August 22, 2003

Al-Farsi and Alawites

From the handy New Encyclopedia of Islam's entry on Salman Al-Farisi:

Because he is pictured as one who offered the Prophet crucial, and one might even say, arcane advice, certain Dualist sects on the fringe of Islam have attributed some curious identities to Salman al-Farisi. Some have said that he was the Angel Gabriel in disguise; the 'Alawis make of him one, and pehaps the highest, of three aspects of Divine theophany along with the Prophet and 'Ali ibn Abi Talib; others have seen in him a secret Divine emanation. As a foreigner in Medina, Salman has been assigned the role of Allogenes ("he who is born elsewhere") by those sects who are inspired by hermetic tradition.

Interestingly, the author of the item on al-Farsi suggests that he was allegorical rather than real -- a Persian, he foreshadowed the role Persia was to play in the Ummah. Unlike other contemporaries -- or companions -- of the Prophet, there is no record of Salman Al-Farsi after the death of the Prophet.

Posted by Ideofact at August 22, 2003 01:53 AM

So the Encyclopedia is 'handy'. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being 'order it for the school library and consult on rare occasions' and 5 being 'order it immediately!') where would you put it?

Posted by: Michael Tinkler at August 25, 2003 03:21 PM

I don't know whether the comment that there was "no record" of Salman al-Farsi (May Allaah be pleased with him) after the Prophet's (Peace be upon Him) death was from the article or your own comment.

In any event, it isn't true as Islamic history sources record Salman as having died in the year 35 after the hijrah during the khilafah of 'Umar (May Allaah be pleased with him) at Ctesiphon.

Salman's life is full of many beautiful lessons for seekers of truth. Ridiculous statments by fringe sects should not distract us from the reality of his life.

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at August 27, 2003 06:24 PM

Michael --

It is handy -- but I'm not sure yet if I'd recommend it. It seems to be written more with an eye to providing reference material to current polemics rather than historical ones. There's a lengthy entry, for example, on the Gospel of Barnabus -- the Renaissance era forgery that tracks fairly closely the Islamic view of Jesus, but no entry at all on Isra'iliyyat, the writings of Jewish converts to Islam interpreting passages in the Qur'an.

Abu Noor --

Thanks for pointing that out. For my part, I'd prefer to believe that Salman was a historical figure.

Posted by: Bill at August 27, 2003 11:05 PM

Salman was the advisor of Prophet Mohammed and he is one of the most important figures who spread the divine message of the religion of Tawhid -Islam-

Posted by: wassim at May 11, 2004 05:47 AM