chapter  3
16 Pages

Spiritual Genealogies of Gansu

Chains of Transmission in the Jahrīya and Khafīya Turuq
WithJonathan N. Lipman, Thomas Wide

In this chapter, Jonathan Lipman and Thomas Wide point out that Sufi orders produced genealogies very different from those of Chinese-style lineages. Sufi orders developed in northwest China after the 1670s but spread widely in the Yellow River valleys from the 1730s to the 1760s. More than forty orders were founded during this period, when the Qing state extended its northwest frontier as far as the Pamir mountains. Focusing on the Jahrīya and Khafīya orders, Lipman and Wide argue that the spiritual genealogies, only occasionally including biological descent, played a significant role in maintaining Sufi halls or hospices (daotang) and orders (Ar. turuq, Ch. menhuan). Sufis believe that Divine Blessing (Ar. baraka) flows from God to the charismatic leader (Ar. shaykh), and that baraka can be passed to the next generation either by spiritual succession or by biological descent. Sufis, therefore, have genealogies recognizing numerous Middle Eastern and Central Asian mystics as “spiritual ancestors.” The Jahrīya and Khafīya Sufis of Gansu traced their spiritual genealogy through “inner” (Middle Eastern or Central Asian) and “outer” (Chinese) Through genealogical traditions they asserted their bonds with Sufis all over the Muslim world, from the lifetime of the Prophet to their own time.