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Intellectual Life 
in the Hijaz before 

Ibrahim al-Kurani’s (d. 1101/1690) 
Theology of Sufism 

Naser Dumairieh 


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Intellectual Life in the Hijaz before Wahhabism 

Islamicate Intellectual History 


Editorial board 

Judith Pfeiffer (University of Bonn) 
Shahzad Bashir (Brown University) 
Heidrun Eichner (University of Tiibingen) 


The titles published in this series are listed at 

Intellectual Life in the Hijaz 
before Wahhabism 

Ibrahim al-Kurant’s (d. 1101/1690) Theology of Sufism 


Naser Dumairieh 


Cover illustration: (New York, NY. 10027, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, ms Or 
229, Collection 1D: 0032). 

Dal@il al-khayrat wa shawarigq al-anwar fi dhikr al-salah ‘ala al-nabi al-mukhtar, Muhammad ibn Sulayman 
Jazuli, (d. 1465). Copy completed in 1251/1835-1836 by Hasan Niyazi Afandizadah Muhammad Amin Hilmi. 
Full page polychrome (white, blue, pink, red/orange tones with highlights in gold) illustrations of Mecca 
and Medina (f. 12°13"). In the image of Medina, 5 tombs are represented (the three usual ones and two 
others in a square below). Textblock is border ruled in wide gold, narrow blue and red. Text is punctuated 
throughout by gold roundels with white centers, edged with four orange and blue dots. Rubrications in red. 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Names: Dumayriyah, Nasir Muhammad Yahya, author. 

Title: Intellectual life in the Hijaz before Wahhabism : Ibrahim al-Kurani's 
(d. 1101/1690) theology of Sufism / by Naser Dumairieh. 

Description: Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2022. | Series: IsLamicate intellectual history, 
2212-8662 ; 9 | Includes bibliographical references and index. 

Identifiers: LCCN 2021052522 (print) | LCCN 2021052523 (ebook) | 
ISBN 9789004499041 (hardback) | IsBN 9789004499058 (ebook) Subjects: 
LCSH: karani, Ibrahim ibn Hasan, 1616 or 1617-approximately 1690. | 
Muslim philosophers—Saudi Arabia—Hejaz—Biography. | Hejaz (Saudi Arabia)- 
Intellectual life-17th century. | Hejaz (Saudi Arabia)—History—17th century. | 
Sufism—History-17th century. 

Classification: LCC BP80.K863 D86 2022 (print) | LCC BP80.K863 (ebook) | 
DDC 297.2/041092—dc23/eng/20211203 

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ISBN 9789004499058 (e-book) 

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Acknowledgements 1x 
Introduction: When All Roads Led to the Hijaz 1 

1 The Seventeenth-Century Hijaz in Its Global and Local Context 18 
1 __ The Seventeenth-Century Hijaz in its Global Context 19 
1.1 European Navies in the Indian Ocean 19 
1.2 Iran’s Conversion to Shi'ism 23 
1.3. The Mughal Empire’s Generous Donations to the Hijaz 27 
1.4 Ottomans and the Hijaz 35 
2 The Seventeenth-Century Hijaz in its Local Context 42 
3 Conclusion 48 

2 Intellectual Life in the Hijaz in the Seventeenth Century 50 
1 Educational Institutions in the Hijaz in the Seventeenth Century 51 
1.1. Madrasas, Ribats, and Zawiyas 52 
1.2 Libraries, Book-Binders, and Book Scribes in Medina 57 
1.3 Theoretical and Practical Sciences in the Hijaz 61 
1.3.1 Medicine 61 
1.3.2 Agriculture (Um al-filaha) 62 
1.3.3 Astronomy 62 
1.3.4 Chemistry (San‘at al-kimiya’) 63 
1.3.5 Music Theory and Practice 63 
Rational Sciences in the Hijaz 64 
3. Isnad asa Source for Intellectual Life in the Seventeenth-Century 
Hijaz 76 
3.1 The Isnad of Intellectual Texts 80 
4 How the Rational Sciences Reached the Hijaz 83 
4.1 Al-Taftazant’s (d.793/1390) Works 83 
4.2 Al-Sharif al-Jurjants (d. 816/1413) Works 84 
4.3 ALIji’s (d. 756/1355) Works go 
4.4 Al-Dawani’s (d. 908/502) Works 91 
5 Conclusion 94 


3 Ibrahim al-Kurani’s Life, Education, Teachers, and Students 97 
1 Al-Kirani’s Life 98 
1.1 Al-Kurani’s Early Life and Studies in His Homeland 99 



1.2 AlKuraniin Baghdad 99 

1.3 Al-Kuraniin Damascus 101 

1.4 Through Cairo to the Hijaz 102 

Al-Kurani’s Education 103 

Al-Kuarani’s Teachers 10 

Al-Kurani’s Contacts with Other Scholars of HisTime 120 
Al-Kurani’s Students 121 

Al-Kirani’s Affiliation to Sufi Orders 130 

Conclusion 134 

-Kurani’s Works = 138 

Al-Kurani’s Works (Examined) 140 
Al-Kurani’s Works (Inaccessible) 167 
Works Misattributed to al-Kirani 170 
Conclusion 171 

5 Al-Kurani’s Metaphysical and Cosmological Thought 175 


an fw bd 


God is Absolute Existence (al-wujid al-mutlaq or al-wujud 

al-mahd) 178 

God's Attributes and Allegorical Interpretation (tawil) 184 

God’s Manifestations in Sensible and Conceivable Forms 193 

Nafs al-amr in al-Kurani’s Thought 202 

Ash‘arites and Mental Existence 207 

Realities: Uncreated Nonexistent Quiddities 21 

6.1 Classifications of Nonexistents 216 

6.2 The Description of Nonexistent and the Concept of “Thing” 
(shay?) 217 

God’s Knowledge of Particulars 220 

Creation 222 

Unity and Multiplicity 229 

Destiny and Predetermination 240 

Kasb: Free Will and Predestination 245 

11.1 Good and Bad According to the Intellect (al-husn wa-l-qubh 
al“aqliyyayn) 253 

11.2 Legal Responsibility (al-taklif) 256 

The Unity of the Attributes (wahdat al-sifat) 258 

Wahdat al-Wujid 260 

Conclusion 268 


6 Al-Kurani’s Other Theological and Sufi Thought 271 



The Faith of Pharaoh 272 

The Precedence of God’s Mercy and the Vanishing of the Hellfire 
(fan@ al-nar) 277 

Satanic Verses 282 

Preference for the Reality of the Ka‘ba or for the Muhammadan 
Reality 288 

God’s Speech (kalam Allah) 294 

Conclusion 301 

Conclusion 303 

Appendix 1: Al-Kurani'’s Teachers, Additional to Those Mentioned in the 

Text 315 

Appendix 2: Al-Kurani’s Students, Additional to Those Mentioned in the 

Text 318 

Appendix 3: Al-Karani’s Works Ordered Alphabetically 323 
Bibliography 328 
Index 358 


Many professors, colleagues, and scholarly institutions contributed to this 
research through discussions and observations, or through the support and 
basic resources they provided for this research. It is difficult to mention all 
the names, but I will refer in particular to Robert Wisnovsky’s help and sup- 
port during my years at McGill's Institute of Islamic Studies. Many thanks to all 
the Institute’s faculty members, administrators, and librarians, especially Jamil 
Ragep and Stephen Menn. I am also sincerely grateful for the Institute's finan- 
cial support during my research period, and to the FRQSC grant that allowed 
me to revise and improve the primary draft of the current work during my 
two-year fellowship at the Université de Montréal, Institut d’ études religieuses 
1ER. Many thanks to |’ Institut (1£R) and all its staff, especially Damien Janos 
and Alain Gignac. My deepest appreciation also extends to Pasha M. Khan and 
Mohammed Rustom for their insightful comments and helpful suggestions. 
Many other institutes, libraries, and research centers were very helpful in pro- 
viding access to my sources, especially manuscripts, to all of them my sincere 

Among the friends and colleagues who impacted my work, I would like to 
mention by name Hasan Umut, Leila El-Murr, Brian Wright, Pauline Froissart, 
Ian Greer, and Giovanni Carrera. And special thanks to Jessica Stilwell. 

Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to Judith Pfeiffer and the edi- 
tors of the Islamicate Intellectual History Series, as well as my two anonymous 

Academic research can only be done at the expense of other aspects of life, 
including the family, so I want to apologize for my long preoccupation away 
from my family, and dedicate this work to my family in Syria and to the two 
stars of my life, Florence and Neijem. 


When All Roads Led to the Hijaz 

“In the sixteenth century of our era, a visitor from Mars might well have 
supposed that the human world was on the verge of becoming Mus- 


By the beginning of the sixteenth century, most of the Islamic world was dom- 
inated by three strong empires: Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal. Although the 
birthplace of Islam in the Hijaz seems far from their centers, the changes which 
occurred in these empires were reflected positively in the situation in the Hijaz. 
The Ottoman expansion into the Hijaz, as well as throughout the Levant, Egypt, 
and most of North Africa, facilitated travel across these areas, and with the 
Ottomans’ subsequent efforts to secure pilgrimage routes the number of pil- 
grims, scholars, and students who headed to the Hijaz increased. Generous 
donations from the Mughals and the Ottomans helped increase investments 
in the region’s educational institutions and maintain endowments that pro- 
vided their teachers and students with the necessities of life. At the same 
time, the conversion of Iran to Shi‘ism forced numerous Sunni scholars to 
disperse to other parts of the Islamic world, carrying their knowledge with 
them to other intellectual centers in the Indian Subcontinent, Anatolia, Dam- 
ascus, Cairo, and the Hijaz. In addition to these intra-Islamic world changes, a 
fundamental global shift in navigation routes occurred in the sixteenth cen- 
tury, and the Hijaz was one of the beneficiaries of this shift. The discovery 
of the Cape of Good Hope route at the end of the fifteenth century resulted 
in the spread of European navies and merchant fleets into the Indian Ocean, 
which reinforced the connection of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast 
Asia with the Arab world and enhanced opportunities for safe travel, which in 

1 Marshall G.S. Hodgson, “The Role of Islam in World History,” in Rethinking World History: 
Essays on Europe, Islam and World History, ed. Edmund Burke (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni- 
versity Press, 1993), Pp. 97-125) P- 97. 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_002 


turn resulted in yet further increase in the number of pilgrims, students, and 
scholars who journeyed to study in the Hijaz, thus facilitating the circulation 
of knowledge through different parts of the Islamic world. 

In addition to these global factors, local conditions in the Hijaz played a 
fundamental role in the region’s benefiting from global changes. The rulers of 
the Hijaz (Sharifs) had significant experience managing ambitious external 
powers that looked to dominate the holy cities, allowing them to obtain the 
maximum benefit from the generosity provided by the Ottoman and Mughal 
Empires. The relatively stable environment in the Hijaz in this period cre- 
ated suitable conditions for visitors, students, and scholars. Within a century, 
under the influence of these global and local factors, the Hijaz became one 
of the primary Islamic scholarly destinations, and the most important intel- 
lectual center in the Islamic world. During the seventeenth century, hundreds 
of students and scholars from different parts of the Islamic world formed a 
vibrant community that discussed the bulk of intellectual issues in the history 
of Islam. The annual meeting of pilgrims played a vital role in gathering schol- 
ars and in spreading and circulating knowledge, in a movement that looked 
like a heartbeat. Pilgrims, students, and scholars brought with them to this 
heart of the Islamic world their particular scholarly traditions, and later these 
students and scholars carried their scholarly experiences back out to their 

In this book I argue that rational and transmitted sciences as well as Sufi 
theories and practices flourished in the Hijaz and made it one of the most 
intellectually dynamic centers of the seventeenth-century Islamic world. The 
principal case study on which my argument is based revolves around the works 
and thought of Ibrahim b. Hasan al-Kurani (1025—-101/1616-1690), a leading 
scholar who can be considered representative of Hijazi intellectual activities 
in this period. He was one of the main hadith transmitters (musnid) in the 
eleventh/seventeenth century and has been described as one of the leading 
scholars in the revival of the hadith studies of the preceding centuries; he 
was also affiliated with numerous Sufi orders and became the head of some 
of them. In addition, he was a philosopher and theologian (mutakallim) who 
wrote around one hundred treatises in which he discussed most of the intellec- 
tual issues that have historically constituted Islamic philosophy and theology. 
His work on these philosophical and theological issues is based largely on the 
thought of Ibn ‘Arabi (d. 638/1240). As a result of his multidisciplinary train- 
ings, al-Kurani's thought, I argue, represents the parallel and converging devel- 
opments of the Islamic rational sciences (maqulat) and transmitted sciences 
(manqulat), and the historical moment when Islamic sciences and mystical 
experience were combined in both theory and practice. 


By its provision of a clear image of intellectual life in this region, I hope 
that this book pushes even further the recently increased volume of research 
on post-classical Islamic thought by including new geographical zones, prin- 
cipally the Hijaz, as well as by shedding light on an important source for the 
study of post-classical Islamic thought, which is the Akbarian Sufi corpus which 
engaged with a wide range of theological and philosophical issues. Beyond the 
idea that Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought cannot be ignored in the study of the develop- 
ment of Islamic thought in the post-classical period, I contend that it became a 
main source of Islamic theology, or even an independent school of Islamic the- 
ology. Through the course of making this argument, as I will elaborate below, 
I will also show that the chain of transmission (isnad), a tool that is mainly 
associated with the transmitted sciences, can be a valuable implement for the 
study of the rational sciences, as it allows historians to trace scholars and texts 
from the seventeenth-century Hijaz back to the intellectual centers and schol- 
ars of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Using the isndd allows us to 
obtain a more precise understanding of how knowledge circulated between 
different parts of the Islamic world, such that we can visualize the continuity 
of Islamic scholarship through the post-classical period by mapping the circu- 
lation of knowledge, revealing names of scholars who studied and taught the 
rational sciences, and tracing new patterns of relationships between the differ- 
ent schools of thought. 

This important intellectual center that flourished in the seventeenth century 
has not yet attracted the attention of many researchers who work on the his- 
tory of the region, whose interest in the history of the Hijaz remained for along 
time confined to the formative period of Islam or to the twentieth century with 
the Arab Revolt (1916-1918) initiated by Sharif Husayn b. ‘Ali (d. 1350/1931). The 
lack of interest in the intellectual history of this region can be explained at least 
in part by the fact that soon after the beginning of Islam, the centers of politi- 
cal, cultural, social, and economic activity shifted to Damascus, then to Bagh- 
dad, Cairo, Isfahan, Shiraz, and many other cities around the Muslim world. 
The Hijaz, from this perspective, remains only symbolically important, without 
major historical events, until the beginning of the twentieth century. Another 
reason for the scholarly inattention to the Hijaz is the fact that non-Muslims are 
prohibited from entering these two cities. And with the destruction of histori- 
cal sites, which deprived scholars of scientific archeological evidence, histori- 
ans have been forced to rely principally on literary texts based on history and 
travel, and on bio-bibliographical (tabaqat) works. Manuscripts, which con- 
stitute the basis of the present research, are a rich source for the intellectual 
history of this region; however, most of the manuscripts written by scholars 
of this region during the seventeenth century have not yet been published and 


remain scattered in different libraries and archives around the world, posing an 
additional challenge to studying the Hijaz after the formative period of Islam. 

Another ideological factor that has contributed to the lack of interest in the 
intellectual life of the region before the twentieth century is the dominance 
of the anti-Sufi ideology of Wahhabism in the Arabian Peninsula, including 
the Hijaz. Wahhabi literature describes the intellectual and religious life in 
the Hijaz as one that had regressed to the mire of pre-Islamic polytheism and 
ignorance (jahiliyya), indicating the absence of any intellectual activity and 
implying that the intellectual environment before the eighteenth century was 
as bad as, if not worse than, that of pre-Islamic Arabia in the seventh century 
cE. This narrative of “ignorance” finds its roots in the works of Muhammad 
b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1115-1206/1703--1792),? the founder of the Wahhabi move- 
ment, and most Wahhabi literature to date repeats this narrative.? 

The Wahhabi narrative of “ignorance” has been challenged by a few studies 
that have tried to show that Najd, and Arabia more broadly, was in reality full 
of scholars engaged in various intellectual activities.t However, these efforts to 
shed light on some positive aspects of religious life in pre-Wahhabi Arabia have 
been targeted by Wahhabi researchers in an effort to discourage what they have 
considered to bea pernicious direction of study that casts doubt on the account 

2 See for example Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Salih al-Fawzan, Sharh al-Qawaid al- 
arba‘ (Beirut: Mwassasat al-Risala, 2003), p. 31. The comment of Salih al-Fawzan (b. 1933), 
who is a member of Saudi Arabia’s Committee of Senior Scholars (hay ‘at kibar al-‘ulam@’), 
confirms the same idea, Ibid., pp. 34-35. See also, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Kashf al- 
shubuhat, ed. ‘Abd Allah b. Ayid al-Qahtani (ks, al-Riyad: Dar al-Sumay‘, 1998), pp. 77, 79- 

3 Salih al-‘Abbtid’s Aqidat al-shaykh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-salafiyya wa-atharuha ft- 
l-‘alam al-Islami collects evidence from the writings of Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab and 
historians of his life and movement, as well as from his followers and other authors, to prove 
that Arabia specifically and the Islamic world generally was in a period of “ignorance” worse 
than the pre-Prophetic jahiliyya. Salih al-Abbud, Agidat al-shaykh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al- 
Wahhab al-salafiyya wa-atharuha fi al-‘alam al-Islamt (Ksa, Medina, al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya 
bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, PhD dissertation 1408/1987-1988), p. 35 and after. 

4 For example, ‘Abd Allah al-Uthaymin, in an article entitled “Najd mundhu al-qarn al-Ashir 
al-hijn hatta zuhtr al-shaykh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab” (“Najd from the Tenth Cen- 
tury until Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab’), tries to demonstrate that there were numerous 
such scholars in the region. ‘Abd Allah al-Uthaymin, “Najd mundhu al-qarn al-4shir al-hijri 
hatta zuhir al-shaykh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab,’ al-Dara, September 1978, pp. 32- 
46. Also the book Ulama’ Najd khilal thamaniyat qurin (“Najdi Scholars during Eight Cen- 
turies”) by Al Bassam mentions around one hundred scholars from the tenth/sixteenth to the 
twelfth/eighteenth century. These and other studies focus mainly on Hanbali scholars to con- 
vince their audience that Arabia before the twelfth/eighteenth century was full of righteous 


of the spread of polytheism before the Wahhabi movement and which might 
suggest that its founder was not working to guide people back to the Quran and 
the Sunna, but rather sought fame and leadership.® This current book may sim- 
ilarly find it difficult to change the Wahhabi perspective by demonstrating that 
the Hijaz was a center of intellectual activities such as philosophy, theology 
(kalam), and Sufism, as Wahhabis actually condemn such intellectual activi- 
ties as being the symptoms and factors of decline and ignorance, rather than 
of progress and prosperity.® 

The idea that philosophy and the rational sciences are factors of “decline” 
is an ideological Wahhabi perspective, and this study is unlikely to change 
it. Nevertheless, this study will undoubtedly offer researchers a better idea of 
intellectual life in the pre-Wahhabi Hijaz and will contribute to countering the 
narrative of ignorance that remains widespread in Wahhabi circles. Alongside 
challenging the narrative of “ignorance,” this book forms part of the increasing 
scholarly efforts in recent decades toward refuting the concept of “decline” in 
the historiography of Islam and re-evaluating the development of post-classical 
Islamic intellectual history in general. 

This decline paradigm that hindered the study of Islamic intellectual history 
in the post-classical period is no longer acceptable in most Western academic 
circles.” A growing number of prominent scholars have extended the borders 
of their research to include works from disciplines such as logic, mathematics, 
astronomy, and psychology, in addition to philosophical and theological texts. 
In their efforts, these scholars have focused their attention on areas throughout 
the Islamic world, primarily Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Persia, Mughal India, and 

5 Husayn b. Abi Bakr Ibn Ghannam, Tarikh Ibn Ghannam al-musamma Rawdat al-afkar wa- 
Lafham li-murtad hal al-imam wa-tidad ghazawat dhawi al-Islam, ed. Sulayman b. Salih al- 
Kharashi (ksa, al-Riyad: Dar al-Thulithiyya li-I-Nashr wa-l-Tawzi‘, 2010), p. 108, cf. the editor’s 

6 Many Wahhabi writers consider the efforts of the movement to have been directed primarily 
against these disciplines. In Agidat al-shaykh Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab al-salafiyya, the 
author has a chapter entitled: “[Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s] refutation of the methods of jahiliyya 
and of the theologians (ahl al-kalam),’ al-“Abbiad, Agidat al-shaykh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al- 
Wahhab al-salafiyya, p. 198. Another work has a chapter dealing with the role of the “shaykh 
al-Islam” [Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab] in combating philosophy, logic, and lm al-kalam. 
‘Ali al-Zahrani, al-Inhirafat al-‘aqadiyya wa-l-‘ilmiyya fi al-qarnayn al-thalith ‘ashar wa-l-rabi‘ 
ashar al-hijriyayn wa-atharuha ft hayat al-umma (KSA, Mecca: Dar al-Risala li-l-Nashr, n. d), 
p. 244. 

7 Forsome reasons behind the spread of this narrative for a long time in the twentieth century 
see Dimitri Gutas, “The Study of Arabic Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Essay on 
the Historiography of Arabic Philosophy,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (2002), 29 

(1), 5-25- 


North Africa. Although scholarship on the intellectual life of the Hijaz started 
later than the study of these other areas, it is steadily expanding. 

Scholarly interest in some aspects of the intellectual life of the pre-Wahhabi 
Hijaz, mainly in the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries, initially appeared as 
a side interest to studies of other fields. References to the Hijaz as a center of 
intellectual activity revolving around hadith and Sufism in the seventeenth cen- 
tury appear mainly in two fields of study: the study of Sufism in Southeast Asia 
and the study of “reform” movements in the eighteenth century. 

Studies of Sufism in Southeast Asia have led scholars to a number of promi- 
nent Javanese and Malay Sufis who studied in the Hijaz in the seventeenth 
century, which has resulted in the expansion of these studies to include their 
connections to the region. Azyumardi Azra, for instance, in his book The Ori- 
gins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia, examines the connections between 
Southeast Asia and the Middle East, especially the Hijaz, in order to clarify the 
transmission of religious ideas from centers of Islamic learning to that part of 
the Muslim world. Azra, following Voll’s assumptions, which will be mentioned 
below, argues that the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries constituted one 
of the most dynamic periods in the socio-intellectual history of Islam, and that 
“the origins of Islamic dynamic impulses in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries were networks of Muslim scholars (‘ulama@), centered in Mecca and 
Medina.”? The connection between the Hijaz and Southeast Asia had earlier 
caught the attention of Anthony Johns, who wrote an article clarifying the rela- 
tionship between Ibrahim al-Kurani and the Javanese scholar ‘Abd al-Ra’tf al- 
Singkili (d. 1105/1693).!° In another study, Johns introduced a text that al-Kurani 
wrote at the request of some Javanese students in Medina, Ithaf al-dhaki. 
Johns offers an outline of Ithaf al-dhaki, mentioning that he is preparing a crit- 

8 See Martin Van Bruinessen, “Studies of Sufism and the Sufi Orders in Indonesia,” Die Welt 
des Islams, New Series, Vol. 38, Issue 2 (Jul., 1998), pp. 192-219; and Anthony H. Johns, 
“Friends in Grace: Ibrahim al-Kuarani and ‘Abd al-Raif al-Singkeli,” in Spectrum: Essay pre- 
sented to Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana on his Seventieth Birthday, ed. S. Udin (Jakarta: Dian 
Rakyat, 1978), pp. 469-485. 

9 Azyumardi Azra, The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia: Networks of Malay- 
Indonesian and Middle Eastern Ulama’ in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, South- 
east Asia Publications Series (Australia: Asian Studies Association of Australia in associa- 
tion with Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, Nsw, 2004), p. 1. 

10 —_ Johns, “Friends in Grace: Ibrahim al-Kurani and ‘Abd al-Raif al-Singkeli,’ pp. 469-485. 

11 Anthony H. Johns, “Islam in Southeast Asia: Reflections and New Directions,” Indonesia, 
No. 19 (Apr, 1975), PP. 33-55- 


ical edition of this text, but this project was never realized.!2 The notices that 
Johns collected in order to prepare his edition of Ithaf al-dhaki were given to 
Oman Fathurahman, who published al-Kurant’s text in 2012.!5 Fathurahman’s 
main interest is the intellectual and spiritual life in Southeast Asia, but ref- 
erence to the Hijaz is an indispensable aspect of Southeast Asian intellectual 

The other field that has speculated about the intellectual life in pre-Wahhabi 
Hijaz is the study of the reform movements of the eighteenth century.!5 The 
rise of numerous reform movements during this period in different parts of 
the Islamic world has made some scholars speculate as to whether a connec- 
tion between these movements existed. Fazlur Rahman was probably the first 
person to use the controversial term “neo-Sufism”!® in describing these pre- 

12 Johns, “Islam in Southeast Asia: Reflections and new directions,’ p. 51. Johns also wrote a 
short entry on al-Kurani in £1’, less than one page, in which he mistakenly said that al- 
Kurani studied in Turkey and Persia. See Johns, “Al-Kurani.” In The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 
and ed., vol. v. Leiden: Brill, 1986. 

13 Oman Fathurahman, Ithaf al-dhaki: tafsir wahdatul wujud bagi Muslim Nusantara (Shef- 
field, Eng: Society of Glass Technology, 2012). During the preparation of this edition and 
after its publication, Fathurahman published several articles to clarify different aspects of 
the text and its manuscripts. Oman Fathurahman, “Ithaf al-dhakt by Ibrahim al-Kurani: A 
Commentary of Wahdat al-Wujiid for Jawi Audiences,” Archipel: Etudes interdisciplinaires 
sur le monde insulindien, n. 81, (2011), pp. 177-198; Fathurahman, “New Textual Evidence for 
Intellectual and Religious Connections between the Ottomans and Aceh,” in From Ana- 
tolia to Aceh: Ottomans, Turks, and Southeast Asia, ed. Peacock, A.C.S. and Annabel Teh 
Gallop (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Fathurahman, “Further Research on Ithaf 
al-dhaki Manuscripts by Ibrahim al-Kurani,” in From Codicology to Technology: Islamic 
Manuscripts and their Place in Scholarship, ed. Stefanie Brinkmann and Beate Wiesmiiller 
(Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2009), pp. 47-58. 

14 He extended the chains of some Sufi orders in South East Asia to the Hijaz; see Oman 
Fathurahman and Abdurrauf Singkel, Tanbih al-Masyi: Menyoal Wahdatul Wujud: Kasus 
Abdurrauf Singkel di Aceh Abad 17 (Bandung: Ecole francaise d’ Extréme-Orient, 1999); 
Fathurahman, Shattariyah Silsilah in Aceh, Java, and the Lanao area of Mindanao (Tokyo: 
Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa Tokyo University of For- 
eign Studies, 2016). 

15 Among the leaders and movements that arose in this century are Wahhabism, the move- 
ment led by Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, (d. 1792); al-Saniisiyya in North Africa led by 
‘Ali al-Sanisi (1787-1859); al-Tijaniyya led by Ahmad al-Tijani (d. 1815); the Mahdist move- 
ment in the Sudan; as well as reformist figures such as Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi (1703-1762) 
in India and ‘Uthman Ibn Fidi (1754-1817) in West Africa. 

16 The term is very controversial; it became widespread without clarification or examination 
of its meaning. Some scholars refute the term and its usage except with a clear and strict 
definition. See R.S. O’Fahey and Bernd Radtke, “Neo-Sufism Reconsidered,” Der Islam. 70:1, 


Modernist reform movements.!” John Voll, a historian of the Islamic world with 
a special interest in African history and the eighteenth century, suggested that 
a scholarly community in Mecca and Medina played a critical role in these 
movements. This group and their connections came to be known as the al- 
Haramayn circle or network. Voll describes this influence as moving “from the 
center to the frontiers of Islam.”!® These movements, in Voll’s words, “represent 
a climax of developments in earlier centuries.” The main two aspects of this 
assumed intellectual life in the pre-Wahhabi Hijaz were the spread of hadith 
studies and the fact that most of the teachers and students were affiliated to 
Sufi orders.?° 

Voll pursued his theory in several studies that attempted to link numerous 
scholars and movements from the eighteenth century in different regions of 
the Islamic world with scholars from the seventeenth-century Hijaz. Never- 
theless, Voll’s interest remained largely confined to drawing the net of connec- 
tions based on the thesis of the centrality of hadith and Sufism for both Hijazi 
and other reformist scholars in the eighteenth century; he was not necessarily 
interested in studying the intellectual productions of the Hijazi scholars them- 

This theory of a transregional network of scholars that goes back to the 
Hijaz was refuted in a recent book by Ahmad Dallal, in which he argues that 
the eighteenth-century reform movements were regionally rooted and had dis- 
tinct characteristics based on their regional intellectual, political, and histori- 
cal contexts.”! Dallal argues for primacy of internal factors in the emergence 

(1993), 52-87; John Voll, “Neo-Sufism: Reconsidered Again,” Canadian Journal of African 
Studies / Revue Canadienne des Etudes Africaines, Vol. 42, No. 2/3, Engaging with a Legacy: 
Nehemia Levtzion (1935-2003) (2008), pp. 314-330. 

17. Fazlur Rahman, “Revival and Reform in Islam,’ in The Cambridge History of Islam, ed. 
P.M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton and Bernard Lewis (UK: University Press, 1970). He pre- 
sented the same ideas in Islam, chapter 12, “Pre-Modern Islam Reform,” where he talked 
about “orthodox Sufism” based on the Quran and Islamic doctrine. Fazlur Rahman, Islam 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 194. 

18 Nehemia Levtzion and John O. Voll (eds.), Eighteenth-Century Renewal and Reform in Islam 
(NY: Syracuse University Press, 1987), p. 8. 

19 __Levtzion and Voll (eds.), Eighteenth-Century Renewal and Reform in Islam, p. 6. 

20 See John Voll, “Hadith Scholars and Tariqah: An ‘Ulama Group in the 18th Century Hara- 
mayn and their Impact in the Islamic World,” Journal of Asian and African Studies, Jul 1, 
XV, 3-4 (1980), pp. 264-273; Voll, “Muhammad Hayya al-Sindi and Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd 
al-Wahhab: An Analysis of an Intellectual Group in Eighteenth-Century Madina.” Bulletin 
of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 38, No. 1 (1975), 
PP- 32-39. 

21 Ahmad 6&. Dallal, Islam without Europe: Traditions of Reform in Eighteenth-Century Islamic 


of eighteenth-century reform movements, and for the shared Islamic heritage 

that underlies the religious aspects thereof. However, Dallal does not deal in 

any substantial length with the intellectual life in the Hijaz. This undercuts his 

argument for the primacy of regional factors in the reform movements of the 

eighteenth century, because the omission does not allow any basis for compar- 


Alongside these two fields of study, references to the Hijaz, mainly with 

regard to hadith and Sufism, have also frequently appeared as a side inter- 

est in studies of some better-known scholars of the period, such as al-Yusi 
(d. 1691),? al-Nabulusi (d. 1731),?8 and al-Zabidi (d. 1791).24 While these studies 




Thought (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018). Bernard Haykel in his 
study on al-Shawkani argued as well that the substantive content of the ideology of Islamic 
revival needs to be thoroughly researched before any broad generalization can be made 
about the nature of Islamic thought in a given period or across a vast expanse of geo- 
graphic space. Bernard Haykel, Revival and Reform in Islam: The Legacy of Muhammad 
al-Shawkant (UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 13. Haykel emphasizes the impor- 
tance of viewing al-Shawkani's life and work “within his local context and intellectual 
tradition,’ Ibid., p. 232. This perspective is clear in the outline of his book, a great part 
of which deals with the historical and intellectual contexts of the Zaydi madhhab and 
Yemeni history. 

Justin Stearns’s study on the rational and natural sciences in the Maghrib in the age of al- 
Yusi (d. 1102/1691) discusses al-Nabulusi’s attitude toward natural science and the idea of 
occasionalism. Al-Nabulusi’s opinion was presented through his response to al-Kurani’s 
works on occasionalism and human free will. However, Stearns does not cite any of al- 
Kurani’s work’s directly and says only that al-Kurani was involved in the revival of hadith 
studies in the seventeenth century (p. 67). Justin Stearns, “‘All Beneficial Knowledge is 
Revealed’: The Rational Sciences in the Maghrib in the age of al-Yusi (d. 1102/1691),’ Islamic 
Law and Society, 21 (2014) 49-80. 

Samuela Pagani in I/ Rinnovamento Mistico Dell’islam refers to al-Nabulusi’s connection 
with the scholars of the Hijaz. This connection would be discussed later by Akkach, El- 
Rouayheb, and Copty. See Samuela Pagani in J/ Rinnovamento Mistico Dell’islam: Un Com- 
mento di Abd Al-Gani Al-Nabulusi a Ahmad Sirhindi (Napoli: Universita Degli Studi di 
Napoli V orientale, 2003), p. 34 and after; Samer Akkach and Nabulusi ‘Abd al-Ghani ibn 
Ismail, Letters of a Sufi Scholar: The Correspondence of ‘Abd Al-Ghani al-Nabulusi (1641- 
1731), Islamic History and Civilization, v. 74 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. go2—95; El-Rouayheb’s 
Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century: Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman 
Empire and the Maghreb (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p. 285 and after; and 
Atallah S. Copty “The Legacy of Ibrahim al-Kurani and its Influence on the Writings of 
‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi,’ in Early Modern Trends in Islamic Theology: ‘Abd al-Ghani al- 
Nabulusi and his Network of Scholarship, eds. Lejla Demiri and Samuela Pagani (Tiibingen: 
Mohr Siebeck, 2019), pp. 97-106. 

The centrality of the Hijaz for hadith transmission appears through al-Zabidi’s teachers 
in India, Yemen, and the Hijaz who are connected to the hadith scholars of the seven- 
teenth century Hijaz, and is confirmed by the fact that scholars in the eighteenth century 


refer to aspects of intellectual life in the Hijaz as a marginal extension to their 
main interest, other studies have shown some direct interest in the intellectual 
activities of pre-Wahhabi Hijaz. Sufi orders, mainly the Naqshbandiyya?> and 
the Shattariyya,?° have received some attention, and al-Qushashi, al-Kurani’s 
teacher, was the subject of an interesting study.2” 

While most of the studies mentioned above focus on the hadith-Sufism 
aspects of intellectual life in pre-Wahhabi Hijaz, the figure of al-Kurani has 
himself received some special interest. Basheer Nafi’s discussion of some of al- 
Kuranr’s theological ideas was one of the first attempts to explore al-Kurani’s 
thought.?® Nafi studied al-Kurani through the current of “neo-Sufism” studies 
and posited a connection between Sufism and reform, an interpretation that 
is refuted by Khaled El-Rouayheb.?9 Other scholars focused on some specific 

continued to head toward the Hijaz looking for “the remaining scholars in the haramayn 
to provide direct links back to the hadith transmitters of the uth/17th century.” Stefan 
Reichmuth, The World of Murtada al-Zabidi (1732-1791): Life, Networks and Writings (U.K., 
Cambridge: Gibb Memorial Trust, 2009). p. 30. 

25 Atallah S. Copty, “The Naqshbandiyya and its Offshoot, the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya 
in the Haramayn in the uth/17th Century,” Die Welt des Islams, New Series, Vol. 43, Issue 
3, Transformations of the Naqshbandiyya, 17th-20th Century (2003), pp. 321-348; Dina 
Le Gall, A Culture of Sufism: Naqshbandis in the Ottoman World, 1450-1700 (Albany: State 
University of New York Press. 2005), pp. 87-105; Samuela Pagani, I/ Rinnovamento Mistico 
Dellislam, p. 34 and after. 

26 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 249 and after. 

27. Rachida Chih, “Rattachement initiatique et pratique de la Voie selon al-Simt al-majid @ al- 
Qushshashi (m. 1661)”, in Le Soufisme a l’époque Ottomane, XVI°-XVIII° siécle: Sufism in 
the Ottoman Era, 16th-18th Century, ed. Rachida Chih and Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen (Le 
Caire: Institut Frangais d’ Archéologie Orientale, 2010); Chih, “Discussing the Sufism of the 
Early Modern Period: A New Historiographical Outlook on the Tariqa Muhammadiyya,” 
in Sufism East and West: Mystical Islam and Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Modern World 
(Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2019), pp. 104-126. Other aspects of Sufism in the seventeenth- 
century Hijaz are mentioned in Denis Gril’s paper about treatises on Sufi isndd entitled 
“De la khirga a la tariqa: continuité et évolution dans |’identification et la classification 
des voies.” Gril particularly mentions Sufi works of isnad by al-Qushashi al-‘Ujaymi. See 
Le Soufisme a l’ époque Ottomane, xvI°-XV11I° siécle: Sufism in the Ottoman Era, 16th-18th 
Century, pp. 57-81. 

28 Nafi elaborates on the issues of kalam nafsi (God’s unuttered speech), God’s attributes, 
and wahdat al-wujid. He also tries to shed some light on intellectual life in the Hijaz 
by mentioning four scholars active there in the seventeenth century. These scholars are 
al-Qushashi, al-Babili, al-Rudani, and al-Tha‘alibi. Basheer Nafi, “Tasawwuf and reform 
in pre-modern Islamic culture: In search of Ibrahim al-Kurani,” Die Welt des Islams, New 
Series, Vol. 42, issue 3, Arabic Literature and Islamic Scholarship in the 17/18 Century: Top- 
ics and Biographies (2002), pp. 307-355. 

29 ~ El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 312 and after. 


works by al-Kurani, such as his work on the satanic verses,®° his defence of wah- 
dat al-wujid,*! or some aspects of his thabat “curriculum vitae.”3? 

The work that constitutes the deepest and most serious attempt to examine 
some intellectual aspects of the seventeenth-century Hijaz within the broader 
intellectual context of Islamic thought in the Arabic-speaking regions of the 
seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire is El-Rouayheb’s ground-breaking study, 
Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century.*° This study not only 
sheds light on intellectual life in the Hijaz, but also presents a clear picture of 
the complexity and sophistication of the intellectual debates that took place 
in the seventeenth-century Hijaz.3+ El-Rouyaheb mentions that early narra- 

30 Guillaume’s interest in al-Kurani’s work on the satanic verses started from his attempt to 
reconstruct and extract the lost text of Ibn Ishaq’s sia from the sira of Ibn Hisham; in 1957, 
Alfred Guillaume published one of al-Kurani’s short texts entitled “al-Lum‘at al-saniya 
fi tahqig al-ilq@ fi-l-umniya.’ Guillaume gives a brief introduction to the incident of the 
satanic verses, then he summarizes the arguments of al-Kurani’s text with the Arabic edi- 
tion from one manuscript. Alfred Guillaume and Ibrahim al-Kurani, “Al-Lum‘at al-saniya fi 
tahgqigq al-ilga fi-l-umniya,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University 
of London, Vol. 20, No. 1/3, Studies in Honour of Sir Ralph Turner, Director of the School of 
Oriental and African Studies, 1937-1957 (1957), pp. 291-303. It seems that Ibn Ishaq’s sira 
had contained the story of the satanic verses, so Guillaume was interested in using other 
historical documents to restore the sira of Ibn Ishaq. More discussion of this topic appears 
in Chapter Six. 

31 Alexander Knysh’s “Ibrahim al-Kurani (d. 1101/1690), an Apologist for wahdat al-wujud’’ is 
another short study that emerged in the context of Knysh’s interest in the reception of Ibn 
‘Arabi's thought in later centuries; based on a single manuscript from the Yahuda Collec- 
tion, it presents some aspects of Ibrahim al-Kurani’s defence of the controversial doctrine 
of wahdat al-wujid. Alexander Knysh, “Ibrahim al-Kurani (d. 1101/1690), an Apologist for 
wahdat al-wujud,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, vol. 5, No.1 (Apr., 1995), 
PP. 39-47- 

32  Harith Ramli “Ash‘arism through an Akbari Lens: The Two ‘tahqigqs’ in the Curriculum 
Vita of Ibrahim al-Karani (d. 1019 [sic]/16g0).” In the text, the date of al-Kurani’s death 
mentioned is incorrect. Furthermore, in this paper Ramli attempts to demonstrate that 
al-Kurani’s project in his main thabat al-Amam was a reconciliation of intellectual and 
spiritual verification (tahqiq). Ramli used only al-Kurani’s thabat to support his argu- 
ment and did not study any of his other works or ideas. Harith Ramli “Ash‘arism through 
an Akbari Lens: The two ‘tahgiqs’ in the Curriculum Vita of Ibrahim al-Kurani (d. 1019 
[sic]/1690),” in Philosophical Theology in Islam: Later Asharism East and West, eds. Ayman 
Shihadeh and Jan Thiele, Islamicate Intellectual History, 5. (Leiden: Brill. 2020). 

33 Khaled El-Rouayheb’s Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, one of the 
most important of these works, sheds light on interesting intellectual debates in the Hijaz 
during the seventeenth century, especially some aspects of al-Kurani’s theological and Sufi 
thought, although the Hijaz was not its main focus. El-Rouayheb’s Islamic Intellectual His- 
tory in the Seventeenth Century: Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman Empire and the Maghreb 
(NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p. 235 and after. 

34  El-Rouayheb discusses four of the main ideas in al-Kurani’s thought: figurative interpre- 


tives of “decline” and “stagnation” admitted the existence of “exceptions,” but 
unfortunately in spite of the attempt to refute these narratives, recent academic 
work “has often succumbed to the temptation to underline the importance 
of an individual figure by portraying his background and opponents in dark 
colors.”35 In El-Rouayheb’s narration, the “rational sciences” were cultivated 
vigorously in the Ottoman Empire throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. With numerous examples from throughout the Ottoman Empire 
including North Africa, Cairo, and the Hijaz, he convincingly demonstrates that 
the intellectual history of these regions during this period needs to be fun- 
damentally re-examined. This book, following El-Rouayheb’s statement that 
“The list of ‘exceptions’ has simply become too long for the idea [of decline] 
to be taken seriously,’3° demonstrates that al-Kurani was not an “exception” to 
the intellectual life of the Hijaz. Rather, he worked within an active intellec- 
tual environment packed with scholars discussing various aspects of Islamic 
thought, not only among themselves, but with scholars from different regions 
of the Islamic world. 

The present book thus builds on the efforts of the aforementioned schol- 
ars and attempts to give a more comprehensive overview of intellectual life in 
a geographical area that has not yet received sufficient attention, the Hijaz in 
the seventeenth century. The centrality of al-Kurani in the intellectual activities 
of this period does not manifest only through his essential role in the vari- 
ous Islamic disciplines in the Hijaz, including Sufism, hadith, and the rational 
sciences, but also through the vital role that he played in the vigorous intellec- 
tual discussions occurring in the various parts of the Islamic world, extending 
from Southeast Asia and India to the Maghrib. By examining the intellectual 
activities of these regions through the lens of his involvement, this study will 
participate in rectifying the still-prevalent view of stagnation and “decline” in 
post-classical Islamic thought. 

As mentioned above, the historian of this region is reduced principally to 
relying on textual sources, such as historiographies, travelogues, bio-biblio- 
graphical works, and manuscripts. These sources are very rich, and I contend 
that, rather than being limiting, they are sufficient to construct a detailed pic- 
ture of the vibrant intellectual life in the Hijaz during the seventeenth cen- 
tury. The fact that most of the works of the scholars who will be mentioned 
throughout this book are still in manuscript form is a major challenge. How- 

tation (ta’wil), the value of rational theology (kalam), occasionalism and human acts, and 
the doctrine of wahdat al-wujid. All these topics will be discussed in this study. 

35 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 5. 

36 —_ El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 5. 


ever, manuscripts are a promising source that can be full of surprises and, when 

carefully examined, may change our perspective of the development of post- 

classical Islamic intellectual history. A substantial number of primary sources 

for the Hijaz’s history have been edited and published.*” There are also an 

increasing number of secondary studies based on these primary sources, as well 

as on Western travelers’ accounts and manuscripts, that have recently become 

accessible.38 More importantly for this research and for intellectual studies in 



Among the main sources for the history of the Hijaz are: Taqi al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad 
al-Fasi, al-TIqd al-thamin ft tarikh al-balad al-amin, ed. Muhammad Hamid al-Fari (Beirut: 
Muassasat al-Risala, 1986); Taqi al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Fasi, Shifa@’ al-gharam bi- 
akhbar al-balad al-haram, ed. ‘Ali ‘Umar (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqafa al-Diniyya, 2007); 
“Umar b. Fahd al-Makki, Ithaf al-wara bi-akhbar Umm al-Qura, ed. Fahim Muhammad 
Shaltit et al., (ksa: Matabi‘ Jami‘at Umm al-Qura: 1408/1988); ‘Umar b. Fahd al-Makki, 
al-Durr al-kamin bi-dhayl al-‘Tqd al-thamin fi tarikh al-balad al-amin, ed. ‘Abd al-Malik b. 
‘Abd Allah b. Duhaysh (Beirut: Dar Khidr, 2000); ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. ‘Umar b. Fahd, Buliigh 
al-qira fi dhayl Ithaf Umm al-Qura, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Abi al-Khuyur (Ks, Mecca: “Mas- 
ter Thesis,” Jami‘at Umm al-Qura, 2001); ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. ‘Umar b. Fahd, Nayl al-muna bi- 
dhayl buligh al-qird, ed. Muhammad al-Habib al-Hayla (London: al-Furqan Islamic Her- 
itage Foundation, 2000); Muhammad b. Ahmad Nahrawali, al-Ilam bi-a‘lam bayt Allah al- 
haram, ed. Hisham ‘Ata (Ksa, Mecca: al-Maktaba al-Tijariyya, 1996); Abd al-Malik al-Asimi 
al-Makki, Simt al-nujiim al-‘awaili fi anb@ al-aw@il wa-l-tawdili, ed. ‘Adil ‘Abd al-Mawjid 
& ‘Ali Mu‘awwad (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1998); ‘Ali b. Taj al-Din al-Khatib al- 
Sinjari, Mana’ih al-karam ft akhbar Makka wa-l-bayit wa-wilayat al-haram, ed. Jamil ‘Abd 
Allah al-Misri (Ksa, Mecca: Jami‘at Umm al-Qura, 1998); Shams al-Din Muhammad al- 
Sakhawi, al-Tuhfa al-latifa ft tartkh al-Madina al-sharifa, ed. As‘ad Tarabzuni al-Husayni, 
(n.p: 1979); Nur al-Din ‘Ali al-Samhudi, Waf@ al-wafa ft akhbar dar al-Mustafa, ed. Muham- 
mad Muhiyy al-Din ‘Abd al-Hamid (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Tlmiyya, n.d); and ‘Abd al- 
Rahman al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin wa-l-ashab fimarifat ma li-l-madaniyyin min ansab, 
ed. Muhammad al-‘Arisi al-Matawi (Tunisia: al-Maktaba al-‘Atiga, 1970). 

Earlier Western studies of the Hijaz mostly depended on travelers’ accounts. Probably 
the earliest traveler to arrive in Mecca was the Italian Ludovico di Varthema, who vis- 
ited the city in 1503. After Varthema, an anonymous Westerner came to Mecca with the 
hajj caravan from Cairo in 1575 and recorded his impressions. In 1678 an Englishman, 
Joseph Pitts, was captured aboard a ship by Algerian pirates and sold as a slave, pro- 
fessed Islam, and then accompanied his master on pilgrimage to Mecca in 1685. John 
Lewis Burckhardt (1814-1815), Sir Richard Burton (1851), Snouck Hurgronje (1885), and 
many others of those who reached Mecca and Medina wrote about their adventures. For 
additional accounts of travelers who reached the Hijaz, see Augustus Ralli, Christians at 
Mecca (London: W. Heinemann, 1909); and Michael Wolfe, One Thousand Roads to Mecca: 
Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing about the Muslim Pilgrimage (New York: Grove Press, 
1997). Among the western travelers who reached the Muslim holy cities and wrote about 
them, C. Snouck’s work Mekka in the Latter Part of the Nineteenth Century remains one of 
the main sources for the social life in Mecca in the nineteenth century. Snouck lived in 
Mecca for six months in 1884-1885 and wrote from personal experience of Meccan life. 
The book originally appeared in Germany in two volumes; the first is about the history of 


general are the actual texts produced during the seventeenth century, most of 
which, fortunately, are still extant in various libraries and archives around the 

This study will begin by laying out the historical context and the intellec- 
tual milieu of the seventeenth-century Hijaz. We will then focus on one par- 
ticular scholar who was active in the intellectual life of both the Hijaz and 
the entire Muslim world in the seventeenth century: Ibrahim b. Hasan al- 
Kurani (d. 1101/1690). Al-Kurani is a key figure in seventeenth-century Islamic 
intellectual history and one of the most important scholars of that period. 
His philosophical contributions are a genuine synthesis of different Islamic 
intellectual traditions, mainly the philosophy-kalam tradition that extended 
from Ibn Sina (d. 428/1037) until al-Dawani (d. 908/1502) and includes al- 
Tusi (d. 672/1274), al-Iji (d. 756/1355), al-Taftazani (d. 793/1390), and al-Jurjani 
(d. 816/1413), and the Akbarian tradition that extends from Ibn ‘Arabi and 
includes al-Qunawi (d. 672/1274), al-Qashani (d. between 730—736/1329-1335), 
al-Qaysari (d. 751/1350—1351), and Jami (d. 897/1492). Centuries before al-Kurani, 
Sufism had become increasingly philosophical due to the efforts of al-Qunawi 
and his circle, and theologians were also discussing various Sufi ideas as kalam 
itself had become increasingly philosophical after al-Ghazali (d. 505/111) and 
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 606/1210). With al-Kurani, there was little to separate 
theology from Sufism, and reconciling Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas with Ash‘arite theology 
would be completed on his works such that Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas became Islamic 
theology. Thus, al-Kurani can be seen as the culmination of the philosophized 
Akbarian tradition, at least in the Sunni world. 

Focusing on al-Kurani’s efforts does not mean underestimating the efforts 
of other scholars of the period. Rather, my aim is to extend research on post- 
classical Islamic intellectual life to include regions and scholars that have thus 
far received less interest, and thereby to gain a better picture of intellectual 
life in the Islamic world during the seventeenth century. There is still much 
work to be done on this topic. Comparative studies in particular, for instance 
between al-Kurani's efforts and those of his contemporaries such as Mulla 
Sadra (d. 1640), are potentially fruitful enterprises. I hope that the present work 

the city until the nineteenth century, and the second is about the nineteenth century itself. 
C. Snouck Hurgronje, Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century (Leiden: Brill, 2007). The 
two volumes have been translated into Arabic and according to the translators, Snouck’s 
description of the history of the city agrees to a large extent with sources that have so far 
been edited and printed. C. Snouck Hurgronje, Safahat min tarikh Makka al-mukarrama, 
tr. Muhammad Mahmid Suryani and Mi‘raj Nawwab Mirza (KsA, al-Riyad: Darat al-Malik 
‘Abd al-‘Aziz, 1999). 


is able to lay the groundwork for these studies and will motivate further com- 
parative research that can shed more light on the scholarly activities of the 
seventeenth-century Islamic world. 

In this book, I reconstruct al-Kurani’s theological-Sufi thought on the basis of 
a detailed reading of eighty-six of al-Kurani’s works, mostly still in manuscript 
form, as well as dozens of manuscripts by other scholars relevant to this topic. 
In order to situate al-Kurani's thought within political, historical, and intellec- 
tual history more generally, I start with two chapters that discuss the historical 
background of al-Kurant’s intellectual career. These two chapters are intended 
to contextualize and situate his activities within a broader historical and intel- 
lectual framework. The four chapters that follow focus on his life and thought as 
an entry point into both the intellectual scene of the seventeenth century gen- 
erally, and the particular influence of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought on the philosophical 
and theological topics that were discussed. 

In Chapter One, I situate the seventeenth-century Hijaz within its global and 
local contexts in order to explore the factors that contributed to the region’s 
emergence as a center of learning that attracted scholars and students from 
across the Islamic world. In Chapter Two, I examine the various intellectual 
activities taking place in the Hijaz during that century. In this chapter, I show 
that Ibrahim al-Kurani was not an exceptional case. Rather, a consideration of 
the wider intellectual framework of the seventeenth-century Hijaz reveals a 
region full of active scholars who taught and studied the rational sciences, and 
where intellectual institutions such as madrasas, ribats (inns for travelers; hos- 
pices), zawiyas (Sufi centers), and libraries flourished. 

In Chapter Three, I focus on the life, education, teachers, and students of 
al-Kurani. By investigating his teachers and students, I demonstrate how rich 
and diverse the Hijaz was in the seventeenth century. Keeping in mind that al- 
Kurani never left the Hijaz after he settled in Medina, it is significant that most 
of these teachers taught him and all of these students studied with him there. 
The number of scholars who studied with him in the Hijaz exceeds the number 
of those mentioned in Chapter Two, reaching a total of more than one hundred. 
These scholars and students came from almost the entire span of the Islamic 
world, a fact that supports the arguments of the first two chapters concerning 
the centrality of the Hijaz during the seventeenth century for both intellectual 
activities and the circulation of knowledge throughout the Islamic world. 

In Chapter Four, I introduce al-Kurani’s hundred-plus works and provide a 
brief summary of the content of the eighty-six works that I was able to access 
from various libraries. Al-Kurani’s works reveal the diversity of his intellectual 
interests and the spread of his thought around the Islamic world, since many 
of his books became central to intellectual discussions of scholars in South- 


east Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Yemen, the Ottoman Empire, Morocco, and 
North Africa. This chapter will also emphasize the interconnectedness of the 
Islamic world and show how various intellectual topics were discussed among 
scholars of different regions. I hope to show that the Hijaz played a central role 
in connecting the global Islamic world, especially in terms of the transmission 
of knowledge. 

