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Renunciation and Asceticism in Early Sufi Biographical Literature

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This is a critical edition of an 11th century biographical encyclopedia entitled Ḥilyat al-awliyā’ wa-ṭabaqāt al-aṣfiyā’ by Abu Nu‛aym Al-Iṣfahānī (d. 430/1038). It includes a study of an extract of Abu Nu‛aym’s multi-volume work that comprises nine biographies of early figures who are known for their piety and strict asceticism. It also includes a critical edition of the Arabic text, an analysis of the biographical material, and a substantial discussion on the different aspects of asceticism and Sufism and the way they manifest themselves in the individuals covered in the concerned biographies. This book explores six previously uninvestigated manuscript copies which are collated and further compared with an already existent printed edition. It delivers an accurate and a comprehensive critical edition complemented with a presentation of the extensive tradition of biographical writing in Islam and a survey of the relevant modern scholarship on this subject.

Published: Oct 1, 2024