By David Hollenberg
The 1st book-length examine of ta'wil, a sort of allegorical scriptural interpretation propagated via Ismaili-Shiite missionaries
Ismailism, one of many 3 significant branches of Shiism, is better identified for ta'wil, an esoteric, allegorizing scriptural exegesis. past the Qur'ān: Early Ismaili Ta'wil and the secrets and techniques of the Prophets is the 1st book-length examine of this interpretive style. studying assets composed by way of tenth-century Ismaili missionaries in gentle of social-science theories of cognition and sectarianism, David Hollenberg argues that the missionaries used ta'wil to instill in acolytes a suite of symbolic styles, varieties, and "logics." This shared symbolic international certain the neighborhood jointly because it created a gulf among neighborhood individuals and people open air the stream. Hollenberg hence situates ta'wil socially, as an interpretive perform that sustained a neighborhood of believers.
An vital element of ta'wil is its unconventional items of interpretation. Ismaili missionaries combined Qur'ānic exegesis with interpretation of Torah, Gospels, Greek philosophy, and logos similar to the Christian go and Eucharist, in addition to Jewish fairs. formerly students have speculated that this extra-Qur'ānic ta'wil was once meant to transform Jews and Christians to Ismailism. Hollenberg, departing from this view, argues that such interpretations have been, like Ismaili interpretations of the Qur'ān, meant for an Ismaili viewers, lots of whom switched over to the flow from different branches of Shiism.
Hollenberg argues that via exegesis of those unconventional resources, the missionaries validated that their imam by myself might strip the exterior husk from all demeanour of resources and convey the initiates fact in its natural, unmediated shape, an imaginal global to which they on my own had entry. additionally they fulfilled the promise that their imam may educate them the secrets and techniques in the back of all religions, an indication that the preliminary level of the tip of days had commenced.
Beyond the Qur'ān contributes to our knowing of early Ismaili doctrine, Fatimid rhetoric, and, extra widely, using esoteric literatures within the heritage of religion.
David Hollenberg is an assistant professor of Arabic and Islamic reports on the collage of Oregon. He has authored articles on Ismailism and is the coeditor of The Yemeni Manuscript culture. Hollenberg is the founding father of the Yemen Manuscripts Digitization Initiative, a collective of students and librarians dedicated to conserving the manuscripts of Yemen.
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Additional resources for Beyond the Qurʾān. Early Ismaili Ta’wil and the Secrets of the Prophets
The most prominent members of this school whose works are extant (or excerpted in the works of others) are Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Nasafī (d. 332/943) in Samanid Transoxania and Khurāsān,78 Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī (d. 322/934) in AlRayy in Northern Iran, and Abū Ya⁽qūb al-Sijistānī (d. ca. 79 The aim of these da⁽īs was not to become philosophers in the Greek tradition. Rather they intended to demonstrate to those at court— most importantly, the amīr ruling the statelet—that the teachings of their mission were superior to falsafa.
There was a sense of communitas and dedication. 67 The “island” in North Africa was not a mere military encampment or fortress, but a vast territory known as Tāzrūt (a region encompassing what is today sections of modern Algeria and Tunisia). Educated scholars from Shī⁽ite backgrounds, particularly in the city of al-Qayrawān, were counted among the converts. But most were peasant Kutāma tribesmen. Prior to joining the daʿwa, these tribes had been only lightly “Islamicized” and were governed by tribal mores.
86 According to al-Naysābūrī, the Imām’s dual role as head of mission and state was a straightforward proposition: the ruler supports the mission, and the mission strengthens the state. There were, however, clearly moments when the Fāṭimid Imām’s position of ruler chafed against his role as spiritual leader. At times there were problems in reconciling the comportment of the Mahdī with the Shī⁽ite theocratic state forged by Abū ⁽Abd Allāh al-Shī⁽ī. Before the Mahdī’s appearance in alRaqqāda, the Kutāma “Friends of God” had adopted Abū ⁽Abd Allāh al-Shī⁽ī’s ascetic values.