The Archetypal Sunni Scholar: Law, Theology, and Mysticism in the Synthesis of al-Bajuri
Considers the work of nineteenth-century theologian Ibrahim al- Bājūrī and contests the notion of intellectual decline in Islamic thought from the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries.
This is a rare study of a late premodern Islamic thinker, Ibrahim al- Bājūrī, a nineteenth-century scholar and rector of Cairo’s al-Azhar University. Aaron Spevack explores al- Bājūrī’s legal, theological, and mystical thought, highlighting its originality and vibrancy in relation to the millennium of scholarship that preceded and informed it, and also detailing its continuing legacy. The book makes a case for the normativity of the Gabrielian Paradigm, the study of law, rational theology, and Sufism, in the person of al- Bājūrī. Soon after his death in 1860, this typical pattern of scholarship would face significant challenges from modernists, reformers, and fundamentalists. Spevack challenges beliefs that rational theology, syllogistic logic, and Sufism were not part of the predominant conception of orthodox scholarship and shows this scholarly archetype has not disappeared as an ideal. In addition, the book contests prevailing beliefs in academic and Muslim circles about intellectual decline from the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries.
“Spevack’s trailblazing book is a lucid survey and deep analysis of the works and ideas of al-Bājūrī. Spevack shows precisely how al-Bājūrī served as an ‘archetypal’ Sunnī scholar. In the process, he succeeds in evoking the subtlety, sophistication, and dynamism of the postclassical Islamic traditions of theology, mysticism, and jurisprudence.” — Robert Wisnovsky, McGill University
“Here is a readable and comprehensive introduction to the intellectual production of one of the last giants of the Sunnī legal tradition in the nineteenth century. Sensitive to the scholar’s strong affiliation with a millennium-long tradition, this introduction will be appreciated by seasoned scholars and newcomers alike.” — Ahmad Atif Ahmad, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Spevack’s book is an important corrective to Eurocentric narratives of the nineteenth century that focus solely on Islamic thinkers whose main concern is with European ‘modernity’ and its challenges while breezily ignoring the continuing tradition of madrasah scholarship in the modern period.” — Khaled El-Rouayheb, Harvard University
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abridgment Ahmad al-Azhar al-Bājūrī al-Barmawi al-Din al-fiqh al-Ghazali al-Ghazzi al-Laqani al-Nawawī al-Nawawi’s al-Ramli al-Sanūsī al-Shirazi al-Suyūṭī al—‘Arabi al—Nawawi al—Sanusi al—Suyuti Allah Arabic archetypal scholar Ash‘ari thought Ashʿarī school Atharīs attributes cAbd century cites commentary considered core disagreement discussed Egypt existence fatwā fiqh ﬁrst founders Gabrielian paradigm gloss ḥadīth Ḥanafī Hanbalis Hashiya ala Iawharat al-tawhid Ibid Ibn Hajar Ibn Hajar al-Haytami Ibn Taymiyya Ibrahim ijtihād īmān indicates inﬂuence interpretation Islamic Law issue kalām later logic logicians madhhab madrasas Maliki manṭiq Matn Matn Abi Shuja matters Maturidi meaning mentioned Minhaj Muhammad mujtahid Muslim mystical narrates one’s opinion permissibility pre-modern primary texts proofs Prophet Qur’an Qurʾān rational refers regarding rulings Sachau scholarship sciences Shadhili Shaﬁ‘i school Shāfiʿī school sharh Shaykh Shaykh al-Azhar Snouck Hurgronje spiritual Sufi Sufism Sunnī Sunnī Islam tafwīḍ taqlid taʾwīl teachers teachings term theology tion tradition Tuḥfat Tuhfat al-murid uṣūl views ẓāhir ʿAlī