The Organs of God Ḥadīth al-Nawāfil in Classical Islamic Mysticism

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Michael Ebstein



This article focuses on ḥadīth al-nawāfil (“the tradition concerning supererogatory works”), which is one of the most quoted traditions in Islamic mystical literature. The tradition describes how the believer may draw close to God and gain His love by performing supererogatory works, to such an extent that her organs become divine. The article discusses the significance of the nawāfil tradition in various mystical writings composed in the formative and classical periods of Islamic mysticism (third–seventh/ninth–thirteenth centuries), with special attention given to the writings of the influential mystic Muḥyī l-Dīn Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 638/1240). The article likewise attempts to demonstrate the relevance of certain Shii conceptions to the understanding of ḥadīth al-nawāfil and its interpretations in Sunni mysticism.

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