A Study of the Modern-Day Scholarship and Primary Sources on Ibrāhīm-i Gulshanī and The Khalwatī-Gulshanī Order of Dervishes


The Khalwati-Gulshani order and its historical projection yield invaluable insights into Mamluk/Ottoman Egypt’s socio-political and cultural history in the early modern period. This study introduces and examines modern-day Gulshaniyya scholarship as well as a diversified range of unpublished/published primary sources (in Ottoman Turkish and Arabic) written by Gulshanis and others. The majority of the Gulshaniyya corpus still remains in unpublished manuscript condition today. The evaluation of the historical chronicles of the period, as well as contemporaneous hagiographies, biographical dictionaries, and poetry that make up the vast body of literature created by the founder Ibrahim-i Gulshani and the prolific Gulshanis demonstrate that the Gulshanis held considerable socio- political influence in Egypt and the wider Ottoman landscape in the decades following the region’s Ottoman conquest in 1517. By studying and historically contextualizing texts such as hagiographies—usually, and erroneously, dismissed by some as fantastical and unreliable in historical studies—I make the case as to how such sources reveal complex political, social, and cultural insights about Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. Throughout this article, the importance of employing an eclectic methodology, one which unites Sufism related subject- matter and historical contextualization, has been emphasized with the intention to propose a new theoretical framework for understanding the history of Egypt and the Ottoman Empire via the lens of one particular Sufi community and institution.

Keywords: Khalwati-Gulshani Order, Gulshaniyya, Ibrahim-i Gulshani, Gulshaniyya literature.

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