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  1	
  
SUFIS OF TWELFTH AND THIRTEENTH CENTURIES ANDALUSIA
By
Jamal Afiq Jamaludin
Master of Letters
College of Arts
Univ...
  2	
  
Table of Content
Abstract…………………………………………………………3
Acknowledgements……………………………………………..4
List of Illustrations…………………...
  3	
  
Abstract
The thesis explores on the Sufis of twelfth to thirteenth centuries Andalusia and how the
beliefs and ide...
  4	
  
Acknowledgements
First, I would like to thank God for blessing me with good health all throughout the
course year....
  5	
  
List of Illustrations
The Almohad Dominion Map, Catalogue; Almoravid, Almohad and Nasrid Periods:
Ceramics’, Al-An...
  6	
  
Figure 7: Al-Hariri Maqamat, The Farewell at Tayba of Abu Zayd and al-Harith & Al-
Harith and his companions befor...
  7	
  
Figure 14: Folio of the Diwan by Ibn Arabi, Collection of Sufi poems, 13th
Century
A.D., Nasser D. Khalili Collect...
  8	
  
Map showing the Almohad administration territory during the thirteenth century.
(Image from Ed. Jerrilynn D. Dodds...
  9	
  
The Meaning of the term Sufi.
The term “Sufi” has two derivations in the history of Islam. The first comes from th...
  10	
  
In Approaching Sufi-Themed Art
Following the death of the prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. in 632 A.D., Muslims were
lef...
  11	
  
Spiritual awareness in Islam involves recitation of the Quran, an understanding of the
meaning of each ayat or ve...
  12	
  
hierarchy of being to the ultimate vision of God.6
The quest for redemption then is found
in the solat or prayer ...
  13	
  
A Khurasan Sufi, Al-Hallaj preached the concept of self-annihilation for the purpose of
unity with God. His belie...
  14	
  
Sufism is difficult to assess.10
However, it has been proven otherwise through the study
of the expansion of Isla...
  15	
  
Hence, by looking at Sufism as part of the custom of twelfth and thirteenth centuries
Andalusia and comparing it ...
  16	
  
Sufi-themed Art to be secular or religious. It does not work in the same way we perceive
Christian Art or Buddhis...
  17	
  
A part of the society enjoyed the newly introduced luxurious way of life while the
other saw it as a threat to th...
  18	
  
It is known that Sufi scholars travelled as far as to Baghdad ever since the tenth century
to join symposiums rel...
  19	
  
Sufis Of Twelfth And Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia
The development of Sufism and the expansion of Islam to North...
  20	
  
The Maliki school became predominant in Egypt, North Africa and Southern Spain
(Andalusia), while the Hanbali sch...
  21	
  
High Atlas Mountain to study at Aghmat before entering Andalusia, where he became a
student of a Sufi named Abu a...
  22	
  
Ibn Tumart and his followers reached Maghreb in the year 1120. At that time, from
Ifriqiyya to Andalusia, the Mal...
  23	
  
(preaching in Islam) caused Ibn Tumart’s companions to launch a mission that helped to
chart the Almohad movement...
  24	
  
The sedentary quality of the Almohads gave an opportunity for them to establish a
higher level of spiritual stabi...
  25	
  
Tufayl and Ibn Rushd. By this time, the amalgamation of various knowledge and
intellectual debate were openly acc...
  26	
  
On their way to Marrakesh; a plague broke out and killed the last man from the council
of ten elected by the orig...
  27	
  
The Almohads did not recover after it was defeated. This gave chance for another force
to come in and fully defea...
  28	
  
Murcia by the Almohads. Ali Ibn Arabi was a highly positioned officer in the
Almohad government.39
Since his fath...
  29	
  
then helped to shape the future of oriental Sufism. He was regarded as the Western link
to the Eastern Sufi world...
  30	
  
and the teachings of forty-two Sufi sheikhs.44
The doctrine of Ibn Arabi mentioned about the return to God, is mo...
  31	
  
Art of a particular period reflects the cultural system of that period. In addition to visual
Arts, he asserted t...
  32	
  
thirteenth century was marked as the end of the Islamic Golden Age due to many factors
such as the invasion of th...
  33	
  
sensations towards God. It is indicated in the Quran in surah al-Ankabut (The Spider),
verse 45, “Prayer indeed p...
  34	
  
Sufism is an awareness to purify one’s self by improving the morals and building up the
inner and outer life in o...
  35	
  
would ideally fill up their minds and consciousness, leaving no room for remembrance
of others.54
Muslims of the ...
  36	
  
highly intellectual and could only be achieved by long discussions and
debates on jurisprudence, theology and phi...
  37	
  
basis of tribal coalitions and state formation. Islamization then continued with the
involvement of long-distance...
  38	
  
Almohad administration but became a precedent for many later years to come. The Blue
Quran employed the impressio...
  39	
  
another Sufi by the name of Suhrawadi also wrote in his book Hikmat al-Ishraq
(Theosophy of the orient of Lights)...
  40	
  
would be because of the costly blue dye. Nevertheless the dimension of light was still
put into the production no...
  41	
  
Figure 3: The Almohad Quran Manuscript, 12th
to 13th
Century A.D., Gold and blue ink on
clear parchment, 26.2 x 2...
  42	
  
became a popular genre. It tells the story of heroes consumed by physical passion and
devoted to the idealization...
  43	
  
The Bowl of Reflections (Figure 4) was used as a decorative object rather than a
utilitarian one. The iconography...
  44	
  
Another bowl that illustrates Sufi inspiration and the idea of yearning for and the love of
God is the famous Kas...
  45	
  
On the other hand in Andalusia, Love was the central theme in the philosophy of Ibn
Hazm, the teacher to Ibn Tuma...
  46	
  
Love manifests whenever the divine reality is contemplated and felt.78
Ibn Arabi interpreted surah al-Hadid (The ...
  47	
  
After the person recognizes the inadequacy and ignorance w i t h in t h e m selves and
regards God alone as adequ...
  48	
  
It is often compared to the Al-Hariri Maqamat (Figure 7) and the story of “One
Thousand and One Nights” that incl...
  49	
  
Manual written by Ibn Abdun in the early twelfth century, it is important to note that
this market regulation in ...
  50	
  
(Figure 8) shows an artefact that combines the aesthetics of the court scene in Andalusia
and the ideology from t...
  51	
  
The pillow cover was commissioned from the court of Andalusia during the Almohad
rule in between the year 1180 an...
  52	
  
The doctrine is divided into twelve chapters and the most important part is found in the
second chapter where a d...
  53	
  
their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their step-sons, their
brothers, their brothe...
  54	
  
Oneness attribute of God. In an Arabic-speaking Andalusian society, this was
materialised via the inscriptions of...
  55	
  
Meanwhile, Ibn Arabi also described about the concept of ‘Beauty’ in which he stated
that there is a distinction ...
  56	
  
The act of remembrance of God or zikir ism Allah (repetitive invocation of God in
Arabic) during the Almohad peri...
  57	
  
The Las Navas de Tolosa banner was in the possession of the Almohad
administration during the battle of Reconquis...
  58	
  
The last object that referred to the doctrine of divine unity is a brazier that bears a
repetitive praying inscri...
  59	
  
In chapter two of the doctrine of the divine unity, it was explained that it is by the
necessity of reason that t...
  60	
  
Figure 14: Folio of the Diwan by Ibn Arabi, Collection of Sufi poems, 13th
Century A.D., Nasser D. Khalili
Collec...
  61	
  
Figure 15: The Almohad Casket, 12th
Century A.D., Ivory, wood, and gilt copper, 41 x 38
x 14 cm, Institutode de V...
  62	
  
Conclusion
It is no doubt that the influence of Sufism can be traced on the material culture
of twelfth and thirt...
  63	
  
However, by the end of the fifteenth century, Sufism was already integrated into
Muslim religious life and this c...
  64	
  
Catalogue One
The Blue Quran folio of Surah Al-Baqarah, 2, vv. 34-41
9th
to 10th
Century A.D.
Gold ink on blue pa...
  65	
  
Harun al-Rashid in Mashad or from an early Fatimid manuscript made in Maghreb
before the dynasty established Cair...
  66	
  
repeatedly to get the rich indigo hue. After it has been dyed, the fifteen grid lines
were drawn out. Once this i...
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
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Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
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Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)
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Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia (Jamaludin, J.A.)

