Was Ede Bali a Wafāʾī Shaykh? Sufis, Sayyids and Genealogical Creativity in the Early Ottoman World

Jonathan Brack

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In two recent publications, Adam Sabra draws attention to “the increased significance of the family in the practice and rhetoric of Sufism of the later Middle Ages.” From sons increasingly succeeding their fathers as shaykhs and the control over zāwiyas passing within families to a considerable interest in the shaykh’s role as a spiritual father, from the later Middle Ages Sufism was increasingly becoming a “family affair.” Similarly, one notices in Sufi writings an increased emphasis on the shaykh’s domestic life and familial ties.1 Furthermore, as Sabra shows, some Sufi families such as the Egyptian Bakrīs based their claim to spiritual authority less on their Sufi silsila – an unbroken chain of Sufi masters leading to the formative era of Sufism – and more on their claims to noble biological descent, in particular descent from the Prophet Muḥammad.2 In such cases, Sufi writings, particularly hagiographies, were crucial vehicles for anchoring, disseminating, and perpetuating descent-based claims to spiritual authority. The fifteenth-century transmission and translation from Arabic into Ottoman Turkish of the Menāḳıb-i Seyyid Ebü’l-Vefāʾ (henceforth, Menāḳıb), the hagiography of the eleventh-century Sufi Sayyid Tāj al-ʿĀrifīn Abū al-Wafāʾ Muḥammad (d. 495/1101 or 501/1107), is a case study for how not only the composition of hagiographical works, but also their transmission and translation were meaningful for reasserting and generating descent-based claims to Sufi authority.
Original languageEnglish GB
Title of host publicationIslamic Literature and Intellectual Life in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century Anatolia
EditorsA.C.S Peacock, Sara Nur Yildiz
PublisherNomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH und Co
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)‎ 978-3956501579
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Publication series

NameIstanbuler Texte Und Studien


Dive into the research topics of 'Was Ede Bali a Wafāʾī Shaykh? Sufis, Sayyids and Genealogical Creativity in the Early Ottoman World'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this