Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of Ḥikma in Early Islamic Thought by Hikmet Yaman (review)

Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of Ḥikma in Early Islamic Thought by Hikmet... BOOK REVIEWS Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of ikma in Early Islamic Thought. By HikmetYaman. Islamic Philosophy,Theology, and Science:Texts and Studies, vol.81.Leiden:BrillAcademicPublishers,2011.Pp.xi+316.Hardcover$166.00, isbn9789004186620. ReviewedbyNuha al-Shaar AmericanUniversityofSharjah nalshaar@aus.edu InhisbookVisions of Politics,QuentinSkinnerarguedthatascholar'sprimaryconcernistosituatetextsandtermswithintheirintellectualcontextsinordertomake senseoftheirauthors'meaning.Skinneralsostressedthehistoryoftheusestowhich moraltermshavebeenput,andtheirmeaningsfortheagentperformingthem.While admittingthedifficultiesofsuchmethodwithearlyMuslimwritings,HikmetYaman istobecongratulatedonhisthoroughanalysisofikma,commonlytranslatedas `wisdom,'oneofthemostimportantyetunder-researchedIslamicconcepts.Inhis Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of ikma in Early Islamic Thought, YamanfollowsSkinner'scallandtreatstheconceptofikma initscross-disciplinary intellectualcontextintheformativeperiodofIslamandexaminesikmainrelation tootherterms,takingintoconsiderationtheinterrelationshipsthatthesetermsmight havewitheachother.Heunderlinestheshortcomingsofpreviousscholarshipand especially the neglect of the contextual and interdisciplinary features of ikma. R atherthanfollowingtoonarrowanetymologicalapproach,whichhasledtoinaccurateconclusionsinpreviousstudies,Yamanfocusesonthewaysinwhichikmais perceivedbythinkersinvariousfields,asseeninthebook'sdivisions,whichconsist ofanintroductionandfourparts.Part1coversikmainearlyArabicLexicography, part2discussesikma inEarlyMuslimExegeticalLiterature,part3discusses ikma inSufLiterature,andpart4discussesikma inEarlyPhilosophicalLiterature.This approachdetailsthemeaningoftheconceptofikma acrossanetworkofMuslim scholarlytraditionsuntilGhazzlinthetwelfthcentury.Suchanapproachparticularlyenablesthereadertoperceiveconceptualshiftsintroducedtotheterm. Inpart1,Yamaninvestigatestheoriginofthetermikma,anditswide-ranging definitionsinprimarylexicologicalmaterialsfromthepre-IslamicandearlyIslamic periods.Hetracesthedevelopmentofikma'smeaninginmajorlexicologicalworks, suchasKitb al- Ayn, Tahdhb al-lughah,andal-Mu f al-luhgah,aswellasinspecializeddictionariesconcernedwithQur'anicvocabulary,suchastheworksofalRghibal-Ifahn.Theauthorshowsinhisanalysisoftheprimarysourcesthatthe root-k-m, fromwhichikmaderives,hassemanticpermutationsthatoftenunderlinethemoralimplicationsoftheterm.Theprimarymeaningof-k-m ismana'a,`to restrain,' andArabic lexicographers provide additional definitions of this term, including`topreventfrominjustice(zulm)orignorance( jahl).'Alsoikma