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Brannon Wheeler

Brannon Wheeler

Brannon Wheeler

An examination of a number of unpublished commentaries on the

Mukhtasar fī al-fiqh al-Hanafī

of Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Qudūrī (d. 428/1037), shows that the Hanafī

madhhab

gains its authority and identity through a pedagogy focused on the conflict of opinions. Hanafī

fiqh

scholarship provides a case study of how commentary functions to define and perpetuate the institutional identity of individual scholars and the

madhhab

to which they are attached. Over time, the distinctions among the Hanafī authorities and between the Hanafī authorities and other non-Hanafī authorities were stressed and these distinctions multiplied rather than diminished. It is this conflict of opinions which seems to characterize Hanafī

fiqh

scholarship and serves as the primary means for the identification of individual scholarship and the authority of the

madhhab

as a whole. These unpublished commentaries show that being a Hanafī is not a matter of imitating earlier opinions, but rather suggest that Hanafī identity is linked to the authority of the members of the Hanafī

madhhab

who have learned to do

fiqh

through the medium of the

ikhtilāf

displayed in Hanafī textbooks.

Brannon Wheeler

Abstract

The following pages examine the relationship between the prophet Muhammad's sacrifice of the camels and the distribution of his hair at the conclusion of his farewell pilgrimage just before his death. A study of the accounts of the Prophet's camel sacrifice shows that it prefigures the annual rites of the Hajj using the biblical model of Abraham's sacrifice to align other pre-Islamic practices, including those associated with the cult at Mecca, with the origins of a specifically Islamic civilization. The prophet Muhammad's distribution of his hair, detached from his body at the time of his desacralization from the Hajj delineates the Meccan sanctuary as the place of origination from which was spread both the physical and textual corpus of the Prophet's life. Whether by design or not, the traditional Islamic descriptions of this episode from the life of the prophet Muhammad are not unlike narratives found in Buddhist, Iranian, Christian and other traditions in which the body of a primal being is dismembered to create a new social order. Through the gift of the sacrificial camels and parts of his own body, the prophet Muhammad is portrayed, in this episode, as making a figurative and literal offering of himself at the origins of Islamic civilization.

Brannon Wheeler

Abstract

Guillaume Postel is often credited as one of the founding fathers of the modern “orientalist” European study of the Middle East, and of Arabic, Islam, and the Quran in particular. He published his most influential work in 1544, calling on the French king to lead a Crusade against the Ottomans and usher in a new, apocalyptic age. Although usually credited as a pioneer in the comparative study of Semitic languages, an influential figure in French-Ottoman relations, and as one of the first Europeans to study the Quran in comparison with the Bible, it was the unique sixteenth-century renaissance combination of apocalyptism, European nationalism, and alchemy behind the specific formation of Postel’s universal linguistic theories that would most influence future scholarship. The following pages examine the historical context in which Postel produced his work with particular attention to the apocalyptism of his religious ideas and the kabbalistic sources of his linguistic scholarship.

Wheeler, Brannon M.

Wheeler, Brannon M.

Wheeler, Brannon M.