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The Art of Ancestry

  • Carl W. Ernst
  • Bruce B. Lawrence

Abstract

We talk about genealogies because Sufi authors themselves do. They do so because to reiterate and retrieve and conjure a spiritual line that links the current generation to earlier generations is central to defining identity. The key link is always through the Sufi masters, the spiritual giants, who define each generation. Genealogies serialized become biographies, and in the hands of Sufi authors, biographies often become hagiographies—the lives of holy exemplars.

Keywords

Death Date Indian Cycle Islamic History Textual Exegesis Foundational Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    The Persian word tazkira is used for any anthology with a biographical organization; we use it here for biographies of Sufi saints, though the term can cover literary and other anthologies. See Marcia K. Hermansen and Bruce B. Lawrence, “Indo-Persian Tazkiras as Memorative Communications,” in David Gilmartin and Bruce B. Lawrence, eds., Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), pp. 149–75.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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  3. 3.
    Adapted from Hamid Dabtishi, Authority in Islam (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1989), p. 19.Google Scholar
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    Marc Bloch, The Historian’s Craft, trans. Peter Putnam (New York: Knopf, 1953), pp. 32–35.Google Scholar
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    Examples of this obsession with beginnings include R. C. Zaehner, Hindu and Muslim Mysticism (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), and Julian Baldick, Mystical Islam (New York: New York University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
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    Dominick LaCapra, Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 31.Google Scholar
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    Wadad al-Qadi, “Biographical Dictionaries: Inner Structure and Cultural Significance,” in The Book in the Islamic World: The Written Word and Communication in the Middle East, ed. George N. Atiyeh (Albany: State University of New York Press/Library of Congress, 1995), p. 111.Google Scholar
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    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey (London: Luzac & Co., 1953–1972), I:993.Google Scholar
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    Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith Dihlawi, Akhbar al-akhyar fi asrar al-abrar (Delhi: Muham-madi Press, 1283/1866), p. 140.Google Scholar
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    Muhammad Irtida’ Ali Khan Gopamawi, Fawa’id-i Sa‘diyya (2nd ed., Luckno: Nawal Kishor, 1319/1901), pp. 8–13; this text, originally composed in 1826, is also available in an 1885 edition listed by Storey, I:1038–9. We thank Frederick Colby for this translation, included here with some modifications. For more background on this text, see Claudia Liebeskind, Piety on its Knees: Three Sufi Traditions in South Asia in Modern Times (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 124–76.Google Scholar
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    See Carl W. Ernst, Words of Ecstasy in Sufism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), p. 124.Google Scholar
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    Carl W. Ernst, Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center, SUNY Series in Muslim Spirituality in South Asia (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), pp. 227–50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Carl W. Ernst and Bruce B. Lawrence 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl W. Ernst
  • Bruce B. Lawrence

There are no affiliations available

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