In Chapter Five, I focus on al-Kurani’s metaphysical ideas and unpack his 
discussions on almost all subjects that were widely discussed in the Islamic 
theological tradition of his day, including existence and non-existence, quid- 
dity, creation, God’s attributes, God’s knowledge of particulars, predetermina- 
tion, and human will. Al-Kurani’s theological arguments provide clear evidence 
of the sophistication of theological discussions ongoing in the seventeenth- 
century Hijaz. His discussions display mastery over contemporary intellectual 
issues and illustrate the wide diffusion of the works and ideas of most of the 
early Muslim philosophers and theologians. Most importantly, this chapter 
offers a synthesis of al-Kurani’s thought, which in my view is the paradigmatic 
proof for my larger claim that intellectual life in the Hijaz during the post- 
classical period was rich and dynamic, and that Islamic theology during this 
historical moment, at least in the Hijaz, was almost entirely founded on Ibn 
‘Arabi’s thought. This chapter is almost double the size of other chapters, which 
needs a word of clarification. The chapter was initially intended to be two chap- 
ters dealing respectively with al-Kurani’s theological ideas and his Sufi thought. 
During my research, however, it became clear that al-Kurani’s theology can- 
not be separated from his Sufi thought. While al-Kurani’s main concern was 
theology, his theological arguments are in fact largely based on Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
thought; it seems that Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas are the true reference and the main the- 
ological authority for al-Kurani’s theological discussions. Hopefully, this short 
clarification, along with the chapter itself, justifies the selection of the subti- 
tle “Al-Kurani’s Theology of Sufism.” This chapter may also convince scholars 
of post-classical Islamic intellectual history that the Sufism associated with the 
tradition of Ibn ‘Arabi is an important source of Islamic philosophical thought 
in the post-classical period. 

Chapter Six is dedicated to other theological and Sufi discussions that al- 
Kurani addressed in those of his works not directly related to his overarching 
metaphysical system, although many of them do relate to Ibn ‘Arabi's contro- 
versial ideas. In this chapter I analyze how al-Kurani discussed these Akbarian 
ideas from a theological perspective and how he tried to demonstrate that 
they actually represent the correct Quranic interpretation, even though this 
interpretation had been marginal in Islamic intellectual history. Among these 
controversial ideas are the faith of Pharaoh, the precedence of God’s mercy and 


the annihilation of Hellfire ( fand’ al-nar), and the issue of preference between 
the reality of the Ka‘ba and that of Muhammad. Alongside these traditionally 
Akbarian topics, al-Kurani argued for the authenticity of the incident of the 
satanic verses and tried to reconcile the Ash‘arite and Hanbalite positions con- 
cerning God’s unuttered speech (kalam nafsi). 

In the conclusion, after briefly surveying the chapters and considering the 
broader implications of this research project, I highlight the global and local 
changes that took place in the eighteenth century and their impact on the Hijaz 
in general and its intellectual life in particular. 

Every topic discussed in this book has a long historical and intellectual con- 
text that extends to the early centuries of Islam and is mostly rooted in Greek, 
especially Hellenistic thought. Any one of the philosophical ideas presented 
in this book could become the subject of an extended monograph or even sev- 
eral books. The issues of creation, unity and multiplicity, existence and essence, 
and free will and predestination have been raised in most philosophies and reli- 
gions. Even the very Islamic discussion of interpreting certain Quranic verses 
would be and indeed has been discussed in multiple books. As a result, it was 
necessary for this book to choose between tracing the development of a selec- 
tion of theological and philosophical issues that were being discussed in the 
Hijaz in the pre-Wahhabi period on the one hand, and, on the other, select- 
ing a single intellectual example from the seventeenth century to use as a lens 
through which to engage in a comprehensive examination of the intellectual 
debates then relevant. I chose the latter on the grounds that it seemed the 
more likely to reveal the sheer breadth of intellectual issues that were being 
discussed. By presenting the ideas of a representative thinker of this particu- 
lar moment, most of which are still only accessible in manuscript form, this 
research seeks to indicate that the unknown part of the history of Islamic 
thought is still greater than the part that has thus far been studied. 


The Seventeenth-Century Hijaz in Its Global and 
Local Context 

Most of the global changes that took place during the sixteenth century seem 
to have been in the Hijaz’s favor. The rise of a powerful and wealthy Islamic 
dynasty, the Mughals, and their massive donations to the Hijaz helped estab- 
lish numerous educational institutions and maintain endowments there. The 
Ottoman expansion into the Hijaz, as well as to all of the Levant, Egypt, and 
most of North Africa, facilitated travel across these areas. Alongside facilitating 
travel, the Ottomans made numerous efforts to secure pilgrimage routes and 
provided generous economic support for the region. Generous donations from 
the Mughals and the Ottomans helped increase investments in the region’s 
educational institutions and maintain endowments that provided their teach- 
ers and students with the all necessities of life. Finally, the conversion of Iran 
to Shi‘ism forced numerous Sunni scholars there to disperse to other parts 
of the Islamic world, carrying their knowledge with them to other intellec- 
tual centers in the Indian Subcontinent, Anatolia, Damascus, Cairo, and the 

In addition to these intra-Islamic world changes, the discovery of the Cape 
of Good Hope route at the end of the fifteenth century resulted in the spread 
of European navies and merchant fleets in the Indian Ocean that reinforced 
the connection of the Arab world with the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast 
Asia and enhanced opportunities for safe travel, which in turn resulted in an 
increase in the number of pilgrims, students, and scholars who journeyed to 
study in the Hijaz, thus facilitating the circulation of knowledge throughout 
the Islamic world. These historical changes that may seem isolated in distinct 
areas of the world together contributed, directly or indirectly, to the formation 
of the Hijaz into a center of intellectual activity in the seventeenth century and 
one of the primary scholarly destinations of that era. 

The local conditions in the Hijaz allowed the region to receive all the benefits 
of the above global changes, particularly the increase in donations, students, 
and scholars. The experience of the rulers of the Hijaz (Sharifs) with manag- 
ing ambitious external powers that looked to dominate the holy cities, and the 
calm situation in Medina after its political marginalization in favor of Mecca, 
created a more stable environment for visitors, students, and scholars. These 
global and local contexts will be discussed in this chapter to show their influ- 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_003 


ence on the transformation of the Hijaz into one of the most active intellectual 
centers in the Islamic world during the seventeenth century. 

1 The Seventeenth-Century Hijaz in Its Global Context 

11 European Navies in the Indian Ocean 

Europeans rounding Southern Africa and travelling across the Indian Ocean 
brought revolutionary change in world history, although the consequences 
were slow to appear in the Arab world in general and the Hijaz in particular. 
The great fifteenth- and sixteenth-century European discoveries of new routes 
to the East were mainly aimed at linking European countries with other coun- 
tries of known economic importance, mainly in the Indian Subcontinent and 
Southeast Asia. Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1487 and 
returned in 1488. Vasco de Gama arrived at Calicut in 1498. For several years 
after the arrival of the Portuguese, Indian and Arab navies were still sailing 
in the Indian Ocean, but Portuguese ships soon dominated the sea.! In March 
1517, the Portuguese fleet reached Bab al-Mandab, and on April twelfth they 
were eight miles from Jeddah.” Less than a month before the Portuguese fleet 
sailed to the Red Sea, the Ottomans ended Mamluk rule in Egypt. The Por- 
tuguese threat to control the lifeblood of the Hijaz through their control of 
nearby ports made the Ottomans, who were newly-established in Istanbul and 
Cairo, the best hope for the Sharifs of the Hijaz.3 The emir of Mecca, Barakat 
11 Ibn Muhammad b. Barakat (r. 1495-1524), thus proclaimed his allegiance to 
Sultan Selim. 

1 The Spanish arrived shortly after the Portuguese in Southeast Asia. Magellan sailed to the 
Philippines in 1519 where he was killed, and only one of his ships returned to Spain in 1522. 

2 See FE. Peters, Mecca: A Literary History of the Muslim Holy Land (Princeton: Princeton Uni- 
versity Press, 1994), p. 210 and after; Gerald De Gaury, Rulers of Mecca (London: George G. Har- 
rap & CO. LTD. [1954]), p. 121. 

3 The Turks were driven out of Yemen in 1636 by the independent Zaydi Imamate. This event 
was a turning point in the history of the area. Yemenite rulers, in order to take the advantage 
of the India trade, allowed British and French ships to enter Yemenite ports and soon they 
were installed at Mocha. Like most of the other European trading posts, they attempted to 
negotiate their way into northerly, Ottoman-controlled Red Sea ports. They did not approach 
the Sultan in Constantinople, however, but various Mamlik Beys in Cairo. British commercial 
companies were increasingly doing business in Indian goods with the Sharif through the port 
of Jeddah. Due to conflicts and competition between the Sharifs in the Hijaz and the Mam- 
luks in Egypt, Muhammad Bey issued a royal decree in February 1773 permitting English ships 
to sail to and land at Suez and prescribing an 8 percent custom duty on their goods, in con- 


Mecca thereby became part of the Ottoman Empire and it was known as the 
Vilayet of the Hijaz, an administrative district that extended from the border 
of the Vilayet of Syria to the northern border of the Vilayet of Yemen.* Dis- 
covery of the new maritime route accompanied the rise of the Safavid Empire, 
which later closed the land route to India, pushing the Ottomans to turn toward 
Egypt and Arabia for access to Indian Ocean trade through the extended coastal 
regions of Arabia from the east, south, and west and to face the Portuguese 
expansion on these coasts. With hostile relations between the Safavids and the 
Ottomans on one side, and between the Safavids and the Central Asian Sunni 
dynasties on the other, the Indian Ocean became increasingly important as a 
main road for Central Asian pilgrims as “Safavid authorities were reluctant to 
allow ‘Tatars’ to pass through Iran on the way to Mecca.’> Western navies did 
not consider transporting Muslim pilgrims a problem; they saw in the transport 
costs of the journey a very profitable business enterprise.® 

While the Portuguese extended their influence over the sea routes taken 
by pilgrims in the Indian Ocean, the Mughal Empire conquered the province 
of Gujarat in 1573, which included Surat, the main port used by South Asian 
pilgrims. Surat’s capture led to an increased interest in the hajj pilgrimage to 
Mecca among the Mughal ruling class.” Portuguese records note in March 1663 
the sailing of a ship carrying the Queen Mother of Bijapur, who wanted to go 
to Mecca.® The Queen Mother undertook a series of hajjs; English records tell 
us that she set off through the Red Sea on a small Dutch vessel in 1661, reaching 
Mocha in March. The sea had become the main road from India even for trips to 

trast to the 14 percent being levied at Jeddah. Murad Bey, in 1785, granted to the French what 
had thirteen years earlier been given to the British. On 1 July 1798, a French expeditionary 
force under the command of the twenty-six-year-old Napoleon Bonaparte appeared off the 
coast of Alexandria. By the end of July 1798, the French had crushed the Mamluk army of the 
Ottomans at the pyramids and occupied Cairo. More details about European trade in the Red 
Sea and the conflict between the Sharifs and the Mumluks can be found in Peters, Mecca: A 
Literary History, pp. 205-218, and p. 228 and after. 

4 Peters, Mecca: A Literary History, p. 200; De Gaury, Rulers of Mecca, p. 113. 

5 Thomas Welsford, “The Re-opening of Iran to Central Asian Pilgrimage Traffic, 1600-1650,” 
in Central Asian Pilgrims: Hajj Routes and Pious Visits between Central Asia and the Hijaz, ed. 
Alexandre Papas, Thomas Welsford, and Thierry Zarcone (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2012), 
P. 154- 

6 Eric Tagliacozzo, The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Oxford: 
Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 29 and after. 

7 Welsford, “The Re-opening of Iran to Central Asian Pilgrimage Traffic, 1600-1650,” p. 155. 

8 MichaelN. Pearson, Pious Passengers: The Hajj in Early Times (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 
1994), p. 116. 


Iran. In 1640, the ruler of Golconda? sent the ladies of his court to Iran to visit 
the Shi‘i shrines and then to go on to Mecca. They traveled by sea from Gol- 
conda to Bandar Abbas.!° Aurangzeb in his turn appears in Dutch documents 
recording that he informed them he was going to commence his own hajj as 
a ninety-year-old man with fifty-seven ships in attendance upon him, and that 
he was in need of a Dutch sea-pass to make the journey.!! 

Due to improved shipping facilities, not only was the ruling class increas- 
ingly interested in pilgrimage, but the number of non-elite pilgrims from the 
Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia steadily increased as well. By the sev- 
enteenth century, the Hijaz had a considerable Javanese community; many of 
the people who came to perform the hajj decided to stay and study with the 
Hijazi scholars for several years, or even to permanently settle in the Hijaz. An 
estimate of the population of Javanese students in the Hijaz will be discussed 
in the third chapter. 

The journey by sea from Southeast Asia to the Hijaz took three to four 
months by sailing vessel, depending on the wind and the length of the stays 
in each port to change ship, to pick up more pilgrims, or to take care of busi- 
ness matters. The journey between the Indian west coast and the Hijaz, in both 
directions, is documented by several authors. A description of a journey from 
Mecca to Gujarat in the middle of the eleventh/seventeenth century is pre- 
sented by Ibn Ma‘sum al-Madani (d. 1119/1707-1708), who documented his trip 
to join his father in Gujarat. It was almost three months between his leaving 
Mecca and his arrival in India: he mentions that he left Mecca on 24 Sha‘ban 
1066/17 June 1656 and that he arrived at the first port, Jaitapuy, on 27 Dhi al- 
Qa‘da of the same year/16 September.!? Another trip from the port of Surat 
to the Hijaz in 1201/1786-1787 is documented by Rafi‘ al-Din al-Muradabadi 
(d. 15 Dht al-Hijja 1223/1 February 1809), who was a student of the famous 
scholar Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi (d. 1176/1762). This ship left Surat on 9 Jumada 
11/29 March 1787 with 612 passengers on board. After a few stays in different 
ports and even on the sea due to the absence of wind, Rafi‘ al-Din landed in 
al-Qunfudha, in the Tihama region on the coast of the Red Sea, around 280 
kilometers to the south of Mecca, and continued his trip by land. He arrived in 

9 The kingdom of Golconda in the southeastern Deccan of India was the capital of the 
medieval sultanate of the Qutb Shahi dynasty (c. 1518-1687). 

10 Pearson, Pious Passengers, p. 115. 

11 Tagliacozzo, The Longest Journey, p. 29. 

12 See his departure on p. 37, and his arrival in the first port, which he called Jaitapur, on p. 142. 
‘Ali Sadr al-Din Ibn Ma‘stm al-Madani, Rihlat Ibn Masum al-Madani, or Salwat al-gharib 
wa-uswat al-arib, ed. Shakir Hadi Shakir (Beirut: Alam al-Kutub/Maktabat al-Nahda al- 
‘Arabiyya, 1988). 


Mecca on 4 Shawwal/20 July.!3 Since both journeys were made in sailing ves- 
sels before the changes brought about in pilgrim transport by the international 
steamboat companies, we can expect that these two trips represent those of 
many generations of pilgrims from Southeast Asia before this date. 

Tagliacozzo in The Longest Journey suggests several changes in the naviga- 
tion of the Indian Ocean that directly affected the situation in the Hijaz. The 
first change was that the danger of “piracy” was reduced due to the cartaz 
system adopted by the Portuguese, meaning that passports were needed for 
certain parts of the Indian Ocean, a practice that allowed heavily-laden pilgrim- 
age ships to navigate toward the Red Sea safely. The second change that made 
the long water voyage safer and easier was the increase of knowledge about 
Indian Ocean weather, currents, and wind systems. We can count as the third 
change the improving commercial conditions along vast stretches of the sea, a 
boon for everyone that allowed people to earn money to pay, often along the 
way, for their journeys to the Hijaz. Wars, rivalry, coercion, and outright extor- 
tion still happened on the routes, but the gradual upturn in trade conditions all 
along the Indian Ocean sea-lanes certainly made pilgrimage conditions better 
than they had once been. 

The reasons mentioned above may suggest that the number of pilgrims 
increased after the sixteenth century. But the Indian Ocean has always been 
a place of movement, circulation, contacts, and trade over great distance, and 
much earlier than the sixteenth century, the Indian Ocean was a networked 
place!® through which Muslims from the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast 
Asia found their way by sea to the Hijaz. Extant records about pilgrims from 

13 Rafi‘ al-Din mentions different instances where the ship stopped for a few days because 
there was no suitable wind, or where the ship spent five days, for example, covering 
a distance that was supposed to be covered in one day. See Mawlana Rafi‘ al-Din al- 
Muradabadi, al-Rihla al-hindiyya ila al-jazira al-‘arabiyya, translated into Arabic by Samir 
‘Abd al-Hamid Ibrahim (Cairo: al-Majlis al-Aila li-l-Thaqafa, 2004). 

14 Another trip from Singapore to Mecca in 1854 took almost the same time and was made 
in sailing vessels. See Jan Just Witkam, “The Islamic Pilgrimage in the Manuscript Liter- 
atures of Southeast Asia,” in The Hajj: Collected Essays, ed. Venetia Porter and Lians Saif 
(London: The British Museum, 2013), p. 216. This long trip included several lengthy stays 
ashore: Allepey (5 days), Calicut (8 days), al-Mukha (13 days), al-Hudayda (7 days), and 
finally Jeddah (g days). Ibid. 

15 ~~ Tagliacozzo, The Longest Journey, pp. 24-25. 

16 Kenneth McPherson, The Indian Ocean: A History of People and the Sea (Delhi: Oxford 
University Press, 1993); Chaudhuri, K.N. Trade and Civilisation in the Indian Ocean: An Eco- 
nomic History from the Rise of Istam to 1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); 
George Fadlo Hourani and John Carswell, Arab Seafaring in the Indian Ocean in Ancient 
and Early Medieval Times (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). 


these areas are nevertheless so fragmentary, often only available in larger works 
of geographers and travelers,!” and so incomplete that it is difficult to give any 
reasonable estimate of the number of pilgrims or travelers from either region 
before the sixteenth century. There are no marine records before the arrival 
of European navies to the Indian Ocean and even though numerous names 
of scholars from the Indian Subcontinent appear in Arabic books of history 
and bio-bibliographies, no Arabic sources mention Indian or Southeast Asian 
communities in the Hijaz before the sixteenth century. By the later sixteenth 
century, Western historical records mention the flow of pilgrims across the 
Indian Ocean,!® and Arabic sources from the Hijaz and southern Arabia pro- 
vide us valuable information. By the seventeenth century, al-Kurani talks about 
Javanese students in the Hijaz, which suggests that their community was large 
in number. The names of some scholars from Southeast Asia, including Hamza 
Fansuri (d. 1590), ‘Abd al-Ra’uf Singkili (d. 1693), and al-Magqassani (d. 1699), will 
appear again in the chapter about al-Kurani and his students. By the nineteenth 
century, the Javanese community was so extensive as to earn a substantial con- 
sideration in C. Snouck Hurgonje’s work Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th 

1.2 Tran’s Conversion to Shi‘ism 

Iran’s conversion to Shi‘ism played a role in the journey of some important 
texts from Iran to the Hijaz through Ottoman lands and the Indian Subcon- 
tinent. After entering Tabriz in 1501, Shah Isma‘ll (d. 1524) had announced that 
the official religion of his kingdom would be Shi‘ism. The application of this 
policy meant replacing the Sunni ‘ulama@ with Shr‘i ones, which forced Sunni 
scholars either to convert or to migrate to the neighbouring Ottoman lands, 
Central Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent in order to find alternative centers for 
scholarly activities and exchange, the Hijaz being one of these centers.!% The 
hostility toward Sunni scholars had become even more pronounced in the time 
of Shah Isma‘ll’s successor, Shah Tahmasb (1. 930—984/1524—-1576),2° who forced 

17. See some names from before the sixteenth century in Tagliacozzo, The Longest Journey, 
pp. 26-27. 

18 — Tagliacozzo, The Longest Journey, p. 22. The most important and compulsive keepers of 
records about the early history of hajj were the Dutch, through the correspondence and 
detailed bookkeeping of the voc. Ibid. 

19 Robert Wisnovsky, “Avicenna’s Islamic Reception,” in Interpreting Avicenna, ed. Peter 
Adamson (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), p. 209. 

20 Reza Pourjavady and Asad Q. Ahmad, “Theology in the Indian Subcontinent,” in The 
Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology, ed. Sabine Schmidtke (UK, Oxford: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 2016), p. 608. 


even more scholars to flee from Iran. These migrations helped spread Sunni 
theology outside of the famous centers of Shiraz, Tabriz, and Isfahan. Tracing 
all the scholars who scattered from Safavid Iran is not part of this study, yet 
some examples are offered below to represent those Sunni scholars who moved 
outside of Iran to other Islamic centers, carrying with them their intellectual 
heritage. Eventually the texts they carried would reach the Hijaz through con- 
nectable chains, as will be described in Chapter Two. 

Muslih al-Din al-Lani (d. 979/1572) is one of the scholars who left Iran because 
of the hostile environment toward Sunni scholars,”! and ultimately settled in 
Ottoman lands. He studied with the famous scholars Ghiyath al-Din Mansur 
Dashtaki (d. 949/1542) and Shams al-Din al-Khafri (d. 942/1535—1536). Al-Lari’s 
life sheds light on one way that knowledge circulated from Shiraz and Central 
Asia to the Indian Subcontinent and Ottoman lands. At first, al-Lari went to 
India, where he spent more than a decade. Then, in 963/1556, he left India and, 
after making the pilgrimage and staying some months in Aleppo, moved on to 

While al-Lari eventually decided to head toward Istanbul, many scholars set- 
tled permanently in the Indian Subcontinent. Two of al-Dawani’s students, Mir 
Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Jurjani (the great-grandson of al-Sharif al-Jurjant) 
and a certain Mir Mu‘n al-Din, headed to India and eventually were present at 
Nizam al-Din Shah Sindi’s (r. 866—914/1461-1508) court. The two other main 
Iranian scholars who were principal sources for the transmission of scholastic 
theology into the Indian Subcontinent were Mirzajan Habib Allah Baghnawi 
(d. 995/1587) and Fath Allah al-Shirazi (d. 998/1590), the latter a student of 
Ghiyath al-Din Dashtaki who moved from Shiraz to teach theology in India.”% 
The following is the chain of transmission that connects the prominent Indian 
Scholar al-Siyalkuti (d.1067/1656-1657) with Ghiyath al-Din Dashtaki. Later, we 
will find some of al-Siyalkutt’s direct students in the Hijaz.?4 

21 Pourjavady writes: “the discrimination of Sunni scholars during the reign of Shah Tah- 
masp I [r. 929/1524 to 984/1576] conforms to the account of Mirza Makhdim Sharifi 
(d. 995/1587) in his Nawaqid li-bunyan al-rawafid. The latter points to a number of royal 
policies at this time meant to pressure the Sunni population, including scholars, to accept 
Twelver Shi‘ism. Therefore, it seems to be safe to assume that such religious intolerance 
was one of the reasons, if not the only one, for Lari to leave Safavid Iran.” Reza Pour- 
javady, “Muslih al-Din al-Lari and His Samples of the Sciences,” Oriens. 42 (3-4): 292-322, 
P. 295- 

22  Pourjavady, “Muslih al-Din al-Lari and his Samples of the Sciences,” p. 296. 

23 Pourjavady and Ahmad, “Theology in the Indian Subcontinent,” p. 612. 

24  Pourjavady and Ahmad, “Theology in the Indian Subcontinent,’ p. 613. 


‘Abd al-Hakim al-Siyalkuti < ‘Abd al-Salam al-Kirmani al-Diwi (d. 1039/ 
1629-1630) < ‘Abd al-Salam al-Lahtri < Fath Allah al-Shirazi < Ghiy- 
ath al-Din Dashtaki 

While the interaction of scholarship between the Ottoman Empire and Iran 
quickly declined after the emergence of the Safavid Empire, interactions be- 
tween scholars of the Safavid Empire and the Indian Subcontinent became 
more frequent and intense.*° The travels of scholars between Iran and the 
Indian Subcontinent were not negatively affected by the conversion of Iran; 
on the contrary, it seems that the migration of scholars increased.”° The texts 
that received the attention of many scholars, including several commentaries 
and glosses, in the Indian Subcontinent were al-Taftazani’s commentary on al- 
Aq@id al-Nasafiyya, al-Dawani's commentary on al-‘Aga’id al-Adudiyya, and 
al-Sharif al-Jurjanis commentary on al-Mawagif.2’ Later, we will see that these 
same texts were among the most studied and taught in the seventeenth-cen- 
tury Hijaz. 

While these scholars decided to move to the Indian Subcontinent, others 
headed directly toward Ottoman lands. The Ottomans had already established 
connections with some prominent scholars in Iran starting in the late fifteenth 
century. The two most eminent philosophers of Shiraz in the late ninth/fif- 
teenth century, Jalal al-Din Dawani (d. 9908/1502) and Sadr al-Din Dashtaki 
(d. 903/1498), enjoyed the patronage of the Ottoman court during the reign of 
Sultan Bayezid 1 (re. 886—918/1481-1512). Dawani dedicated three of his works 
to the Sultan and Dashtaki dedicated one.”8 

Alongside al-Lari mentioned above, three native Ottoman scholars played 
a significant role in promoting the thought of these two philosophers, i.e., 
Dawani and Dashtaki, in Istanbul: Mu’ayyadzada ‘Abd al-Rahman Efendi 
(d. 922/1516), Katkhudazade Girmiyant (d. c. 940/1533-1534), and Sinan al-Din 
Yusuf al-Aydini (d. c. 935/1528-1529). Moreover, in the early Safavid era, two out- 
standing students of Dawani’s, Hakim Shah Muhammad al-Qazwini (d. after 
926/1520) and Muzaffar al-Din ‘Ali al-Shirazi (d. 922/1516), the latter al-Dawani’s 
son-in-law and his successor as the head of his madrasa in Shiraz, left Safavid 

25 Francis Robinson, “Ottomans-Safavids-Mughals: Shared Knowledge and Connective Sys- 
tems,” Journal of Islamic Studies 8: 2 (1997) pp. 151-184, pp. 156-157. 

26 Robinson, “Ottomans-Safavids-Mughals,” p. 157 and after; and Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, 
A Socio-Intellectual History of the Isna ‘Ashari Shits in India (New Delhi: Munshiram 
Manoharlal Publishers, 1986). 

27 Pourjavady and Ahmad, “Theology in the Indian Subcontinent,” p. 611 and after. 

28 — Pourjavady, “Muslih al-Din al-Lari and his Samples of the Sciences,” p. 293. 


Iran to live under Ottoman rule.?9 As a result of all these connections, the 
works of eminent Shirazi philosophers were well known to the scholars of the 
Ottoman Empire. 

Among the scholars who moved from the Safavid court to Ottoman lands 
and eventually settled in Mecca was Mirza Makhdim Sharifi (d. 995/1587). 
Mirza Makhdtm entered Safavid politics in about 975-976/1568-1569 and 
served as vizier under Tahmasb until the death of the latter in 984/1576, and 
during the short period of the reign of Isma‘ll 11, who ruled for fourteen months 
and died in November 985/1577. After Isma‘ll’s death, Mirza Makhdiim, who 
had been imprisoned twice, escaped Iran with his life. He subsequently set- 
tled in Ottoman territory. Later, he moved to Mecca, where he became a judge 
and shaykh of the grand mosque (haram) until his death in 995/1587.3° Mirza 
Makhdim is a representative example of the cross-regional transmission of 
scholarly tradition. His family on his father’s side boasted descent from the 
famous fifteenth-century theologian Sayyid al-Sharif ‘Ali al-Jurjani.3! On his 
mother’s side, Mirza Makhdum tells us that “the mother of his grandmother” 
was a daughter of Ghiyath al-Din Mansur, the son of Sadr al-Din Dashtaki.3? 
Mirza Makhdtm wrote a polemic treatise against Shi‘ism entitled al-Nawaqid 
li-bunyan al-rawafid. Later, al-Kurani’s foremost student Muhammad b. Rasul 
al-Barzanji (d. 1103/1691) wrote an abridgment of this work against Shi‘ism, 
titling it al-Nawafid li-l-rawafid.3? Mirza Makhdim also wrote several other 
works, among them a commentary on al-Jurjani’s Risalat al-mantiq.** Thus, he 
himself was a means of intellectual transmission from Iran to Ottoman lands, 
and eventually to the Hijaz. 

29  Pourjavady, “Muslih al-Din al-Lari and his Samples of the Sciences,” p. 293. Also: Judith 
Pfeiffer, “Teaching the Learned: Jalal al-Din al-Dawani’s Ijaza to Mu’ayyadzada ‘Abd al- 
Rahman Efendi and the Circulation of Knowledge Between Fars and the Ottoman Empire 
at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century,” in The Heritage of Arabo-Islamic Learning: Studies 
Presented to Wadad Kadi, ed. Wadad Qadi, Maurice A. Pomerantz, and Aram A. Shahin 
(Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016), p. 291. 

30 Rosemary Stanfield Johnson, “Sunni Survival in Safavid Iran; Anti-Sunni Activities During 
the Reign of Tahmasp 1,” Iranian Studies, 27 1-4 (1994), 123-133, Pp. 124. 

31 Rosemary Stanfield, Mirza Makhdum Sharifi:A 16th Century Sunni Sadr at the Safavid Court 
(New York University, Department of Near Eastern Language and Literature, PhD disser- 
tation, 1993), p. 32. 

32 Stanfield, Mirza Makhdum Sharifi, p. 39; also: Isma‘ll Basha al-Baghdadi, Hadiyyat al-Grifin 
asm@ al-mwallifin wa-l-musannifin (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, [re-print of Istan- 
bul 1950 edition])., vol. 1, p. 258. 

33. Edited by Muhammad Hidayat Nur Wahid as part of his PhD dissertation in al-Jami‘a al- 
Islamiyya, Medina, KSA, 1412-1413/[1991—1992]. 

34  Al-Baghdadi, Hadiyyat al-<rifin, vol.1, p. 224. 


The conversion of Iran not only forced Sunni scholars to leave, it also pre- 
vented Sunni scholars from outside Iran from heading toward what had been 
main centers of intellectual activity for the preceding few centuries. Iran was 
no longer a destination for Sunni scholars seeking to study Islamic theology 
and philosophy in an open atmosphere where commentaries on al-Tusi, Fakhr 
al-Din al-Razi, and Ibn Sina, and glosses and super glosses, had been pro- 
duced by Sunni and Shi‘ scholars for several centuries. Now, Shi tendencies 
dominated intellectual activity in Iran, with official support. The famous long- 
standing havens of thought such as Cairo and Damascus certainly attracted 
disaffected scholars, but the Hijaz had one principal advantage over these tra- 
ditional intellectual centers. The location of the Hijaz in the growth of Indian 
Ocean trade coupled with the special interest of two of the greatest Islamic 
empires, Ottoman and Mughal, in supporting the holy cities of Mecca and Med- 
ina helped establish the Hijaz as an attractive center for scholars and students 
leaving or seeking alternatives to Iran. 

The groups of individuals whose names will be mentioned later among al- 
Kurani’s teachers, students, and peers will include scholars from the Indian 
Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Ottoman Empire, North Africa, Egypt, the 
Levant, and of course Kurdistan, from which last both al-Kurani and al-Barzanji 
moved permanently to the Hijaz. All these scholars, with their scholarly tradi- 
tions from around all the Islamic world, met in the seventeenth-century Hijaz 
and (trans)formed it into one of this world’s most prosperous and diverse intel- 
lectual centers. 

This large number of students and scholars needed significant financial sup- 
port to develop the infrastructure of education, such as schools, libraries, and 
student residences, in addition to financial support for the everyday needs of 
students and scholars. These necessities were what the rich Mughal Islamic 
state in India provided, alongside the Ottoman efforts that we will address 

1.3 The Mughal Empire's Generous Donations to the Hijaz 

The huge economic support provided by numerous rulers from the Indian Sub- 
continent, especially the Mughals,®> to the Hijaz during the tenth/sixteenth 
and eleventh/seventeenth centuries contributed directly to its transformation 

35 Muslims reached India long before the Mughals. In the late sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries, the Mughal Empire grew out of descendants of the Mongol Empire who had 
been living in Turkestan in the fifteenth century. For a general overview of Islam in India 
see Barbara D. Metcalf, “A Historical Overview of Islam in South Asia,” in Islam in South 
Asia in Practice, ed. Barbara D. Metcalf (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009). 


into a hub for students and scholars from around the Islamic world. All the 
Mughal emperors were generous in their donations to the Hijaz. They estab- 
lished close links with the two holy cities without interruption, except for a 
short period in Akbar’s time when he lost interest in the affairs of the Hijaz 
altogether due to his own religious policies.*® 

Mughal relations with the Hijaz show a mix of piety with economic, politi- 
cal, and cultural interests. Copying the Quran in one’s own hand and sending 
the copy to Mecca or Medina was a popular practice among Indian Sultans.3” 
This practice may simply have been a pious act that did not have much direct 
effect on the life of the Hijaz, but it reveals the interest in the Hijaz and the 
spiritual place of this region that motivated all other Mughal involvement in 
the area, which would later have more direct consequences for the intellectual 
life of the Hijaz. The economic aspects of Indian support of the Hijaz can be 
seen in the sponsoring of hajj travel; constructions of schools, ribats, and differ- 
ent charitable institutions in the Hijaz; and the distribution of large amounts of 
goods and cash donations among the residents of Mecca and Medina.*® These 
aspects of Mughal interest in the Hijaz contributed to supporting scholars and 
students and provided them with the necessary infrastructure for the process 
of education, in addition to all the necessities of life. 

Support of the Hijaz by Indian rulers began before the Mughal Empire, 
although the Mughals would prove much more supportive materially. Several 
charitable institutions were built in the holy cities by these earlier Sultans. 
‘Ala al-Din Hasan Bahman Shah (r. 1347-1358), the founder of the Bahmani 

36 Seesome aspects of Akbar’s relation to religion in J.F. Richards, “The Formulation of Impe- 
rial Authority under Akbar and Jahangir,’ in The Mughal State 1526-1750, ed. Muzaffar Alam 
and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (India: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 132 and after. 

37. Sultan Muzaffar 11 of Gujarat (r. 1511-1526) would transcribe the Quran every year and send 
copies to Mecca and Medina. Pearson, Pious Passengers, p. 14. He appointed the Hanafi 
Imam of the grand mosque of Mecca to recite one of his transcriptions; the Imam was gen- 
erously paid by the Sultan. Naimur Rahman Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations: A Study 
of Political and Diplomatic Relations between Mughal India and the Ottoman Empire, 1556- 
1748 (Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madson, PhD dissertation, 1987), p. 229, fn. 25. 
Babur (d. 1530), the first Mughal Emperor, sent to Mecca a copy of the Quran, transcribed 
by himself in the script that he invented called khatt-Baburi (Baburi Script). Faroogqi, 
Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p.191; also M.N. Pearson, Pilgrimage to Mecca: The Indian Expe- 
rience, 1500-1800 (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1996), p. 107. Aurangzeb also did 
the same thing. Pearson, Pious Passengers, pp. 113-114. 

38 A large portion of the donations was directed to the Sharifs of the Hijaz. Alongside their 
spiritual and religious position as descendants of the Prophet, the Sharifs played a major 
role in guaranteeing the security of pilgrims. 


kingdom, is reported to have built a ribat in Mecca in 1354.39 A hospice, to 
which a madrasa was also attached, was built by Sultan Ahmad I (r. 1410-1441) 
in Mecca.*? Sultan Muzaffar 11 of Gujarat (1. 1511-1526) constructed a hospital 
complex in Mecca, consisting of a school, a place for the distribution of water 
to pilgrims, and other buildings, and he set aside endowments for the main- 
tenance of teachers and students.*! Many more institutions were built in the 
Hijaz by rulers from the Indian Subcontinent.*” The list of people who built 
and endowed ribats, schools, or other institutions to help students, scholars, 
and poor people extends to include rich people, and even many scholars. As 
we will see below, the ribats in Mecca alone in the Ottoman period numbered 
156; many of these were established by Indians.*3 

Besides the institution of buildings, goods, presents, and cash were fre- 
quently sent to the Hijaz. For instance, “the Sultans of Gujarat used to send 
70,000 mithqals (a gold coin, equal to one and a half drachm) annually for the 
residents of Mecca and Medina; out of this 25,000 mithqals were given to the 
Sharif of Mecca.”44 Bahadur’s successor, Mahmud 111 (r. 1537-1553), surpassed 
his predecessors in displaying benevolence to the people of the Hijaz. He had 
reserved the income of Gandhara, a village near the port of Cambay, as an 
endowment for the Hijaz. According to Haji al-Dabir,** the income of this vil- 
lage was invested in indigo and textiles and the merchandise transported to 
Jeddah on royal boats and sold in Jeddah’s market at considerable profit, its 
proceeds then being distributed in the holy cities. Haji al-Dabir writes: 

39 — Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 189. 

40 Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 188. 

41 Pearson, Pious Passengers, p. 114. 

42 Muzaffar Shah 11 also allotted a fixed sum for the poor of Mecca and Medina, and occa- 
sionally he dispatched a shipload of costly cloth for distribution among the residents of 
these cities. His son Bahadur Shah (1526-1537) is reported to have sent to Mecca in 1536 
his harem (seraglio) along with his treasure, consisting of 700 chests of gold and jew- 
els. Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 189. For more examples see Ibid., pp. 188-189; 
Z.A. Desai, “India and the Near East During 13th-15th Centuries,” in A Quest for Truth: A 
Collection of Research Articles of Dr. Z.A. Desai (Ahmadabad: Hazrat Pir Mohammed Shah 
Dargah Sharif Trust), pp. 14-115. 

43 See Husayn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Shafi, al-Arbita bi-Makka al-mukarrama fi al-‘ahd al-Uthmani 
(London: al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2005), for example: pp. 58, 85, 87, 89, 91, 
93, 98, 108, 116, 117, 119, 124, 180, 182, 183,198. 

44 Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 188. 

45 The author of the most detailed history of Gujarat, entitled Zafr al-walih bi-Muzaffar wa- 
alih. It was published under the title A History of Gujarat, ed. E. Denison Ross (Calcutta: 
Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1909). 


During his [Mahmid 111’s| regime, the residents of Mecca and Medina 
enjoyed extensive means of livelihood. They were free from debts. The 
Usmani (Ottoman) endowments came with the Egyptian Amir of Hajis 
to help them at the time of Hajj and some months of the year; while the 
Mahmudi endowment freed them from debt for the remaining months.*6 

The Mughal Empire was richer in resources and more benevolent than its 
predecessors. The Mughals would organize annual hajj caravans to Mecca, 
and on many occasions the government would sponsor all the pilgrims. The 
first Mughal /aj/ caravan left the imperial capital Fatehpur Sikri in 1576, with 
600,000 rupees in cash and 12,000 khil‘ats (dresses of honour) for distribution 
among the deserving people of Mecca and Medina; the Emperor also gave a 
substantial amount of money for the construction of a khangqa (dervish con- 
vent) in Mecca.*” Moreover, the fajj leader was instructed to prepare a list of 
the needy and the poor of the holy Cities and present it, upon his return, to 
the Emperor.*8 Babur would send nudhir (vows) to the Sufi men of Mecca and 
Medina and solicited them to pray for his well-being.49 

When Akbar conquered Gujarat in 1573 and dominated the port of Surat, 
which was known as the gateway to Mecca, he approved the continuance of 
the previous endowments (wagqf)°° properties dedicated to the haramayn by 
Sultan Mahmud 111. Akbar also added a few more villages to the waqf.5! When 
members of royal houses or their households went on pilgrimage to Mecca, 
they were usually provided with lavish supplies, and in some cases expenses 
and provisions were supplied from the State exchequer for all men and soldiers 

46 Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 190. Moreover, the Sultan ordered that two poor- 
houses be set up at Mecca. In 1553 he sent 1000 sacks of indigo to Jeddah for sale; the 
income from this sale was to be spent on digging wells along the road to Medina. Ibid. 

47 Robert Irwin, “Journey to Mecca: A History (Part 2),” in Hajj Journey to the Heart of Islam, 
ed. Venetia Porter (UK: The British Museum Press, 2012), p. 171; Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman 
Relations, p. 193. 

48 — Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 193. 

49  Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 191. 

50 See Pascale Ghazaleh ed., Held in Trust: Wagqf in the Islamic World (Cairo Scholarship 
Online. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press, 2011). For the legal framework 
of the institution of waqf and the development and administration of this institution see 
the first two chapters of Financing the Development of Old Waqf Properties: Classical Prin- 
ciples and Innovative Practices Around the World, Magda Ismail Abdel Mohsin and others, 
Palgrave Studies in Islamic Banking, Finance, and Economics (New York: Palgrave Macmil- 
lan, 2016). 

51 ~~ Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 192. 


who had the intention of making the pilgrimage.52 The sultans would appoint 
a man, designated by the title “Mir Haj,” to serve as their personal representa- 
tive in the pilgrimage. The Mir Haj was entrusted with enormous amounts of 
money for apportionment among the inhabitants of the haramayn. In 1577, the 
Mir Haj was entrusted with 500,000 rupees and 10,000 khil ‘ats; for the Sharif of 
Mecca, a cash award of 100,000 rupees and several splendid gifts was also dis- 

In general, all Mughal Emperors were very generous in their donations to 
the Hijaz, despite some political tensions. Even when Akbar lost interest in 
the affairs of the Hijaz altogether and his successor Jahangir showed no incli- 
nation to resume relations with the region, Indian Muslims continued to go 
on pilgrimage to Mecca and Jahangir occasionally sent donations.*+ The dona- 
tions that arrived in the Hijaz from Shahjahan, who became Emperor in 1628, 
and Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707) exceeded those from all their predecessors.>> The 
money would be sent as cash, or goods that were supposed to be sold in Jed- 
dah or in the Hijaz; the profits from these sales together with the cash would 
be distributed among the Sharifs, the poor, and the pious men living in retreat 
in Mecca and Medina.°® A large number of these pious men were permanently 
employed on daily stipends to act as the emperor's deputies in walking around 
the Ka‘ba, bowing to the Prophet's tomb, and reading the two copies of the 
Quran written by his own hand and presented to Medina. The emperor had 
also appointed a special officer to care for the endowments sanctioned for the 
holy sanctuaries.5” 

By 1694, Aurangzeb’s enthusiasm for the Sharifs of Mecca had begun to fade 
when he received several reports that the current Sharif had appropriated all 
the money sent to the Hijaz for his own use. Aurangzeb expressed his disgust 
at the unethical behavior of the Sharif, who was depriving the needy and the 
poor of their due share in the royal endowments. In this same year, the Sharif 

52  Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 193. Besides Muslims from the Indian Subconti- 
nent, many Central Asians and Khurasanis were also given provisions and expenses for 
the journey from the public treasury. A special royal ship, the ‘Ilahi’ was arranged for car- 
rying the pilgrims to their destination. Ibid. See also: Pearson, Pious Passengers, p. 115. 

53 Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 195. 

54 In 1622, he sent 200,000 rupees to Cambay, a famous port of Gujarat. The money was to 
be invested in the Red Sea trade; its proceeds were to be distributed among the poor of 
Mecca. Faroogi, Mughal-Ottoman relations, pp. 203-205. 

55  Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, pp. 205-214. 

56 — Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, pp. 205-208. 

57. Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, pp. 210-211. 

58  Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 214. 


of Mecca sent one of the Hijaz’s scholars, Muhammad b. Rasul al-Barzanji, on a 
mission to Aurangzeb. Probably the issue of economic support was the Sharif’s 
main concern, but al-Barzanjis own motivation was to intervene in debates 
over al-Sirhindi’s (d. 1034/1624) thought that had been raised in the Hijaz by 
some of al-Sirhindi’s students and in which al-Barzanji and his teachers al- 
Qushashi and al-Kurani had engaged, as we shall see in Chapter Six. Unfortu- 
nately, the Emperor refused to meet the delegation, and al-Barzanji returned 
through Yemen to the Hijaz.5° After Aurangzeb, donations and presents con- 
tinued to be sent to the Hijaz.®° In return, the Sharifs of Mecca would send mis- 
sions and presents to the Mughal emperors, mainly Arab horses, fine swords, 
and some sacred relics.©! 

Not only cash or items to be liquidated for cash were sent to the Hijaz, but 
various goods, alms, and presents as well. Once among the gifts was a can- 
dlestick studded with diamonds, which weighed 100 carats according to some 
historians. Shahjahan similarly sent to the Hijaz amber candlesticks that he had 
amongst his private property, “the largest of them all which weighed 700 tolas 
(unit of weight, about 12 grams), and was worth 10,000 rupees, it was covered 
with a network of gold, ornamented on all sides with flowers, and studded with 
gems.”62 Ahmad I of Gujarat dispatched a large, beautiful, red-colored canopied 
tent to provide shadow to the pilgrims performing circumambulation of the 
Ka‘ba.®? Al-‘Ayyasht in his account of his travel to the Hijaz says that the carpets 
and most of the furniture of the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, very luxurious 
furniture one otherwise could not see except in royal houses, had come from 
India and its kings.§* 

59 Mustafa b. Fath Allah al-Hamawi, Fawa@id aLirtihal wa-nata’ij al-safar fi akhbar al-qarn al- 
hadi ‘ashar, ed. ‘Abd Allah Muhammad al-Kandari (Damascus: Dar al-Nawadir, 2011), vol. 3, 
p- 307. 

60 “In November 1709, Emperor Bahadur Shah 1 sent gifts worth of 500,000 rupees to Mecca 
and Medina. An annual subsidy of 100,000 rupees was also sanctioned for the Sharif.” “In 
1717 Farrukhsiyar dispatched Muhammad Hafiz Khan to Mecca; he was entrusted with 
500,000 rupees for disbursement among the destitute and recluses of the Haramayn.” 
Faroogi, Mughal-Ottoman relations, pp. 215-216. According to Haji a-Dabir, “Every year, 
he [Asaf Khan] distributed one hundred and fifty boxes of gold, so much so that residents 
of Mekka and their women and servants were dressed in gold. He gave them sumptuous 
feasts on a very grand scale.” Ibid., 229, fn. 26. 

61 ~—_ Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 212. 

62 Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 207. 

63 Desai, “India and the Near East during 13th-15th Centuries,” p. 114. 

64 ‘Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya 1661-1663, ed. Sa‘id al-Fadili 
and Sulayman al-Qurashi (UAE: Abt Dhabi, Dar al-Suwaydi li-l-Nashr wa-l-Tawzi‘, 2006), 
vol. 1, p. 436. 


Alongside its pious and economic elements, patronage of the Hijaz had 
a political significance for the Mughals, which in turn had economic conse- 
quences for life in the Hijaz, as the hajj was often an acceptable method to 
move a person out of the way for a time, or to punish him.® This politically- 
motivated practice was used by the Mughals, and earlier rulers, to exile some 
unfortunate members of royal families, court persons, and elites.®® 

The policy of using the Hijaz as a place for political exile increased with the 
Mughals, as “Emperor Humayun exiled two of his own brothers, Mirza Kamran 
and Mirza Askari to Mecca; the Mirzas had incurred the Emperor’s displeasure 
for treasonable conduct.”®’ Many leading nobles of Akbar’s court went into vol- 
untary exile in Mecca owing to their differences with the emperor. Mirza Aziz 
Koka, Akbar’s foster brother and the Governor of Gujarat, was one of them.®® 
Akbar also deported several other grandees of his court to the Hijaz. They were 
charged with opposing the emperor’s religious policies.®? Aurangzeb had like- 
wise expelled many undesirable persons to the holy land. On many occasions, 
the selection of some famous name as representative of the empire to Mecca 
or as a leader of fajj caravans was actually a respectful way to expel them from 
India.’° Usually, the emperors also instructed the Hijaz’s authorities to keep an 
eye on them and detain them in Mecca.” 

65 Similar incidents can be found in several Central Asian dynasties; see some examples in 
Welsford, “The Re-opening of Iran to Central Asian Pilgrimage Traffic, 1600-1650,” pp. 153, 

66 Among the exiled people was Ilhamullah, the son of the Bahmani Sultan Kalimullah 
(1526-1538), who probably died in Mecca. Faroogi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 189. 

67. Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 217. 

68  Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 218. 

69 — Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 218. 

70 ‘Abd al-Nabi and Mulla ‘Abd Allah Sultanpuri, the leading scholars of the court, were cho- 
sen as Akbar’s permanent representatives in Mecca; the proper disbursement of the royal 
sadagat was to be the main duty of the imperial agent. The selection of these men was 
based on their being leaders of the orthodox group at the court; due to their opposition to 
Akbar’s religious aberrations, they had fallen from imperial grace. Hakimul Hulk Gilani, a 
distinguished physician and scholar, was commissioned as the royal Mir Haj for the year 
1580. The Hakim had also incurred Akbar’s displeasure for his outspoken criticism of the 
Emperor’s religious innovations; he was therefore conveniently exiled to Mecca. Jahangir 
deported Abdul Aziz Khan, the Governor of Qandahar, for having surrendered a coveted 
fort to Shah Abbas 1 of Persia. Sheikh Adam Bannoori, a leading Sufi of the seventeenth 
century, was banished, along with his many followers, by Shahjahn; the Sheikh died at 
Medina in 1643. Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, pp. 196-198. 

71 ~~ Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 217. This policy seems to have been abandoned by 
Aurangzeb’s successors. Ibid., p. 218. 


A major consequence of this behavior was that these usually very wealthy 
people spent a great deal of money in the Hijaz. Such was the case of Mirza 
Aziz Koka, who was very generous with the charitable organizations of the 
holy cities, as well as donating to the Sharif of Mecca.”* Likewise, when ‘Abd al- 
Aziz Asraf Khan, the Prime Minister of Sultan Bahadur of Gujarat, was sent to 
Mecca, he was accompanied by 1,000 knights and soldiers and an equally sized 
retinue and attendants in ten vessels, along with the royal seraglio; royal trea- 
sures in hundreds of chests full of cash, textiles and like material; and jewels; 
he stayed there for over a decade before he returned to Ahmadabad in 955.AH. 
Asraf Khan’s stay in Mecca was marked by his piety and religiosity, and by his 
lavish patronage of learned men, grants to scholarly establishments, and assis- 
tance to the deserving and the needy, which was unheard of in scope in the 
history of the holy city.” 

Another interesting aspect of Mughal relations with the Hijaz was the ex- 
change of scholars and ideas. People from the Indian Subcontinent visited Mus- 
lim countries in the Middle East for religious reasons, some of them becoming 
very distinguished scholars in the Arab world.”4 Several names of Indian schol- 
ars will appear in the next chapter, including ‘Abd Allah al-Lahin, one of al- 
Kurani's teachers; al-Sayyid Ghadanfar al-Naqshbandi; Sibghat Allah al-Hindi; 
Adam Bannuri; Muhammad al-Hindi al-Shattari;’5 Jamal al-Din al-Hindi al- 
Nagshbandi; and Muhammad Ma‘sum (d. 1079/1668), the son of al-Sirhindi.”6 
In the other direction, numerous Arab scholars selected to move to and set- 
tle under the patronage of different rulers of the Indian Subcontinent. The 
most famous of these is Shaykh al-‘Aydarus, Anmad b. Husayn (d. 1048/1639), 

72 Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 218. 

73 Desai, “Relations of India with Middle-Eastern Countries during the 16th-17th Centuries,” 
Pp. 145. 

74 For the names of several of these visitors, see Desai, “India and the Near East during the 
13th—-15th Centuries,” p. 117 and after. Desai includes special sections for those who went 
to Mecca to study with its scholars such as al-Sakhawi and Ibn Fahd. Ibid., p. 120. 

75 Hasan b. ‘Ali al-‘Ujaymi, Zawaya al-tasawwuf wa-l-sifiyya al-musamma Khabaya al-zawa- 
ya, ed. Ahmad al-Sayih and Tawfiq Wahba (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqafa al-Diniyya, 2009), 
p. 293. (Henceforth al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya). 

76‘ Fornames of other Indian scholars who studied, learned, and lived in the Middle East, see 
Desai, “Relations of India with Middle-Eastern Countries during the 16th—17th Centuries,” 
p- 138 and after. The main destinations of these scholars were Mecca, Medina, Damas- 
cus, and Cairo. Some well-known names include Qutb al-Din Muhammad al-Nahrawali 
(d. 990/1583), who wrote a history of Mecca entitled al-I1am bi-alam bayt Allah al-haram; 
‘Ali al-Muttaqi, famous as al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, who wrote Kanz al-‘ummal fi sunan al- 
aqwal wa-l-af‘al; and Ibrahim al-Manikpur, who studied in Baghdad, Cairo, and the Hijaz 
and finally taught in Cairo for 24 years. 


the author of al-Nur al-safir ‘an akhbar al-qarn al-‘Gshir, in which he mentions 
many other Arab scholars who lived in the Indian Subcontinent.”” 

In the next section, I will discuss the contribution of the Ottomans to the 
situation in the Hijaz. It is interesting to note that the Ottoman traveler Evliya 
Celebi (d. c. 1684), in his account of his trip to the Hijaz, after describing the 
generosity of the Ottoman Sultans in their donations to the Hijaz says that the 
surra®® arriving from India exceeded that which arrived from Ottoman rulers, 
except for the food supplies ( ghilal).”? Thus, Mughal economic support was the 
decisive factor in the prosperity of life in the Hijaz, which impacted the lives 
of students and scholars and thus intellectual life in general. When the politi- 
cal conditions in the Indian Subcontinent changed and material aid declined, 
prosperity began to decline in the Hijaz, which, accompanied by other factors, 
led to the deterioration of intellectual life, as I will explain in the conclusion. 

1.4 Ottomans and the Hijaz 

The Hijaz was constantly receiving supplies and support from surrounding 
countries, mainly Egypt, but also Yemen and Syria. The Ottomans increased 
the finances of the Hijaz, and numerous pilgrimage-related projects were sup- 
ported by many Ottoman sultans, princes, wealthy people, scholars, and even 
women of the court.8° Much of this funding was directed toward educational 
institutions that supported students and scholars. Some of these institutions, 
including schools, libraries, ribats, and even soup kitchens, will be mentioned 
later. For now, other aspects of Ottoman support to the Hijaz will be presented, 

77. Many names of Arab scholars who settled and worked in Indian courts can be found in 
Desai, “Relations of India with Middle-Eastern Countries during the 16th—17th Centuries,” 
Pp. 133- 

78  Surra or surre refers to a traditional purse or money bag. These payments would be sent 
to the Hijaz with a procession ceremony. The name surra was used for the money paid to 
the Bedouin as well as the money and gifts sent to Sharifs, scholars, and needy people in 
Mecca and Medina. See Syed Tanvir Wasti, “The Ottoman Ceremony of the Royal Purse,” 
Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Mar., 2005), pp. 193-200. 

79  Awliya Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, translated from Turkish to Arabic by al-Safsafi Ahmad 
al-Mursi (Cairo: Dar al-A faq al-‘Arabiyya, 1999), p. 276. 

