- Series: Suny Series in Islam
- Hardcover: 449 pages
- Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr (March 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0791439674
- ISBN-13: 978-0791439678
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,852,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ibn 'Arabi in the Later Islamic Tradition: The Making of a Polemical Image in Medieval Islam (Suny Series in Islam) Hardcover – March, 1999
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"Knysh has looked at exactly who were the supporters and opponents of Ibn 'Arabi for several centuries after his death, where they were getting their information, why they should have taken the position they took, and so forth. The author brings together a lot of tidbits in the secondary literature that people have not connected, and he does so with careful attention to the primary texts." -- William C. Chittick, author of The Self Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn 'Arabi's Cosmology --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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It is clear from Professor Knysh's analysis how important the ulama and Islamic religious institutions were for Muslim Sultans, rulers, and princes. In particular, it highlights the intricate, and complex relationship between the Mamluk state and the religious scholars of Islam. The 13th century was a watershed moment in Islamic political history with the Mongol devastation in the central Muslim lands and the continuous Christian Crusades into the Levant. While it seemed that Muslim civilization was on the brink of collapse from these two assaults, along come the Mamluks of Damascus and Egypt who boldly stopped the Mongol advance in Palestine in the famous battle of Ayn Jalut, near present day Galilea. The role of the stalwart Mamluks in well known to peole of the Middle East. However, what is often overlook in the patronage and funding that the Mamluks provided to Islamic learning and to Islamic scholars. This is witnessed by the huge number of sufi lodges and madrasas supported and funded by Mamluk princes and rulers. Scholars such as Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Arabi, al-Dhahabi, and Ibn Atallah were some of the major scholars who owed their support to the Mamluk rulers of that time, though the relationship with Ibn Taymiyya is complicated by the persecution he faced by his opponents.
Knyshs' contribution to this important time period is to lay out a narrative which demonstrates the critique of some of the theological views of Ibn Arabi by Ibn Taymiyya and his ideological supporters. He traces how the critique developed and who the central partisans were. It is clear from Professor Knysh's analysis that Ibn Taymiyya was not anti-tasawwuf or sufism. Many opponents of tasawwuf today use Ibn Taymiyya as a sword in discrediting sufism and undermining its legitimacy in Islam. However, this view is misplaced given that Ibn Taymiyya commended many aspects of sufi practice and also praised many sufi leaders and thinkers. Ibn Taymiyya's main problem was the central cosmological worldview of Ibn Arabi's wahdat al-wujud which is often referred to Islamic "monism." This view essentially argues that God is the only true reality while everything thing else he creates is temporary and unreal.
The footnotes are useful and comprehensive but often hinder the narrative of the story. But this is to be expected in a scholarly work. This book is not for novices but for those who are acquainted with the Islamic scholarly and intellectual tradition.