JAWĀHER-E ḴAMSA

title of a Persian work on Sufi meditation practices composed by the well-known and controversial Šaṭṭārī saint, Moḥammad Ḡawṯ Gwāleyārī (1500-1563).

 

JAWĀHER-E ḴAMSA, title of a Persian work on Sufi meditation practices composed by the well-known and controversial Šaṭṭārī saint, Moḥammad Ḡawṯ Gwā-leyārī (1500-63; Ernst, 1999a; Kugle). In the text he gives his full name as Moḥammad b. Ḵaṭir-al-Dīn b. Laṭif b. Muʿin-al-Din Qattāl b. Ḵaṭīr-al-Dīn b. Bāyazīd b. Ḵᵛāja Farid-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (MS 1384, Patna, fol. 3a), and he also refers to himself as “Abu’l-Moʾayyad Moḥammad al-Moḵāṭab be’l-Ḡawṯ ʿenda Allāh” (fol. 270b). The book, as he explains, is the fruit of the teachings of his master, Shaikh Ẓohur Ḥāji Ḥożur, as well as the result of his experiences in retreat over the course of thirteen, or sixteen, years in the mountainous fortress of Čonār in northern India. At the age of twenty-two, he composed the book and showed it to his master, who confirmed his sainthood and the validity of the book’s teachings. Subsequently, when he was exiled in Gujarat during the ascendancy of Šēr Šāh Surī (r. 1540-56), at the urging of his disciples he reworked the book, completing this second edition in 1549, when he was fifty years old; no copies of the earlier version are known to exist.

The Jawāher-e ḵamsa is divided into five parts, each called a jawhar, addressing the following topics: (I) on the worship of devotees (ʿebādat-e ʿābedān) concerning Qurʾānic verses in supererogatory prayer, required Islamic prayers, and devotions for particular times; (II) on the practices of ascetics (zohd-e zāhedān), dealing with internal practices that may be attempted after gaining perfection in external devotions; (III) on invocation (daʿwat) of the names of God, which requires the instruction of a master; (IV) on the recitations and practices (aḏkār o ašḡāl) that are distinctive to the mystics of the Šaṭṭārī path; and (V) the legacy of divine practices belonging to those who have realized the truth.

While the Jawāher-e ḵamsa is similar to other well-known manuals of Sufi recitation, it also has distinctive characteristics. Part I is clearly aimed at the ordinary believer. The succeeding parts increasingly aim at more elite audiences. The formulas to be recited are almost invariably in Arabic with a strong Qurʾānic flavor, although Persian quatrains are regularly introduced for emphasis. There is frequent reference to the Prophet Moḥammad and to famous Sufis. What is most characteristic of this treatise, however, is its distinctly practical flavor, with detailed instructions not only for performance, but also in terms of the results (whether spiritual or material) that are to be expected; this practicality is probably the reason for the popularity of this work.

In Part III, the invocations include signs of the zodiac, planets, letters of the Arabic alphabet, and the governing spirits (mowakkelān) who control all of the preceding. Certain prayers based on divine names fall into distinct classes according to the number of times they are repeated, which may range well into the thousands; some are even pronounced letter by letter. The influences of some of the divine names are explained in metaphysical terms familiar from the school of Ebn al-ʿArabī (q.v.). Frequent use is made of the numerical properties of the Arabic alphabet according to the abjad (q.v.) system. There are remarkably practical applications, including one recitation, inscribed on a silver ring, which will make sultans obedient to one’s word. Part IV has a detailed description of ḏekr (q.v.) techniques including the number of “beats” (yak żarbī, etc.), posture, breath control, visualization of divine names and formulas in different parts of the body, psychic states, and the metaphysical significance of experiences to be encountered, occasionally with multi-circular cosmic diagrams and complicated tables of letters.