80  Suraiya Faroghi, Pilgrims & sultans: The Hajj under the Ottomans (London: I.B. Tauris, 
2014), pp. 10, 79. According to the Ottoman system, the expenditures of the budget of Egypt 
were divided into four categories: 1- Salaries, wages, and pensions; 2- Expenditures for pur- 
poses in Egypt; 3- Expenditures for purposes in Mecca and Medina and for the pilgrimage 
to the holy cities; 4- Expenditures for purposes elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire. Stan- 
ford J. Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt 1005-1006/1596-1597 (The Hague: Mouton, 1968), 
PP: 7, 13. 


mainly the Ottoman securing of the pilgrimage routes; the direct support of the 
people, from Sharifs and scholars to students and poor people; and large-scale 
construction projects. 

The Hijaz was crucial to the Ottomans for several reasons. From a religious 
perspective, by the sixteenth century the Ottoman Empire had expanded into 
Christian Europe and was fighting against Safavid Shi‘ Iran, so they strove to 
establish their legitimacy as the foremost representatives of Sunni Islam. The 
subjugation of the Hijaz region, in which the most important Islamic cen- 
tres are located, under the control of the Ottomans, and the supplication of 
the Ottoman caliph in the two great mosques in Mecca and Medina as the 
caliph of Muslims, especially during the fajj season when Muslims from all over 
the Islamic world flocked to the Hijaz, reinforced the identity of the Ottoman 
Empire as the official representative of Muslims. From a political and economic 
perspective, it was important for the Ottomans to reach the Indian Subconti- 
nent by sea, since the establishment of the Safavid dynasty closed the way by 
land. At the same time, the Portuguese ambition to extend their domination to 
the Red Sea in order to reach the closest point to the Mediterranean Sea was 
critical in Ottoman strategic calculations. 

One of the Sultan’s obligations as “Servant of the Holy Places” was to protect 
the pilgrims during the season of the /ajj and throughout their long journey. 
In the seventeenth century, the Ottomans controlled Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, the 
main gates for pilgrims from most of the Islamic world, except for Indian and 
Southeast Asian pilgrims, who would arrive through Yemen. The pilgrims’ car- 
avans had to cross the desert, in which the Ottoman Sultans had only limited 
control.8! Many caravans, especially those from Syria, were accompanied by 
soldiers and cavalrymen, but this protection was not enough to guard them 
from Bedouin attacks.®? To ensure the safety of pilgrims and to secure the roads, 
the Ottomans offered official subsidies, the surra, to the Bedouins living along 
the hajj route.83 The surra was nominally offered as a token in recognition of 

81 The desert interior of Arabia had a small population consisting mostly of nomadic or 
semi-nomadic Bedouins and few natural resources. Before the discovery of oil, neither 
the Ottomans nor preceding empires were very interested in ruling this desert, which 
remained mainly under the control of the Bedouin. See Ochsenwald, “Ottoman Arabia 
and the Holy Hijaz, 1516-1918,” pp. 23-34, 25. 

82 In the thirteenth century, political divisions within the Islamic world and the threats 
posed to it by the Mongols and Crusaders were severe. This made performing the hajj 
difficult. Under the Ottomans the boundaries between different regions were lifted, thus 
facilitating movement from one place to another. Robert Irwin, “Journey to Mecca: A His- 
tory (Part 2),” p. 137. 

83. For more information about the recipients, the amounts paid in certain years, and the 


the food and water that the Bedouins delivered to the caravans, but actually it 
was a means of protecting the caravans from Bedouin attacks. The money that 
was used to pay the Bedouins came with almost every caravan passing through 
the desert, and “between 1596-1597 and 1614, 5100-5800 Ottoman gold coins 
were assigned every year from Egyptian provincial revenues as surra payment 
to Bedouins.”*4 In spite of gaps in the sources, Suraiya Faroqhi suggests that 
payments from Syrian revenues were usually higher than those derived from 
Egypt. Securing the routes was but one aspect of Ottoman interest in the Hijaz; 
other aspects included supporting the Sharifs, scholars, students, and poor of 
the Hijaz as well as constructing mosques, schools, ribdts, kitchens, libraries, 
water supplies, and other infrastructural works. 

Ottoman support of the Hijaz started before the establishment of the Otto- 
man Empire. Bayazid I (1. 792-805/1389-1402) and then his son Muhammad (1. 
816—824/1413-1421) started to send the surra, although irregularly and without 
specific amounts.® In the time of Murad 11 (r. 824—848/1421-1444), the surra 
became regulated; in 855/1451 he sent the equivalent of 3500 florins.8® After 
Sharif Barakat 11 (1. 1497-1525) acknowledged the authority of the Ottoman Sul- 
tan over the Hijaz, he was duly confirmed in his position and was given the 
honorary rank of wazir in the Ottoman government and assigned an annual 
salary of 25,000 kurush (a Turkish piaster).87 

New villages were added every year to the sources of the endowments that 
formed the source of surra, and the amounts of the payments increased almost 
every year.88 In 1517, Selim 1 is reported to have sent 200,000 gold coins to 

source of these monies, see Suraiya Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 55 and after. A docu- 
ment from Ottoman archive records the surra of 1192/1778 for the Bedouin, including lists 
of names of the tribesmen and the amount they received. This is also discussed in Suhayl 
Saban’s study, “Mukhassasat al-qaba’il al-‘Arabiyya min waqi‘ al-surra al-‘Uthmaniyya li- 
‘am 1192/1778,” Majallat Kulliyat al-Adab, Jami‘at al-Malik ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, n. 20, 1428-1429 

84  Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 56. 

85 Munir Atalar, al-Surra al-hamayuniyya wa-mawakib al-surra, tr. Muhammad Harb (Istan- 
bul: Markaz al-Tarikh al-‘Arabi li-I-Nashr, 2019), pp. 17-19. 

86 Atalay, al-Surra al-hamayuniyya, p. 19; Muhammad ‘Abd al-Latif Huraydi, Shw’iin al-hara- 
mayn ft al-‘ahd al-‘uthmani fi daw’ al-wathd@igq al-Turkiyya al-Uthmaniyya (Cairo: Dar al- 
Zahra’, 1989), p. u. The Florentine florin was a coin struck from 1252 to 1533. It had 54 
grains of nominally pure or ‘fine’ gold (3.5 grams, 0.1125 troy ounce) worth approximately 
140 modern US dollars. Richard A. Goldthwaite, The Economy of Renaissance (John Hop- 
kins University Press, 2009), p. 48. 

87  Farooqi, Mughal-Ottoman Relations, p. 185. Rulers based in Baghdad, Cairo, and Istanbul 
could not control the Hijaz and guarantee the safety of their pilgrims without the cooper- 
ation of the Sharifs. 

88 See Atalay, al-Surra al-hamayuniyya, pp. 24-85. 


Mecca and Medina for distribution among the residents of these cities. The 
surra was sent annually with the Amir al-hajj, the leader of the pilgrimage, 
and was distributed under his supervision. In the same year, a sum of 450,000 
paras (a Turkish coin of the value of one fortieth of a piaster or 1/100 of a 
pound) was sanctioned for hajj expenses. In 1533-1534, the surra sent to the 
holy cities amounted to 560,000 paras. In 1595-1596, the total expenditures 
for the hajj at the holy cities was estimated to be 4,358,025 paras. By 1798, 
it had increased to 29,956,017 paras a year.89 Shaw’s work in The Budget of 
Ottoman Egypt 1005-1006/1596-1597 indicates that the total revenues amounted 
to 66,180,576 paras and the total expenditures 44,702,421 paras, of which the 
expenditures of the holy cities amounted to 1,327,240 paras.°° According to 
Faroghi, “of the 300,000-385,000 gold pieces sent to the Hejaz every year, at 
least 120,000 or about one third were derived directly from Egyptian sources.’?! 
For example, “according to the budget of 1596-1597, subsidies sent to Mecca 
and Medina out of official Egyptian revenues amounted to at least 903,892 para 
or 22,597 gold pieces [...] almost 10 per cent of the Egyptian budget of these 
years.’°? Other amounts from the central administration’s budget for 1527-1528, 
1653, 1660-1661, and 1690-1691, and expenditures on behalf of the holy cities in 
the early seventeenth century from the Egyptian budget, can be found in Faro- 
qhi’s book.93 Among the recipients of the donations were the Sharifs, imams 
of the harams, muftis, judges, scholars, students, mujawirun, pilgrims, and the 
poor.* The imperial surra continued to be sent to the Hijaz until 1334/1915, one 
year before Sharif Husayn’s revolution.% 

The direct donations of Sultans or government revenues were not the only 
ways of supporting the Hijaz under Ottoman control. One of the most impor- 
tant methods of funding the Hijaz was wagqf, which existed in every Islamic 

89 SJ. Shaw, The Financial Administrative Organization and Development of Ottoman Egypt 
1517-1798 (Princeton, N,J.: Princeton University Press, 1962), pp. 239-271. 

go __ Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt 1005-1006/1596-1597, p. 21. 

91‘ Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. go. 

92 Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 79. More detail on subsides that were sent to the Hijaz can 
be found in Suraiya Faroghi, Pilgrims and Sultans; Atalay, al-Surra al-hamayuniyya, and 
Huraydi, Shw’tin al-haramayn al-sharifayn fi al-‘ahd al-‘uthmani. 

93 Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, pp. 78, 81. Faroghi, based on Ottoman archives, has written 
the most comprehensive account of the political and socio-economic aspects of the Hijaz 
during the seventeenth century. 

94 For lists of some names and their allowances, see Muhammad ‘Ali Fahim Bayyumi, 
Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn fi Misr ibban al-asr al-Uthmani bayn 923-1220/ 
1517-1805 (Cairo: Azhar University, Master’s thesis, 1999). 

95 Atalay, al-Surra al-hamayuniyya, p. 87; Huraydi, Shw’tin al-haramayn al-sharifayn fi al-ahd 
al-Uthmani, p. 36. 


country. With the expansion of Islam, donations would arrive from all parts of 
the Islamic world. In almost every country there were what are known as waqf 
al-haramayn, “endowments of the two mosques [generally the two cities] of 
Mecca and Medina,”*6 consisting of public endowments designed to support 
schools, scholars, students, institutions, buildings, and the poor in the two holy 
cities.9” A French officer in Algiers claimed that the poor of the holy cities of 
Islam were the beneficiaries of no less than three-quarters of the town’s endow- 

More important than monetary donations were food supplies. The scarcity 
of natural resources in the Hijaz made it depend entirely on support from for- 
eign rulers. Ottoman administrators reformed and expanded on Mamluk foun- 
dations, which had usually been assigned to villages whose taxes constituted 
their yearly revenues, ultimately subsuming these Egyptian foundations under 
the overall heading of the Greater Dashisha foundation. Many Sultans enlarged 
these foundations by the addition of new villages.°° 

Egypt, as briefly mentioned above, was the source of most subsidies remit- 
ted to the holy cities, including grain and other foodstuffs. Evliya Celebi in 
his visit to the Hijaz in 1082/1671 gives valuable information about some admin- 
istrative expenses. For example, he states: 

When it is not the pilgrimage season, 14,000 men—great and small, 
rich and poor—reside here as listed in the court register. The supply of 

96‘ For a comprehensive study of the al-haramayn endowments, their sources, their value, 
the way they were spent and distributed, and their recipients and the projects that were 
carried out in the Hijaz by these endowments, see Mustafa Kular, Awqaf al-haramayn fial- 
dawala al-Uthmaniyya fi al-garnayn al-sadis ‘ashar wa-l-sabi' ‘ashar, tr. Muhammad Harb 
(Istanbul, Markaz al-Tarikh al-‘Arabi li-l-Nashr, 2019). 

97 + Anexcellent study of wagf al-haramayn in one region is Miriam Hoexter, Endowments, 
Rulers, and Community: Wagqf al-Haramayn in Ottoman Algiers (Leiden: Brill. 1998). 

98  Hoexter, Endowments, Rulers, and Community, p. 88. However, the author thinks the 
amount is somewhat exaggerated and she provides other amounts with which to com- 
pare; for example, in Aleppo they constituted 9.6% of all the khayri beneficiaries; in a 
pilot quantitative project comprising 104 endowments deeds collected from Egypt, Syria, 
Palestine, Istanbul, and Anatolia, ranging in date from 1340 to 1947, the haramayn were 
5% of the primary and 17 % of the subsequent charitable beneficiaries. Ibid. The Algerian 
annual allocation varied between 1,100 and 1,500 gold dinar, for the years between 1667-— 
1780. Ibid, pp. 145-146. 

99  Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 80. 

100 Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 79. For more detail concerning the Hijaz’s subsidies and 
their recipients, see Ibid., p. 74 and after; Husam ‘Abd al-Mu‘ti, “Piety and Profit: The Hara- 
mayn Endowments in Egypt (1517-1814),” in Pascale Gazaleh (ed.), Held in Trust; Kular, 
Awgaf al-haramayn fi al-dawala al-Uthmaniyya. 


food and drink for this population is covered by the endowments of Sul- 
tan Salem, the conqueror of Egypt, Sultan Sulayman, Sultan Murad m1 
and Sultan Ahmed. The endowments known as the Great Dashisha and 
the Little Dashisha, Muradiyya, Mehemmediyye and Khassakiyya pro- 
vide annually 14,000 x 100,000 ardebs of wheat. The grain is brought from 
Cairo to Suez, thence to Yanbu‘ and from there by camel to Medina. 
Everyone receives his share according to the imperial warrant (berat-i 
padishaht) in his possession and in return prays for the Sultan.!! 

According to Celebi, “1,000 gold pieces from the imperial surra (the sultan’s 
annual gift to the holy cities) and 200 bushels of wheat from Egypt are set aside 
for the Molla and the same for the shaykh al-haram.”!02 

Along with direct money support and food supplies, unique gifts would also 
be sent to the two great mosques in Mecca and Medina.1° Evliya Celebi gives a 
description of a prayer niche and golden candles in the room of the Prophet's 
tomb, saying: 

The tomb is also adorned with many valuable chandeliers, each the me- 
mento of a sultan. Only God knows how much each one is worth. There 
are thousands of jewel-encrusted lamps, golden balls, seals of Solomon 
and decanter-shaped jewelled lamps that dumbfound the viewer. Since 
there is no room for all the many chandeliers under this high dome, some 
of them are hanging by jewelled chains in seventy or eighty places in the 
various comers of the nine-arched dome and they have been adorned 
with even more gifts that were brought in later.!°4 

Along with sending money, food supplies, and gifts to rulers, scholars, and to 
the two great mosques, the establishment of schools, ribats, and various insti- 
tutions increased due to the generous support of many sultans, princes, the 
wealthy, and even court women. Construction in the Hijaz was quite expen- 
sive. Apart from building stones, everything else, i-e., timber, iron, bricks, and 
marble, had to be imported from distant provinces.!°° Qualified workers on 
Ottoman construction sites in the Hijaz also had to be imported, often coming 

101 Celebi, Evliya Celebi in Medina, pp. 9-121. 

102 Celebi, Evliya Celebi in Medina, p. 37. 

103 Records of gifts and donations from Ottoman Sultan to Mecca and Medina in 1503-1504 
can be found in Faroghi’s Pilgrims & Sultans, p.77. 

104 Celebi, Evliya Celebi in Medina, p. 107. More description can be found on p. 105. 

105 About the sources of these materials see Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 94. 


from Syria or Egypt.!6 The renovation of the great mosques of Mecca and Med- 
ina was especially costly due to special decorations and the materials used.!0” 

The Ottomans maintained the numerous already-established Mamluk wagf 
foundations in Mecca and Medina and added many more to them.!°8 Some 
of these foundations were ruined when the Ottomans took power, and oth- 
ers were functioning or reparable.!°9 Water supplies, public baths, and soup 
kitchens were among common projects." In these charitable projects several 
women of the court played an important role. For example, Hurrem Sultan 
(d. 965/1558), the wife of Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent (d. 1566), built two 
institutions in Mecca and Medina, each one consisting of a mosque, school, 
kitchen, and ribat, and attached to them many endowments that covered all 
their expenses. 

Among the institutions that received donations from Egypt in the Ottoman 
period were primary schools (Auttabs), schools, libraries, ribats, zawiyas, hospi- 
tals, and water supplies. These institutions were usually established by sultans 
or rulers and took their names, as in the case of such establishments as mak- 
tab al-Sultan Murad,” the schools of Sultan Sulayman al-Qanuni,"? the school 
of Dawid Basha,"* al-madrasa al-Hamidiyya established by ‘Abd al-Hamid al- 
Awwal (r. 1773-1788), and many other schools, libraries, and ribats."5 Bayyumi 
in his Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn lists some of the most impor- 
tant schools that were established by Egyptians or funded by Egyptian waqf; 
some of these schools were established earlier than the Ottoman period, but 
the Ottomans continued to support them through waqf from Egypt. He names 

106 Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 96. 

107 For some data concerning the construction expenditures see Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, 
p. 97. She also offers some comparison with the building expenses of two major Istanbul 
mosques, the Sulaymaniyya complex and the Sultan Ahmad mosque. Ibid., p. 98. 

108 For a detailed study of Mamluk wagqfs for the Hijaz, see the PhD dissertation of Anmad 
Hashim Ahmad Badrshini, Awgaf al-haramayn al-sharifayn fi al-‘asr al-Mamluki (648- 
923/1250-1517) (KSA, Mecca: Jami‘at Umm al-Qura, Kulliyyat al-Shari‘a wa-l-Dirasat al- 
Islamiyya, PhD dissertation, 2001). 

109 See some examples in Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 106. 

110 in Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, pp. 106-112. 

111 See the waqf conditions in Majida Makhlaf, Awgaf nisa@’ al-salatin al-‘uthmaniyyin, waq- 

fiyyat zawjat al-Sultan Sulayman al-Qanini ‘ala al-haramayn al-sharifayn (Beirut: Dar al- 
Afaq al-‘Arabiyya, 2006). 

112 Bayyumi, Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn, p. 343. 

113 Bayyumi, Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn, p. 346. 

114 Bayyumi, Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn, p. 346. 

115 See Nusus Uthmaniyya ‘an al-awda‘ al-thaqafiyya fi al-Hijaz: Al-awqaf, al-madaris, al- 
maktabat, ed. & tr. Suhayl Saban (KsA, al-Riyad: Maktabat al-Malik ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, 2001). 


seven primary schools established in Mecca and three in Medina, and four reg- 
ular schools in Mecca and six in Medina.!® We also find that in 1131/1718 the 
wagf of Sultan Murad contains salaries for eight physicians (tabib) responsible 
for the health of students and teachers in Mecca.” Bayyumi likewise mentions 
the libraries attached to schools or zawiyas. He also mentions three takiyyas 
(hospices) in Mecca and three in Medina, three ribats in Mecca and four in 
Medina, one zawiya, one hospital (bimaristan), water supplies, and even spe- 
cific amounts for two parks, one in Mecca and one in Medina."8 Bayyumi also 
mentions the institutions about whose endowments he found documents in 
Egyptian Archives. Discussion of the many other educational institutions in 
the Hijaz will follow, after discussing the local factors that contributed to the 
stability of the Hijaz, especially Medina, and made it attractive for scholars and 
students, as well as for donations and thus the flourishing of this educational 

The four global elements mentioned above contributed to transforming the 
Hijaz into a centre of intellectual life in the seventeenth century. The connec- 
tion through different parts of the Islamic world was reinforced by the spread 
of European navies in the Indian Ocean and the Ottoman securing of the land 
roads, which together facilitated the circulation of scholars and knowledge. At 
the same time, two wealthy empires were very generous in supporting schol- 
ars and students with all their needs, including residences, stipends for life, and 
the educational infrastructure. After Iran ceased to be the destination for Sunni 
students and scholars, the Hijaz took on this role. But external factors would 
be insufficient to turn the Hijaz into an intellectual center if there had been no 
internal factors that facilitated the reception of expatriates and provided them 
with a suitable environment for stability and learning. A brief look at the polit- 
ical history of the Hijaz will reveal why the Hijaz, especially Medina, became 
in the seventeenth century an attractive center for scholars and students. 

2 The Seventeenth-Century Hijaz in Its Local Context 

The special status of the Hijaz as the birthplace of Islam, the destination of 
the annual fajj season, and the home of the Prophet’s family has played an 
essential role in the history of the region. The general political lines that have 
influenced the intellectual life and the transformation of the Hijaz, especially 

116 Bayyumi, Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn, p. 339 and after. 
117. Bayyumi, Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn, p. 342. 
118 Bayyumi, Mukhassasat al-haramayn al-sharifayn, p. 366 and after. 


Medina, into an attractive center for scholars, students, and donations, will be 
briefly presented. Then, I will explain why Medina flourished as an intellectual 
center more than Mecca, while emphasizing that Mecca remained the main 
center for intellectual exchange during the hajj season. 

Descendants of the prophet Muhammad, the Hashemite Sharif dynasty, 
were the rulers of the Hijaz with an almost unbroken succession from the 
fourth/tenth century until 1925.9 The Hasanid Sharifs were the rulers of Mecca 
and the Husaynid Sharifs ruled Medina. The political history of the Hijaz dur- 
ing this period reveals mostly constant intra-Sharifs conflicts between differ- 
ent branches of the family, until almost the tenth/fifteenth century when the 
Hasanid Sharifs of Mecca came to dominate both cities.!?° This shift in political 
power in Mecca’s favor reflected positively on the intellectual life in Medina, as 
we will see. 

The Hijaz throughout this period was officially under the patronage of a 
stronger power, but the Hashemite Sharifs were the actual and direct rulers. 
They were forced to accept this kind of domination because of the scarcity 
of economic sources in the Hijaz and the need for stronger powers to secure 
the roads of trade and pilgrimage, the main sources for the life of the Hijaz, 
and to support the Hijaz with almost every kind of economic resource. When 
the Abbasid Caliphate weakened and later collapsed, the governors of Syria, 
Egypt, and Yemen attempted to take control over the Hijaz to legitimize their 
power through symbolic authority over the most important places for Muslims. 
The emirs of Mecca would shift their allegiance between the Mamluks in Cairo 
and the Rasulids in Yemen, or to other powers in Iraq and Syria, for economic 
reasons and because of their concerns about the ever-increasing influence of 
external powers in the Hijaz affairs.!2! 

In the Mamluk period (1250-1517), the Sharifs of the Hijaz would send their 
sons to study in Cairo, the Mamluk capital, in order to establish connections to 
the center of power that dominated the Hijaz. When Barakat 11 b. Muhammad 
b. Barakat, who would become the Sharif-ruler of the Hijaz (1. 1495-1524), was 
a child, his father sent him to Egypt for several years to study and to establish 
good relations with the Mamluk rulers. This strategy worked: the Mamluk Sul- 

119 G. Rentz, “Hashimids,’ £72. Rentz starts from al-Hasan bin ‘Ali and follows his dependents 
until they become the main four branches: the Misawyds, the Hawashim, the Qatadids, 
and the Sulaymanids. They all descended from Misa 1 al-Jawn, a grandson of al-Hasan and 
a younger brother of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya. 

120 For the political history of the Hijaz and the Sharifs’ conflicts see De Gaury, Rulers of 

121 Richard T. Mortel, “Prices in Mecca during the Mamluk period,” Journal of the Economic 
and Social History of the Orient, vol. 32: 3 (Oct, 1989), pp. 279-334, p. 284. 


tan of Egypt, Muhammad b. Qaitbay (r. 1496-1497), approved Barakat 11 as the 
emir of Mecca after the death of his father.” Barakat 11 in turn sent his son 
Abu Numayy (d. 1584) to Egypt at the age of eight for education and to pre- 
pare the boy to be his successor. As the situation had always been in the Hijaz, 
the conflicts between Sharifs never stopped, but Barakat 11 manage to control 
the Hijaz for quite some time. When Mamluk rule came to its end with the 
Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 923/1517, Aba Numayy, now aged thirteen, was 
sent back to Cairo to proclaim his allegiance to Sultan Selim, who was pleased 
to thus receive the homage of the Sharif of Mecca. Less than a month after the 
Ottomans ended Mamluk rule in Egypt, the Portuguese fleet had sailed to the 
Red Sea, which had incited the Sharifs to accelerate their declaration of loyalty 
to the Ottomans. Sultan Selim 1 acknowledged the Sharif’s position and con- 
firmed his independence in the district of Mecca. Mecca thereby became part 
of the Ottoman Empire and was known as the Vilayet of Hijaz.!23 The names of 
Sultan Selim 1 and his successors were henceforth mentioned in public prayers 
in Mecca and Medina. The Sharifs continued to rule the urban centres in the 
Hijaz and the appointment of a new emir of Mecca was left to the Sharifian 

In 1525, Sharif Barakat 11 died in Mecca.!?5 His son Muhammad Abi Nu- 
mayy II now became the ruler of Mecca, and with the strong support of the 
Ottomans and other parties throughout Islamic world, the situation in Mecca 
changed rapidly. De Gaury describes the situation in the time of Abu Numayy 
as follows: 

Owing to the great wealth and success of Ottoman arms, Mecca had been 
strikingly embellished and had otherwise prospered under Abu Numayy 
[...] The history of this time is largely a tale of new works in Mecca, the 
building of almshouses, and of pilgrim khans, of schools and courts built 
or repaired, of great works inside the temple itself and on water channels 
between the hills and Mecca. The city was probably never so happy as it 
was under the Sharif Aba Numayy 11, who ruled until he was eighty years 
of age.126 

122 De Gaury, Rulers of Mecca, p. 114. 

123 Peters, Mecca: A Literary History, p. 200; De Gaury, Rulers of Mecca, p. 113. 

124 Abir M., “The ‘Arab Rebellion’ of Amir Ghalib of Mecca (1788-1813),’” Middle Eastern Stud- 
ies, Vol. 7, No. 2 (May 1971), pp. 185-200. 

125 For more information about him, see Peters, Mecca: A Literary History, p. 200; De Gaury, 
Rulers of Mecca, p. 114. 

126 De Gaury, Rulers of Mecca, pp. 131-132. 


Aba Numayy died in 1584. After a period of conflict among Abu Numayy’s 
sons, Sharif Zayd b. Muhsin (d. 1077/1666) became the Sharif of Mecca (r. 1631— 

The first century of Ottoman rule over the Hijaz was quite successful and the 
region witnessed great stability and improvement. From the seventeenth cen- 
tury onward, however, Ottoman authority in Arabia started to weaken, after 
Yemen became fully independent in the second quarter of the century. By the 
eighteenth century, the power of the Ottoman Empire was rapidly declining. 
Throughout that century there were a number of instances in which the Turk- 
ish representatives in the Hijaz were either killed, driven out of the country, 
or forced to hand over their share of Jeddah’s revenue.'® At the beginning of 
the nineteenth century, Sa‘tid b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Sa‘ud 1 (1. 1803-1814), under 
the influence and the inspiration of the principles of Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al 
Wahhab (d. 1792), succeeded in occupying the Hijaz, Mecca in 1803 and then 
Medina in 1805.!29 Ibn Sa‘ad forbade the mention of the Sultan’s name in the 
Friday prayer.!3° However, the Ottomans managed to drive the Wahhabis out of 
the Hijaz through the intervention of the governor of Egypt, Muhammad ‘Ali 
Pasha (d.1849). Egyptian troops captured Medina, and one year later occupied 
Mecca.!3! The Egyptians remained in the Hijaz until 1840, and during Muham- 
mad ‘Ali’s control over the Hijaz the Sharifate became an honorary position. 
With the Egyptian evacuation of the Hijaz, the Ottomans attempted to impose 
a new policy to have more direct control. The new policy, which formally made 

127 About these conflicts see De Gaury, Rulers of Mecca, p. 132 and after. 

128 Two distinct processes that had begun in the eighteenth century greatly influenced the 
position of the Hijaz and the Sharifate by the end of the century. The first, and the more 
important, was the emergence and growth of Wahhabism in Arabia. The second was the 
growing interest of European powers in the Red Sea; the Suez Canal was opened in 1869. 

129 ©Al-Amr, The Hijaz under Ottoman Rule 1869-1914: Ottoman Vali, the Sharif of Mecca, and 
the Growth of British Influence, p. 49. In March 1803, Emir Ghalib was forced to evacuate 
Mecca and the town fell to Ibn Sa‘td, who then followed Ghalib to Jeddah. Soon afterward, 
when Ibn Sa‘id returned to Dar‘iyya, Ghalib reconquered Mecca, annihilating the small 
Wahhabi garrison. The enraged Wahhabis returned to the town and after a long siege a 
modus vivendi was reached in 1806 leaving Ghalib in control of the Hijaz and Jeddah on 
condition that Wahhabi principles would be upheld in those towns. 

130 For more information about the contact between the Wahhabi movement and the Hijaz 
see Abir, “The ‘Arab rebellion’ of Amir Ghalib of Mecca (1788-1813),” pp. 185-200; George 
Rentz and William Facey, The Birth of the Islamic Reform Movement in Saudi Arabia: 
Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703/4-1792) and the Beginnings of Unitarian Empire in 
Arabia (London: Arabian Pub, 2004), pp. 139-146. 

131 Al-Amr, The Hijaz under Ottoman Rule 1869-1914, p. 51. 


the Sharifs’ authority merely nominal,'8? motivated the Sharifs to rise against 
the Ottomans at the beginning of the twentieth century.!83 

The developments of the political situation in the Hijaz as described in this 
brief survey cast their shadows on the intellectual situation on these two cities. 
The history of the Hijaz seems mainly to be a history of Mecca more than 
of Medina. By the time the Hijaz was under Ottoman control, Medina had 
already lost its independence and had become subject to the central author- 
ity of the Hijaz in Mecca. Abt Numayy declared his loyalty to the Ottomans in 
the name of both cities. Some historical evidence proves that the Husayni Shar- 
ifs of Medina lost their actual power starting from the tenth/sixteenth century 
and retained only nominal authority. They were mentioned third in the great 
mosque prayer, after the Ottoman Sultan and the ruler of Mecca.!34 On some 
occasions, the ruler of Mecca would send some of his relatives to work as his 
representatives in Medina and they would have more power than the Sharif of 
Medina himself. In records of major historical events that occurred in Medina 
during this period, the name of the Sharif of Medina is not mentioned at all, 
for example in the building of the wall surrounding the city and of the citadel, 
both of which happened under the supervision of Egypt without any mention 
of the Sharifs of Medina.!95 When the Ottomans rebuilt the wall surrounding 
Medina to protect it from Bedouins, they also established a citadel and sent an 
Ottoman officer to be the emir of the citadel.!%° He, too, had more power than 
the Sharif of Medina. It has therefore been difficult for historians to uncover 
the names of the Sharifs of Medina since the ninth/fifteenth century.!8” 

The loss of its political power actually had positive effects on intellectual 
activities in Medina. The political marginalization of the city protected it from 
the many bloody conflicts happening in Mecca between competitors over 
authority, creating a more stable environment for visitors, students, and schol- 
ars. While Mecca was the primary destination of merchants, Medina became 
the main destination of mujawirun (lit. “neighbour(ing)’), pilgrims, and oth- 

132 They ordered the Ottoman governor to transfer his headquarters from Jeddah to Mecca, 
they choose an old and weak Sharif, and they used intrigues to play one tribe against 
another and chief against rival. Al-Amr, The Hijaz under Ottoman Rule 1869-1914, p. 54. 

133 Al-Amr, The Hijaz under Ottoman Rule 1869-1914, pp. 52-55. 

134 ‘Abd al-Basit Badr, al-Tarikh al-shamil li-l-Madina al-Munawwara (KSA: Medina, 1993), 
vol. 2, pp. 333) 341. 

135 Badr, al-Tarikh al-shamil li--Madina al-Munawwara, vol. 2, pp. 333; 341. 

136 Building the wall and the citadel started in 938/1531 and took seven and a half years. Badr, 
al-Tarikh al-shamil li--Madina al-Munawwara, vol. 2, pp. 335, 342. 

137 Badr, al-Tarikh al-shamil li--Madina al-Munawwara, vol. 2, p. 334. 


ers who had come to live near the holy places, who contributed significantly to 
transforming the city into a center for intellectual studies. 

While the political atmosphere certainly participated in making Medina 
more attractive for some scholars and students, scholars of the time men- 
tioned different advantages for Medina over Mecca that helped to focus intel- 
lectual activities in the former. Several historians from different periods have 
observed differences between the behavior of the people of Mecca and the 
people of Medina. Ibn Farhun (d. 799/1396), gadi of Medina in 793/1390, said 
that the people of Medina respect visitors and mujawirun and help them; they 
develop good opinions of them and would ask them for prayers and blessings. 
In return, those visitors usually have pure intentions and demonstrate good 
behaviour. Another scholar from Medina, Muhammad Kabrit (d. 1070/1659), 
said that Medina often stood by its visitors even against its local inhabitants. He 
describes this behaviour as altruism, suggesting that it is the reason for which 
the people who had come to Medina preferred to settle there and considered 
it their own hometown.!88 

This opinion of local scholars about the welcoming environment in Medina 
was a characteristic that was confirmed by travelers who compared the situa- 
tions in both cities. When al-‘Ayyashi asked his shaykh, al-Tha‘alibi al-Maghribi 
(d. 1080/1669-1670), why he chose to live in Mecca instead of in Medina, the 
latter replied that the people of Medina had become highly cosmopolitan, 
dominated by foreign cultural practices, and their tendency leaned toward lux- 
ury and excess. They appeared foreign in their dress as well as in the major- 
ity of their circumstances, as opposed to the people of Mecca, who remained 
attached to their Bedouin and Arab roots. Their culture remained dominated by 
that of the Bedouins due to their constant interaction with Bedouins and their 
life in the desert, even on the part of their Sharifs, who used to live most of their 
lives in the desert even if they had houses in Mecca. And, in general, the people 
of Mecca had habits that were quite close to those of the Bedouins, unlike the 
people of Medina. The domination of Arab-Bedouin culture is another reason 
one found fewer foreigners in Mecca than Medina. Yet another reason given 
by al-‘Ayyashi is that Mecca, being the residence of the local rulers and their 
families and relatives, was dominated by their authority, while the presence of 
Ottoman rulers in Medina was more direct, so most foreigners (‘ajam) preferred 

138 Badr, al-Tarikh al-shamil li-l-Madina al-Munawwara, vol. 2, p. 346. 
139 Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 457. 


The same observation was repeated by Evliya Celebi during his trip to the 
Hijaz, almost ten years after al-‘Ayyashi's; he mentions that the people of Mecca 
do not like mujawirtin from Ottoman lands (rum) and that the people of rum 
find tranquility and purity in Medina.° According to Celebi, the people of 
Mecca are not friendly with foreigners because, in his opinion, most of them 
have a “black temper” due to the harsh weather that makes it difficult to be cor- 
dial with strangers.'4! The people of Medina, according to Celebi’s description, 
are quite different: 

This Medina is a very unprofitable place and a haunt of dervishes. There 
are no arguments, disagreements or differences of opinion. The inhab- 
itants are all good tempered, honest people. If there is a legal claim 
required to be registered by the gadi it is resolved quickly and easily, then 
everyone says a Fatiha and the parties go their separate ways.42 

The preference many foreigners had for Medina may explain the fact that the 
estimated population of Medina was higher than that of Mecca. Faroghi in Pil- 
grims & Sultans estimates the population of Mecca in the time of Sultan Selim 1 
to have amounted to 15,000 regular inhabitants at the very least, without the 
merchants, who were numerous in Mecca, or their households. In Medina, the 
Ottoman authority assumed that in 1579-1580 8,000 people lived in the city in 
pious retreat (mujawir). From this number, Faroghi estimates the number of 
the Medinan inhabitants to be around 40,000 people, not counting merchants 
and solders.!43 

3 Conclusion 

As a result of the local and global factors that have been mentioned, the Hijaz 
played a decisive role in two main aspects of the process of knowledge in the 
seventeenth century. On the one hand, the Hijaz, and mainly Mecca, was the 
axis around which rotated knowledge circulation between the various parts of 
the Islamic world, and, on the other hand, the Hijaz, and mainly Medina, was 

140  Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, p. 276. 

141  Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, p. 275. 

142 Evliya Celebi, Nurettin Gemici, and Robert Dankoff, Evliya Celebi in Medina: The Relevant 
Sections of the Seyahatname (Leiden: Brill, 2012), p. 37. 

143 Faroghi, Pilgrims & Sultans, p. 85. 


an intellectual center that encompassed a large number of scholars who taught 
and discussed most of aspects of intellectual and transmitted Islamic knowl- 

Mecca remained the main site and the season of hajj the main occasion for 
scholarly exchanges and knowledge circulation. We will see in the fourth chap- 
ter that many of al-Kurani’s treatises are dated in the month of Dhi al-Hijja, the 
month during which pilgrims come from across the Islamic world. The Hijazi 
scholars received inquiries during the /ajj season and would send their replies, 
in addition to their own treatises, to distant places in the Islamic world with 
the hajj caravans. Through the pilgrims, al-Kurani’s treatises arrived in South- 
east Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, the Far Maghreb, and Iran. Some debates 
among scholars in different parts of the Islamic world may have taken place 
over several years through several subsequent fajj seasons. As we will see in 
the final chapters, al-Kurani sent some of his works to the Far Maghreb with 
hajj caravans, and over the following years received some inquiries related to 
his ideas, to which he wrote some explanations and sent them out again. As a 
result of these overlapping conditions in its immediate local context, by appeal- 
ing to trends in the center of the Islamic world, in Mecca and Medina, we can 
have a clear idea about the main intellectual debates that were happening at 
the same time in places as far apart as Southeast Asia and in Morocco. The 
significant role that the Hijaz began to play in the circulation of knowledge 
between different parts of Islamic world through the hajj season is exemplified 
by the polemical work of Mirza Makhdum entitled Nawaqid al-rawafid, an anti- 
Shi‘i work that was completed in 988/1580 in the Ottoman Empire; it became 
popular in India soon after its completion, when about a hundred copies of it 
were taken to India by those who had gone on pilgrimage to Mecca. 

Medina, due to the great support and donations that reached the Hijaz, 
became more diverse and well-being increased. With various communities 
hailing from different parts of the Islamic world, Medina became very cos- 
mopolitan as well. The growing number of scholars and students increased the 
need for more educational institutions, schools, ribats, libraries, in addition to 
book-binders, and book scribes. These intellectual supports will be discussed in 
the following chapter to further deepen our understanding of the intellectual 
life of the Hijaz during the seventeenth century. 

144 Pourjavady and Ahmed, “Theology in the Indian Subcontinent,’ p. 610. 


Intellectual Life in the Hijaz in the Seventeenth 

The previous chapter has shown that the stable political situation in the Hijaz, 
along with some global changes in the sixteenth century, increased the number 
of pilgrims and merchants. Their arrival in the Hijaz presented them with an 
opportunity to learn from Hijazi scholars, which in turn increased the number 
of students who spent more time in the region. Donors, mainly the Ottomans 
and Mughals, were generous with all visitors to the Hijaz, which also served to 
increase the number of students; as the student population grew, so did the 
need for more schools and a more robust educational infrastructure. Increas- 
ing investments in the region’s educational institutions and maintaining the 
endowments that provided their teachers and students with living stipends, 
paired with the relative ease of travel, encouraged more Muslims to come to 
the area and spend time studying with scholars there. Some even made it their 
home and integrated into local society. These factors transformed the Hijaz, 
and mainly Medina, into one of the primary scholarly destinations of that era; 
it became a meeting point for all the major intellectual trends in the Islamic 
world during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. The annual hajj sea- 
son also continued to play an essential role in gathering scholars together and 
circulating knowledge. 

This chapter firstly explores this educational infrastructure that offered 
scholars and students support during their time in the Hijaz. Lodging, food 
supplies, and even fixed stipends from the sources mentioned in the previous 
chapter allowed increasing numbers of students and scholars to spend time 
studying and teaching in the Hijaz. The first infrastructural element to which 
this chapter will turn is the diverse range of institutions: madrasas, libraries, 
ribats, and zawiyyas, many of which were also associated with crafts such as 
book binding and manuscript copying. Next, a discussion of some of the the- 
oretical and practical intellectual activities that existed in Mecca and Medina, 
including medicine, agriculture, astronomy, chemistry, and music theory, will 
give us a more comprehensive idea of the intellectual life in the Hijaz. Finally, 
I discuss twenty-four scholars from the seventeenth-century Hijaz who taught 
the intellectual sciences, mainly kalam, logic, and philosophy. From these last 
two sections I have excluded the intellectual circle around Ibrahim al-Kiranti, 
which will be discussed in detail in the subsequent chapters. Institutions, schol- 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_004 


ars, and intellectual activities are important puzzle pieces in the larger picture 
of intellectual life. Scholars can teach at home or in a mosque, but education of 
this kind remains a collection of individual efforts that do little to create intel- 
lectual movement in a society. In contrast, educational institutions provide 
and secure the needs of students and teachers in a way that attracts increas- 
ing numbers of scholars to the areas they serve. With these increased numbers, 
intellectual production increases, and the demand for intellectual texts as well. 
Most of the rational texts of Islamic intellectual history were available to schol- 
ars and students in the Hijaz during the seventeenth century; in this chapter, 
I identify what attracted the scholars who demanded them, and I use isndad to 
trace the paths of their circulation from Iran and Central Asia to the Hijaz. 

In this one century and in the small geographical zone of Mecca and Med- 
ina, approximately fifty scholars, not counting those related in some way to 
al-Kurani, taught and studied the intellectual sciences, including the works 
of Ibn Sina, al-Suhrawardi (d. 587/1191), al-Dawani, al-Taftazani, al-Jurjani, and 
many others. How the texts of these philosophers and scholars reached the 
Hijaz will be explored in the second half of this chapter by analysing a source 
that is usually not associated with the intellectual sciences: the isnad “chain 
of transmission.” The science of tracing transmission chains is used with the 
intention of drawing attention to isndd as an important source for the study of 
post-classical Islamic philosophy. 

1 Educational Institutions in the Hijaz in the Seventeenth Century 

As Makdisi remarks, the mosque was the institution of learning from which 
developed all other forms of educational institution.! By the seventeenth cen- 
tury, the madrasa school system had been in place for quite some time. Along- 
side schools and mosques, ribats and zawiyas played essential roles in the edu- 
cation system. As educational institutions increased in number, the demand 
for books and the related libraries, scribes, and book binders increased as well. 
These educational institutions, such as schools and libraries, and the kind 
of books they contained or other intellectual and social activities that I will 
describe here, reveal an integrated society in which all the factors of prosperity 
were provided, not only in the form of scholarly supports, but also in agricul- 
ture, music, and various aspects of ordinary life. 

1 George Makdisi, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West (Edinburgh: 
Edinburgh University Press, 1981), p. 9. 


11 Madrasas, Ribats, and Zawiyas 

From the late sixth/twelfth century, individual Muslim rulers, as well as repre- 
sentatives of the wealthy elite, began to endow madrasas in the holiest of all 
Muslim cities: Mecca. These schools played a central role in the transmission 
of knowledge.” Richard T. Mortel studied twenty-three madrasas founded in 
Mecca prior to the Ottoman takeover of the Hijaz in 923/1517. Through surviving 
literary sources, he attempted to describe their character, physical appearance, 
location, the conditions attached to their endowment, their purpose, function, 
and, in a limited number of cases, subsequent development over time.? These 
pre-Ottoman Meccan madrasas were generally centralized around the haram 
“the grand mosque,” and taught all four schools of igh. Franke’s recent study 
“Educational and Non-Educational Madrasas in Early Modern Mecca” focuses 
on the ninth/fifteenth to twelfth/eighteenth centuries and attempts to trace 
the founding of these schools, how long they were operating, and at what time 
they lost their original functions. The study mentions only twenty-two schools, 
most of which seem to have lost their functions within a few decades of their 
founding.* The number of schools that were described by Mortel and Franke 
is almost half of the number mentioned by Evliya Celebi, the Ottoman trav- 
eler, who in recounting his trip to the Hijaz in 1082/1671 says that in Mecca 
there were forty great schools and gives the names of more than twenty of 
them.® Celebi clearly distinguished between the madrasa and other forms of 
institutions, since he mentioned that in Mecca there were more than seventy- 

2 Richard T. Mortel, “Madrasas in Mecca During the Medieval Period: A Descriptive Study 
Based on Literary Sources,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University 
of London, Vol. 60, No. 2 (1997), pp. 236-252, 236. The author mainly uses the writings of the 
ninth/fifteenth-century historians of Mecca, Taqi al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Fasi and 
Najm al-Din ‘Umar b. Fahd. They are regarded as the pillars of medieval Meccan historiog- 
raphy. Both works are published. Taqi al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Fasi, Shif@’ al-gharam 
bi-akhbar al-Balad al-Haram (Beirut: 1985). Al-Najm b. Fahd, Ithaf al-wara fi akhbar Umm al- 
Qura, ed. Fahim Shaltit and others (Mecca: Matabi‘ Jami‘at Umm al-Quya, 1988). 

3 The twenty-three madrasas that are known to have been founded in Mecca during the 
medieval period are dealt with in chronological order. The list starts with “the madrasa of al- 
Arsufi (571/1175—-1176),” which is regarded as the earliest madrasa known to have been founded 
in Mecca. 

4 Some of these schools ceased to operate within a few decades due to funding cuts; others 
were transformed to serve other purposes such as becoming a lodging house (p. 96), a place 
for accommodation (p. 96), private residences (p. 81), or office buildings for officials. Patrick 
Franke, “Educational and Non-Educational Madrasas in Early Modern Mecca: A Survey Based 
on Local Literary Sources,’ Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, Vol. 170, 
No. 1 (2020), pp. 77-106. 

5, Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, p. 265. 


eight takiyyas “hospices,” the greatest being that of the Mawlawiyya.® He even 
distinguished between madrasas in the case of the kuttabs where young chil- 
dren learn reading, writing, and the Quran. He says that there were 150 primary 
schools (katatib), forty schools teaching the Quran, and forty schools teaching 
hadith.” He mentions that despite these many institutions, the people of Mecca 
did not care much for science, since they were mainly occupied with commerce 
and building high houses, and that most of the people who were busy with 
knowledge were mujawirun from outside of the Hijaz.® 

Regarding Medina, unfortunately, there are no academic studies on schools 
during the same period, despite the fact that, as I argued in the first chapter, 
the education process and interest in knowledge was mainly focused in Med- 
ina. Evliya Gelebi’s estimates of madrasas in Medina supports my argument. 
He says that inside and outside the walled city there were 118 madrasas.? He 
describes these schools as belonging to the same categories as those in Mecca: 
“20 primary schools; 7 Quran schools [...] and 7 hadith schools.”!° Then he turns 
to the schools outside of the wall, saying that “some of the 46 madrasas here 
have been turned into homes. There are 6 Quranic schools, 11 hadith schools 
and 20 schools for abecedarians. The annual surra provides all of them with 
specified gifts and clothing.”"" This number of schools seems high relative to 
the average population of Medina, which Evliya Celebi estimated in his trip as 
14,000 outside of the pilgrimage season, “as listed in the court register.”!* The 
number of students in a given educational institution varied. While teaching in 
the grand mosque might attract large audiences, especially from visitors to the 
two holy cities, the official madrasa institution usually contained one teacher 
and ten students.!3 In some cases the school may have employed four teach- 
ers, one for each law school, “madhhab,” and the number of students in such 
a case would range between 15-20. Beside the payment for the teachers, stu- 
dents were usually salaried as well, as were other workers such as an advanced 
student (mu‘td) whose role was to repeat for other students the lessons given 
by his teacher, school servants, doorkeeper, and, in some cases, a candle lighter 

Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, p. 265. 

Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, p. 278. 

8 Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, pp. 278-279. He notes, supporting his claim, that there were 
fifty-three commercial agencies (wakala tijariyya) and each one consisted of between 100 
and 200 shops. Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, p. 266. 

9 Celebi, Evliya Celebi in Medina, pp. 12-13. 

10. ~—- Celebi, Evliya Celebi in Medina, p. 113. 

11 ~— Celebi, Evliya Celebi in Medina, p. 117. 

12 ~— Celebi, Evliya Celebi in Medina, p. 120. 

13. + Mortel, “Madrasas in Mecca during the Medieval Period,” pp. 238, 2.42, 245. 



(waqqad) and an ink-maker (habbar), depending on the wagqf’s condition and 
the available funding.“ Also, Celebi may have counted other forms of educa- 
tion under the name of “madrasa,” while Franke’s focus was on “educational” 
madrasas, which had a curriculum or and were staffed with educational posi- 
tions (teachers, mu ‘tds, etc.).! 

Franke says that the limited importance of the madrasa institution in Mecca 
during the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries was due to the fact that the haram 
fulfilled the function of these institutions. In fact, teaching in the haram is 
still considered a more prestigious position than teaching in any other educa- 
tional institution. Some of these schools even moved into the haram.'* Further, 
education was not limited to institutional madrasas; traditional education in 
mosques, ribats, zawiyas, study circles, and private lessons in scholars’ houses 
was the main instructional medium.!” For example, most of the scholars men- 
tioned in this book were not listed as teachers in official madrasas, although 
they were the main scholars of the Hijaz. Most of the scholars were Sufis, 
and ribats and zawiyas were particularly important educational institutions for 
them, which means that any study of educational institutions in the Hijaz must 
take into account this diversity and plurality of educational institutions and 
their various forms, not just the official schools. 

Numerous ribats provided students and teachers a residence and the means 
of living and learning. Other ribats provided special places for Sufis to gather 
and recite the Quran.!® Ribats in Mecca were the subject of another article 
by Mortel, in which he argues that the ribats of Mecca from as early as the 
year 529/1134-1135, during the Fatimid period, were founded solely to provide 
lodging for Sufis.! He mentions fifty-nine ribats that are known to have been 

14 See Franke, “Educational and Non-Educational Madrasas in Early Modern Mecca,’ espe- 
cially p. 86. 

15 Franke, “Educational and Non-Educational Madrasas in Early Modern Mecca,’ p. 78. 

16 See some examples in Franke, “Educational and Non-Educational Madrasas in Early Mod- 
ern Mecca,” p. 81. 

17 AlUjaymi mentions that he started teaching in his home first, until the death of his 
teacher al-Tha‘alibi, at which point he took his place in the haram. Many of al-Kurani’s 
works were copied and collated in his home, which implies that his home was in general 
a place where students could meet and copy works. 

18 = Mortel, “Madrasas in Mecca During the Medieval Period,’ pp. 247-248. 

1g Hementions a distinction between the khangqah and the ribat; the former was a mosque 
combined with a Sufi hospice, whereas the latter was simply a hospice for poor people in 
general, whether they were members of Sufi orders or not. Later, the ribat metamorphosed 
into a miniature Ahanqah. He argues that while this evolutionary trend may be accepted 
as valid for the specific case of Mamluk Cairo, it cannot be applied with certainty to other 
Muslim lands nor other time periods. 


founded in Mecca before the Ottoman takeover of the Hijaz and discusses 
them in chronological sequence. The earliest ribat for which literary evidence 
exists is the ribat of Ibn Manda. It was established by Muhammad b. Ishaq b. 
Muhammad b. Manda of Isfahan sometime before 395/1004-1005. The ribat of 
al-Dimashgiyya (established in 529/135) is the oldest ribat in Mecca known to 
have been dedicated, at least in part, to Sufis. In the same year (529/135), the 
ribat of Ramisht was founded exclusively for Sufis.2° Many of these ribats were 
founded in order to make free accommodations available to people coming 
to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. Outside of pilgrimage season, they were 
occupied by scholars and students who decided to stay as mujawirun. 

Ribats in Mecca were the subject of two academic studies by Husayn ‘Abd 
al-‘Aziz Shafi, who dedicated his Master's thesis to the ribats in pre-Ottoman 
Mecca and his PhD dissertation to ribats in Mecca during the Ottoman period. 
Shafil counted eighty ribats in Mecca before the Ottomans took control of 
the Hijaz, thirty-nine of them still open and working at the beginning of the 
Ottoman era.?! During the Ottoman period, Shafi‘l counted 156 ribats in Mecca 
alone.?? These ribats were established by rulers, scholars, and wealthy people, 
including women, from all around the Islamic world. They were dedicated to 
use by various groups: students, pilgrims from certain places, women, and poor 
people. Unfortunately, there are no similar academic studies about madrasas, 
ribats, and zawiyas in Medina; such a study would require more research into 
works of history and travelers’ accounts to collect information about these 

In Wasf al-Madina al-Munawwara, “Description of Medina,’ written in the 
year 1303/1885, ‘Ali b. Musa, an administrative employee in Medina, paints a pic- 
ture of Medina in his time from social, geographical, and generic descriptions 
of the important historical sites.24 This work also includes some information 

20 Richard T. Mortel, “Ribats in Mecca During the Medieval Period: A Descriptive Study Based 
on Literary Sources,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of 
London, Vol. 61, No. 1 (1998), pp. 29-50, p. 33. 

21  Husayn A. Shafid, al-Arbita ft Makka al-mukarrama mundhu al-bidayat hatta nihayat al- 
‘asr al-Mamiliki: dirasa tartkhiyya hadariyya (London: al-Furgan Islamic Heritage Foun- 
dation, 2005). 

22 Husayn A. Shafid, al-Arbita bi-Makka al-mukarrama fi al-‘ahd al-uthmani: Dirasa tarik- 
hiyya hadariyya 923-1334H/1517-1915 (London: al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 

23‘ The editor of the book says that the description of Medina does not differ from its sub- 
sequent situation until almost the time of the Hijaz railway. This statement allows us to 
assume that the situation earlier would not have been much different, either. 


about the educational institutions of Medina at the author’s time. In his dis- 
cussion of makatib al-subyan, which can be considered elementary schools, 
we find that there were twenty-four in Medina, not including girls’ schools.*4 
When ‘Ali b. Musa talks about libraries (kutubkhanat), he mentions eight and 
says there are many more in different schools, but compared to these larger 
ones, their collections are small.25 Then he mentions eleven schools and says 
that there are many others but that those he has included are the most famous 
and well-organized.*° He also mentions twelve zawiyas and “other zawayas for 
Shadhili groups and others, if ] mention them it will be too long.”?’ Most of the 
names of these zawiyas belong to Sufi shaykhs such as ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, 
al-Qushashi, al-Badawi, al-Dustqi, Mawlawiyya, al-Rifai, and al-Junayd. When 
‘Ali b. Musa comes to ribats, he says simply that “they are many and there is no 
need to mention them.’28 However, we can find specific mention of several in 
the text, including ribat al-shaykh Mazhar al-Naqshbandi (pp. 46, 53), which he 
describes as the greatest ribat in Medina (p. 46); a ribat close to the mosque of 
Sayyiduna ‘Ali (p. 41); the ribats of zawiyat al-Samman (p. 47); ribat ‘Uthman 
b. ‘Affan (p. 47); ribat al-‘ajam (p. 47); a ribat in Qib& (p. 45); and ribat Ibn al- 
Zaman (p. 55). 

