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Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs
Politics and Authority from Cordoba to Cairo and Baghdad

$34.99 (C)

  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316633090

$ 34.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • What was the relationship between government and religion in Middle Eastern history? In a world of caliphs, sultans, and judges, who exercised political and religious authority? In this book, Ali Humayun Akhtar investigates debates about leadership that involved ruling circles and scholars of jurisprudence and theology. At the heart of this story is a medieval rivalry between three caliphates: the Umayyads of Cordoba, the Fatimids of Cairo, and the Abbasids of Baghdad. In a fascinating revival of Late Antique Hellenism, Aristotelian and Platonic notions of wisdom became a key component of how these caliphs debated their authority as political leaders. By tracing how these political debates impacted the theological and jurisprudential scholars and their own conception of communal guidance, Akhtar offers a new picture of premodern political authority and the connections between Western and Islamic civilizations. It will be of use to students and specialists of the premodern and modern Middle East.

    • Offers an accessible new study of early Islamic civilization's political and intellectual absorption of Late Antique Hellenism
    • Uses a wide variety of textual sources to trace the relationship between politics and religion in the Middle East
    • Investigates how changing geographies and political contexts impacted early Islamic political and intellectual culture
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Ali Humayun Akhtar’s Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs explores the interface and interplay between Sufism, philosophy, and politics in the medieval Islamic world. Examining diverse fields in the history of ideas - from metaphysics to politics, cosmology to psychology, and Sufism to philosophical theology - Akhtar examines how scholarly religious authority affected and was affected by political leadership between the tenth and twelfth centuries. The extensively researched chapters on the Spanish Sufi metaphysicians … are particularly valuable for placing their thought in the context of the dialectic of scholars with local monarchs and emirs.' Leonard Lewisohn, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

    'This is a ground-breaking treatment of the intricate connections between politics and religious thought in the Islamic world over the course of three centuries. Ali Humayun Akhtar offers fresh insights on a half dozen of the most important Muslim thinkers of al-Andalus, including Ibn Masarra, Ibn Hazm, and Ibn Tufayl. His portrait of how Islamic thought developed in the region is a landmark.' Ken Garden, Tufts University, Massachusetts

    '… a brilliant and well-researched book … summarizes some of the most important discussions about religious and philosophical history occurring today between American, European, and Middle Eastern scholars.' Allen Fromherz, The American Historical Review

    ‘… the work is substantial thanks to the erudition of the author …’ Lahouari Addi, Reading Religion

    ‘… a novel and stimulating work that should be consulted by anyone with an interest in Andalusian intellectual history.’ Peter Adamson, Journal of Arabic Literature

    See more reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316633090
    • length: 278 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    Introduction: politics, law, and authority in the Abbasid and Fatimid
    Part I. Philosophical Caliphs and their Impact on the Scholars:
    1. Rival caliphs in Baghdad and Cairo
    2. A third caliphate in Cordoba
    3. Political reform among the later Abbasids
    Part II. Philosophical Sufis among Scholars and their Impact on Political Culture:
    4. Sufi metaphysics in the twelfth century
    5. A new political model and its Sufi
    6. The transformation of caliphal politics

  • Author

    Ali Humayun Akhtar, Bates College, Maine and University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Ali Humayun Akhtar is an Assistant Professor at Bates College, Maine. He is also the Robert M. Kingdon Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Akhtar holds a Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University.

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