  1. 1.   1   SUFIS OF TWELFTH AND THIRTEENTH CENTURIES ANDALUSIA By Jamal Afiq Jamaludin Master of Letters College of Arts University of Glasgow Christie’s Education London The Arts of Europe September 2012 © Jamal Afiq Jamaludin
  2. 2.   2   Table of Content Abstract…………………………………………………………3 Acknowledgements……………………………………………..4 List of Illustrations………………………………………….5 – 7 Map……………………………………………………………...8 The Meaning of the term Sufi…………………………………..9 In Approaching Sufi-themed Art…………………………10 - 18 Sufis of Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia……...19 - 30 Looking at Sufi-themed objects…………………………..30 - 32 The Sufist Eye……………………………………………32 – 61 Conclusion………………………………………………..62 - 63 Catalogue………………………………………………….64 - 95 Glossary…………………………………………………..96 - 97 Bibliography……………………………………………..98 - 102
  3. 3.   3   Abstract The thesis explores on the Sufis of twelfth to thirteenth centuries Andalusia and how the beliefs and ideas during that time influenced the spirit and material culture of the geographical area. During the times of the Almohad administration a Sufi-laden doctrine called ‘The Doctrine of Divine Unity’ was made as an official governmental charter. This caused an effect on the artefacts that were produced during this time. On top of that, the nature of the Almohad government that encouraged intellectual development further enhanced and intensified the influence of Sufism. Two prominent figures were highlighted in this thesis are namely the founder of the Almohad administration, Ibn Tumart and the famous Andalusian Sufi and philosopher, Ibn Arabi. The thesis takes on a theological approach upon studying the artefacts. Inscriptions were analyzed and compared with Sufi texts that were produced during this time. The Ruh al- Quds and Durrat al-Fakhirah that were written by Ibn Arabi became the primary sources for the study besides ‘The Doctrine of Divine Unity’. In addition to that, a few key terms in Sufism itself were explained, problems raised by other art historian were discussed and a method to approach Sufi-themed art was introduced. Word Count: 18,364
  4. 4.   4   Acknowledgements First, I would like to thank God for blessing me with good health all throughout the course year. Secondly, I would like to thank my mom for introducing Sufism to me. Indeed it was history repeating as when she was in London in 1980s as a student at Architectural Association School of Architecture she equipped herself with the knowledge on Sufism during her free time and by the grace of God, I did the same. It was enlightening to be given the chance to compose an art historical thesis about it. My gratitude extends to my father for supporting my studies in London and giving me advice every now and then. To my sister in Manchester, thank you for helping me settling in and I wish you well on your course. I would also like to thank the faculty of Arts of Europe course in Christies Education, Dr. Richard Plant for being the father of the course and pushing me to the limits so that I will work harder, Dr. Cecily Hennessy for being the strict mother of the course and taught me about being disciplined and Dr. Sadie Pickup for being the sister of the course and showed me how to be a graceful art historian. Not to forget, Dr. Minna Torma for conducting a stimulating and pleasing Issues and Context seminars. Other members of the Christies Education establishment especially Ms. Natasha Held, Mr. Glen W. Hardwick, Ms. Katie Blackford, Mr. Foiz Uddin, Ms. Hela Fox and Ms. Catherine McGivern, many thanks for all the help, big and small. Lastly, thank you to the couple that is in Malaysia right now, Ms. Liyana Ibrahim and Mr. Justin J. Heyes for the encouragement and agreeing to proofread my thesis dissertation. To a friend, Ms. Ester Arenas, thank you for being a positive housemate and to whomever I have not mentioned here but have helped throughout the academic year, thank you.
  5. 5.   5   List of Illustrations The Almohad Dominion Map, Catalogue; Almoravid, Almohad and Nasrid Periods: Ceramics’, Al-Andalus; The Art of Islamic Spain (New York 1992), p. XXVII. Figure 1: The Blue Quran, 9th to 10th Century A.D., Gold ink on blue parchment, 28 x 38 cm, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, MS.8.2006 Figure 2: The Almoravid Quran Manuscript, 12th Century A.D., Gold and blue ink on parchment, 18 x 18.8 cm, Istanbul University Library, A6755 Figure 3: The Almohad Quran Manuscript, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Gold and blue ink on clear parchment, 26.2 x 22 cm, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Smith-Lesoeuf 217 Figure 4: The Kashan Bowl of Reflections, 12th Century A.D., Glazed and painted lusterware, 8.6 x 33 cm, Brooklyn Museum, New York, 86.227.16 Figure 5: The Kashan Plate, 13th Century A.D., Glazed and painted lusterware, 35.2 cm (Diameter), Freer Sackler, The Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art, Washington D.C, F1941.11 Figure 6: Bifolium of Andalusian Illuminated Manuscript of Hadith Bayad Wa Riyad. , 12th to 13th Century A.D., Paint on paper, 28.2 x 20 cm, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome, Vat. Ar. 368
  6. 6.   6   Figure 7: Al-Hariri Maqamat, The Farewell at Tayba of Abu Zayd and al-Harith & Al- Harith and his companions before their separation, 13th Century A.D., Paint on paper, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Arabe 3929, fol. 122 & Arabe 5847, fol. 46 verso Figure 8: The Pillow Cover of Queen Berenguela, 12th to 13th Century A.D. , Silk and gold thread, 86 x 50 cm, Patrimonio Nacional, Museo deTelas Medivales, Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas, Burgos, 00650512 Figure 9: The Almohad Pair of Earrings, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Gold sheer, wire, and grains, set with cloisonné enamel, 4.8 x 4.65 cm, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait City, Kuwait, al-Sabah Collection, LNS30 Jab Figure 10: The Almohad Jar, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Painted lusterware, 4 cm (Diameter) , Ayuntamiento de Valencia, 1000 Figure 11: The Almohad Las Navas de Tolosa Banner, 13th Century A.D., Silk and gilt parchment, 330 x 220 cm, Patrimanio Nacional, Museo de Telas Medievales, Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de, Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas, Burgos, 00652193 Figure 12: The Almohad Bowl, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Glazed and painted lusterware, 23.2 cm (Diameter), Museo de Mallorca, Palma de Mallorca, 13505 Figure 13: The Almohad Brazier, 13th Century A.D., Bronze, 26 cm, Museo Arquelogico Provincial de Cordoba, D. 92/2
  7. 7.   7   Figure 14: Folio of the Diwan by Ibn Arabi, Collection of Sufi poems, 13th Century A.D., Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London, 255 Figure 15: The Almohad Casket, 12th Century A.D., Ivory, wood, and gilt copper, 41 x 38 x 14 cm, Institutode de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid 4864
  8. 8.   8   Map showing the Almohad administration territory during the thirteenth century. (Image from Ed. Jerrilynn D. Dodds, ‘Catalogue; Almoravid, Almohad and Nasrid Periods: Ceramics’, Al-Andalus; The Art of Islamic Spain (New York 1992), p. XXVII.
  9. 9.   9   The Meaning of the term Sufi. The term “Sufi” has two derivations in the history of Islam. The first comes from the record of Abu Rayhan Biruni who said that the word Sufi comes from the Greek word Sophia which means wisdom and also formed the word “philosophy” which takes from the word “philo” that means love and “Sophia” that means wisdom. Literally the word “philosophy” means the love of wisdom. Although, this derivation fits the context of Sufism in Islam because it reflects the teachings, practice and findings, nevertheless the Sufi may also means “wool” that comes from the word “Suf”. It was a common word used to describe the Sufis because of the woollen robes that the Sufis usually wore as a garment. Ever since ancient times, many mystics and pious people have worn this garment as a symbol of rejecting the material world. There were also insertions that claimed even Jesus and Moses used to wear wool. The Sufi from Persia, Jalal al-Din Rumi was also seen wearing wool and has said the wool fabric is an appropriate dress for Sufis whom are on their way to the spiritual path in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries.1 Another sensible point of view would be that during the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, many Sufis travelled afar in search of knowledge and correspondence with other Sufis and spiritual masters and the most appropriate dress to battle the cold during travelling would be woollen garments. Its simplicity signifies humility and in the times of grandiose empires such like the Seljuk of Rum, it is important for them to distinct themselves from them and to be recognized not as a threat to the administration but being just a man on a spiritual path.                                                                                                                 1  Javad Nurbakhsh, ‘Tasavvof: Definitions of Sufism and the Sufi’, Sufism; Meaning, Knowledge and Unity (New York, 1981), pp. 11-12.    
  10. 10.   10   In Approaching Sufi-Themed Art Following the death of the prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. in 632 A.D., Muslims were left with the Quran as a form of guidance. Compiled and canonized by the prophet’s sahabat or companion named Uthman bin Affan, it became the foundation that helped to progressively shape Islamic urban living. Since then scholars of hadith, law, theology, mystics or Sufism and ascetic depended on it. Brief History Of Sufism Sufism originated from the spiritual objective and religious practices of the prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H., his various sahabat, and their successors. Sufism developed in parallel alongside the expansion of Islam outward from Arabia. While the elites concentrated in strengthening and giving order to the empire, other Muslims contemplated on the value of their short-lived material world or dunia.2 The Sufist doctrine teaches decency in abiding by the Quran, humble yearning in attaining God’s love (zuhud) and total avoidance of sin, as well as excessive material world desires. It performs as an Islamic, spiritual blanket served to invoke piousness and supposedly imitating the acts of the prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. A similar concept can be found in eastern Christian spirituality.3 The Sufist doctrine does not discriminate between the Sunni or Shiite Islam. The idea for adapting the Sufist way of life was not originally derived from Islam. The ascetic attitude has emerged ever since the Abrahamic times. Since then, it has psychologically, emotionally and spiritually evolved. 2 Ira M. Lapidus, ‘Urban Islam: the Islam of the religious elites – Mystics and Sufism’, A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 109-115. 3 Ibid.
  11. 11.   11   Spiritual awareness in Islam involves recitation of the Quran, an understanding of the meaning of each ayat or verse; zikir (the remembrance of God and repetition of his attributes), litanies and meditation alongside with the suppression of inner vices or temptations. These are the believed means through which one can get closer to God, by constantly reminding oneself to conduct oneself righteously.4 To look into Sufi art, one must understand the development it partook within the expansion of Islamic civilization. Sufism first began, as a quest for individual spiritual redemption in the seventh century, that later progressed and became a collective religious movement in the eighth century. During this period, material attributes or visual anthropological evidence was associated to the movement such as the white costume. Out of the purpose of ego consciousness, Sufis felt there was a need to identify themselves from others. They dressed in coarse white wool garments to signify purity and to act as a reminder to themselves that they are all equal in God’s eyes as well as on a quest to return to innocence.5 This was similar with the practice of being in ihram; the white garment pilgrims wore to Mecca for Hajj and Umrah. The Sufi movement intensified, gathering more followers and persisted throughout the ninth century lasting unchanged until the eleventh century. Then with the knowledge of Greek classics travelling from the east to the west, many intelligentsias from Andalusia read the translated works by the ancient world philosopher Plotinus. The twelfth and thirteenth centuries became an era of intellectual discourses. The theosophical concept of Neo-platonism was discussed and a deeper understanding of the Sufist doctrine was inculcated; an individual whom is on a journey of spiritual redemption was capable by inner knowledge or illumination of rising up in the 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid.
  12. 12.   12   hierarchy of being to the ultimate vision of God.6 The quest for redemption then is found in the solat or prayer that a devout Muslim performs five times in a day. During the sitting position in between the two prostrations of the solat, a Muslim recites “Rabbighfirli warhamni wajburni warfa'kni warzuqni wahdini wa'afini wa'kfu 'anni” which means “O’ Lord, forgive me, bless me, rectify me, raise my status, give me my sustenance, guide me, strengthen me and pardon me.” The “status” in this prayer recitation speaks about “rising up in the hierarchy of being to the ultimate vision of God or closeness to God” as underpinned in the Sufist doctrine. Due to the harmonious integration of Sufi thoughts and other forms of Islamic practices, Sufism gained popularity and became widely acknowledged as a doctrine pursuing the truth of Islam. Although the essence of Sufism is to fulfil the individual’s spiritual contentment, the consequence of having theosophical discourses and meetings has led itself to form orders within a particular collective. Community centres known as khanaqas were built in south-western of Iran for the purpose of teaching, missionary work and charity activities. These centres practiced a formal type of organizational structure and were usually led by a Sufi master. This practice began the dichotomy of “Master” and “Disciple” in Sufism and established Sufi orders known as tariqat, which translates to mean ‘Brotherhood’.7 Although most of these orders were regimentally centred in Baghdad, later on this practice developed in other cities, as scholars travelled and expanded their Islamic teachings to other territories. The orders began to enculturate local customs into the teachings. This caused Sufism to expand into two mainly, distinct schools, which were the school of Baghdad, and the school of Khurasan. The school of Khurasan focused on the total ecstatic quality of Sufism. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid.
