Sanctity and Mysticism in Medieval Egypt
The Wafāʼ Sufi Order and the Legacy of Ibn al-ʿArabī
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Using the original, little-known writings of Sufis Muhammad and 'Ali Wafa', this book explores the development of the idea of Islamic sainthood in the post-Ibn 'Arabi period.
Using the original writings of two Egyptian Sufis, Muḥammad Wafāʼ and his son 'Alī, this book shows how the Islamic idea of sainthood developed in the medieval period. Although without a church to canonize its "saints," the Islamic tradition nevertheless debated and developed a variety of ideas concerning miracles, sanctity, saintly intermediaries, and pious role models. In the writings of the Wafāʼs, a complete mystical worldview unfolds, one with a distinct doctrine of sainthood and a novel understanding of the apocalypse. Using almost entirely unedited manuscript sources, author Richard J. A. McGregor shows in detail how Muḥammad and 'Alī Wafāʼ drew on earlier philosophical and gnostic currents to construct their own mystical theories and notes their debt to the Sufi order of the Shadhiliyya, the mystic al-Tirmidhī, and the great Sufi thinker Ibn ʿArabī. Notably, although located firmly within the Sunni tradition, the Wafāʼs felt free to draw on Shi'ite ideas for the construction of their own theory of the final great saint.
Richard J. A. McGregor is Assistant Professor of Religion at Vanderbilt University.