Hier vindt u het gehele boek in pdf-formaat (groot bestand 366 blz). Hier kunt u gehele het boek ook in andere formaten downloaden.
Hieronder zijn enkele boekbesprekingen opgenomen, in het Engels. Eén van Maribel Fierro en één van Ken Garden. De tekst van de boekbesprekingen vindt u ook in pdf-formaat (steeds aan het slot van de bespreking).
Boekbespreking van Yousef Casewit’s “The Mystics of al-Andalus” door Maribel Fierro in de Journal of the MIAS (62) 2017 blz. 115-118.
This is an important and timely book, one that augments a recent renewal of scholarly interest in the Andalusī mystical-philosophical tradition. The main factor enabling this renewal has been the availability of editions of Arabic works by Andalusī mystic-philosophers such as Ibn Masarra (d. 519/931), Ibn Qasī(d. 546/1151) and Ibn Barrajān (d. 536/1141). This painstaking and often insufficiently appreciated effort deserves to be acknowledged, valued, and encouraged, as it is the only way to inject new blood into subjects that have otherwise become ossified through repetition.
Ibn Masarra’s two surviving treatises were published between 1978 and 1982 by the Egyptian scholar Muḥammad Kamāl Jaʿfar. However, his discovery in the Chester Beatty library of works long considered to have been lost took time to spread in the Western academic world, with Claude Addas being among the first to draw attention toit in her book on Ibn ʿArabī published in 1989. Since then, Ibn Masarra’s works and thought have been studied by an increasing number of scholars such as E. Tornero, J. Kenny, J. Vahid Brown, S. Sviri, S. Stroumsa and P. Garrido. Ibn Qasī’s Kitāb khalʿ al-naʿlayn was published in 1997 by the Moroccan scholar Muḥammad al-Amrānī, finally providing us with the complete text. His edition supersedes the previous partial editions by a number of Western scholars, who included them in their unpublished doctoral theses dealing with this intriguing mystic who led a rebellion in the Algarve (southern Portugal) against the Almoravids. Al-Amrānī’s edition was followed by the excellent study by M. Ebstein that provided us with the first thorough analysis of Ibn Qasī’s complex thought. Ibn Barrajān’s book on God’s names and his Qur’ān commentary have each been the subject of two editions: his Sharḥ asmāʾ Allāh al-ḥusnā was published in 2000 and 2009, and his Tanbīh al-afhām in 2011 and 2013. In 2016 G. Böwering and Yousef Casewit edited Ibn Barrajān’s Īḍāḥ al-ḥikma bi-aḥkām al-ʿibra. Two years prior, Yousef Casewit completed his doctoral thesis entitled The Forgotten Mystic: Ibn Barrajān (d. 536/1141) and the Andalusīan Muʿtabirūn (Ph.D. Diss., Yale University, 2014), which was the starting point for the book currently under review.
Divided into eight chapters with an introduction and conclusions, Yousef Casewit offers the first comprehensive account of Ibn Barrajān’s doctrines, building upon what he and G. Böwering had already advanced in their 2016 study. Casewit’s detailed and insightful account of such doctrines (chapters 5 to 8) takes the reader to a fascinating tour around and inside Ibn Barrajān’s complex thought. It encompasses divine descent and human ascent with a concentrated focus on scripture, foremost the Qurʾān, but also the Hadith and – excitingly – the Bible. Casewit has rightly decided to convey what he has learned about Ibn Barrajān’s approach to God and His creation by employing the mystic’s own terminology, without trying to insert him in existing interpretative frameworks that were constructed without the necessary grasp on original sources.
The centrality of iʿtibār is highlighted – as it should be – referring to a crucial concept in Ibn Barrajān’s thought, the crossing from the visible into the unseen, which is achieved through the training of intellect, soul, and body, and made possible by the correspondences that exist between human being, creation, and revelation. This is an approach that can be shown to be closely connected with Ibn Masarra’s thought.
Chapters 5 to 8 are a necessary read for anyone interested in the history of Islamic mysticism, not only in al-Andalus, but also in general, and are especially necessary for anyone interested in the Andalusī background of Ibn ʿArabī’s oeuvre and thought. Those who want to understand the epistemological and spiritual concerns that were so prominent in the Islamic West during the sixth/twelfth century cannot do without them, as they enrich and yet also transform what has been written previously on the topic. Taking into account the advances made regarding similar thinkers and advances made regarding the study of North African mysticism, this contribution further highlights the necessity of producing a new synthesis in the near future, since previous ones such as V. Cornell’s Realm of the Saint, for all their value, now need to be updated.
