli (cf. chapter five, MS, pp. 65 and n. 53, and MS, pp. 138, 282) and the similar formula "upon whom be peace" after the names of cAli and of his son al-J:Iasan (MS, pp. 151, 282). (Page references after the abbreviation MS, here and in subsequent notes, are to pages of the manuscript given in boldface between brackets in the text of this translation at the beginning of each manuscript page and on the margins of our edition.) 2 Cf. chapter seven, MS p. 108 and n. 15 there. 3 Seen. 4.



may help to elucidate.4 THE AUTHOR

Life and Times Biographer of his teacher Ibn Khafif and perpetuator of the memory of many scholars and mystics whose names would otherwise have remained unknown, al-Daylami himself, though repeatedly cited by later biographers of the city of Shiraz, ironically receives no biographical notice in any of the published biographical works we have consulted. A few facts about the life of our author and the subsequent transmission of his treatise on love can be gleaned from other sources. Most of these have been collected or pointed out by Jean-Claude Vadet in the introduction to his French translation of the Kitiib caif al-afif.5 As a consequence of the silence of the biographers, we do not know when al-Daylami was born, but we may assume that he was relatively young, possibly still a boy or a youth, when he became a disciple of Ibn Khafif. This was at the latest in or around 352/963-64, or some eighteen years before Ibn Khafif died. 6 We are also ignorant regarding the date of 4 On an initiatic chain connecting the great poet I;Iafi~ of Shiraz (d. 791/1389 or 792/1390) to Ruzbihan Baqli and for a view of the affinity between Ruzbihan and the poet, see Rlizbihan Baqli, Kitiib-i cabhar al-ciishiq!n, ed. Henry Corbin and Moh. Mo'in, French intro., pp. 56-63. For further discussion of this question, and of the legacy of Ruzbihan Baqli in general, and thus to some extent of that of al-Daylami, see Carl W. Ernst, Riizbihiin Baqll: Mysticism and the Rhetoric of Sainthood in Persian Sufism, pp. 6--15, 111-41, esp. pp. 9-10. For an inquiry into a specific example of al-Daylami's influence on Ruzbihan Baqli, see Masataka Takeshita, "Continuity and Change in the Tradition of Shirazi Love Mysticism-A Comparison between Daylami's cAif al-Alifand Ruzbihan Baqli's cAbhar al- cAshiq!n," pp. 113-31. 5 Jean-Claude Vadet, Le traite d'amour mystique d'al-Daylami (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1980), pp. 1-23, and especially, on al-Daylami's biography, pp. 4-6. A number of points we touch on here are developed more fully by Vadet. In particular, Vadet gives a much fuller sketch of the memory of al-Daylaml in the Shiraz school and the transmission of his work to Ruzbihan than we have attempted here (ibid., pp. 6-23). In this connection the critical review of Vadet's suggestions by Florian Sobieroj should also be consulted ("Ibn t[afif as-Sirazl," pp. 26-27). Vadet's translation was made from his edition of the Arabic text, Kitiib caif al-a/if al-ma"liif calii al-liim al-mac!iif, Cairo: lmprimerie de l'Institut Frans;ais d'Archeologie Orientale, 1962. As a rule we refer in our annotations to Vadet's edition and translation simply as Vadet, edition, and Vadet, trans. 6 Ibn Khafif died in 3711982. Abu AJ:lmad al-Kablr, the servant and companion of Ibn Khafif, died in 377/987-88. Al-Daylaml claims he saw this servant,



al-Daylami's death. The best we can hope for is a date at which, and perhaps for some time after which, he was still active. A rather uncertain identification with an Abii "1-I:Iasan al-Daylami said by al-Qifti to have visited the vizier Abii cAn Mu"ayyad al-Mulk would suggest 392/10011002, the year of the vizier's investiture. 7 If the identification is false, who always wore a coarse woolen cloak, for some twenty-five years, thus from approximately 352 (377 minus 25) at the latest, perhaps already earlier (Junayd Shirazi, Shadd al-iziir, p. 46; the parallel text from the Sh!riizniima of ZarkUb Shirazi, cited by Vadet, trans., p. 9, has a hiatus that doubles al-Daylami's claim from twenty-five to fifty years). According to this reckoning al-Daylami must have been in the company of Ibn Khafif at least nineteen years (352-371). Moreover, on one occasion (if the subject of the verb qiila introducing the report is al-Daylami himself and not someone he is quoting) al-Daylami saw Abu Al).mad al-Kabir when he (al-Daylami) was in the company of Abu cAbd Allah al-Baytar, Abu Na~r al-Tusi (whom the editors of the Shadd, MuJ:lammad Qazv1n1 and cAbbas Iqbal, identify as the author of the Kitiib al-lumac [pp. 47, n. 2, and 49, n. 1]), and a certain al-J:Iasan al-Jawaliqi or al-Jawallqi. This event occurred presumably after 352 and definitely before 27 Rama