EARLY SUFI WOMEN – (Dhikr an-Niswa al-Muta ‘abbidāt as-Sūfiyyāt by Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmān as-Sulami)

EARLY SUFI WOMEN- (Dhikr an-Niswa al-Muta ‘abbidāt as-Sūfiyyāt by Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmān as-Sulami)

This work is a translation of the long-lost Dhikr an-Niswat al-muta’abbideit as-sufistit (Book of Sufi Women), the influential work on Sufi women saints by Abu `Abd ar-Rahman as-Sulami (d. 1021), that was thought lost until 1991, when a unique manuscript of the work was found in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which dates to the year 1084, only sixty-three year after the death of Sulami himself. This makes it one of the earliest manuscripts of Sulami’s works in existence arid the earliest work on Sufi women to appear in the Islamic hagiographical tradition. The work contains notices on eighty-four women and provides a picture of independent female spirituality in Islam that calls into question many long-held myths about the status of women in the Muslim world. Not only does Sufi spirituality possess a marked feminine dimension, but throughout the centuries numerous women in different areas of the Islamic world have participated in the spiritual teachings of Sufism. This classical work of Sulami is a precious testament to the role of women in the Sufi tradition in the past and to female spirituality in Islam in general. Rkia Cornell has meticulously translated and annotated this rich document, and her introduction clarifies the importance of the text in relation to the extensive writings of its author Sulami. …But the real payoff of this detailed scholarship has been to reveal this gem of feminine spirituality to a new audience.


Rkia Elaroui Cornell


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