This timely and stimulating Handbook, edited by world-class experts in the field, provides a comprehensive guide to Islamic Studies today. It examines the main issues in the field and explores the key debates. It provides readers with an indispensable, balanced guide to the roots of Islam and the challenges it faces in the twenty-first century.
Chapter 15: Doctrinal Sufism and Theoretical Gnosis
Doctrinal Sufism and Theoretical Gnosis
There is a body of knowledge in the Islamic tradition which, while highly intellectual in the original sense of this term, is neither theology (kalām) nor philosophy (falsafah) but deals with many subjects of their concern, although from another perspective. This body of knowledge is called doctrinal Sufism, al-tasawwuf al-'ilmī in Arabic, to be contrasted in practical Sufism, al-tasawwuf ad-'amalī, or theoretical (and sometimes speculative) gnosis (this term being understood in its original and not sectarian sense), especially in the Persian-speaking world, where it is referred to as ‘irfān-I nazarī. The seekers and masters of this body of knowledge have always considered it to be the Supreme Science, al-'ilm al-a'lā, and it corresponds in the Islamic ...