Tabaqat al Sufiyyat (The echelons of Sufism) of Imam Abu Abd al-Rahman
Imam Sullami was born in Nishapour, Khorasan province, in 325 H (963
CE). Nishapour was, at the time, one of the mother Islamic cities in
its intellectual civilization. His Nasab (Lineage), al-Sullami, is to
Arab tribe of Salim, through his maternal grandfather, himself a Sufi,
who took charge of him at the death of his father. His studies with the
great teachers of his time focused quickly on the Sciences of Hadith
and on Tassawuff.
In Tassawuff, he was influenced by Abu Nasr al-Sarraj, author of
"Al- Luma' fi al-Tassawuff", by Abu al-Qasim al-Nasr-Abadi and by his
grandfather Abu 'Amr ibn Nujaid. His students were innumerable,
most famous among them, in the subject of Tassawuff, is Imam
al-Qushayri, author of "Al-Risala al-Qushayriat", in which he quotes
Imam Sullami abundantly.
It is thought that, during a period of fifty years of his life, which
was consecrated to learning and teaching, Imam Sullami wrote
approximately 300 volumes, very few of which have reached us, among
them his exegesis of the Qur'an " Haqa'q al-Tafseer" which
is one of the primary Sufi exegeses (Tafseer 'ala Lisan ahl al-Haqa'q).
Imam Sullami died in 412 H and was buried in the Khanaqah that he had
founded in Nishapour.
May Allah Almighty reward him for his hard work and dedication of which
we are the beneficiaries.
Imam Sullami belongs to the Sufis of the Nishapour School, where the
study of Sufism was experiential as opposed to the Baghdad School led
by Taj al-'Arifeen al-Junayd, where there was emphasis on opinion and
theory. In fact, when one reads Sullami's Sufi books including his
Qur'anic exegesis, one notes that, the author is recounting what has
been told and observed by the Sufi Shuyukh, without emitting an opinion
of his own about any of it.
The "Tabaqat" was written most likely around 380 H. The author
introduces the book as follows:
"I have wished to write a book about the lives of the late Auliya',
gathered in 5 layers (Tabaqat) of the Imams of the Sufis, their
Mashayekh and their Scholars. Each layer would consist of 20 Shuyukh
who lived within the same period of time. I would mention for each some
of his words, his qualities, his biography, characteristics of his
Tariqat, his Hala, his knowledge, as much as I am able to ....."
The Defects of the Nafs