Quietism and End Times Reclusion in Quran and Hadith

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

al-Nābulusī and his Book Takmīl al-nuʿūt within the ʿUzla Genre


ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī’s (1050-1143/1641-1731) “Perfecting the Qualities: On Keeping to Homes” is a 39-folio treatise that epitomizes eight centuries of Islamic works on the theme of social reclusion (ʿuzla) away from latter-day strifes (fitan) and has received two editions 21 years apart, the latter of which I received from and read with its editor, the Ḥumṣī grammarian and exegete Munīr al-Ḥāyik, from beginning to end in Beirut. ʿUzla built upon the Qurʾānic and Hadith texts enjoining social withdrawal and political quietism for the sake of preserving one’s religion and safety, practicing repentance (tawba), keeping to simple living (zuhd) and sparing others one’s own harm. The author begins by quoting scholarly poetry then about 60 hadiths related to reclusion, which he follows up with a lament on the dissolution of morals in his time as well as previous times. As did his predecessors, he demarcates reclusion from un-Islamic practices such as monasticism and clears it from any suggestion of divisiveness. He concludes his work with examples of past authorities who all practiced one form or another of qualified asociality. This article situates his work within the literature of ʿuzla in the Sunni tradition and its development of the sub-themes of safeguarding one’s faith, social disengagement and informal eremitism, the refocus on personal priorities, pacifism in the face of intra-Muslim strife, misanthropy and the struggle against egotism.

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