03 April 2003, 01:03


ad-Darbandi, Muhammad ibn Musa ibn al-Faradj Abu Bakr ash-Shafi'i as-Sufi (died in the first half of the 12th century) - major Muslim ash'ari theologian and mystic.

Born between 1058 and 1068 in Khims neighborhood of the city of Bab al-Abvab (Derbent) in an immigrant family. Ad-Darbandi's father, Musa al-Labbad al-Mu'addib, was a home tutor.

In 1070-1080s, ad-Darbandi studied in Derbent, Khumaydiya (modern Gemeydi), Ardjila (modern Khelipendjik) and other settlements of the Frontier Area (as-sagr) of the Caliphate. For example, he studied the Khadis Science ('ilm al-khadis) under the guidance of Abu-l-Kasim al-Varrak (died between 1098 and 1104) in his neighborhood mosque, the Shafi'it Law - with Baghdad an-Nizamiya Madrasah graduate Abu-l-Hasan al-Basri (died in late 11th century) in the cathedral mosque of Derbent and with Abu Muhammad al-Lakzi (died in late 11th century), who was the student of the famous Baghdad fakikh Abu-l-Kasim al-Isma'ili (died in 1084) in Kurakh. Ad-Darbandi's views have been greatly influenced by such Derbent Sheikhs as Abu Ya'kub Yusuf al-Babi al-Lakzi (died before 1089-1090), Abu Iskhak Ibrahim al-Gada'iri (died in early 12th century), Abu Zakariya Iakhya al-Gada'iri (died after 1098), and Abu 'Abdallah Mammus ibn al-Hasan ad-Darbandi al-Lakzi (ca. 1040-1110).

Ad-Darbandi was introduced to Sufism by the aforementioned Abu-l-Kasim al-Varrak. He pursued the profound studies of the Sufi science in a zaviya of Abu-l-Hasn al-Dzhurdani (died ca. 1098) in Derbent's suburb.

In mid-1080s, ad-Darbandi set off for the traditional journey in search of knowledge (rikhla). He lived in Tabaristan for a long time and graduated from an-Nizamiya madrasah there in Amula.

By the early 1090s, having visited Mecca, Medina, Baghdad, Isfahan, Hamadan, and other cities of the Caliphate, he returned to Derbent and founded his own "assembly" (majlis) there. In early 1098, ad-Darbandi was forced to leave Derbent because of a sociopolitical shift in the city. Away from his home, he wrote his lifetime work - Raykhan al-khaka'ik va-bustan ad-daka'ik (Basilica of Verities and Garden of Delicacies), the most significant of the extant literature of early Sufism in the Caucasus, which was the northern periphery of the Caliphate at that time. The masterpiece, known by the only manuscript of 1342-1343, was written in late 11th and early 12th centuries in a form of an encyclopedic dictionary and represents a collection of Sufi theoretical (doctrinal), practical (customary), and special (technical) terms, general-Islam notions used by the mystics and consistent with their perception and religious practices, and moral and ethic categories constituting the Sufi adab - a kind of a code for mystics' rules, norms, and customs.

Ad-Darbandi lived in the period of the Sufi ideology formation and Muslim mysticism practice codification, which preceded the emergence of the first structurized Sufi orders. He was acquainted with many notable people of his time, including al-Gazali, and worked in the same spiritual environment as this famous contemporary of his. Among ad-Darbandi's immediate tutors were: Fakhr al-islam Abu-l-Makhasin ar-Ruyani (killed in 1108), the supreme judge of Tabaristan and Amula's an-Nizamiya madrasah principal; Abu 'Abdallah al-Bakri (died in 1105), a popular ash'arit preacher; Abu-l-Muzaffar al-Abivardi (died in 1113), a famous Horasan poet; Shams al-islam 'Imad ad-din al-Kiya al-Kharrasi (died in 1110), a Baghdad an-Nizamiya madrasah tutor; Dja'far as-Sarradj (died in 1106), Baghdad's al-Mansura mosque's imam; Ibn al-Kaysarani (died in 1113), authoritative mukhaddis; Shams al-a'imma as-Sarakhsi (died in 1096-97 or 1107), one of the authors of Khanfit majhab in Mavarannakhra; Shiravaykh ibn Shakhridar (died in 1115), the author of the famous Kitab al-firdaus, and others.

Ad-Darbandi had his own students and followers in different regions of the Caliphate. The first of them was Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Abi-l-Kasim at-Tabari (died in 1131), who later became an eminent Shiite Islam activist and received an honorable name of Anchorman of the Religion ('Imad ad-din). One of ad-Darbandi's moral and ethic opinion followers was a famous in the Muslim world shafi'it traditionalist Abu Takhir Ahmad ibn Muhammad as-Silafi al-Isfakhani (died in 1180), for whom Ibn as-Sallar, an influential vizier of the Egyptian emir az-Zakhir, built a madrasah in Alexandria in 1151 later named after him. Ad-Darbandi's house in Derbent was frequented by many renowned scientists: the aforementioned as-Silafi, Abu 'Abdallah Muhammad al-Khumaydi (died in 1095), the student of a famous zachirit Ibn Khazm (died in 1063), and others.

Ad-Darbandi adhered to symbolic and allegoric interpretation of the Koran (ta'vil). Not rejecting pan-Islamic traditions as such, he objectively somewhat limited the sphere of their usage, often restricting them to the Sufi traditions, which were per se syncretistic. He did not simply follow the traditional interpretation of Sufi terms; he introduced new elements into the tradition, mainly by including the local material into it. Ad-Darbandi enriched the Sufi tradition with that and brought the theoretic grounds of Muslim mysticism closer to spiritual aspirations of his contemporaries and current epoch requirements. One can say this is where lies the main value of Raykhan al-khaka'ik from the viewpoint of Sufi tradition development and, in a broader sense, of Muslim religious and philosophic thinking in general.

Emphasizing the affiliation of the Sufi values with the pan-Islamic spiritual legacy, ad-Darbandi proved the "rightfulness" of the Sufism branch that he himself belonged to. Thus he objectively made the next move, after Abu-l-Kasim al-Kushayri (died in 1071), to bring together the rationalistic branch of mysticism, generated by al-Djunayd (died in 910), with Sunni "orthodoxy". In this sense, he was ideological predecessor of al-Gazali. Ad-Darbandi's work shows that al-Gazali's philosophy is not accidental in the history of Islam: it had been prepared with the entire preceding development of the Muslim religious and philosophic thinking.

Analysis of Raykhan al-khaka'ik enables to observe the effect of the generic developmental tendencies of Islam by an example of a single region. In particular, a conclusion is confirmed that wide introduction of Muslim ideology in the Northern Caucasus was happening in the form of Sufism. The islamization mechanism in the region, identified by the information in the piece, shows that the processes taking place on the outskirts of the Caliphate at early stages of Islam spreading had much in common. Ad-Darbandi's treatise offers particular value for understanding the process of shaping local forms of Islam in the Caucasus, dialectic interaction of pan-Islamic and Sufi priorities in the outer edge of the Muslim world (dar al-islam), and eventually the functional mechanism of Islam as an integral ideological system.

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