Recasting Qushayri's Risala in Fifteenth-Century Egypt

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Journal of Sufi Studies




Abstract The scholarly works of the Egyptian Sufi and chief qadi Zakariyy? al-An??r? (d. 926/1520) often reflect a late-medieval Muslim trend of subtle intellectual innovation—that is, innovation that cloaks itself in the received tradition while often diverging markedly from it. It is particularly his celebrated I?k?m al-dal?la ?al? ta?r?r al-Ris?la, a commentary on ?Abd al-Kar?m al-Qushayr?’s (d. 465/1072) Ris?la in Sufism, that embodies such an intellectual trend quite starkly. This study examines the I?k?m to understand how An??r? adapted an eleventh-century Nishapuri handbook in Sufism to his own fifteenth-century Egyptian context. It argues that An??r?’s redirecting of Qushayr?’s Ris?la occurs through three broad interpretative techniques: a recasting in content, a recasting in form, and a recasting in tone and objective of the original text. After exploring these techniques in depth, a few larger implications for the field of commentary theory are noted in a concluding section. A preliminary consideration of An??r?’s biography, particularly those biographical details related to his scholarly training and career, his background in Sufism, and the writing of his I?k?m, appears as a preface to the textual analysis that comprises the second half of the study.