Sufism, Sufis, and Sufi Orders: Sufism's Many Paths
Professor Alan Godlas, University of Georgia
Early Shaykhs of Sufism : Samnun
Sulami stated the following concerning Samnun: His name is
reported in a variety of ways: Samnun ibn 'Umar al-Muhibb, Samnun ibn Hamzah,
or Samnun ibn 'Abd Allah Abu al-Hasan al-Khawwas, or Abu al-Qasim (d. after
297 AH/ 909-910 CE). He called himself "Samnun the liar" because
of his concealment (without complaining) of his difficulty in urinating.
He associated with Sari al-Saqati, Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Qassab, and Abu
Ahmad al-Qalanisi. He used to speak about love with the finest
words and was among the great men of the shaykhs of 'Iraq. He died
sometime after Junayd, who died in 297/ 909-10.
Sulami noted that Abu al-Hasan ibn Zur'an said, "I was
with Samnun. He groaned deeply. Then he said, 'Were a man to
cry out due to the intensity of his ecstasy (wajd) through his love, he
would fill [the world] from the East to the West with his cry.' "
Sulami reported that Abu Bakr al-'Ajjan said that he heard
Samnun saying, "Tomorrow, when [God], the Glorious One (al-Jalil), spreads
out the expanse of grandeur (majd), the sins of the first and last [people]
will enter the margin of its margins. And when [the Glorious one]
makes manifest a fount of generosity, He will add the evildoers to the
---From al-Sulami, Tabaqatal-Sufiyah, selected
from pp. 195-96.
(The full chains of transmission of these reports are
the original but have been omitted in the above translation.)
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Translations copyright©1988 by Dr.
A. Godlas. Not for publication
in any media except by written permission
of the translator.