The Jawāher-e ḵamsa has been an extremely popular work since it was first written, and while the Persian text has not been printed, there are a number of manuscripts (Monzawi, 2003-, III, pp. 1392-94 lists over 20 manuscripts; see also idem, 1969-74, II, p. 1118). It had many sequels among the Persian texts produced by the Šaṭṭāri Sufis of India (Ernst, 1999a). It was especially well known in the Arabic translation al-Jawāher al ḵams by Ṣebḡat-Allāh of Broach (d. 1606; his nesba Broči is sometimes Arabicized as Barwaji), which became a standard part of Sufi training in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in the hands of teachers such as the latter’s Egyptian-born student Aḥmad Šennawi (d. 1619), who wrote an important commentary on the text entitled Taḥliat al-baṣāʾer (al-Jawāher al-ḵams I, p. 5). This tradition was continued by a succession of teachers who inherited the Šaṭṭārī teachings, including Ṣafi-al-Din Aḥmad Qošāši (d. 1660-61) and the well-known Ebrāhīm Kurāni (d. 1690), whose works were widely studied as far away as Morocco and Southeast Asia (El-Rouayheb, p. 271; Johns, pp. 432-33; idem, pp. 523-24). This Arabic version was published in Fez in a lithograph edition (1900) in Maḡrebī script (recently reprinted in standard Arabic characters), and also in a modern edition (ed. Aḥmad b.ʿAbbās, Cairo, 1974) based on manuscripts from the Tējāni zāwia and from the Dār-al-Kotob library; while the editor of the latter publication was an enthusiastic advocate of its spiritual teachings (I, pp. 3-9), the publisher nevertheless included a disclaimer (I, pp. 211-12), disavowing any misguided teaching that was not firmly based on sound Hadith. There have also been at least six Urdu translations from the Persian, frequently reprinted (Rānjhā, pp. 266-67; see also Gaborieau). Some of the practices of this text, including striking diagrams, were rendered into English in the mid-19th century (Ja’far Sharif, pp. 219-31).

Finally, it should be pointed out that peculiar blinkers of early orientalist scholarship held it axiomatic that all forms of Eastern mysticism were identical, so it has often been alleged that Sufism owes much to yoga. T. P. Hughes actually described the Jawāher-e ḵamsa as follows: “This book is largely made up of Hindu customs which, in India, have become part of Muhammadanism” (s.v. “Daʿwah,” pp. 72-78). The text in fact contains (al-Jawahir al-ḵams II, p. 70) a single ḏekr formula in Hindi, attributed, not to any yogi, but to the early Češtī Sufi master Farīd-al-Dīn Ganj-e Šakar (d. 1265, q.v.), which is well known in other Sufi literature. Although Mo-ḥammad Ḡawṯ was certainly knowledgeable about yoga (Ernst, 1996), it would be obsessive to see Indian practices as the basis of this Sufi compilation (Ernst, 2005).

 

Bibliography:

Khaled El-Rouayheb, “Opening the Gate of Verification: The Forgotten Arab-Islamic Florescence of the 17th Century,” IJMES 38/2, 2006, pp. 263-81.

Carl W. Ernst, “Sufism and Yoga According to Muhammad Ghawth,” Sufi 29, Spring 1996, pp. 9-13.

Idem, “Meditations of the Shattari Order,” in idem, tr., Teachings of Sufism, Boston, 1999a, pp. 53-81.

Idem, “Persecution and Circumspection in the Shattari Sufi Order,” in Fred De Jong and Berndt Radtke, eds., Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thir-teen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics, Leiden, 1999b, pp. 416-35.

Idem, “Situating Sufism and Yoga.” JRAS, ser. 3, 15, 2005, pp. 15-43.

M. Gaborieau, “L’ésotérisme musulman dans le sous-continent indo-pakistanais: un point de vue ethnologique,” Bulletin d’Études Orientales 44, 1993, pp. 191-209.

Thomas Patrick Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, London, 1885; repr., Delhi, 1973.

A. H. Johns, “al-Kūrānī, Ibrāhim,” in EI2 V, pp. 432-33. Idem, “al-Ḳūshāshī, Ṣafī al-Din Aḥmad,” in EI2 V, pp., 523-24.

Scott A. Kugle, “Heaven’s Witness: The Uses and Abuses of Muhammad Ghawth’s Mystical Ascension,” Journal of Islamic Studies 14, 2003, pp. 1-36.

Aḥmad Monzawi, Fehrest-e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e fārsi, 6 vols., Tehran, 1974-69.

Idem, Fehrest-e moštarak-e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e fārsi-e Pākestān, Islamabad, 2003-.

Moḥammad Naḏīr Rānjhā, Barr-e Ṣaḡir Pāk o Hend mēn taṣawwof ki maṭbuʿāt, Lahore, 1999.

Jaʿfar Sharif, Islam in India or the Qanun-i-Islam: The Customs of the Musalmāns of India, Comprising . . . Their Various Rites and Cere-monies . . . , tr. Gerhard Andreas Herklots, ed. William Crooke, Oxford, 1921; reprint, New Delhi, 1972.

(Carl W. Ernst)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 13, 2012

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Vol. XIV, Fasc. 6, pp. 608-609