Wednesday, August 31, 2016

a post-formative stage of an attitudinal normalization of the principle of agreeing to disagree

The Balkans-to-Bengal complex constitutes what we might usefully conceive of as a post-formative stage and condition in the history of societies of Muslims—a stage at which earlier foundational elements are brought together in a capacious and productive historical synthesis that, in turn, provides a maniplex yet stable ingrediential base for a further striking forth in a dynamic variety of trajectories of being Muslim. By the thirteenth century (seventh century of Islamic history), the major theological points of dispute which had riven the community of Muslims in its first centuries were for the most part settled, with the theological schools—primarily (in terms of demographics) the Ashʿarīs and Mātūrīdīs—agreeing to disagree over an agreed set of secondary theological questions. [183]  Similarly, beginning from the thirteenth century, the mutual recognition by the scholars of the four Sunnī legal schools of the orthodoxy of each other’s legal method and corpus of legal positions—that is, the acceptance by members of one legal school of the validity of the legal position of another school even when one position directly contradicts the other—exemplifies a larger attitudinal normalization  of the principle of agreeing to disagree. [184]
-Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic(Princeton and Oxford: Princeton UP, 2015, 75-76. 

A sample of the 'overlapping curriculum of madrasahs from the Balkans to Begal'

Further, in this period, a set of institutions mark the social, physical and imaginal landscape of the Balkans-to-Bengal societies of Muslims in an inter-relational matrix that structures and configures discourse differently to what has gone before. Exemplary among these is the proliferation of the public institution of the madrasah (made possible by the prodigious application of the legal institution of the waqf endowment) which displaces the private household as the major locus of education and which, in the vast territory of Balkans-to-Bengal, is characterized by a remarkably overlapping curriculum not only of subjects and program of study, but also of books. [185] From the Balkans to Bengal, madrasah students studied similar texts: foundational works of logic such as the the Īsāghūjī (Isagoge) of Athīr al-Dīn al-Abharī (d. 1265) [186] (whose other foundational text, the Hidāyat al-Ḥikmah, has been discussed earlier) and al-Risālah al-Shamsiyyah of Najm al-Dīn al-Qazwīnī al-Kātibī (d.1204–1277); [187] of dialectics, such as the Risālah Samarqandiyyah of Shams al-Dīn al-Samarqandī (fl. 1303) and the commentaries thereon; [188]  of “argumentative” (that is, dialectical) philosophical theology, [189] such as the Mawāqif  of ʿAḍud al-Dīn al-Ījī (d. 1355), [190] the Maṭāli al-anẓār of Abū al-Thanāʾ al-Iṣfahānī (d. 1349), [191] and the Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid of Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī (d. 1389); [192] of Qurʾānic exegesis such as the Kashshāf of the Muʿtazilī rationalist, Jār Allāh al-Zamakhsharī (d. 1144), [193] and the “toning-down”of the rationalism of the Kashshāf in the Anwār al-tanzīl of ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar al Bayḍāwī (fl. 1305); [194] of Hadith (not only the Ṣaḥīḥs of al-Bukhārī and Muslim, but also later Hadith selections, such as the Mishkāt al-Maṣābīh of Walī al-Dīn al-Tibrīzī (fl. 1337); [195] and of fiqh-jurisprudence, such as, in the cases of the Ḥanafī Ottoman and Mughal madrasahs, the Hidāyah of Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghīnānī (d. 1197), and the commentaries thereon. [196]
-Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic(Princeton and Oxford: Princeton UP, 2015, 76-78. 

God as the sole Necessary Existent (wājib al-wujūd)

The historical centrality and foundationality to the history of Muslims of the philosophers’ rational striving to know truth-as-it-Really-is can most economically be illustrated by way of the philosophers’ definition of God. Ibn Sīnā conceptualized God as the sole Necessary Existent (wājib al-wujūd) upon W/which all other existents are necessarily contingent. It is this philosophers’ conceptualization of God that became the  operative concept of the Divinity taught in madrasahs to students of theology via  the standard introductory textbook on logic, physics, and metaphysics which was taught to students in madrasahs in cities and towns throughout the vast region from the Balkans
to Bengal in the rough period 1350–1850, and which was tellingly entitled Hidāyat al-ḥikmah, or Guide to Ḥikmah [45] In the discourse of madrasah theology, God is conceptually posited as and routinely referred to as “The Necessary Existent”...
-Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic. (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton UP, 2015, 18-19.

[Chapter 1 is available as a PDF on the Princeton University Press website.]

Monday, August 29, 2016

al-Rāzī on love of this world, true love & happiness in the Hereafter

In commenting on this verse [Q3:142], al-Rāzī says,
Know that love of this world cannot coexist with happiness in the Hereafter, and to the degree that one of them increases the other diminishes. That is because happiness in the world only is achieved by the heart's occupation with worldliness, and happiness in the Hereafter can only be achieved by emptying the heart of all that is other than God and filling it with the love of God. Not all those who affirm the religion of God are truthful. Rather, in the difference there is a question of the sway of things that we hate and things that we love. Love is that which does not diminish with difficulty and does not increase through fulfillment. If love survives the onset of suffering, it is shown to be true love.
SQ, p. 169.