This research cannot in any way be comprehensive regarding the educa- 
tional institutions that were active in the Hijaz during the seventeenth century. 
The mere figures that have been shown for dozens of schools and ribats show 
that investigating this important aspect of the region's intellectual movement 
needs great efforts, particularly in exploration of the work of these intellectual 
institutions, their curricula, their audience, and their role in society, a task that 
cannot be done in this limited space. However, the great breadth of these edu- 
cational institutions is a clear indication of the intellectual framework in which 
the scholars of the Hijaz worked and produced: it is yet another confirmation 
that al-Kurani should not be understood as an exceptional case in an otherwise 
bleak intellectual environment. 

This large number of educational institutions in the Hijaz not only indicates 
an increase in the number of students and an increased interest in learning, 

24 He says, “except the schools of girls.” ‘Ali b. Musa, Wasf al-Madina al-Munawwara fi sanat 
1303/1885, in Ras@il ft tartkh al-Madina, ed. Hamad al-Jasir (KsA, al-Riyad: Manshirat Dar 
al-Yamama, [1392/1972]), p. 51. 

25 Musa, Wasf al-Madina al-Munawwara, p. 52. 

26 Musa, Wasf al-Madina al-Munawwara, p. 52. 

27 Musa, Wasf al-Madina al-Munawwara, p. 53. 

28 Musa, Wasf al-Madina al-Munawwara, p. 53. 


but it also suggests an increased demand for teachers, books, libraries, tran- 
scription tools, and everything related to the infrastructure of the educational 
process, to which we now turn. 

1.2 Libraries, Book-Binders, and Book Scribes in Medina 

Waqfs of books in mosques appear in records from the early centuries of 
Islam.?° In Medina’s grand mosque we have information about waqfs of some 
libraries as early as the sixth/twelfth century.2° Alongside the mosque libraries 
and the public libraries in schools and ribats, almost every scholar in Medina 
would have had his own private library. Nur al-Din al-Samhudi (d. 91/1505) was 
one of these scholars. In his history of Medina, he describes a fire that broke out 
in the Prophet’s mosque in Medina as a result of a thunderbolt in Ramadan 
886/October 1481. He says that some people moved the books from different 
libraries in the mosque, “khaza’in al-kutub,” out under the roof of the mosque 
square, but some sparks nevertheless reached and burned a number of them. 
Al-Samhudi had left his own books in a corner of mosque where he was accus- 
tomed to working, and 300 volumes of them were burned.?! 

Most of the books in the mosques, libraries, ribats, and zawiyas were donated 
as waqf by Medinan scholars or by scholars from outside the Hijaz. One such 
scholar was Dawid Agha (d. 1102/1690-1691), who was the Imam of the haram 
in Medina and gave all his books as waqf for students in Medina.? Another 
scholar who collected numerous books and then donated them as waqf to 
the haram in Medina was ‘Abd Allah al-Jawhari al-Misri (1155/1742)? and yet 
another was Muhammad al-Samman.** Al-‘Ayyashi mentions that a scholar 
from Morocco named Muhammad b. Isma‘ll (d.1064/1653)*° left behind around 
1,500 books, mainly collected in Istanbul, upon his death and in his will men- 

29 Fora bibliography of mosque libraries see Mohamed Taher, “Mosque Libraries: A Biblio- 
graphical Essay,’ Libraries & Culture, Vol. 27, No. 1(Winter, 1992), pp. 43-48; and Mohamed 
Makki Sibai, A Historical Investigation of Mosque Libraries in Islamic Life and Culture (USA: 
Indiana University, PhD dissertation, 1984). In Arabic see ‘Abd al-Latif Ibrahim, Dirdsat 

fitarikh al-kutub wa-l-maktabat al-Islamiyya (Cairo, 1962); and Yahya Mahmud Sa‘ati, al- 
Wagqf wa-bunyat al-maktaba al-Arabiyya (KSA, al-Riyad: Markaz al-Malik Faysal, 1996). 

30 Yahya Mahmid Sa‘ati, al-Wagf wa-bunyat al-maktaba al-Arabiyya, p. 69. 

31 Nural-Din ‘Alial-Samhidi, Wafa’ al-wafa bi-akhbar dar al-Mustafa, ed. Muhammad Muhyi 
al-Din ‘Abd al-Hamid (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, n.d), vol. 2, p. 635. 

32 ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin wa-l-ashab fi ma‘rifat ma li-l-madaniyyin 
min al-ansab, ed. Muhammad al-‘Arasi al-Matawi (Tunisia: al-Maktaba al-‘Atiga, 1970). 
p. 63. 

33 ~~ Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 147. 

34 ~~ Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 279. 

35 ‘See al-Ifrani, Safwat man intashar, p. 221. 


tioned that these books should be moved to the Prophet's mosque in Medina. 
Al-‘Ayyashi says that he saw some of them (around 170 only) in Medina.*¢ Al- 
Hamawi in Fawa’id al-irtihal mentions that some waqdf libraries in Medina 
were sent there from far away, mentioning as well the library of Muhammad b. 
Isma‘ll, which was under the supervision of Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Fazari.3” 

Other libraries in Medina that are related to al-Kurani’s circle of teachers, 
students, and family is the khizanat kutub of Abt ‘Isa al-Tha‘alibi in Mecca, 
which contained around eighty volumes. Unfortunately, it was kept in the 
mosque and one year a flood destroyed it. Al-‘Ayyashi also mentions the library 
of Sibghat Allah, which was under the supervision of al-Qushashi in the 
Prophet's mosque in Medina. When he discusses the season of the celebration 
of the Prophet's birthday in Rabi‘ 1, he describes how they began cleaning the 
mosque and, in the process, cleaned out the libraries (Khaza’in al-kutub) that 
had been endowments to the mosque. ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi (d. 1143/1731), 
during his trip to Medina in Dht al-Qa‘da no5/June 1694, was interested in vis- 
iting the libraries of scholars of the Hijaz. In Mecca, a conflict prevented him 
from visiting these libraries, but in Medina he was able to visit and describe 
some of them. He says that he visited Shaykh Muhammad Tahir, the son of 
Ibrahim al-Kurani, and that he looked at the library, without commenting on 
this visit.38 He also visited the library that Muhammad b. Rasul al-Barzanji had 
endowed to the grand mosque and described it as big library spanning numer- 
ous disciplines. Among the books in which he was interested was the History 
of Damascus (Tarikh Dimashq) by Ibn ‘Asakir, which he found in ninety-three 
volumes, each volume three to four quarters in size.9 

An indication that supports the argument that intellectual activities were 
more concentrated in Medina than in Mecca is the fact that when ‘Abd al- 
Karim al-Qutbi (d. 1014/1606) made the request for four new schools in Mecca, 
he added that Mecca also needed a library similar to the one in Medina.*° The 
need for more libraries in Mecca does not mean there were no libraries there, 

36 ~— Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 108. 

37. ~Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 2, p. 186. 

38 ‘Abd al-Ghanial-Nabulusi, al-Hagiqa wa-l-majaz fi al-rihla ila bilad al-Sham wa-Misr wa-l- 
Hijdz, ed. Ahmad ‘Abd al-Majid Huraydi (Cairo: al-Hay’a al-Amma li-I-Kitab, 1986), p. 388. 

39 ~~ Al-Nabulusi, al-Haqiqa wa-l-majaz, p. 425. 

40 = ‘Abd al-Karim al-Qutbi, Tarikh al-balad al-haram al-ma if bi-I‘lam al-ulam@ al-alam bi- 
bin@ al-masjid al-haram (An abridgment of Qutb al-Din al-Nahrawall’s (d. g90/1582) [lam 
al-alam bi-akhbar al-masjid al-haram), ed. Anmad Muhammad Jamal and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz 
al-Rifai (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqafa, 1950), p. 121. ‘Abd al-Karim al-Qutbi mentions this 
request in the context of counting the good deeds of Sultan Murad b. Selim (r. 1574-1595) 
when he was talking about some of the Sultan’s donations in the year 997/1589, which 


but indicates the increasing needs for schools in Mecca and a concomitant 
increasing need for books, as well as indicating that the libraries in Medina 
were more advanced and organized, able to serve as models. By the end of 
Ottoman rule in the Hijaz, there were eighty-eight libraries in Medina alone, 
including those of schools, ribats, and mosques, and general libraries. 

But what about the quality of books that these libraries contained? Since 
most of the books were donated as wagqf, waqf statements reveal valuable infor- 
mation about the kind of books present in various collections. In a paper about 
some documents of this sort from the tenth/sixteenth century, ‘Abd al-Rahman 
al-Mazini, the general director of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz library in Medina, discusses 
the conditions of book waqfs in Medina. He was interested primarily in the 
conditions of wagqf, but the paper also contains valuable information about 
the types of books in these wagf documents. Al-Mazini analyzed nine docu- 
ments from the legal court (al-mahkama al-shar tyya) in Medina, covering the 
period from 974/1566-1567 to 993/1585.4? These waqf documents list 452 books 
in thirty-four disciplines.4? The biggest collections were of Hanafi figh, tafsir, 
and hadith. But books of Sufism, kalam, and philosophy (hikma) and logic were 
also in good number: twenty-two books of Sufism, eighteenth of kalam, and 
thirteen of philosophy and logic, alongside nine books of medicine and five 
books of mathematics and astronomy.** Al-Mazini also identified other gen- 
res of literature that are usually considered part of Sufism: poems and books 
that praise the Prophet (al-mada@’ih al-nabawiyya), preaching and guidance (al- 
wa wa-l-irshad), dhikr, lit. “remembrance,” a Sufi practice, and prayers. If we 
include these disciplines under the general category of Sufi works, this cate- 
gory clearly represents the largest collection.*5 The author's name that appears 
most frequently is that of Ibn Kemal Pasha (d. 1534), which is repeated fifty- 
seven times. Sayyid al-Sharif al-Jurjani is repeated seventeen times, and Sadr 

means that the request had to have been from ‘Abd al-Karim al-Qutbi, given that his uncle 
al-Qutbi al-Nahrawali would have already been dead. 

41 Hammadi ‘Ali Muhammad al-Tinusi, al-Maktabat al-‘amma bi-l-madina al-Munawwara: 
Madiha wa-hadiruha (xsa, Jeddah: King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz University, Master thesis, 1981), p. 

42 ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Sulayman al-Mazini, Min watha@iq wagqf al-kutub bi-l-Madina al-Mun- 
awwara fi al-garn al-‘ashir al-hijri (KSA: Wazarat al-Shw iin al-Islamiyya wa-l-Awgaf, 1420), 
p. 10. 

43 Al-Mazini, Min watha’iq wagf al-kutub bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara fi al-qarn al-@shir al- 
hijri, pp. 34, 39. 

44 ~~ Al-Mazini, Min watha’iq wagf al-kutub bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara fi al-qarn al-Gshir al- 
hijri, pp. 40-41. 

45  Al-Mazini, Min watha’iq wagf al-kutub bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara fi al-qarn al-Gshir al- 
hijri, pp. 40-41. 


al-Shari‘a ‘Abd Allah b. Mas‘ud (d. 1346) and Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani twelve 
times each.*® All of these authors had rationalist tendencies, so their rate of 
inclusion reflects an increased interest in the rational sciences over the years 
represented by the court records. This is just an example of some books in some 
libraries, and the private libraries of scholars must have contained more than 
what has been mentioned, since the hajj season offered an opportunity for 
requesting the various types of books that scholars needed to be brought from 
different parts of the Islamic world.*” Works by Ibn Sina, al-Taftazani, al-Jurjani, 
and al-Dawani, alongside numerous works by Ibn ‘Arabi and his commentators, 
were used by al-Kurani, as we will see in Chapters Five and Six, which means 
that most of the Islamic intellectual productions of previous centuries were 
circulating among scholars and students of the Hijaz. 

The increased interest in books and libraries must have also increased the 
number of book scribes and practitioners of other crafts related to books. In al- 
Ansar’’s book about the families of Medina, we can find the names of several 
book-binders (mujallid al-kutub): Ibrahim Awliy& (d. 1150/1737),*8 Mustafa al- 
Qal‘i,49 ‘Abd Allah al-Daghistani (d. 1178/1764),5° and Mustafa al-Sarayli (d. 187/ 
1773). Al-Ansari also mentions some people who worked as scribes (nasikh 
al-kutub). Among the people who did this work in Medina were Ahmad al- 
Bukhari (1136/1723),°! Abu al-‘Izz al-Hanbali (d. 1133/1720),52 and one of Ibrahim 
al-Kurani’s grandsons, Abt al-Barakat b. Abi al-Hasan b. Ibrahim al-Kurani 
(d. 1168/1754).°3 Al-Nabulusi, in his account of his trip to the Hijaz, mentions 
a visit to a person named ‘Ali Jalabi al-Mukhallisi, who spent most of his time 
at home copying books in elegant handwriting and then selling them to pil- 

Collecting, copying, and binding books are clear indications of the great 
interest in education and the high demand for these tools thereof. This interest 

46 = Al-Mazini, Min watha’iq wagf al-kutub bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara fi al-qarn al-@shir al- 
hijrt, p. 44. We cannot say that these numbers correspond to individual books, because 
some books maybe represented more than once. 

47. By the end of Ottoman rule in the Hijaz there were eighty-eight libraries in Medina alone, 
including libraries of the schools, ribats, mosques, and general libraries. Al-Tanusi, al- 
Maktabat al-amma bi-l-madina al-Munawwara, p. ha. 

48 = Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 78. 

49 = Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 401. 

50 ~~ Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 230. 

51 ~~ Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 108. 

52 Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 170. 

53 ~Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 457. 

54  Al-Nabulusi, al-Haqiqa wa-l-majaz, pp. 406-407. 


in books also indicates the growth in the number of students and scholars in the 
Hijaz. The flourishing of intellectual interests and the activities that accompa- 
nied the educational process was not a phenomenon isolated to seventeenth- 
century Hijazi society. Rather, the florescence in the Hijaz was part of a com- 
prehensive prosperity that included most theoretical and practical sciences. 

1.3 Theoretical and Practical Sciences in the Hijaz 

The following are scholars associated with some of the sciences that were stud- 
ied in Medina during the eleventh/seventeenth and twelfth/eighteenth cen- 
turies, excluding philosophy, logic, theology, and Sufism, which will be men- 
tioned in the following section and, in the coming chapters, in accounts of 
al-Kurani’s teachers and students and through the discussions of intellectual 
currents. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Ansani’s (d. 1197/1783) Tuhfat al-muhibbin wa-l- 
ashab ft maYifat ma li-l-madaniyyin min ansab is one of the most valuable 
sources for information about Medina’s families and the professions of their 
members. Al-Ansari tried to follow the genealogy of each family in Medina 
for several generations, including in his work short biographies of each per- 
son in each family. Al-Ansari was himself from a scholarly family; both he and 
his father were teachers in the great mosque in Medina.®> The information in 
the book is based on his direct connections with the scholars of Medina in the 
twelfth/eighteenth century; what he mentions about scholars of eleventh/sev- 
enteenth century was most probably related to him by the sons and grandsons 
of these earlier scholars. 

1.3.1 Medicine 

1. Safi al-Din b. Muhammad al-Kaylant (1016/1607).5® Al-Muhibbi in Khu- 
lasat al-athar describes him as al-Kaylani al-tabib, “the physician.” He 
moved to Mecca where he became famous for his work in medicine, and 
many people studied with him. He was also famous for being “excellent” 
(bara‘, tafannan) in logic.5” 

55 Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, pp. 27-28. 

56 = Al-Dihlawi, al-Azhar al-tayyiba, p. 101; Muhammad Amin al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar fi 
a‘yan al-qarn al-hadi ‘ashar (Egypt: al-Matba‘a al-Wahbiyya, [1868]), vol. 2, p. 244; ‘Abd 
Allah Mirdad b. Abi al-Khayr, al-Mukhtasar min kitab Nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr fi tara- 
jim afadil Makka min al-qarn al-Gshir ila al-qarn al-rabi‘ ‘ashar, ed. Muhammad Sa‘id 
al-Amidi and Ahmad ‘Ali (Ks, Jeddah: Alam al-Marrifa, 1986), p. 221; ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd 
al-Rahman al-Mu‘allimi, Alam al-makkiyyin min al-qarn al-tasi‘ ila al-qarn al-rabi‘ ashar 
al-hijri (London: al-Furgan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2000), vol. 2, p. 816. 

57. Mirdad, a-Mukhtasar min kitab Nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, p. 221. 






Muhammad al-Bayti Ba-‘Alawi (d. 1135/1722).5° Al-Ansari says that he was 
interested in medicine. 

Ibrahim Awliya’ al-Rumi (d. 1150/1737)°? was a mujawir in Medina, then 
traveled to Yemen and worked as a physician (ta@ta san‘at al-tibb). Later, 
he returned to Medina and stayed there until his death. 

Muhammad al-Shami (d. 1170/1756-1757)®° was working in medicine. 
Ja‘far b. al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Bayti Ba-‘Alawi (d. 182/1768-1769).© Al- 
Ansari describes him as “excellent in medicine” (bara‘a ft tlm al-tibb). 
‘Alawi b. ‘Ali b. Ja‘far b. al-Sayyid Muhammad Ba-‘Alawi®? became very 
good in medicine, probably the best in Medina. 

Agriculture (‘Im al-filaha) 
Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Sindi, known as “Kibrit” (d. 19070/1659).® Al- 
Ansari describes him as a scholar who wrote many useful books, among 
them one entitled Kitab al-filaha. 
Khayr al-Din b. Taj al-Din b. Ilyas al-Rumi (d. 1113/1701)®* composed many 
treatises, among them one in “lm al-filaha. 

Muhammad Abu al-Nar al-Hindi (d. 11.44/1731).6° Al-Ansari says that he 
had complete knowledge of astronomy (‘lm al-falak wa-l-ahkam). 
Ibrahim al-Manastirli (a reference to Manastir in Bilad al-Rum) (d. 1150/ 
1737)°* had complete knowledge of astronomy. 
Muhammad al-Shirwani (d. 186/1772)®’ worked in “lm al-falak wa-l-nu- 
Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Shirwani® worked in ‘lm al-falak wa-l-ahkam. 
Munajjim Bashi (1113/1702). More information about him will be men- 
tioned below. 

Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 123. 
Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 78. 

Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 363. 
Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 123. 
Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 124. 
Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 412. 
Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 42. 

Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 478. 
Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 462. 
Al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 302. 
Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 304. 


6. Al-Rudani al-Fasi (d. 1094/1683), who invented a tool to be used in obser- 
vation. He will be mentioned among al-Kurani’s teachers. 

1.3.4 Chemistry (San‘at al-kimiya’) 
1. ‘Abd Allah al-Lublubi (d. 187/1773).®° 
2. Ahmad al-Mughayrabi (d. 1186/1772).7° 

1.3.5 Music Theory and Practice 

1. Siddiq b. Hisham al-Hindi (his father died 160/1747),”! who learned td, 
kamanja, and tanbur, and became famous for his work with these instru- 

2. Muhammad al-Rumi (d. 1172/1758)” from the family of shaykh al-qurra’. 
Al-Ansari describes him as “perfect” in ‘lm al-musiqa. 

3. ‘Ali al-Daniq al-Yamani (d. 1140/1727)" was perfect in nay, and wherever 
there was a concert you would find him. 

4. Mustafa al-Makki al-Sindi (d. 86/1772) learned the science of music 
and became incomparable in this science in Medina. 

5. Abual-Hasan Hammad, who used to play tanbur in the sessions of amuse- 

Al-Ansari also mentions a person who was working in san‘at al-sa@at (clock 

making or repair).”6 In addition, there were others who worked in traditional 

crafts, such as dressmakers, jewelers, wax makers, etc. 

This interest in the practical aspects of medicine, agriculture, astronomy, 
and even music, in addition to the rest of the professions necessary in any soci- 
ety, confirms that local factors had become more suitable for the settlement 
of scholars and students, beyond the facilities provided by educational institu- 
tions that encouraged more students to spend more time seeking knowledge: 
this was a society that provided all the requirements not only for knowledge, 
but for entertainment as well. 

69 = Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 422. 
70 ~— Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 467. 
71 ~=~Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 323. 
72  Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 317. 
73 ~=Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 239. 
74 ~~ Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 237. 
75 ~~ Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 193. 
76 ~=— Al-Ansani, Tuhfat al-muhibbin, p. 302. 

2 Rational Sciences in the Hijaz 

Sources for the history of the Hijaz during the eleventh/seventeenth century 
and the first half of the twelfth/eighteenth century contain valuable informa- 
tion about numerous scholars who taught the intellectual sciences. Providing 
a general idea about some scholars who were active in the field of rational sci- 
ences in the Hijaz during that period will clarify the intellectual background 
that allows presentation of Ibrahim al-Kurani and his thought as representative 
of contemporary intellectual movements. The following list is not a compre- 
hensive survey of the sources or of the scholars, nor does it contain any scholars 
from al-Kuran’'s circle, i.e., none of his teachers or students. I have arranged the 
names chronologically according to the date of death and included only the 
scholars who lived in the Hijaz, for a short or long period, and who participated 
in some kind of intellectual activity and exchange while there. The list contains 
scholars who died in the eleventh/seventeenth century and in the first half of 
the twelfth/eighteenth century. In this account, I will leave aside their students, 
who are difficult to count as a result of their changing numbers every hajj sea- 
son, as well as the intellectual activities that accompanied these seasons, such 
as the issuing of fatwas, the exchange of ijazas, meetings and courses of study 
with Hijazi scholars, and intellectual assemblies. 

1. ‘Alt b. Sadr al-Din b. Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. ‘Isam al-Din al-Isfara’ini 
(Ibn ‘Arabshah), known as al-hafid (d. 1007/1599 in Mecca).”’ He was the 
grandson of the famous scholar ‘sam al-Din al-Isfar@ini. He wrote a gloss 
on his grandfather’s Sharh al-Istiarat. 

2. Dawud al-Antaki (d. 1008/1600), known as “the philosopher.””8 Al-Ha- 
mawi describes him as a specialist in the “sciences of the ancients’ (‘ulm 
al-awa@il), especially philosophy (al-ulum al-hikamiyya) and physiology 
(‘ilm al-abdan). He was born in a village in the north of Syria, then his 
family moved to Antakiyya. Later, he moved to Damascus and finally to 
Cairo. Even though he was blind, he was the most important physician 
of his time. He used to say that “If Ibn Sina meets me he will stand in 
front of my door.”’9 Several historians describe him as a philosopher (‘ala 
madhhab al-hukam@), mostly with a negative connotation.®° Darwish al- 

77. ~~+Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 5, p. 392. 

78 Darwish Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Talawi al-Dimashqi, Sanihat duma al-qasr ftmutarahat 
bani al-‘asr, ed. Muhammad Mursi al-Khili (Beirut: Alam al-Kutub, 1983), vol. 2, p. 32. 

79  Al-Hamawi, Fawa’d al-irtihal, vol. 4, p. 135. This idiom means that Ibn Sina would be 
among his students, who wait for him to leave his house so they can learn from him. 

80  Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, Ibid, (ila annahu ‘ala madhhab al-hukam@). 



Talawi (d. 1014/1605), who accompanied him and studied with him for 
several years, mentions some of his early life and his early education as 
al-Antaki related it to him. He was disabled when he was born and could 
not move. His father used to take him every morning and put him close to 
a shrine in his region. One time, a foreign gentleman (min afadil al-‘ajam) 
called Muhammad Sharif stayed in that shrine and started to teach some 
theology and metaphysics (‘uum ilahiyya) to visitors. When he noticed 
the intelligence of this boy, he treated him until he was healed and was 
able to move again. Then he started to teach him logic, mathematics, 
and natural philosophy. Al-Antaki said that he wanted to learn Persian, 
but this teacher told him that Persian is easy and anyone could learn it. 
Instead of Persian, he offered to teach him Greek, saying that he did not 
know anyone on the earth who currently knew it. Al-Antaki claimed to al- 
Talawi that he was in the position of his teacher concerning this language. 
This information is all that al-Antaki mentioned about this mysterious 

Al-Antaki wrote several works of medicine, the most famous of which was 
the Tadhkirat al-Antaki. He also wrote a commentary on Ibn Sina’s poem 
on the soul, and another poem in which he presents his theory of the 
soul.®? Al-Talawi says that in Cairo he studied with Dawid al-Antaki the 
books of peripatetic and Illuminationist philosophy, the Ras@il ikhwan al- 
safa’, and then the works of al-Majriti. He read with him as well the works 
of Ibn Sina, among which he lists the following: al-Shifa@’, al-Qaniun, al- 
Najat, al-Hikma al-mashriqiyya, al-Ta liqat, Risalat al-ajram al-samawiyya, 
al-Risala al-nadhiriyya, and al-Risdala al-‘ald@iyya in Persian; al-Isharat 
with the commentaries of al-Tisi and al-Razi; and the Muhakamat of 
Qutb al-Din al-Razi (d. 1365) and its glosses by al-Jurjani.8? Among the 
works of al-Suhrawardi he mentions al-Mashdari‘ wa-l-mutdarahdt, al-Tal- 
wthat with Ibn Kammina’s (d. 1284) commentary, al-Alwah al-‘imadiyya, 
al-Rumuz al-lahitiyya, Hikmat al-ishraq with Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi’s 
(d.1311) commentary, and Hayakil al-Nur with al-Dawani’s commentary.5* 
Beside these works that al-Talawi studied with al-Antaki, al-Hamawi men- 
tioned some of al-Antaki’s other works, among which we can mention 
al-Tadhkira, in which he compiled medicine and wisdom; Sharh al-Qanun 

Al-Talawi, Sanihat duma al-qasr, vol. 2, p. 36. 

Some of its verses can be found in al-Talawi, Sanihat duma al-qasr, vol. 2, p. 39. 
Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 2, p. 139. 

al-Talawi, Sanihat duma al-qasr, vol. 2, p. 44 and after; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 2, 
p. 140. 






of Ibn Sina; TJabaqat al-hukama’; Ghayat al-maram fi tahqiq al-mantiq wa- 
t-kalam, Zinat al-turis ft ahkam al-‘uqul wa-l-nufus, a commentary on a 
poem by al-Suhrawardi (khala‘at hayakiliha bi-jar@ al-hima); a treatise 
in astronomy (hay’a); and a commentary on Ibn Sina’s poem on the soul 
entitled al-Kuhl al-nafis li-jala’ ‘ayn al-Ra’ts. Al-Antaki finally moved to 
Mecca, where he spent less than a year before he died in 1008/1600. Al- 
‘Ayyashi mentions in his Ré#/a that al-Antaki had a prestigious position 
among the princes of Mecca. 

Al-Shinnawi, Abt al-Mawahib Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. ‘Abd al-Quddis (d. 1028/ 
1619), studied with the scholars of Egypt of his time, such as al-Shams 
Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Ramli, Muhammad b. Abi al-Hasan al-Bakn, 
Ahmad b. Qasim al-‘Abbadi, and Hasan al-Danjihi (al-Suyiati’s student). 
His father had studied with the famous scholars Ibn Hajar al-Makki 
(d. 973/1566) and ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani (d. 973/1565), both of whom 
had themselves studied with Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari. Al- 
Shinnawi, when we consider his teachers and his father’s teachers, consti- 
tutes an important link between scholars of the Hijaz in the seventeenth 
century and the most important scholars and Sufis of Cairo in the six- 
teenth century. Al-Shinnawi was al-Qushashi's main shaykh, and most of 
al-Qushashi's and thus al-Kurani’s isnads in Sufi, hadith, and theological 
texts pass through him. Al-Shinnawi also studied with Sibghat Allah al- 
Hindi al-Barwaji (d. 1015/1606),®> who arrived in Medina in 1005/1596 and 
built a ribat that became a major Sufi center. The latter attracted a number 
of remarkable disciples, the foremost of whom was Ahmad al-Shinnawi, 
and through him influenced the prominent scholars of the Hijaz Safi 
al-Din al-Qushashi and Ibrahim al-Kurani.®6 Through Sibghat Allah, al- 
Shinnawi became affiliated to different Sufi orders and became the head 
of the Shattariyya order after his shaykh, ultimately writing a commentary 
on the order's main Sufi text, entitled al-Jawahir al-khams.®” Al-Shinnawi 
also wrote numerous books of usil, hadith, and Sufism, such as Nazgm al- 
zawr@ of al-Dawani; Minhdj al-ta’sil; Manguma, entitled Sadihat al-azal, 

About Sibghat Allah see Muhammad b. al-Tayyib al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathanit li-ahl al- 
qarn al-hadi ‘ashar wa-l-thani, ed. Muhammad Hajji & Ahmad Tawfiq, in Mawsi‘at alam 
al-Maghrib, vol. 3 (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1996), p. 1245, (This encyclopedia, ie., 
Mawsi‘at alam al-Maghrib, contains nine books of Moroccan biographies; Nashr al- 
mathant is in volumes 3-6); al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 4, p. 336. 

See Itzchak Weismann, The Nagshbandiyya: Orthodoxy and Activism in a Worldwide Sufi 
Tradition (NY: Routledge, 2007), pp. 14, 69, 70. 

For more information about the Shattariyya order in the Hijaz see El-Rouayheb, Islamic 
Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 249. 







and its Sharh; a Diwan of poems; Risdla ft wahdat al-wujiid; and two com- 
mentaries on al-Jawahir al-khams by al-Ghawth. Al-Shinnawi was buried 
in the famous cemetery of al-Baqt‘ in Medina.®® 

Muhammad Amin b. Muhammad al-Jurjani al-Astarabadhi (d. 1033/1623— 
1624). Al-Hamawi in Fawa‘id al-irtihal describes him as one of the greatest 
scholars of the ‘ajam (non-Arabs). He came to Mecca as a mujawir and 
stayed there until the end of his life. His most famous work is al-Fawa’id 
al-madaniyya.®9 Al-Astarabadhi was a scholar of usul and hadith, and he 
is considered the founder of the Shi‘i Akhbari school. 

‘Abd al-Qadir al-Tabari al-Makki (d. Ramadan, 1033/July 1624).9° He was 
interested in the rational sciences from the beginning of his education, 
during which he memorized al-‘Aqa’id al-Nasaftyya. He went on to study, 
with ‘Ali al-‘Isami,® parts of Sharh al-Fanari on al-Abhari’s Isaghiji, 
known as al-Fawa’id al-Fanariyya, and parts of al-Shamsiyya, as well as the 
Sharh adab al-bahth of Mulla Hanafi.9? Later, at a more advanced level, 
he was interested in [Qadizada’s?] Sharh al-Jaghmint in astronomy, and 
he read parts of al-Qushji’s Sharh al-Tajrid. He studied these works with 
al-Sayyid Nasir al-Din b. Muhammad Ghiyath al-Din Mansur, son of Ghiy- 
ath al-Din Dashtaki.*? Additionally, he studied with the latter parts of a 
treatise on the astrolabe. He also read parts of Ibn al-Nafis’ Sharh Kul- 
liyyat al-Mujaz fi al-tibb with Yusuf al-Kaylani al-Tabib, the physician. He 
also read parts of Mir Qadi Husayn’s Sharh Hidayat al-hikma with Sayyid 

For more information about al-Shinnawi see Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, 
p. 588; al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 127; al-Ifrani, Safwat man intashar, p. 216; al-Qadiri, Nashr al- 
mathant, p. 1244; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 2, p. 221; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, 
vol. 1, p. 243; and al-Shulli, Agd al-jawahir wa-l-durar, p. 148. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa@’id al-irtihdl, vol.1, p.125. Muhammad Amin b. Muhammad Sharif Astara- 
badhi, al-Faw@id al-madaniyya ed. ‘Ali b. ‘Ali Amili (Iran, Qum: Mwvassasat al-Nashr al- 
Islami, 2003), introduction. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 5, p. 45; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 2, p. 457. 
‘Ali al-‘Isami was the grandson of ‘Isam al-Din al-Isfar@ini, known as Ibn ‘Arabshah. 
‘Ali wrote a commentary on his grandfather's Risalat al-isti‘arat. He died in Mecca in 
1070/1659. Al-Hamawi, Fawa@’id al-irtihdl, vol. 5, p. 392. Among the scholars of the al-‘Isami 
family was ‘Abd al-Malik al-Asimi (d. 1111/1699), the author of a history of Mecca entitled 
Samt al-nujim al-‘awali fi anb@ al-awa’il wa-l-tawali. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 5, p. 48. 

Ibn Ma‘sum, Sadr al-Din ‘Ali (d. 1120/1709) b. Nizam al-Din Ahmad (d. 1086/1675) b. 
Muhammad Ma‘sim al-Madani, in his account of his trip to India entitled Salwat al-gharib 
wa-uswat al-arib, says that his grandfather Muhammad Ma‘sim moved from Shiraz. Ibn 
Ma‘sum, Rihlat Ibn Ma‘sum al-Madani, pp. 72, 74- 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 5, p. 49. 



Muhammad Hijazi, known as al-Wa‘iz al-Ansari al-Sha‘rani al-Shafi (d. 16 
Rabi‘ I, 1035/16 December 1625).9° Al-Hamawi says that he performed the 
hajj in 1018/1610 and that many people studied with him on this occasion, 
among them Muhammad b. ‘Allan. The importance of al-Wa‘iz is that 
he is a link between the generation of al-Kurani’s teachers, ie., al-Babill, 
al-Shabramallisi, and al-Mazzahi, and the great scholars of the ninth/fif- 
teenth century. Al-Wa‘iz studied with Muhammad b. Arkumas, Ibn Hajar 
al-‘Asqalani’s student, and additionally he studied with Ahmad b. ‘Abd al- 
Haqq al-Sunbati, one of the main links in the intellectual sciences, as we 
will see below in the isnad chains. He also studied with the great Sufi 
‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani, alongside other important scholars, includ- 
ing Muhammad al-Ramli and Jamal al-Din b. Zakariyya al-Ansari.°® 

‘Abd al-Malik b. Jamal al-Din b. Sadr al-Din b. ‘Isam al-Din al-Isfara’int 
(d. 1037/1628).9” Al-Hamawi describes him as an imam in ‘aqli and naqli 
sciences. He was born in Mecca in 978/1571 and studied with scholars 
there. During his life ‘Abd al-Malik composed around sixty treatises, 
mainly on language. He also wrote a commentary on Isdghiji and two 
commentaries on Risdlat al-istiarat by al-Samarqandi. 

‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Isa b. Murshid al-Makki al-Hanafi, known as al-Mur- 
shidi (d. 1 Dhu al-Hijja 1037/12 August 1628).9° His grandfather was Mur- 
shid al-‘Umari, a student of al-Dawani. He studied ddab al-bahth with 
Mulla ‘Abd Allah al-Sindi and read Sharh Isaghujt in logic and Sharh al- 
Shamsiyya with Sayyid Ghadanfar. He was a teacher in the grand mosque 
in Mecca (al-haram), and later became the imam and the preacher of that 

Al-Qadi Taj al-Din b. Ahmad b. Ibrahim al-Maliki al-Madani, then al- 
Makki, known as Ibn Ya‘qub (d. Rabi‘ 1 1066/January 1656).99 Even though 
he is famous in the field of adabd (literature), he also wrote on Sufism and 
‘aqida. He wrote a commentary on one of ‘Afif al-Din al-Tilimsani’s poems 
entitled Tatbig al-mahw bad al-sahw ‘ala qawaid al-shari‘a wa-l-nahw. He 
also wrote a reply to a letter that arrived from Java containing questions 
about wujud and God’s eternal power, as well as a treatise on doctrine 
entitled Bayan al-tasdiq. Al-Hamawi describes this last as very useful.!0° 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol.1, p. 116. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol.1, p. 116. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 5, p. 253; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 3, p. 87. 
Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 5, p. 124. 

Al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 1, p. 457. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 3, p. 395. 






Muhammad b. ‘Allan (d. u Dhu al-Hijja 1058/27 December 1648 in 
Mecca).!©! He was born in Mecca in the month of Safar 996/January 1588 
and studied with the scholars of the Hijaz as well as with those who visited 
this region, until he became a teacher in the Grand Mosque. He is famous 
as a specialist in Quranic interpretation (mufassir), a jurist (fagih), and a 
scholar of prophetic tradition (muhaddith). He also wrote several texts on 
doctrine in versified form (nagm) and then commented on these poems. 
Among these texts are a versification of al-Sanusi’s Umm al-barahin and a 
commentary on this nazgm, a versification of al-Nasafi’s ‘agida and a com- 
mentary on it, a versification of Isaghuji and a commentary on it, and a 
versification of al-Isti‘arat and a commentary on it. 

‘Ali b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Muhammad b. Yahya al-Tabari al-Makki al-Shafi 
(d. 27 Jumada 1 1070/10 March 1660).!°? Imam of the haram, he stud- 
ied with his father and the scholars of the Hijaz, including Ahmad b. 
‘Allan, with whom he studied jurisprudence and logic; he read parts of al- 
Taftazani's Tahdhib al-mantig wa-l-kalam and al-Yazdi’s commentary with 
Mulla Husayn al-Kurdi, a resident of Mecca. 

Zayn al-‘Abidin b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Muhammad b. Yahya al-Tabari al-Makki 
al-Shafii (d. 14 Ramadan 1078/27 February 1668).!°3 Imam of the haram 
in Mecca, he came from a distinguished family. He studied with his father 
and other scholars in the Hijaz. At the time of his education and prepa- 
ration, he studied with Mulla Qasim al-‘Ajami Sharh Isaghuji and parts of 
Sharh Qutb al-Din al-Razi on al-Shamsiyya. He also read logic with Ibn 
‘Allan and all of the Sharh ‘aqa@’id al-Nasaft by al-Taftazani. Among the 
people who studied with him are Muhammad al-Shulli, Hasan al-Ujaymi, 
and ‘Isa al-Maghribi. 

Shihab al-Din Ahmad, known as Ibn al-Taj (d. 1081/1670).!04 He held the 
position of ra’ts al-muwaqgitin, “time keeper,” in the Prophet's mosque 
(haram) and he was famous in the fields of arithmetic (hisab), time- 
keeping (tawgit), and astrology (tanjim). Among his works are al-Siraj 
al-wahhdj fi a‘mal al-azyaj and al-Jafr al-kabir}°® Badr al-Din al-Hindi 
studied with him a book on algebra and muqabala.!°6 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 1, p.157. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 5, p. 334. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 4, p. 196. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 632; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol.1, p. 178; 
al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 2, p. 363; al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1731. 

A short description of this book is in al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1732. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 632. 








Muhammad Mirza b. Muhammad al-Suriji al-Dimashqi al-Shafia (d. 
1088/1677).!°” He was born in Damascus and studied with scholars there, 
including al-Shams al-Maydani, the Maghribi scholar Muhammad al- 
Muqri al-Tilimsani al-Fasi when the latter came to Damascus, and the 
famous scholar and historian al-Najm al-Ghazzi. Interestingly, he also 
studied with ‘Abd Allah al-Busnawi, the commentator on Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
Fusis al-hikam, and read with him most of Ibn ‘Arabi’s works. Al-Suraji 
also collected the books of Ibn ‘Arabi. He then traveled to the Hijaz and 
lived there for an extended period,!°* mainly in Medina, where he stud- 
ied with most of its scholars, including Taj al-Din al-Naqshbandi, Salim b. 
Ahmad Shaykhan, and al-Qushashi. Al-Hamawi read with al-Surtji parts 
of Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Futuhat al-makkiyya and other Sufi commentaries in 
Medina in 1083/1673.1°9 

Muhammad b. Abu Bakr al-Shulli (d. 19 Dhu al-Hijja 1093/19 December 
1682, in Mecca)."° He is the author of ‘qd al-jawahir wa-l-durar fi akhbar 
al-qarn al-hadi ‘ashar, one of the main sources for the history of the 
eleventh/seventeenth century, especially for scholars in the Hijaz, Yemen, 
and the Indian Subcontinent. He was born and studied in Yemen, then he 
moved to India where he studied Arabic and Sufism with several teachers. 
Later, he moved to the Hijaz and studied with its scholars, including al- 
Babili, al-Tha‘alibi, al-Qushashi, Ibrahim al-Kurani, and others. He studied 
‘lm al-miqat and hisab with al-Rudani and he composed a work in “lm al- 
migat and commented on it for students. He also wrote two long treatises 
on ‘lm al-migat bi-la ala, Risala ft ma‘ifat gill al-zawal kull yawm li-‘ard 
Makka al-musharrafa, Risala ft ittifag al-matali‘wa-ikhtilafiha, Risdala fi al- 
mugantar, Risala ft al-asturlab, and a commentary on al-Suyuti's treatise 
on logic, as well as several texts in the disciplines of language, hadith, figh, 
and tafsir. 

Muhammad Shafi‘ b. Muhammad ‘Ali b. Ahmad b. Kamal al-Din Husayn b. 
Muhammad al-Astarabadhi (d. 1106/1695).! Originally from Astarabadh, 
he was born and raised in Isfahan. He studied with numerous scholars, 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 2, p. 69; al-Shulli, Agd al-jawahir wa-l-durar, p. 364; al- 
Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 4, p. 202. 

Al-Shulli says that he stayed in Medina forty years, then a few years in Mecca, where he 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 2, p. 69. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 1, p.175. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa@id al-irtihal, vol. 1, p.172; Umar Rida Kahhala, Mufjam al-mu‘allifin: Tara- 
jim musannift al-kutub al-arabiyya (Beirut: Muvassasat al-Risala, 1993), vol. 3, p. 345. 





among them his father and Agha Husayn al-Khawansari."? He wrote sev- 
eral works, including a gloss on al-Tisi’s commentary on al-Isharat, Risala 
fi ithbat ‘adat al-ma‘dum, Risala fi sifat Allah Ta‘ala, Risala ft tahqiq al- 
dalalat, Risala ftithbat al-Wajib, and others. He came to Mecca to perform 
the Aajj in 04/1692 and stayed one year as mujawir. Al-Hamawi read 
with him parts of Sharh Hidayat al-hikma by al-Maybudi and attended his 
lessons on al-Tusi’s Sharh al-Isharat. When he taught, he would mention 
the opinions of other commentators alongside al-Qutb al-Razi’s ideas in 
al-Muhakamat, and he would answer all the questions and problems his 
students raised. He wanted to return to his home, but he became sick and 
died along the way, in Bahrayn. 

Muhammad Bayk b. Yar Muhammad b. Khawaja Muhammad b. Mir Ma- 
whib al-Burhanburi al-Nagshbandi (d. 1110/1698—1699)."3 He was one of 
the great scholars from the Indian Subcontinent who studied intellec- 
tual works alongside his Sufi activities. Al-Hamawi dedicates almost ten 
pages to him, mainly quoting from an autobiography by the Shaykh him- 
self. He studied with numerous scholars, among whom were ‘Abd al- 
Hakim Siyalkuti’s students and Muhibb Allah al-Ilahabadi, the commen- 
tator on Fusus al-hikam."* Among the works he studied, al-Hamawi men- 
tions Sharh al-Mawagif, Tafsir al-Baydawt, Sharh Hikmat al-‘ayn, Sharh al- 
Jaghmint, Sharh al-Tadhkira ft tlm al-hay’a, Tahrir Iqlidis fi ‘ilm al-handasa, 
Sharh al-‘adudi (not specified whether Risalat al-wad‘ or on ‘agida) with 
al-Jurjani’s commentary, the Zi of Ulugh Beg, parts of Ibn Sina’s al-Shifa’, 
Sharh al-Isharat, and parts of al-Isfahani’s al-Hashiya al-qadima ‘ala Sharh 
al-Tajrid. He studied these works alongside Sufi texts, mainly Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
al-Futuhat and al-Fustis, which he studied with Muhibb Allah al-Ilaha- 
badi. He arrived in Mecca in 1075/1665, and then he travelled to Medina. 
In the Hijaz, he mainly studied hadith. He returned again to the Hijaz in 
1084/1674; this time, he settled there until the end of his life and wrote 

Agha Husayn b. Agha Jamal al-Khawansari (d. Jumada 11, 1098/April1687) studied with Mir 
Damad, Ja‘far b. Lutf Allah al-‘Amili, and Abii al-Qasim al-Findariski. He wrote Hashiya ‘ala 
al-Hashiya al-qadima ‘ala Sharh al-Tajrid; Hashiya ‘ala al-Isharat, from natural philosophy 
(al-tabit) to the end of the book; and Hashiya on Iahiyyat al-Shifa’. Among his students 
are Jamal al-Din Muhammad Shafi; his son Agha Jamal, and Mulla Mirza al-Sharwani. 
Agha Jamal arrived in Mecca in 1114/1702 and al-Hamawi met him. Among his works are 
Hashiya ‘ala Mukhtasar Ibn al-Hajib and Muhakama bayn al-Sayyid al-Sharif and Mirza- 
jan. Al-Hamawi, Fawaid al-irtihdl, vol. 4, pp. 19-20. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 2, p. 104; al-Baghdadi, Hadiyyat al- @rifin, vol. 2, p. 306. 
Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 2, p. 106. 







several works, among them a commentary on the last two kalam parts 
of al-Taftazani’s Tahdhib al-mantigq wa-l-kalam, entitled Zubdat ‘aqa’id al- 
Islam ft sharh Tahdhib al-kalam; Sharh Ashkal al-ta’sis of al-Samarqandi 
in the discipline of handasa; Risdla fi al-asturlab; Risala ft sayr al-shams 
wa-l-qamar wa-taqwimihima; and other works in different disciplines." 
Munajjim Bashi, Ahmad b. Lutfullah, (d. 113/1702)."6 He achieved the 
position of chief court astrologer (miineccimbasi) in 1667-1668, and be- 
came close to Sultan Mehmet Iv (r. 1648-1687). Later, he was dismissed 
and banished to Egypt in Muharram 1099/November 1687. After some 
years in Egypt, he migrated to Mecca, where he became the Shaykh of the 
Mawlawiyya order. In 105/1693—1694 he moved to Medina for seven years. 
Soon after his return to Mecca, he died, on 29 Ramadan 1113/27 February 

Badr al-Din al-Hindi."” Al-‘Ayyashi describes him as imam in the two 
aslayn (al-figh and al-din), and excellent in the intellectual sciences 
(maqulat). He arrived in Medina in the year 1068/1658 with Ahmad Sir- 
hindi’s son, Muhammad Ma‘sum, after the debate in the Hijaz about al- 
Sirhindi and some of his ideas. He was considered one of al-Sirhindi’s 
greatest students and played an important role in spreading the Naqsh- 
bandiyya in the Hijaz. Badr al-Din studied with ‘Abd al-Hakim al-Hindi 
al-Siyalkuti (d. 18 Rabi‘ 1, 1067/4 January 1657)"8 and said that al-Siyalkati 
wrote a commentary on al-Baydaw’'s (d. 685/1286) tafsir in four volumes 
full of tahgigat."° Badr al-Din was well-versed in ‘uum al-munagzara, 
“the science of debate.” Al-‘Ayyashi attended his lessons on the following 
works: al-Fanari’s commentary on Isdghuji, Mukhtasar al-Sa‘d on Talkhis 
al-Miftah, and Sharh al-Manar on Hanafi usul al-figh by Ibn al-Mulk. 
Moreover, al-‘Ayyashi read with him Sharh al-Qutb on al-Shamsiyya and 
the beginning of Sharh al-Mawagqif by al-Jurjani, and he was encour- 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 2, pp. 13-114. 

S.A. Hasan, “Miinejjim Bashi: Turkish Historian of the Saljiigids of Iran,’ Islamic Stud- 
ies. 2 (4): 1963, 457-466. Kramers, J.H. (1993). “Miinedjdjim Bashi,’ in The Encyclopedia 
of Islam, New Edition, Volume vu: Mif-Naz (Leiden and New York: Brill). pp. 572-573. 
See also the introduction of Hatice Arslan-Sdziidogru and Ahmad ibn Lutf Allah Muna- 
jjim Bashi, Miineccimbasi als Historiker: arabische Historiographie bei einem osmanischen 
Universalgelehrten des 17. Jahrhunderts: Gami‘ ad-duwal (Teiledition 982/1574-1082/1672) 
(Berlin: K. Schwarz, 2009); al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 2, p. 383. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 3, p. 231; al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1731. 
Al-Hamawi, Fawa@’id al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 232. 

Al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1731. 







aged by al-Hindi to focus on this book. Al-‘Ayyashi mentions that he 
asked Badr al-Din to teach him al-Abhan’s al-Hidaya fi al-hikma,'!*° and 
Sharh al-Shamsiyya by Qutb al-Din, and to give him the dhikr of the 
Nagshbandiyya. Badr al-Din agreed and suggested that he read Sharh al- 
Mawagif by al-Jurjani instead of al-Hidaya. Some people told al-‘Ayyashi 
that Badr al-Din was a famous scholar in India and he had a great posi- 
tion among its scholars.!*! In the course of talking about his teacher, al- 
‘Ayyashi mentions an interesting story about a dispute that happened 
between Badr al-Din and Abu Mahdi ‘Isa al-Tha‘alibi about a question of 
logic related to the hypothetical syllogism raised by Muhammad b. Sulay- 
man al-Rudani.!”? Later, another scholar, Ahmad b. al-Taj, wrote a treatise 
on this topic with a kind of arbitration (muhakama) between the two 

Muhammad Shafi‘ b. Fadl Allah al-Shahbazi al-Hindi!2* was born and 
studied in India then moved to the Hijaz. He taught Tafsir al-Baydawi 
in the haram, as well as logic. Al-‘Ujaymi mentions that he studied with 
him the Ashkal al-ta’sts ft ‘itm al-handasa by Shams al-Din al-Samarqandi 
and Qadizada al-Rumi’s commentary. He also studied with him large parts 
of Qadizada’s commentary on Jaghmini’s work on astronomy, and while 
studying they checked Birjandi’s gloss and al-Jurjani’s commentary. 
Mulla Iskandar al-‘Ajami!?5 studied with Mulla Yusuf al-Qarabaghi, the 
great student of the prominent scholar Mulla Habib Allah Mirzajan. In 
Medina, he studied with Sibghat Allah al-Hindi. Al-Hamawi mentions 
that he wrote treatises in logic and hikma, but he does not specify any 
titles. Al-‘Ajami died in Medina and was buried in the Baqt. 

Al-Hidaya ft al-hikma was one of the most popular texts in Ottoman intellectual circles. 
See El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 22. 
Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 634. 

Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 631. 

El-Rouayheb mentions this anecdote to support his argument that North African logicians 
had a different tradition from that current in the Ottoman and Mughal Empires. The two 
main texts that were widely used in the Islamic East (but not in the Maghrib) were al- 
Abhar’’s Isdghiji with the commentary by Mulla Fanari and al-Risdla al-Shamsiyya by 
Katibi with the commentary by Qutb al-Din al-Razi. The treatment of the hypothetical 
syllogism in both is perfunctory, whereas the North African commentaries on al-Khtinaji’s 
al-Jumal deal at great length with the topic. El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the 
Seventeenth Century, p. 157. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 290. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 190. Al-Hamawi does not mention the date of his 


22. ‘Abd al-Malik b. Muhammad al-Sijilmasi al-Maliki al-Maghribi (d. 1118/ 
1706)!26 studied with the scholars of the Maghrib then traveled to per- 
form the hajj in 1083/1673, spending one year in the Hijaz as a mujawir. 
Al-Hamawi attended his lessons in al-Taftazani’s Tahdhib al-mantiq. 

23. ‘Ali b. Muhammad b. Mutayr al-Hakami (d. 1041/1632). He was the teacher 
of Mulla Sharif al-Kurani and was connected to Ibn Hajar al-Makki.!?” His 
name appears frequently as a teacher of logic and other intellectual sci- 

24. Sayyid Ghadanfar b. Ja‘far al-Kujarati al-Nahrawali!?® studied with Mu- 
hammad Amin, the nephew of Jami. He was a teacher of prominent schol- 
ars in the Hijaz such as al-Shinnawi and Sibghat Allah al-Husayni al-Hindi. 
As we can see in these entries, many scholars studied philosophical and 
logic texts with him. 

The above entries are some scholars who were teaching rational sciences in 

the Hijaz during the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth 

century. With the mention of al-Kurani’s teachers, peers, and students, their 
number will be more than doubled. From this list we see that descendants 
of famous scholars such as ‘Isam al-Din al-Isfar@ini and Ghiyath al-Din Dash- 
taki, and students of prominent scholars such as al-Dawani, Jami, al-Siyalkuti, 

Mirzajan, al-Suyuti, Zakariyya al-Ansari, ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani, and Ibn 

Hajar al-Makki had become part of the Hijaz’s life as of the end of the sixteenth 

century. Those scholars played an essential role in reviving intellectual activi- 

ties in the seventeenth-century Hijaz and formed a direct means of transmis- 
sion for different disciplines from their teachers and ancestors to the scholars 
of the region. 

From the works these scholars composed or taught we notice that al-Sham- 
siyya, Isaghujt, and their commentaries were the most popular texts on logic. 
Al-Shamsiyya is mentioned five times while Jsaghuji is mentioned four. Tahd- 
hib al-mantiq is repeated twice. We will see later that many of al-Kurani’s 
students and colleagues were from the Maghrib and that they taught logic 
using Mukhtasar al-Sanusi and al-Khinaji’s al-Jumal. As in the Ottoman and 
Mughal Empires, in theology the works of Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani and Sayyid 

126 ©Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 5, p. 255. 

127. Al-Kurani’s chain of transmission will be mentioned below under the heading “How the 
Rational Sciences Reached the Hijaz.” 

128 ‘Abd al-Hayy b. Fakhr al-Din al-Husayni, al-I‘lam bi-man ft tarikh al-Hind min alam al- 
musamma bi-Nuzhat al-khawatir wa-bahjat al-masami‘ wa-l-nawazir (Beirut: Dar Ibn 
Hazm, 1999), vol. 5, p. 599; al-Hamawi, Fawa@id al-irtihal, vol.1, p. 144. 


