Tabaqat al Sufiyyat (The echelons of Sufism) of Imam Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sullami

The author
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 the reputed 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.

Tabaqat al-Sufiyya
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 ....." 

Ibrahim Adham 


The Defects of the Nafs