Considers what is known of acclaimed early Sufi master Abū Bakr al-Shiblī and how he was characterized in various times and places.
Early Sufi master Abū Bakr al-Shiblī (d. 946) is both famous and unknown. One of the pioneers of Islamic mysticism, he left no writings, but his legacy was passed down orally, and he has been acclaimed from his own time to the present. Accounts of Shiblī present a fascinating figure: an eccentric with a showy red beard, a lover of poetry and wit, an ascetic who embraced altered states of consciousness, and, for a time, a disturbed man confined to an insane asylum. Kenneth Avery offers a contemporary interpretation of Shiblī's thought and his importance in the history of Sufism. This book surveys the major sources for Shiblī's life and work from both Arabic and Persian traditions, detailing the main facets of his biography and teachings and documenting the evolving figure of a Sufi saint. Shiblī's relationships with his more famous colleague Junayd and his infamous colleague Ḥallāj are discussed, along with his Qur'ānic spirituality, his poetry, and the question of his periodic insanity.
Kenneth Avery received his PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Melbourne in Australia. His books include Fifty Poems of 'Aṭṭār and A Psychology of Early Sufi samā': Listening and Altered States.
"…Avery's monograph presents us with a pioneering attempt to use a better and much fresher method, derived from the existing hagiographies, to reconstruct Shiblī's image and spirituality through the different phases of Sufism." — Journal of Sufi Studies
"A very fine contribution to the history of Sufism." — John Renard, editor of Fighting Words: Religion, Violence, and the Interpretation of Sacred Texts