ABŪ ḤAMZA ḴORĀSĀNĪ, d. 290/903, Sufi born and active in Nīšāpūr; according to ʿAṭṭār he died there (Taḏkera II, p. 97.6; Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 326.3; Żabbī, Tārīḵ-e Nayšābūr, p. 150; Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 123.8). He received his Sufi training from Abū Torāb Naḵšabī (d. 245/859), with whom he traveled extensively (ibid., p. 123.6; Hoǰvīrī, Kašf, p. 184.1). Abū Ḥamza also studied with Baghdadi masters, being counted among the contemporaries (aqrān) of Jonayd (d. 297/910) and as a companion (rafīq) of Ḵarrāz (d. 277/890-91; Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 326.3; Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 123.7). However he seems not to have settled in Baghdad; significantly, he is not mentioned in Taʾrīḵ Baḡdād, and the sources depict him as a Sufi master of the east only (Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 123.6; Hoǰvīrī, Kašf, p. 183.19).
Abū Ḥamza is praised for his pious abstinence (waraʿ), penetrating insight into people (ferāsa), and especially his generous chivalry (fotūwa) and his total trust in God (tawakkol) based on a feeling of proximity to God (qorb; Kašf, p. 184.1; Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 326.4; Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 123.7; ʿAṭṭār, Taḏkera II, p. 95.-2). But he did not achieve note through writings on these subjects or by providing influential definitions of them, and his spiritual legacy survives only in a dozen sayings and a few anecdotes. This material indicates that Abū Ḥamza was primarily shaped by Khorasani Sufism. His fotūwa and tawakkol are undoubtedly Khorasani traits, and Nīšāpūr was a center for the cultivation of fotūwa (see F. Meier, “Ḥurāsān und das Ende der klassischen Ṣūfik,” La Persia nel Medioevo, Rome, 1971, pp. 565ff.). He stood in the direct line of classical Khorasani tawakkol tradition through his teacher Abū Torāb, a late disciple of Šaqīq Balḵī (d. 194/809-10; Massignon, Essai, pp. 258ff.). Abū Torāb’s example may have especially influenced Abū Ḥamza’s love of travel, habit of living hand to mouth (cf. Qošayrī, Resāla, p. 27.-8 and ʿAṭṭār, Taḏkera II, p. 97.3 with Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 147.6), and axiom of virtuous unconcern for danger (cf. Sarrāǰ, Lomaʿ, p. 331.1ff. with Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 147.6). Abū Ḥamza gives due attention to truthfulness (ṣedq), the fostering of which was renowned in Khorasani Sufism (see Qošayrī, Resāla, p. 113.11): “The one whom God distinguishes with a glance of his grace is thereby . . . adorned with interior and exterior truthfulness” (Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 328.1f.).
Traces of Iraqi Sufism in Abū Ḥamza are much weaker than Khorasani influence. His warning of God’s cunning (makr), from which man is not safe even in paradise, is unmistakenly Baghdadi (ibid., p. 327.12f.; on makr see al-Serr fī anfās al-ṣūfīya, MS Cairo, Dār al-Kotob, Taṣawwof 287, pp. 11-15; Solamī, Ḥaqāʾeq, fol. 174b.-4ff. on Koran 27:50). His mysticism was quite removed from that of the Baghdadis on major points, as is indicated by Nūrī’s (d. 295/907-08) criticism of his concept of proximity to God (Sarrāǰ, Lomaʿ, p. 57.7ff.; Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 159.-3ff.). Abū Ḥamza understood by intimacy with God (ons) “the aversion to foregathering with men” (Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 326.8ff.), but Nūrī could only conceive of proximity to God as mystical union (see Kalābāḏī, Taʿarrof, Cairo, 1933, p. 78.1). Abū Ḥamza did not follow him in this regard, even while integrating the state of trance into his view of Sufism (see Solamī, Ṭabaqāt, p. 328.9ff.).
The extent of Abū Ḥamza’s influence is unclear. Only one episode in his life was widely reported: Once he fell into an open well, which was then covered over. Mindful of his proximity to God, he did not wish to call out; he was finally saved miraculously by a lion (see B. Reinert, Die Lehre von Tawakkul, Berlin, 1968, p. 142). Although this story especially illustrated Abū Ḥamza’s personal form of tawakkol and proximity to God, Šeblī (d. 334/946) already applied it in Baghdad to the locally better known Abū Ḥamza Baḡdādī (Taʾrīḵ Baḡdād I, p. 392). Abū Ḥamza Ḵorāsānī is not otherwise mentioned in the systematic works on taṣawwof, even in discussions of such terms as fotūwa, tawakkol, qorb, ferāsa, or waraʿ. In the šaṭḥīyāt attributed to him by Rūzbehān Baqlī, he seems to be confused with Abū Ḥamza Baḡdādī (see Šarḥ-e šaṭḥīyāt, ed. H. Corbin, Paris and Tehran, 1966, p. 202; and cf. Hoǰvīrī, Kašf, p. 226).
Sarrāǰ, al-Lomaʿ fi’l-taṣawwof, ed. R. A. Nicholson, Leiden and London, 1914.
Żabbī, Tārīḵ-e Nay sābūr (extract by Ḵalīfa), Tehran, 1339 Š./1960.
Abū ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Solamī, Ḥaqāʾeq (Koran commentary), MS Fatih 262.
Idem, Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfīya, ed. Šorayba, Cairo, 1372/1953.
ʿAbd-al-Karīm b. Hawāzem Qošayrī, Resāla, Cairo, 1359/1940.
ʿAbdallāh Anṣārī, Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfīya, ed. Qandahārī, Kabul, 1340 Š./1961.
ʿAlī b. ʿOṯmān Hoǰvīrī, Kašf al-maḥǰūb, ed. Zhukovskiĭ, Tehran, 1336 Š./1957.
Farīd-al-dīn ʿAṭṭār, Taḏkerat al-awlīāʾ, Tehran, 1336 Š./1957.
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 19, 2011
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Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 295