This volume concentrates on the spiritual epithets, adjectives of description and names used by the sufis among themselves. The technical terms defined address the mystical anthropology, esoteric hierarchy and spiritual degrees of the sufi mystics. As in other volumes of this encyclopedia the texts derive from the classical period, utilizing the writings of Rumi, Attar, Sanai, Ruzbihan and others among the masters.
The general reader will be fascinated by the breadth and wealth of terms and titles, drawn from both the secular poetic tradition and scholastic religious theology, which the sufis employed among themselves. Students of the field of Islamic esotericism will also be presented with a great deal of material from important classical texts translated into English for the first time.
Pole or qotb, in its literal meaning, refers to a pivot which is fixed in the lower millstone around which the upper one rotates. In another sense the term signifies a commander and a chief of a tribe.
In sufi terminology, the qotb refers to the perfect human around whom the hearts of disciples and wayfarers revolve; expressed in another way, the disciple places the seed of his heart in the satchel of devotion and submits it to the master to be ground in the mill of loving-kindness (mahabbat) and Divine friendship (welayat), ridding it of the husk and chaff so that it may attain the oil of Reality.