On Smashing Walls of Sugar

Another singular little story from the Kitab al-Futuwwa of the thirteenth century Sufi al-Ardabili; this one is one of the odder stories I’ve come across, and that’s probably saying something. I think the moral is that, first, delicacies are bad for spiritual health, as the immediate context is warnings (through rather more clear stories) against indulging in ‘soft’ living. However, I suspect that the story could also be a parable about the transitory nature of this-world (al-dunya). Maybe.


Abu ‘Abdallah al-Rudhabari said: Abu Ali bought a load of white sugar, and called a group of confectionists, and they made from that sugar a wall out of sweets, and upon it were balconies, and in the wall were mihrabs [carved] in columns and with variegation of colour- all of it from sugar! Then he called to the Sufis so that they might raze it, smash it, and pillage it.



Sweetmeat sellers in the street alongside Qarawiyyin Mosque, Fes, Morocco. The brightly coloured sweets you see here are the sort I imagine (though don’t know, not being up to speed on thirteenth century candy-making….) composing the wall in the story- if so, they were pretty tought to tear down, as these things are quite a task to eat!

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