Rose Aslan


This thesis explores interpretations of the poem of the Burdah composed by Imam al- Būṣīrī, a mystical panegyric poem that is associated with miracles and is believed by some to have healing and talismanic properties. By examining various writings by Sufi scholars on the Burdah, I have shed light on their interpretations of the poem and its mystical qualities in order to come to a deeper understanding of the poem itself, its context, and the impact it has had on Islamicate literature and Sufi practices. Most importantly, I explore the theme of seeking intercession from the Prophet Muhammad and the role that the Burdah plays in this process. A number of commentators I discuss in this study identify their petition to the Prophet as a primary motive for producing their commentaries. I will argue that there are three levels that play out in this process, namely 1. themes in the poem of the Burdah itself that deal with the topic, 2. the story of al- Būṣīrī's composition of the Burdah as a means of seeking intercession from the Prophet and forgiveness from God, and 3. the composition of commentaries by Sufis who by clarifying and interpreting the Burdah, hoped for their sins to be forgiven and for the Prophet to intercede for them as he did for al- Būṣīrī. While there are those who treat the poem merely as another literary text, those who believe in its spiritual efficacy use al- Būṣīrī's biography as a model that they aspire to in order to purify themselves in the spiritual path.


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Date of Award


Online Submission Date

December 2010

First Advisor

Salem, Abdel Rahman

Committee Member 1

Clough, Bradley

Committee Member 2

Lutfi, Huda

Document Type





The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy. The author has granted the American University in Cairo or its agents a non-exclusive license to archive this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study, and to make it accessible, in whole or in part, in all forms of media, now or hereafter known.


Not necessary for this item