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Reading: The Insan Kamil of Bawa: The Metaphysics of a Tamil Sufi Sheikh

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The Insan Kamil of Bawa: The Metaphysics of a Tamil Sufi Sheikh

Author:

Merin Shobhana Xavier

Laurier-Waterloo University, CA
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Abstract

Al-insan al-kamal or insan kamil is commonly translated as the perfect being, the servant, the universal man, or the perfected being in Islamic mysticism (Buckhardt 1959, 1979; Izutsu 1983; Baldick 1989; Schimmel 1992; Chittick 2000, 2005; Dagli 2004). In this doctrine, the human being is positioned as the isthmus between Allah (God) and the cosmos. A mirror that reflects tawhid (unity) (Chittick 2000) and the barzakh (interface) between God and the world, an insan kamil is the perfected being who preserves the existence of the universe (Baldick 1989). The Tamil Sufi Sheikh Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (d. 1986) reformulated the doctrine of insan kamil when he taught his followers in Sri Lanka, United States and Canada. Bawa, as his adherents referred to him, was a teacher of Sufi-Islam from Sri Lanka who migrated to Philadelphia in the 1970s. The paper explores the paradigm of insan kamil as taught by Bawa, while situating this figure of the insan kamil within classical Sufi thought. The primary goal of this paper is to explore Bawa‘s metaphysical understanding of the human being through themes of the insan kamil as al-qutb (spiritual mediator), the perfect being and the qalb (heart).

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/sljh.v39i1-2.7218

The Sri Lanka Journal of Humanities 39(1&2) 2013; 51-63

How to Cite: Xavier, M.S., (2014). The Insan Kamil of Bawa: The Metaphysics of a Tamil Sufi Sheikh. Sri Lanka Journal of Humanities. 39(1-2), pp.51–63. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljh.v39i1-2.7218
Published on 26 Jul 2014.
Peer Reviewed

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