Dhul-Nun al-Misri

Dhul-Nun al-Misri

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Dhul-Nun al-Misri was an Egyptian
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 Sufi saint. He was considered the Patron Saint of the Physicians in the early Islamic era of Egypt, and is credited with having specialized the concept of Gnosis
Gnosis
Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge . In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies 'spiritual knowledge' in the sense of mystical enlightenment.-Related...

 in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. His full name is Dhul-Nun Abu Faid Thawban ibn Ibrahim أبوالفيض ثوبان بن إبراهيم.

Dhul-Nun, literately "Of the Nun", is a name that is also given to the Prophet Jonah
Jonah
Jonah is the name given in the Hebrew Bible to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC, the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation...

 in Islamic folklore, as "nun" in ancient Arabic meant "big fish"/"whale", as it did in Aramaic where it also means "fish" (See also Nun (Bible)
Nun (Bible)
Nun , in the Hebrew Bible, was a man from the Tribe of Ephraim, grandson of Ammihud, son of Elishama, and father of Joshua. He grew up in and may have lived his entire life in the Israelites' Egyptian captivity, where the Egyptians "made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks...

 and Nun (letter)
Nun (letter)
Nun is the fourteenth letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet . It is the third letter in Thaana , pronounced as "noonu"...

).

His nickname al-Misri means 'the Egyptian', a name apparently given to him by his fellows who were not themselves of Coptic descent as he was, or during his travels outside of Egypt.

Life


Dhul-Nun al-Misri is considered among the most prominent saints of early Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 and holds a position in the Sufi chronicles as high as Junayd
Junayd
Junayd is a male given name which means soldier or warrior.-Given name:*Mohammed Junaid Babar, Pakistani-American terrorist*Junayd Baghdadi, a 9th-century Sufi*Junaid Ismail Dockrat, South African Dentist...

 (d. 910) and Bayazid
Bayazid Bastami
Bayazid Bastami , also known as Abu Yazid Bistami or Tayfur Abu Yazid al-Bustami, was a Persian Sufi born in Bastam, Iran.- Background :...

 (d. 874). He studied under various teachers and travelled extensively in Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. The Muslim scholar and Sufi Sahl al-Tustari
Sahl al-Tustari
Sahl al-Tustari or al-Tustari, born Abu Muhammed Sahl ibn 'Abd Allah , was a arab Muslim scholar and early classical Sufi mystic...

 was one of Dhul-Nun al-Misri's students. In 829 he was arrested on a charge of heresy and sent to prison in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, but after examination he was released on the caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

's orders to return to Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, where he died in 859; his tombstone has been preserved.

A legendary alchemist and thaumaturge, he is supposed to have known the secret of the Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood...

. His sayings and poems, which are extremely dense and rich in mystical imagery, emphasize knowledge or gnosis
Gnosis
Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge . In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies 'spiritual knowledge' in the sense of mystical enlightenment.-Related...

 (marifah) more than fear (makhafah) or love (mahabbah), the other two major paths of spiritual realization in Sufism. None of his written works have survived, but a vast collection of poems, sayings, and aphorisms attributed to him continues to live on in oral tradition.