A Shaykh for All Occasions
Bruce B. Lawrence [+]
The field of study with which Carl is most closely identified is Sufi studies, and it contains a number of complementary dyads, opposites that complement, even as they compete, with one another. One such dyad is qabd and bast. The former means: condensed, contained, bounded; the latter means: expansive, exploding, unbounded. Neither is used here in an ontological sense, as it is in Qur’anic studies methodology, to imply the restrictive power of the One, at once the Other and the Unseen, or the expanding power of the same One, Other and Unseen. In Carl’s case the two – qabd and bast – are instrumental; they depict how Carl engages others, always in a vertical trajectory, either moving from what seems limited to what is large, aka, ground to sky, or starting with the sky and moving to other spheres, aka, sky to cosmos. In this introduction, I apply these terms to Carl’s career and the essays in this volume.