The Teaching Relationship in Early Sufism: A Reassessment of Fritz Meier’s Definition of the shaykh al-tarbiya and the shaykh al-ta’lim

The Muslim World Hartford: Jan 2003. Vol. 93, Iss. 1; p. 69 (29 pages)

A discussion of early Sufi practices and Sufis’ self-understanding of their mode of knowledge as one of the early Sunni religious sciences.

Readers should be aware that I have changed my mind on two major points that I made in this article. 1. Institutionalization. I corrected this point in my book Soaring Minaret. 2. My reading of Meier’s argument. I was a graduate student when I wrote it and overstated Meier’s distinction in articulating my own (learn from my error, O Graduate Student, eschew overstatement). I will correct this overstatement and share my present understanding of ta`lim and tarbiya in my upcoming book Simply Good Women. Thankfully the overstatement is a small part of the article. The article remains a resource for its analytical overview of Sufi pedagogy drawn from the earliest sources.

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