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Law and Intellectual Life. Carl W. Ernst Introduction to Islamic Civilization. Outline . Intellectual Life in the 14 th Century Problem of “golden age” concept Major figures of the era Law “Queen of sciences” “closing of the gate of ijtihad ”? The Varieties of Religious Expression

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law and intellectual life

Law and Intellectual Life

Carl W. Ernst

Introduction to Islamic Civilization

outline
Outline
  • Intellectual Life in the 14th Century
    • Problem of “golden age” concept
    • Major figures of the era
  • Law
    • “Queen of sciences”
    • “closing of the gate of ijtihad”?
  • The Varieties of Religious Expression
    • Problem of defining “orthodoxy”/“heterodoxy”
    • Proliferation of Sufi orders
1 intellectual life in the 14 th century
1. Intellectual life in the 14th century
  • Not the end of the “Golden age” -- no interruption of cultural life after Mongols etc.
  • Islamic law not dependent on any particular regime
  • Technical and scientific tendency of Europe only after 16th-17th centuries
    • Debates on the causes of “Great Western Transmutation,” technicalism
problems in the analysis
Problems in the analysis
  • “by the 13th century… philosophical speculation had practically ceased”
    •  An error based on inadequate knowledge of schools of Islamic philosophy in the East (School of Shiraz Conference, December 2008)
  • Lack of autonomous universities made it “next to impossible for a school of thought to develop”
    •  Also seriously ignores the continued existence of scientific and philosophical research up to 18th century
major figures
Major figures

Ibn Taymiya (d. 1327), law

Ibn al-Shatir (d. 1375), astronomy

Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), history

Hafez (d. 1391), Persian poetry

Ibn Battuta (d. 1368), traveler

2 law
2. Law

Four schools of Sunni legal tradition all mutually acceptable; but conformity (taqlid) strong within schools

Characteristics of the legal scholar (faqih, master of fiqh)

Independent judgment (ijtihad) as the pinnacle of legal scholarship

closing of the gate of ijtihad
“closing of the gate of ijtihad”?

Expressions of exaggerated respect for legal founders misunderstood (by Europeans) as implying the end of independent thinking

Importance of understanding shari`a (theoretical ideal of Islamic law) as the cumulative collection of traditional interpretations

Greater emphasis on legal reasoning in Shi`ism

3 varieties of religious expression
3. Varieties of religious expression
  • Orthodoxy and heterodoxy dependent on a single center of religious authority such as the papacy; no Muslim equivalent
    • Exceptions in particular regimes: Kharijite movement; `Abbasid Mu`tazili “inquisition”; official support of Shafi`i school by Saljuqs
    • Rejection of “extremist” Shi`is (Druze, Nusayris) as a way of defining emerging 12er positions [but contrast modern Syria]
more problems with the analysis
More problems with the analysis
  • The Sunni tradition was one of self-censorship. It was inevitably conservative and traditional in spirit, leading to the withering of an independent philosophical tradition and the closing of the gate of ijtihad” (307)
    •  an overly broad statement that overlooks creative Sunni engagement with Sufi metaphysics and legal tradition
proliferation of sufi groups
Proliferation of Sufi groups

Integration of Sufism into everyday religious life of many or most Muslims

Provided women an acceptable avenue of religious expression and leadership

Social roles of Sufi Masters and saintly shrines

sufism as social critique
Sufism as social critique

Rarity of attacks on veneration of saints

Institutional power of Sufi centers countered by “Sufi deviancy” of “self blamers” (malamatiyya) and Qalandar dervish dropouts

Charismatic figures in the Sufi hierarchy: Mahdi (Messiah), Qutb (center of the world), `Ali

sufi movements among the turks
Sufi Movements among the Turks
  • Naqshbandis stress intense discipline of silent dhikr meditation, adherence to shari`a
  • Bektashi order varies significantly from Sunni norms – seen in Turkish Alevis
    •  problematic concept of “syncretism” not very useful here; assumes that there are “pure” forms of religion that are superior
    •  erroneous connections made to Christian heretical movement (Paulicians)
more sufi movements
More Sufi movements

Safavid movement, founded by Sunni leader Safi al-Din (d. 1334), eventually turns into a Shi`i tribal movement that establishes a kingdom in Iran (1504).

Chishtis in India

Mevlevis in Anatolia (Rumi)

Rifa`is in Arab regions

Qadiris all over

outline14
Outline
  • Intellectual Life in the 14th Century
    • Problem of “golden age” concept
    • Major figures of the era
  • Law
    • “Queen of sciences”
    • “closing of the gate of ijtihad”?
  • The Varieties of Religious Expression
    • Problem of defining “orthodoxy”/“heterodoxy”
    • Proliferation of Sufi orders