The Four Pillars of Sainthood

Michel Chodkiewicz
A chapter from of a key work on sanctity in Islam.

In a sense the saint is “nobody’s son”: between him and God there exists a relationship with no intermediary, expressed in Ibn ‘Arabi’s terminology by the technical term wajh khass, meaning both the “particular face” which in each being is eternally turned towards God, and the particular face of God or particular divine aspect which corresponds to that being. Even so, the saint is included within a framework of time, a fact which is demonstrated explicitly by his belonging to an initiatory lineage (silsila), and more discretely by his being the heir to a prophet. He is emancipated from the six directions which determine the perception of ordinary men. His “place” is the “non-place” (“the ‘where’ no longer has a place”, writes Hallaj in a famous quatrain); but he none the less occupies a strictly defined place on a cosmic stage whose, determining principle is the hierarchy of the saints.

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and click here to view the original French text.

Original titles published by the Islamic Texts Society and Gallimard respectively. Excerpts republished here with thanks.

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