Sharif al-Jurjani were most prominent.!9 Ibn Sina’s name is mentioned six 
times, al-Samarqandi three times, and there is also mention of al-Dawani, al- 
Fanani, al-Jaghmini, al-Qushji, al-Tusi, and almost all prominent theologians 
and philosophers of the preceding centuries. However, the popularity of some 
names and texts in the Hijaz during the seventeenth century cannot be com- 
prehensively assessed before including al-Kurani and his circle, who were more 
inclined toward the intellectual sciences. The names of the scholars interested 
in theoretical and practical sciences and of those interested in the rational sci- 
ences, mainly philosophy, theology, and kalam, that were mentioned in the 
above provide an idea of the intellectual and cultural atmosphere in the Hijaz 
during the eleventh/seventeenth century. In the next chapter, we will see that 
al-Kurani studied with about twenty-six teachers, that most of this study was 
in the Hijaz, and that the list of his students extends beyond the hundred stu- 
dents, most of whom studied with him in the Hijaz. This intellectual framework 
is the background that must be taken into account when discussing al-Kurani's 
thought and his contributions to the history of Islamic thought in the seven- 
teenth century; this broader intellectual framework also needs to be studied 
further in order to make the larger picture of intellectual life in the Hijaz clearer. 

Also noteworthy is that although some scholars were originally from the 
Hijaz, the majority were emigrants who made their home in the Hijaz. To keep 
the research limited to the period under investigation, it is useful to mention 
some scholars from the sixteenth century who moved to and settled in the 
Hijaz. These scholars played a significant role in attracting other scholars and 
students to the Hijaz and in transforming it into a center of intellectual activi- 
ties that attracted increasing numbers of scholars throughout the seventeenth 
century. Among the most famous of these were Ibn Hajar al-Haytami al-Makki 
(d. 973/1567), who moved to Mecca in (9490/1534); ‘Ala al-Din ‘Ali, known as 
al-Muttaqi al-Hindi (d. 975/1567), who moved from Burhanpur and settled in 
the Hijaz for the rest of his life; ‘Ali al-Qari al-Harawi (1014/1606), who moved 
from Herat and lived in Mecca until the end of his life; and ‘Abd al-Haqq al- 
Dihlawi (d. 1052/1642), who went for hajj in 996/1587 and spent four years in the 
Hijaz. In the following chapter, we will add to this list the names of al-Qushashi, 
as well as al-Qushashi’s family, besides al-Kurani, al-Barzanji, al-Babili, ‘Isa al- 
Maghribi, and numerous of al-Kurani’s teachers, students, and peers originally 
from outside of the Hijaz. 

129 About the spread of these two authors’ texts see Francis Robinson, “Ottomans-Safawids- 
Mughals,” pp. 151-184; Wisnovsky, “The Nature and Scope of Arabic Philosophical Com- 


In the following section, I will try to trace the path of some of the main texts 
from the scholars who studied them in the Hijaz back to their authors in Cen- 
tral Asia in order to construct an image of the transmission of knowledge from 
different parts of the Islamic world between the fourteenth and seventeenth 
centuries. To draw the lines of knowledge transmission, I am using a discipline 
that usually has little to do with the intellectual sciences but rather is one of 
the main features of transmitted knowledge (manqulat): the tracing of isnad. I 
therefore begin with an introduction to this discipline and how it became rel- 
evant to the rational sciences. 

3 Isnad as a Source for Intellectual Life in the Seventeenth-Century 

Isnad is an essential term in the science of transmitted knowledge and refers to 
the chain of authorities going back to the source of the tradition. It started as 
part of hadith studies, but later became an independent science which adapted 
many of the rules originally pertaining to hadith. Later, Sufis became very inter- 
ested in connecting their chains with their masters in order to extend these 
chains back in time to the Prophet.!8° Studying works of isndd reveals that 
scholars throughout the course of Islamic history slowly began to integrate 
new fields into the discipline of tracing transmission. By the eleventh/seven- 
teenth century, isnad works contain chains of transmission for the intellectual 
sciences, including kalam, philosophy, and logic, alongside those for the tra- 
ditional sciences. Isnad reveals new names of scholars and some of the isnad 
texts may provide us with valuable information about these names, especially 
if the author speaks about his direct teachers. But when the author extends 
the isnad a few generations earlier, his information on the scholars of his isnad 
may be increasingly sparse, if there are no other bio-bibliographical sources of 
earlier generations for him to consult. 

A thorough investigation of the developments of this specific genre of liter- 
ature is not a part of this book, although I offer a short summary below. Nev- 
ertheless, it is a valuable source for studying knowledge transmission, which 
I contend may reveal a number of previously-unknown scholars who studied 
and taught these texts. This tool, as will become clear, provides us with valu- 

130 For Sufi works of isnad see Gril, “De la khirga a la tariqa,” pp. 57-82; Stefan Reichmuth, “The 
Quest for Sufi Transmissions as Links to the Prophet: Murtada al-Zabidi (d. 1791) and his 
Encyclopedic Collections of Sufi salasil” in Performing Religion: Actors, contexts, and texts: 
Case studies on Islam: 122, ed. Ines Weinrich (Beiruter Texte Und Studien), pp. 75-99. 


able information about the transmission of texts from one place to another and 
from one scholar to another. In addition, it helps us to know which texts were 
read and transmitted by scholars, where they were taught, and who was read- 
ing them. Following the isnad of works in the rational sciences will contribute 
to bridging historical gaps by tracking the transmission of texts over time, and 
to drawing the geographical transmission routes of these texts, as well as to 
knowing the texts that received attention in a given era or region. 

From the outset, it is necessary to define some essential technical terms in 
this science. There are two types of isnad: isnad alt or “high isnad,’ and isnad 
nazil or “low isnad.” The former, “high isnad,’ is a term used when there are 
very few links between the transmitter and a certain source of authority, i.e. 
the Prophet in the case of hadith, or the author of a certain book or the founder 
of a specific order in other cases. The “low isndad” is the term used when there 
are many links between the transmitter and a certain source of authority. As is 
the situation in hadith studies, the quality of the mediators is important; fewer 
links means fewer chances of error. Proximity to the source of knowledge is 
also important, particularly if the source is the Prophet himself. 

Teachers with whom a certain scholar met and the books that he studied 
with them are organized in one of several different ways. [1] A mashyakha, from 
the word “shaykh,” referring to one’s teacher, is the work in which a person men- 
tions the names of his teachers and what he learned from them. [2] A thabat 
mainly refers to the curriculum vitae of a person, with whom and what they 
studied. In many cases, the author offers some information about his teacher's 
life and those of the teachers of his teacher to link the chain. In the Maghrib, 
they call such a work fahrasa.3! [3] A mujam is a term used if the author 
arranged a collection of biographical accounts of his teachers, students, friends, 
or colleagues in alphabetical order. In Andalusia, they used the term barna- 
maj. The early mufjams were mainly collections of hadiths arranged according 
to the names of shaykhs with whom the person studied these hadiths.'3? We 
can also consider an ijaza a kind of isndd, since it links the student to the 
teacher, who may mention his own teachers in order to establish his author- 

These terms are not exclusive, and many scholars used them interchange- 
ably.!83 However, in general mashyakha and mu{am are ordered according to 

131 ‘Abdal-Hayy al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis wa-l-athbat wa-mujam al-ma‘ajim wa-l-mashyak- 
hat wa-l-musalsalat, ed. Ihsan ‘Abbas (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 2ed, 1982), p. 67. 

132 For example, Mujam shuyikh Abu Yaa al-Mawsili (d. 307/919-920), al-Mujam al-sagir 
by al-Tabarani (d. 360/970—971), and Mashyakhat Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1200-1201). 

133 Some scholars write different kinds of isndds. For example, Abt Ja‘far Ahmad b. Yusuf b. 


the name of the shaykhs while a fahrasa is ordered according to the books 
the author studied. The term thabat could be used for all of the above, since 
it primarily served as proof for the knowledge that the scholar had acquired. 
Isnad literature, regardless of sub-genre, usually starts with an introduction in 
which the author mentions the importance of isnad in preserving knowledge 
and expresses his appreciation for the scholars from whom he learned. Then, 
he starts to mention the names of his teachers and what he studied with them, 
along with some information about their lives and their intellectual activities. 

To gain a more precise idea about the corpus of this literary genre, we can 
turn to ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Kittani (d. 1382/1962), whose work Fahras al-faharis wa-l- 
athbat wa-mujam al-ma‘@jim wa-l-mashyakhat wa-l-musalsalat mentions 1200 
thabats.'34 These thabats are only his isnads of these works. He mentions that 
he received al-hadith al-musatlsal bi-l-awwaliyya, “the first hadith to be transmit- 
ted from a certain scholar,” from seventy shaykhs, but he recorded only some of 
them, mostly the high isnads.!°5 Al-Kittani’s book gives us an idea of the enor- 
mity of this literary genre, which still needs to be studied in order to arrive at a 
better idea of the transmission of this science and its spread through the cen- 
turies and various geographical regions of the Islamic world. 

A short introduction to the development of isnad as a scholarly tool up to the 
eleventh/seventeenth century may explain how it became a means by which to 
understand the transmission of intellectual sciences. Hadiths in the first/sev- 
enth century existed without the supporting isnad. By the third/ninth century, 
hadiths had been collected, systemized, and classified.!86 By the end of the 
third/beginning of the tenth century, several collections had been produced, 
six of which were regarded as being especially authoritative and are known as 
“the six authentic ones” (al-sihah al-sitta). In these collections, hadiths were 
presented with their complete chains of transmission. Hadith works there- 

Ya‘qub al-Fihri al-Lubli (d. 691) wrote a mashyakha that contains his teachers’ names and 
their biographies. He also wrote a barnamaj that contains the works he studied during 
his trip to meet new teachers. See Ahmad b. Yusuf al-Fihri, Barnamaj Abi Jafar al-Lubli 
al-Andalusi, ed. Muhammad Buzayyan Bin‘Ali (Tangier: Matba‘at Isbartil, 201); Anmad b. 
Yusuf al-Fihni, Fahrasat al-Lubli, ed. Yasin Yusuf ‘Ayyash and ‘Awwad ‘Abd Rabbuh Aba 
Zayna (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1988). Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani wrote a mufam of his 
teachers and then extracted the books he studied from his mujam and mentioned them 
separately in a fahrasa, which is ordered according to the books. 

134 Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 51. 

135 Al-Kittani’s works cover the period from the middle of the ninth/fifteenth century until his 
time. He ordered it alphabetically, not chronologically, which makes it difficult to follow 
the development of this science. 

136 All the mentions of hadith in this book refer to Sunni collections that would have been 
referenced by most of, if not all, scholars mentioned here and in other chapters. 


after continued to be transmitted with their full isndds. The only change which 
developed in later centuries is that a certain author no longer needed to con- 
tinue his isnad back to the Prophet; it was enough now to connect his own isnad 
to one of these works that were already connected to the Prophet through well- 
established chains. This creation of milestones in the chains would be repeated 
later, after a few centuries, with other generally accepted and fully connected 

Alongside this continuing interest in hadith, studying this type of literature 
reveals that the works of isndad started to contain more varied sciences. By 
the seventh/thirteenth century, alongside hadith works, other works related to 
hadith studies started to be included in isnad works, such as works of linguis- 
tics and even some Sufi texts, including the works of Sibawayh, al-Zamakhshani, 
al-Ghazali, and al-Qushayni.'8” Obviously, scholars mention what they studied 
according to their own interests. In the eighth/fourteenth century, we find the 
works of al-Qushayri and al-Suhrawardi’s Awarif al-maarif, in addition to Abu 
Talib al-Makki’s Qut al-qulib and al-Ghazali’s Ihiy@ ‘ulum al-din, mentioned 
among the books in many mufams. Works of linguistics and many diwans con- 
tinued to be mentioned alongside the sciences of tafsir, figh, and usul. 

The ninth/fifteenth century was one of the richest periods for the produc- 
tion of isnadd works. Scholars of later centuries often tried to connect their 
chains to one of the famous ninth/fifteenth-century scholars who became 
widely accepted and considered “authentic.” The main isnads in the ninth/fif- 
teenth to tenth/sixteenth centuries are the chains of Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani 
(d. 852/1449), Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 9/1505), Zakariyya al-Ansari (d. 926/ 
1520), and Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 973/1566). Al-‘Asqalani’s mujam contains 
the names of 730 teachers, making it one of the biggest mujams. Any scholar 
who can connect his chains to al-‘Asqalani thereby connects himself to most 
of the scholars before him. Al-‘Asqalani wrote another fahrasa ordered alpha- 
betically by works studied. However, he mentions in it that he has extracted 
it from the aforementioned mujam of his teachers.!98 In this mufjam, he men- 
tions many texts of ‘aqida,'89 includes a section on Sufism and books on asceti- 
cism,!*° and then moves on to usul al-din works. Among the texts of kalam 

137. The works I examined were: Thabat masmuat al-Hafiz Diya’ al-Din al-Maqdisi (d. 643/ 
1245-1246), Mashyakhat al-Na“al al-Baghdadi (d. 659/1261), Barnamaj shuyukh al-Ru‘ayni 
(d. 666/1267-1268), and Barnamaj al-Lubli (d. 691/1292). 

138 Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, al-Majma‘ al-mwassis li-l-mujam al-mufahris: Mashyakhat Ibn 
Hajar al-‘Asqalani (773-852), ed. Yusuf ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mar‘ashi (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 
1992), pp. 11, 12. 

139 ©Al-‘Asqalani, al-Majma‘al-mu‘assis, pp. 54-57. 

140 Al-‘Asqalani, al-Majma‘al-mw‘assis, pp. 401-403. 


that he mentions with their isnads are Abkar al-afkar by al-Amidi (d. 631/1233); 
al-Burhan, al-Talkhis, and al-Shamil by al-Juwayni (d. 478/1085); and Sharh 
al-Muhassal and Sharh al-Mulakhkhas by al-Katibi al-Qazwini (d. 739/1339). 
Works by Abi al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari (d. 324/936), al-Ghazali, al-Qarafi (d. 684/ 
1285), Ibn al-Hajib (d. 646/1249), Ibn ‘Aqil (d. 769/1367), and other theologians 
are also mentioned.!! 

3.1 The \snad of Intellectual Texts 
Chains of transmission for the intellectual sciences were not an innovation 
of the eleventh/seventeenth century, but it was during this time that they 
increased in prevalence and became more widespread. Al-Safadi (d. 764/1363) 
mentions that he read part of al-Isharat by Ibn Sina with Ibn al-Akfani (d. 749/ 
1348) and he lists Ibn al-Akfani’s isnad of Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat.4* Ghiyath al- 
Din Mansur al-Dashtaki (d. 949/1542) also mentions his isndd going back to 
Ibn Sina.!*3 Muslih al-Din al-Lari (d. 979/1572) mentions his isndad in the intel- 
lectual sciences. Among the five teachers with whom he studied, he traced 
back the isndds of three of them to 1) al-Sayyid al-Sharif al-Jurjani, through al- 
Dawani; 2) Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani; and 3) al-Iji, through Ghiyath al-Din Mansi 

However, one can notice a tone of hesitation in al-Dawant’s (d. 9908/1502) 
ijaza to Mwayyadzada, in which he mentions the isndads of intellectual works, 
probably one of the earliest mentions of the isnads of intellectual sciences. 
After establishing his own genealogy and authority in the nagl sciences, he 
says: “and about ‘aqliyyat even the riwaya is not very relevant to them, but I 
studied them with my father, etc.”45 Al-Dawani ends his chains of transmis- 
sion for the rational sciences with Ibn Sina and al-Jurjani. The tone of hesitation 
in al-Dawani’s statements indicates that isnad of intellectual sciences was not 
widespread at the time of his writing. As disciplines, the rational sciences are 
not focused on memorizing and transmitting words, but rather are concerned 
with comprehension, discussion, demonstration, and independent thought. 

141 Al-Asqalani, al-Majma‘al-mu‘assis, pp. 408-409. 

142 Gerhard Endress, “Reading Avicenna in the Madrasa,” in Arabic Theology Arabic Philoso- 
phy from the Many to the One, Essays in Celebrations of Richard M. Frank, ed. James E. Mont- 
gomery (Leuven: Peeters, 2006), p. 411 and after. See also Wisnovsky, “Avicenna’s Islamic 
Reception,” p. 196. 

143 See Ghiyath al-Din Dashtaki, Musannafat Ghiyath al-Din Mansur Dashtaki Shirazi, ed. 
Abdollah Nourani (Tehran: Tehran University: 2007), vol. 1, pp. 69-70. 

144 Pourjavady, “Muslih al-Din al-Lari,” pp. 303-304, 318-319. 

145 Pfeiffer, “Teaching the Learned,’ p. 322. 


However, it is clear that al-Dawani wanted to emphasize that he belonged to an 

intellectual context that extended to al-Jurjani and Ibn Sina. 

A significant change can be found in the works of isndad by the eleventh/sev- 
enteenth century. Most of the scholars in the Hijaz mention their isndds for 
intellectual works (ma ‘qulat) beside those for the transmitted ones (manqulat). 
They include everything they have studied with chains of transmission going 
back to the relevant authors. With this information, we can map the trans- 
mission of knowledge through time and across geographic regions. Further 
investigating the development of this trend in works of isnad will help us to 
trace scholars and texts from across the Islamic world to the Hijaz. Tracing intel- 
lectual texts from the seventeenth-century Hijaz to their authors in previous 
centuries will reveal the names of teachers who were studying, teaching, and 
communicating about these texts, generation after generation. And, in cases 
where we are lucky and the teacher or student pointed to their place of study, 
we can also trace the transmission of texts geographically to know, for example, 
how and with whom al-Taftazani’s or al-Jurjani’s texts moved from Central Asia 
in the thirteenth century to the Hijaz in the seventeenth century, and where 
they travelled in the intervening centuries. 

Among the isnad works that are relevant to the Hijaz and that I have con- 
sulted for this project are:!*6 
1. [brahim al-Kurani’s thabat entitled al-Amam li-iqaz al-himam. One of the 

most comprehensive isnads of works of the intellectual sciences, it is par- 
ticularly useful in following the path of intellectual texts from Central 
Asia to the Hijaz. 

2. Shams al-Din al-Babili’s fahrasa contains chains of transmission for many 
kalam and Sufi texts, including those by Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Taftazani, al-Iji, 
and other scholars. These two disciplines come after the regular chains 
of hadith, tafstr, and adab. Al-Babili moved to the Hijaz and numerous 
scholars studied intellectual texts with him. 

3. Abt al-Mawahib al-Ba‘li’s mashyakha contains thirty-five teachers, all of 
whom were contemporary with al-Kurani and several of whom were in 
contact with him. Even though Abu al-Mawahib is a Hanbali scholar, he 
mentions at the end of his mashyakha his isnads for the works of Ibn 

146 More information about each author will be presented in the following chapter. 

147. Abt al-Mawahib Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Hanbali al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abi al-Ma- 
wahib al-Hanbali (1044-126), ed. Muhammad Mutt al-Hafiz (Syria, Damascus: Dar al-Fiky, 



‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi’s mashyakha contains the chains of transmission 
for numerous kalam texts, such as the works of al-lji, al-Taftazani, al- 
Jurjani, and al-Sanusi. ‘Abd al-Qadir moved from the Maghrib to Egypt 
and then to the Hijaz, which may offer alternative routes of circulation 
for these texts, whose primary circulation was through mashriqi schol- 

Al-Rudani’s thabat, known as Silat al-khalaf bi-mawsul al-salaf. His inter- 
est in the intellectual sciences makes this thabat valuable for tracing sev- 
eral different disciplines, including logic, mathematics, astronomy, kalam, 
and philosophy. He lived half of his life in the Maghrib and the other half 
in the Hijaz and serves as a unique source for the scholars of the seven- 
teenth century.!48 

Salim al-Basri’s thabat, known as al-Imdad bi-ma‘ifat ‘uluw al-isnad. Al- 
Basri mentions individual works and sometimes all the works of certain 
author. We can find in his thabat works by al-Sa‘d al-Taftazani, al-Sayyid al- 
Sharif al-Jurjani, and Jalal al-Din al-Dawani, as well as works of al-Ghazali, 
Ibn ‘Arabi, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Mulla Jami, and ‘Isam al-Din b. ‘Arabshah 
(d. 943/1536-1537), among others. With his shaykh, Muhammad al-Babili, 
he studied Tafsir al-Razi; al-Babili had studied it with Ahmad al-Sanhuri, 
who had studied it with Ibn Hajar.49 Moreover, in this thabat we find 
works such as Tafsir al-Baydawi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, al-Mawagqif by 
al-Iji, Sharh al-Magasid by al-Taftazani, Sharh al-Mawagif by al-Jurjani, 
al-Musayara by Ibn al-Humam, and Sharh Jawharat al-tawhid, which last 
he studied with al-Babili, who had studied it with its author, Ibrahim al- 

These are some examples of works of isndd in the Hijaz during the eleventh/ 

seventeenth century, and more works containing chains of transmission in the 

intellectual sciences will appear below. It is important to mention that many 

isnads repeat the same chains so there is no need to mention the isnads of the 

teacher and the student again, except when the student had more chains and 

from different teachers, such as in the case of al-Babili and his student Salim al- 

Basri. In this case, we will look at different routes of transmission of a text, and 

the names of different scholars who studied and taught the text to different stu- 




Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Rudani, Silat al-khalaf bi-mawsul al-salaf, ed. Muhammad 
Hajji (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1988). 

Jamal al-Din ‘Abd Allah b. Salim al-Basri, al-Imdad b-marifat ‘uliw al-isndd, ed. al-‘Arabi 
al-Dayiz al-Faryati (KSA, al-Riyad: Dar al-Tawhid, 2006), p. 82. 

Al-Basri, Al-Imdad bi-marifat ‘uliw al-isndd, pp. 85-86. 


dents and in different geographical regions. Studying the following examples 
of isndads of some main scholars and texts from the seventeenth-century Hijaz 
to their authors in earlier centuries not only will draw a map of the transmis- 
sion of texts between different parts of the Islamic world and across different 
centuries, but these isnads will also reveal the continuity in studying and dis- 
cussing philosophical and theological books, and contribute to reconsidering 
the developments of Islamic intellectual history and undermining the idea of 
decline to which I referred in the introduction to this book. 

4 How the Rational Sciences Reached the Hijaz 

Based on the previously mentioned works of isndd, the following is an attempt 
to draw the main lines of transmission of some rationalist works. 

4.1 Al-Taftazant’s (d. 793/1390) Works 

Al-Kurani in his thabat mentions the following works by al-Taftazani: Sharh al- 
‘aqaid al-Nasaftyya, and al-Taftazani's abridgment (al-mukhtasar aka al-saghir) 
of al-Katibi al-Qazwini’s Sharh Mukhtasar al-Talkhis of Miftah al-‘ulum by al- 
Sakkaki (d. 626/1229), with a gloss by Mullazada ‘Uthman al-Khatta’i, and 
super glosses by Mulla ‘Abd Allah al-Yazadi, Mulla Mirzajan, and Mulla Yusuf 
b. al-Qadi Mahmtd al-Kurani (the father of Mulla Sharif, Ibrahim al-Kurani’s 
teacher). His chain for these works to al-Taftazani passes through Zakariyya al- 
Ansari in the following manner: 

Ibrahim al-Kurani < Mulla ‘Abd al-Karim b. Abi Bakr b. Hidayat Allah 
al-Kurani al-Husayni < al-Shamsal-Ramli < Zakariyya al-Ansari 

From this chain of transmission, we know that Mulla ‘Abd al-Karim, about 
whom we have scarce information outside of al-Kurani’s thabat, studied with 
the Egyptian scholar al-Ramli. Mulla ‘Abd al-Karim was from Kurdistan and his 
father studied in Iran, but he chose to go to Egypt instead of following in the 
path of his father. As Iran is much closer to Kurdistan than Egypt is, and was 
a center of intellectual sciences in the Safavid period, Mulla ‘Abd al-Karim’s 
journey supports my claim from the first chapter that the conversion of Iran 
to Shi‘ism forced Sunni scholars to change their direction toward other Sunni 
intellectual centers. 

Al-Kurani also read parts of Sharh al-Mukhtasar with Mulla Sharif at the end 
of Ramadan in 1050/1640. He studied with al-Qushashi other of al-Taftazani’s 
works such as the Hashiyat al-Kashshaf of al-Zamakhshari, al-Talwith, al-Mu- 


tawwal, Sharh al-Shamsiyya of al-Qazwini, al-Irshad fi al-nahw, al-Tahdhib, and 
Sharh Tasrth, for all of which the chain of transmission extended to Husam al- 

Another chain of transmission for al-Taftazani’s Sharh al-Maqasid, through 
Ibn Hajar, is mentioned in al-Babili’s and al-Basri's thabats:!5? 

Salim al-Basr1 < Muhammad al-Babili < Ahmad al-Sanhuri < Ahmad 
b. Hajar al-Makki < ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Sunbati < Taqi al-Din al-Hisni < 

Shams al-Din al-Hajint < Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani. 

Al-Basri also has an isndd for al-Taftazani’s commentaries al-Mutawwal and al- 
Mukhtasar'* on Talkhis al-Miftah. 

Salim al-Basri 
ree al-Babili 
‘Alt b. Yahya al-Zayadi Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Shalabi 
Yusuf b. ‘Abd Allah al-Armayuni 
Jalal al-Din al-Suyati 

Ahmad b. Muhammad al-‘Aqili 

Husam al-Din al-Husayni b. ‘Alt b. Muhammad al-Abyurdi 

Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani 

4.2 Al-Sharif al-Jurjani’s (d. 816/1413) Works 

Al-Kurani has two chains of transmission to al-Jurjani: one through Mulla 
Sharif and the other through al-Qushashi. With Mulla Sharif he read parts of 
Hashiya ‘ala Sharh al-Matali, Hashiya ‘ala Sharh Hikmat al-‘ayn, and Hashiya 
‘ala Sharh al-Shamsiyya, with Mulla Dawid al-Harawi's gloss on the latter two. 
This reading occurred in Muharram 1052/1642. Additionally, he read with Mulla 

151 Al-Kuarani, al-Amam, p. 102. 

152 Al-Tha‘libi, Thabat al-Babili, p. 99; al-Basri, Thabat Salim al-Basri entitled al-Imdad bi- 
marifat ‘uluw al-isnad, p. 86. 

153 Al-Basri, al-Imdad, p. 93. 


Sharif parts of Sharh al-Mawagif. With al-Qushashi, he read parts of Sharh al- 
Mawagif, as well parts of al-Jurjani’s Hashiya on al-Isfahani’s al-Sharh al-qadim 
on al-Tajrid, with an ijaza for all of al-Jurjani’s works, including Hashiyat al- 
Kashshaf, Hashiyat Sharh Mukhtasar al-Muntaha, Hashiyat Sharh al-Isharat of 
al-Tasi, Hashiyat al-Mutawwal, Sharh al-Miftah, and others (wa-ghayruha).!5+ 
His chains of transmission through these two teachers are the following: 

(1) Al-Kurani’s isnad through Mulla Sharif 

Ibrahim al-Kurani 

Mulla Sharif al-Kuarani 
‘Abd al-Baqi al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Hakami 

Muhammad b. ‘Ala al-Din al-Babilt ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Fahd al-Makki 

Salim al-Sanhuri 
Najm al-Din al-Ghayti 

Two aspects of the above isnad are worth highlighting. First, Mulla Sharif al- 
Kurani studied with ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali, which makes a Hanbali 
scholar one of the main sources of transmission for Ash‘ari texts. This schol- 
arly Hanbalite-Ash‘arite relationship requires more study and an investigation 
as to the possible existence of commentaries on Ash‘arite texts by Hanbalite 
scholars. Relationships between different schools of thought in Islam is another 
aspect of intellectual life that has emerged through the use of isnad to track 
the transmission of works in the rational sciences. Isnad enables us to study 
these relationships primarily by tracing student-teacher chains, but isnad may 
also reveal other dimensions of the relationship between different schools of 
thought by allowing us to track what was being studied and transmitted, not 
simply to or from whom. The importance of this tool is thus not limited to 
hadith or other transmitted sciences; rather, it also sheds light on theological 
texts that relate to the core of the disputes between schools of thought. In Abu 
al-Mawahib b. ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Hanbali’s thabat we find that his father, ‘Abd al- 
Baqi, studied with al-Babili and scholars of the Hijaz, such as Muhammad b. 

154 Al-Kuarani, al-Amam, pp. 102-103. 


‘Allan al-Siddiqi at the beginning of eleventh/seventeenth century, and that his 
isnads reach back to al-‘Asqalani, Zakariyya al-Ansari, and Ibn Hajar.!° As all 
of these scholars were Ash‘arites in doctrine and none Hanbalite in igh, it is 
unclear what he studied with them. It is reasonable to assume that al-Ba‘li al- 
Hanbali studied hadith with non-Hanbalite scholars of the Hijaz. Second, there 
are two links between Ibrahim al-Kurani and al-Babili in the transmission of al- 
Jurjani’s works: even though al-Kurani studied directly with al-Babili, it seems 
that he did not study al-Jurjani’s works with him. 

(2) Al-Kurant’s isnad through al-Qushashi 
Ibrahim al-Kurani 
Safi al-Din al-Qushashi 
Ahmad al-Shinnawi 
Ahmad b. ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Sunbati 

‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Fahd al-Makki 

(His uncle) Jarullah b. Fahd al-Makki, 
who studied al-Jurjani's works with four scholars 
[1] ‘Umar b. ii Pe eee al-Madani 
[2] Al-Tayyib Muhammad b. ‘Afif ‘Abd Allah Ba-Mukharrama b. Ahmad al- 
Saybani al-‘Adani 
[3] Abt al-Abbas Hamza b. ‘Abd Allah al-Nashini al-Zabidi 
[4] Al-Shihab Ahmad b. ‘Umar al-Shar‘abi al-Ta‘zi 

Al-Ghayti + al-Sunbati + ‘Umar al-Qahiri al-Madani 
(All of them studied al-Jurjani’s works with al-Sunbat’s father) 

‘Abd al-Hagqq b. Muhammad al-Sunbati 


Muhammad al-Haskafi al-Qahiri Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Shirwani 

155 Al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali, Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib, pp. 34-35. 


Al-Jalal Muhammad b. Yusuf b. al-Husayn Muhammad al-Jurjani 

al-Halwani al-Shafit a 

Al-Sharif al-Jurjani 
[2] Al-Tayyib al-‘Adani 

Al-Sharif Hibat Allah b. ‘Ata Allah b. Lutf Allah b. Salam Allah al-Shirazi 
al-Hasani al-Husayni 

(His maternal grandfather) Nur al-Din Abt al-Futth Ahmad b. ‘Abd 
Allah al-Tawusi al-Abraquhi al-Shirazi 

Al-Sharif al-Jurjani 

[3] al-Nashiri [4] al-Shar‘abi 
| | 
Mansir b. al-Hasan al-Kazrini ‘Afif al-Din al-Iji 
Al-Sharif al-Jurjani Jalal al-Din al-Dawani 

(His father) As‘ad al-Dawani = Mazhar al-Din al-Kazaruni 

Al-Sharif al-Jurjani 

Several aspects of the above chains deserve to be discussed. Firstly, most of the 
isnads go through Jarullah b. Fahd (d. 954/1547), the historian of Mecca and 
student of al-Sakhawi (d. 902/1497). We can infer from this fact that al-Jurjani’s 
works were known in the Hijaz in the middle of the sixteenth century; it is 
mentioned above that in a waqf of book documents dated 974/1566-1567 to 
993/1585, al-Jurjani’s name is repeated seventeen times, which means numer- 
ous of his work were known and required in the Hijaz probably even earlier 
than the sixteenth century, and that there was continuity in their study. Jarullah 
b. Fahd had four teachers: three from Yemen (‘Adani, Zabidi, and Ta‘z1) and one 
from Cairo. This last moved to Medina, and the isnad that mentions him is the 
only one available through someone from Cairo. Secondly, from these Yemeni 
scholars the chains go back to Central Asia. The question remains whether 
these authors studied in Central Asia or simply learned from Central Asian 
teachers in Yemen. Most probably the knowledge transmission between the 
scholars from Central Asia and the Yemeni scholars took place in India, where 


both a large Yemeni community and a number of scholars from Iran and Cen- 
tral Asia lived. Thirdly, based on what I have mentioned in Chapter One about 
the relationship between the Indian Subcontinent and Arabia in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, most probably these works arrived in the Hijaz 
through the Indian Subcontinent and Yemen. By the tenth/sixteenth century, 
al-Jurjani’s works were well known in the Indian Subcontinent, and al-Jurjani’s 
Sharh al-Mawagif was one of the most studied and commented-on texts.!56 
The popularity of this work appears to be reflected in the anecdote mentioned 
above, in which al-‘Ayyashi asks Badr al-Din al-Hindi to teach him al-Abhart’s 
al-Hidaya ft al-hikma;*’ Badr al-Din agrees, but nevertheless suggests he read 
Sharh al-Mawagif by al-Jurjani instead of al-Hidaya.'5* That means al-Jurjani’s 
Sharh al-Mawagdif received the attention of the scholars in the Hijaz at more or 
less the same time that it was capturing the attention of South Asian schol- 
ars.59 Fourthly, these students of al-Jurjani, al-Dawani, etc. are supposed to 
have been established scholars. They did not transmit hadiths that they memo- 
rized, but were instead teaching the most sophisticated theological and philo- 
sophical texts. Their lives and intellectual activities, including the possibilities 
of commenting on or glossing the texts they taught, need more research. 
What I have mentioned above are [brahim al-Kurani’s chains of transmission 
for al-Jurjant’s works. Here I will mention more chains of transmission through 
other scholars in the Hijaz, beginning with al-Babili.!©° The various lines of 
transmission illustrate the reach of these works, where they arrived, and in 
what way. Understanding these paths contributes to mapping the transmission 
of the rational sciences between different parts of the Islamic world, to prove 

156 Al-Jurjani’s Sharh al-Mawagif, al-Dawani’s Sharh al-‘Aqa’id al-‘Adudiyya, and al-Taftazani's 
Sharh al-‘Aqaid al-Nasafiyya were the most popular works in the Indian Subcontinent in 
the sixteenth century; see Ahmad and Pourjavady, “Theology in the Indian Subcontinent,” 
pp. 607-624. 

157  Al-Abhari’s al-Hidaya fi al-hikma was one of the most popular texts in the Ottoman 
Empire. El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 22. 

158 Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 634. 

159 For the reception of al-Mawagqif in South Asia see Asad Ahmad, “The Mawagif of ‘Adud 
al-Din al-Ijiin India,’ in Philosophical Theology in Islam: Later Ash‘arism East and West, eds. 
Ayman Shihadeh and Jan Thiele (Leiden, Boston, Brill: 2020), pp. 397-412. 

160 ‘Isa al-Tha‘alibi al-Maghribi was a student of al-Babili, and the one who collected the 
isnads of his teachers, so his thabat always starts with the statement, “I read with him 
.... meaning al-Babili, then continues the chain until reaching the author of the work. Al- 
Tha‘alibi al-Maghribi, Thabat al-Babili, p. 99; and al-Basri, al-Imdad, p. 86. Salim al-Basri 
also has isndads from al-Kurani. See al-Basri, al-Imdad, p. 140. He also lists his isnads for 
works of al-Dawani, Jami, ‘Isam al-Din, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, and others from al-Kurani’s 

that Islamic intellectual life in the post-classical period remained active, not 
in a single geographical region, nor within a specific sect, but rather spanned 
the Islamic world via the journeys of students, scholars, and texts. The arrival 
in the Hijaz of these advanced theological texts was not due to one person 
or individual interest; the multiplicity of transmitted chains implies a diver- 
sity of scholars and students and their distribution over different geographical 
Ahmad b. Khalil al-Subki 
Al-Najm Muhammad b. Ahmad 
‘Abd al-Haqq al-Sunbati 

Shams al-Din al-Shirwani (d. 873) 

Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Jurjani 

Al-Sharif al-Jurjani 

Shams al-Din al-Shirwani'® studied the works of al-Jurjani with Muhammad 
b. Shihab al-Khawafi al-Hanafi (d. 852/1448), one of al-Jurjani’s students. Al- 
Khawafi studied with al-Jurjani some of his own works, including the Sharh 
al-Miftah of al-Sakkaki, Sharh al-Mawagif of al-Iji, Hashiyat Sharh al-Matali‘ 
of Qutb al-Din al-Razi al-Tahtani on al-Urmawi’s Matali‘ al-anwar, and Sharh 
al-Tadhkira of al-Tasi. Al-Khawafi himself wrote works on Arabic and logic, as 
well as glosses on unspecified work by ‘Adud al-Din al-Iji, Sharh al-Miftah by 
al-Taftazani, al-Baydawi'’s Tawali‘ al-anwar, and al-Minhdj by al-Baydawi.'62 

161 He is different from Shams al-Din al-Shirwani (d. 699/1299), al-Tusi’s student, who was 
a Sufi and astronomer with an interest in philosophy and the intellectual sciences. Al- 
Tisi’s student has already been mentioned in the chain of Ibn al-Akfani in al-Isharat. 
Al-Safadi in al-Waft bi-l-wafayat says that Ibn al-Akfani told him about the place and the 
date of his studying with al-Shirwani: in the Khanqah Sa‘d al-Su‘ad@ in Cairo at the end of 
[6]98/[1299 ] and the beginning of [6]99/[1299-1300]. See Salah al-Din al-Safadi, al-Waft bi- 
L-wafayat, ed. Ahmad al-Arna’it and Turki Mustafa (Beirut: Dar al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 2000), 
vol. 2, p. 101. 

162 Jalal al-Din al-Suyati, Nazgm al-‘qyan fi a‘yan al-a‘yan, ed. Philip Hitti (Beirut: al-Maktaba 
al-‘Tlmiyya, 1927), p. 149. 


4.3 AL Ij’’s (d. 756/1355) Works 

Al-Kirani says that he read some of al-Iji’s works with two of his teachers: Mulla 
Sharif al-Kurani and Safi al-Din al-Qushashi. He specified that he read with 
Mulla Sharif most of al-Iji’s creed, through al-Dawani’s commentary, and al- 
Risala al-wad‘yya through al-Sharif al-Jurjani’s commentary. With al-Qushashi 
he read parts of al-Mawagif alongside al-Iji’s creed and its commentary by al- 
Dawani. His two teachers gave him ijazas in at least some of al-Iji’s other works, 
specifying only Ibn al-Hajib’s Sharh al-Mukhtasar, al-Faw@id al-Ghiyathiyya, 
and al-Jawahir163 

Al-Kuarani’s isndds of al-Iji’s works go back to al-Iji as follow: 

Ibrahim al-Kurani 

Mulla Sharif al-Kurani Safi al-Din al-Qushashi 
‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Hakami Ahmad al-Shinnawi 
Ibn Hajar al-Makki Hasan al-Danjihi 

‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Fahd 

Jalal al-Din al-Suyati Jarullah b. Fahd al-Makki 


Al-Shams Muhammad b. Ahmad 

Abu al-Fad] b. Nasr Allah al-Baghdadi 
al-Qahiri al-Hanbali 

Yahya b. Muhammad b. Yusuf 

(His father) Muhammad b. Yusuf b. ‘Ali al-Kirmani 

‘Adud al-Din al-Iji 

163 Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 1. Al-Jawahir is Jawahir al-kalam, a self-abridgment of al-Ma- 


Two aspects of the isndds above are worth mentioning. Firstly, the chain 
through al-Qushashi goes back to Jarullah b. Fahd, the historian of Mecca, and 
to his teacher, the famous historian al-Sakhawi. That means that some of al- 
Iji’s texts had been taught in the Hijaz for five generations before al-Kurani, 
or as of the end of fifteenth century. Secondly, there are only two scholars 
between al-Sakhawi (d. 1497) and al-Iji: al-Sakhawi’s chain of transmission for 
al-Mawagif is through a Hanbali scholar, who connects him to al-Kirmani, 
the student of al-Iji. This Hanbali scholar is mentioned as Baghdadi Qahiri. 
These connections allow us to access the path al-Iji’s texts took from Iran and 
Central Asia in the middle of fourteenth century to the seventeenth-century 

4.4 Al-Dawants (d. 908/1502) Works 

Ibrahim al-Kurani studied some of al-Dawani’s works with Mulla Sharif al- 
Kurani and others with al-Qushashi.!®* With Mulla Sharif, al-Karani read all of 
al-Zawra with al-Dawanis own gloss, most of Sharh al-Aqa@id al-‘Adudiyya (in 
1045/1635) with Mulla Yusuf b. Muhammad al-Qarabaghi’s and al-Khalkhali’s 
glosses, parts of al-Dawani’s gloss on Sharh al-Shamsiyya by Qutb al-Din al-Razi, 
parts of al-Dawani’s gloss on al-Taftazani’s Tahdhib al-mantiq wa-l-kalam, and 
parts of al-Risala al-jadida ftithbat al-wajib (in 1053/1643). With al-Qushashi, al- 
Kurani read parts of Sharh al-Aqd@id al-Adudiyya and parts of al-Zawra’, with 
an ijaza for the rest of al-Dawani’s books. 

Ibrahim al-Kurani 

Mulla Sharif al-Kurani Safi al-Din al-Qushashi 

‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Hakami Ahmad al-Shinnawi 
‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Fahd al-Makki 

(His uncle) Jarullah b. Fahd al-Makki 

yee owe 

Sharaf al-Din Isma‘l b. Ibrahim =Ahmad b. ‘Umar al-Shar‘abi 
al-‘Alawi al-Zabidi al-Yamani al-Hamadani al-Ta‘zi 

Se. La 

wagif. See Reza Pourjavadi, “The Legacy of ‘Adud al-Din al-Iji: His Works and his Students,” 
in Philosophical Theology in Islam, pp. 337-370; for Jawahir al-kalam see p. 343. 
164 Al-Kurani, al-Amam, pp. 104-105. 


‘Afif al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Iji al-Shafit 

Jalal al-Din al-Dawani 

Let me conclude this section, in which I laid out the paths of some ratio- 
nal texts from fifteenth-century Central Asia to the seventeenth-century Hijaz, 
with some general observations. Firstly, several Ash‘arite texts were transmitted 
through Hanbalite scholars, which raises a number of important questions for 
future study: Why did these Hanbalite scholars study these Ash‘arite texts, not 
with the aim of criticizing and rejecting them, but to teach them later to other 
Ash‘arite scholars? How did the relationship between Hanbalites and Ash‘arites 
develop in this period? What are the factors that contributed to this tolerance 
and the acceptance of transmission and publication of doctrinal texts that 
are different from the doctrine of the transmitter? Secondly, it is clear that al- 
Jurjani’s and al-Iji’s texts were known in the Hijaz probably one or two centuries 
before al-Kurani, which means that interest in these texts predates the seven- 
teenth century, and these earlier centuries must be studied as well in order to 
form a better idea of the development of intellectual life in the Hijaz. Jarullah 
b. Fahd al-Makki (d. 15 Jumada 0, 954/2 August 1547)!© is an essential link in 
studying intellectual life in the Hijaz, since he appears in the chains of trans- 
mission for texts by al-Jurjani, al-Iji, and al-Dawani, and most probably other 
rational texts. Jarullah, a Shafi Sufi scholar, studied with his father, as well 
as with ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Sunbati, the historian of Medina ‘Ali al-Samhidi, al- 
Suyuti, and with Shams al-Din al-Sakhawi. He traveled to Egypt, Yemen, Syria, 
and the Ottoman lands (bilad al-rum) and wrote about fifty works. Thirdly, 
Jarullah b. Fahd studied with two scholars from Yemen, one of whom seems 
to have moved to Hamadan, and both studied with al-Dawani’s student ‘Afif 
al-Din. This isnad confirms Yemen’s role as a mediator in the transmission 
of rational texts between Iran, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent on 
the one side, and the Hijaz, Egypt, and North Africa on the other. Intellectual 
life in Yemen during the sixteenth century is a promising topic that deserves 
research and may reveal aspects of intellectual life otherwise absent in the post- 
classical period. This kind of research would require a study of all the scholars 
of Yemeni origin who are named here, particularly of details related to their 

165 See Shams al-Din al-Sakhawi, al-Daw’ al-lami‘li-ahl al-qarn al-tasi‘ (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1992), 
vol. 3, p. 52; Ibn al-Imad, Shadharat al-dhahab, vol. 8, p. 301; al-‘Aydaris, al-Nur al-safir, 
pp. 241-242; al-Ghazzi, al-Kawakib al-s@ira, vol. 2, p. 131; Muhammad al-Habib al-Hila, 
al-Tartkh wa-l-mwarrikhin bi-Makkah min al-qarn al-thalith al-hijri ila al-qarn al-thalith 
‘ashar (London: al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 1994), p. 195. 


lives, teachers, and students, in order to get a better idea of Yemen's intellec- 
tual role in the sixteenth century. I have mentioned in the first chapter that 
many scholars from Yemen moved to live in the Mughal Empire, and numer- 
ous of them formed intellectual connections between the Indian Subcontinent 
and the Arabian Peninsula. Fourthly, an important Yemeni scholar who appears 
in the isnad mentioned just above is Ibn. Mutayr al-Hakami al-Yamani (g50- 
1041/1543—1632),!66 ‘Ali b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr b. Ibrahim b. Abi al-Qasim. 
Al-Hakami appears as a teacher of the rational sciences for several scholars in 
the Hijaz, including Mulla Sharif, al-Kurani’s foremost teacher in the rational 
sciences. Al-Hakami studied with al-Amin b. Ibrahim Mutayr, ‘Abd al-Salam al- 
Nazili, and others. Among his works are al-Jjhaf, an abridgment of Ibn Hajar’s 
Tuhfat al-Minhaj; al-Dibaj ‘ala al-Minhaj in Shafi figh; and Sharh Minhaj al- 
Nawawi. Ibn Mutayr al-Hakami is one of the main, and high, links between 
Ibrahim al-Kurani and Ibn Hajar al-Makki, as follows: 

Ibrahim al-Karani < Mulla Sharif < ‘Ali b. Mutayr al-Hakami < Ibn 
Hajar al-Makki 

More chains of transmission can be established for the works of Fakhr al-Din al- 
Razi, ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami, ‘Isam al-Din b. ‘Arabshah, Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn ‘Arabi, 
and other prominent authors by depending on thabats and other works of 
isnad, some of which are mentioned above. 

Isnad, as the examples above demonstrate, is a crucial source for establish- 
ing the names of authors and the titles of their works. With the information 
provided by isnad works in hand, we can begin to draw a map of knowledge 
circulation across geographical zones and from one century to another. Isnad 
works not only help to establish the routes through which knowledge was trans- 
mitted; they can also provide information on other historical issues. As we 
have seen above, some Hanbalite scholars participated in the transmission of 
Ash‘arite texts, and some were even interested in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings. 

Studying these surprising connections may change our perception of the 
relations between different scholars of theology and Sufism. As I will discuss 
in the last two chapters, Sufism, philosophy, and theology were largely inter- 
twined in the post-classical phase and it has sometimes become difficult to 
distinguish between them. These isnad chains may help us study the evolution 

166 Al-Muhibbi, Khuldsat al-athar, vol. 3, p. 189. Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Yahya al- 
San‘ani, Mulhag al-Badr al-tali‘ bi-mahasin man bad al-qarn al-sabi‘ (Cairo: Dar al-Sa‘ada, 
1348), p. 176. [Printed after the second volume of al-Badr al-tali‘]. 


of the relationship between Sufis and theologians, and to follow the theolo- 
gians’ interest in Sufi topics and the influence of Sufism in Islamic intellectual 
history. In addition, detailed information concerning some scholars can only 
be found in this kind of literature, since the entries were written by direct stu- 
dents who strove to establish their own authority through the chains of their 
teachers. Some of these works also contain theological and philosophical dis- 
cussions, similar to bibliographical works that contain theological discussions. 
Moreover, some non-extant works are quoted in some of these texts. For exam- 
ple, Jalal al-Din al-Dawan’’s /jaza to his student ‘Afif al-Din al-Iji is mentioned by 
Judith Pfeiffer without any further information, and Reza Pourjavady does not 
even mention it. Although the actual iaza or its copies are missing, Ibrahim 
al-Kurani quotes all of it in his thabat entitled al-Amam.'®’ And as we have 
seen above, ‘Afif al-Din al-Iji is an essential link between al-Dawani and some 
Yemeni scholars, which means this jjaza can provide a clue as to which text 
these Yemeni scholars studied with him and later transmitted to the Hijazi 
scholars. As a result of its revealing of otherwise-obscured information, the 
study of isnad is critical to the construction of intellectual history, and it is 
hoped that in the future this genre of literature can be used by scholars to dis- 
cover more, particularly with relation to post-classical Islamic philosophy. 

5 Conclusion 

The presence of more than fifty scholars in a small region of the Hijaz dur- 
ing the seventeenth century is clear evidence that supports the speculations 
of researchers in the past few decades regarding intellectual activities in the 
seventeenth-century Hijaz, and allows us to argue for the prominent place 
of the Hijaz in post-classical Islamic thought. Until recent years, the intellec- 
tual life of the seventeenth-century Hijaz has been largely unexplored territory. 
Scholars in the two fields of study mentioned in the introduction, ie., Southeast 
Asian Studies and the study of the reform movements of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, have speculated about some activities in the Hijaz at that time, yet they 
have mostly confined these speculations to hadith and Sufi movements. 
Recently, Khaled El-Rouayheb’s Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth 
Century explored some aspects of intellectual life in the Hijaz, focusing on the 
specific examples of Ibrahim al-Kurani and his student Muhammad b. Rasul 
al-Barzanji. In this chapter I gave more examples to show that al-Kurani and 

167. Al-Kuarani, al-Amam, p. 105. 


his circle were not exceptions in the Hijaz itself. The number of schools, ribats, 
libraries, and the scholars mentioned here shows the extent of the activity in 
the Hijaz during that period. Each scholar needs to be investigated in detail, as 
the following chapters will do with Ibrahim al-Kurani, to show his education, 
teachers, students, works, and influence and to allow us thereby to have a more 
complete picture of intellectual life in the Hijaz. The study of these scholars 
will reveal other aspects of intellectual life in the Hijaz, which was developed to 
such a degree that a scholar of that period, Muhammad ‘Ali b. ‘Allan al-Siddigqi 
(d. 1648), could complain that in his time the people who are innocent of wis- 
dom (hikma) are considered ignorant.!68 

As we have seen in this chapter, most of the philosophical texts that made 
their way to the Hijaz arrived via India, Yemen, Cairo, and Damascus. In the 
chains of transmission of these philosophical texts we notice that the direct 
teachers of al-Kurani studied with scholars from the Arab world, mainly from 
the Hijaz, Yemen, Syria, and Egypt. One generation earlier, the teachers of al- 
Kurani’s teachers most likely received their intellectual preparation in Iran, 
particularly in the case of teachers from his hometown in Kurdistan. Many 
other chains move to India after two or three generations. These results con- 
firm El-Rouayheb’s argument, supported by tracing the chains of transmission 
of several Ottoman scholars from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth 
centuries, that their intellectual lineage extended to Persian scholars such as al- 
Dawani, ‘Isam al-Din Isfar@iyni, and Mirzajan Baghnawi. The ethnicity of the 
scholars present in isndds shifts over the course of the seventeenth century. 
The fifteenth- and sixteenth-century scholars are Persian; in the early seven- 
teenth century, they are Kurdish or Azeri, and by the second half of the sev- 
enteenth century scholars of Ottoman Turkish background begin to appear.!® 
This observation supports my assertion that the conversion of Iran to Shr'ism 
moved the centres of intellectual sciences outside of Iran. The Indian Subconti- 
nent and Ottoman lands were the first recipients of these scholars. From there, 
these texts found their way to the Hijaz alongside numerous scholars, some of 
whom were mentioned above. 

This chapter also introduced a valuable source for studying post-classical 
intellectual activities in some parts of the Islamic world where the isndd tra- 
dition was common. This source has rarely been used by Western scholars to 
investigate intellectual history. It is clear, even with the cursory treatment in 
this chapter, that isnad works are a promising source that may change our per- 

168 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 19. 
169 _El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, pp. 52, 56. 


spective about knowledge transmission between different parts of the Islamic 

world, although it must be stated that the usefulness of this source is necessar- 

ily confined to areas where chains of transmission were popular and where the 
intellectual sciences appear in these chains. 

Another important set of sources that can reveal information about intel- 
lectual activities in the Hijaz is the manuscripts that are contained in several 
collections in Mecca, Medina and other libraries around the world. For exam- 
ple, the manuscripts of Umm al-Qura University in Mecca are catalogued in 
six volumes.!”° This collection contains numerous works in philosophy, kalam, 
logic, astronomy, and medicine. Unfortunately, the catalogue does not mention 
the places where the works were copied. Many of these works are from the 
eleventh/seventeenth century and earlier, but without examining the actual 
copies it is difficult to determine whether they were copied in the Hijaz or sim- 
ply brought to the Hijaz by scholars who visited the region or who moved there 
permanently. The libraries of Medina contain numerous such collections of 
manuscripts; thirty-four collections are located in the library of King ‘Abd al- 
‘Aziz alone. This library contains 15,722 manuscripts in total, according to the 
municipal authority’s website;!71 but unfortunately there is no complete cata- 
logue for this library to date.!” 

Even if a catalogue were available, scholars’ names and books’ titles are not 
enough to gain a precise idea of the intellectual debates without examining 
these works in detail. In order to explore this understudied period and geo- 
graphical zone, this study now turns to an examination of the life and thought 
of one of the most prominent scholars of the Hijaz in the seventeenth century, 
Ibrahim al-Kurani. 

170 Fahras makhtutat Jami‘at Umm al-Qura (Mecca: Jami‘at Umm al-Qura, al-Maktaba al- 
Markaziyya, Qism al-Makhtutat, 1983). 

171 _ 

172 Manuscript catalogues in general can provide valuable information about works that were 
copied or possessed by scholars in the Hijaz. For example, there is a copy of Tuhfa al- 
shahiyya fit (‘ilm) al-hay'a by Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi in Istanbul’s Kandilli Collection that 
was possessed by the Qadi of Mecca Muhammad “rif. The manuscript was copied on g 
Dhi-Hijja 1073 (15 July 1663). See: Kandilli Rasathanesi el yazmalant: Bogazigi Universitesi, 

Kandilli Rasathanesi ve Deprem Arastirma Enstitiisii, astronomi, astroloji, matematik yaz- 
malar katalogu, vol. 2, pp. 136-137. 