isassoci. ated with the meaning of atqana, `to perfect' and `to judge.'This leadsYaman to PhilosophyEast&WestVolume63,Number3July2013436­439 ©2013byUniversityofHawai`iPress identifyikmawithjustice( adl)andknowledge( ilm)andeverythingthatpreventsa personfromactinginacorruptmannerorfromcommittingablameworthydeed, andtostresstheword'slegalandjuridical-administrativedimensions.Yamanthen rightlyarguesthatallthelexicographersfocusonasharedmeaningofikma that includesallformsofknowledgewithapracticalfunctiontoinfluencehumanbehavior. It is noteworthy thatYaman shows that modern Western scholarly discussion concernsmainlythebasicmeaningoftheterm ikmaanditslinktotheideaofwisdom.Basedontheabsenceofsufficientpre-Islamicmaterial,healsodoesnotrule outthepossibilitysuggestedbypreviousscholarsthatanyderivativefromtheroot -k-mthatseemstoimplywisdommighthaveenteredpre-IslamicArabicfromother SemiticlanguagesandintimebecomeindigenoustoArabic. Part2examinestheuseof ikma inearlyMuslimexegeticalliteratureandthe diverse ways in which commentators interpreted ikma.This section offers a very usefulanalysisofthecontextofikmainallitsappearancesinQur'anicversesand commentaries.Oneofthemainfindingsunderlinedbytheauthoristheintrinsicrelationship of the concept of ikma to other key epistemological concepts in the Qur'ansuchas ilm(knowledge),ma rifa(gnosis), aql(intellect),qalb(heart),andfiqh (comprehension).Therefore,herightlyarguesthatgivingasingle-worddefinitionof ikmaforallofitsoccurrencesintheQur'anismisleadinganddoesnotconveythe subtletyofitsdiversemeaningandinterpretations.Healsodiscussestheearlycommentators'closeassociationsoftheQur'anicikma withreligiouscomprehension andknowledge.TheauthorproducestheinterestingfindingthatikmainitsQur'anic attestationswasfrequentlypairedwithkitb(book),andearlyexegetessometimes equatedikma withtheQur'anitself,linkingittothedivinerevelationandthepropheticpractice.Inthissectionagain,thetermikmahasapracticalfunction;thatis, itisdesignedtoinfluencehumanbehaviorandcharacter. Inpart3,Yamanoffersapioneeringexaminationoftheperceptionofikma in earlySuftextsandcommentaries,suchasthoseofal-Tustr,al-Tha lab,al-Sulam, al-Qushayr,andothers.Herehedoesnottreatikmaasanindividualtermbutexaminesandcontextualizesitasoneelementinanetworkoftechnicalandmystical concepts,suchas ilm,ma rifa,aql,andfiqhthatareelucidatedinSufmanualslike thoseofal-Musib,al-Junayd,andal-Makk.Yaman'streatmentofikmaaffirms previousfindingsofotherscholars,likeMassignon,thatSufconceptsarebasedon theQur'an,buthegoesastepfurthertoshowthattheQur'anevenfunctionsasa sourceofcontemplationandinspirationfortheearliestasceticsandgnostic-minded Muslims,eventhoughnon-Islamicideasmighthaveplayedagreaterroleinthewritings of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of Ḥikma in Early Islamic Thought by Hikmet Yaman (review)

