Kitāb al-Rimāḥ of ‘Umar Fūtī Tāl: Sealing Muhammadan Sainthood in Nineteenth Century West Africa
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CitationEl-Sharif, Farah. 2021. Kitāb al-Rimāḥ of ‘Umar Fūtī Tāl: Sealing Muhammadan Sainthood in Nineteenth Century West Africa. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation offers an in-depth exploration of the key themes, sources and contributions
of Kitāb Rimāḥ ḥizb al-Raḥīm ‘alā nūḥūr ḥizb al-rajīm; West Africa’s “most widely circulated text”
written by Shaykh ‘Umar Fūtī Tāl (d.1864). Because it is often found printed on the margins of the
Tijāniyya’s primary source, the Jawāhir al-ma‘ānī, its importance risks obscurity and its
significance, literally, marginalized. Through the Rimāḥ, Tāl would define what a ṭarīqa in West
Africa, as we know it today, looks like. By emphasizing the doctrine of khatm al-wilāya alMuḥammadiyya (“the Seal of Muḥammadan Sainthod”), the Tijāniyya quickly gained considerable
ground in the landscape of Islam in West Africa. This dissertation posits that Tāl’s project
singlehandedly spurred a renaissance of the rhetoric of khatmiyya in the nineteenth century, enlisting
it in the ranks of the most vividly articulated, coherent claims to the Sealing Sainthood in Islamic
intellectual history. Its distinguishing features–its approach as a culmination of Sufi thought
informed by a rich dhawq-sphere of sages past and its gnostic-driven methodology to knowledge
production and sharī‘a–reaffirm the text’s rightful place as a sorely underappreciated masterpiece of
nineteenth century Islamic textual history and as a missing centerpiece of Sufi studies.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37371136
- FAS Theses and Dissertations