In the first years of the 18th century, the Syrian Sufi scholar ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī wrote a commentary on some controversial passages of the writings of Ahmad Sirhindī, the founder of the Mujaddidi branch of the Naqshbandiyya. In these excerpts, Sirhindī claims to be the “renewer” (mujaddid) of the second millennium of the Hijra, and describes the momentous changes brought about by the advent of the millennium on the different planes of being. Nābulusī interprets Sirhindī’s statements bringing them into line with Ibn ‘Arabī’s theory of sainthood and prophecy. In so doing, he implicitly mitigates Sirhindī’s claims to “originality” and spiritual authority. However, he espouses his dynamic view of sacred history, adding to it a distinctively “optimistic” bent. Nābulusī’s reading of Sirhindī is a witness to the complexity and variety of the conceptions of religious renewal supported by Sunni scholars and Sufis in the pre-modern period.
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