Muḥammad in Ṣūfī eyes: Prophetic legitimacy in medieval Iran and Central Asia

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To understand Muḥammad’s active presence in Muslim societies over the centuries is, in considerable part, a matter of trying to interpret narratives of miracles, dreams, trances, and other such phenomena that reside outside the purview of ordinary perception. Materials of this nature are available in great abundance in works penned by Ṣūfī Muslims because of their investment in the idea of an esoteric counterpart to the physical universe that is accessible to the spiritual elect. This is evident most prominently in Ṣūfī hagiography, a genre that began with the establishment of the first Ṣūfī communities in early Islamic centuries and continued to expand throughout the Middle Ages as Ṣūfī ideas gained greater currency across various Muslim societies. Saintly figures encountering Muḥammad in the esoteric world (bāṭin) is a familiar trope in this vast literature, usually aimed to establish a protagonist as an heir to the Prophet. Although this is a pattern relevant for the beliefs of many different Muslim groups, for medieval Ṣūfīs, encountering the Prophet in dreams and visions was an especially significant component in putting forth their claims of religious authority.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Muhammad
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780511781551
ISBN (Print)9780521886079
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


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