  13. 13.   13   A Khurasan Sufi, Al-Hallaj preached the concept of self-annihilation for the purpose of unity with God. His belief that ‘All living beings are manifestations of God or the divine’ was misconceived and labelled as heresy. His proclamation of being ‘The truth’ became a threat to the Abbasid caliphate. Although he spoke about divine love and divine union, his shortcomings of not including the practical virtues of Islam caused him to be perceived as hysterical and non-conformist. With regards to these attributes, his approach on Sufism was then compartmentalized as being the Sufi school of Khurasan. On the contrary, a Baghdadi Sufi, Al-Junayd promoted the same concepts as the school of Khurasan, but had combined the virtues of patience, trust, gratitude and love of God to his teachings. Al-Junayd believed in adherence to the Quran while conforming to Islamic law or Shariah. His approach was more balanced, closely integrated with the ordinary Islamic religious practice and belief. Al-Junayd’s idea of a mystic goal was not loss of self as the final end, but through the loss of self, a return to a daily life transformed by the vision of God and ever after conducted in the presence of God.8 In the case of this thesis, Sufism played a very important role in the Islamic expansion into North Africa that later took shape in Andalusia’s intellectual, social setting during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.9 The Problem And Attitude Towards Sufi-themed Art Sufi-themed art, is not an established genre within the study of Islamic Art or Islamic Visual Culture. An Islamic Art scholar, Oleg Grabar has annotated that the importance of 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid.
  14. 14.   14   Sufism is difficult to assess.10 However, it has been proven otherwise through the study of the expansion of Islam into North Africa and Andalusia. It is not known whether a lot of studies have been made to analyse Islamic Art through examining the Sufist attributes. In 2009, the Brooklyn Museum held an exhibition entitled ‘Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam’. The exhibition gathered twenty-five objects related to Sufism from the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and various private collections. The curation was inspired by the Sufis ideologies and the poems written by al-Ghazzali and Jalal al-Din Rumi. The objects of art exhibited, ranged from the medieval Islamic period to contemporary pieces. The theme of light and enlightenment were emphasised as the focal theme of the exhibition. In the case of twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia, it is vital to look into how Sufism was accepted by the North African Muslims and subsequently expanded to Andalusia. As the historian and historiographer Ibn Khaldun once wrote in Muqadimmah – Introduction to History, “If one trusts historical information in its plain transmitted form and has no clear knowledge of the principles resulting from custom, the fundamental facts of politics, the nature of civilization or the conditions governing human social organization and, if furthermore, one does not evaluate remote or ancient material i.e. art through comparison with near or contemporary material, one often cannot avoid stumbling and slipping and deviating from the highroad of truth”.11 10 Oleg Grabar, ’Patterns and Ways of Cultural Exchange’, Islamic Visual Culture, 1100-1800: Constructing the Study of Islamic Art, Volume II (Hampshire, 2006), p. 390. 11 Ibn Khaldun, ‘The Muqaddimah’, Muqaddimah – An Introduction to History (London, 1958), Vol. 1, xvii-xxxviii.
  15. 15.   15   Hence, by looking at Sufism as part of the custom of twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia and comparing it with its material culture, one couldn’t possibly deviate from historical accuracy. It is not difficult to recognize that Sufi-themed art developed out of the mixture of tradition, personality, character and faith of Islam. In studying Sufi-themed Art, one must disregard Grabar’s various modifications of the term “Islamic”. In looking at Sufi- themed Art, one must refer to the Art with the faith of Islam in mind. Grabar’s insertion of the three elements that identify and explain Islamic Art is deemed appropriate. Firstly, try to identify and explain the mind of the Muslim user and beholder of the object of Art (An almost similar concept of Baxandall’s ‘Period Eye’). Secondly, try to identify and explain the meanings given to the object of Art. Thirdly, like other Art historical enquiries, try to identify and explain how the object of Art was made.12 There are no absolute answers in studying the Sufi-themed Art but Grabar has underlined how to approach the hypothesis, “It has to explain a sufficiently high number of perceptible phenomena or documents without being compelled to explain them all; it has to be meaningful both in terms of individual object of art and in terms of the wider historical setting in which it was created; and, it has to be a perfectible statement in the sense that its acceptance is not a final conclusion but one that seeks and leads to further explanations and to further research”.13 It is agreed that the impulse for a uniquely Muslim Art and in this case Sufi-themed Art lay not in the object of Art, but in certain identifiable habits and thoughts, which had to be translated into visually perceptible forms. Hence, it is rather difficult to strictly label an object of Islamic Art or 12 Oleg Grabar, ‘The Problem’, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven, 1987), pp. 5-6. 13 Ibid. pp. 16-17.
  16. 16.   16   Sufi-themed Art to be secular or religious. It does not work in the same way we perceive Christian Art or Buddhist Art. Sufi-themed Art is a form of Art inspired by faith. Although traditional Islamic culture does not possess a doctrine about the Arts, the way of life and characteristic of early Islam may have directed the culture towards channelling its artistic activities in certain directions and one of them being towards the Sufist movement. It was more of an attitude rather than doctrine. The Quran does not allow itself to be easily translated into any visual form because it does not have major narrative like the Bible. Instead, it consists of snippets of reminders. Its lack of complexities and picturesque appeal found in the Gospels or the Old Testament means that the aesthetic appeal lays only in the sound of its divinely inspired words. In this circumstance, it was in Arabic, the mediating language used by the prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. to convey the words of God. This quality ensured Arabic calligraphy became an important feature in Islamic Art. Calligraphic Quran inscriptions are one of the apparent attributes in Sufi-themed Art. The Quran emphasised God as the single Creator or the Musawwir (The Fashioner and Bestower of forms) and did not lend itself to obvious translation into visual forms.14 Islamic Art flourished due to the condition of needing to position itself distinctively amidst the well established Byzantine and Sassanian Art. Both Byzantine and Sassanian Art were lavish and had been supported by their wealthy royal patronage. These were seen as new scenarios for Islam, which had come from the relatively humble non-royalist Arabian background. As the result of the expansion, the life of the luxury was introduced to Muslims and this created a schism within the Islamic society. 14 Grabar, ‘The Islamic Attitudes towards the Arts’, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven, 1987), pp. 84-85.
  17. 17.   17   A part of the society enjoyed the newly introduced luxurious way of life while the other saw it as a threat to the purity of their faith. The Sufist thought comes in the latter. Nevertheless, the Sufi- themed Art sometimes merged the notion of luxury with moderation. For the same reason of rejecting the concept of opulence, there occurred a balance of thematic units in Islamic Art that did not give a primary or even major place to representations of men and animals. Where-as an opposite scenario took place in the Christian West, in which representational themes were predominant. Regardless of this attitude towards Art, a number of pre-Islamic folk cultures and traditions from the territories that have been usurped by Islam continued to exist.15 Some of them are evidently seen as Sufi-themed Art objects. To distinguish a Sufi-themed object, one does not examine the object via its stylistic derivation or techniques used to make it but by understanding the Sufi ideologies and apply them when reading the inscriptions on the object or by analysing the concept behind the intention of the object. Even so, these readings remain hypothetical and provide only an alternative approach to look at the objects. This approach may well be classified as the “theological” approach. The final element to take into account when studying Sufi-themed art is to look into trading routes during the medieval period. In the case of this thesis, the trading routes during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This is because there is a relationship in between commercial movements and artistic contacts. One of the most important novelties of trade in the thirteenth century is the opening up of major trade routes in Anatolia. Along with this, urban infrastructures such as roads, mosques, madrasas, caravanserais, hospitals and mausoleums were built.16 15 Ibid. p. 92. 16Grabar, ’Trade with the East and the Influence of Islamic Art on the “Luxury Arts” in the West’, (Hampshire, 2006), pp. 43-50.
  18. 18.   18   It is known that Sufi scholars travelled as far as to Baghdad ever since the tenth century to join symposiums related to philosophy and Greek science with participants consisting of Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, materialists as well as atheists. Therefore, by opening madrasas and other infrastructures, it only encouraged communication and fostered better relationships with other Islamic kingdoms.17 On the other hand, the communication with the Christian kingdoms had soured due to the failure of the crusades and the weakening of Byzantium. This led to the growth of Italian cities and Spanish Christian kingdoms. These changes made the relationship between the Islamic world and the Christian world less fluid but continuous. Simultaneously, it contributed to the rise of oriental objects and some Sufi-themed objects to become luxury items.18 The production of Sufi-themed Art continued fairly well as the ideas travelled. An approach to take when studying this art is to look at biographies of certain Sufis or hagiographies, its literary works, or a Sufi-inspired administration doctrine that were produced during that time. As for this thesis, works of the Sufi master Ibn Arabi from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia have been taken as the primary source as well as ‘The Doctrine of Divine Unity’ by the Almohad creed. Particularly the works of Ibn Arabi are Ruh al-Quds (The Spirit of Holiness in the Counselling of the Soul) and the al-Durrat al-Fakhirah (The Precious Pearl concerned with the Mention of Those from whom I have derived Benefit in the Way of the Hereafter). 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid.
  19. 19.   19   Sufis Of Twelfth And Thirteenth Centuries Andalusia The development of Sufism and the expansion of Islam to North Africa and Spain from the Middle Eastern urban and village societies work in correspondence to one another. In fact, in the history of Islamic expansion, Sufism had been a component following and completing other Islamic ideologies and doctrines. Hence, that is the reason why Grabar claimed Sufism to be a tricky doctrine to assess its prominence. This is because its quintessence lies in all the basic foundation of Islamic thoughts, regardless of sects or creed. Therefore, it is more likely to say that its prominence is self-evident but the trace of its diffusion is multi-layered and complex. In the case of twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia, the Sufi Andalusian life flourished during the time of the Almohad administration. This was from c. 1100 until 1248 A.D. It began with the vision of Ibn Tumart, whom was a religious scholar and a sheikh. It was due to his claim as the Mahdi and the insertion of ‘The Doctrine of Divine Unity’ that set the scholarly tone of Andalusia and consequently became one of the centres for theological and philosophical debate. This was the time when power struggles and rivalries existed between the Berber tribes as well as the rise of urban Islam that encouraged the quest for knowledge. Scholars travelled to learn from Sufi masters and works of Greek philosophy which had been translated into Arabic. It was via the Islamic world that the West grasped their knowledge of Greek classics. As a result of knowledge empowerment, contention also took place between the different schools of law, namely the Maliki, Hanbali, Shafii and Hanafi.
