A Lover of God

The Ecstatic Sufi Nūrī

By Dora Zsom

Subjects: Sufism, Islam, Literature, Mysticism, Middle East Studies
Series: SUNY series in Islam
Hardcover : 9781438498430, 362 pages, July 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-07-01

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Table of contents



1. Kalābādhī: Doctrine of the Sufis (Kitāb al-taʿarruf)

2. Sarrāj: Book of Flashes (Kitāb al-lumaʿ)

3. Sulamī: Generations of the Sufis (Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfiyya)

4. Sulamī: Realities of Interpretation (Ḥaqā'iq al-tafsīr)

5. Kharkūshī: Revision of the Secrets (Tahdhīb al-asrār)

6. Abū Nuʿaym: Ornament of God's Friends (Ḥilyat al-awliyā')

7. Qushayrī: Treatise (al-Risāla al-qushayriyya)

8. Sīrjānī: Black and White in the Words of Wisdom (Kitāb al-bayāḍ wa-l-sawād)

9. Correspondence between Nūrī and Junayd Preserved in the Cairo Genizah

10. Stations of the Hearts (Maqāmāt al-qulūb)

11. Conclusions

Appendix A Arabic Texts
Appendix B Comparative Table of the Material Related to Nūrī
Appendix C Technical Terms

Collects and interprets the literary legacy of Nūrī, an early Sufi master known for his ecstatic behaviour, eccentric acts, and passionate poems of mystical love.


One of the so-called ecstatic (or intoxicated) Sufis of Baghdad, Abū Ḥusayn al-Nūrī (d. 907/8) was famous for his quasi-blasphemous utterances and shocking public behavior. He was often enraptured by a passionate love of God that led him to eccentric acts that scandalized both ordinary people and the religious authorities. Besides yielding to divine love and beauty, he would occasionally come near succumbing to bodily temptations and carnal passions. Despite Nūrī’s outrageous behavior, Junayd, the moderate or sober Sufi par excellence, held him in high esteem, kept corresponding with him, and commented upon his controversial ecstatic sayings. This book collects Nūrī’s literary legacy by surveying the sources for his life—poems, sayings, and comments on the Quran, including an exchange of letters between him and Junayd preserved in the Cairo Genizah—and by discussing the authorship of the Stations of the Hearts, which has been widely attributed to Nūrī.

Dora Zsom is Associate Professor of Arabic at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.


"This book has much to offer as the first monograph-length study of Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Nūrī. Drawing on a combination of well-known foundational works and unstudied material, it shows how Nūrī's ideas and legacy evolved among classical and medieval Sufi authors." — John Zaleski, Loyola University Maryland