The Arabic Concept of Dīn and Islamic Religious Sciences in the 18th Century: The Case of Murtaḍā al-Zabīdī (d. 1791)

In: Oriens
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  • 1 Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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The Arabic word dīn, the central concept of “Religion” in Islam, has a long and complex history which reflected the interreligious landscape of the Middle East. This included a universal notion pertaining to all kinds of worship, sacred order and personal ‘religiosity’, with Islam as their final and most perfect form. The case study of the lexicographer and Sufi theologian Murtaḍā al-Zabīdī (d. 1205/1791) reviews his lexicographical approach to dīn with his significant additions from later usage. His attempts at merging mystical and empirical knowledge in the universal realm of dīn in a post-Ġazzālian framework are also discussed.

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    Knut Martin Stünkel, Una sit religio: Religionsbegriffe und Begriffstopologien bei Cusanus, Llull und Maimonides (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2013), passim.

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  • 10

    Jörg Kraemer, “Studien zur altarabischen Lexikographie nach Istanbuler und Berliner Handschriften,” Oriens 6 (1953): 201–238; Ḥusayn Naṣṣār, al-Muʿǧam al-ʿarabī: Našʾatuhu wa-taṭawwuruhu (al-Qāhira: Dār Miṣr li-l-ṭibāʿa, 1408/1988 [fourth printing; first edn. 1956]); John A. Heywood, Arabic Lexicography: Its History, and its Place in the General History of Lexicography (Leiden: Brill, 1960); Lothar Kopf, Studies in Arabic and Hebrew Lexicography (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1976).

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  • 14

    Yvonne Haddad, “The Conception of the term dīn”; Patrice C. Brodeur, “Religion”; Glei and Reichmuth, “Religion,” 251–54.

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    Van Ess, Der Eine, 2, 1266; Nicolai Sinai, “Gedicht über die Bestrafung Pharaos und der Ṯamūd (Nr. 34:23–32 Schulthess)”—TUK_0525. In: Texte aus der Umwelt des Korans, hg. von der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften durch Michael Marx, Emmanouela Grypeou, David Kiltz, Yousef Kouriyhe, Veronika Roth und Nicolai Sinai. http://www.corpuscoranicum.de/kontexte/index/sure/30/vers/30; Beta version: 27.2.2016.

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  • 22

    Jason BeDuhn, “Mani and the Crystallization of the Concept of ‘Religion’ in Third Century Iran,” in Mani at the Court of the Persian Kings: Studies on the Chester Beatty Kephalaia Codex, ed. by Johannes Oort and Einar Thomassen (Leiden a.o.: Brill, 2015), 247–274. According to W. Cantwell Smith (Meaning and End of Religion, 100), the Manichaeans were also the first to use dēn “religion” in the plural. For a general discussion about the passage of Iranian religious terms and concepts into Islam via “particular forms of Christianity, Judaism that were deeply imbued with Eastern Gnostic-Syncretistic material,” see Ehsan Yarshater, “The Persian Presence in the Islamic World,” in The Persian Presence in the Islamic World, ed. By Richard G. Hovannisian and Georges Sabagh (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 40.

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  • 28

    Reichmuth, World, 322.

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    Reichmuth, World, 313–318.

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    Zabīdī, Itḥāf, 1, 743; Reichmuth, World, 316 f.

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    Abridged from Reichmuth, World, 319.

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