Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Ṣūfī Mystics of the Niger DesertSidi Mahmud and the Hermits of Aïr$

H. T. Norris

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198265382

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198265382.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.  Subscriber: null; date: 22 January 2020

(p.x) (p.xi) List of Plates

(p.x) (p.xi) List of Plates

Ṣūfī Mystics of the Niger Desert
Oxford University Press

Arabic inscriptions on the graves, or meditation quarters, of mystics of the Maḥmūdiyya, or another Ṣūfī order, who were once resident within the ruined townlet of In Taduq in the Azawagh desert to the west and south of Agades, capital of Aïr. The inscriptions are either seventeenth or eighteenth century in date and show the Arabic lettering typical of this area. The formulaic phrases, together with others, indicate the ‘illuminatory’ character of the local Ṣūfīsm, also the initiation of women members separately into the order, which is unspecified, though it bears all the hallmarks of the Maḥmūdiyya, or the Khalwatiyya. Other graves in the vicinity appear to be of noteworthy members of the Ayt Awari Tuareg (including a former chief, Muḥammad Māṣil). The Ṣūfī movement and the ineslemen Arabic teachers and jurists are central to the way of life of many of the Kel Denneg Tuareg and the few Ḥassāniyya-speaking Kunta of this remote district (photograph kindly given to the author by Drs E. and S. Bernus).


Map. Azawagh and Aïr and the World of Maḥmūdiyya Ṣūfīsm xxiii

  1. 1. The colophon of the Qudwa, giving the full name of the author. 6

  2. 2–3. A passage that refers to the Ṣūfī movements in the region of Aïr during the sixteenth century, to be found within Naṣīḥat al-umma fī-isti cmāl al-rukbṣa, by Jalāl al-Dīn Sīdī Mawlāy Muḥammad al-Hādī al-Sūqī. This scholar of the Kel Es-Sūq, of the Mali Adrār, also refers to Sīdī Maḥmūd as having lived during the sixteenth century. His work was written in, or near, Gao, in Mali, in 1867/8, and is document 94 of the Boubou Hama collection in the Arabic manuscript section of the Institut de Recherche Scientifique, Niamey, Niger. 10

  3. 4–10. The opening folios of the Qudwa. These cover the eschatological significance of Sīdī Maḥmūd and the prophecies about him allegedly made by Shaykh al-Maghīlī, Awgar al-Fullānī, and by others. Parts of the text are quoted in Muḥammad Bello’s Infāq al-maysūr. These folios are the oldest parts of the surviving Abalagh text. The Arabic hand is more elegant and may date from the seventeenth, or, more probably, the eighteenth century. 26

  4. (p.xii) 11–5. Folios in the Qudwa that refer to the role that specific scholars played in the acceptance and dissemination of the Maḥmūdiyya during the lifetime of Sīdī Maḥmūd. These scholars included Shaykh Abū’l-Hudā al-Sūqā, Shaykh cAbdal-Raḥmān b. Tnkrsh-Allāh, al-Najīb b. Muḥammad al-faqīh (al-sayf) and Shaykh cUthmān al-Mawhūb b. Afalāwas, who founded the mosque at In Taduq, and who is allegedly buried there. 38

  5. 16–17. Folios in the Qudwa that exalt the Maḥmūdiyya as an orthodox and unique order that derives its rules and its teachings directly from the Prophet himself. 60

  6. 18–19. Folios in the Qudwa wherein the jurists are castigated for their literalism in religion and the mystics are extolled for their balance in weighing up the respective claims of the Sharīca law and of gnosis (Macrifa). Total submission, in love, to the Divine Being may be attained by the mystic who is a believer. 72

  7. 20–2. Folios of the Qudwa where the circumstances of the martyrdom of Sīdī Maḥmūd are discussed and where the Ṣulṭān and his jurists are blamed. 117

  8. 23–5. The silsila of Sīdī Maḥmūd al-Baghdādī within the line of transmission and initiation going back to cAlī and the Prophet, through important Kbalwatiyya and other Shaykhs of Merzifon and Istanbul, and of the region of Baku and Azerbaijan. 139

  9. 26. A specific reference to a heretical and schismatical ‘dervish’ from Baghdād who was slain in Agades and his followers dispersed. It is to be found in Ahmad Bābā’s Al-Lamc fī ajwibat al-as’ila al-arbaca which was written in Timbuktu on the 11th Shawwāl, 1024/4th November, 1616. The copy of the text is Manuscript no. 532 (9°), fos. 150–3, Bibliothèque Nationale, Algiers, dated 1158/1152?, that is c.1750. 153