This paper discusses the theoretical basis of the Sufi term jadhb (the effortless attraction of man by God), and examines the different approaches towards the figure of majdhūb as developed and presented in Sufi compendia and both Sufi and non-Sufi biographies of the period between the fourth/tenth and the tenth/sixteenth centuries. It suggests that there are three major phases in the development of the theoretical basis of jadhb. The first stage covers the period between the fourth/tenth century and the first half of the sixth/twelfth century. Jadhb during this stage was not discussed as a separate technical term, and its early foundations were embedded particularly in the early discussions of tawba (repentance) beside other expressions such as ghayba and fanā’. The period that began with the late part of the sixth/twelfth century and reached the early part of the seventh/thirteenth century was distinguished by attempts of later Sufi authors to moderate the problematic aspects of jadhb and to integrate it with the detailed discussions of mashyakha (sheikh status). In light of the increasing antinomian appearances of the majdhūbs and the anarchistic qalandariyya in Muslim landscapes, the period following the early part of the seventh/thirteenth century up to the tenth/sixteenth century witnessed the popularity of majdhūb Sufis whose antinomian approach towards social codes and religious rituals came to be freely presented in the sources. Jadhb became separated from the institutionalised doctrinal system of mashyakha, although some attempts were made to integrate jadhb with sulūk and, thus, to maintain the majdhūb’s ability to act as a spiritual guide.
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