  20. 20.   20   The Maliki school became predominant in Egypt, North Africa and Southern Spain (Andalusia), while the Hanbali school was being practiced in northern Iraq and Syria. On the other hand, the Shafii school later took over Syria, Baghdad and Khurasan while replacing the Hanafi school in Transoxania and western Iran towards the tenth century. Nevertheless, this was to change after the thirteenth century. Although there were notable differences in between the different schools, the Hanafi, Maliki and Shafii schools agreed that the independent reasoning was to be closed and that scholars of later generations were not free to give personal or independent interpretations of the law. Despite this, however, the Hanbali and a portion of the Shafii schools rejected this traditional notion and upheld the authority of a qualified scholar to use rational and independent judgement in approaching legal matters. In this case, they are more flexible and open to the enculturation of custom and tradition.19 This fluid contention further opened up room for an amalgamation of ideologies and doctrines to suit the political and governmental needs of various Islamic states. Amidst this chaos, Sufism seeped in and continued to enlighten its subjects where it was deemed appropriate. The Life of Ibn Tumart. Ibn Tumart’s doctrine is a proof that an amalgamation of ideologies took place before the launching of the Almohad’s charter of administration. He collected these ideologies during his travels and while being a student of various scholars. Ibn Tumart was known as a scrupulous and devout Muslim from a very early age. Like many scholars of his time, he would travel afar to seek knowledge. He journeyed to the foothills of the 19 Lapidus, ‘Muslim Communities and Middle Eastern Societies – The Schools of Law and Sunni Sectarianism’, pp. 164-167.
  21. 21.   21   High Atlas Mountain to study at Aghmat before entering Andalusia, where he became a student of a Sufi named Abu al-Abbas Ibn al-Arif. Abu al-Abbas Ibn Arif was the man who taught him about the various hierarchical stages or statuses to the realization of God alone. He also learned about hadith from Ibn Hazm of Cordoba. Around 1106 – 1108 A.D., he moved to Egypt to learn from other scholars such as Abu Bakar ash-Shashi and al-Mubarak Ibn Abd al-Jabbar about Islamic jurisprudence and theology.20 The most famous account of his travels was his meeting with the renowned Al- Ghazali. This was deemed sensational because during the time he met Al-Ghazali, the ruling administration (The Almoravids) in Andalusia, were burning Al-Ghazali’s books, particularly Ihya ulum ad-din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences).21 At the end of his studies, Ibn Tumart had gathered a holistic knowledge about Islam consisting elements of Sufism, jurisprudence and theology. These later became the basis for his doctrine. He began teaching in Alexandria and then later moved to Bougie, Algeria. Along the way, he began to gather followers and with them, he moved to Mallala, a village just off Bougie. It was there he met a young traveller who was just like him, a knowledge seeker. The man was Abd al-Mu’min Ibn Ali and this was the man who would soon become the ‘Lamp of the Almohads’, the first leader of the Almohad administration. Together they embarked on a journey leading to Maghreb. Along the way, they recruited Abd Allah al-Wansharisi at Oran in Algeria who would become the first army commander for the Almohad.22 20 Vincent J. Cornell, ‘Understanding Is the Mother of Ability: Responsibility and Action in the Doctrine of Ibn Tumart’, Studia Islamica, 66 (1987), pp. 71-103. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid.
  22. 22.   22   Ibn Tumart and his followers reached Maghreb in the year 1120. At that time, from Ifriqiyya to Andalusia, the Maliki jurisprudence was put into practice. Many Sufis were confined but the sunni-oriented ones were allowed to enter the public sphere. These sunni-oriented Sufis made an alliance with Ibn Tumart as they shared common ideologies through the teachings of Al-Ghazali. It was at this time the battalion had reached Fez and the news of his coalition threatened the ulama’. Immediately Ibn Tumart and his followers were expelled.23 Following this expulsion, they began to disperse into mobile units and gave lectures from mosque to mosque. This came to the attention of the Almoravid ruler, Ali Ibn Yusuf b. Tashfin. Shortly afterwards, Ibn Tumart was summoned to the Almoravid court and was interrogated. When asked of who he was and what his motives were, he answered, “For I am a faqir (means peasant), seeking the Hereafter and not the material world. I have no goal in it other than to command good and to forbid evil.” Ibn Tumart further explained that the Almoravids were in need of a reform. At first, Ali Ibn Yusuf was impressed with Ibn Tumart’s stance of moral cleansing and starting anew. However, this was again seen as a threat to the ulama’. An Almoravid qadi (judge) by the name of Muhammad Ibn al-Aswad, who had previously killed Ibn Tumart’s teacher Abu al- Abbas Ibn al-Arif, persuaded the ministers and had Ibn Tumart banished from the city.24 By the time of his banishment, Ibn Tumart’s sphere of influence had reach out to the populace. Although Ibn al-Aswad further forced Ali Ibn Yusuf to have Ibn Tumart and his followers arrested and held captive at the High Atlas Mountains, the scheme of following the sirah (history) of prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. dakwah 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid.
  23. 23.   23   (preaching in Islam) caused Ibn Tumart’s companions to launch a mission that helped to chart the Almohad movement. Ibn Tumart elected a council of ten from various tribes to overthrow the Almoravids. While Ibn Tumart remained as the Mahdi, the council of ten was held responsible to disseminate the unofficial ‘Doctrine of Divine unity’ throughout North Africa and Andalusia.25 The Almohad Period. The Almohad or the Muwahhidun means ‘those who affirm the unity of God’. It was a movement set by Ibn Tumart but led by Abd al-Mu’min Ibn Ali to bring down the Almoravids whom were seen as deviating from the true teachings of Islam. Although the Almoravids practiced strict Islamic practices, they believed in the anthropomorphism of God in which was not parallel to the teachings of Islam.26 The Almoravid means ‘the veiled ones in the fortress’. This meaning was associated to their way of life in the dessert and their living in a ribat (fortress). To study the Almoravid and the Almohad by ethnic groups, the Almoravids originated from the dessert, while the Almohads were from the mountains. There is a certain analogy between them due to their conditions of living. Both were used to a harsh and independent way of life.27 Nevertheless, the Almoravids were perceived as more crude and militant in their nature due to their experiences and history of wars and battles fought during the period of Taifa kingdoms (The period before the Almoravids in Andalusia). For this reason, the Almoravids were prone to a more nomadic way of life, while the Almohads were settled sedentarily in the mountains. 25 Ibid. 26 Hugh Kennedy, ‘The Early Almohad Caliphate’, Muslim Spain and Portugal: A Political History of al- Andalus (New York, 1996), pp. 196-235. 27 Titus Burckhardt, ‘The Art of Sedentaries and Nomadic Art – Dynasties and Ethnic Groups’, Art of Islam: Language and Meaning (Kent, 1976), pp. 101-106.
  24. 24.   24   The sedentary quality of the Almohads gave an opportunity for them to establish a higher level of spiritual stability as Islam favours an urban life. Because of this, Ibn Tumart also had the chance to study at the foothills of the Atlas Mountain, the birthplace of the Almohad movement. As a matter of fact, it was mentioned in Hulul al-Mawshiya that on the deathbed of Ali Ibn Yusuf’s father, his father had warned him to not aggravate the people of the Atlas Mountains and other Masmuda tribesmen.28 Ibn Tumart passed away in August 1130. As planned, Abd al-Mu’min Ibn Ali took succession and led the Almohad movement which defeated the Almoravid. On the 24th of March 1147, Fes, Sale’ and Marrakesh fell into the hands of the Almohad. A year was taken to reform Marrakesh according to the Almohad’s doctrine. They even had to negotiate with other Sufis, particularly Ibn Qasi a ruler from Silves and Yusuf al-Bitruji from Niebla who refused to accept Ibn Tumart’s doctrine.29 In 1148, the Almohad took over Seville and subsequently Cordoba. It was not an easy victory because of the resistance they had from the Almoravids, they were also weary of the Castilian’s expansion program that was coming from the northern of Spain. Nevertheless, the main resistance came from the threat of Ibn Mardanish and his allies from Murcia. They were of Arab descent. This was the city Ibn Arabi came from, the famous Arab Andalusian Sufi and philosopher.30 When Abd al-Mu’min Ibn Ali passed away, his son Abu Yaqub Yusuf succeeded him. During his time, he invited a few intellectuals to his court and among them included Ibn 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid.
  25. 25.   25   Tufayl and Ibn Rushd. By this time, the amalgamation of various knowledge and intellectual debate were openly accepted for the purpose of enlightenment and to foster a better understanding among the community that consisted of not only Muslims but also Jews and Christians. It is suspected that during this time, The Doctrine of Divine Unity became an official charter for the Almohad administarion. The court of Abu Yaqub Yusuf was known to be very cultured and humane.31 When Ibn Mardanish passed away in March 1172, his allies became weak and desperately needed the support of the Almohads. This marked a joint venture between the Arabs and the Berbers. The Almohads welcomed them into the court of the elites and gave them titles and high official positions.32 Towards the end of Abu Yaqub Yusuf’s reign, there were a lot of hostilities coming from Castile and Portugal. It was a period of raid and counter-raid. Nevertheless, with the inter-Christian rivalries, many disputes were settled with truces and vassal agreements.33 Although the territory of the Almohad stretched out to Andalusia, its central government was still based in Marrakesh. A lot of urban development works were concentrated there while elected Sayyids (masters) were representing the subjects in Andalusia. For this reason, it made the provinces weak. Surprise raids by Christian forces left the Muslims vulnerable and without the proper leadership and presence of Abu Yaqub Yusuf, they remained defenceless. In 1178, the Almohads left Seville to the hand of the Christians. 31 Kennedy, ‘The Later Almohad Caliphate’, pp. 237-272. 32 Ibid. 33 Ibid.
  26. 26.   26   On their way to Marrakesh; a plague broke out and killed the last man from the council of ten elected by the original founder Ibn Tumart, the deceased man was Umar al- Hintati. With regards to this event, it marked the end of the original Almohad period that had a direct contact with Ibn Tumart. The next succession was considered to be the third generation of the Almohad period, the ‘new’ Almohad period.34 The new Almohad administration was different in many ways. When Abu Yaqub Yusuf passed away, his son Abu Yusuf Yaqub took over the role of leadership. He immediately took the title ‘al-Mansur’ which means ‘ the victorious’ and implemented more strict regulations upon his subjects. He was attracted to the glorious Muslim past and particularly the Umayyad Dynasty. He visited the palace Madinat Al-Zahra and set an ambition to bring back and revive the opulence it once had. He put the man Ibn Rushd, who used to occupy his father’s court to trial and banished him into exile for committing heresy. The new Almohad period was dark, deviating from the piety teachings of Sufism and it was intellectually not stimulating. Public discourses were closed and much effort was spent on building up a massive fortification of Andalusia.35 Even so, in 1212, the joint forces of the Christians broke the fortification and defeated the Almohads. Sparked by the spirit of the crusades, the Christian forces were combined. The Castilians, Leons, Aragonese and Portugese toppled the Muslims in the battle of Las Navas De Tolosa. This union was significant in the history of Reconquista. Reconquista was an initiative by the Christian to re-conquer the southern of Spain after the Ummayads established themselves in Andalusia in the sixth century.36 34 Ibid. 35 Ibid. 36Ibid.
  27. 27.   27   The Almohads did not recover after it was defeated. This gave chance for another force to come in and fully defeat them and chase them out of Andalusia. This was a militant group led by a former Taifa Kingdom army named Ibn Hud. Ibn Hud took the title of Amir al-Muslimin like the Almoravids and brought Sunniism to Andalusia. The new anti-Almohad doctrine totally wiped off Ibn Tumart’s doctrine from Andalusia and in October 1228; the surviving Almohads packed their belongings and left Andalusia for their prime land in Marrakesh.37 The end of the Almohad period did not mean the end for Sufism. In fact, it allowed it to spread outward of Andalusia. From Spain, Sufism and other Islamic scientific and philosophical thoughts were transmitted to Europe. Many Jewish and Muslim literatures were translated into Latin. These included the story of Isra and Miraj, the Quran, astrology and astronomy works as well as the Greek classics.38 The Life of Ibn Arabi. Ibn Arabi was a Sufi mystic from Murcia during the times of conflict in between Ibn Mardanish and the Almohads. He was one of the prominent participants of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusian intellectual discourse. He was born into a religious family of a certain social and cultural standing. His uncles were well known Sufis named Abu Muslim al-Khawlani and the Sufi king Yahya b. Yughan from Tlemcen. The father of Ibn Arabi was Ali Ibn Arabi. He was a companion of the exiled intellectual and philosopher Ibn Rushd during the occupation of 37 Ibid. 38 Lapidus, ‘Islamic North Africa and Spain to the nineteenth century - Spanish Islamic civilization ’, pp. 385-386.