Ibrahim al-Kurani’s Life, Education, Teachers, and 

In the seventeenth century, the Hijaz was bursting with scholars and students 
interested in various rational and transmitted sciences, in addition to both the- 
oretical and practical Sufism. If one scholar could be chosen to represent all of 
these fields of knowledge in the Hijaz during that century, it is undisputedly 
Ibrahim b. Hasan al-Kurani, one of the most prominent scholars of the intel- 
lectual sciences alongside his complete immersion in Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, in 
addition to being head of a number of Sufi orders and one of the main isnad 
links for hadith in the seventeenth century. His full name is Mulla Ibrahim b. 
Hasan b. Shihab al-Din al-Kurani al-Shahraziri al-Kurdi al-Shafil al-Madani, 
Abu Ishaq, and he was also known as Abi al-‘Irfan.! His life and a number of 
his works are mentioned by several scholars and in various historical, travel, 
and bio-bibliographical works.” Four of the historians and travelers who men- 
tioned him were his direct students, and they provide us with reliable informa- 
tion about his life and career. These four scholars are Hasan b. ‘Ali al-‘Ujaymi 
(d. 1113/1702), who wrote a bio-bibliographical book of Sufis of the Hijaz in the 
seventeenth century entitled Khabaya al-zawaya; al-Shulli (d. 1093/1682), who 
wrote a history of the eleventh/seventeenth century entitled Agqd al-jawahir 
wa-l-durar ft akhbar al-qarn al-hadi ‘ashar; Mustafa al-Hamawi (d. 1123/1711), 
who wrote the most comprehensive bio-bibliography of the eleventh/seven- 
teenth century entitled Fawa’d al-irtihal wa-nata’ij al-safar ft akhbar al-qarn 

1 About Shahrazir see Yaqit al-Hamawi, Mujam al-buldan (Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1977), vol. 3, 
p. 375. About Ktran see V. Minorsky, “The Guran,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African 
Studies 11 (1943), pp. 75-103. See also Martin Van Bruinessen, Agha, Shaikh, and State: The 
Social and Political Structures of Kurdistan (London: Zed Books, 1992), p. 109. 

2 See the sections on al-Kirani’s life and works in: Muhammad b. Abi Bakr b. Ahmad al-Shulli 
Ba-‘Alawi, ‘Aqd al-jawahir wa-l-durar fi akhbar al-qarn al-hadt ‘ashar, ed. Ibrahim Ahmad al- 
Maghafi (Yamen, San‘a: Maktabat al-Irshad, 2003), p. 384; Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Shawkani, 
al-Badr al-tali‘bi-mahasin man ba‘ al-qarn al-sabi‘ (Cairo: Dar al-Kitab al-Islami, n. d), vol. 1, 
p. 1; Muhammad Khalil b. ‘Ali al-Muradi, Silk al-durar fi a‘yan al-qarn al-thani ‘ashar (Cairo: 
Dar al-kitab al-Islami, n. d), vol. 1, p. 5; ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Hasan al-Jabarti, ‘Aja’ib al-athar 
fial-tarajim wa-l-akhbar, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahim ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Abd al-Rahim (Cairo: Matba‘at 
Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya bi-l-Qahira, 1997), vol. 1, p.125; al-Baghdadi, Hadiyyat al-Grifin, vol.1, 
p. 35; Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Hudayki, Tabaqat al-Hudayki, ed. Anmad Bamizku (Morocco, 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_005 


al-hadi ‘ashar; and Abt Salim al-‘Ayyashi, who spent a year in the Hijaz and 
wrote a book about his journey entitled M@ al-mawa’id, published under the 
title al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya (1661-1663). These four scholars were al-Kurani’s 
students and wrote about him from their own direct knowledge. Almost all 
later historians draw their material from the works of these four scholars. 
Alongside these scholars, several students who studied with al-Kurani or met 
him in the Hijaz mentioned him in their isndds, thabats, or journey accounts. 
Among the four direct students of al-Kurani, al-‘Ujaymi’s and al-Shulli’s ac- 
counts are relatively short, and al-Hamaw/'s entry of al-Kurani is based mainly 
on al-‘Ayyashi’s account in his Rihla, which makes this last account the most 
detailed and important source for al-Kurani’s life and career. Abu Salim al- 
‘Ayyashi was an established scholar when he performed his third hajj and 
stayed as a mujawir for the year of 1072—1073/1661-166z. In this year, he tried 
to meet scholars of the Hijaz along with the visiting scholars who came to per- 
form the hajj. His intellectual inclination, alongside his Sufi affiliation, was a 
vital factor in the recording of both all his intellectual activities in the Hijaz and 
his encounters with Sufi shaykhs. Among the features of al-‘Ayyashi’s account is 
that most of the information about al-Kurani was told to him by al-Kurani him- 
self and is mostly recorded in al-Kurani’s voice, using phrases such as “al-Kurani 
told me” or “said such and such,” so the account, at various points, reads like an 
autobiography by al-Kurani himself. Finally, al-Kurani’s own works are another 
important source for his life and career. He was very thorough in mentioning 
all his teachers and where and what he studied with them in his various works, 
most importantly in his main thabat entitled al-Amam li-tyqaz al-himam, in 
which he mentions some of the works he studied as well as some of his teach- 
ers, providing us with a more detailed picture of his life and works than that 
revealed by any of his biographers. 

1 Al-Kurani’s Life 

Al-Kurani’s life can be divided into four phases: his early life and studies in his 
homeland; his work teaching in Baghdad for a year and a half; his residence 
in Damascus for four years; and finally his move to the Hijaz, passing through 
Jerusalem and Cairo before settling in Medina for the rest of his life. 

al-Dar al-Bayda: Matba‘at al-Najah al-Jadid, 2006), vol. 1, p. 141; al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani, 
p. 1787; Al-Hamawi, Fawd@’id al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 54; al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 99; and 
al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 478. 


11 Al-Kurani’s Early Life and Studies in His Homeland 

Al-Kirani was born in Shawwal 1025/October 1616 in the town of Shahran in 
the Kurdish mountains. His initial studies with local teachers were relatively 
broad and comprehensive. He studied most of the intellectual sciences in his 
hometown, mainly with ‘Abd al-Karim b. Abi Bakr b. Hidayat Allah al-Kuarani 
(d. 1050/1640) and Mulla Muhammad Sharif al-Kurani (d. 1078/1667). 

Al-Kurani states that he studied all the sciences of his time during this period 
except two: Prophetic Tradition (hadith) and Sufism. He studied the Arabic lan- 
guage and the intellectual disciplines of kalam, logic, and philosophy, along 
with geometry (handasa) and astronomy (haya). He then studied lexicology, 
principles of jurisprudence, and Shafi figh. According to al-Hamawi and al- 
‘Ayyashi, he studied all of these sciences in his homeland, then learned tafsir 
from the scholars of his country; neither specifies where or with whom.? Par- 
tially filling this gap, in his thabat al-Kurani mentions that he studied part of 
al-Baydawi’s Anwar al-tanzil with Mulla Sharif in Baghdad in 1055/1645. Later, 
he would obtain another, higher isnad of this work through al-Qushashi in 

Concerning the sciences of hadith and Sufism, al-‘Ayyashi and al-Hamawi 
report that al-Kurani did not think that studying hadith in the traditional way 
through a chain of transmission still existed, stating that “I did not think that 
there is on earth anyone [who] says: [someone] told us and recounted (had- 
dathana wa-akhbarana).”® Later, in Syria, Egypt, and the Hijaz, al-Kurani found 
that this science was still alive and was taught using the traditional method 
of transmission. He said the same, again per both al-‘Ayyashi and al-Hamawi, 
about Sufism: “I thought there was no one still reading, composing, and actu- 
ally practicing it; I thought there were only the books which we have or some 
isolated people on mountaintops.”® 

1.2 Al-Karani in Baghdad 

After the death of his father and the completion of his studies in his homeland, 
al-Kurani left with the intention of performing the pilgrimage and visiting the 
Prophet's tomb in Medina. During this time, he married and had a son. Upon 
arriving in Baghdad, he waited for several days with his brother ‘Abd al-Rahman 

Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 479. 
Al-kurani, al-Amam, p. 73. 
Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, pp. 479-480. 
Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 480; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 55. 

ao fh Ww 

100 CHAPTER 3 

(d. 12th/18th C.),” intending to join the hajj caravan. On the way to Mecca, his 
brother became very sick and could not continue the trip, so Ibrahim returned 
with him to Baghdad without performing the /ajj that year.§ 

While taking care of his brother, al-Kurani extended his stay in Baghdad 
for around a year and a half, as he recalls in Masalik al-abrar.2 As mentioned 
above, he was in Baghdad in 1055/1645. He most likely left Baghdad at the end of 
1056/1647, because he mentions that he spent around four years in Damascus 
and another three months in Cairo before he arrived in Mecca in the season of 
hajj 1061/1651. That means he would have left his hometown in 1054—1055/1644- 
1645, when he was around 30 years old. 

The people of Baghdad asked him to teach, and he obliged, albeit with ini- 
tial trouble teaching in Arabic. After much effort, he was able to teach in Arabic 
without difficulty. At this point in his life he was able to teach in Kurdish, Per- 
sian, and Arabic. Later, some Turkish students asked him to teach them in 
Turkish, using their own books, so he learned yet another foreign language in 
a short time.!° Learning these languages would enable him to compose all his 
works in Arabic during his life in the Hijaz, and to translate one text from Per- 
sian to Arabic alongside directly consulting the Persian texts that he mentioned 
in various works." 

Alongside his teaching, he continued to study while in Baghdad. In al-Amam 
he mentions that he studied parts of al-Baydawi’s Quranic commentary Anwar 
al-tanzil with Mulla Muhammad Sharif al-Siddiqi al-Kurani in both his home- 
town and in Baghdad in 1055/1645.!* During his time in Baghdad, he became 
interested in Sufism due to his proximity to one of the most famous Sufi shrines, 
that of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (d. 561/166). One night, al-Kurani was contem- 
plating his situation and his lack of knowledge about Sufism and his need for a 
master who could guide him. In front of the tomb of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir, he 
asked God to lead him and direct him to the best path. In a subsequent dream, 
he saw Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir pointing in the direction of the West. When he 
awoke, he prepared himself to travel to Damascus. 

7 Also a scholar in his own right; see Mirdad, al-Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l- 
zahr, p. 246; al-‘Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 206. 
Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 480. 
Ibrahim al-Kurani, Masalik al-abrar ila ahadith al-Nabial-mukhtar (Ms: Istanbul: K6priilii 
279), fol. 106>. 

1o.~—- Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 480; al-Hamawi, Fawaid al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 56. 

11 For example, he used Ibn Sina’s Danish-name Ala’ in Qasd al-sabil, Ms: Ksa, Medina: ‘Aif 
Hikmat 231, fol. 27. 

12 Al-Kurani, Amam, p. 73. 


1.3 Al-Kurani in Damascus 

While in Damascus, al-Kurani lived in al-Madrasa al-Badra’iyya,¥ in a khalwa 
(lit. “solitude,” seclusion for spiritual contemplation), that belonged to ‘Abd al- 
Baqi al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali (d. 1071/1661).!* ‘Abd al-Baqi mentions in his éjaza to 
al-Kurani that the latter was teaching in Damascus, and that numerous peo- 
ple studied with him. Al-Kurani’s thabat mentions that he also studied with 
some distinguished scholars in Damascus, including the Hanbalite scholar ‘Abd 
al-Baqi al-Ba‘li and the famous historian Najm al-Din al-Ghazzi (d. 1061/1651), 
between 1059/1649 and 1060/1650. 

Alongside his scholarly activities in Damascus, he showed a special inter- 
est in Ibn ‘Arabi’s works, and frequently visited his tomb. In a discussion with 
a friend about some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas, al-Kurani learned that a contem- 
porary scholar discussed this topic when the friend brought up some of Safi 
al-Din al-Qushashi’s (d. 1071/1661) treatises. Al-Kurani seemed interested, but 
he doubted that any of his contemporaries would be able to write such words, 
even suggesting that al-Qushashi might have plagiarized them from earlier 
writers. Al-Kurani confessed his doubts to his friend, who brought him another 
treatise by al-Qushashi entitled al-Hala ft dhikr huwa wa-l-jalala. This treatise 
shocked him and convinced him that its author was the teacher for whom he 
had been looking, the one to whom Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani had been 
referring in his dream.!6 While al-Kurani was in Damascus, he began to corre- 
spond with al-Qushashi in Medina and received the latter's books, all of which 
increased his confidence and certainty that he had found his teacher. After 
four years in Damascus, al-Qushashi requested that al-Kurani move to Med- 
ina, so he prepared himself and left Damascus for Egypt via Jerusalem and 

13 Established by the Baghdadi judge Najm al-Din Abi Muhammad ‘Abd Allah b. Abi al- 
Wafa Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Badra@i (d. Dht al-Qa‘da 655/November 1257). For more 
information about this school and its history see ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Muhammad al-Nu‘aymi 
al-Dimashdji, al-Daris fi tarikh al-madaris (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1999), vol. 1, 
Pp. 154- 

14 See ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali’s ¢jaza to al-Kurani: Ms. Jami‘at al-Malik Sa‘tid 4849, 
fol. 32; and Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Hanbali al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib 
al-Hanbali, p. 103. 

15 Al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali’s ijaza to al-Kurani, Ms. Jami‘at al-Malik Sa‘ad 4849, fol. 33. 

16 = Al- Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 58. 

17. ~Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 478 and after. 

102 CHAPTER 3 

1.4 Through Cairo to the Hijaz 

In Egypt, al-Kurani was preoccupied with his ultimate destination, so he did 
not intend to meet any scholars. Eventually, however, he needed to check 
some books that existed only in private libraries, so he met and studied with 
two Egyptian scholars: Shihab al-Din al-Khafaji (d. 1069/1659) and Sultan al- 
Mazzahi (d. 1075/1665). In al-Amam al-Kurani mentions that he read al-Tir- 
midhi’s hadith with Sultan al-Mazzahi in 1061/1651. In Masalik al-abrar, he says 
that he studied with al-Mazzahi works in hadith and _figh, without specifying 
any titles, and that he attended the latter’s lessons on al-Qastalani’s al-Mawahib 
al-ladunniyya.!® Al-Hamawi added that al-Kurani read with al-Mazzahi parts 
of al-Sahihayn hadith collections and some of al-Minhaj.9 Al-Kurani men- 
tioned also that he attended the celebration of the completion of the reading of 
the Quran (khatm al-Quran) in al-Azhar with Nar al-Din ‘Ali al-Shabramallisi 
(d.1087/1676).2° In Masalik al-abrar, he specified that he remained in Egypt for 
three months minus three days. Since he left directly for Mecca to perform the 
hajj, we can assume that he left Cairo at the end of Shawwal 1061/September 
1651.2! He travelled by sea from Suez to Jeddah and finally to Mecca, where he 
performed the Aajj and ‘umra before heading to Medina. 

We can summarize this history to say that al-Kurani studied the rational 
sciences in his hometown, and in Baghdad he began to explore his interest 
in Sufism. In Damascus he began to learn hadith, and during his short stay 
in Cairo his focus was limited to hadith studies. When he arrived in Medina, 
he spent most of his time in the company of his teacher and spiritual guide 
Safi al-Din al-Qushashi. He married his Shaykh’s daughter and became his suc- 
cessor (khalifa) in several Sufi orders. He had three sons, all of them named 
Muhammad: Muhammad Abi Sa‘id, Muhammad Abi al-Hasan, and Muham- 
mad Abt Tahir.2* His house was in the suburbs of Medina; he signed numerous 
of his treatises fi dari bi-zahir al-Madina. Alongside his personal library, al- 
Kurani would read the books in the wagf of the Prophet's mosque and in the 
khalwa of Sibghat Allah, a Ahalwa that later belonged to al-Shinnawi and then 

18 Al-Kurani, Masdlik al-abrar, fol. 105". 

ig Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 60. Al-Minhaj is al-Nawawi’s commentary on Sahih 

20 ~=Al-Karani, Masalik al-abrar, fol. 125. 

21 Ibn Iyas in his history entitled Bada‘ al-zuhur describes the celebration for the departure 
of the Egyptian hajj caravan in the middle of Shawwal; see Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Iyas, 
Bada’i‘al-zuhur fiwaqa@ al-duhur (Cairo: Dar Ihy@ al-Turath al-Halabi, 1986), vol. 5, p. 278. 

22 ~~ Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 496. 


to al-Shinnawi’s student As‘ad al-Balkhi.?3 Al-Kurani most probably died on 
Wednesday, 18 Jumada I 1101/27 February 1690 and was buried in the famous 
cemetery of al-Baqi‘.*4 

2 Al-Kurani’s Education 

Al-Kurani was well-versed in the intellectual sciences before leaving his home- 
town. He taught wherever he lived, first in Baghdad, then in Damascus, and 
finally in Medina. During the first period of his time in both Baghdad and Dam- 
ascus he was also looking to augment his spiritual education, which came to 
revolve around the person of al-Qushashi. 

His studies in his hometown were comprehensive, and he attempted to mas- 
ter every science related to the texts that he was studying. For example, when 
he read al-Abhart’s al-Hidaya ftal-hikma he studied geometry (handasa) along- 
side it, and did not continue reading until he had consumed all that he could 
on the science of geometry and had mastered the subject. During his readings 
in geometry, whenever he came across a reference to an astronomical idea, he 
would begin to study astronomy. Thus, he did not move on from any science 
until he had mastered it and verified it (yuwhaqqiqahu).25 What helped al-Kurani 
to achieve mastery of all these sciences was, reportedly, his strong memory. Al- 

23 ~=©Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 61. 

24 Al-Hamawi, Fawa‘iid al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 62. Al-‘Ayyashi and al-Shulli died before al-Kurani 
so it is normal that their works did not mention al-Kurani’s date of death, although, sur- 
prisingly, al-Ujaymi did not mention the date, either. Al-Hamawi and al-Shawkani both 
record the date mentioned above. Al-Muradi in Silk al-durar, however, says that al-Karani 
died on Wednesday, 18 Rabi‘ 11, 1101AH. Maghribi accounts seem to be confused since their 
main source was al-‘Ayyashi, who died before al-Kurani. Al-Hudayki and al-Ifrani both 
mention the year 1102 as the date of al-Kurani’s death. 

25 Al-Hamawi, Fawa@’id al-irtihdl, vo. 3, p. 55; al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 479. 
For the concept of tahqiq in the intellectual sciences see Khaled El-Rouayheb, “Open- 
ing the Gate of Verification: The Forgotten Arab-Islamic Florescence of the 17th century,” 
International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 38, no. 2 (May., 2006), pp. 263-281, p. 267; 
“Avicennism and Exegetical Practice in the Early Commentaries on the Isharat,” Oriens 41 
(2013), pp. 349-378, p. 354; and Wisnovsky, “Towards a Genealogy of Avicennism,” Oriens 
42 (2014) pp. 323-363, p. 326. For the concept of tahqiq in Sufism see Eric Geoffroy, “Spiri- 
tual Realization (al-Tahqiq) Through Daily Awakening,’ Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi 
Society, vol. 53 (2013), pp. 37-473 William Chittick, Ibn ‘Arabi: Heir to the Prophets (Oxford: 
Oneworld, 2005), pp. 69, 78; Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn al-Arabi's 
Cosmology (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), in several places, see the 
index of Arabic words, p. 452; Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-Arabi’s Meta- 
physics of Imagination (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), particularly 

104 CHAPTER 3 

Hamawi reports a statement by his teacher Mulla Muhammad Sharif in which 
the latter says that al-Kurani’s memory was so strong that if he had read about 
a topic in a book and someone asked him about it seven years later, he would 
be able to tell the questioner about passages in the book with their exact page 

This formative period in his hometown was essential for his intellectual 
foundation, even though he also mentioned reading some theological and 
philosophical texts in Medina, both with his teacher Mulla Sharif and with al- 
Qushashi. His reading with these two teachers in Medina after he had already 
become a proficient scholar in the intellectual sciences, probably better than 
both of them, should be understood as the practice of traditional student- 
teacher relations out of respect for his teachers more than as a real learning 
activity. Another plausible explanation is that in this process he re-read some 
of the main theological works with eyes that had been newly attuned to Ibn 
‘Arabi’s thought. The purpose of re-reading may also have been to have higher 
isnads for given texts, as he mentioned in al-Amam that he read parts of al- 
Baydawi's Anwar al-tanzil with Mulla Sharif in Baghdad, and that his second 
reading with al-Qushashi in Medina was via a higher isnad.?’ 

In Baghdad, his interest in Sufism increased and he started reading Sufi texts 
on his own. It also seems that the idea of a spiritual guide (murshid) was impor- 
tant to him, and he began looking for one at an early stage, which search ulti- 
mately led him to al-Qushashi. In Damascus, his interest in Sufism seems to 
have increased. His proximity to Ibn ‘Arabi’s tomb likely boosted his interest 
in Akbarian thought. He also became more interested in hadith studies while 
in Damascus. Al-Kurani admitted several times that he had lacked instruction 
in hadith and Sufism in his formative education. He would continue studying 
these two sciences until the end of his life. It also appears that he began to be 
interested in collecting ijazas during his time in Damascus. In Cairo he met 
just two scholars of hadith, and most probably he asked them for éjdzas, since 
he read parts of hadith works with both of them. 

Al-Qushashi's task to lead al-Kurani along the spiritual path was not easy, 
since the latter was already an established scholar in the intellectual sciences. 
Al-Qushashi began by forbidding al-Kurani from both teaching the exoteric sci- 
ences (al-‘ulum al-zahira) and attending lessons in these subjects. Teaching the 

“haqq’ in the index of names and terms, p. 452; and Chittick, Science of the Cosmos, Science 
of the Soul: The Pertinence of Islamic Cosmology in the Modern World (Oxford: Oneworld, 
2007), chapter three. 

26 = Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 480. 

27 ~~ Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 73. 


intellectual sciences was al-Kurani’s main career and he was a talented teacher, 
but al-Qushashi wanted to train him to control his desires. Next, he encouraged 
him to enter khalwa in ribat al-sultdn close to bab al-rahma, one of the doors of 
the Prophet’s mosque.”® Al-Kurani told al-‘Ayyashi that when he entered the 
khalwa, al-Qushashi also sent another person in with him. This person was 
allowed to leave after forty days, but al-Kurani was not allowed to leave until 
he had completed seventy days, which upset him greatly because he thought 
he was not prepared to pursue this particular path.?° Al-Qushashi later told him 
that educated people need more time because their minds are preoccupied by 
the intellectual sciences, while simple, ignorant people have clearer and purer 
minds on which it is easier to imprint divine knowledge.3° Al-Hamawi men- 
tions that al-Kurani entered the khalwa forty times, each time for forty days!9! 
Even if this number is exaggerated, it reveals al-Kurani’s desire to follow the 
path of Sufism and his complete commitment to practicing Sufism, alongside 
studying its theoretical aspects, and his seriousness in following the instruc- 
tions of his teacher. 

This new direction was not easy for al-Kurani. During this period of his life, 
it seems that he was frustrated with the doctrines of wahdat al-wujid, wah- 
dat al-sifat, and other topics that were not structured as intellectual proofs. 
Al-Qushashi encouraged him to be patient, with a promise that God would 
illuminate his heart. Al-Qushashi described these efforts as a conversion from 
one religion to another, because conviction is a very high level of belief; no one 
would leave his conviction unless it were for a more convincing one, and the 
new conviction should not contradict the first.32 In al-Kurani’s case, he had 
been moving within the various beliefs of the people of Sunna and Jama‘a, 
which are established in decisive proofs. The difference now was that the new 
conviction was higher, clearer, and more perfect.?? After this period of training, 
al-Qushashi allowed al-Kurani to teach and to give fatwas again. His hadith and 
Sufi training appear clearly in all his works after this point: Ibn ‘Arabi and other 
Sufis such as al-Ghazali and al-Qushayri are mentioned frequently, almost all 
his works end with citations of several hadiths that fit the topic he is discussing, 
and he supports his arguments with prophetic statements throughout. 

28 = Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 485. 
29 ~~ Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 486. 
30 ~— Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 485. 
31 Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 3, p. 62. 

32 ~~ Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 531. 
33 ~Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 531. 

106 CHAPTER 3 

Al-Kurani now had the advantage of having mastered the intellectual sci- 
ences in addition to gaining Sufi knowledge. His talent in the intellectual sci- 
ences allowed him to present Sufi ideas in a more systematic, convincing way. 
Al-‘Ayyashi describes the great efforts al-Kurani made to present the ideas of 
Sufi scholars (@rifin) in a way that was compatible with the form used by 
theologians (qalib ara’ al-mutakallimin).3+ He compares the different styles in 
which al-Qushashi and al-Kurani wrote by saying that al-Kurani’s works are 
the more comprehensible because al-Qushashi mainly depended on unveil- 
ing (kashf) and the ideas of Ibn ‘Arabi, alongside evidence in the Quran and 
the Sunna, and he rarely mentioned the proofs of the theologians. By con- 
trast, al-Kurani was well established as a scholar of intellectual topics and was 
acquainted with the ideas of the theologians, easily distinguishing the true 
from the false. He was therefore able to present Sufi topics in the form of kalam 
discussions and to use theological proofs; his writings were thus understand- 
able by exoteric scholars.%5 

Another way of considering the difference between al-Kurani's style and that 
of al-Qushashi is by comparison to the difference between the writings of al- 
Qunawi and those of Ibn ‘Arabi, as described by Chittick: 

Ibn ‘Arabi’s style resembles the stringing together of flashing jewels of 
inspiration far more than purely reasoned and logical discourse. But 
Qunawi from first to last is precise, orderly and logical in his argumenta- 
tion, and his style often resembles that of a systematic philosopher much 
more than that of a visionary mystic.36 

Al-Kuranr’s clear style of writing may explain why, a few years before al-Qusha- 
shi’s death, al-Kurani became responsible for answering the letters al-Qushashi 
received. Although the latter often edited them by adding or deleting mate- 
rial, sometimes he simply approved them without any changes. Close to al- 
Qushashi’s death, he presented al-Kurani as his successor (khalifa) and ap- 
pointed him to teach in his place, to lead the sessions of dhikr, and to perform 
other duties of a Sufi leader such as to give guidance, to provide companionship 
(suhba), and to transmit the Sufi cloak (al-khirqa) to newly-affiliated mem- 

34 ~~ Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 533. 

35 Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 530. 

36 = William Chittick, “The Last Will and Testament of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Foremost Disciple, Sadr al- 
Din Quanawi,” Sophia Perennis, Vol. tv, number 1, 1978, pp. 43-58, p. 43- 

37. ~Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 486. 


Alongside his interest in Sufism, al-Kurani continued to teach the intellec- 
tual sciences. Several reports mention his teaching philosophical and theologi- 
cal books in Medina. In an ijaza al-‘Ayyashi obtained from al-Kurani?* (dated 2 
Muharram, 1074/6 August 1663), al-‘Ayyashi lists numerous intellectual and Sufi 
texts that he studied with al-Kurani. Among these are parts of Sharh al-Mawagqif 
by al-Jurjani, al-Tuhfa al-mursala by Muhammad b. Fadl Allah al-Burhanburi 
(d. 1029/1620), parts of al-Futuhat al-makkiyya and Fusus al-hikam®? by Ibn 
‘Arabi,*° and parts of Anwar al-tanzil by al-Baydawi.™ In addition, he read with 
al-Kurani the iaza of Ibn ‘Arabi to al-Malik al-Muzaffar Baha’ al-Din Ghazi*? 
and he listed all the (jaza.*? In many cases, he mentions his isnad of these works, 
going back to their authors.*4+ Elsewhere, al-‘Ayyashi mentions that he read al- 
Abhan’’s al-Hidaya fi al-hikma with al-Kurani during his year in Medina and 
describes this period of study with al-Kurani as a reading for the purpose of 
verification and contemplation.*® 

By al-Kuran’’s time, Sufi texts were suffused with philosophical and theolog- 
ical discussions. Jami’s style in al-Durra al-fakhira, in which he discussed each 
idea from the point of view of philosophers (hukama’), theologians, and Sufis, 
became a model for future works. Al-Kirani, as will be discussed more thor- 
oughly in the following chapters, went a step further than Jami and attempted 
to show the fundamental agreement of these three directions in seeking the 
truth. Al-‘Ayyashi in his Rifla dedicated a few pages to discussing the differ- 
ing methodologies of philosophers, theologians, and Sufis. He explains that he 
attended to this topic because some ignorant person may object to his includ- 
ing the ideas of philosophers with those of Sufis, and that reading the works 
of hukam@ helps us to understand truths. Such reading is especially helpful 
with a shaykh like al-Kurani, who surpasses his companions and contempo- 
raries because of his companionship with “the great Sufi of his time” (‘arif 
zamanih) after he mastered the intellectual sciences and grasped the ideas of 

38 Abu Salim ‘Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-‘Ayyashi, Ithaf al-akhill@ bi-ijazat al-mashayikh 
al-ajill@, ed. Muhammad al-Zahi (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1999), p. 122. 

39  Al-‘Ayyashi says that the best commentary on this book is Jami’s. Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al- 
‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 524. 

40 = Al-‘Ayyashi, Ithaf al-akhilla’, pp. 123-124. 

41 — Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 525. 

42 — Hiscorrect title is Shihab al-Din, the ruler of Mayyafariqin, present-day Silvan in Diarbake, 

43 ~~ Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 505. 

44 See his isnad in al-Futiuhat al-makkiyya to Ibn ‘Arabi in al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 513. 

45 Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 493. 

108 CHAPTER 3 

the hukama’.*6 Al-‘Ayyashi compares al-Kurani's path to that of al-Ghazali, who 
mastered the intellectual sciences and then moved to the Sufi path.” 

Beside his later interest in Sufism, and his resumption of teaching the intel- 
lectual sciences, al-Kurani continued to study hadith by looking for possessors 
of ijazas in hadith to study with them and obtain their {jazas. He would ask for 
ijazas both from visitors to the Hijaz and from its residents, and would corre- 
spond with scholars in India and the Maghrib and other places to ask for their 
ijazas.48 When al-‘Ayyashi met al-Kurani in 1072-1073, al-Kurani himself asked 
al-‘Ayyashi to guarantee him an ijaza in his isnads.*9 Al-‘Ayyashi was originally 
from Morocco and had isnads to the scholars of that region that al-Kurani did 
not have from his Mashriqi shaykhs. According to Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi 
(d. 1176/1762), Ibrahim al-Kurani is one of the seven seventeenth- and early 
eighteenth-century scholars who were the main authorities in hadith during 
these two centuries.°° In the following two centuries, three accounts from the 
Hijaz, Yemen, and Morocco repeat the idea that the hadith isnad of most Mus- 
lim scholars in the preceding three centuries went back to particular scholars 
in the Hijaz during the seventeenth century; al-Kurant in all these accounts is 
a main authority in hadith studies.*! Al-Kittani says that through al-Kurani the 
sciences of hadith, riwaya, and isndd were disseminated throughout the Islamic 
world. Al-Kirani’s most famous thabat is al-Amam, but he also mentions his 
isnads in other works, including his Janah al-najah (also called Lawami‘al-la‘ali 

fial-arba%n al-‘awalt) and Masalik al-abrar min ahadith al-Nabi al-mukhtar. His 
student al-Shams al-Dakdakji al-Dimashqi mentions that al-Kurani also had al- 
thabat al-awsat and al-kabir.>2 

Al-Kurani taught in Arabic for most of his life, and he composed several trea- 
tises on grammar and linguistics. In fact, the first work he composed was a 
linguistic treatise, even though he was not a native speaker of Arabic. It seems 
that he continued to have some difficulties with pronunciation, and al-‘Ayyashi 
in the course of mentioning some notices on Quran readings (qira’at) mentions 
how al-Kurani was happy to know that the pronunciation of ha’ can be different 

46 = Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, 496. 

47. Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, 496. 

48 = Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 494. 

49 = Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 489. 

50 ~~ Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi, al-Irshad ila muhimmat al-isndad, ed. Badr b. ‘Ali b. Tami al- 
‘Utaybi (Ksa: Dar al-Afaq, 2009), pp. 25-26. 

51  Foral-Kurani's contribution to hadith studies, mainly through isndd as I argue, see my arti- 
cle “Revising the Assumption that Hadit Studies Flourished in the Seventeenth-century CE 
Higaz: Ibrahim al-Kurani’s (d. 1101/1690) Contribution,” Arabica 68 (2021) 1-35. 

52 Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 494. 


between a pure A@ and a slant to hamza (hamza musahhala). Al-‘Ayyashi then 
comments that because of the dominance of the ‘ujma (non-Arabic accent) on 
al-Kurani’s tongue, he could not pronounce hamza musahhala.53 

As a teacher, al-Kurani did not try to impose his thought in a domineering 
way. On the contrary, he preferred that a person not accept his ideas if he was 
not convinced.** He was humble in his teaching, and would teach through dis- 
cussion, presenting his ideas by saying “maybe this,” “ 
this way,” and “probably that means.”5> When al-Kurani was trying to explain to 
al-‘Ayyashi the idea of shay’tyyat al-ma‘dum, “thingness of the nonexistent,” in 
order to explain wahdat al-wujid, al-‘Ayyashi felt upset with this idea because 
it sounded similar to that of the Mu‘tazilite school. Al-Kurani did not insist or 
try to convince al-‘Ayyashi, but instead directed him to a treatise that had been 
written by al-Qushashi to explain the difference between the Sufi idea of real- 
ity in knowledge (haqiqa ‘ilmiyya) as a level of existence and the idea of the 
Muttazilites. Al-Qushashi’s work on this topic is entitled Nafhat al-yaqin wa- 
zulfat al-tamkin li-l-muwaffagqin.5® 

Although he was one of the most famous scholars of his time, and one of the 
most prominent scholars in the Hijaz, al-Kurani would wear clothes like those 
of ordinary people and did not insist on wearing clothes that distinguished him 
as a scholar or Sufi.5” Nor was he insistent upon occupying a special place while 
teaching, so when a newcomer entered his circle it was difficult to know who 
was the teacher. Along with his humility, al-Kurani’s personality was charac- 
terized by generosity. His student al-Budayri (d. 1140/1728) described him as 
one of the most generous people of his time, comparing him with Hatim al- 
Tai and other persons who are famous in Arab tradition for their generosity. 
He says that al-Kurani would receive enormous gifts and donations from Sul- 

this can be understood in 

tans, viziers, and princes, and that he would spend everything on mujawirin, 
poor people, and visitors to Medina. He would even borrow money to help oth- 
ers, so he was always in debt because of his generosity. Alongside his generosity 
to others, he himself was an ascetic in his food and clothing.5* Al-Barzanji sim- 
ilarly records that during his thirty years in the Hijaz al-Kurani never went to a 

53 ~~ Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, pp. 472-473. 

54 ~~ Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 533. 

55 Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vo. 3, p. 62. 

56 = Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 536. For a detailed discussion of this topic see 
Chapter Five. 

57 Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vo. 3, pp. 61-62. 

58 Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Budayri, Bulghat al-murad fi al-tahdhir min 
al-iftitan bi-l-amwal wa-l-awlad (Egypt, Tanta: Dar al-Sahaba, 1992), p. 84. 

110 CHAPTER 3 

ruler to ask for anything. He received huge numbers of presents and donations, 
which he would distribute among needy people, and he never changed his way 
of clothing himself to use more expensive garments.°? 

Al-Kurani did not travel much, and he never studied in Turkey or Persia as 
A.H. Johns erroneously suggested.®° Most of his intellectual preparation was in 
his homeland, and then in Medina with al-Qushashi, and his humble person- 
ality made him continue reading and asking scholars and visitors of the Hijaz 
for jjiazas. When a certain scholar famous in Quranic reading (qiraat) came to 
the Hijaz, for instance, al-Kurani was keen to meet him and study with him, as 
we will see in the list of his teachers. 

3 Al-Kurani’s Teachers 

There is no doubt that al-Qushashi was the teacher with the greatest influence 
on al-Kurani’s intellectual and spiritual life. However, his intellectual estab- 
lishment began in his homeland, with Mulla Sharif and Mulla ‘Abd al-Karim 
al-Kurani. He did not travel extensively, and the scholars with whom he stud- 
ied after leaving his homeland and before moving to the Hijaz number only two 
in Damascus and two in Cairo. However, the list of teachers he mentioned in 
his various works extends beyond twenty-five scholars, from across the Islamic 
world. Alongside the Hijazi scholars or those who moved permanently to the 
Hijaz, he met and studied with most of these scholars during the hajj season, 
or during the period of their mujawara in the Hijaz. The same is true for his stu- 
dents. Although we do not have much information about his students in Iraq 
and Damascus,®! where he taught before moving to the Hijaz, the list of his stu- 
dents who studied with or received ijaza from him may exceed one hundred. 

I will give here brief biographies of some of his main teachers; the teachers 
who are mentioned here are those who played an important role in al-Kurani’s 
intellectual and spiritual formation, or those about whose time teaching al- 
Kurani we have good information. A longer list will be included in the appendix 
1. The list in Appendix 1 includes the names of all the teachers with whom his- 
torians suggest or al-Kurani himself mentioned he studied, or whom he named 
in his chains of isnads, without our necessarily having a clear idea of the type 
of study he undertook with them. 

59 ~~ Al-Barzanji, al- Uqab al-hawi ala al-tha‘ab al-ghawi (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 3744), fol. 364. 

60 AH. Johns, “al-Karani,” £7, 2nd. Vol. v, pp. 432-433. 

61 The only name I found of a student from Damascus is Abi al-Mawahib al-Ba‘li, the son of 
his teacher ‘Abd al-Baqi. 







Mulla Muhammad Sharif al-Siddiqi® (d. 18 Safar 1078/9 August 1667), b. 
Mulla Yusuf®? al-gadi b. al-gadt Mahmid b. Mulla Kamal al-Din al-Kurdi 
al-Kurani al-Dawani, was the most influential person in the formative 
period of Ibrahim al-Kurani’s intellectual life. Mulla Muhammad Sharif 
was a Shafi scholar distinguished in the rational sciences. He was also 
interested in tafsir, mainly al-Baydawi, which had a clear rationalist ten- 
dency.®* Later in life, Mulla Sharif seems to have followed the path of 
Sufism, probably after his hajj in 1055/1645. What al-Kurani says about the 
lack of Sufi interest in their mutual hometown may explain why Mulla 
Sharif only became interested in Sufism in a later period of his life. When 
al-Ujaymi asked him about his Sufi shaykh, Mulla Sharif replied that he 
followed this path through knowledge (suluki bi-l-‘ilm).® 

Mulla Muhammad Sharif wrote two superglosses on al-Baydaw’'’s tafsir, 
one of which discusses some of Sa‘di Afandi’s gloss and the other some 
of Mazhar al-Din al-Khatib al-Kazaruni’s glosses. He also wrote a gloss on 
al-Tusi’s Sharh al-Isharat as an arbitration (muhakama) between al-Tusi 
and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, as well as another gloss on Tahafut al-falasifa 
by Khawajazada al-Rumi,® as an arbitration between the latter and al- 

Detailed information about his life and his intellectual preparation is 
lacking. We know only that he lived for a period of time in Damascus, 
and that he performed the /ajj twice, the first time through Baghdad 
in 1055/1645, where he stayed in the Hijaz as a mujawir for two years 
and then returned to his home. The second time, he stayed in the Hijaz 
for a short period, then after the /ajj he left for Yemen, where he trav- 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 128; al-Hamawi, Fawd@id al-irtihdl, vol. 1, p. 271; al-Muhibbi, Khu- 
lasat al-athar, vol. 4, p. 280; al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani li-ahl al-garn al-hadi ‘ashar wa-l- 
thani, p. 1788; al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 325; Kahhala, Mujam al-mw‘allifin, vol. 10, 
p. 68; al-Baghdadi, Hadiyyat al-@arifin, vol. 2, p. 291. 

Mulla Muhammad Sharif’s father Mulla Yusuf was a scholar as well, writing glosses on 
al-Khayali, al-Khata’i, and al-Baydawi’s tafsir as well as a treatise on logic. Al-‘Ujaymi, 
Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 326. Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 128. 

El-Rouayheb mentions al-Baydawi as the one of the most widely studied Quran com- 
mentaries in Ottoman scholarly circles. El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the 
Seventeenth Century, p. 18. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 325. 

On Khawajazada al-Rimi, see International Symposium on Khojazada Bursa, Turkey, 
Yiicedogru Tevfik, Kologlu Orhan §, U. Murat Kilavuz, Gombeyaz Kadir, Uludag Univer- 
sitesi. [l4hiyat Fakiiltesi, and Bursa (Turkey). Uluslararast Hocazdde Sempozyumu (22-24 
Ekim 2010 Bursa) Bildiriler, 201. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 128; al-Hamawi, Fawa@id al-irtihdl, vol.1, p. 272. 





eled according to the Sufi way of siyaha, traveling to visit shaykhs and 
Sufis, the living and the dead, and for contemplation and seclusion, until 
his death in the Yemeni town of Ibb, on the 18th of Safar 1078/9 August 

In Khabaya al-zawaya, al-Ujaymi mentions that al-Kurani studied the 
following works with Mulla Sharif: Sharh Adab al-bahth, Sharh Hidayat 
al-hikma with parts of Mullazada’s and al-Maybudi'’s commentaries, parts 
of Tahafut al-falasifa by Khwajazada, Ashkal al-ta’sis by al-Samarqandi, 
parts of al-Jaghmini’s commentary, all of al-Zawra’ and its commentary 
by Jalal al-Din al-Dawani, all of al-Fanari’s commentary on Isdghiji, the 
Hashiya of al-Burhan, Sharh al-Shamsiyya by Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi with 
al-Jurjanis glosses as well as those of others, part of al-Jurjani’s Sharh 
al-Mawagif, parts of al-Ghazali’s al-Ihya@’, and parts of Ibn ‘Arabi’s al- 
Futuhat.®? During Mulla Sharif’s mujawara, we know that al-Kurani read 
with him parts of Sharh al-Mawagif, parts of al-Futuhat al-makkiyya,” 
and parts of Fath al-Bari by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani.”! These texts repre- 
sent the extent of Mulla Sharif’s interest in Medina: one text in intellectual 
theology, another by Ibn ‘Arabi in Sufism, and the third a hadith text. His 
interest in Sufism and /adith in the later period of his life prompted him 
to ask for an ijaza from al-‘Ayyashi, who was a student of al-Kurani.” As 
mentioned above, it seems that the transmitted sciences were not popu- 
lar in his region, so he tried to acquire isnads from people who possessed 

‘Abd al-Karim b. Aba Bakr b. Hidayat Allah al-Husayni al-Kurani (d. 
1050/1640),”3 was one of Ibrahim al-Kurani’s early teachers. Ibrahim al- 
Kurani studied the Arabic language, rhetoric, logic, principles of religion, 
and principles of jurisprudence with him.”4 ‘Abd al-Karim’s father Mulla 
Abu Bakr (d. 1014/1605), whom al-Kurani describes as “the scholar and 
the saint” (al-Glim al-walt),”> was known as al-musannif (the author); 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 1, p. 272; al-Karani, al-Amam, p. 129. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 99. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 325. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol.1, p. 271; al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 129. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 326. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 129; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 2, p. 474; al-Hamawi, Fa- 
waid al-irtihdl, vol. 5, p. 222; al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 99; al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abt 
al-Mawahib, p. 103. All these works repeat al-Amam without any additional information. 
Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 99. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 129. 







he wrote a commentary on al-Muharrar by al-Rafil.’”® He also wrote 
two works in Persian: Siraj al-tariq’’ and Riyad al-khulud.”® After study- 
ing with his father, ‘Abd al-Karim traveled to study with Mulla Ahmad 
al-Kurdi al-Mujali, with whom he studied Ithbat al-wajib, Sharh Hikmat 
al-‘ayn, and Sharh al-Adud on Ibn al-Hajib’s Mukhtasar. Mulla Ahmad 
al-Kurdi al-Mujali was the student of Mirzajan al-Shirazi, himself the stu- 
dent of Jamal al-Din Mahmid al-Shirazi, who was the student of Jalal 
al-Din al-Dawani. ‘Abd al-Karim wrote a commentary on the Quran in 
three volumes in which he reached surat al-nahl, as well as a book of 
sermons ( ft al-mawa‘z). Among his best-known students were Ibrahim 
al-Kurani and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Saffari al-Shami (d. 1082/1672).79 ‘Abd al- 
Karim died when al-Kurani was around twenty-five years old; thus, his 
influence on al-Kurani’s intellectual formation may be less than Mulla 
Sharif’s. Nevertheless, the genealogy of his teachers and the names of his 
students confirms El-Rouayheb’s idea about the role that Kurdish schol- 
ars played in transmitting “the books of the Persians” into the Ottoman 
and Arab worlds.®° One of al-Kurani’s rational science isnads that traces 
back to al-Dawani is through ‘Abd al-Karim: 

Ibrahim al-Kirani < ‘Abd al-Karim al-Karant < Mulla Ahmad al- 

Kurdi al-Mujali < Mirzajan al-Shirazi < Jamal al-Din Mahmid Shi- 

razi < Jalal al-Din Dawani 
Safi al-Din al-Qushashi (12 Rabi‘ 1, 991-19 Dhi al-Hijja 1071/5 April 1583— 
15 August 1661),8! Ahmad b. al-Sayyid Muhammad b. Yunus b. Ahmad 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 129; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol.1, p. 10; al-Hamawi, Fawa@’id 
al-irtihal, vol. 3, p. 263. 

See Mustafa Dirayati and Mujtaba Dirayati, Fihristgan: nuskhal’ha-yi khatti-i Iran (Fank- 
ha) = Union catalogue of Iran manuscripts = Fihris al-muwahhad li-l--makhtitat al-Iraniyah. 
20u1, vol. 17, p. 1000. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 129. One of his books in Arabic is published without any further 
information about him in the introduction. See Abu Bakr b. Hidayat Allah al-Husayni, 
Tabaqat al-Shafityya, ed. Adil Nuwayhid (Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Jadida, 3°, 1983). 
Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 226. 

El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 27 and after. 

See al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 125; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 2, p. 307; Muhibbi, 
Khulasat al-athar, vol. 1, p. 343; Siddiq b. Hasan al-Qanniji, Abjad al-‘ulum, al-Washi al- 
marqum ft bayan ahwal al-‘ulim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘lmiyya), vol. 3, p. 165. The first 
volume of this book was edited by Suhayl Zakkar and published in Syria, Damascus, 
Wazarat al-Thaqafa wa-l-Irshad al-Qawmi, 1978. Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya published the 
second and the third volumes without a date of publication; al-Qadini, Nashr al-mathani, 
vol. 4, in Mawsuat alam al-Maghrib and in vol. 2 in Nashr al-mathani, p. 1492; al-Ifrani, 
Muhammad b. al-Hajj b. Muhammad, Safwat man intashar min akhbar sulaha@ al-qarn 







b. ‘Al@ al-Din ‘Ali al-Badni al-Dajani, was from a distinguished scholarly 
family: his father,8* grandfather, and great-grandfather were all promi- 
nent scholars. His great-grandfather Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Yasin (d. Jumada 1, 
969/January 1562)*? left the suburb of al-Dajaniyya and moved to Jerusa- 
lem; “al-Dajani’” hence became the surname of his descendants. Anmad 
al-Dajani, also known as Shihab al-Din, was a Shafi scholar and was 
described as the Sufi “pole” of his time (al-qutb).8+ He studied with two 
distinguished Sufis, Muhammad Ibn ‘Iraq of Damascus (878-933/1473- 
1526)®5 and Ibn ‘Iraq’s own teacher ‘Ali b. Maymin al-Fasi (854—917/1450— 
1511),86 both of whom were known as defenders of Ibn ‘Arabi in the six- 
teenth century. 

One of Shihab al-Din’s many sons, Yunus, left Jerusalem and traveled to 
the Hijaz and Yemen and finally settled in Medina, where he came to be 
known as ‘Abd al-Nabi. In Medina, he sold second-hand wares known as 

al-hadi ‘ashar, ed. ‘Abd al-Majid Khayali (Morocco, al-Dar al-Bayda@: Markaz al-Turath 
al-Thaqafi al-Maghribi, 2004), p. 217; al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 578; al- 
‘Ayyashi, Iqtifa’ al-athar ba‘d dhahab ahl al-athar: Fahras Abi Salim al-‘Ayyashi (nth/7th 
Century), ed. Nufaysa al-Dhahabi (Morocco, al-Dar al-Bayda’: Matba‘at al-Najah al-Jadida, 
1996), p. 158; al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 970. 

Muhammad b. Yunus al-Dajani al-Qushashi was born in Medina where he started as a 
Maliki student with his teacher Muhammad b. ‘Isa al-Tilimsani. In 1011/1592, he traveled 
to Yemen to study with its scholars, including al-Amin b. al-Siddiq al-Marawhi, al-Sayyid 
Muhammad al-‘Azib, Anmad al-Satiha al-Zayla‘, al-Sayyid ‘Ali al-Qab‘, and ‘Ali b. Mutayr. 
Among his works are a commentary on Ibn ‘Ata Allah’s Hikam in two volumes and a 
Sufi commentary on al-Ajrimiyya, similar to Nahw al-quliib by al-Qushayri. Among his 
students are al-Tahir b. Muhammad al-Ahdal and Muhammad al-Farawi from Yemen. 
After studying with several scholars, he settled in San‘@ until his death in 1044AH. See 
al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol.1, p. 300. 

See Najm al-Din Muhammad al-Ghazzi, al-Kawakib al-sdira bi-a‘yan al-mi‘a al-Gshira 
(Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1997), vol. 3, p. 108; Ibn al-‘Imad al-Hanbali, Shadharat al- 
dhahab fi akhbar man dhahab, ed. Mahmid al-Arna’it (Damascus: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1993), 
vol. 10, p. 518; and Yusuf b. Isma‘ll al-Nabhani, Jami‘ karamat al-awltya’, ed. Ibrahim ‘Atwa 
‘Awad (India, Gujarat: Markaz-e ahl-e Sunnat Barakat-e Reza), vol. 1, p. 547. 

Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 578. 

Shams al-Din Muhammad b. ‘Ali was born in Damascus and died in Mecca, where his 
descendants continued to live until the time of al-Kurani. For more information, see Najm 
al-Din al-Ghazzi, al-Kawakib al-sdira, vol. 1, 59. Al-Ghazzi mentions his birth in 898/1492, 
vol. 1, p. 60. 

For more information about his life and works see Radi al-Din Muhammad b. Ibrahim 
Ibn al-Hanbali, Durr al-habab fi tarikh a‘yan Halab, ed. Mahmid Hamad al-Fakhii and 
Yahya Zakariyya ‘Abbara (Damascus: Wazarat al-Thaqafa, 1972), vol. 1, p. 951. Also see the 
introduction of the edition of his book Bayan ghurbat al-Islam, ed. Hakima Shami (Beirut: 
Dar al-Kutub al-‘Tlmiyya, 2007). Alongside Ibn ‘Iraq, the other famous student is ‘Alwan al- 
Hamawi (d. 936/1530), Ibid., p. 24. 




qushasha (old shoes, used clothing, and so on), which is why he became 
known as al-Qushashi. His son Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Nabi, known as 
Muhammad al-Madani,*’ (i-e., Safi al-Din’s father), studied with his father 
and other scholars in the Hijaz and then traveled to Yemen to study with 
Sufi scholars there, including Ba-‘Alawi, al-‘Aydaris, and al-Jabarti.®8 

Safi al-Din Ahmad al-Qushashi first studied with his father and with sev- 
eral Yemeni scholars. After the death of his father in San‘a in 1044/1634- 
1635, he returned to the Hijaz and accompanied his teacher Abi al- 
Mawahib al-Shinnawi. He married al-Shinnawi’s daughter and became 
the latter’s khalifa in the Shattariyya order.®° Safi al-Din was, like his fore- 
fathers, Qadiri in tariqga and Maliki in figh. When he met al-Shinnawi 
and followed him in the Shattari tariqa, he also followed him in the legal 
school of the Shafi‘ites.9° Henceforth, he would give fatwas in both Maliki 
and Shafi figh. Safi al-Din became mufti of both the Maliki and Shafi 
madhhabs in Medina, and the shaykh of the Naqshbandi and Shattari 
orders, alongside his affiliations to other orders. Al-Qushashi had a zawiya 
in Medina and was described as sahib al-zawiya,*! and as al-ghawth and 
al-qutb.9* Among al-Qushashi’s important shaykhs were: (1) Ahmad b. al- 
Fadl b. ‘Abd al-Nafi‘ b. (the famous Sufi) Muhammad b. ‘Iraq; (2) ‘Abd 
al-Karim al-Kujarati, the student of al-Ghawth, the author of the main text 
in the Shattariyya order, al-Jawahir al-khams; and (3) al-Sayyid Ghadanfar 
al-Nahrawali al-Sirawi, who studied with Muhammad Amin, the nephew 
of the great Sufi ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami.93 

Al-Qushashi was a prolific author with more than fifty works in hadith, 
usul, and Sufism.9+ Among his works are the Sharh al-Hikam al-‘at@’tyya 
of Ibn ‘Ata Allah al-Iskandari, Sharh ‘aqidat Ibn Khafif al-Shtrazt, Sharh 
‘aqaid al-Nasafi, a gloss on al-Mawahib al-ladunniyya by al-Qastalani, a 
gloss on al-Insan al-kamil by ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jili, and a diwan of poetry. 
Moreover, he is the author of the Kalimat al-jud ft al-qawl bi-wahdat al- 

See al-Nabhani, Jami‘ karamat al-awliya’, vol. 1, p. 330. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 581. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 126. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 581. 

Al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1492. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 578. 

Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 970. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, 126; al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 122; al-Ifrani in Safwat man 
intashar says that his works total around 70, p. 219. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 126. 






wujud; al-Durra al-thamina fi-ma li-za@’ir al-Madina;* al-Simt al-majid;?" 
al-Ifada al-rahmaniyya ‘ala al-Kamalat al-ilahiyya; and a doctrinal poem 
on which al-Kurani wrote an extended commentary, and which the latter 
then abridged.°8 

His students included most of the prominent scholars of the Hijaz in the 
seventeenth century, and most scholars who visited Mecca or Medina 
were interested in meeting him or obtaining jjaza from him. Al-Kurani 
studied with him and attended readings of his lessons on more than one 
hundred works in various sciences.°? Other distinguished students of al- 
Qushashi were Muhammad b. Rasul al-Barzanji, al-“Ujaymi (the author of 
Khabaya al-zawaya), and al-Hamawi (the author of Fawa’id al-irtihal). As 
Sufis, al-Qushashi and his student al-Kurani would become pivotal links 
between Sufi groups in India, Southeast Asia, and Arabia, as we will see in 
Chapter Four. He also was in correspondence with numerous scholars of 
his time, among whom was the famous Sufi Ayyub al-Khalwati (d. Safar, 
1071/1660), the head of the Khalwati order.10° 

As mentioned above, al-Kurani composed responses to the letters that 
al-Qushashi received in the last years of his life, and al-Qushashi would 
then approve them. Al-‘Ayyashi mentions that most of these letters were 
questions and istifta’ (requests for legal opinion) from different parts of 
the Islamic world. Responding to questions from all around the Muslim 
world resulted in the spread of his works to Syria, Yemen, and beyond. 
Some of these works were unknown to the people of the Hijaz, which is 
why al-Kurani later tried to collect them.!7! 

