From Beyond the Sphere of Orthodoxy: Transformations in the “Faith of Pharaoh” Consensus Through the Influence of Ibn ʿArabī (D. 1240) and His Scholarly Adherents
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Nair, Arjun Ayillath
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CitationNair, Arjun Ayillath. 2018. From Beyond the Sphere of Orthodoxy: Transformations in the “Faith of Pharaoh” Consensus Through the Influence of Ibn ʿArabī (D. 1240) and His Scholarly Adherents. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis study explores the intersection between the writings of the “School of Ibn ʿArabī” and the mainstream Islamic tafsir tradition through the exemplifying lens of a single issue: “faith of Pharaoh” (īmān Firʿawn)”. It proceeds from the observation that reading across these two scholarly currents and the textual genres comprising them can illuminate a vital area of inquiry in post-classical Islamic intellectual history, namely the reception of Ibn ʿArabī’s (d. 1240) doctrines among the ulama. A small number of Ibn ʿArabī’s theologically-inclined followers defended an alternative view (first proposed by Ibn ʿArabī), for which they developed increasingly sophisticated arguments in commentarial works and independent treatises. In the first core chapter of this study, I survey the classical tafsir tradition on faith of Pharaoh, tracing the consensus among the exegetes to the gradual formation of an “exegetical theology” on this question. In the next chapter, I examine the emergence of an opposition group within a branch of the School of Ibn ʿArabī that I call the Qūnawī tradition, beginning in the thirteenth century. I trace the increasing sophistication of this opposition among lesser-studied members of this tradition, such as ʿAlā al-Dīn Mahāʾimī (d. 1432), and finish by presenting arguments from treatises written by some of Ibn ʿArabī’s little-known supporters among the ulama—Shaykh-i Makkī Kazarūnī (d. 1519-20) and Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Rasūl Barzinjī (d. 1691). Next, I turn to post-classical tafsir, identifying several modes and instances of interaction from the Ibn ʿArabī-inspired defenses of faith of Pharaoh within Quran commentaries, including late glosses. I show that this interaction was either indirect—causing exegetes to clarify their positions—or negative—inspiring critical responses. In the conclusion, I suggest reasons why the discipline of tafsir may have been resistant to influence from the “School of Ibn ʿArabī”, despite being generally open to other Islamic disciplines.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364830
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