The Origins of Andalusian Mysticism

ChatGPT: Sufism, also known as Islamic mysticism, is a complex and diverse tradition that cannot be easily defined. While it is often associated with the Middle East, Sufism also developed in Andalusia, the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, during the Middle Ages. This unique mystical tradition was distinct from the Sufism of the East and was influenced by neoplatonism and the Safa philosophy.

The origins of this movement are traced back to the 9th to 10th century Mystic philosopher Ibn Masara, who studied Maliki law in Cairo and Mecca before returning to Cordoba where he became famous as an ascetic and mystical guide. Ibn Masara’s teachings were controversial among the ruling elites and Malika jurists in the region, but he left behind a group of disciples and a collection of writings that included The Book of the Properties of Letters and The Epistle on Contemplation.

At the center of his thought was the concept of etibar or contemplation, which allowed one to cross over from the mundane world to the Divine one through ascending levels of contemplation. This neoplatonic approach influenced Western Sufism, which tends to be more speculative and metaphysically interested than Eastern Sufism, which is more focused on psychology and internal spiritual wayfaring.

Holger Hubbs

By Holger Hubbs

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