Philosophy East and West, Volume 63 (3) – Jul 17, 2013

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Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of ikma in Early Islamic Thought. By HikmetYaman. Islamic Philosophy,Theology, and Science:Texts and Studies, vol.81.Leiden:BrillAcademicPublishers,2011.Pp.xi+316.Hardcover$166.00, isbn9789004186620. ReviewedbyNuha al-Shaar AmericanUniversityofSharjah nalshaar@aus.edu InhisbookVisions of Politics,QuentinSkinnerarguedthatascholar'sprimaryconcernistosituatetextsandtermswithintheirintellectualcontextsinordertomake senseoftheirauthors'meaning.Skinneralsostressedthehistoryoftheusestowhich moraltermshavebeenput,andtheirmeaningsfortheagentperformingthem.While admittingthedifficultiesofsuchmethodwithearlyMuslimwritings,HikmetYaman istobecongratulatedonhisthoroughanalysisofikma,commonlytranslatedas `wisdom,'oneofthemostimportantyetunder-researchedIslamicconcepts.Inhis Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of ikma in Early Islamic Thought, YamanfollowsSkinner'scallandtreatstheconceptofikma initscross-disciplinary intellectualcontextintheformativeperiodofIslamandexaminesikmainrelation tootherterms,takingintoconsiderationtheinterrelationshipsthatthesetermsmight havewitheachother.Heunderlinestheshortcomingsofpreviousscholarshipand especially the neglect of the contextual and interdisciplinary features of ikma. R atherthanfollowingtoonarrowanetymologicalapproach,whichhasledtoinaccurateconclusionsinpreviousstudies,Yamanfocusesonthewaysinwhichikmais perceivedbythinkersinvariousfields,asseeninthebook'sdivisions,whichconsist ofanintroductionandfourparts.Part1coversikmainearlyArabicLexicography, part2discussesikma inEarlyMuslimExegeticalLiterature,part3discusses ikma inSufLiterature,andpart4discussesikma inEarlyPhilosophicalLiterature.This approachdetailsthemeaningoftheconceptofikma acrossanetworkofMuslim scholarlytraditionsuntilGhazzlinthetwelfthcentury.Suchanapproachparticularlyenablesthereadertoperceiveconceptualshiftsintroducedtotheterm. Inpart1,Yamaninvestigatestheoriginofthetermikma,anditswide-ranging definitionsinprimarylexicologicalmaterialsfromthepre-IslamicandearlyIslamic periods.Hetracesthedevelopmentofikma'smeaninginmajorlexicologicalworks, suchasKitb al- Ayn, Tahdhb al-lughah,andal-Mu f al-luhgah,aswellasinspecializeddictionariesconcernedwithQur'anicvocabulary,suchastheworksofalRghibal-Ifahn.Theauthorshowsinhisanalysisoftheprimarysourcesthatthe root-k-m, fromwhichikmaderives,hassemanticpermutationsthatoftenunderlinethemoralimplicationsoftheterm.Theprimarymeaningof-k-m ismana'a,`to restrain,' andArabic lexicographers provide additional definitions of this term, including`topreventfrominjustice(zulm)orignorance( jahl).'Alsoikma isassoci. ated with the meaning of atqana, `to perfect' and `to judge.'This leadsYaman to PhilosophyEast&WestVolume63,Number3July2013436­439 ©2013byUniversityofHawai`iPress identifyikmawithjustice( adl)andknowledge( ilm)andeverythingthatpreventsa personfromactinginacorruptmannerorfromcommittingablameworthydeed, andtostresstheword'slegalandjuridical-administrativedimensions.Yamanthen rightlyarguesthatallthelexicographersfocusonasharedmeaningofikma that includesallformsofknowledgewithapracticalfunctiontoinfluencehumanbehavior. It is noteworthy thatYaman shows that modern Western scholarly discussion concernsmainlythebasicmeaningoftheterm ikmaanditslinktotheideaofwisdom.Basedontheabsenceofsufficientpre-Islamicmaterial,healsodoesnotrule outthepossibilitysuggestedbypreviousscholarsthatanyderivativefromtheroot -k-mthatseemstoimplywisdommighthaveenteredpre-IslamicArabicfromother SemiticlanguagesandintimebecomeindigenoustoArabic. Part2examinestheuseof ikma inearlyMuslimexegeticalliteratureandthe diverse ways in which commentators interpreted ikma.This section offers a very usefulanalysisofthecontextofikmainallitsappearancesinQur'anicversesand commentaries.Oneofthemainfindingsunderlinedbytheauthoristheintrinsicrelationship of the concept of ikma to other key epistemological concepts in the Qur'ansuchas ilm(knowledge),ma rifa(gnosis), aql(intellect),qalb(heart),andfiqh (comprehension).Therefore,herightlyarguesthatgivingasingle-worddefinitionof ikmaforallofitsoccurrencesintheQur'anismisleadinganddoesnotconveythe subtletyofitsdiversemeaningandinterpretations.Healsodiscussestheearlycommentators'closeassociationsoftheQur'anicikma withreligiouscomprehension andknowledge.TheauthorproducestheinterestingfindingthatikmainitsQur'anic attestationswasfrequentlypairedwithkitb(book),andearlyexegetessometimes equatedikma withtheQur'anitself,linkingittothedivinerevelationandthepropheticpractice.Inthissectionagain,thetermikmahasapracticalfunction;thatis, itisdesignedtoinfluencehumanbehaviorandcharacter. Inpart3,Yamanoffersapioneeringexaminationoftheperceptionofikma in earlySuftextsandcommentaries,suchasthoseofal-Tustr,al-Tha lab,al-Sulam, al-Qushayr,andothers.Herehedoesnottreatikmaasanindividualtermbutexaminesandcontextualizesitasoneelementinanetworkoftechnicalandmystical concepts,suchas ilm,ma rifa,aql,andfiqhthatareelucidatedinSufmanualslike thoseofal-Musib,al-Junayd,andal-Makk.Yaman'streatmentofikmaaffirms previousfindingsofotherscholars,likeMassignon,thatSufconceptsarebasedon theQur'an,buthegoesastepfurthertoshowthattheQur'anevenfunctionsasa sourceofcontemplationandinspirationfortheearliestasceticsandgnostic-minded Muslims,eventhoughnon-Islamicideasmighthaveplayedagreaterroleinthewritings of

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Published: Jul 17, 2013

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