Futuwwa as the Noblest Character Traits (Makārim al-Akhlāq) in Anṣārī’s Manāzil al-Sāʾirīn with al-Kāshānī’s Commentary

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This paper investigates the Sufi concept of futuwwa (spiritual chivalry) in ʿAbdallāh Anṣārī al-Harawī’s (d. 481/1089) classic manual of spiritual wayfaring, Manāzil al-Sāʾirīn (“Stations of the Wayfarers”). After briefly taking stock of the earliest statements on futuwwa cited in al-Qushayrī’s (d. 465/1073) Risāla, we take a closer look at the Manāzil’s commentarial tradition, offering a complete translation of both Anṣārī’s chapter on the subject and ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī’s (d. 731/1330) commentary. In Anṣārī’s view, there are three aspects to futuwwa. The first aspect is in relation to oneself, the second is in relation to others, and the third is in relation to God. Futuwwa in relation to oneself is to accept trials and tribulations in stride. With respect to others, it is to hold oneself but not others accountable, seeing outward injuries as inward blessings. With respect to one’s relation to God, it is to abandon means and ends, relying on God alone through the heart’s reception, not the intellect’s endeavour. The discussion section offers an ontological-ethical investigation through a close reading of the text and its commentary, then offers a broader perspective on futuwwa, which is tantamount to the noblest character traits (makārim al-akhlāq). In the final analysis, futuwwa symbolises the quality of the spiritual warrior who conquers his lower self to attain the makārim al-akhlāq.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-24
JournalJournal of Islamic Ethics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Sufism
  • al-Kāshānī
  • Anṣarī
  • spiritual chivalry
  • altruism
  • trial
  • generosity
  • wayfaring
  • ethics


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