Islamicate Occult Sciences in Theory and Practice


Islamicate Occult Sciences in Theory and Practice brings together the latest research on Islamic occult sciences from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, namely intellectual history, manuscript studies and material culture. Its aim is not only to showcase the range of pioneering work that is currently being done in these areas, but also to provide a model for closer interaction amongst the disciplines constituting this burgeoning field of study. Furthermore, the book provides the rare opportunity to bridge the gap on an institutional level by bringing the academic and curatorial spheres into dialogue.

Contributors include: Charles Burnett, Jean-Charles Coulon, Maryam Ekhtiar, Noah Gardiner, Christiane Gruber, Bink Hallum, Francesca Leoni, Matthew Melvin-Koushki, Michael Noble, Rachel Parikh, Liana Saif, Maria Subtelny, Farouk Yahya, and Travis Zadeh.

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Liana Saif (Ph.D. University of London, 2012) is a research associate at the Warburg Institute (London). She is an intellectual historian specializing in medieval Islamicate occult sciences and Islamic esotericism. She also conducts research on the entanglement and exchange of esoteric and occult ideas and practices between the Latin-West and the Islamicate world in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Francesca Leoni (Ph.D. Princeton, 2008) is Assistant Keeper and Curator of Islamic Art at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. She has published on wide-ranging topics, including Persian manuscript painting, eroticism and the occult in Islamicate visual arts.

Matthew Melvin-Koushki (Ph.D. Yale, 2012) is Associate Professor and McCausland Fellow of History at the University of South Carolina. He specializes in early modern Islamicate intellectual and imperial history, with a philological focus on the theory and practice of the occult sciences in Timurid-Safavid Iran and the broader Persianate world to the nineteenth century, and a disciplinary focus on history of science, history of philosophy and history of the book.

Farouk Yahya (Ph.D. SOAS, University of London, 2013) is Research Associate at this university. He has published on Southeast Asian magic, divination and art, including Magic and Divination in Malay Illustrated Manuscripts (Brill, 2016).
List of Illustrations and Tables
Notes on Contributors
Transliteration, Style, and Dates

1 Introduction
Liana Saif and Francesca Leoni

Part 1 Occult Theories: Inception and Reception

2 The Three Divisions of Arabic Magic
Charles Burnett

3 New Light on Early Arabic Awfāq Literature
Bink Hallum

4 A Study on the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ’s Epistle on Magic, the Longer Version (52b)
Liana Saif

5 Sabian Astral Magic as Soteriology in Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s al-Sirr al-maktūm
Michael Noble

6 Lettrism and History in ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Bisṭāmī’s Naẓm al-sulūk fī musāmarat al-mulūk
Noah Gardiner

7 Kāshifī’s Asrār-i qāsimī: A Late Timurid Manual of the Occult Sciences and Its Safavid Afterlife
Maria Subtelny

Part 2 Occult Technologies: From Instruction to Action

8 The Kitāb Sharāsīm al-hindiyya and Medieval Islamic Occult Sciences
Jean-Charles Coulon

9 Toward a Neopythagorean Historiography: Kemālpaşazāde’s (d. 1534) Lettrist Call for the Conquest of Cairo and the Development of Ottoman Occult-Scientific Imperialism
Matthew Melvin-Koushki

10 Power and Piety: Islamic Talismans on the Battlefield
Maryam Ekhtiar and Rachel Parikh

11 Calligrams of the Lion of ʿAlī in Southeast Asia
Farouk Yahya

12 A Stamped Talisman
Francesca Leoni

13 Bereket Bargains: Islamic Amulets in Today’s “New Turkey”
Christiane Gruber

14 Postscript: Cutting Ariadne’s Thread, or How to Think Otherwise in the Maze
Travis Zadeh

Islamicists, medievalists and early modernists, historians of science, philosophy and religion, historians of visual and material culture originating from the Arabic, Persian, Turkish, South Asian and Southeast Asian worlds.
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