Al-Babili, Shams al-Din Muhammad b. ‘Ala al-Din al-Qahiri al-Azhari 
al-Shafiil (d. 1079/1668),!°? was from Babil, a town in Egypt. He was a 
scholar of hadith and figh and studied with al-Nur al-Zayadi, ‘Ali al- 

Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Qushashi, al-Durra al-thamina ft-ma li-za@’ir al-Nabt ila al-Madi- 
na al-Munawwara, ed. Muhammad Zaynahum Muhammad ‘Azab (Cairo: Maktabat Mad- 
bali, 2000). 

Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Qushashi, al-Simt al-majid fi sha’n al-bay‘a wa-l-dhikr wa-talqi- 
nthi wa-salasil ahl al-tawhid (India, Haydarabad al-Dakan: Matba‘at Majlis Dairat al- 
Maa4rif al-Nizamiiyya, 1910). 

For more information, see al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 597. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 100. 

Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p.579; al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abial-Mawahib, p. 88. 
Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 486. 

See al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 4, p. 39; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 1, p. 564; 
al-Qanniji, Abjad al-‘uliim, vol. 3, p. 166; al-Shawkani, al-Badr al-tali’, vol. 2, p. 208; al- 
Shulli, ‘Agd al-Jawahir wa-t-durar, p. 323; al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib al-Hanbali, 
p. 58; Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, 296; and Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 210. 





Halabi, al-Burhan al-Laqqani, Salim al-Sanhuri, ‘Ali al-Ajhiui, ‘Abd al- 
Rauf al-Minawi, Salih al-Balgini, and other scholars.!°3 He performed the 
hajj several times, and once he stayed as a mujawir for ten years, during 
which period numerous scholars from the Hijaz and elsewhere studied 
with him.!°4 His student ‘Isa al-Tha‘alibi al-Maghribi (d. 1080/1669-1670) 
collected his isnads and Muhammad Murtada al-Zabidi (d. 1205/1790) col- 
lected the names of his students.!°° Al-Babili is an essential link between 
numerous scholars of the Hijaz and those of Cairo. 

Al-Ba‘li, ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Hanbali (18 Rabi‘ 11 1005-1017 Dhit al-Hijja 1071/ 
9 December 1596-13 August 1661),!°° was known as Ibn Faqih Fissah (a 
town in Ba‘albak, Lebanon). He studied with his father, and then moved 
to Damascus to study with scholars there such as Najm al-Din al-Ghazzi 
and al-Shams al-Maydani, and he wore the Sufi khirga. In 1029/1619, he 
travelled to Cairo where he studied with the famous Hanbali scholars 
Mansur al-Buhiti, Yusuf al-Fattthi, and Mir‘ al-Karmi. He also studied 
with Ibrahim al-Laqqani, Muhammad al-Babili, and other scholars. 

‘Abd al-Baqi was one of al-Kurani’s teachers in Damascus and, as was men- 
tioned in his biography; it seems that al-Kurani stayed at a khalwa dedi- 
cated to ‘Abd al-Baqi during his residence in Damascus.!°” ‘Abd al-Baqi 
was also the teacher and foster father of the famous Sufi ‘Abd al-Ghani 

Al-Ghazzi, Najm al-Din Muhammad (977-1061/1570-1651).108 He was 
from a distinguished scholarly family: his father Badr al-Din al-Ghazzi 

More names can be found in Khulasat al-athar, vol. 4, p. 40. 

See some of them in Khulasat al-athar, vol. 4, p. 40. 

Both of them are published; see ‘Isa b. Muhammad al-Tha‘alibi al-Maghribi al-Makki, Tha- 
bat Shams al-Din al-Babili al-musamma: Muntakhab al-asanid fi wasl al-musannafat wa-l- 
ajz@’wa-l-masanid, and Muhammad Murtada al-Zabidi, al-Murabba al-Kabulifi-manrawa 
‘an al-Shams al-Babili, ed. Muhammad b. Nasir al-‘Ajami (Beirut: Dar al-Bash@ir, 2004). 
For further information about al-Ba‘li see Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib al-Hanbaii, p. 32, 
as well as the introduction of the edition of this work: ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Hanbali, al-‘Ayn 
wa-l-athar ft ‘aq@id ahl al-athar, ed. ‘Isam Rawwas Qal‘aji (Damascus: Dar al-Ma’min li- 
1-Turath, 1987), p. 16; al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 99; al-Hamawi, Faw@id al-irtihal, 
vol. 4, p. 482; and al-Najdi al-Hanbali, al-Suhub al-wabila, vol. 1, p. 183. 

Al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib, p. 103. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, 129; al-Hamawi, Fawa@’id al-irtihdl, vol. 1, p. 148, vol. 2, p. 144; Ujaymi, 
Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 99; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 4, p.189. See also Najm al-Din 
al-Ghazzi’s introduction of Lutf al-samar wa-qatf al-thamar min tarajim a‘yan al-tabaqa 
al-tila min al-qarn al-hadi ‘ashar, ed. Mahmud al-Shaykh (Damascus: Ministry of Culture, 
n.d), vol. 1, p. 11; al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib al-Hanbali, p. 63; and al-Kittani, 
Fahras al-faharis, p. 669. 






(d. 984/1577) had been a student of Zakariyya al-Ansanj, al-Qastalani, and 
other scholars of sixteenth-century Cairo, and all Najm al-Din’s brothers 
were scholars.!°9 Najm al-Din studied with the scholars of Damascus such 
as Shihab al-Din Ahmad b. Yanus al-‘Ithawi, Zayn al-Din ‘Umar b. Sul- 
tan, Muhibb al-Din Muhammad b. Abi Bakr al-Hamawi, and others.!° He 
wrote around eighty books, including al-Kawakib al-zahira fi akhbar al- 
mia al-Gshira, Sharh lamiyyat Ibn al-Wardi, Sharh alfiyyat Ibn Malik, and 
Lutf al-samar wa-qatf al-thamar min tarajim a‘yan al-tabaqa al-ula min 
al-qarn al-hadi ashar.™ 

‘Isa al-Tha‘alibi al-Maghribi al-Shadhili, Abu Mahdi (d. Rajab 1080/ 
December 1669)" was born in North Africa, close to Algeria, where he 
studied language, figh, and logic with scholars of that region. He then 
traveled to Algeria to study with its mu/fti, Said Qaddura (d. 1066/1656). He 
accompanied Abit al-Salah ‘Alt b. ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Sijilmasi for more than 
ten years and studied hadith, figh, usul, and ‘aqida with the latter. Among 
the texts he studied are Usiil Ibn al-Hajib and al-Ij’s commentary with 
al-Taftazani’s gloss on Ibn al-Hajib; Umm al-Barahin and its commentary 
by al-Sanusi, and his a/-Kubra; and the abridgment of Tawali‘ al-anwar 
by al-Baydawi. He also studied al-Jumal by al-Khinaji with its commen- 
taries by al-Tilimsani, Ibn Marzugq, and Ibn al-Khatib al-Qusantini."3 In 
1062/1652, he completed the fajj and stayed as mujawir for three years. 
He then traveled to Cairo where he studied with scholars there such as 
‘Ali al-Ajhtn, Ahmad al-Khafaji, Sultan al-Mazzahi, and al-Shabramallisi. 
Then he returned to Mecca where he studied with scholars such as Taj al- 
Din al-Maliki, Zayn al-‘Abidin al-Tabani, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Zamzami, and ‘Ali 
Ba-Jamal. He accompanied al-Babili and wrote the latter's thabat. He also 
studied in Medina with al-Qushashi."4 The literature on the seventeenth 
century in general and on the Hijaz in particular shows that numerous 
people studied logic with him."5 Several of the scholars of the Hijaz were 

For his brothers see al-Ghazzi, Lutf al-samar, vol. 1, p. 92. 

Al-Ghazzi, Lutf al-samar, vol.1, p. 31. 

Al-Ghazzi, Lutf al-samar, vol.1, p. 104. 

Al-Muhibbi, Khuldsat al-athar, vol. 3, p. 240; al-Qanniuji, Abjad al-‘ulum, vol. 3, p. 166; al- 
Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 5, p. 564; al-Qadiri, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1561. 

Al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 3, p. 241. 

For more information about some of al-Tha‘alibi’s teachers and what he studied with them 
see his main thabat entitled Kanz al-ruwat al-majmii‘ or, as it is also known, Magqdilid al- 
asanid, ed. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dukhan (UAE, Sharjah: University of Sharjah, 2020). 

See, for example, al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 3, p. 241; al-“Ujaymi, Khabaya al- 
zawaya, pp. 254, 378. 





his students, including Ibrahim al-Kurani, Ahmad al-Nakhli, and Hasan 
al-Ujaymi."6 ‘Isa al-Maghribi was the main teacher of this last, who was 
the author of Khabaya al-zawaya. 

Al-Mazzahi, Sultan b. Ahmad, Abia al-‘Azaim al-Qahiri (d. 17 Jumada 
II 1075/January 1665),!7 was an Azhari Shafi and Shaykh al-Qurr@ in 
Egypt. Among his teachers were the famous Egyptian scholars Ibrahim al- 
Laqgani, Salim al-Sanhuri, Nur al-Din ‘Ali al-Zayadi, Shihab al-Din Ahmad 
b. Khalil al-Subki, and Salim al-Shabshiri. Al-Muhibbi mentions that al- 
Mazzahi studied the rational sciences (al-‘ulum al-‘aqliyya) with more 
than thirty scholars before he started the éfta’ and teaching in al-Azhar."8 
Numerous famous scholars studied with him, including al-Shams al- 
Babili, al-Shabramallisi, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Saffari, Mansur al-Takhi, Mu- 
hammad al-Buhiti al-Hanbali, and most of the Shafi scholars in Egypt 
during his lifetime.!° He wrote a gloss on Sharh Manhaj al-tullab, a Shafi 
figh text by Zakariyya al-Ansari, and a treatise on four readings of the 
Quran in addition to the ten famous readings. Al-Kurani read with him 
parts of al-Sahthayn, Jami‘al-Tirmidhi, parts of al-Rawda, and al-Muhalli’s 
Sharh al-Minhdj. 

Al-Rudani, Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Fasi al-Makki 
(1037—1094/1628-1683),!2° was born in Tarudanat in the Maghrib and trav- 
eled in North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Istanbul, and finally settled in the Hijaz. 
He studied with ‘Ali al-Ajhuari, Khayr al-Din al-Ramili, al-Babili, Anmad al- 
‘Ajami, Abu Mahdi ‘Isa al-Tha‘alibi, Sa‘td Qaddira al-Jaza’iri, and other 
scholars. Among his students were Ibrahim al-Kurani, Hasan al-‘Ujaymi, 
Ilyas al-Kurani, Aba al-Mawahib al-Hanbali, and Salim al-Basri. He wrote 
a book to combine the six hadith works entitled Jam‘al-faw@id li-jami‘al- 
usul wa-majma ‘al-zaw@id.'! His thabat, entitled Silat al-khalaf bi-mawsul 
al-salaf, has been edited and published. He was famous for his work in 
astronomy, inventing a special astrolabe and writing a treatise, entitled 
al-Naqia ‘ala al-ala al-jami‘a, to explain his invention.!2? 

Al-Muhibi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 3, p. 242. 

Al-Kurani, al-Amam, p. 130; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 2, p. 210; al-Shulli, Agd al- 
jawahir wa-l-durar, p. 315; al-Hamawi, Fawaid al-irtihdl, vol. 4, p. 237. 

Al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 2, p. 210. 

Al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 2, p. 211. 

Al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 4, p. 204; al-Dar‘, al-Rihla al-nasiriyya, p. 420; al-Shulli, 
‘qd al-jawahir wa-l-durar, p. 366; al-Nadawi, Nafahat al-Hind wa-l-Yaman, p. 81, al-Kittani, 
Fahras al-faharis, p. 425. 

Khalid al-Kurdi al-Nagshbandi wrote a gloss on it. 

The text has been published and translated into French. See Charles Pellat, “L’astrolabe 

120 CHAPTER 3 
4 Al-Kurani’s Contacts with Other Scholars of His Time 

Alongside the aforementioned scholars and those whose names are contained 
in Appendix 1, al-Kurani was in contact with other distinguished scholars of 
his time, but without having a student-teacher relationship. He is said to have 
met Muhammad al-Khalwati and discussed intellectual matters with him.!2° 
He also was in correspondence with the famous Sufi ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi 
about some theological issues that will be discussed in Chapter Five. 

Another important scholar with whom al-Kurani met and had intellectual 
discussions is Muhammad Isma‘ll Khatunabadi (d. 1116/1704), who commented 
on al-Kurani’s gloss on al-Dawani's Sharh al-Aqa@id al-‘Adudiyya.'2* Khatan- 
abadi mentions at the beginning of his work, entitled Sharh Sharh al-Aq@id 
al-‘Adudiyya, that he met al-Kurani in Medina when he went for pilgrimage and 
that they had discussions that motivated him to later comment on al-Kurani’s 
gloss. It seems that al-Kurani's influence extended to other topics, for Khatin- 
abadi wrote two works on determination and free will (al-jabr wa-t-ikhtiyar), 
the topic that brought al-Karani much criticism. Khattinabadi also wrote a 
treatise on another topic that al-Kurani addressed in several works: anthro- 
pomorphism (tajsim). From the title of the work, it seems that Khatunabadi 
al-Kurani fi nafy luzum al-tajassum wa-l-ittihad wa-l-hulil. 

Al-Kurani’s wide list of teachers and other intellectual contacts!*5 reveals 
his excellent preparation in various intellectual and transmitted fields. In his 
homeland, Kurdistan, al-Kurani received training in most of the intellectual 
sciences. Kurdistan, as explained by El-Rouayheb, was an important center 
of intellectual activity in the sixteenth century and played a significant role 
in reviving intellectual life in the Ottoman Empire, the Hijaz, and Southeast 
Asia.!26 In Damascus and Cairo, al-Kurani began to pay more attention to the 
transmitted sciences, especially jurisprudence and hadith. In the Hijaz, al- 
Kurani received his main Sufi training and preparation, although his interest 
in Sufism began many years prior. His interests in the Hijaz were not lim- 
ited to Sufism; he continued to pursue his interest in hadith, along with the 

sphérique d’ al-Rudani,” Bulletin d’ études orientales, T. 26 (1973), pp. 7-10, 12-80, 82; and 
Charles Pellat, “L’ astrolabe sphérique d’ al-Rudani,’ Bulletin d’ études orientales, T. 28 (1975), 
pp- 83-165. 

123 Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 484. 

124 MS. Iran, Daneshgah-2386 M. 

125 Foracomplete list of al-Kurani’s teachers see Appendix 1. 

126 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 13 and after. 


intellectual and transmitted sciences through learning from several scholars 
mentioned above. This breadth of knowledge brought him numerous students 
from all over the Islamic world, as we will now see. 

5 Al-Kurani’s Students 

‘Abd Allah Mirdad b. Abi al-Khayr in Nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr'”” fi tarajim afadil 
Makka min al-qarn al-‘ashir ila al-qarn al-rabi‘ ‘ashar says that most of the 
isnads of the scholars in Syria, Egypt, Yemen, and the Hijaz return back to three 
persons: ‘Abd Allah b. Salim al-Basri, Ahmad al-Nakhli, and Hasan al-‘Ujaymi.!28 
All three of them were students of al-Kirani, and numerous of their isnads 
go through him. Al-Kittani in Fahras al-faharis repeats the same claim and 
attributes it to Abu al-Fayd Murtada al-Zabidi in one of his azas.!29 He says 
that al-Nakhli and al-Basri are the sources of isnad in the twelfth/eighteenth 
century.!3° One can also include India in the influenced areas, since most of 
the isnads on the Indian Subcontinent go back to Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi, 
who gained his isnads through Abu Tahir b. Ibrahim al-Kurani.!! 

Numerous scholars studied with al-Kurani for short periods of time during 
the hajj season in order to obtain an éjaza, and thus mention al-Kurani in their 
isnads as their teacher. It is difficult to list all of them, since almost any scholar 
who passed through the Hijaz for the Aajj probably met al-Kurani or attended 
his lessons and later mentioned him in their ijazas. For example, his name 
appears about ninety times in al-Kittani's book Fahras al-faharis wa-l-athbat.'8? 

Therefore, I will mention here only his most prominent students, those who 
met him and studied with him at some length. The names presented here 
include those of scholars from Southeast Asia, North Africa, Egypt, the Lev- 
ant, and the Ottoman Empire, with the aim of providing a sense of the spread 

127  Al-nawr are flowers, similar to azzahr; more specifically, nawr is the white flower and zahr 
is the yellow one. Nawr may also refer to the tree’s flowers. See Lisdn al-‘Arab and al-Qamis 
al-muhit (n.i.r). 

128 Mirdad, al-Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, p. 167. 

129 © Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 199. 

130 =© Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 251. 

131 Shah Wali Allah Ahmad b. ‘Abd al-Rahim al-Dihlawi, al-Irshad ila muhimmat al-isnad, ed. 
Badr b. ‘Ali b. Tami al-‘Utaybi (N.P: Dar al-Afaq, 2009), p. 25. 

132 Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, vol. 3, p. 8. The book is published in three volumes; the first 
two volumes that contain the text have continuous pagination, so I have not mentioned 
the volume, while the third volume contains the indices and its pagination starts from the 
beginning, so it is necessary to mention volume number. 

122 CHAPTER 3 

of al-Karani’s thought and its impact on the development of intellectual life 
throughout the Islamic world. Aspects of this influence will be discussed in the 
coming chapters, including, in Chapters Five and Six, a discussion of several 
intellectual issues that have been the subject of controversy in various parts of 
the Islamic world. Al-Kurani contributed directly to these discussions during 
his lifetime and enjoyed an extended influence on them long after his death. 
Other students who obtained an éjaza from al-Kurani but for whom we do not 
have a clear idea regarding the nature of their studies with him will be listed in 
Appendix 2. Both groups will be ordered alphabetically. In cases where a person 
has a well-known nickname, I mention it at the beginning for ease of reference. 
1. ‘Abd al-Rauf al-Singkili (d. 1104/1693) spent about 20 years in the Hijaz. 
During his time there, as he records in his work Umdat al-muhtajin, he 
studied with a number of teachers and became acquainted with several 
Sufi orders. He studied the Shattariyya with al-Qushashi, who at the time 
was acting as head of the order, and later with al-Kurani, with whom he 
forged a close relationship.!°? After leaving the Hijaz, Al-Singkili wrote a 
treatise entitled Sakarat al-mawt and sent it to al-Kurani in Medina to ver- 
ify it; al-Kurani wrote al-Kashf al-muntagar as a verification and confirma- 
tion of al-Singkili’s ideas. Rinkes says that al-Kurani’s Kashf al-muntazar 
was adopted by Malay scholars to correct the beliefs of the Sumatrans 
with relation to death.!34 
2. ‘Abdal-Ghanib. Salah al-Din al-Khani al-Halabi al-Hanafi (d. 1095/1684) 
was born in Aleppo and studied with its scholars, then traveled as a 
trader to Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and the Hijaz. Later, he left 
the world of business and returned to study with his brother, the scholar 
Qasim al-Khani.!°5 He moved to the Hijaz for mujawara and settled there 
until the end of his life. In Medina, he accompanied Ibrahim al-Kurani 
until he became a famous scholar in his own right and obtained some 

133 Martin Van Bruinessen, “Kurdish ‘ulama and their Indonesian disciples,” in De Turcicis 
aliisque rebus commentarii Henry Hofman dedicati [= Utrecht Turcological Series, vol. 3]. 
Utrecht: Instituut voor Oosterse Talen en Culturen, 1992, pp. 205-227. The citation is from 
an electronic copy on the author’s website. It is a revised version also published in Les 
Annales de l’Autre Islam 5 (1998), pp. 83-106. 

134 Douwe Adolf Rinkes, “Abdoerraoef van singkel; bijdrage tot de kennis van de mystiek 
op Sumatra en Java,” Directrische Drukkerij Nieuwsblad van Friesland, 1909. From Eliza- 
beth Anne Todd, Sullam al-Mustafidin (The Australian National University, Master’s thesis, 
1975)» Xxi. 

135 For more information about Qasim al-Khani and his widely-read manual on Sufism, enti- 
tled al-Sayr wa-l-sulik ila malik al-mulik, see El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in 
the Seventeenth Century, p. 235. 






official positions.!86 Before his death on 12 Safar 1095/30 January 1684 in 
Medina, he spent several years in Egypt as a representative of Medina to 
the Ottoman Empire. Al-Hamawi says that he corresponded with him on 
several occasions and that they even exchanged poetry, but he mentions 
only one book by ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Khani, entitled al-Risala al-latifa fi al- 
funin al-munifa.8" 

‘Abd Allah b. Salim al-Basri al-Makki (d. 4 Rajab 1134/20 April 1722),188 
was one of the main hadith scholars in the Hijaz. He studied with sev- 
enty different scholars; among the most famous were ‘Isa al-Maghribi 
al-Tha‘alibi, ‘Ala al-Din al-Babili, ‘Abd Allah Ba-Qushayr al-Makki, and 
Ibrahim al-Kurani. His thabat is entitled al-Imdad ft ma‘ifat ‘uluw al- 
isnad!89 and has been published. Al-Basri, alongside other students of 
Ibrahim al-Kurani, especially al-Nakhli, al-‘Ujaymi, and Abu Tahir b. Ibra- 
him al-Kurani, shaped intellectual life in the Hijaz during the twelfth/ 
eighteenth century.!4° 

Abu al-Mawahib Muhammad al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali (d. 28 Shawwal 1126/ 
6 November 1714)'*! was the son of ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Ba‘li, who was listed 
among al-Kurani’s teachers. He wrote a treatise on Qird‘at Hafs ‘an Asim 
and completed some commentaries on Sahih al-Bukhari that his father 
had begun. Abu al-Mawahib studied with numerous scholars in Syria, 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 436; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 2, 
p. 434; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 5, p. 156. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 5, p. 157. 

For more information about him, see al-‘Arabi al-Daiz al-Faryati, al-Imam ‘Abd Allah b. 
Salim al-Basri al-Makki, Imam ahl al-hadith bi-l-masjid al-haram (Beirut: Dar al-Bash@ir al- 
Islamiyya, 1426/2005); his thabat entitled al-Imdad fi maYifat ‘uliw al-isnad, ed. Al-‘Arabi 
al-Da’iz al-Faryati (KsA, al-Riyad: Dar al-Tawhid li-l-Nashr, 2006); Isma‘l b. Muhammad 
al-Ajlani, Hulyat ahl al-fadl wa-l-kamal bi-ittisal al-asanid bi-kummal al-rijal, ed. Muham- 
mad Ibrahim al-Husayn (Jordan, ‘Amman: Dar al-Fath li-l-Dirasat wa-l-Nashr, 2009), p.104; 
al-kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p.193; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 4, p. 440; Mirdad, al- 
Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, p. 290; and Voll, “Abdullah ibn Salim al-Basri 
and 18th Century Hadith Scholarship,” pp. 356-372. See also the introduction of Muham- 
mad Muhammadi al-Nuristani of al-Basri’s’ book Khatm Sunan al-Imam Abi Dawid (KSA, 
al-Riyad: Dar Adw@ al-Salaf, 2004), p. 4 and after. 

Al-Basri, al-Imdad ft ma‘ifat ‘uliw al-isndad, p. 122. 

Most of the scholars of the Hijaz in the twelfth/eighteenth century studied with one or 
more of these scholars. See, for example, Anonymous, Tarajim a‘yan al-Madina fi al-qarn 
72, ed. Muhammad al-Tuanji (Ksa, Jeddah: Dar al-Shurtg, 1984). 

For his life, teachers, and study, see al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib; al-‘Ajlani, Hulyat 
ahl al-fadl wa-l-kamdl, p. 52; al-Najdi, al-Suhub al-wabila, vol. 1, p. 333; al-Muradi, Silk al- 
durar, vol.1, p.67; al-Jabarti, Aja’ib al-athar, vol.1, p.135; al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 505. 






Egypt, and the Hijaz, some of whom are mentioned in his thabat.4? 
Among his teachers were Najm al-Din al-Ghazzi, Isma‘ll al-Nabulusi (‘Abd 
al-Ghanji's father), Ayyab al-Khalwati, al-Shams al-Babili, Sultan al-Maz- 
zahi, ‘Abd al-Salam al-Laqqani, and Ibrahim al-Kurani. 

Abu Tahir, Muhammad ‘Abd al-Sami‘ b. Ibrahim al-Kurani (1081-1084 
Ramadan 1145/1671-18 February 1733),!43 was born in Medina and studied 
with his father, along with Muhammad b. Rasil al-Barzanji, and numer- 
ous scholars of the Hijaz such as al-Nakhli and al-Ujaymi.4 Al-Kittani 
mentions that Aba Tahir copied more than seventy books by his own 
hand, and that he—al-Kittani—has a majmu‘ written in Abu Tahir’s hand 
containing collections of Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Fustis commentaries. Abu Tahir 
played an essential role in spreading the hadith isnad in the Indian Sub- 
continent and Indonesia. Shah Wali Allah (d. 1176/1762) studied with him 
in Medina and then returned to India charged with a vision of reviving 
Islam in that region.!45 

Al-‘Ayyashi, Abu Salim ‘Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-Maghribi (d. 1090/ 
1679),!46 studied in Fas with his brother ‘Abd al-Karim and many other 
scholars, including Ahmad b. Musa al-Abbar, Shaykh Mayyara, Abt Zayd 
b. al-Qadi, and Aba Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi. He later traveled 
to the East and studied in Egypt with most of its distinguished schol- 
ars, including al-Nur al-Ajhuni, al-Shihab al-Khafaji, ‘Ali al-Shabramallisi, 
al-Babili, and Sultan al-Mazzahi. He also attended the lessons of ‘Abd al- 
Salam b. Ibrahim al-Laqqan?*’ and of Musa al-Qulaybi al-Maliki, who was 
one of the greatest students of al-Ajhur.4® Shaykh Musa was affiliated 
with the Shattari order through al-Shabramallisi, who received his own 
affiliation from al-Shinnawi.!*9 In 1072/1661 al-‘Ayyashi performed the hajj 
and stayed for one year in the Hijaz as mujawir; he wrote one of the 
most detailed accounts of intellectual and spiritual life in the Hijaz, based 

Al-Ba‘li, Mashyakhat Abi al-Mawahib. 

Anonymous, Tarajim a‘yan al-Madina al-Munawwara fi al-qarn al-thani ‘ashar, p. 105; al- 
Muradi, Silk al-durar, vol. 4, p. 27; al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 495. In Tarajim a‘yan 
al-madina there are entries for three grandsons of Ibrahim al-Kurani. 

See al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 496. 

Al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 136; also, al-Baghdadi, Hadiyyat al- Grifin, vol. 2, p. 321. For 
Shah Wali Allah’s reform activities, see Ahmad S. Dallal, Islam without Europe. 
Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, 4: 378; al-Hudayki, Tabaqat al-Hudayki, p. 396; al-Jabarti, 
Ajaib al-athar, vol. 1, p. 123. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 228. 

Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 242. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 243. 









on his personal experiences during his sojourn, in his book al-Rihla al- 
‘ayyashiyya.° He then visited Damascus, Jerusalem, Hebron, and Egypt 
and collected a vast number of ijazas and isndads. 

Al-Barzanji, Muhammad b. Rasul, (d. 1103/1691).5! Aba ‘Abd Allah Mu- 
hammad b. Rasul al-Barzanji al-Husayni al-Musawi was born on Friday 
night, 12 Rabi‘ 1 1040/19 October 1630. He received his early education 
from his father and other scholars of Shahrazir such as Mulla Muham- 
mad Sharif al-Kurani. He traveled to Hamadan, Baghdad, Damascus, Con- 
stantinople, and Egypt, where he learned from renowned scholars. He 
arrived in Medina around 1068/1658 and studied there with Mulla Ibra- 
him al-Kurani and was initiated into Sufism by Safi al-Din al-Qushashi. 
Al-‘Ayyashi describes him as al-Ktrani’s most outstanding student.!52 Al- 
Barzanji wrote around eighty treatises, the most famous of which is al- 
Isha‘ ft ashrat al-sa‘a, which has been printed several times. Among 
his other printed works are Sadad al-dayn wa-sidad al-din fi ithbat al- 
najat wa-l-darajat li-l-walidayn,!? al-Sana wa-l-sunut ft-ma yata‘allaq bi- 
L-qunut,'>* al-Saft ‘an al-kadar fi-ma j@ ‘an sayyid al-bashar fi al-qad@’ 
wa-l-qadar,!* al-Qawl al-mukhtar fi hadith: “tahajjat al-janna wa-l-nar,”!6 
al-Nawafid li-l-rawafid (Mukhtasar al-Nawagqid ‘ala al-rawafid by Mirza 
Makhdim),!5” and Najat al-hulk fifahm mana “malik al-milk.”8 Another 
important book that should be mentioned is al-Jadhib al-ghaybi ila al- 
Janib al-gharbi fi hall mushkilat Ibn ‘Arabi’? The basis of this work is 
al-Kazaruni al-Makki's al-Janib al-gharbi fi hall mushkilat Ibn Arabi (“The 

This was not his first visit to the Hijaz, but it was the one during which he wrote all the 
details of the trip and his life. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 286; al-‘Ajlani, Hulyat ahl al-fadl wa-l-kamdl, p. 128; al- 
Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 1, p. 476; al-Muradi, Silk al-durar, vol. 4, p. 65. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 2, p. 77. 

Published in Egypt by Matba‘at al-Liw@ in the year 1323/1905, and more recently in 
Lebanon by Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 2006. 

Published in Beirut by Dar al-Bash@ir al-Islamiyya, 2004. 

A critical edition of this book was prepared as part of a Master’s thesis in the department 
of ‘Aqida, al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya in Medina, Saudi Arabia, in the year 1415/1994. 
Muhammad b. Rasil al-Barzanji, Al-Qawl al-mukhtar fi hadith: “tahajjat al-janna wa-l-nar,” 
published with other works as a collection entitled Lig@ al-‘ashr al-awakhir bi-l-masjid al- 
haram, ed. Al-‘Arabi al-D@iz al-Faryati (Beirut: Dar al-Bash@’ir al-Islamiyya, 2003). 

A critical edition of this book was prepared as part of a PhD dissertation in the department 
of ‘Aqida, al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya in Medina, Saudi Arabia, in the year 1412/1991. 

Beirut, Dar al-Bash@ir al-Islamiyya, 2005. For a list of his other works see al-Baghdadi, 
Hadiyyat al-Grifin, p. 303. 

Muhammad b. Rasil al-Barzanji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi ila al-Janib al-gharbi fi hall mushkilat 
Ibn al-‘Arabi, ed. Nasir Dumayriyya (Beirut: Dar al-Madar al-Islami, 2020). 






Western Approach to Solving the Problems of Ibn ‘Arabi’). Al-Janib was 
written in Persian at the request of the Sultan Selim 1. Al-Barzanji trans- 
lated the book into Arabic and provided it with various additional expla- 
nations and comments. The influence of al-Kurani is evident in the fre- 
quent citations and references to his opinions that appear in al-Barzanji’s 
works. Al-Barzanji died in Muharram uo03/September 1691, and was 
buried in the famous cemetery of al-Baqi‘ in Medina. 

Al-Ujaymi, Hasan b. ‘Ali, Abu al-Baqa’, (d. 1113/1702),!6° was the author of 
one of the most important Sufi bio-bibliographies, about Sufi centers and 
Sufis of the Hijaz in the seventeenth century, entitled Khabaya al-zawaya, 
and of a treatise on Sufi orders in the Hijaz, known as Risala ftal-turuq or 
fituruq al-suftyya.'® In the latter, he describes forty Sufi orders that were 
presented in the Hijaz during that century, along with their shaykhs and 
their activities. He also mentions the chains of transmission of the leaders 
of these zawiyas and gives us a clear idea about the transmission of these 
Sufi orders and their arrival in the Hijaz. Moreover, Khabaya al-zawaya 
contains the names of more than one hundred shaykhs who lived in the 
Hijaz and with whom the author met personally and studied. 

Ilyas b. Ibrahim b. Khidr b. Dawud al-Kurdi al-Kurani (1138/1726)!6* was 
a Sufi and a Shafi scholar who first studied in his Kurdistan and then 
moved to Damascus after 1070/1660 to study with several distinguished 
scholars including Najm al-Din al-Faradi, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Safftri, Mu- 
hammad al-Balbani, and ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi. He then traveled to 
the Hijaz and studied with Ahmad al-Nakhli al-Makki, Muhammad b. 
Rasul al-Barzanji, Sulayman al-Maghribi, and Ibrahim al-Kurani. Most of 
his works are in the rational sciences: al-Muradi in Silk al-durar mentions 
the following: a supergloss on ‘Isam al-Din al-Isfaraini, up to the chapter 

See Mirdad, al-Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, p. 167; al-Hamawi, Fawa’id 
al-irtihdl, vol. 3, p. 451. 

Al-‘Ayyashi listed the Sufi orders with short description in his Rihla, and al-Santsi abridged 
al-Ujaymi's work in his book al-Salsabil al-ma‘%n. Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘Ayyashiyya, 
vol. 2, p. 295; al-Saniisi’s al-Salsabil al-ma‘n ft al-tara@’iq al-arba‘n was published several 
times, sometimes as an independent work and other times in a collection or in the mar- 
gin of other works by al-Santsi, for example, Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Sanisi, al-Masa’il 
al-‘ashr al-musamma bi-Bughyat al-maqasid fi khulasat al-marasid wa-bi-hamishihi kitab 
al-Salsabil al-ma‘n fi al-tar@iq al-arba%n (Cairo: Matba‘at al-Ma‘ahid, 1934). 

Al-Ajlini, Hulyat ahl al-fadl wa-l-kamdl, p. 85; al-Muradi, Silk al-durar, vol.1, p. 272; Samer 
Akkach, Intimate Invocations: al-Ghazzi’s Biography of Abd al-Ghanial-Nabulust (1641-1731) 
(Leiden: Brill: 2012), p. 224. 








about isti‘arat; a gloss on Sharh al-Istiarat; a commentary on al-Dawani’s 
Sharh al-Aq@id al-Nasaftyya'® and a gloss on it; a supergloss on Mulla 
Yusuf al-Qarabaghi; a gloss on Sharh al-‘Awamil al-Jurjaniyya by Sa‘dullah; 
a gloss on Sharh jam‘ al-jawami’'™ a gloss on al-Fanari’s Shrah Isaghijt; 
a gloss on ‘Isam’s Sharh on Risalat al-wad‘; a gloss on al-Taftazani’s Sharh 
al-‘Aq@id; a gloss on al-Qayrawani’s Sharh al-Sanisiyya; and others.165 
Al-Nakhli, Ahmad (1044—1130/1635-1718).!66 “Al-Nakhhi” refers to Nakhla, 
a town in Yemen. He was born and raised in Mecca and studied with ‘Abd 
Allah b. Sa‘id Ba-Qushayr al-Makki al-Shafi4, ‘Abd al-Rahman b. al-Sayyid 
Ahmad al-Hasani al-Maghribi al-Miknasi (known as al-Mahjub), Muham- 
mad al-Rudani al-Maghribi, al-Babili, Isa b. Muhammad al-Tha‘alibi, Mu- 
hammad b. ‘Allan al-Siddiqi, Ibrahim al-Kurani, and others,'6’ and later 
became a teacher in the grand mosque of Mecca (al-haram). Al-Nakhli 
was affiliated with the Nagshbandiyya through Mir Kulal b. Mahmud al- 

Taj al-Din Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-Qal‘ al-Hanafi al-Makki 
(d. 1149/1737).169 The judge of Mecca, he studied with ‘Isa al-Maghribi, 
Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Rudani, Hasan al-‘Ujaymi, ‘Abd Allah al-Basri, 
Ibrahim al-Kirani, and others. 

Muhammad b. ‘Ala al-Din b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Qadijan al-Dihlawi (b. 
circa 1020/1612). He studied with his father, his uncle, and other schol- 
ars in the Indian Subcontinent. He arrived in the Hijaz for the hajj in 
1090/1679 and stayed the year after as a mujawir. In the Hijaz, he stud- 
ied with Ibrahim al-Karani and Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Maghribi al- 
Rudani, and attended al-‘Ujaymi's lessons. Al-‘Ujaymi says that he left 
after that year for India and he has no further information about him.!”° 

In the margin of the edited copy of Silk al-durar he mentions that another copy says: “prob- 
ably [al-‘Aqa@id] al-‘Adudiyya,’ vol. 1, p. 272. 

Jam‘ al-jawami' is a book in usul al-figh by Taj al-Din al-Subki (d. 771/1370) that inspired 
numerous commentaries. One of the main commentaries is Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli’s 
(d. 864/1459) al-Badr al-tali‘ft hallJam‘al-jawami‘, on which Ilyas al-Ktrani wrote his gloss. 
Al-Muradi, Silk al-durar, vol.1, pp. 272-273. 

Mirdad, al-Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, p. 120; al-Muradi, Silk al-durar, 
vol. 1, p. 171; al-Hamawi, Fawa’d al-irtihdl, vol. 2, p. 528; al-Kittani, Fahras al-faharis, p. 251. 
See Mirdad, al-Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, pp. 120-121. 

Mirdad, al-Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, pp. 120-121. 

Mirdad, al-Mukhtasar min kitab nashr al-nawr wa-l-zahr, p. 148; al-Kattani, Fahras al- 
faharis, p. 97. 

Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 332. 





Mustafa b. Fath Allah al-Hamawi al-Hanafi al-Makki (d. 1123/1711).!1 The 
author of the most comprehensive bibliographical book on the eleventh/ 
seventeenth century, Fawa’id al-irtihal. He was born in Hama in Syria, 
then moved to Damascus where he studied with its scholars; later, he 
moved to Mecca, where he settled and studied with scholars in the Hijaz: 
al-‘Ujaymi, al-Babili, al-Nakhli, al-Basri, al-Tha‘alibi, Ibrahim al-Kurani, 
and others. 

Yusuf al-Taj b. ‘Afif al-Din b. Abi al-Khayr al-Jawi al-Maqassari al-Khal- 
wati (d. 1110/1699).!”2 Born on 18 Shawwal 1035/3 July 1626 in the town 
of Makassar in the south Celebes of the Malay Archipelago, in 1054/1644 
he left Makassar to pursue his Islamic education and to perform the pil- 
grimage. In Aceh he was initiated into the Qadiriyya order by Nur al-Din 
al-Raniri. Then, he traveled from Banten to Arabia via Ceylon and Yemen. 
He is primarily known in Indonesia as the propagator of the Khalwatiyya 
order. In his Saftnat al-najat, he lists the orders into which he was initi- 
ated, including the Shattariyya, for which he also received an ijaza from 
Ibrahim al-Kurani. He also studied al-Durra al-fakhira by Jami with al- 
Kurani and copied it in his own hand.!73 Al-Maqassari led military resis- 
tance against Dutch authority for almost two years. He was arrested and 
sent to the Cape of Good Hope in 1693, after spending nine years in exile 
in Ceylon, and arrived there in 1694. Al-Kurani’s thought thus found its 
way to South Africa through al-Maqassari and his students. 

The above names are only some of al-Kurani’s students. More names can be 

found in ijazas and isnad works,!”4 and many others can be found in Fahras al- 
faharis, some of them through ijaza ‘amma (general ijaza) that may not refer 
to personal study with al-Karani but could be an éjaza for a person and his 

family, or in some cases an ijaza for anyone who wants to transmit the work 





Al-Jabarti, Aj@ib al-athar, vol. 1, p. 134; al-Muradi, Silk al-durar, vol. 4, p. 178. Also see the 
introduction of the edition of his work Fawa’id al-irtihal by ‘Abd Allah al-Kandari. 
Mustapha Keraan and Muhammed Haron, “Selected Sufi Texts of Shaykh Yusuf: Trans- 
lations and Commentaries,’ Tydskrif vir letterkunde, 45 (1), 2008. Al-‘Ujaymi, Khabaya 
al-zawaya, p. 383. 

See Rudolf Mach, Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts (Yahuda Section) in the Garrett Col- 
lection (Princeton: Princeton University Library, 1977), p. 205, No. 2393, 1(3872), No. 2394, 
1(3872), and p. 267, No. 3123, 1(3872). The collection contains three treatises: al-Durra al- 
fakhira, Risala fi al-wujiud both by Jami, and al-Lari's Commentary on al-Durra al-fakhira. 
All are dated 1075/1664-1665. 

See, for example, some names in an jjdza al-Kurani gave to some Damascene scholars in 
Fahras al-faharis, p. 167. 


with its chain of transmission.!% ‘Abd al-Khaliq b. ‘Ali b. al-Zayn al-Mizjaji 
(d. 1201/1787), in his chain of transmission of ahadith al-Bukhari, mentions two 
teachers: his father Shams al-Islam ‘Ali b. al-Zayn al-Mizjaji and his teacher 
Muhammad b. ‘Ala’ al-Din al-Mizjaji. Both had ijazas from al-Kurani.”6 Al- 
Mizjaji said in his thabat that the people who had studied with al-Kurani are 
countless, most of them great scholars.!”” 

After about a century, we find that the isnads of most scholars, whether in 
manqiulat or ma‘qulat, go back to al-Kurani and his students, mainly al-Nakhli, 
al-Basni, and al-‘Ujaymi. Some of the most distinguished scholars in later cen- 
turies were keen to connect their isndds to al-Kurani and his generation of 
scholars; this generation had established their connections with earlier schol- 
ars in complexes chains of transmissions such that they can be considered 
a milestone in both the transmitted and rational sciences. The following are 
some distinguished scholars and their links to al-Kurani. 

Based on Murtada al-Zabidi’s (d. 1205/1791) poem (manzguma) of his isnads, 
entitled A/fiyyat al-sanad, among his teachers were Muhammad b. ‘Isa b. Yusuf 
al-Dinjawi and Mustafa b. ‘Abd al-Salam al-Manzili, with whom he studied in 
the town of Dumyat; both of them had studied with Abu Hamid b. Muham- 
mad al-Budayn, who had studied with al-Kurani.!”8 Actually, al-Zabidi con- 
siders that the first generation (al-tabaqa al-ula) of his teachers were Anmad 
b. ‘Abd al-Fattah b. Yusuf al-Majari al-Malawi, Hamad b. Hasan b. ‘Abd al- 
Karim al-Khalidi al-Jawhari, and ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amir al-Shibrawi;!”9 these schol- 
ars studied with al-Kurani’s students, especially al-Basri, al-Nakhli, and al- 
“‘Ujaymi.!8° Al-Zabidi also had a direct link to al-Kurani through the latter's 
grandson, Hasan b. Muhammad Sa‘id b. Ibrahim al-Kurani. This latter stud- 
ied with his uncle Abu Tahir, as well as the distinguished scholars of the Hijaz 
and Mulla Ibrahim’s students al-“‘Ujaymi, al-Basri, and al-Nakhli.!*! Similarly, Al- 
Shawkant’s chains of transmission pass through al-Nakhli and al-Basri.!® He 

175 About different kinds of ijazas see Pfeiffer, “Teaching the Learned,” p. 302, fn. 71. 

176 ‘Abd al-Khaliq b. ‘Ali b. al-Zayn al-Mizjaji, Nuzhat riyad al-ijaza al-mustataba bi-dhikr man- 
aqib al-mashayikh ahl al-riwaya wa-l-isaba, ed. Mustafa ‘Abd Allah al-Khatib and ‘Abd 
Allah Muhammad al-Habashi al-Yamani (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1997), pp. 29, 183. 

177. Al-Mizjaji, Nuzhat riyad al-ijaza, p. 147. 

178 Muhammad Murtada Al-Zabidi, Alfiyyat al-sanad, ed. Muhammad b. ‘Aziz (Beirut: Dar 
Ibn Hazm, 2006), p. 32. 

179 See more names in al-Zabidi, Alfiyyat al-sanad, p. 22. 

180 Al-Zabidi, Alfiyyat al-sanad, p. 21. 

181 Murtada al-Zabidi, al-Mufam al-mukhtass, ed. Nizam Muhammad Salih Ya‘qubi and Mu- 
hammad b. Nasir al-‘Ajami (Beirut: Dar al-Basha’ir al-Islamiyya, 2006), p. 202. 

182 Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Shawkani, Ithaf al-akabir bi-isnad al-dafatir, ed. Khalil b. ‘“Uthman 

130 CHAPTER 3 

always mentions his isndd to these two scholars and then to al-Babili instead 
of al-Kurani. Although most of what he mentions about al-Nakhli and al-Basri 
is traced through al-Kurani, tracing his chain of transmission directly to al- 
Babili makes his isnad higher. Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Sanusi, the founder of the 
Sanusiyya order (d. 1276/1859), mentions al-Kurani in many of his chains of 
transmission as well.!83 

6 Al-Kurani’s Affiliation to Sufi Orders 

Al-Kurani began his intellectual life by mastering the rational sciences, but 
after his encounter with al-Qushashi in Medina, his ideas became colored by 
Akbarian thought, as will be clarified in the fifth and sixth chapters. Beyond 
al-Kurani’s interest in theoretical Sufism, however, he was also a devout Sufi 
practitioner. He entered khalwa several times and was initiated into several 
Sufi orders; he then became head of some of them and initiated disciples 
into several of these. Affiliation to multiple Sufi orders was common practice 
among religious scholars in the Ottoman Empire. The Hijaz was no exception, 
most of the scholars of the seventeenth-century Hijaz were practicing Sufis, 
in addition to their other activities. Sufi orders were probably more active in 
the Hijaz than in any other place in Islamic world. Due to its religious signif- 
icance, almost all the Sufi orders from around the Islamic world attempted to 
establish zawiyas and khalwas in the Hijaz. The fajj season and the intellec- 
tual centrality of the Hijaz in the seventeenth century were important factors 
in spreading Sufi orders to different parts of the Islamic world. One particularly 
well-documented example of this phenomenon is the Shattariyya order, which 
is originally from the Indian Subcontinent, and which reached Southeast Asia 
not directly from India but through the Hijaz.!6* 

In Chapter Two, I mentioned that some scholarly studies counted 59 ribats 
that are known to have been founded in Mecca before the Ottoman takeover 
of the Hijaz.85 Another academic study counted 80 ribats in Mecca in the 

al-Subay‘I (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1999), for example, pp. 63, 65, 84, 109, 110, 116. In many 
isnads he just says: “by the same isndad to al-Babili,’ e.g., pp. 65, 89, 106, 107. 

183 Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Sanisi al-Idrisi, al-Manhal al-rawi al-raig fi asanid al-‘uliim wa-usul 
al-tara@’iq (Algeria: Dar al-Tawfiqiyya, 2011). pp. 19, 20, 27, 31, 33, 34, 46, 49. Later, he says 
several times bi-l-isnad al-sabigq (by the same previous isnad). 

184 Fathurahman, Shattariyah Silsilah in Aceh, Java, and the Lanao area of Mindanao (TOKYO: 
Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa Tokyo University of For- 
eign Studies, 2016), p. 105. 

185 Mortel, ‘Ribats in Mecca during the Medieval Period,” p. 33. 


same period.!86 During the Ottoman period the number of ribats in Mecca 
alone reached 156.18” The Ottoman traveler Evliya Celebi, in his trip to the Hijaz 
in 1082/1671, mentioned more than 78 takiyyas, the greatest one being that 
of the Mawlawiyya.!*§ In his seventeenth century Hijazi Sufi bio-bibliography 
Khabaya al-zawaya, al-‘Ujaym’'s describes around twenty Sufi zawiyas in Mecca 
along with their shaykhs and their activities. The book contains the names 
of more than one hundred shaykhs who lived in Mecca and with whom the 
author met and studied. Al-‘Ujaymi'’s other important treatise is Risala ft al- 
turuq, also known as Risalat al-Ujaymi fi turuq al-suftyya. In this treatise, al- 
‘Ujaymi describes forty Sufi orders that were active in the Hijaz during the 
seventeenth century with a brief description of their main ideas and of the 
shaykhs of these orders in the Hijaz.!8° Since most of the shaykhs of these 
orders were in the Hijaz and numerous of al-‘Ujaymi’s isnads of these orders 
are through al-Qushashi, we can be almost sure that al-Kurani was affiliated to 
most of them. 

Al-Kurani mentions his chains of transmissions in various orders with which 
he was affiliated in some of his works. Among the many Sufi orders in the seven- 
teenth century Hijaz, only two have been examined in any depth; the Naqsha- 
bandiyya!®° and the Shattariyya.!9! Alongside these two orders, al-Kurani men- 
tions his isnads in the following orders: al-Qushayriyya;!%? al-Suhrawardiyya, 
attributed to ‘Umar al-Suhrawardi, through al-Qushashi and through al- 
Sha‘rani to its founder;!%3 al-Kubrawiyya, attributed to Najm al-Din Kubra;!% 
al-Rifa‘iyya;!9> al-Uwaysiyya;!°® al-Khidriyya, attributed to al-Khidr;!%’ and al- 

186 Husayn, al-Arbita ft Makka al-mukarrama mundhu al-bidayat hatta nihayat al-‘asr al- 

187  Husayn, al-Arbita ft Makka fi al-‘ahd al-Uthmani. 

188  Jalabi, al-Rihla al-hijaziyya, p. 265. 

189 Iam currently editing both texts within a larger project studying Sufi orders in the pre- 
Wahhabi Hijaz. Fora short description of both texts see Denis Gril, “De la khirga ala tarigqa” 
p. 74. For a general idea of these orders, see Muhammad al-Sanisi’s (d. 1276/1859) al- 
Salsabil al-main fi al-tara@iq al-arba‘n, in which al-Sanisi summarized al-‘Ujaymi’s trea- 

igo A. Copty, “The Naqshbandiyya and its Offshoot the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiya in the 
Haramayn in the uth/17th Century,’ Die Welt des Islams 43 (2003): 321-348. 

191 __El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 249. 

192 Al-Kurani, Masalik al-abrar, fol. 75». 

193 Al-Karani, Masalik al-abrar, fol. 75». 

194 Al-Karani, Masalik al-abrar, fol. 76°. 

195 Al-Kurani, Masdlik al-abrar, fol. 76>. 

196 Al-Kurani, Masdlik al-abrar, fol. 76°. 

197. Al-Kurani, Masdlik al-abrar, fol. 76>. 



Qadiriyya, attributed to ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani. Al-Kurani received his initiation 

into all these orders from al-Qushashi. 

The chains of transmissions of all these orders are stated in the references 

mentioned above so there is no need to repeat them here. It is enough to give 

just one example that displays the richness of studying these chains. For that, 

we turn to the three different isnads that al-Kurani mentions in the Qadiriyya 





The first isnad goes back through Yemeni scholars, with whom Safi al-Din 
al-Qushashi's father spent several years. 
Al-Kurani < al-Qushashi < (his father) Muhammad b. Yunus <_ al- 
Amin b. al-Siddig al-Yamanial-Marawhi < Shuja‘ al-Din ‘Umar b. Anmad 
Jibrail < ‘Abd al-Qadir b. al-Junayd < (his father) al-Junayd b. Anmad 
< (his father) Ahmad b. Musa al-Musharri‘ < Isma‘ll b. al-Siddiq al- 
Jabartt < Muhammad al-Mizjaji < Sharaf al-Din Aba Ma‘raf Isma‘ll b. 
Ibrahim b. ‘Abd al-Samad al-Jabarti < Siraj al-Din Abt Bakr b. Muham- 
mad al-Salami < Muhyial-Din Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Asadi < Fakhr 
al-Din Abu Bakr b. Muhammad b. Yaghnam < Muhammad b. Ahmad 
b. ‘Abd Allah < (his father) Ahmad b. ‘Abd Allah b. Yusuf < (from his 
father) ‘Abd Allah b. Yasuf and his shaykh ‘Abd Allah b. Qasim b. Dharba 
< (both from) Aba Muhammad ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Ali al-Asadi < ‘Abd al- 
Qadir al-Jilani.!9* 
The second isnad is through al-Qushashi’s main teacher, al-Shinnawi. This 
chain passes through highly celebrated scholars such as al-Sha‘rani, al- 
Suyuti, al-Jazari, and Ibn ‘Arabi. 
Al-Kurani < al-Qushashi < al-Shinnawi < (his father) ‘Ali b. ‘Abd al- 
Quddus < (his father) ‘Abd al-Qudditis < ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani < 
Jalal al-Din al-Suyati in Egypt on 13 Rabi‘ 1, 911/14 August 1505 < Kamal 
al-Din Muhammad b. Muhammad known as Ibn Imam al-Kamiliyya < 
al-Shams Muhammad b. al-Jazari < ‘Umar b. al-Husayn al-Maraghi < 
Ahmad b. Ibrahim al-Fartiqi < Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi < Jamal al-Din 
Yunus b. Yahya al-Hashimi < ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.!99 
The third chain, like the first, goes back through Yemeni shaykhs. This 
chain accords with al-Kurani’s first isnad mentioned above until Isma‘ll 
al-Jabarti, and then it departs as follows: 
Jamal al-Din Muhammad b. Abt Bakr al-Zabidi < Burhan al-Din Ibra- 
him b. ‘Umar al-Zabidi < Jamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Hamid b. ‘Abd al- 

Al-Kurani, Masdalik al-abrar, fols. 748-74>. Al-Kirani continues the silsila back to the 
Prophet. Ibid. 
Al-karani, Masalik al-abrar, fol. 75°. 


Rahman al-Atishghahi < Najm al-Din Muhammad al-Isfahani < ‘Izz 
al-Din al-Faragqi < Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi < Jamal al-Din Yunus b. 
Yahya al-Hashimi < ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.?°° 
Since most of al-Kurant’s chains of transmission for Sufi orders are through his 
teacher al-Qushashi, these chains can be examined again through al-Qusha- 
shi’s own thabat, entitled al-Simt al-majid,?™ to trace the transmission of these 
orders from their birthplaces until they reached the Hijaz. 

