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2.1.1 - Awhaduddin Hamid Ibn Abu-l-Fakher al-Kirmani (d. 635/1238)

Awhad al-Din al-Kirmani was one of the most notable companions of Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi who would have a great impact on transmitting his teachings to the Persian-speaking Sufis, in addition to his role in raising and educating Sadruddin al-Qunawi as we shall see further below. As his name indicates, Shaykh Awhaduddin was born in Kerman, in 559/1164, around the same time of the birth of Shaykh Muhyiddin. He lived and learned in Baghdad, and his first master was Ruknuddin al-Sidjsi (Sindjani), of the affiliation of Abu-l-Najib Abd-ul-Qadir al-Suhrawardi (490/1097–564/1168), the founder the Suhrawardiyyah that was later expanded by his paternal nephew Shihabuddin Omar al-Suhrawardi (539/1145–632/1234), whom Shaykh Awhaduddin would later inherit his prestigious position at Ribat al-Marzubaniyyah as we shall see further below.

It should be noted that, although he was born in Persia, Shaykh Awhaduddin al-Kirmani is not Shiite. This also applies to Najmuddin Kubra, known with the title of “the maker of saints”, or “vali tarash” in Persian, and all his students and successors, such as Saaduddin al-Hamawi and Azizuddin al-Nasafi, whom we shall mention in the following sections. The same is also correct for the Naqshbandi shaykhs in these regions. In fact, most, if not all, of the early Persian Sufis were Sunni. Therefore, the spreading of the teachings of Shaykh Muhyiddin between the Persian-speaking Sufis is not related to Shiism at all. Only in the recent century, the Shiite became more and more interested in the Greatest Master and other Sufis, especially those who have lived in Central Asia, and consequently many of their scholars tried to ascribe them to Shiism.

Even during his lifetime, due to his miraculous abilities and powerful spiritual charisma, al-Kirmani was celebrated by a large number of followers and other Sufi masters, although some of his doctrines and mystical practices were disputed by other Muslim scholars, while others praised and commended him.

Shaykh Muhyiddin himself clearly expressed his opposition to these practices, as he stated in the Meccan Revelations, though in the end he makes a sharp distinction between the false and genuine gnostics who are attracted to the beauty of all creations, and among them that of women and boys [Futuhat: II.191]. As it is clear from their intimate companionship, Shaykh Muhyiddin seems not to have held such practices against his friend Awhaduddin, otherwise he would certainly not have entrusted him with bringing up his step-son Sadruddin al-Qunawi as we shall see shortly.

According to the Kitab al-Amr al-Muhkam al-Marbut [list:61], Shaykh Muhyiddin met with Shaykh Awhaduddin on his first visit to Konya in 602/1205, as we have also mentioned in section in Chapter V of Volume I. After that, their paths were to cross frequently, since they were together both in Egypt and Syria. They became intimate companions, constantly meeting in Konya, Cairo and Damascus. In the Meccan Revelations, the Greatest Shaykh mentioned a story that he heard from his mouth, and he asks God to help him to achieve his goals [Futuhat: I.127]. Additionally, many of the concepts developed by the Greatest are also reflected in the poetry of Shaykh Awhaduddin.

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