Esoteric Images: Decoding the Late Herat School of Painting Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the pictorial language which flourished in the city of Herat, modern Afghanistan, under the rule of the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Bayqara (r.1469-1506). This study focuses on one illustrated manuscript of a poem entitled
Khamsa by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, kept in the British Library under code Or.6810. Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the paintings, reveals the syntax behind them and thus deciphers the message of the whole manuscript. The book combines scholarly efforts to interpret theological-political lessons embedded in one of the foremost Persian schools of art against the background of the court dynamic of an influential medieval power in its final years.
Licit Magic: The Life and Letters of al-Ṣāḥib b. ʿAbbād (d. 385/995) Maurice A. Pomerantz explores the biography and literary output of a major tenth-century Muslim statesman, literary patron, and intellectual. His nearly two-decade reign as vizier on behalf of two Buyid amirs was an important period for the flowering of Arabic letters,
Muʿtazilī theology and
Shīʿism in Western Iran. Making use of Ibn ʿAbbād’s large corpus of letters (
rasāʾil), Pomerantz explores the role that eloquence played in the conduct of administration, the maintenance of social networks of elites, and persuasion.
Licit Magic argues that the eloquent expression that Ibn ʿAbbād displayed in his letters was central to his exercise of power.
Universal Science (
ʿIlm-i kullī) by
Mahdī Ḥāʾirī Yazdī, is a concise, but authoritative, outline of the fundamental discussions in Islamic metaphysics. For many years used as a textbook in Iran, this short text offers English readers a readily accessible, lucid, and yet deeply learned, guide through the Sadrian, Avicennan, and Illuminationist schools of thought, whilst also demonstrating how the ‘living tradition’ of Shīʿī philosophy engages with central ontological, epistemological, aetiological, and psychological questions. Discussions include the primacy of existence; the proper classifications of quiddity; and the manifold properties of causality and causal explanation. This is the first of the various influential works authored by this leading Shīʿah intellectual to have been translated into English from the original Persian.
Sayyid Amjad Hussain Shah Naqavi’s introduction and annotated scholarly translation of
Ayatollah Khomeini’sThe Mystery of Prayer brings to light a rarely studied dimension of an author better known for his revolutionary politics.
Writing forty years before the Islamic revolution, Khomeini shows a formidable level of insight into the spiritual aspects of Islamic prayer. Through discussions on topics such as spiritual purity, the presence of the heart before God, and the stations of the spiritual wayfarer, Khomeini elucidates upon the nature of reality as the countenance of the divine. Drawing upon scriptural sources and the Shīʿah intellectual and mystical tradition, the subtlety of the work has led to it being appreciated as one of Khomeini’s most original works in the field of gnosis.