Chapters 1 and 2 of Casewit’s book are already a welcome attempt to insert the results of recent scholarship into a new narrative about the formation and development of Andalusī mysticism. The topic deserves, however, a longer number of pages and more familiariity with the Andalusī (and North African) context. A particularly valuable chapter is that devoted to the chronology and manuscript tradition of Ibn Barrajān’s works, with the added interest of a thematic overview regarding their contents.
It is complemented by the chapter in which Ibn Barrajān’s life is analyzed. A contentious point in previous scholarship has been how to understand the references to Ibn Barrajān’s imamate: was it purely religious or did it also have political dimensions? The debate has been fuelled by a late source’s (al-Shaʿrānī) reference to the fact that Ibn Barrajān was acknowledged as imam in 130 villages; by the fact that one of Ibn Barrajān’s pupils, Ibn Qasī, did have political ambitions; and by the fact that Ibn Barrajān was summoned by the Almoravid emir to his capital, where he died under what appear to be suspicious circumstances. J. Bellver has, however, dismissed such suspicions in a recent article.
What is – in any case – clear is that in Ibn Barrajān’s times there was a debate regarding the acceptability of his thought that touched upon both its religious and political dimensions, a debate that has continued since then, in the same way that there was and still is a debate regarding Ibn Masarra’s thought. Ibn Qasī’s rebellion and proclamation as political and religious leader makes his case special, as it leaves no doubt about hispolitical ambitions. The connections between his thought and that of the other two oblige us to discuss the extent to which Ibn Masarra and Ibn Barrajān were also ‘political mystics’.
My response to this point of inquiry would be positive; ‘political mysticism’ is the way that we ought to refer to their thought to give it justice. The political potential could be acted upon or not, but it is there, and Pierre Guichard is to be commended for having spotted it already in 1990-1991, in spite of not having had at his disposal the data now available.
The publication of Casewit’s study has to be celebrated as an excellent accomplishment on its own, and as another welcome step toward a better understanding of the religious and political history of the pre-modern Islamic West.
Institute of the Languages and Cultures of the Mediterranean and the Ancient Near East (ILC), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid.
Boekbespreking van Yousef Casewit’s “The Mystics of al-Andalus” door Ken Garden in International Journal of Middle East Studies 50 (2018) blz. 823-826.
By the beginning of the 12th century, Sufism had been practiced in the Islamic East for at least 300 years. It was not until the first half of the 12th century that three major mystics emerge who seem to mark the beginning of Sufism in the Islamic West (al-Andalus and the Maghrib): Ibn Barrajan (d. 1141), Ibn al-ʿArif (d. 1141), and Ibn Qasi (d. 1151). Their stories are intertwined with one another in ways that have made them central figures in a narrative about politics and Sufism in this period.
The standard interpretation has been that Sufism emerged in al-Andalus under the inspiration of al-Ghazali’s Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihyạ ʾ ʿUlum al-Din). Ibn Barrajan was called “the Ghazali of al-Andalus,” which scholars took as evidence that he was a follower of al-Ghazali in his Sufism. Ibn al-ʿArif was said to be the head of a group known as al-Ghazaliyya. Ibn Qasi’s book The Doffing of the Two Sandals (Kitab khalaʿ al-naʿlayn) contains a short excerpt of al-Ghazali’s Jerusalem Letter (al-Risala al-qudsiyya).
The story went on to trace how this derivative, Ghazalian Sufism, was opposed by the Almoravid regime, which correctly saw it as a threat. The Almoravids summoned Ibn Barrajan and Ibn al-ʿArif to their capital of Marrakesh for a hearing. Ibn Barrajan died in custody, and the sultan ordered that his body be thrown on a garbage heap without funeral rites. A famous Sufi and proponent of al-Ghazali’s Revival, Ibn Hirzihim ̣(d. 1165) called the people of Marrakesh to a funeral in defiance of the sultan. Ibn al-ʿArif was acquitted but died shortly thereafter under suspicious circumstances. Shortly afterwards Ibn Qasi led his followers, known as “the Aspirants” (al-murı̄dūn), in a revolt against the Almoravids in what is now southern Portugal.
