Nearness to the Real: Sainthood as Ontological Proximity in the Thought of Dāwūd al-Qayṣarī -Arthur Schechter


This article presents the theory of sainthood found in the writings of Dāwūd al-Qayṣarī (d. 751/1350), a major
commentator on the Sufi thought of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240). Building on previous philosophical interpretations of Ibn
ʿArabī’s thought to systematize the worldview now known as the “Oneness of Being” (waḥdat al-wujūd), Qayṣarī also developed a sophisticated theory of sainthood that not only described, but explained in detail what a saint was, how to become one, and what made the methods for doing so effective. After a historical introduction, I examine the principles of Qayṣarī’s hagiology in the broader context of his worldview, with special attention to his innovative use of philosophical language. Finally, my analysis of the spiritual path in Qayṣarī’s writings shows the consistency with which his account of Sufi wayfaring reflects these principles, according to which the acquisition of sainthood was a journey from the particular to the universal