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The Fatimid Egyptian Convert Who Shaped Christian Views of Islam
Author: David Bertaina
Būluṣ ibn Rajāʾ (ca. 955–ca. 1020) was a celebrated writer of Coptic Christianity from Fatimid Egypt. Born to an influential Muslim family in Cairo, Ibn Rajāʾ later converted to Christianity and composed The Truthful Exposer (Kitāb al-Wāḍiḥ bi-l-Ḥaqq) outlining his skepticism regarding Islam. His ideas circulated across the Middle East and the Mediterranean in the medieval period, shaping the Christian understanding of the Qurʾan’s origins, Muḥammad’s life, the practice of Islamic law, and Muslim political history. This book includes a study of Ibn Rajāʾ’s life, along with an Arabic edition and English translation of The Truthful Exposer.

Abstract

This article examines the Qurʾānic references to al-muhājirūn as an expression of a world renouncing current in the early Qurʾānic movement. Throughout the Qurʾān the muhājirūn are idealized for their willingness to leave their homes, wealth, and families behind in order to emigrate in the path of God. Traditionally, these emigrants have been interpreted through the lens of later Muslim exegesis as referring to the early believers who accompanied Muhammad on his emigration from Mecca to Medina in 622. In general, however, there is little evidence to suggest that the Qurʾān is referring to a specific historical emigration event. Based on the theoretical framework of Peter Sloterdijk and Mary Douglas, this article argues that the Qurʾānic employment of the root h-j-r basically centers on an ascetic distancing from worldly attachments, and that this uprooting into a new mobility denotes a central aspect of the piety of the early Qurʾānic movement.

In: Studia Islamica
Free access
In: Studia Islamica
Author: Pascal Held

Abstract

This study seeks to re-examine Ibn al-Jawzī’s (d. 597/1201) censure of Sufism in his Talbīs Iblīs, a widely-known and frequently cited, but rarely carefully considered work. The article finds that Talbīs Iblīs’ chapter devoted to Sufism does indeed constitute a scathing condemnation of the Sufi tradition, which is however by no means comprehensive and requires moreover certain specifications and clarifications. For example, is Ibn al-Jawzī’s criticism mostly limited to Sufi conduct and practice, especially in public, rather than their ideas and beliefs, and likewise does he use his criticism to highlight commendable forms of piety and mysticism, revealing that he held on to a notion of pristine ascetical and mystical piety himself, which should nonetheless not be mistaken for Sufism. In any case, whether and to what degree one is able to immerse oneself in such forms of piety is according to Talbīs Iblīs to a large extent determined by one’s natural circumstances.

In: Studia Islamica

Abstract

K. al-Ḥujjah ʿalā ahl al-Madīnah by Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī (d. 189/804-5) is a witness to the state of the regional school of Medina before it had been absorbed by (survived only in) the Mālikī personal school. Schacht asserts that each regional school had its characteristic authorities among the Followers, and the Ḥujjah confirms that, sometimes appealing to Kufan Followers against Medinese, sometimes complaining that the Medinese are not staying loyal to their own Medinese Followers. Sometimes also the Ḥujjah testifies to Mālik’s pre-eminence among the Medinese of his time, sometimes by appealing to him as ‘your faqīh’, with whom the Medinese ought to agree but do not, but mainly as their pre-eminent traditionist. Schacht observed that Shaybānī adduced hadith more often than Abū Yūsuf, and the Ḥujjah often adduces hadith in its arguments against the Medinese. Most often, however, it adduces logical consistency against Medinese positions. Altogether, it suggests that personal schools evolved out of regional by accentuation of the personal element already present in the tradition of regional authorities. By adducing hadith from a wider range of authorities than the Muwaṭṭaʾ, it implicitly argues that Ḥanafi law is superior because it represents the jurisprudence of the whole Empire, not just one centre.

