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  • Print publication year: 1977
  • Online publication date: March 2008


The Christian mystic in his quest for union with God relies first upon the person of Jesus Christ who, being of the Godhead, is Himself both the object of worship, the supreme model, and the goal of attainment. The Muslim mystic has no Christ-figure to mediate and intercede between himself and Allah. The formative period of Sufism extended over the first three centuries of the Muslim era. The ascetic movement spread from Medina to Kufa and Basra, to Damascus and newly founded Baghdad, to the distant provinces of Khurasan and Sind. The founder of the Baghdad school of speculative mysticism was al-Harith b. Asad al-Muhasibi. By the end of the fifth/eleventh century a broad measure of agreement had been reached on the meaning of Sufism and the details of Sufi experience and theory. Sufism was very far from pretending to be an independent sect of Islam.
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The Cambridge History of Islam
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055055
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