“Al-Ghazālī of al-Andalus” bn Barrajān, Mahdism, and the Emergence of Learned Sufism on the Iberian Peninsula

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José Bellver



Although Ibn Barrajān (d. 536/1141) was one of the foremost Sufi masters in al-Andalus, he remains a controversial figure. He is mainly known for an accurate prediction of the Muslim capture of Jerusalem on 583/1187, for his close relationship with the other leading Andalusian Sufi master of his time, Ibn al-ʿArīf (d. 536/1141), and for his obscure death. Ibn Barrajān is not mentioned in Ibn Bashkuwāl’s Ṣila—the main source for study of the Andalusian ulema of this time—and as a result has been taken to be an outsider among the Andalusian ulema, one who threatened the theological and political establishment. However, this image is distorted by the socio-political context of the time and by the paucity of our references. The aim of this article is to shed light on the figure of Ibn Barrajān from a historical point of view so as to improve our understanding of the role played by Sufism in Mahdist movements and in the political changes in the Islamic West during the sixth/twelfth century.

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