  28. 28.   28   Murcia by the Almohads. Ali Ibn Arabi was a highly positioned officer in the Almohad government.39 Since his father was posted to Seville (the Almohad capital in Andalusia), he was put into a formal education; learning law, the Arabic grammar, the critical interpretation of the Quran and the traditions of the prophet. During his twenties, he took an interest in learning the Sufist doctrine. He was confident in conversing with other intellectuals and one of them was the companion of his father, Ibn Rushd. After his studies, he was appointed as secretary for the governor of Seville. This standing later boosted his popularity amongst the intelligentsia despite the fact that he came from a noble family. Later, he became a well-respected man and a teacher to many Andalusians.40 When he was in his thirties, he went to study with the Sufi ruler from Silves, Ibn Qasi. After that, in 1194, he went to study in Fez. His studies were disrupted when he heard that some Sufis were forced to flee and others were confined and persecuted by the new Almohad government back in Andalusia. He visited the exiled Ibn Rushd before the aforementioned passed away. In 1200, he spent his time in Marrakesh before leaving to Fez and then Tunis. The year after, he spent a short time in Alexandria and Cairo and went for to perform the Hajj in Mecca. As a famous Andalusian master, he was celebrated and hosted by the influential and learned families in Mecca.41 Upon completing his Hajj, he travelled further on to Baghdad to meet other fellow Sufis. In 1210, he arrived in Konya and this visit was considered to be a significant one in the history of Sufism. A large number of his works were left in Konya. This literature 39 R.W.J. Austin, ‘Ibn Arabi, his Life and Work’, Sufis of Andalusia: The Ruh al-Quds and al-Durrat al- Fakhirah of Ibn Arabi (London, 1988), pp. 21-49. 40 Ibid. 41 Ibid.
  29. 29.   29   then helped to shape the future of oriental Sufism. He was regarded as the Western link to the Eastern Sufi world. The Persian Sufi, Jalal al-Din Rumi was one of the people among the followers of his works. The poems by Ibn Arabi are related to divinity and come in the form of love themes, eulogy, the names of rivers, places and stars.42 In 1223, Ibn Arabi went to Damascus and settled there until he passed away. Nevertheless, before he died he managed to complete his major work, known as al- Diwan al-akbar that consists of a collection of mystical poems. He died at the age of seventy-six in the year 1240. Ibn Arabi was known among the Sufis to be the greatest Sheikh or al-Sheikh al-Akbar due to the vast amount of his literature that survived and is still being read. Ibn Arabi focused on the thought of all reality as one, a doctrine of wahdat al- wujud, which means the unity of being or existence. He believed that everything, which exists, is God, the divine reality transcends all manifestations but the manifestations are encompassed by and plunged in God. While God is transcendent the manifested world is identical with him in essence.43 The works Ruh al-Quds and al-Durrat al-Fakhirah that were written by Ibn Arabi consist of biographical sketches of lives and teachings of some of the Sufi masters that lived in Andalusia. The Ruh al-Quds were written in Mecca and the content tells us about the concerns of the author in practices pertaining to Sufism while incorporating the teachings of the fifty-five Sufis he had met throughout his life. On the other hand, al-Durrat al- Fakhirah was written in Damascus and it is actually a synopsis of a larger work that was written in Andalusia. It compiled the biographical sketches 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid.
  30. 30.   30   and the teachings of forty-two Sufi sheikhs.44 The doctrine of Ibn Arabi mentioned about the return to God, is motivated by love and is driven by prayer and worship. Ibn Arabi sees that God is the mirror in which man contemplates his own reality and man is the mirror in which God knows his essence. In a nutshell, Man needs God to exist, and God needs the world to know him. The doctrine of Ibn Arabi completes the whole amalgamation of Sufi ideologies and doctrines. It concluded the Sufi gnostic and contemplation that had been going on for centuries. His vision shaped the development of Sufi theosophy and practice while it affected the daily lives of Muslim believers.45 From the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, the popular literature and intellectual fashion of Andalusia have concentrated on Sufism. For this reason, Sufism has affected the lives of people from Andalusia and subsequently its material culture. Looking at Sufi-themed Objects Looking at Sufi-themed objects would require the onlooker to get into the minds of twelfth to thirteenth centuries Andalusians. It would be apt then to apply the approaches proposed by Art Historian, Michael Baxandall and Anthropologist, Clifford Geertz. Their approach stresses on meticulously assimilating into the culture of any given artefact from any given time period in order to analyse visually and contextualize evidences which come in various form of objects and texts. Geertz mentioned that the 44 Ibid. 45 Lapidus, ‘The personal ethic – Alternative Islam: - philosophy, Gnostic and popular Sufism’, pp. 213- 215.
  31. 31.   31   Art of a particular period reflects the cultural system of that period. In addition to visual Arts, he asserted that one must also study the texts and rituals produced during that period in order to study the zeitgeist of that era.46 In the case of this thesis, the doctrine written by Ibn Tumart would serve as textual evidence while the biographical accounts recorded by Ibn Arabi would provide us to some extent with the habitual evidence. This is because it gives us the information on how Andalusians conducted their lives during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Baxandall developed the notion called ‘The Period Eye’ in looking at Renaissance art.47 In looking at Sufi-themed objects, one may use the same device to investigate the Andalusian culture. This can be called ‘The Sufist Eye’. In the case of this thesis, the ‘Sufist Eye’ is influenced by the ‘cognitive disposition’ of the Andalusian culture. ‘Cognitive disposition’ comprises of perceptual training processes that we develop naturally and most of the time unconsciously. These later become habits and skills that dictate our sensory system and make us react differently to different sensations. The Andalusians of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were induced by a different set of sensations that were accustomed during that time and considered as normalcy. The twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusian way of seeing art was Sufi- laden, spiritually inclined, Arabization was pervasive, Arabic grammar was taught at schools, intellectual discourse and philosophical debate were active and although Islam was the faith, there were a lot of alternative thoughts about the religion. This was one of the main reasons intellectual discourse and philosophical debate flourished. The 46 Clifford Geertz, ‘Art as a Cultural System’, Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology (U.S.A, 1983) pp. 94-120. 47 Michael Baxandall, ‘The Period Eye’, Painting and Experience in Fifteen-Century Italy (Oxford, 1988), pp. 29-108.
  32. 32.   32   thirteenth century was marked as the end of the Islamic Golden Age due to many factors such as the invasion of the Monguls, the triumphant Reconquista and strengthening of Christendom, the internal feud within the Islamic subjects as well as other economic and political factors. The Sufist Eye. The Sufist Eye is predetermined by the cognitive disposition that follows the Sufi way. The Sufi way was inspired by the shahadah and the 115th verse from the Quran in surah al-Baqarah (The Cow), which stated “There is no reality but reality (God) and that all other realities are purely relative to and dependent upon His reality. All cosmic determinations, whether formal or formless, subtle or gross, are nothing but indications of the Reality from which they stem by a process of creation and self-manifestation.”48 From a Sufist point of view, this denotes the notion to conduct oneself in an absolute dependency on God with humility, modesty and acknowledging the fact that ‘we are nothing but yet a tiny and minuscule part of everything’, that we do not have the authority in this world, what we are is by the will of God. As Ibn Arabi once said “Man needs God to exists and God needs man to know him.” Hence, only fear him and only love him. The Sufist Eye sees God in everything. It lives in a condition or way of life that encourages the invocation of God in Arabic (zikir ism Allah). This was because their spoken language was Arabic. In essence, a Sufi believes that God has no names but just attributes. The invocation of God whether repetitively in ejaculatory prayer or by performing other rites are for the purpose of turning man’s thoughts, feelings and 48 Quran 2:115
  33. 33.   33   sensations towards God. It is indicated in the Quran in surah al-Ankabut (The Spider), verse 45, “Prayer indeed prevents lustful acts and grave sins, but the invocation of God is greater.” A Sufi considers that the material world is capable of promoting illusion that would make men forgetful of God, the gracefulness and greatness of God.49 Another important factor in Sufism is the suppression of the sense of self or ego. The ego is seen as mother of all idols and an obstacle to reach the true identity with God called wahdat al-wujud. This is because the ego commands evil and it chains to desire and aversion. A Sufi must empty the self and be receptive to the in-flow of divine grace. In addition to that, they must fight against temptations that come from external forces that would blind them and make them insensible.50 After the realization to battle the ego, a Sufi then must hope for God’s generosity and wonders at the beauty of manifestations of God. This will then be followed with rituals that give deeper meaning to the Sufis. The ablution is regarded as washing the internal impurity to purify the heart so that it will be in unity with God. The prostration during the prayer performed five times a day or solat becomes a symbol of annihilating one’s existence and submit fully to God while the sitting position in solat signifies one’s subsistence by the wills of God and acknowledging God, at most times being thankful to God. The same notion applies to the practice of fasting during the month of Ramadhan. It is regarded as a period of spiritual renewal, an opportunity to kill the ego through the realization of complete indigence before God.51 49 J. Austin, ‘Ibn Arabi, his Life and Work’, pp. 50-59. 50 Ibid. 51 Ibid.
  34. 34.   34   Sufism is an awareness to purify one’s self by improving the morals and building up the inner and outer life in order to attain perpetual bliss. Although Sufism concentrates and mentions a lot about soul purifications and the realm of mysticism and spirituality, it never discarded the material culture. An early Sufi Sheikh Abu Nasr Sarraj in the tenth century once spoke about cultures in his teachings. He said that the worldly culture or the material culture is about acquiring information, opinions and learning of a conventionalized kind while the religious culture is about repetitively behaving in an ethically acceptable way and practicing various rites to solidify the faith. On the other hand, the Sufi culture is a self-development, realizing what is relevant, concentration and contemplation, cultivation of inner experience, following the path of Search and Nearness. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia, the material culture was developed in order to assists this self-development. A Sufist Eye sees inscriptions on objects not just to remind themselves of God and being thankful to God but also to make them conduct themselves kindly and rightfully before the omnipresent eyes of God.52 Through these inscriptions, a Sufi then, although living in the material world is able to be drawn back to the eternal and infinite source, that is to say the spiritual realm, a constant mind that is conscious of God. Sufism is nothing other than Islamic mysticism, nevertheless it plays a central and most powerful current that constitutes the revelation of Islam.53 Human beings are prone to being forgetful and heedless. By living in a condition surrounded by objects with inscriptions that would remind them of God, it would make them go through a gradual process of transformation, the meaning of the inscription 52 Ibid. 53 Martin Lings, ‘The Originality of Sufism’, What is Sufism? (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 11-16.
  35. 35.   35   would ideally fill up their minds and consciousness, leaving no room for remembrance of others.54 Muslims of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia lived in political situation where the state was not stable to govern its populace. There was constant turmoil and debates trying to merge the various schools of thoughts. At the decline of the Almoravid, the Almohad were trying to strengthen the government and its subjects by propagating one strong doctrine, namely the doctrine of divine unity, which Ibn Tumart helped to found and thought to be suitable for the Andalusians. It is legitimate to say that Sufism was integrated into the doctrine due to the influence of his educational background, that has a link to the famous imam al-Ghazali. Sufism in the context of Ibn Tumart was used as propaganda to promote the notion of consciousness of God. The material culture was Sufi-inspired for the purpose of edification and to inculcate psychological and spiritual attitudes.55 It is appropriate to indicate that the sobriety of the school of Baghdad also influences the Sufism in Andalusia. Its expressions are usually communicated in prose rather than in poetry. The second (poetry) is usually associated with the ecstatic school of Khurasan.56 The sober expressions in prose are found in the artefacts originated from twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia. It is systematic, indoctrinated and included the theological and juridical concerns. The sober expressions focused on practice, behaviour, moral development, and interpretations of the Quran as well as the nature of God. It is 54 William C. Chittick, ‘The Sufi Tradition’, Sufism: Beginners Guide (Oxford, 2008), pp. 22-38. 55 Ibid. 56 Ibid.
