The Place of the Qurʾān and Islamic Theology in Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān and its Early English Receptions: A Study in Textual Citation and Excision

In: Philological Encounters
Claire Gallien Zentrum für Islamische Theologie, Tübingen University Tübingen Germany

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This article on the place of the Qurʾān and Islamic theology in Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān constitutes a study in textual citation and excision articulated in two main parts. The first part of the article studies the interconnections between philosophy and theology in Ibn Ṭufayl’s (d. 581/1185) life and the references to the Qurʾān and to Islamic theology in his Risālat Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān. In the second part, I track the engagement with the Qurʾān and Islamic theology in the early-modern Latin and English variants of the tale. The article provides a detailed study of the Qurʾanic passages in translation, and reflects on practices of citation, excision and significant paratextual reorganisations. The article argues that the case is less one where the Qurʾān and Islamic theology are excised from the tale and vanish from view, than one where the tale is ‘de-Islamised’ so that it can serve intra-Christian and orientalist interests. The issue resides in making the Qurʾān and Islam epistemically dispensable and in disabling them as hermeneutic interlocutors to be reckoned with in a theological and philosophical debate.

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