Sufi Tracts
text notes
list of words



Sufi Tracts


A.H. Johns, “Malay Sufism as illustrated in an anonymous collection of 17th century tracts”, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, no.178 (30.2) 1957.


MS 11648, Marsden Collection, Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.


texts & manuscript:  ? ~1650.


texts & manuscript:  Pasai, northern Sumatra.


14298 words, including 19 verses.


to the pages (1-104, 105a, 105b, 105-114, 96, 95, 115-325) of the manuscript,
thus:  ST 281.

Editorial notes and bibliography
The manuscript is a collection of 18 anonymous tracts.  On the basis of their doctrine and some old morphological forms and spellings, Johns proposes a date before 1650 for the text, and implicitly also for the bark-paper manuscript.
On the style of the text, Johns remarks:
On the whole [the tracts] are scholarly and lucid, and that is no mean achievement in a language so lacking in abstract terms as Malay.  Lucidity, however, is relative matter.  The style is enough to baffle anyone accustomed to the balance and polish of tradional classical Malay.  The reason for this lies in the fact that all these religious authors thought in Arabic;  and when they translated their versions were slavishly literal.
The text presented in the MCP follows Johns’ policy of generally writing Arabic names (e.g. rūh al-qudus) and terms in their Malay forms (e.g. ruh al-kudus), using the Arabic forms mainly in Arabic quotations.  A small number of marginal and interlinear translations or glosses are included in the text, framed with « ».
Synopsis of contents:
      [from Johns, “Malay Sufism”, 36-37]
Tract 1    ST 1-94 —  The first part is missing but the conclusion drawn from this missing part is that everything has an aspect of Tanzīh and Tashbīh. It gives an outline of general principles and may be divided into four sections, viz.
(1) Tanzīh , Tashbīh and general terms of reference.
(2) The seeking of God: enunciation of the monist principle; the mystical experience; examples showing the unity of God with the world; privileges of the elect.
(3) The nature of God and His relation to the visible world; a re-affirmation of monism; definitions of Ahadiyya, Wahda and Wāhidiyya.
(4) Conditions for gnosis; responsibilities of the gnostic; conclusion.
Tract 2    ST 98-107 —  Explaining the tradition; Who knows himself knows his Lord.
Tract 3    ST 108-14, 96, 95 & 115-19 —  The same; apparently a continuation of the preceding.
Tract 4    ST 120-31 —  An explanation of God's manifestations of Himself at the grades of Wahda and Wāhidiyya.
Tract 5    ST 132-53 —  An explanation of the terms Ahadiyya, Wahda and Wāhidiyya, and their relation to `ilm -`ālim - ma`lūm and `ishq -`āshiq - ma`shūq.
Tract 6    ST 154-61 —  An explanation of the terms `ishk, `āshiq and ma`shūq, apparently a continuation of the preceding.
Tract 7    ST 162-87 —  A digest of the teachings of theology on (1) the h al-Qudus, (2) the other Spirits, (3) the unity and individuality of the grades of God's being (i.e. Ahadiyya, Wahda and Wāhidiyya) with the worlds that are exterior to His knowledge (i.e. `ālam al-arwāh, `ālam al- mithāl, `ālam al-ajsām, `ālam al-insān).
Tract 8    ST 188-207 —  An explanation of the belief of the theologians in regard to (1) the elements of the ‘reality’ of man at the grade of hidiyya, (2) the origin of his spirit at the grade of the world of spirits, (3) the elements of his physical body, and (4) the practice of dhikr, murāqabah tawajjuh and mushāhadah.
Tract 9    ST 208-21 —  (1) an account of the way in which man is like to the world and the respect in which he is greater than it, based on al- Ghazālī's teaching on the three worlds of Mulk, Malakūt and Jabarūt, (2) an account of ibn al-`Arabī's teaching on the grades of Godhead and Lordship.
Tract 10   ST 222-35 —  An account of the twenty attributes necessary to God and the bestowal of them upon the Perfect Man.
Tract 11   ST 237-45 —  The relation of the Fixed Prototypes to the Exterior Prototypes.
Tract 12   ST 245-60 —  (1) An explanation of the circles which indicate the unity of God's being, (2) a mystical interpretation of qaba qausain aw adnā, (3) the relation of this to fana´ fī 'llāh and baqā´ bi 'llāh, and the practice of Dhikr, Murāqabah, Tawajjuh and Mushāhadah.
Tract 13   ST 261-80 —  (1) A statement of the mode in which gnosis is bestowed. (2) A statement of the differences between the Doctors of the Law and the Men of God concerning the unity of Divine Attributes with the Essence of God. (3) The two ways in which Revelation is granted.
Tract 14   ST 281-7 —  An explanation of the pre-eternity and post- eternity of God, and the pre-eternity and post-eternity of creation.
Tract 15   ST 289-92 —  An account of what constitutes the soul's absence from God, contemplation of His presence with Him and attainment to Him.
Tract 16   ST 293-6 —  An explanation fayd.
Tract 17   ST 297-310 —  An explanation of how God in the world is more manifest than the sun.
Tract 18   ST 311-25 —  Prescriptions for the practice of Dhikr, Murāqabah, Tawajjuh and Mushāhadah.
Added:  November 2010
The printed edition was scanned in Canberra by the MCP using Abbyy™ Finereader OCR, and its spelling modernised.