  36. 36.   36   highly intellectual and could only be achieved by long discussions and debates on jurisprudence, theology and philosophy such like the way of life of the twelfth and thirteenth Andalusia.57 Ibn Arabi wrote his works in Arabic prose and addressed as much of his interests in the theoretical issues of Islamic thought and practice. On the other hand, another significant Sufi from the East whom has influenced a lot in Oriental Sufism, Jalal ad-Din Rumi laid much of his works in intoxicating poetry that have little emphasis on sober expressions. Nevertheless, Ibn Arabi noted that an Andalusian Sufi Eye sees both sober and drunkenness in unity. It acknowledges the rationale of both because it understands the reason.58 The Idea Of Light In Sufism One of the earliest notions of light in Sufism comes from the classical ninth century Persian Sufi mystic Sahl al-Tustari. In his view, God comes in a form of light that is a transcendent illumination that radiates from God itself to create spiritual prototypes of the material world. With this light then, it enshrined the prototypes of the prophets and of ordinary human beings who exist before their worldly birth as particles of the divine light.59 Islam came to Andalusia via North Africa. The Arabs arrived in North Africa with Islam around the year 643 to 711 and to Spain between the years 711 and 756.60 Along with it Sufism entailed. The process involved the conversion of Berber chiefs as the 57 Ibid. 58 Ibid. 59 Lapidus, ‘Urban Islam: the Islam of the religious elites – Mystics and Sufism’, pp. 109-115. 60 Lapidus, ‘The Arab-Muslim Imperium – Conquest and empire’, pp. 37-44.
  37. 37.   37   basis of tribal coalitions and state formation. Islamization then continued with the involvement of long-distance trade relations and the spread of Sufism.61 Nevertheless, during the ninth century, the Abbasid government established most of the North African region as one of its subjects.62 In the tenth century the Fatimids took it over from them during the fall of Abbasid Empire.63 Regardless of which caliphate took the role of the central government, Sufism still persisted. One of the Sufi-themed objects from this period that marked as the arrival of Sufism in North Africa is the Blue Quran (Figure 1). Figure 1: The Blue Quran, 9th to 10th Century A.D., Gold ink on blue parchment, 28 x 38 cm, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, MS.8.2006 It is a Sufi themed object that came before the empire of the Almoravids and the 61 Lapidus, ‘Introduction: the Islamic world and the rise of Europe – Conversion to Islam’, pp. 242-252. 62Lapidus, ‘The Arab-Muslim Imperium – The Caliphate; The Abbasid Empire: social revolution and political reaction ’, pp. 74. 63 Lapidus, ‘From Islamic Culture to Islamic Society: Iran and Iraq, 945-c.1200 – The Caliphate; Post Abbasid Middle Eastern State System’, pp. 137.
  38. 38.   38   Almohad administration but became a precedent for many later years to come. The Blue Quran employed the impression of light (nur) over darkness (zulumat) with its gold script over a dark, blue background. It implies that the concept of light in surah al-Nur (The Light) has been transferred onto the physical Quran manuscript. In the 40th verse of surah al-Nur, it is stated “Or they (the unbelievers) are as shadows upon a sea obscure, covered by a billow above which is a billow above which are clouds, shadows piled upon one another; when he puts forth his hand, well-nigh he cannot see it. And to whomsoever God assigns no light, no light has he.” 64 The notion of “Light” is also perceived as essentially spiritual and related to the divine revelation. The Quran represents a divine light on Earth as explained in the 52nd verse of surah Al-Syura (The Counsel), “We have revealed to thee a spirit of Our bidding. Thou knewest not what the Book is, nor belief; but We made it a light, whereby We guide whom We will of Our servants.”65 In the twelfth century, the Sufi imam al-Ghazali interpreted this verse and equated God with light and wrote about seventy thousand veils of light and darkness separating the believer from that Light in his treatise Mishkat al-anwar (The niche of Lights). Al- Ghazali considered the Quran as a container of light because it consists of the words of God.66 Sufism referred to the Quran as the basic source of inspiration. Besides al-Ghazali, 64 Alain George, ‘Calligraphy, Colour and Light in the Blue Quran’, Journal of Quranic Studies, Vol. 11 (2009), pp. 75-125. 65 Ibid. 66 Ladan Akbarnia, ‘Light in Sufism’, Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam (London 2010), p. 11.
  39. 39.   39   another Sufi by the name of Suhrawadi also wrote in his book Hikmat al-Ishraq (Theosophy of the orient of Lights) that he agreed with the notion introduced by Sahl al- Tustari which was “everything is derived from one source of supreme light”. Ibn Arabi in the thirteenth century fetched this idea and puts forward that all reality is one.67 In his book al-Durrat al-Fakhirah, he wrote about an encounter with an Andalusian Sufi named Abu Al-Abbas B. Tajah. Abu Al-Abbas B. Tajah was a man who always had the Quran in his hands. Abu Al—Abbas B. Tajah once said that “Just as a lamp is lit from another lamp, so does all knowledge derive from the Quran, a light from light upon light, God may He be glorified, has taught us that He is the Light of the heavens and the earth, so that we might take our lights from Him; therefore seek light only from its true source.”68 Islam regards the prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. as the messenger of God, the one who revealed the source of God’s light. In a hadith, it was written that the prophet said, “the first thing God created was my light” and “I am made of God’s light.”69 Light in this context means an awakening from within, to live righteously and conduct oneself virtuously before the eyes of God. A Quran from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia was inspired by these unified views on light and referred to the aesthetics of the Blue Quran. The Almoravid Quran manuscript (Figure 2) and the Almohad Quran manuscript (Figure 3) were not written on a dark blue background, however, they were written in gold to signify light. In addition to that, the blue ink was still in use to fill in the Arabic letters. It is not known why the vellums were not dyed in blue like the Blue Quran. A hypothetical reason 67 Lapidus, ‘The Arab-Muslim Imperium – The Caliphate; The Abbasid Empire: social revolution and political reaction ’, pp. 74.f 68 Lapidus, ‘The personal ethic – Alternative Islam: - philosophy, Gnostic and popular Sufism’, p. 213. 69 Akbarnia, p. 11.
  40. 40.   40   would be because of the costly blue dye. Nevertheless the dimension of light was still put into the production not dissimilar to how Christian iconography had depicted light through a representation of divine Incarnation in gold mosaics and such. Nevertheless, in Islam, these ornaments of gold embody the divine words of Quran.70 In the Almohad Quran manuscript, a roundel is placed to separate each verse and within each roundel the word God was written over a dark blue background. This is parallel to the Sufism practice of zikir. The Quran readers during the Almohad period are entrenched in Sufism and constantly practice the remembrance of God. Figure 2: The Almoravid Quran Manuscript, 12th Century A.D., Gold and blue ink on parchment, 18 x 18.8 cm, Istanbul University Library, A6755 70 George, ‘Calligraphy, Colour and Light in the Blue Quran’, Journal of Quranic Studies, Vol. 11 (2009), p. 107.
  41. 41.   41   Figure 3: The Almohad Quran Manuscript, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Gold and blue ink on clear parchment, 26.2 x 22 cm, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Smith-Lesoeuf 217 The Idea Of Love In Sufism An early account of love or divine love in Sufism appeared both in the school of Khurasan and the school of Baghdad. The first proposed an ecstatic kind of love, which sought to the loss of self and submit to the doctrine of divine love, while the second proposed the same self-annihilation before God but in addition to that regarded the practical virtues as equally important. This created the dialectic effect and the schism in between the school of ecstatic and the school of sobriety. The sobriety school was influenced by a figure from the ninth century named Al-Harith al Muhasabi. His idea of love of God should be expressed in love of God’s commandments and acceptance of their sovereignty in daily life.71 Nevertheless, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, courtly love literatures 71 Lapidus, ‘Urban Islam: the Islam of the religious elites – Mystics and Sufism’, p. 112.
  42. 42.   42   became a popular genre. It tells the story of heroes consumed by physical passion and devoted to the idealization of perfect and inaccessible woman. Court poetry consisted of themes that dealt with wine-intoxicated lovers suffering from unrequited love. These love stories were based on popular convention and were later being adapted by other cultures. An important author of this genre was a Persian twelfth century writer named Nizami who wrote the famous story of Layla and Majnun. Sufi poets adopted the idea of Nizami and altered the narrative from normalcy to the divine subject. Representations of wine, drinking and love were adapted to express yearning for and love of God. A prominent Sufi writer of this genre would be Farid al-Din Attar, who wrote books on the history of the Sufis, books of wisdom, the Language of the Birds and Book of God. His main themes were concentrated on the renunciation of worldly desires and the soul’s journey toward metaphysical vision, in which a traveller progressively leaves behind this world in a quest for the world to come. This idea was later fetched and highlighted by the Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Rumi, a contemporary of the Andalusian Sufi Ibn Arabi.72 This Sufi literary culture further inspired the production of the Iranian artistic style. During the Seljuk period, the city of Kashan and Rayy produced new types of ceramics. These were highly influenced by the Chinese wares but personalized with inscriptions and painted in polychrome or monochrome with glaze finishing. The aesthetics of the painted scenes imitated Sassinian models and figural decoration that consisted of animals, birds, vegetal elements and court scenes with images of hunting, polo, music and dancing filled the depictions. These representations suggested an illustration of love and meditation. It was often decorated with texts on the theme of love and even included poetries by the Sufi Jalal al-Din Rumi’s master named Shams al- Din Tabrizi as shown in (Figure 4). 72 Lapidus, ‘From Islamic Culture to Islamic Society; Iran and Iraq, 945-c.1200’: The post-Abbasid Middle Eastern state system – Local courts and regional cultures: Islam in Persian garb, p. 158.
  43. 43.   43   The Bowl of Reflections (Figure 4) was used as a decorative object rather than a utilitarian one. The iconography of the bowl reflects Sufi subjects. Despite the two bands encircling the bowl were filled with Sufi poems, the representation of the fish in the bowl represents a Sufi metaphor. It symbolizes the mystic or prophet while the water denotes the infinite divine grace. The combination between the fish and water then signifies the union between the mystic and God.73 It compliments the teaching of Ibn Arabi when he said that “Man needs God to exists and God needs the world to know Him.” Just in the same way the fish needs the water to live and the water needs the fish to discern its qualities. The five-seated ladies suggest a courtly scene while the bird in the middle of the bowl was a popular mythological figure that originates from central Asia and being adapted into the Islamic art.74 Figure 4: The Kashan Bowl of Reflections, 12th Century A.D., Glazed and painted lusterware, 8.6 x 33 cm, Brooklyn Museum, New York, 86.227.16 73 Oya Pancaroglu, ‘Lusterware from Kashan: C12th-C14th – Religious Iconography’, Islamic Ceramics Online. 74 Ibid.
  44. 44.   44   Another bowl that illustrates Sufi inspiration and the idea of yearning for and the love of God is the famous Kashan bowl that was signed by the maker named Shamsuddin al- Hasani Abu Zayd as shown in (Figure 5). The Iconography includes the same fish metaphor but with the presence of a human figure in the water. The human figure in the water is an earthly representation of divine beauty. The youth that is seated in a mourning and sorrow position is contemplating on the unrequited love he had towards the illusionary human figure in the water. Out of the rejection he turned himself to God in a mystic sleep in the quest to cure his heartache. The five figures on the horse represent the earthly attachments that are looking down on him as he meditates, yearning for union with God.75 Figure 5: The Kashan Plate, 13th Century A.D., Glazed and painted lusterware, 35.2 cm (Diameter), Freer Sackler, The Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art, Washington D.C, F1941.11 75 Ibid.
  45. 45.   45   On the other hand in Andalusia, Love was the central theme in the philosophy of Ibn Hazm, the teacher to Ibn Tumart. During the time of the Almoravids, Ibn Hazm taught that the attraction between two people was based on an eternal affinity, a timeless connection of souls. Ibn Arabi grasped this idea and later explained that a man loves a woman because she is the mirror that reveals his innermost true being, by which he means the spiritual reality that transcends the material reality. A woman’s love is a kind of love that serves as a reminder of the original nature of the soul and is indirectly a reminder of God. Therefore in the Sufism teachings of Ibn Arabi, love blooms from the glimpse of manifestations of God in mankind and sexual love is what separates them from the divine.76 Ibn Arabi further explained that when the union of marriage occurs because of the love of reproduction and procreation, it joins the divine love. God then made this happen, as he loves to be known, God in this context is the master that transforms from the state of nonexistence to existence. The twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusian Sufi writings on love mainly come from prose written by Ibn Arabi as compared to in Persia where love writings come from poems by Jalal al-Din Rumi. Despite this distinction, the notion of yearning for divine love linked both of them together. However, the second focused more on ecstatic love rather than sobriety love.77 Love had always been integrated in the teachings of Sufism. It is distinct from knowledge and fear but the synthesis of love (al-mahabbah), knowledge (al- ma’rifah) and fear (al-khawf) leads to the aspired path towards God. 76 Lapidus, ‘The Worldwide Diffusion of Islamic Societies from the Tenth to The Nineteenth Century; Islamic North Africa and Spain to the nineteenth century: Spanish Islamic civilization ’, p. 385 77 C. Chittick, ‘The Way of Love’, pp. 74-90.
