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The Mystics of al-Andalus
Ibn Barrajān and Islamic Thought in the Twelfth Century

$34.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization

  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316636022

$ 34.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The twelfth century CE was a watershed moment for mysticism in the Muslim West. In al-Andalus, the pioneers of this mystical tradition, the Mu'tabirun or 'Contemplators', championed a synthesis between Muslim scriptural sources and Neoplatonic cosmology. Ibn Barrajān of Seville was most responsible for shaping this new intellectual approach, and is the focus of Yousef Casewit's book. Ibn Barrajān's extensive commentaries on the divine names and the Qur'ān stress the significance of God's signs in nature, the Arabic bible as a means of interpreting the Qur'ān, and the mystical crossing from the visible to the unseen. With an examination of the understudied writings of both Ibn Barrajān and his contemporaries, Ibn al-'Arif and Ibn Qasi, as well as the wider socio-political and scholarly context in al-Andalus, this book will appeal to researchers of the medieval Islamic world and the history of mysticism and Sufism in the Muslim West.

    • Offers a broad introduction and reappraisal of Andalusî intellectual history from the ninth to the twelfth century
    • Recasts the formative Andalusî mystics as a distinct tradition from Sufism, self-identifying as Muʿtabirān, or 'Contemplators'
    • Introduces the central Qurʾānic hermeneutics and cosmological teachings of a major Islamic thinker for the first time, positioning Ibn Barrajān at the forefront of twelfth century Andalusî mystical thought
    • Contributes to the renewed debates in Arabic biblical studies by highlighting the crucial, but neglected role, of Ibn Barrajān in the Islamic exegetical tradition
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The book, like other works in the Cambridge Studies [in] Islamic Civilization series, effectively illustrates the picture of a polycentric Middle East and North Africa, where Cordoba and Marrakesh were deeply intertwined with developments further east in cities like Cairo and Baghdad. Casewit's contribution is productive at a theoretical level for both medieval and modern historians. … [His] monograph will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of historians to explore the manuscript libraries around the world - from Fez to Istanbul - where lost Arabic texts have been found but remain unexamined.' Ali Humayun Akhtar, The American Historical Review

    'The Mystics of al-Andalus offers a thorough, wide-ranging, well-written, and amply documented study of a prolific, influential, and original mystical author. It contributes to a picture of a distinctive and creative Andalusi intellectual tradition.' Anna Akasoy, Renaissance Quarterly

    '… the book is an excellent contribution to the field of premodern Islamic studies, and by all rights it should have a significant and lasting impact.' Noah Gardiner, Nazariyat

    'Yousef Casewit’s The Mystics of al-Andalus is a landmark achievement which successfully brings to light the life and thought of Ibn Barrajan, a much-neglected and highly original Spanish Muslim Quran commentator, mystic, and theologian. Reading a wide variety of Arabic source materials with forensic analytical precision, Casewit also effectively demonstrates how Ibn Barrajan was one of the main conduits for the spread of some of the key intellectual trends that took center stage in Islamic Spain, North Africa, and the Muslim east from the twelfth century onward.' Mohammed Rustom, author of The Triumph of Mercy: Philosophy and Scripture in Mullā Ṣadrā

    'This remarkable study of a neglected but extremely important author throws a great deal of light on a shadowy period in Islamic intellectual historical.' William C. Chittick, State University of New York, Stony Brook

    'Yousef Casewit’s study does justice to one of the greatest figures of Muslim spirituality and thought in medieval al-Andalus, Abu al-Hakam Barrajan (d. 536/1141). For the first time, Ibn Barrajan’s work, with its focus on commentaries on the divine names and the Qurʾan, is placed in its context and approached as a whole. Situated between Ibn Massara and Ibn ʿArabi, this work illustrates a path based on a spiritual reading of the Qurʾan and rooted in iʿtibar, the passage from outward meaning towards inward significance, from this world to the next. Yousef Casewit emphasizes the originality of this author, who undertakes a synthesis of traditional Islamic knowledge and Neo-Platonist philosophy, as inspired by the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-safa). Beyond Sufism and philosophy, The Mystics of al-Andalus represents the quest for universal wisdom in the Divine mystery concealed within revelation and the world.' Denis Gril, Professor Emeritus, Aix Marseille Université

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316636022
    • length: 372 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The beginnings of a mystical discourse in al-Andalus: Ibn Masarra, Mālikism, and the politics of an epistemological debate
    2. The rise of the Andalusī Muʿtabirūn: the influence of Ghazālī, markers of the Muʿtabirūn tradition, and the onset of institutional Sufism
    3. The life of a contemplative: Ibn Barrajān's educational formation, spiritual practices, political views, and decease
    4. The works of Ibn Barrajān: chronological sequence, manuscript tradition, and central themes
    5. The divine descent: bridging the chasm between God and creation
    6. The hermeneutics of certainty: harmony, hierarchy, and hegemony of the Qurʾān
    7. A Muslim scholar of the Bible: biblical proof-texts for Qurʾānic teachings in the exegetical works of Ibn Barrajān
    8. The human ascent: Iʿtibār, cycles of time, and future predictions.

  • Author

    Yousef Casewit, University of Chicago
    Yousef Casewit is Assistant Professor of Qur'anic Studies at the University of Chicago. He was formerly an Assistant Professor of Arabic Intellectual Heritage and Culture at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, as well as a Humanities Research Fellow at New York University, Abu Dhabi. He is the co-editor of A Qur'an Commentary by Ibn Barrajān of Seville (with Gerhard Boewering, 2015).

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