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Romanov M. The Term şūfī: Spiritualizing Simple Words // Письменные памятники Востока, 2(5), 2006. С. 149—159.


Every scholarly book that deals with Islamic mysticism contains at least some details on the etymologies of the term şūfī and its derivatives. The origin of this term was a matter of debates among the scholars of Sufism in the West from the very inception of Sufi studies until it has become widely accepted that it is derived from the Arabic word for “wool”, şūf, i.e. a woolen garment that was commonly worn by ascetics in the Middle East. While the Sufis themselves are not interested in the academic studies of the etymology of their denomination, they nevertheless have taken great pains to explain its meaning. Major Sufi authorities of the late 4th/5th-10th/llth centuries, who endeavored to systemize and assert the legitimacy of the Sufi tradition and who claimed to possess the knowledge of the true realities of Islamic faith (haqa'iq), found it hard to accept this quite prosaic name, all the more so since it was most likely given to them by outsiders. That is not to say that all medieval Sufi authors rejected the idea that their name, sufiyya, takes its origin in the practice of wearing woolen garments. However, almost all of them (except Abū Tālib al-Makkī) sought to endow this mundane name with a more subtle and spiritual meaning in order to bring it in line with the complexity of their esoteric teaching. Besides, many Muslims considered this name to be an innovation (muhdath), so Sufis had to make every effort to prove its antiquity…

[К оглавлению номера 2(5) ППВ за 2006 г.]

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