  46. 46.   46   Love manifests whenever the divine reality is contemplated and felt.78 Ibn Arabi interpreted surah al-Hadid (The Iron) in the fourth verse, where it is stated “And God is with you wherever you are.” to mean that God is always watchful of His subjects and He takes care of them because He loves them.79 On the human side of it, Jalal al-Din Rumi wrote that all desires and affections that people have for different things, that is to say one’s father, mother, friends, heavens, earth, gardens, palaces, sciences, deeds, food, drink and many more are desires for God. Nevertheless these desires are merely veils. When people leave this world and meet the divine without these veils, they will then know that their true object of desire all along was in the reality for the divine. This is when all their difficulties will be solved, all the questions and confusions that they had in their hearts will be answered and they will be taken care of. All the love in pursuing the truth is a quest to show love for God. Love is good because it is divine. However, it remains as a deceptive veil for as long as lovers do not recognize its true object. People fall in love with manifestations of God that is omnipresent and a lover must be able to distinguish divine love and normal love, the gold from the gold-plate.80 There is no true lover and no true beloved but God. Sufism installs this idea of love in Islam. Nevertheless, this precondition of love must first come with the acknowledgement of the person’s vices, imperfections, inadequacies and limitations. 78 Titus Burckhardt, ‘Knowledge and Love’, An Introduction to Sufism (Kent, 1990), pp. 31-34. 79 C. Chittick, ‘The Way of Love’, p. 78. 80 Ibid. p. 83.
  47. 47.   47   After the person recognizes the inadequacy and ignorance w i t h in t h e m selves and regards God alone as adequate, then it will yield a deep feeling of longing in the soul which Jalal al-Din Rumi recognized as “pain”. This pain then intensifies when the person sees the self, as far from being wholeness, balanced, reaching equilibrium, wisdom, compassion and much more desired perfection. Human beings can only manifest a miniscule glimpse of God’s manifestations. The condition of being imperfect is known as being a faqr, which is known as being in poverty. Ibn Arabi clarified that being a faqr is an affair with God, in which the person conducts themselves in humility before the omnipresent eyes of God. There is no way a person with this realization can escape from this. By acknowledging the poorness, the person then yearns for God’s help, the need for God, the drive to reach God. From this, the person wishes to attain deliverance from pain and union with God in happiness and no pain at all.81 The notion of this pain is demonstrated in the courtly love story told in twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia. The Hadith Bayad Wa Riyad is a story about an unrequited love between Bayad, the merchant’s son from Damascus and Riyad, the lady- in-waiting in the court of Sayidda, the daughter of a minister. In the manuscript of this love story, Bayad is seen in a yearning position longing for union with God after being affected by the unrequited love tragedy. On the other hand, Riyad is seen in the manuscript to be prostrating before Sayidda, begging for mercy and forgiveness as if she had committed a crime. This is shown in (Figure 6). Although the influence of the production of this manuscript comes from the school of Khurasan, (because of the narrative that includes a kind of ecstatic love when the protagonist sought to the loss of himself and submits to God in a yearning position), Hadith Bayad Wa Riyad is an Andalusian literary work that was also influenced by the Persian literary work particularly Layla and Majnun and the Spanish culture itself 81 Ibid. pp. 85-90.
  48. 48.   48   It is often compared to the Al-Hariri Maqamat (Figure 7) and the story of “One Thousand and One Nights” that included stories such as Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad. The manuscript is set within an Andalusian architectural setting, such as the palace and garden at Casa de la Contratacion in the Reales  and  the  Alcazares  of  Sevilla.82 Figure 6: Bifolium of Andalusian Illuminated Manuscript of Hadith Bayad Wa Riyad. , 12th to 13th Century A.D., Paint on paper, 28.2 x 20 cm, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome, Vat. Ar. 368 Although the Almohad administration appears to be strict as demonstrated in the Hisba 82 Robinson, Cynthia, ‘Love localized, science from afar: the image program of the Hadith Bayad Wa Riyad’, Medieval Andalusian Courtly Culture in the Mediteranean: Hadith Bayad Wa Riyad, (Oxford, 2007), pp. 70-113.
  49. 49.   49   Manual written by Ibn Abdun in the early twelfth century, it is important to note that this market regulation in Muslim Seville was one of the earliest market regulations documents in the history of Islam and presumably there were preliminary defects. The Hisba manual was put forward as an attempt to keep peace in Andalusia, as Andalusia was a melting pot of Muslims, Christians and Jews. A market inspector called Muhtasib was installed to promote good and prevent evil at the marketplace. The task was to supervise the product quality, prices, weights, measures, business practices, moral conducts and to foster good relationship in between the subjects of three different faiths.83 During this time, Andalusia was also a centre of knowledge where intellectuals from different cultures and schools gathered to discuss about theology, philosophy, astronomy, astrology, Sufism and metaphysics. Therefore, it gave room for opinions to flourish, to be amalgamated and shared. This includes themes from the East. Figure 7: Al-Hariri Maqamat, The Farewell at Tayba of Abu Zayd and al-Harith & Al-Harith and his companions before their separation, 13th Century A.D., Paint on paper, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Arabe 3929, fol. 122 & Arabe 5847, fol. 46 verso 83 Ibn Abdun, ‘Al-Andalus Under the Almoravids and Almohads (Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries): Market Regulations in Muslim Seville: Hisba Manual’, Medieval Iberia: Readings from Chrtistian, Muslim and Jewish Sources, trans. Bernard Lewis (Philadelphia, 1997), pp. 175-179.
  50. 50.   50   (Figure 8) shows an artefact that combines the aesthetics of the court scene in Andalusia and the ideology from the doctrine of divine unity as proposed by the founder of the Almohad administration, Ibn Tumart. The pillow cover of Queen Berenguela bears inscriptions that read, “There is no God but God” and “The perfect blessing” while at the same time depicts a court-dancing scene. In Islam, the practice of seeking for blessing from God is expressed during the sitting position in between the two prostrations in solat (prayer). In this prayer, it is recited Rabbighfirli warhamni wajburni warfa'kni warzuqni wahdini wa'afini wa'kfu 'anni which means “O’ Lord, forgive me, bless me, rectify me, raise my status, gave me my sustenance, guide me, strengthen me and pardon me.” This notion of seeking for the blessing from God is featured in the pillow cover of Queen Berenguela. Figure 8: The Pillow Cover of Queen Berenguela, 12th to 13th Century A.D. , Silk and gold thread, 86 x 50 cm, Patrimonio Nacional, Museo deTelas Medivales, Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas, Burgos, 00650512
  51. 51.   51   The pillow cover was commissioned from the court of Andalusia during the Almohad rule in between the year 1180 and 1246. During this time, the Almohad was likely an ally to the kings of Leon. Queen Berenguela was the daughter of King of Castille, Alfonso the Eighth. She was married to the King of Leon, Alfonso the Ninth in 1197 but the Church hierarchy annulled their marriage in 1204. After the separation and the death of her father in 1214 and consequently the death of her brother Enrique the First in 1217, she co-reigned the kingdom of Castille with her young son Fernando the Third. Fernando the Third later proclaimed to be King and reunited the kingdom of Castille and Leon. This union marked as the early zenith in the history of Reconquista and the collapse of the Almohad rule in Andalusia.84 The Doctrine of Divine Unity. The ‘Doctrine of the Divine Unity’ was likely to be written by Averroes (Ibn Rushd) in 1183. However its foundation was concocted long before this. The founder of the Almohad administration, Ibn Tumart played a major role in passing and incorporating the teachings of imam Al-Ghazali into the doctrine, as he was a student of this scholar. At the time when the Almohad administration was under the rule of Abu Yaqub Yusuf, Ibn Rushd was an advisor in his court. This was when the doctrine was written. In addition to this, the philosophical propositions about God in the doctrine were adopted from Aristotle’s work Metaphysics. In the court of Abu Yaqub Yusuf, Ibn Rushd was editing and commenting on Aristotle’s work. Inevitably, Imam Al- Ghazali influenced other parts of the doctrine.85 84 Kennedy, ‘The Later Almohad Caliphate’,, pp. 256-257. 85 Trans. Madeleine Fletcher, ‘The Doctrine of Divine Unity; The Almohad Creed (1183)’, Medieval Iberia: Readings from Chrtistian, Muslim and Jewish Sources, pp. 190-197.
  52. 52.   52   The doctrine is divided into twelve chapters and the most important part is found in the second chapter where a declaration of the reason for faith was put forward. It was stated in the doctrine “It is by the necessity of reason that the existence of God, Praise to Him, is known.” During the Almohad administration, the only way to reach out to the public was via the intellectual appeal. In the doctrine, the laws of reason, axioms of Greek logic, and Islamic law were combined to prove any theological points. It was regarded as a very important document that it was been translated into Latin and disseminated in Paris and Western Europe. it became a window for the European world to grasp the knowledge of the classics.86 From chapter one through to twelve, the ‘Doctrine of Divine Unity’ addressed the Oneness and many attributes of God, the five pillars of Islam, the importance of prayers (solat) and the remembrance of God, as well as the relevance of conducting oneself righteously before the omnipresent eyes of God. The many reasons are then coupled with excerpts from the Quran to support the logic.87 The ‘Doctrine of Divine Unity’ was not just a binding document. In fact, the sets of guidelines were also being translated into the material culture of twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia. Many artefacts from this period were produced and merchandised to reflect the doctrine of divine unity. Although Islam does not favour the idea of opulence, decadence and grandiose way of life, it permits women to wear adornments within the private realm that consists of 86 Ibid. 87 Ibid.
  53. 53.   53   their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their step-sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women-servants, male attendants lacking in natural vigour and children who have no carnal knowledge of women. This was mentioned in surah Al-Nur (The Light) in the 31st verse.88 (Figure 9) is a set of earrings that was produced and worn in the court of Andalusia during the time of the Almohad administration. It posits influences from the Fatimid dynasty in which it must have been brought via the Anatolia trading route or during the Fatimid dynasty’s occupation in North Africa after the fall of Abbasid Empire. The earrings bear inscriptions that read surah Al-Ikhlas (The Oneness) that stated, “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, God is One, God the eternal, He begot none, nor was He begotten. None is equal to Him.” The notion of Oneness is explained in chapter ten of the ‘Doctrine of Divine Unity’. Figure 9: The Almohad Pair of Earrings, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Gold sheer, wire, and grains, set with cloisonné enamel, 4.8 x 4.65 cm, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait City, Kuwait, al-Sabah Collection, LNS30 Jab The practice of the remembrance of God was considered as a custom that even before a woman adorned herself with a pair of earrings, she voluntarily is reminded of the 88 Quran 24:31
  54. 54.   54   Oneness attribute of God. In an Arabic-speaking Andalusian society, this was materialised via the inscriptions of surah Al-Ikhlas on the face of the earrings. Predictably, it was also to encourage piety. The Sufi-laden custom was also materialized in utilitarian objects. (Figure 10) is a thirteenth century drinking-jar produced during the Almohad administration and bears inscriptions in three encircling registers. The first register emphasised again on the Oneness of God and reads “Glorify God, reject that most alien to you.” The second register stated “Behold excellence, for you see the results before your eyes. My mouth has an agreeable savour; it is devoid of defect; it is sublime.” This inscription was meant to provoke a sentiment of appreciation towards God for creating humans in such beauty. The Sufi adheres to the notion of praising God in their daily lives and whenever they were reminded of how blessed they were. The third register is then inscribed to further enhance the sentiment from the second band as it reads, “In me, by God’s grace, is art made beauty. To set forth that God is good, He is supreme.” The concept of human creation is explained in chapter three of the ‘Doctrine of Divine Unity’ when it was stated that humans are created from water spurting forth and it is in no doubt that God, turned this drop of water into form and giving it bone and flesh and the ability of hearing or seeing.89 Ibn Arabi further explained this notion of creation when he wrote about ‘Creation through divine breath’ and according to it, everything in this world comes from the divine Primordial Word ‘Be!’ which means every single creation in this known and unknown world is by God’s willing for it to happen.90 89 Madeleine Fletcher, p. 192. 90 Samer Akkach, ‘The World of Imagination in Ibn Arabi’s Ontology; Creation Through the Divine Breath’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1 (May, 1997), pp. 107-109.