When this account first coalesced, most of the writings of Ibn Barrajan, Ibn al-ʿArif, and Ibn Qasi had not yet been published. Even after their publication, the superficial evidence from the biographical and historical sources seemed to obviate their careful study; there seemed no need to revise the image of 12th-century Andalusi Sufism. This view had begun to change slowly in recent years; and then, with Michael Ebstein’s Mysticism and Philosophy in al-Andalus: Ibn Masarra, Ibn al-ʿArabi and the Ismaʿili Tradition (Leiden: Brill) in 2014 and Ali Akhtar’s 2017 Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs: Politics and authority from Cordoba to Cairo and Baghdad (Cambridge: Cambridge Press), it has been radically challenged through careful analysis of the writings of these three Andalusi mystics. Yousef Casewit’s The Mystics of al-Andalus is the third monograph in as many years to greatly enrich this field of study.
Casewit offers an exhaustive study of the life and writings of Ibn Barrajan of Seville, and his findings are striking. Though there was a contemporary tradition of selfidentifying Sufis in al-Andalus during Ibn Barrajan’s lifetime, he himself was not a part of it. While he was sympathetic to sufism, he identified as an heir to a separate tradition founded by Ibn Masarra, that of the “Contemplators” (muʿtabirūn), who undertook the “crossing” (ʿibra) into the unseen. Ibn Barrajan was a mature thinker by the time al-Ghazali’s writings reached al-Andalus, and his designation as the “Ghazali of alAndalus” belonged to an Andalusi tradition of naming accomplished Maghribi thinkers after Mashriqi masters in the corresponding field of expertise. (Casewit names no fewer than seven other examples of thinkers known as “the X of al-Andalus” [p. 60, n. 9].) Ibn Barrajan was influenced by Ibn Masarra, the Brethren of Purity, and Fatimid Ismaʿilism, but not by al-Ghazali. Ibn al-ʿArif and Ibn Qasi also belonged to this Contemplators’ tradition, which produced the 13th-century Andalusi mystics Muhi al-Din Ibn ̣ al-ʿArabi (d. 1240), al-Shushtari (d. 1269), and Ibn Sabʿin (d. 1270), who would be influential in the Islamic East.
Casewit’s analysis is based on a close study of all three of Ibn Barrajan’s surviving works, both published editions and surviving manuscripts. Even for Ibn Barrajan’s lost early book The Guidebook to the Pathways of Guidance (Kitab al-Irshad Ila Subul al-Rashad), Casewit tracked down excerpts in subsequent works, especially Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi’s (d. 1391) The Demonstration of the Sciences of the Qurʾan (al-Burhan fi ʿUlum al-Qurʾan).
The book is divided into eight chapters. The chapters are too rich and detailed to be summarized adequately in the confines of a short review, but the following is an attempt: Chapter 1 treats the Andalusi historical background and religious debates relevant to Ibn Barrajan. Chapter 2 deals with Ibn Barrajan’s immediate context, as well as his contemporaries Ibn al-ʿArif and Ibn Qasi. Here Casewit makes the case that Ibn Barrajan saw himself as a member of the full-fledged school of the muʿtabirūn; he writes of the Sufis as a foreign, eastern tradition, distinct from his own. There was, however, a sense of solidarity between the two groups, as shown by the funeral performed by Sufis of Marrakech after Ibn Barrajan died in an Almoravid prison there (p. 82). Chapter 3 reconstructs Ibn Barrajan’s biography. Because of the “patchy and often ocnflicting data” offered in the sources, this is a necessary task. Chapter 4 presents Ibn Barrajan’s four major works, including a reconstruction of the first, The Guidebook to the Pathways of Guidance. Casewit covers chronology, content, manuscript tradition, and reception. The Guidebook to the Pathways of Guidance is a book on the Prophet’s sunna, which rejects traditional assessments of the authenticity of hadith based on isnād (chains of transmitters) in favor of testing them against the content of the Qurʾan. Those that accord with the Qurʾan are to be accepted, and those that do not are to be rejected, regardless of the status of their isnād. The Commentary on the Beautiful Names (Sharh ̣al-asmaʾ al-husna ̣ ) is a “mystically mature” work of utter originality, treating 132 names of God derived from Qurʾan and hadith. Each is treated in terms of lexical analysis, “contemplative crossing” (iʿtibār), and devotional practice of servanthood. Alerting Intellects to the Meditation on the Wise Book and Recognition of the Signs and the Tremendous Tiding (Tanbih al-afham ila tadabbur al-kitab al-hakim
wa-taʿarruf al-ayat wa-l-nabaʾ al-ʿaziṃ ) is Ibn Barrajan’s first Qurʾan commentary, and Wisdom deciphered, the Unseen Discovered (Idaḥ ̣al-hikma bi ah ̣ kam al-ʿibra) is his somewhat shorter second. Both were works of Ibn Barrajan’s old age. Casewit describes Ibn Barrajan’s approach in both as “disorderly and somewhat carefree” (p. 162), though this rambling style covers a profound range of material, and the former work is one of the most important tafsı̄rs of the Muslim West.