Open Access
In: Studia Islamica
Author: Nebil Husayn

Abstract

According to most Sunnī scholars of ḥadīth, two works can be considered sources for historically accurate and authentic reports about the words and actions of the Prophet Muḥammad, the Ṣaḥīḥ of al-Bukhārī and the Ṣaḥīḥ of Muslim, frequently referred to in union as the Ṣaḥīḥayn. These two works have achieved canonical status in Sunnī Islam. The narrators who appear in these collections and the content of what they report are popularly considered to be unassailable. However, the authenticity and historicity of such ḥadīth have been subject to severe criticism and skepticism by a number of Western academics beginning with Gustav Weil in 1848 and continuing with Ignaz Goldziher, Joseph Schacht, John Wansbrough and others. A few academics have alluded to the existence of a similar skepticism among Muslim modernists, but there has been little systematic study of these voices. A handful of twentieth century Muslims have openly objected to the canonical culture of sanctifying ḥadīth found in the Ṣaḥīḥayn with books lambasting their authenticity. This investigation reviews seven of these works and considers key themes in their methods of argumentation. The authors not only deny the authenticity of ḥadīth in the collections of al-Bukhārī and Muslim, but also reject key doctrines associated with classical Sunnism and the authority of Sunnī ḥadīth scholars who traditionally defined orthodoxy and evaluated ḥadīth on behalf of the community.

In: Studia Islamica
Author: Mathieu Tillier

Résumé

La découverte de nombreux fragments coraniques anciens à Fusṭāṭ semble aller à l’encontre du discours véhiculé par les sources littéraires, qui n’accordent à l’Égypte qu’un rôle mineur dans l’histoire de la constitution du Coran. Le présent article tente de résoudre ce paradoxe en retraçant l’histoire de l’introduction du Coran en Égypte dans la seconde moitié du I er/VII e siècle. Il met en évidence l’existence d’un codex pré-canonique attribué au gouverneur ʿUqba b. ʿĀmir al-Ǧuhanī (m. 58/677-8), un Compagnon considéré comme une des principales autorités dont se réclamaient les savants égyptiens de l’époque omeyyade. Le codex de ʿUqba, qui n’était vraisemblablement qu’un exemplaire à usage privé, sombra dans l’oubli après que le gouverneur ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Marwān eut fait réaliser une copie officielle du Coran conforme au canon ʿuṯmānien.

In: Studia Islamica
The Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kabīr (Biography of Muḥammad, His Companions and the Successors up to the Year 230 of the Hijra) by Ibn Saʿd (d. 230 A.H./845 C.E.) is the earliest extant biographical dictionary on the life of the Prophet and the early generations of Muslims. It is one of the most important historical works about the first centuries of Muslim society in Arabic. This classic Brill edition was supervised by Eduard Sachau and was originally titled Biographien Muhammeds, seiner Gefährten und der späteren Träger des Islams bis zum Jahre 230 der Flucht. This edition was originally published between 1904 and 1940.

Contributing editors
Carl Brockelmann, Josef Horovitz, Julius Lippert, Bruno Meissner, Eugen Mittwoch, Friedrich Schwally, Karl Vilhelm Zetterstéen.

Abstract

The current study elaborates on the place, status and functions of the concept of ābirū in Shīʿī religious discourse in contemporary Iran. Its main source material has been selected from a variety of rulings (fatwās) and other type of statements delivered by Iranian marājiʿ taqlīd (sources of emulation). By emphasizing the significance of the concept of ābirū in the Iranian tradition and its reception within the Shīʿī tradition, this study outlines the main functions attributed to the idea of ‘good reputation’ and ‘positive social image’ in contemporary Iranian religious jurisprudence. The analysis of the rulings issued by Iranian clergy allows one to distinguish how the idea of ābirū influences verdicts in different aspects of the life of a believer – personal, ethical, legal and political. The study reveals the flexible way in which this moral concept is being incorporated into judgements which, in turn, may result in a novel and nuanced understanding of many Islamic principles, especially in socio-political perspectives.

Open Access
In: Journal of Islamic Ethics
Author: A.C.S. Peacock

Abstract

This article presents documents relating to the embassy sent by Sultan ʿAbd al-Raḥmān of Darfur to the Ottoman Sultan Selim III in 1791. These include an original Arabic letter which is an unusually early surviving example of sultanic correspondence from the Sahel. The documents permit a new interpretation of the purposes of the embassy, as well as an examination of chancery practice in Darfur, and offer an insight into Darfuri views of the outside world. To aid the analysis, the article compares this letter with a second surviving letter from ʿAbd al-Raḥmān addressed to Napoleon Bonaparte around 1800, of which the Arabic text has not previously been published.

Open Access
In: Islamic Africa