  55. 55.   55   Meanwhile, Ibn Arabi also described about the concept of ‘Beauty’ in which he stated that there is a distinction between ‘Divine Beauty’ (Jamal) and ‘Majestic Divine Beauty’ (Jalal Al-Jamal). When the first means divine beauty, the second is defined as majestically Divine Beauty and it is only via the first that God reveals itself to humans for contemplation. The idea of ‘Majestic Divine Beauty’ is a concept that is beyond human contemplation and comprehension. God only manifests the concept of ‘Divine Beauty’ in humans in two ways; that is either by a reverential fear of God, or by intimacy with God.91 The Almohad Jar addressed the thought of beauty in the second band inscription with the intention of contemplation through an intimacy with God. Indeed, it is a contemplative and a utilitarian piece at the same time. Figure 10: The Almohad Jar, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Painted lusterware, 4 cm (Diameter) , Ayuntamiento de Valencia, 1000 91 Pablo Beneito, ‘On the Divine Love of Beauty’, Journal of Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, XVIII (1995), pp. 1-22.
  56. 56.   56   The act of remembrance of God or zikir ism Allah (repetitive invocation of God in Arabic) during the Almohad period was pervasively practiced. This invocation of God would not necessarily have been conducted loudly but could also be remembered by heart. In the doctrine of the divine unity, it was quoted surah Al-Shura (The Counsel) in chapter seven “He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing.”92 Figure 11: The Almohad Las Navas de Tolosa Banner, 13th Century A.D., Silk and gilt parchment, 330 x 220 cm, Patrimanio Nacional, Museo de Telas Medievales, Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de, Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas, Burgos, 00652193 This indicated that even if the invocation was done silently, God would always know. The zikir ism had also been materialized in objects, one of these was the Las Navas de Tolosa Banner (Figure 11). The word God in Arabic was inserted in each Arabic letter that spells the inscriptions on the banner. This was a form of zikir contemplation. 92 Quran 42:9
  57. 57.   57   The Las Navas de Tolosa banner was in the possession of the Almohad administration during the battle of Reconquista at Las Navas de Tolosa with the reunited kingdom of Castille and Leon under the son of Queen Berenguela, Ferdinand the Third. Nevertheless, it was won, as a trophy after the Almohad administration was defeated. The occurrence of zikir ism was also reflected on another Almohad object. The Almohad bowl (Figure 12) was glazed and painted with a repetitive Arabic inscription motif that reads, “Glory is God”. This inscription motif was repeated eight times encircling a band within the bowl. Any manifestations that repeat the attributes of God are a form of zikir.93 Figure 12: The Almohad Bowl, 12th to 13th Century A.D., Glazed and painted lusterware, 23.2 cm (Diameter), Museo de Mallorca, Palma de Mallorca, 13505 93 Jerrilynn D. Dodds, ‘Catalogue; Almoravid, Almohad and Nasrid Periods: Ceramics’, Al-Andalus; The Art of Islamic Spain (New York 1992), p. 350.
  58. 58.   58   The last object that referred to the doctrine of divine unity is a brazier that bears a repetitive praying inscription that reads “Total Blessing” (Figure 13). In addition to that, it consists o f two main inscriptions. The upper band reads “Perpetual health and divine grace” while the lower band reads “The blessing of the Exalted one upon the possessor”.94 Figure 13: The Almohad Brazier, 13th Century A.D., Bronze, 26 cm, Museo Arquelogico Provincial de Cordoba, D. 92/2 94 Ibid. ‘Metalwork’, p. 274.
  59. 59.   59   In chapter two of the doctrine of the divine unity, it was explained that it is by the necessity of reason that the existence of God is known. An analogy of forces of nature like rain falling was used to describe how an action has a doer, how God is in command for such a phenomenon to exist and humans are vulnerable before the eyes of God. This insertion in the doctrine was then been supported by surah Ibrahim (Abraham) in the eleventh verse, which stated “And is there doubt as to God, the creator of the Heavens and the Earth?” Thus when the Exalted One informs about the Creator of Heaven and Earth’s existence, it is not to be doubted.95 “The Exalted One” in this context would mean God itself, in transmitting knowledge about itself. The Ruh al-Quds and al-Durrat al-Fakhirah. The Ruh al-Quds and the al-Durrat al-Fakhirah are reliable hagiographical resources to study the way of life in twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia. Although there are no original copies of the two literary works written by Ibn Arabi, there are still manuscripts that were copied by other writers with the authorization and attendance by Ibn Arabi that have survived. An example of such manuscript would be a folio from a copy of Ibn Arabi’s thirteenth century Diwan that is in the Nasser D. Khalili’s Collection of Islamic Art (Figure 14). The Diwan or anthology consists of Sufi poems and prose that were copied from Ibn Arabi’s literary work but certified by Ibn Arabi himself. It is written in Ibn Arabi’s handwriting “This confirms that the aforementioned person has heard the reading of this volume and the rest of the diwan, which make up another five volumes at numerous sessions.” The testimonial also indicates that reading sessions were one of the activities conducted by the court of intelligentsias in Andalusia. 95 Madeleine Fletcher, p. 192.
  60. 60.   60   Figure 14: Folio of the Diwan by Ibn Arabi, Collection of Sufi poems, 13th Century A.D., Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London, 255 In the al-Durrat al-Fakhirah and the Ruh al-Quds, Ibn Arabi wrote an account of his meeting with Abu Imran Musa Bin Imran Al- Martuli. He described the man to be spiritually disciplined and always balancing his ways in manifesting the concept of divine beauty (Jamal) through a reverential fear of God and developing an intimate relationship with God. Abu Imran Musa Bin Imran Al-Martuli was described to have experienced the Self-revelation of God in its aspect of divine beauty (Jamal).96 96 J. Austin, ‘Abu Imran Musa B. Imran Al-Martuli’, pp. 87-91.
  61. 61.   61   Figure 15: The Almohad Casket, 12th Century A.D., Ivory, wood, and gilt copper, 41 x 38 x 14 cm, Institutode de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid 4864 The Almohad ivory casket (Figure 15) that bears the inscription “With beauty I did wonders that are radiant, all the while I was surrounded by garden and embellished with plants and flowers.” Clearly, the beauty in this context is divine beauty (Jamal) as explained by Ibn Arabi and experienced by Abu Imran Musa Bin Imran Al-Martuli. The possessor of this casket was appreciating the garden by associating it to divine beauty or as manifestations of God. The casket also bears a prayer that reads “Happiness and prosperity” on the lower portion of the object which was installed for the purpose of reminding the possessor to remember God and conduct oneself gracefully.97 97 Jerrilynn D. Dodds, ‘Catalogue; Almoravid, Almohad and Nasrid Periods: Ivories’, p. 350.
  62. 62.   62   Conclusion It is no doubt that the influence of Sufism can be traced on the material culture of twelfth and thirteenth centuries Andalusia. The Sufist Eye method can be put into practice for the time period and geographical area of this study because we have such influential figure like Ibn Arabi who provided us with textual evidences in the form hagiographies and Sufi prose works. The Sufist Eye method can be used on eastern subjects of the same time period such like during the times of Seljuk of Rum because we have another prominent figure named Jalal al-Din Rumi who was famous for his Sufi poetries from that region. As Sufism became the literary topoi of medieval Islam, it became easy for us to detect its manifestations on artefacts produced during this time. The merchandise supported this popular literature and vice versa. The doctrine was so popular and it was in its high point that mass medieval Muslims regarded Sufism as something novel, stimulating and enlightening. Although Sufism can be traced back to the seventh century A.D., it is not until the ninth century when paper was widely used that Muslims started to write. Nevertheless, the Quran was given priority in this inscribing practice. When the book industry started to flourish in the twelfth century A.D., this was when other subjects were recorded and one of them was Sufism. It was widely circulated until it activated an intellectual community and encouraged it to become a striking development.98 Hence, the period of twelfth to thirteenth centuries are considered the well-suited phase to research on Sufism.                                                                                                                 98 Jonathan Berkey, ‘Sufism’, Formation of Islam; religion and society in the Near East 600-1800 (New York, 2003), p. 241  
  63. 63.   63   However, by the end of the fifteenth century, Sufism was already integrated into Muslim religious life and this could only result into two phenomena. First, it could have been tainted with tints of other popular Muslim cultures that resulted to difficulties for researchers to trace it (Grabar’s theory) and secondly it could had become more distinct and been manifested via material cultures from other Islamic subjects as Islam with Sufism expanded to India, South Asia, East Asia and South East Asia. Regardless of the consequences, the Sufist Eye method can still be applied to investigate on whether or not Sufi-themed objects continued to exist. Another hypothesis would be it could only exist in textual evidences. Even so, it opens for another research opportunity.
  64. 64.   64   Catalogue One The Blue Quran folio of Surah Al-Baqarah, 2, vv. 34-41 9th to 10th Century A.D. Gold ink on blue parchment: 28 x 38 cm Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, MS.8.2006 This blue Quran is famous for its chrysography (the art of writing in letters of gold) on blue parchment. A rare Islamic artefact of its time and perhaps the only one of its kind, the blue Quran comes from the contested and overlapping cultures due to the power struggles among Muslims during that time. Assertions have been made that it could either come from the Abbasid culture when the caliph al-Ma’mun commissioned it to be made for the tomb of his father
  65. 65.   65   Harun al-Rashid in Mashad or from an early Fatimid manuscript made in Maghreb before the dynasty established Cairo as the capital city of the Fatimid empire in the late tenth century A.D. Another theory indicates that it might have been produced in Sicily or North Africa under the Aghlabids (proxy to the Abbasid caliphate) or Kalbids (proxy to the Fatimid caliphate). Nevertheless, an inventory of it was recorded for the Library of the Great Mosque of Qayrawan in 1294 A.D. in Tunisia. The mosque had a room on the northern side of the courtyard that kept discarded Qurans. Considering the Quran has 114 surah and 6236 verses, the original Blue Quran must consists around 600 folios of this kind. This is because each folio is limited to only 15 ruled lines. There is no record or any evidence that suggests that the Quran comes from North Africa except for recipes of gold ink that was written by a Zirid ruler of central North Africa named Ibn Badis in the eleventh century. The formerly mentioned library inventory that was recorded in the thirteenth century recorded the discovery of parchment being manufactured from Maghrib starting from the tenth century. It is important to note that Qurans travelled great distances in the medieval period just like scholars, scribers and pilgrims. The blue dye comes from luxurious vegetal pigments with indigo properties. It mainly comes from Indian, Mediterranean and West Asian origin. The indigo is widely used in textile making and prior to becoming a dyeing agent it had to be fermented. For the blue Quran, the parchment must have been dipped into the vessel
  66. 66.   66   repeatedly to get the rich indigo hue. After it has been dyed, the fifteen grid lines were drawn out. Once this is done, the gold ink is scribed before being outlined with dark brown ink. Other embellishments such as the verse division decoration, it was added later before the folios been gathered into quires and bound. For the parchment, the skin of the animal needed to go thorugh a few processes of cured, scraped, removal of fats and flesh, sanded, stretched out and dried. The close-up of the blue Quran folio is displayed below and the brown outline of the calligraphy is seen. The script is Kufic. The blue Quran was produced when this style flourished within the different and overlapping sub-cultures of the Abbasid and the Fatimid caliphates. A study was done in grouping various Kufic folios on the basis of letter shapes. It was found that the blue Quran falls under the ‘D.IV’ type of Kufic writing. The ‘D.IV’ style is the medium-sized Kufic script marked by its distinct usage of mashq. Mashq is a free hand technique of varying the lengths of the horizontal strokes within and

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