Chapter 5 treats the relation between God, the heavenly realm, and the world. Casewit writes that, while the theologian insists that there is no connection whatsoever between the world and the heavenly realm, and the anthropomorphist sees heaven as an extension of the world, Ibn Barrajan presents the world as an extension of heaven. As such it can serve as an object of contemplation to better understand God, whose artistry is evident in the world to those who can perceive it. Casewit covers several key concepts in Ibn Barrajan’s cosmology in this chapter in impressive detail. Two of these, “The Real Upon Which Creation is Created” (al-haqq al-makhluq bi-hi al-khalq) and the Universal Servant (al-ʿabd al-kullı̄)e, were appropriated from the Brethren of Purity.
Chapter 6 returns to Ibn Barrajan’s understanding of the Qurʾan and principles of his exegesis, greatly expanding the treatment of his two tafsı̄rs in Chapter 4. Ibn Barrajan’s approach owes little to the Sufi tradition of exegesis that preceded him, focusing on different passages and thematic concerns. Ibn Barrajan’s “contemplative” (iʿtibārı̄) exegesis insists on the harmony and coherence of the Qurʾan and the correspondence between it and God’s signs in the natural world, the two major venues for the divine self-disclosure. The chapter treats exegetical issues unique to Ibn Barrajan as well as his approach to the standard concerns of exegetes, such as the theory of abrogation, the disconnected letters, and the variant readings.
Chapter 7 surveys Ibn Barrajan’s use of Arabic translations of the Christian Bible in his Qurʾanic exegesis. Casewit tells us that all of the Biblical passages quoted by Ibn Barrajan would fill some twenty printed pages, making it an important source for the study of Andalusi Arabic Christian (Mozarabic) Bible translations, most of which have been lost. The Bible was for him the third most important source for understanding God’s revelation, the first and second being the Qurʾan and hadith. He was likely the first Qurʾanic exegete to refer so extensively to the Bible without polemical aims. There were, however, nonexegetes who also cited Jewish-Christian sources, namely the Brethren of Purity and the Ismaʿili philosopher al-Kirmani (d. 1020). Given the influence of the Brethren and Ismaʿili writers on Ibn Barrajan, Casewit suggests that his approach to the Bible may have been inspired by them as well (p. 249). Ibn Barrajan typically drew on the Bible when it corresponded with his understanding of the Qurʾan and when it added detail to Qurʾanic narratives.
Chapter 8 treats the important, related concepts of contemplation (iʿtibār) and the crossing into the unseen (ʿibra), as well as Ibn Barrajan’s understanding of cycles of time and the role these played in his famously correct prediction that Jerusalem would be recaptured by the Muslims in 1187. The authenticity of this prediction has been challenged because the oldest manuscripts of Ibn Barrajan’s first tafsı̄r, Alerting Intellects, in which it is found, postdate the event. Casewit argues that the prediction is authentic, pointing to the fact that it is firmly rooted in and consistent with Ibn Barrajan’s cosmology and theory of cosmic cycles and not a forgery haphazardly inserted into the text. A full translation of the prediction is provided at the end of the chapter.
The Mystics of al-Andalusis a milestone in Andalusi intellectual history, raising the bar for all future studies and making it impossible to ignore Ibn Barrajan’s seminal contributions to Qurʾanic exegesis, Andalusi mysticism, and Islamic mysticism as a whole.
Al-Ghazali’s influence in the Islamic West has been exaggerated, as Yousef Casewit has richly demonstrated in the case of Ibn Barrajan, who was honored with the title “the Ghazali of al-Andalus” precisely because he was a highly original mystical thinker.
Casewit ends his book with the cheeky suggestion that al-Ghazali might equally be honored by the epithet “the Ibn Barrajan of Khorasan.” It’s unlikely to catch on, but perhaps not entirely out of place.