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Journal of Islamic Philosophy

Volume 14, 2023
Commentarial Literature in the Islamicate World

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1. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Mohammad Gharaibeh

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2. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Philipp Bruckmayr

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Ṣadr al-Sharīʿa al-Thānī al-Maḥbūbī (d. 747/1346) was the last major Māturīdī theologian of Transoxania. As he left no work of rational theology (kalām) proper, one of the chief sources of his theological thought is his book on legal theory, al-Tawḍīḥ fī ḥall ghawāmiḍ al-Tanqīḥ. Because the work served as a prominent reference for both legal theory and rational theol­ogy, an extensive commentary tradition on it emerged as it was transmitted from Transoxania to South Asia, Anatolia, and the Arab world. A distinctive subfield of this commentary tradition consisted of glosses devoted exclusively to one specific section of al-Tawḍīḥ. Revolving around the nature of good and evil, and intimately linked to the question of human free will, this part of Ṣadr al-Sharīʿa’s text came to be treated as a separate work, commonly referred to as al-Muqaddimāt al-arbaʿ (“The four pro­legomena”). Due to its role as a highly sophisticated refutation of late Ashʿarī doctrine on human volition, al-Muqaddimāt al-arbaʿ eventually developed into a prime source for later Māturīdī scholars in their discussion of human volition and related topics.

3. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Laura Hassan

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Given the proliferation of commentarial works in the post-Ghazālian era of Islamic intellectual history, the close study of individual commentaries has recently become a key schol­arly concern. To take us beyond the necessarily generalizing categories presented by Dimitri Gutas when he first charted the territory of this genre, an approach is needed that involves narrow textual analysis without neglecting the broader context in which a work is authored. Among the works that were initially taken by Gutas as evidence of the “mainstream Avicennism” of their authors is Sayf al-Dīn al-Āmidī’s (d. 631/1233) Kashf al-tamwīhāt fī sharḥ al-Ishārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt, in which he sets out to critique Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s (d. 610/1210) commentary on Ibn Sīnā’s Pointers and Reminders. In this article, I study the work from three perspectives. Firstly, I consider the con­tents of the Kashf, in terms of both the scope and the nature of its interaction with al-Rāzī’s first-order commentary on the Ishārāt. Secondly, I calibrate the findings of my textual analysis with materials taken from the accounts of al-Āmidī’s biographers, showing that these sources are mutually interpre­tive. Thirdly, I analyze the Kashf from within the context of his broader corpus. Together, I argue, these three perspec­tives contribute to a more nuanced understanding of what it means to describe al-Āmidī’s Kashf as a work of Avicennism.

4. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Mahmood Kooria

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Before the popularization of the printing press, the circula­tion of commentarial texts across regional borders, especially of Islamic texts outside of the Middle East, remains largely unexplored. This article focuses on the movement of Islamic manuscripts in the Indian Ocean world, from South and East Africa to South and East Asia. Together with merchants, sail­ors, travelers, and commodities, the books also traveled long distances, replete with ideas, stories, dreams, myths, norms, manners, and emotions. What was the role of manuscripts in the expansion of Islam into the premodern oceanic world and in religio-cultural exchanges between central Islamic lands and the larger world? What sorts of books did people access, read, and use, and what did the circulation of these texts imply? I address these questions with a broad focus on the oceanic littoral and Islamic manuscripts and a specific focus on one of the ports and a legal commentary. Based on this analytical exercise of zooming-out and zooming-in between macro- and micro-maritime textual histories anchored in the sixteenth century, I argue that the citations of specific manuscripts reveal the prominence of a transregional circula­tion of certain texts, along with their contextual cultures of reading, writing, producing, and circulating commentaries.

5. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Matthew B. Ingalls

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This paper centers its analysis around the remarkable work of the transdisciplinary commentary al-Minaḥ al-quddūsiyya, written by the Algerian scholar Aḥmad al-ʿAlawī (d. 1934). Although they are incredibly rare in the Islamic textual tradi­tion, transdisciplinary commentaries are commentaries that are written in a discipline different from that of the base texts upon which they build. In the case of the Minaḥ, al-ʿAlawī wrote his text as an entirely Sufi commentary upon Ibn ʿĀshir’s (d. 1040/1631) al-Murshid al-muʿīn, a didactic poem that is often categorized as a work of Mālikī fiqh. Through an examination of the text of the Minaḥ and the biography of its author, this paper aims to uncover why al-ʿAlawī wrote his commentary and what his ideological assumptions were that allowed him to approach Ibn ʿĀshir’s Murshid in such a novel manner.

6. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
L. W. Cornelis van Lit

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Followers of Ibn ʿArabī are considered to constitute an “Akbari” school of thought. The use of the term ‘school’ assumes some sort of cohesion, but the nature of this has been little studied. I argue that adherents found a substitute for the in-person study sessions (sing. majlis) that were common among Sufis, by identifying Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam with Ibn ʿArabī. Thus they were able to establish a direct connection with their preferred master by reading and commenting on this book. By placing their own commentary among other commentar­ies on the Fuṣūṣ, they created a bookish majlis; a dialogue with their master and other students similar to an in-person majlis. Whether conscious or subconscious, this idea became prevalent: no real organization such as a Sufi order came to be, but instead we have dozens and dozens of direct commen­taries. Making Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam an icon for Ibn ʿArabī became, at times, so strong as to turn the book into an idol or effigy.

7. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Florian A. Lützen

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This article investigates the emergence of the first commentar­ies on al-Ḥikam al-ʿAṭāʾiyya (ʿAṭāʾian Wisdoms), written by Ibn ʿAbbād of Ronda (d. 792/1390) and Aḥmad Zarrūq (d. 899/1494), from within their respective contexts. Particular focus is placed on how the tradition of commenting on the text was undertaken against the backdrop of the formation of the Sufi movements and concerns from the scholarly community. The formation of the Shādhiliyya coincides with these first commentaries on the Wisdoms, and hence, it is no coincidence that both scholars intensively discuss different types of Sufism in their works.To date, when scholars discuss Ibn ʿAbbād and Zarrūq, their respective roles in society and the evolving Sufi move­ments are emphasized, but their commentaries on the Wisdoms are neglected to a certain extent. In addressing this gap, this contribution offers observations concerning the permissibility of reading Sufi books, the commentary culture in Western (maghribī) Sufism, and the development of the Shādhiliyya movement, and provides an outlook on how al-Ḥikam al-ʿAṭāʾiyya later became part of the university curriculum.

8. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Güllü Yıldız

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This article examines Mughulṭāy b. Qilīj’s (d. 762/1361) al-Zahr al-bāsim fī siyar Abī al-Qāsim, a ḥāshiya (gloss, marginal notes) on ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Suhaylī’s (d. 581/1185) commentary on Ibn Isḥāq’s Sīra. Drawing on evidence from Mamlūk-era chronicles, biographical dictionaries, and commentarial introductions, it analyzes Mughulṭāy b. Qilīj as a historical figure and the context and content of his work. This is done in order to demonstrate how commentaries and glosses are deeply related to the schol­arly and cultural life of the period. These resources testify to the antagonistic relationship between Mughulṭāy and his opponents and to the ensuing rivalry between them. Hence, this article seeks to examine the correlation between his personality and the rationale for his commentary, to determine the reasons behind his choice of text to write a gloss on and his sustained and harsh criticism against al-Suhaylī and his scholarly legacy.

9. Journal of Islamic Philosophy: Volume > 14
Mohammad Gharaibeh

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The Muqaddima of Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ on the science of Ḥadīth has attracted a large and complex commentary tradition. Its complexity lies in the fact that certain sorts of commentarial literature, such as abridgments (sg. mukhtaṣar), commentaries (sg. sharḥ), critical commentaries (nukat), and versifications (sg. manẓūma), were produced with a different focus across scholarly networks, locations, and time. Moreover, depending on the orientation of the scholarly networks that a commenta­tor belonged to, the commentaries show different degrees of intellectual loyalty to the base text. Some support the argu­ments of the base text and follow its structure closely, while others refute ideas and restructure the content. This article centers its analysis on two examples of commentaries on the Muqaddima. Its leading hypothesis is that social proximity or distance to Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ and the network of his close students determines the degree of moral obligation and intellectual loyalty to Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ and the base text. The commentaries of al-Nawawī and Ibn Jamāʿa demonstrate this relation clearly.