Circumambulating the Tomb of a Spiritual Teacher or (above) the Head of a Sufi Saint

“Now that the hajj has commenced in Mecca, I thought it might be of some interest to share something I learned when writing biographies of Sufis from various orders (ṭarīqah[s]) for The Biographical Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy, Oliver Leaman, ed. (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015; first published as two volumes by Thoemmes Continuum in 2006). I’ve taken the relevant paragraph from the full biography which follows below. It shows how one Sufi understood this particular Islamic obligation. I invite you to read the entire biography as Abu Sa`id is a rather colorful and eccentric Sufi mystic, at least as gleaned from the evidence we have of his life and spiritual practices. Oliver Leaman, our esteemed editor, explains the reasons for including Sufis in the introduction, which includes the fact that philosophy is translated as both falsafa (with Greek connotations, especially the Peripatetic tradition) and hikma or “wisdom” (there is also…

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