Jawanmardi: A Sufi Code of Honour

Jawanmardi: A Sufi Code of Honour

Jawanmardi: A Sufi Code of Honour

Jawanmardi: A Sufi Code of Honour

Synopsis

Sufism attracts much attention in the West, yet its ethical dimension is often overlooked. Jawanmardi-a key element of Persian Sufism- was the thic that encouraged the Sufi to put others before himself and to overlook the sins committed by others, thus representing a humane and liberal understanding of Islam. Many writers in the Persian tradition wrote about Jawanmardi, and this overview presents three of the key medieval texts in the original and in translation: Kitab al-futuwwa by Shihab al-Din Umar Suhrawardi, Futuwwat nama by Mirza 'Abd al-'Azim Khan Qarib, and Risala-yi Hatim al-Tayy by Husayn Wa'iz-i Kashifi.

Excerpt

From the early years of Islamic history until the twelfth century a number of groups appeared in Arabic- and Persian-speaking regions which were described by the term futuwwat. the origin of this word can be linked to its Arabic root, fata, which means a young man; thus futuwwat is a term that denotes ‘young-manliness’, or the state of being a young man. Although futuwwat does not appear in the Qur’an, the word fata, from which the former is derived, is mentioned on several occasions. One of the first usages of futuwwat appears in the poetry of the Shu’ubi poets, who disparaged the clientism and elitism of the conquering Arab forces. the term was also used to describe groups of young Arabs who enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle, whose parties included singing and wine-drinking. a Persian synonym for futuwwat appeared in the early medieval period: jawanmardi (literally, young manliness) was attributed to Yaʿqub ibn al-Layth and his followers in the ninth century, who created a form of autonomy in Iranian lands within the crumbling Islamic empire. the jawanmardi of these Persians denoted bravery, courage, loyalty and piety. the critics of Yaʿqub ibn al-Layth referred to him in derogatory terms, and indeed, by the eleventh century, jawanmardi was associated with a bandit (ʿayyar). Despite this, aspects of the world view of some of the ʿayyar was similar to that of the Sufis, and such bandits were sometimes portrayed in a positive fashion, especially within popular Persian romance literature in which they were depicted as Robin Hood-type figures.

With the wide range of activities and perspectives associated with futuwwat and jawanmardi in the Arabic and Persian worlds . . .

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