By reconstructing the circulation of these Sufi orders and their paths to 
the Hijaz, we will be able to link most of the Sufi orders in Southeast Asia to 
their founders, since many of these Sufi orders spread in these regions through 
Javanese students who had studied in the Hijaz. ‘Abd al-Rauf al-Singkili men- 
tions the isnad of two Sufi orders: al-Qadiriyya and al-Shattariyya, both of them 
through al-Qushashi.? Fathurahman attempts to construct the Shattariyya 
chains in Aceh; he states that he studied “12 Shattarryah silsilahs developed in 
Aceh through ‘Abd al-Ra’uf’s and Ibrahim al-Kuran’s lines.”*°? It is important 
to mention in this context that al-Kurani was one of the four main lines of the 
Shattariya silsila in Aceh, Java, and the Lanao area of Mindanao from the seven- 
teenth century.2°* However, according to Fathurahman, ‘Abd al-Ra’if received 
most of his ijazas in Sufi orders from al-Qushashi, not al-Kurani. This practice is 
normal when the original master is still alive, since his chain would be shorter. 
However, ‘Abd al-Ra’uf also had an éjaza for the Shattariyya from al-Karani.? 
Fathurahman says that ‘Abd al-Rauf received most of his spiritual knowledge 
and authority from al-Qushashi and the intellectual aspects of speculative mys- 
ticism from al-Kurani.?°° 

Al-Kurani was affiliated with all the above-mentioned Sufi orders through 
his teacher al-Qushashi. The Hijaz, however, was full of other Sufi shaykhs 
who were active in initiating disciples. As mentioned above, al-‘Ujaymi named 
more than one hundred scholars with whom he studied, most of whom were 
Sufis. This list is only of al-“Ujaymi’s own teachers, without mentioning teach- 

200 Al-Kurani, Masalik al-abrar, fol. 752-». 

201 For some aspects of al-Qushashi's al-Simt al-majid see Rachida Chih, “Rattachement ini- 
tiatique et pratique de la Voie selon al-Simt al-majid @’ al-Qushshashi (m. 1661).’ 

202 Oman Fathurahman and Abdurrauf Singkel, Tanbih al-Masyi: menyoal wahdatul wujud: 
kasus Abdurrauf Singkel di Aceh abad 17 (Bandung: Ecole frangaise d’ Extréme-Orient, 
1999), pp. 158-160. 

203 Fathurahman, Shattariyah Silsilah in Aceh, Java, and the Lanao area of Mindanao, p. 10. 

204 Fathurahman, Shattariyah Silsilah in Aceh, Java, and the Lanao area of Mindanao, p. 110. 
Al-Kurani’s line can be found on page 118. 

205 Fathurahman, Shattariyah Silsilah in Aceh, Java, and the Lanao area of Mindanao, p. 106. 

206 Fathurahman, Shattariyah Silsilah in Aceh, Java, and the Lanao area of Mindanao, p. 106. 

134 CHAPTER 3 

ers of his teachers, his peer scholars, or his students. Al-‘Ayyashi mentions 
that when he entered Mecca, he asked about the shaykhs of the Naqshbandi 
order. Two were mentioned to him, the first one being Jamal al-Din al-Hindi.?°” 
Al-Hindi and the other unnamed shaykh were both students of Taj al-Din. Al- 
‘Ayyashi became affiliated with the Naqshbandiyya through Jamal al-Din.?°° In 
Mecca, al-‘Ayyashi became affiliated with three more orders: al-Qadiriyya, al- 
Suhrawardiyya, and al-Kubrawiyya. His initiations into these three orders were 
taken from Zayn al-‘Abidin al-Tabari (d. 1078/1667-1668).2°9 Later, al-‘Ayyashi 
mentions his affiliation with eight orders through ‘Isa al-Tha‘alibi. These eight 
orders are mentioned by Ahmad b. Abi al-Futth al-Tawusi al-Hanafi in his book 
Jam‘ al-firaq li-raf* al-khiraq, with their isndads to each order’s founder and then 
to the Prophet. 

This brief mention of some Sufi shaykhs is intended to emphasize that al- 
Qushashi was only one shaykh among many who need to be investigated in 
order to produce a clear picture of Sufism and intellectual life in the seven- 
teenth-century Hijaz. 

7 Conclusion 

Al-Kurani’s life and curriculum vitae display that he was an established scholar 
in the rational sciences before leaving his hometown. He continued his intel- 
lectual studies with his teacher al-Qushashi, who was famous as a Sufi but 
also wrote several works in theology, some of which are mentioned above. Al- 
Qushashi's name also appears in most of al-Kurani's isndds of intellectual texts, 
suggesting that al-Kurani probably re-read these texts, mainly by al-Taftazani, 
al-Jurjani, and al-Dawani, through the Sufi eyes of al-Qushashi. The following 
chapters will display that he used these texts to interpret Ibn ‘Arabi and to 
situate the latter within the Islamic intellectual tradition. It is difficult to deter- 
mine the extent of al-Qushashi's influence on al-Kurani’s thought, since almost 
all of the latter’s writings were produced in Medina after his meeting with al- 
Qushashi. The only work that he wrote before meeting al-Qushashi is Inbah 
al-anbah, a work of grammar, and al-Qushashi’s influence on the revised copy 
of this text is very evident, as will be mentioned in the following chapter. 

The list of al-Kurani’s teachers and scholarly contacts reveals his familiar- 
ity with the traditions of Kurdistan, Persia, Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, North 

207 Al-Qadiri, I/tiqat al-durar, 167. Ibn al-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, vol. 2, p. 151. 
208  Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 333. 
209 About him see al-Qadiri, I/tiqat al-durar, 172; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 2, p. 195. 


Africa, Yemen, the Hijaz, Southeast Asia, and India. At the end of the follow- 
ing chapter about al-Kurani’s works, we will see that several of his works dealt 
with heated debates in the Ottoman capital as well. This wide range of teach- 
ers and students illustrates the centrality of the Hijaz as a meeting point for all 
the intellectual trends in the Muslim world during the sixteenth and the seven- 
teenth centuries. The Hijaz was truly the center of the Islamic world, bringing 
together scholars and students, and contributing to the diffusion and transmis- 
sion of knowledge between various parts of the Islamic world. All roads once 
lead to the Hijaz and from the Hijaz; Islamic thought returned to spread as it 
began eleven centuries prior. The list of al-Kurani’s students displays how his 
influence extended to even more regions to include Istanbul, Southeast Asia, 
and even Southeast Africa. 

One aspect of al-Kurani’s network that scholars have examined is his Javan- 
ese students in Medina. These investigations are related to the topic of the 
Islamization of Indonesia and the role of Hijazi scholars in forming the reli- 
gious identity of Southeast Asia. Several of al-Kurani’s students were from 
Southeast Asia. Johns has suggested that ‘Abd al-Ra’uf Singkili in Mecca was 
a teacher of “hundreds if not thousands”! of Indonesian students. However, 
Syed Hussein Alatas, in a review of Johns’ book, offers some statistical data on 
pilgrims based on Dutch documents that casts doubt on those numbers. In the 
years 1852-1859 the average number of pilgrims was 2,164 per year. Between 
1873 and 1881 the average figure was 3,628. In 1880, 7,327 were reported, the high- 
est figure attained. In 1858 there were 3,317 persons registered, approximately 
200 years after 1661. In Alatas’ opinion, “if we were to project it back two cen- 
turies, excluding the facilities of modern steamships and stabilized political 
and commercial relations between Arabia and Indonesia [...] it is unlikely that 
a few hundred pilgrims went to Mecca every year.”?" This argument may agree 

210 Johns, The Gift Addressed, p. u. Sayed Hussein Alatas in his review says: “In another 
instance Dr. Johns offered a statistical speculation on the number of Indonesians in Mecca 
around 1661, ‘hundreds if not thousands.” Syed Hussein Alatas, review “The Gift Addressed 
to the Spirit of the Prophet by A.H. Johns,” Journal of Southeast Asian History, Vol. 9, No.1 
(Mar,, 1968), p. 183. Later, Johns responded to Alatas, saying: “Nowhere did I suggest that 
hundreds if not thousands of Indonesians came to Mecca every year or that these num- 
bers were resident in Mecca during any one year. My only suggestion (speculation?) was 
that during his nineteen years in Mecca he could reasonably have been expected to have 
met a number of pilgrims and students of this order of magnitude.’ Manuel Sarkisyanz, 
A.H. Johns and Syed Hussein Alatas, “Correspondence, Journal of Southeast Asian History, 
Vol. 9, No. 2 (Sep., 1968), pp. 381-385, p. 383. 

211 Syed Hussein Alatas, review “The Gift Addressed to the Spirit of the Prophet by A.H. Johns,” 

Journal of Southeast Asian History, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Mar., 1968), p. 184. 

136 CHAPTER 3 

with Snouck’s suggestion that “although the period in which Jawah pilgrims 
could be counted annually in thousands may be recent, a fairly active traffic had 
certainly endured over two centuries.”2!* Van Bruinessen suggests two reasons 
behind the popularity of Kurdish scholars for Indonesian students: the first is 
the fact that Indonesians have adhered to the Shafi madhhab since at least the 
sixteenth century, as did the Kurds, unlike most Arabs, Turks, and Indians, who 
followed the Hanafi madhhab.”!3 However, this reason is limited to figh-related 
matters. The second reason is that Indonesian and Kurdish Muslims had acom- 
mon attraction to mysticism and metaphysical speculation and a firm belief in 
miracles and sainthood.2"* This discussion confirms the centrality of the Hijaz 
in the seventeenth century by indicating how in the seventeenth century the 
Hijaz and its scholars, particularly Kurdish ones like al-Kurani, played a promi- 
nent role in shaping religious life in this remote region of Southeast Asia. Other 
communities influenced by intellectual life in the Hijaz, including those from 
Yemen, Egypt, North Africa, the Levant, and the Ottoman Empire, may have 
been larger than that in Indonesia, given that historically the Hijaz had been 
a popular destination for many scholars from these regions even before global 
and local changes contributed to increasing the number of members of these 
communities circulating regularly through the Hijaz. 

In the list of al-Kurani’s students many of his Javanese students were men- 
tioned, and the list of his works will show that four texts were written especially 
for a Javanese audience in Medina, or to reply to some questions that arrived 
directly from Java. The Hijaz was a religious reference for Javanese scholars and 
even sultans. For example, the Sultan of Banten, Sultan Pangeran Ratu (r. 1626- 
1651CE), dispatched a special delegation to Mecca in 1638, carrying a number of 
inquiries about al-Ghazali’s Nasthat al-muluk. In the following century, Arshad 
al-Banjari also asked for a fatwa from his teacher Sulayman al-Kurdi (1715- 
1780CE) regarding the policy of the Sultan of Banjar to prioritize taxes over 

212 Snouck, Hurgronje C., Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century: Daily Life, Customs and 
Learning, the Moslims of the East-Indian-Archipelago, tr. J.H. Monahan (Leiden: Brill. 2007), 
pp. 219-220. The original text was published in German in two volumes, under the title 
Mekka (Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (Netherlands) Haag: M. Nijhoff, vol. 1 
Die Stadt und ihre Herren, 1888); vol. 2 Aus dem heutigen Leben, 1889. 

213 This claim is potentially accurate about the seventeenth century under the influence of 
Ottoman Hanafi tendences. Before the Ottoman period, most of the Sunnis of North 
Africa were Maliki, while in Egypt and the Levant must Sunnis were following the Shafit 

214 Martin Van Bruinessen, “Kurdish ‘ulama and their Indonesian disciples,’ electronic copy 
from the author's website. Revised version of: “The Impact of Kurdish ‘ulama on Indone- 
sian Islam,” Les Annales de l’ Autre Islam 5 (1998), 83-106. 


zakat.”'5 The interest of the sultans of Southeast Asia in the opinions of Hijazi 
scholars and their appreciation of them is certainly a reflection of the spread 
of the influence of these scholars through their pupils, and of their strong rep- 
utations in Southeast Asia. 

Al-Kurani's teachers and students exemplify the active scholarly environ- 
ment in the Hijaz during the seventeenth century. Among all these scholars, 
al-Kurani stands as a unique person who combined intellectual sciences with 
transmitted sciences, alongside practicing Sufism as a way of life. In spite of 
the fact that he was an established scholar in the rational sciences, he appears 
from the evidence to have been sincere in his search for a spiritual guide. For 
al-Kurani, the theoretical aspects of the rational sciences needed to be linked 
to practical applications. After he met al-Qushashi, he showed complete com- 
mitment to the Sufi path in his modest and ascetic personal life, and through 
his humble character. Al-Kurani is thus not simply a representative of the intel- 
lectual life in Hijaz in the seventeenth century, but rather a mirror that reflects 
the various intellectual debates that were taking place throughout the Islamic 
world. As a result of his combination of rational and transmitted sciences with 
full commitment to a spiritual life from the heart of the Islamic world, the 
Hijaz, he was able to contribute to the various intellectual debates that were 
taking place in different regions of the Islamic world. Investigating al-Kurani 
and his scholarly network’s extension both east and west from the Hijaz reveals 
an active intellectual life in various parts of the Islamic world, and continu- 
ous communication between scholars of these regions, often passing through 
the Hijaz during the seasons of hajj. His books, which we will address in the 
next chapter, will offer a more comprehensive idea of his intellectual interests, 
and his involvement in the intellectual debates taking place in various Islamic 

Besides his wide connectivity, the other advantage of focusing on al-Kurani 
over other scholars in the Hijaz is his prolific textual production. He wrote over 
one hundred works in several different disciplines, a corpus that provides us 
with rich material to examine and a broader perspective of the topics that were 
studied and discussed in the seventeenth-century Hijaz. Fortunately, most of 
these works are still extant as manuscripts in many libraries around the world. 
In the next chapter, I will present a brief description of the contents of eighty- 
six of al-Kirani’s treatises, with reference to his other treatises that I was unable 
to examine, as well as discussing some of the works that have been, I suspect, 
unreliably attributed to him. 

215 Fathurahman, “Ithaf al-dhaki by Ibrahim al-Kurani,” p. 181. 


Al-Kurani’s Works 

Al-Kurani was a prolific author. He wrote more than a hundred works, most 
of them still extant in manuscript form and dispersed in libraries around the 
world. Al-Shawkani in al-Badr al-tali‘ reported that his works number around 
eighty.! Brockelmann lists forty-two titles,? while Anthony H. Johns mentions 
that one hundred works are attributed to al-Kurani.3 In the course of this 
project, I was able to identify 112 works that have been attributed to al-Kurani. 
These works are presented here in three groups. The first group contains al- 
Kurani’s works that I have been able to access; eighty-six treatises are examined 
with a short description of their contents. The second group contains a list of 
twenty-three works that I found mentioned in catalogues or historical sources 
without having access to the works themselves. Finally, in the third group, I will 
mention three works attributed to al-Kurani, but I will argue that this attribu- 
tion is incorrect. The works that I examine include some (jazas that al-Kurani 
wrote to some of his students. These {jazas are of great value because of the 
information they contain about his teachers and his intellectual formation, in 
addition to their value in revealing the shape of the transmission of knowl- 
edge from teachers to students and across multiple geographical regions. As I 
mentioned in the previous chapter, al-Kurani documented the isnads of all the 
works he studied, including the various works of rational sciences. There is no 
need to mention the place of composition, since all of his works were written 
in the Hijaz. The only work that he mentions having started before moving to 
the Hijaz is Inbah al-anbah ‘ala irab la ilah illa Allah, which he finished in Med- 

In my description of each work, I mention only the main topics; the argu- 
ments will be presented where relevant in the coming two chapters. The works 
are arranged chronologically to allow us to follow the developments of al- 
Kurani’s thought and interests over time. This arrangement also helps us doc- 

1 Al-Shawkani, al-Badr al-tali‘ vol. 1, p. 12. Al-Shawkani mentioned just seven titles by name. 

2 C.Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, 5 vols (Volumes 1-11: Weimar 1898 and 
Berlin 1902 [first edition], Leiden 1943 and 1949 [second edition]; Supplementary Volumes I- 
111: Leiden 1937, 1938 and 1942), 11, p. 505 and S. 11, p. 520. 

3 Anthony H. Johns, “Islam in Southeast Asia: Reflections and New Directions,’ Indonesia, No.19 
(Apr., 1975), PP 33-55: P- 49- 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_006 


ument some of the intellectual disputes that were raised in various parts of 
the Islamic world, and in which al-Kurani participated actively, such as the dis- 
pute about al-Sirhindi’s though in the Indian Subcontinent, the debate about 
the meaning of wahdat al-wujid in Southeast Asia, and al-Kurani’s lengthy dis- 
cussions on Ash‘arite issues with Moroccan scholars. It is important to note 
that I mention only the copies that I used in my description, and in some cases 
more copies that I obtained, without an attempt to be comprehensive regard- 
ing al-Kurani’s manuscripts in libraries and catalogues and without claiming 
that those copies that I used are better or have privileges over other copies in 
other libraries.* 

This chapter not only illustrates the productivity of a scholars of the seven- 
teenth-century Hijaz and shows the diversity and multiplicity of al-Kurani’s 
concerns, but also provides an example of the issues that were raised and dis- 
cussed in the Hijaz between its scholars and those of different parts of the 
Islamic world. Through the topics on which al-Kurani wrote, we will see that 
the rational sciences (ma‘qulat) are to be found alongside the transmitted sci- 
ences (manqulat), in addition to the spiritual aspect of Sufi life, some of which 
have already been mentioned through discussing Sufi orders in the Hijaz and al- 
Kuran’’s affiliation to many of them in Chapters Two and Three. In this chapter, 
we will find that Mecca, especially during the hajj season, played an important 
role in connecting the Islamic world intellectually and in transmitting knowl- 
edge and intellectual debates between different parts of Islamic world, thereby 
transforming the Hijaz to one of the most important centers of intellectual life 
in the Islamic world during the seventeenth century. The breadth and variety 
of the intellectual topics that will be mentioned in this chapter and discussed 
thoroughly in the next two chapters demonstrates that scholars in the Hijaz in 
that century, alongside scholars from different parts of Islamic world, discussed 
in detail and in full depth and seriousness most of the philosophical, theologi- 
cal, and Sufi issues in Islamic intellectual history. The existence of the following 
works, and the intellectual life they represent, constitutes an additional chal- 
lenge to the narrative of decline in the post-classical period, not only in the 
Hijaz, but in various parts of the Islamic world. 

4 In2020 an edition of twenty of al-Kurani’s treatises has been published under the title Majmu‘ 
rasa@il al-‘allama al-Mulla al-Kurani by Dar al-Lubab, Istanbul. Four of these treatises were 
already published before and one I argue is misattributed to al-Kurani. Since most of the 
works published take hadith as their subject and I am unsure of the value of the edition, I 
have opted to retain the references to the manuscripts that I have used. 



Al-Kurani’s Works (Examined) 

Inbah al-anbah ‘ala i‘rab la ilah illa Allah.> Al-Kurani started composing 
this work when he was in Damascus in 1061/1651. He finished its first draft 
in Medina in 1062/1652, then edited the work again in 1071/1660-1661. 
As al-Kurani explains in the introduction, he originally named the work 
Raf* al-ishtibah ‘an qawaid ivab la ilah illa Allah,’ then changed the title 
to Inbah al-anbah. Al-Kurani edited the text in Medina immediately after 
his arrival in 1062/1652, and wrote parts of chapter nine and all of chapters 
ten, eleven, and twelve in Medina in 1071/1660-1661. The second mod- 
ification shows clear evidence of al-Qushashi’s influence. In the tenth 
and eleventh chapters, al-Kurani addresses the topics of human acqui- 
sition (kasb), God’s manifestation, the generating (ja?) of contingents, 
and, in the final chapter, wahdat al-wujid. As would become his custom, 
al-Kurani concludes this work with some hadiths, collecting here more 
than forty hadiths on the virtues of (a ilah illa Allah. He mentions that 
he started to collect these hadiths at his shaykh’s request, and because he 
did not have many isndds at that time, he thought it would be difficult 
to reach ten hadiths with their chains of transmission. Eventually, he col- 
lected more than forty.’ Most probably the shaykh who asked him to do 
this collecting was al-Qushashi because, at the end of the work, al-Kurani 
mentions that one of his students, Hasan b. ‘Ali al-‘Ujaymi, had asked him 
to mention the form and the chain of dhikr, so he does, with the permis- 
sion of his teacher al-Qushashi. The work ends with al-Qushashi’s chain 
of transmission of dhikr. 

Jawab swalat ‘an qawl “taqabbal Allah” wa-l-musafaha ba‘d al-salawat.® 
Also known as Raf< al-rayb wa-l-iltibas ‘an dalil al-du@ wa-l-musafaha 
bad al-salat li-l-nas. Al-Kurani received and answered a question about 
the handshake after the prayers and the saying tagabbal Allah, “may God 
accept your prayer,’ specifically as to whether these habits had a legal 
source and whether the salaf practiced them or not. The topic, as we 

5 This work was edited by Anmet Gemi as part of his PhD dissertation at Ataturk University in 

Erzurum, 2013. 
6 Ibrahim Kérani, nbdhu'l-Enbdah Ala Tahkiki 'Rabi Lé Ilahe Illallah, ed. Anmet Gemi, Doktora 
Tezi, Atatiirk Universitesi, 2013, p. 291. (Henceforth al-Kurani, Inbah al-anbah). 


MS: Cairo: Azhariyya 41950, fol. 1-187. This copy is entitled Raf‘ al-Ishtibah. 
Al-kurani, Inbah al-anbah, p. 264. 

9 MS: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, raqam musalsal 28, 7 
folios. In the ms. card, it is mentioned that the source of this copy is Maktabat Nadwat al- 
‘Ulama’, Lakhnaw, India, no. 120. 






know from Katib Celebi’s The Balance of Truth, was controversial in the 
Ottoman Empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.!° This 
work was completed in Sha‘ban 1063/July 1653. 

Tjazat al-Kurant li-Alt b. Ahmad b. ‘Abd al-Qawi al-Zubayri™ At the begin- 
ning of this work, al-Kurani mentions that al-Zubayri asked him for an 
ijaza in the hadith works and instrumental sciences, “al-‘ulum al-aliyya,’ 
which al-Kurani had studied. He mentions some of his isndds in hadith 
works, as well as some of his isndds for texts in logic, theology, and phi- 
losophy, mainly through Mulla ‘Abd al-Karim and Mulla Sharif. This work 
was written on 20 Shawwal 1063/13 September 1653. 

Tahqigq al-tawfiq bayn kalamay ahl al-kalam wa-ahl al-tariq. Also men- 
tioned as Tuhfat al-tawfig bayn kalamay ahl al-kalam wa-ahl al-tariq. This 
work is about a question on some poetic verses by Ibn al-Farid (d. 632/ 
1235) related to the meaning of takhayyul, tasawwur, and wahm, and 
whether Sufis consider them to have different meanings than do the- 
ologians. Al-Kurani explains the different levels of existence, then cites 
the commentary of al-Farghani (d. 699/1300) on these verses from Ibn 
al-Farid’s al-Taiyya al-kubra. This work was composed on u Shawwal 
1066/2 August 1656. 

Qasd al-sabil ila tawhid al-Haqq al-Wakil'? is al-Kurani’s longest and most 
comprehensive work, a commentary on his teacher al-Qushashi’s ‘aqida 
poem. The title of this work is mentioned in some manuscripts as al- 
Ghaya al-quswa fi kalimat al-sawa@ wa-l-taqwa." At the beginning of the 
work al-Kurani mentions that a certain brother from Damascus named 
‘Ali b. Ahmad al-Ba‘li sent to him with the Aajj caravan of the year 1065/ 
1655 and asked him to write a commentary on this poem, because some 
students were studying it in Damascus. Al-Qushashi gave his permission, 
so al-Kurani wrote this comprehensive commentary, which, according to 
him, is not suitable for beginners. Al-Kurani started composing this work 
on 10 Dhi al-Hijja 1065/11 October 1655 and finished it on Monday 14 
Dhi al-Qa‘da 1066/3 September 1656. The fact that al-Qushashi asked al- 
Kurani to write this commentary just three years after the latter arrived 

Katip Celebi, The Balance of Truth, tr. Geoffrey Lewis, Ethical and Religious Classics of East 
and West, 19 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1957), p. 101. 

A copy of this work is in Juma al-Majid Center for Culture & Heritage, no. 247934. It is 
mentioned there that the original ms is in Markaz jihad al-Libiyyn, no. 122. 

Ms: Pakistan: Thana’ Allah Zahidi’s library, no number, 6 folios. 

Ms: KSA: Maktabat al-Malik ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, ‘Arif Hikmat Collection, ‘aq@id/231, 126 folios. 
Ms: Indonesia: National Library of Jakarta, Van den Berg collection. 







in the Hijaz reveals the advanced degree of al-Kurani’s education and the 
confidence of al-Qushashi in his new student. 

Al-jawab al-mashkur ‘an al-swal al-mangur.® Al-Kurani received a ques- 
tion from Yemen about the purpose of creating Adam and Iblis, specifi- 
cally as to why God would allow Adam and his wife to dwell in Paradise 
and then allow Satan to deceive them, and why God then sent them to 
Earth and allowed Satan to deceive people again, although He also sent 
messengers and prophets to guide them. Al-Kurani’s answer is related to 
the question of whether God acts for a purpose or not. He presents the 
Ash‘arite and Mu'tazilite opinions about this matter and he discusses the 
question of good and bad deeds and whether they are determined by rea- 
son or by revelation. This discussion leads to a topic that al-Kurani often 
discussed: kasb and the free will of human acts. This work was completed 
on Friday at the end of Safar 1067/December 1656. 

Ishraq al-shams bi-ta‘rib al-kalimat al-khams.® Al-Kurani mentioned to 
his teacher al-Qushashi a treatise in Persian by a certain scholar, Ni‘mat 
Allah al-Wali,!” which explains the five words that Imam ‘Ali spoke to his 
student Kumayl. Al-Kurani had initially read these words at the end of al- 
Dawani's Risalat khalq al-a‘mal.8 Kumayl asked Imam ‘Ali, “What is the 
truth (ma al-haqiqa)?” Imam ‘Ali replied to Kumayl and said, “The truth 
is the revelation of the Splendor of the Divine Majesty without a sign.’ 
Kumay] said, “Tell me more.” Imam ‘Ali said, “It is the defacement of the 
conjectured through the clearing of the known; it is the rending of the 
veils by the triumph of mystery; it is the Divine Attraction, but through 
the apprehension of the known, it is the light of the morning eternity, that 
continues to radiate through the unity of the temples and their disunity.” 
Al-Qushashi asked al-Kurani to translate Ni‘mat Allah’s commentary into 
Arabic. As far as I know, it is the only translation al-Kurani did in his life. 
This work is dated Thursday, 25 Dhi al-Hijja 1068/23 September 1658. 

MS: Pakistan: Thana’ Allah Zahidi’s library, no number, 5 folios. 

Ms: Cairo: Ma‘had al-Makhtutat al-‘Arabiyya, majmi‘ 16, treatise 3, fols. 267-275. The 
numeration is for each page not for folios. 

Most probably he is Shah Ni‘matullah Wali, the founder of Ni‘matullahi Sufi order (d. 834/ 
1431). See Javad Nirbakhsh, Masters of the Path: A History of the Masters of the Nimatullahi 
Sufi Order (New York: Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi Publications, 1980). 

Jalal al-Din al-Dawani, Risalat khalq al-a‘mal in al-Rasa’il al-mukhtara, ed. Sayyid Ahmad 
Tuisarkani (Isfahan: Imam ‘Ali Public Library, 1405), p. 76. 

Al-Kurani mentioned these five words in Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 200 of Fathurahman’s edition. 
See also Johns, “Islam in Southeast Asia: Reflections and New Directions,’ p. 49. 







Mukhtasar Qasd al-sabil, aKa al-Sharh al-saghir.2° One of his friends, 
Jamal al-Din Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Kayyal, asked al-Kurani sev- 
eral times to abridge Qasd al-sabil. One year after the last of these re- 
quests, at the end of 1069/1659, al-Qushashi asked al-Kurani to write this 
abridgement. This work was completed on 13 Dhi al-Hijja 1069/1 Septem- 
ber 1659. A few years later, the text was translated into the Malay language; 
the translation is entitled Sullam al-mustafidin, “The Ladder of the Zeal- 

Al-Jawabat al-gharrawiyya li-l-mas@il al-Jawiyya al-juhriyya.* Al-Qusha- 
shi received questions to which he wrote brief replies and asked al-Kurani 
to expand these answers and add more detail. The first question is about 
the fixed entities (al-a‘yan al-thabita). The second question is about the 
intention (niyya) at the beginning of prayer. The third question is about 
the person who says that God is ourselves and our existence and that we 
are Himself and His existence. The fourth question is about the Friday 
prayer. The fifth and final question is about the validity of a marriage con- 
tract if the man wore a cloth of gold or silver. This work is dated Tuesday, 
25 Safar 1070/1 November 1659. 

Ujalat dhawi al-intibah tahqiq i‘rab la ilah illa Allah.23 This work is an 
abridgment of his original work in the same topic, Inbah al-anbah. This 
work was completed on Sunday, 29 Rabi‘ 1 1070/14 December 1659. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 62-124. Al-Hamawi in Fawaid al-irtihdl, vol. 3, 
p. 62, names it Zad al-masir wa-l-asfar ‘an asl istikharat a‘mal al-layl wa-l-nahar, which is 
obviously a mistake, probably on the part of the editor of the work, who edited the text 
using only one manuscript. 

An edition of this work with a translation of Chapters 1 to 7 (out of 14) was submitted by 
Elizabeth Anne Todd in 1975 as a part of her master’s thesis at The Australian National 
University. The author is anonymous, but the editor argues that a closer study of the issue 
appears to support the attribution of the authorship to al-Kurani’s student ‘Abdurra’uf 
Fansuri (p. xviii) since one manuscript ascribed it to him and the author mentioned al- 
Qushashi and al-Kurani as his teachers. The editor suggests that the date of composition 
is between 1661 and 1690. 

MS: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, 5345, fols. 20-71. On 
the front page there is a note that says that Gharrawiyya is a name of al-Madina and that 
al-Sanhidi mentioned it in his history of Medina. In the text al-Kirani mentions that he 
received questions from the town of (Juhr) “Johora” from bilad Jawa in bahr al-Sin. He even 
mentioned that those who came from there mentioned that there are thirteen days by sea 
between them, meaning Java and China. 

Ibrahim al-Kurani, ‘Ujalat dhawial-intibah tahqiq irab la ilah illa Allah, ed, Salih b. Ibrahim 
al-Farraj, Majallat al-Dir‘tyya, KSA, no. 47-48, 2009-2010, pp. 315-366. Also edited by 
Ahmet Gemi, Ekev Akademi Dergisi Yil: 19 Say1: 62 (Bahar 2015), pp. 717-734- 








AL Ujala fi-ma kataba Muhammad 6b. Muhammad al-Qalt sw’alah.* Al- 
Kurani mentions that his teacher, al-Qushashi, received a question from 
the Maghrib about whether one worships the essence or the attributes. 
Al-Kurani said that al-Qushashi wrote a sufficient reply for this question. 
After almost ten years, al-Kurani and al-Qushashi found a copy of the 
question, but they did not find the answer that the latter had previously 
composed. At the end of the 1070s/1660, a relative of the questioner came 
to the Hijaz and asked al-Qushash? for the reply, and al-Qushashi asked al- 
Kurani to write an answer. Al-Kurani mentions that the reality (aqiqa) 
of God is unknowable for us. We know attributes and relations (nisab), 
which indicate that there is an inner reality that is in itself distinct (hagiqa 
mutamayyiza bi-dhatiha), different from all other realities (al-haqa@igq). 
Since the essence is not known except through the attributes, it is impos- 
sible to worship the unknown, i.e., the essence. Al-Kurani says that it is not 
necessary to know the essence to worship God; it is enough to know some 
of His attributes. We worship Allah, and this name refers to the essence 
that has all the attributes of perfection. Al-Kurani at the end of his answer 
says that this question was raised in the Maghrib after some scholars read 
in a refutation of Christianity that we worship God, not His attributes. 
Al-Kurani mentions that the Ash‘arites accepted some eternal attributes, 
and Christians say that God has three aganim, not as attributes of God 
but as three distinguished essences.?> Al-Kurani describes this argument 
about Christianity in less than one page, which may be his only mention 
of Christian doctrine. This work was written on 24 Shawwal 1070/3 July 

AL-Qawl al-mubin ft tahrir masalat al-takwin.”® This work is an answer to 
a question about a statement in Ibn Hajar’s commentary on al-Bukhari, 
entitled Fath al-Bari. Ibn Hajar says that God creates by His attributes, 
actions, order, and speech. This question is related to the attributes of acts 
(sifat al-af‘al). How can God be eternally described as Creator, without 
there being any creation eternally, since otherwise the world would be 

Ms: Cairo: Ma‘had Makhtitat al-‘Alam al-‘Arabi, ms. al-tawhid: al-milal wa-l-nihal, 3000/1, 
fols. 295-304. 

Ms: Cairo: Ma‘had Makhtitat al-‘Alam al-‘Arabi, ms. al-tawhid: al-milal wa-l-nihal, 3000/1, 
fol. 301. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 178-185*. This copy does not have the date of com- 
position. The date is mentioned in another copy: Ms: Ksa, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya 
bi-l-Madiina al-Munawwara, 5293, fols. 1662-172". 






eternal? In other words, how can we describe God as Creator even when 
He is not creating? Al-Kurani explains different ideas about creation. This 
work was completed on 8 Dhi al-Qa‘da, 1070/16 July 1660. 

Al-‘Ayn wa-t-athar ft ‘aqa@id ahl al-athar.?’ Al-Kurani attempts in this work 
to reconcile the Ash‘arite and Hanbalite positions on the controversial 
topic of God’s speech. He wrote to his Hanbalite teacher in Damascus, 
‘Abd al-Baqi al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali, and asked him to provide a summary of 
Hanbalite doctrine with special attention to the question of God’s speech. 
Al-Ba‘li responded to this request by composing a treatise entitled al- 
Ayn wa-l-athar ft ‘aqa@id ahl al-athar. Al-Karani said that al-Ba‘Ti allowed 
him to edit the work (ya‘dhan It bi-tahririha), which may have meant 
to verify the Ash‘arite position. Al-Kurani edited the text in a compre- 
hensive way. He kept the first section on Hanbalite doctrine without any 
major changes, but in subsequent sections he changed almost everything. 
He wrote extensively on the doctrine of the Ash‘arites concerning God’s 
attributes, and then he expanded upon the topic of God’s speech to prove 
the Ash‘arite position and refute the Hanbalite critiques. Al-Kurani com- 
pleted the original text on the 15th of Dhu al-Hijja 1070/22 August 1660. A 
year later, when he had obtained some of Ibn Taymiyya’s works, he edited 
the conclusion on 6 Dhi al-Hijja 1071/2 August 1661. 

Tfadat al-Allam bi-tahqiq mas‘alat al-kalam.2® When al-Kurani sent the 
edited version of the previous work, i.e. al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar, back to Damas- 
cus, his Hanbalite teacher al-Ba‘li, unsurprisingly, would not put his name 
on a text that supported the Ash‘arite position and criticized Hanbalite 
doctrines. Instead, al-Ba‘li put al-Kurani’s name on the work and sent it 
back to Medina. The result is a strange amalgamation, an Ash‘arite work 
on God’s speech with an introduction to Hanbalite doctrine. It seems that 
al-Kurani, in turn, preferred not to put his name ona work that began with 
Hanbalite doctrine. Therefore, he removed the first part that explains the 
Hanbalite doctrines, and began directly with the topic of God’s speech, 
calling the resultant treatise Ifadat al-‘Allam bi-tahqiq mas‘alat al-kalam. 
The first draft of this work was completed on Sunday, 14 Dhu al-Hijja 
1070/21 August 1660, and he edited the conclusion on Tuesday, 4 Dhi al- 

Ms: Pakistan: Thana Allah Zahidi’s library, no number, 55 folios. Another copy is MS: UK: 
University of Birmingham, Mingana collection, 176, 46 folios. This copy contains only the 
old conclusion. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 185-249". See also: Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayya- 
shiyya, vol. 1, p. 570. 









Hijja, 1071/31 July 1661. The dates of this work, both the draft and the edited 
conclusion, are very close to those of the previous iteration, likely because 
the author keeps a copy of any work he sends to other students and schol- 

Ithaf al-dhakt bi-sharh al-tuhfa al-mursala ila al-Nabi, or Ila ruth al-Nabi is 
a commentary on Muhammad b. Fad] Allah Burhanbir’s (d. 1029/1620) 
al-Tuhfa al-mursala ila ruh al-Nabi. Al-Kurani wrote this work for the 
Javanese community in Medina (jama‘at al-Jawiyya). Burhanbiri’s text 
triggered debates in Java about the concept of wahdat al-wujid and the 
different grades of existence.”9 Ithaf al-dhaki describes the misunder- 
standing of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought in Java and tries to offer a legally-oriented 
interpretation.2° Later, ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi commented on the 
same text in his work Nukhbat al-mas‘ala sharh al-Tuhfa al-mursala. 
Oman Fathurahman edited the text and mentioned thirty-one manu- 
script copies in existence around the world, which points to its wide 
dissemination.*! Fathurahman does not offer a specific date of its compo- 
sition. He suggests that it was written before 1660, since it was composed 
at the request of al-Qushashi, who died in 1071/1660.” 

Al-Mutimma li-l-Masala al-muhimma?? is a discussion of al-Kurani’s 
opinion on kasb and the extent to which human beings effect their ac- 
tions. This work is a response to someone who criticized al-Kurani by 
stating that the opinions of al-Ghazali and other Ash‘arite scholars dif- 
fer in from those of al-Kurani. Al-Kurani attempts to prove that his ideas 
agree with Ash‘arite ideas and that they refused to accept an independent 
effective power, like the Mu'‘tazilites, but that they did not deny that man 
does have effect by the permission of God (bi-idhn Allah). This copy is not 

A summary of this small treatise is offered by Johns in “Friends in Grace” and in the intro- 
duction to his edition of this text: Muhammad b. Fadl Allah Burhanpuri and Anthony 
H. Johns, The Gift Addressed to the Spirit of the Prophet (Canberra: Australian National Uni- 
versity, 1965). 

Antony H. Johns, “Friends in Grace,’ pp. 469-485. 

Fathurahman, Ithaf al-dhaki: tafsir wahdatul wujud bagi Muslim Nusantara, p. 23 and after. 
For asummary of this text see Fathurahman, “Ithaf al-dhaki by Ibrahim al-Kurani,’ pp. 177— 

Fathurahman, “Ithaf al-dhaki by Ibrahim al-Kurani,’ p. 183. Basheer Nafi claimed that Ithaf 
al-dhaki was written in 1072/1661. Nafi, “Tasawwuf and Reform in Pre-modern Islamic Cul- 
ture,” p. 334. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Paga 2722, fols. 1292-145>. 








Dhayl al-Mutimma, known as Itmam al-ni‘ma bi-itmam al-Muhimma.*4 In 
this work, al-Kurani continues his attempt to explain that human beings 
effect their acts by the permission of God, and that this position agrees 
with Abit al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari’s position. This manuscript has no date of 
composition. However, in it he mentions his teacher, al-Qushashi, and 
asks for God to keep the latter in good health (abqah Allah ft ‘Gftyatihi), 
which suggests it was written before the end of 1071/1660. 

Takmilat al-Qawl al-jali fi tahqtq qawl al-Imam Zayd b. ‘Ali.®© Al-Karani 
found a citation attributed to Imam Zayd b. ‘Ali b. al-Husayn b. ‘Ali sup- 
porting his understanding of the extent to which humans effect their 
actions. He showed it to al-Qushashi, who wrote about one folio and asked 
al-Kurani to expand upon it in detail.?6 The treatise is mainly about the 
theory of human acquisition (kasb) and argues for a human effect on 
actions in a way that differs from the Mu'tazilite and later Ash‘arite per- 
spectives. Al-Kurani refutes the idea of good and bad according to the 
intellect (al-husn wa-l-qubh al-‘aqliyyayn). At the end, he discusses, in 
detail, the topic of seeing God, and briefly the un-uttered speech. No date 
of composition is found in this manuscript, but since it has a folio by al- 
Qushashi and was written at his request, it was most likely written before 
the end of 1071/1660. 

Risala ila al-‘Ayyashi is one page sent from Medina to Mecca when al- 
‘Ayyashi was there, sometime during the hajj seasons of 1072-1073/1662. 
It is friendly letter to ask about the latter's situation and to offer some 
advice. Al-‘Ayyashi listed it in his Rihla.3” 

Al-Ilma al-muhit bi-tahgqiq al-kasb al-wasat bayn tarafay al-ifrat wa-l- 
tafrit.3® After the criticism of al-Qushashi’s work on kasb by some Ma- 
ghribi scholars, al-‘Ayyashi’s teacher ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi (d. 1116/1704) 
suggested it would be better if al-Kurani abridged al-Qushashi’s text and 
explained its main arguments. So, when al-‘Ayyashi met al-Kurani, he 
asked the latter to summarize the objectives of al-Qushashi’s treatise. Al- 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Paga 2722, fols. 1464-1500. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 296-346. 

In Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Paga 2722, this part is between 296>-301°. Since the work title is 
Takmilat al-Qawl al-jali one supposes there should be another treatise entitled al-Qawl al- 
jali. However, al-Qawl al-jali fi tahgiq qawl al-Imam Zayd 6. ‘Ali is probably al-Qushashi’s 
first part of the work, as explained above. 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 514. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Paga 2722, fols. 1517-161. 










Kurani wrote this work for al-‘Ayyashi, who included a copy of the entire 
text in his Rihla.3° This text was composed on Wednesday at the end 
(salkh) of Rajab 1073/March 1663. 

ALIsfar ‘an asl istikharat a‘mal al-layl wa-l-nahar.*© The work is dedi- 
cated to discussion of the prayer of istikhara (seeking God’s guidance 
before making a decision). It was completed on Tuesday, 15 Ramadan 
1073/23 April 1663. 

Imal al-fikr wa-l-riwayat ft sharh hadith “innama al-a‘mal bi-l-niyyat™ 
explains the meaning of niyya (intention) from linguistic, juristic, and Sufi 
perspectives, based on several fadiths. In other works, al-Kurani uses the 
idea of intention to argue for unuttered speech (kalam nafst). This work 
was completed on Sunday, 12 Shawwal 1073/20 May 1663. 

Risalat swalat waradat min mahrisat Zabid min al-Yaman min al-shaykh 
Ishaq b. Jaman al-Dawali.*” In this text al-Kurani mentions the full name 
of the questioner, describing him as his teacher (shaykhuna), Ishaq b. 
Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Ja‘man al-Siddiqi al-Dawali al-‘Akki al-‘Adnani 
al-Zabidi. The first question is about some diminutive names used in 
Yemen for children, such as “Jubayyir” for ‘Abd al-Jabbar or “Mughayni’ for 
‘Abd al-Mughni, and whether it is allowed for people to change the name 
of God in this way. The second question is about the situation of person 
who was born blind, deaf, and mute, with respect to faith (ma al-hukm ft 
tmanih?), and whether he is allowed to marry. The third question is about 
a person who hit another man or women and caused them to become 
ill. The fourth question is about the Prophet's prayer in the cave of hira’ 
before he received the revelation. The last question is about when the end 
of Ramadan should be observed by a person who started his Ramadan fast 
in Yemen but at the end of Ramadan was in Mecca, where Ramadan ends 
on a different day than in Yemen. This work was completed at the end of 
Safar 1074/September 1663. 

Al-Luma at-saniyya fitahqigq al-ilq@ fial-umniyya.** This was the first work 
by al-Kurani to be published and analyzed by Western scholars. The work 

Al-Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 604. The treatise is between 604 and 620. 
Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 1>-24?. 

Ibrahim al-Kurani, I‘mal al-fikr wa-Lriwayat ft sharh hadith innama al-a‘mal bi-l-niyyat, ed. 
Ahmad Rajab Abt Salim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 2013). See also al-‘Ayyashi, al- 
Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 575. 

MS: KSA, Medina: Al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, no. 5345, majmis 
fols. 1>—-64, 

Ibrahim al-Kurani and Alfred Guillaume, “al-Lum‘at al-saniya fi tahqiq al-ilq@ fi-l-umniy- 







deals with the story of the satanic verses, the words that Satan put upon 
the tongue of Muhammad while the latter was reciting the beginning 
of stra 53. In the published text, the first draft (taswid) of the work is 
recorded as having been completed in Medina on Thursday, 7 Muharram 
1074/11 August 1663, and the fair copy (tabyid) on Thursday, 14 Muharram 
1075/7 August 1664.44 This text received several refutations, one of them 
from the Moroccan scholar Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi, who sent 
his refutation to al-Kurani during the latter's lifetime.*® 

Maslak al-itidal ila fahm ayat khalq al-a‘mal.*6 This work discusses the 
theory of kasb. Al-Kurani mentions at the beginning of the text that he 
will refute the theory of the Mu'tazilites, as articulated in al-Zamakh- 
shari's al-Kashshaf, that human beings act independently. This work is 
dated Thursday at the end of Sha‘ban 1075/March 1665. 

Al-Maslak al-qarib ft ajwibat al-Khatib.*” This work contains al-Kurani’s 
answers to several questions about al-Mahdi al-Muntazar, the seal of 
sainthood in Ibn ‘Arabi'’s writings, the celebration of mawlid (Prophet's 
birthday), the legal vow (al-nadhr), drumming, and the recitation of 
poems with a musical melody. This work was completed on Sunday, 9 Dha 
al-Hijja 1076/12 June 1666. 

Risalat ibtal ma zahar min al-maqala al-fadiha ft-ma yata‘allaq bi-l-ka‘ba 
al-mu‘agzama.*® Also known as Sharh al-kalima al-wadiha ‘ala al-maqala 
al-fadiha. Adam Banniuni, one of al-Sirhindi’s students, arrived in the Hijaz 
and started to teach the idea that the Ka‘ba is superior to any human, 
including the prophets. Al-Qushashi responded to him, as did al-Kurani. 
The most powerful reaction came from Muhammad b. Rasul al-Barzanjji, 
who wrote several refutations of al-Sirhindi until he finally proclaimed al- 
Sirhindi to no longer be a Muslim. Later, the sons of Ahmad al-Sirhindi, 

ya,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 20, 
No. 1/3, Studies in Honour of Sir Ralph Turner, Director of the School of Oriental and 
African Studies, 1937-1957 (1957), Pp. 291-303. This text was published using one manu- 

Ins: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 291—295°, the date of completion of the first draft 
is Thursday, 5 Dhi al-Hijja, 1076. 

See Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir’s Ta‘qib ‘ala al-Lum‘a al-nuraniyya, Ms: Cairo: Ma‘had al- 
Makhtutat al-Arabiyya, majami‘ u, fols. 16-22. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 1623-1742. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 487-62. 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 3477-3562. Al-‘Ayyashi mentions that al-Kurani com- 
posed it at the order of al-Qushashi after the latter’s arguments with Adam Banniii; see 
the details in Chapter Six. 







including Muhammad Ma‘sum, arrived in Medina with their families in 
the year 1068/1658. Discussions occurred between them and the schol- 
ars of the Hijaz, leading them to discover that some of al-Sirhind?’s ene- 
mies had changed his ideas in the course of translation. This problem 
later made ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi ask for a new translation of all the 
Maktubat of al-Sirhindi. This work was completed on Wednesday, 4 Rabi‘ 
1 1078/24 August 1667. 

Nashr al-zahr bi-l-jahr bi-l-dhikr.49 Some Hanafi scholars say that vocal 
dhikr ( jahri) in mosques is forbidden, so al-Kurani wrote this treatise and 
cited several hadiths to argue that vocal dhikr is not forbidden. This work 
was completed on Monday, 22 Dht al-Hijja 1078/3 June 1668. 

Fayd al-Wahib al-‘Alt ft jawab swal Abi al-Mawahib al-Hanbalt.5° Abi al- 
Mawahib al-Hanbali asked al-Kurani about the angels described in surat 
al-infitar (Q 82:1) as honorable writers (kiraman katibin), specifically 
whether these angels who record man’s deeds also record the heart's 
diseases such vanity (riya’), arrogance, and envy. Abu al-Mawahib men- 
tioned different opinions by several scholars and asked how they might be 
reconciled. Al-Kurani’s opinion is that these angels do not record the dis- 
eases of the heart, because these diseases are among the unknown things 
(ghayb) that only God knows. This work was written on a Sunday at the 
end of Dhi al-Hijja 1078/June 1668. 

Mirgat al-sutid ila sihhat al-qawl bi-wahdat al-wujid.™ Al-Karani in the 
year 1078/1667-1668 received a question from “the far east islands” (Java?), 
which said that a Sufi in that region claimed that Muhammad possessed 
the qualities of divinity attributed by Christians to Jesus, and this Sufi 
claimed further that Muhammad’s possession of divine aspects is the 
meaning of wahdat al-wujid. Al-Kurani says that this claim contradicts 
both Islamic law (sharia) and reason. Then he mentions the main ideas 
of absolute existence, manifestations in forms, and accepting the ambigu- 
ous or anthropomorphic Quranic verses that describe God in human 
terms without figurative interpretation. The answer is very short and al- 
Kurani refers in it to his work Ithaf al-dhaki, written a few years earlier for 
Javanese students in Medina. This copy is not dated, but in the introduc- 
tion al-Kurani mentions that he received the question in 1078/1667-1668, 
which is probably the date he composed this work as he was in the habit 

Ms: Istanbul: Resid Efend 1996, fols. 104—-128°. 
MS: Cairo: Ma‘had Makhtatat al-‘Alam al-‘Arabi, majami‘ 16/2, fols. 258-267. 
MS: UK: British Library, India Office, Delhi-Arabic 7100, fols. 204-21". 







of receiving questions with hajj caravans and replying to these questions 
quickly so the caravans could carry the answers with them. 

Nibras al-inas bi-ajwibat swalat ahl Fas.52 When al-‘Ayyashi came to the 
Hijaz for the hajj in 1071/1661, he brought with him a question from a cer- 
tain Moroccan scholar about two treatises that al-Kurani had previously 
sent to him. The two works are Ithaf al-dhaki Sharh al-Tuhfa al-mursala 
ila ruh al-Nabi and al-Lum‘a al-saniyya. Ithaf al-dhakt was well-received 
by the Moroccan scholars, but the treatise of al-Lum‘a al-saniyya, in which 
al-Kurani confirms that the incident of satanic verses is historically cor- 
rect, raised questions among Maghribi scholars. The sender of this letter 
mentioned that he had asked Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi to com- 
pose objections to al-Kurani’s treatise. This letter was sent to al-Kurani 
and he was asked for his opinion. He wrote this work to answer the ques- 
tions of Moroccan scholars and to clarify his ideas. This work is dated 27 
Muharram 1079/7 July 1668.5% 

Iqaz al-qawabil li-L-taqarrub bi-l-nawafil.+ Sufis often cite the hadith from 
Bukhar’’s collection called hadith al-nawafil, which states that God has 
said: “My servant keeps on coming closer to Me through performing 
nawafil [extra deeds besides what is obligatory] until I love him. When I 
love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which 
he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks; 
and if he asks [something] from Me, I give [it to] him, and if he asks My 
protection, I protect him.” Among these extra deeds al-Kurani mentions 
dhikr in specific times and forms, reading some specific Quranic chapters 
on specific days or times, some prayers, and fasting some days out of the 
month of Ramadan. This work is related to dhikr, and he tries to support 
his ideas through extensive citations from hadiths. The work is dated 18 
Rajab 1079/22 December 1668. 

Ithaf al-munib al-awwah bi-fadl al-jahr bi-dhikr Allah®> is another trea- 
tise on vocal dhikr. One year after writing the previous treatise, al-Kurani 
found a text from the ninth/fifteenth century by a Hanafi scholar from 

Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 3744, fols. 72-25. 

At the beginning of this work, al-Kurani mentions that he received this letter with al- 
‘Ayyashi on 7 Muharram 1079. At the end, he mentions that he wrote this treatise as an 
answer on 27 Muharram 1079. However, al-‘Ayyashi performed the /ajj for the last time in 
1072-1073. So, more manuscripts need to be checked for the date of composition of this 

Ms: Germany, Leipzig: or. 383-02, 5 folios. 

Ms: Istanbul: Resid Efendi 996, fols. 129-2002. 







Central Asia (“from the land of Mirza Ulugh Bek bin Shahrukh’) say- 
ing that vocal dhikr is a forbidden innovation. Al-Kurani wrote this work 
to provide a detailed explanation of and reply to that text. Most of the 
text is hadiths about dhikr. This work was completed on Saturday, 24 
Dhi al-Hijja 1079/25 May 1669, and edited on the 17th of Dht al-Qa‘da 
1080/8 April 1670, and again in Dhi al-Qa‘da 1083/February—March 1673. 
ALTawjth al-mukhtar ft nafy al-qalb ‘an hadith ikhtisam al-janna wa-l- 
nar.°® A Prophetic tradition says: “Paradise and the Fire [Hell] argued, 
and the Fire said, ‘I have been given the privilege of receiving the arro- 
gant and the tyrants. Paradise said, ‘What is the matter with me? Why 
do only the weak and the humble among the people enter me?’ On that, 
God said to Paradise. “You are My mercy which I bestow on whoever I 
wish of my servants. Then God said to the Fire, ‘You are My (means of) 
punishment by which I punish whoever I wish of my servants. And each 
of you will have its fill’ As for the Fire, it will not be filled till God puts 
His foot over it whereupon it will say, ‘Qatt, Qatt’ (“enough, enough”). 
At that time it will be filled, and its different parts will come closer to 
each other; and God will not wrong any of His created beings. With 
regards to Paradise, God will create a new creation to fill it with.” This 
hadith is related to Ibn ‘Arabr’s idea of the end of punishment in hell. Al- 
Kurani refers to this Aadith in several contexts to support his idea that 
God manifests in any form He wishes without any restrictions or con- 
ditions. This work was completed on Friday, 7 Dht al-Hijja 1081/17 April 

Ikhbar al-ahbar bi-ajwibat swalat ahl Atar,*” also mentioned as Jawab sual 
warada min ba‘d fudal@ al-Maghrib,*® or Risala fi jawaz ru’yat Allah ta‘ala 
fial-dunya wa-l-akhira.5® At the beginning of this treatise al-Kurani men- 
tions that in Muharram 1082/May 1671, he received with a Maghribi hajj 
from Atar in the far Maghrib (Atar being at the time in Mauritania) a 
treatise by Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Hadrami/al-Hadrali, which con- 
tains several points controversial among the scholars of his town. These 
points are related to the possibility of seeing God in this life; the receiv- 
ing of knowledge from a dead person; whether the substance, like the 
accident, does not remain for two instants (al-jawhar ka-l-‘arad la yabqa 

Ibrahim al-Karani, al-Tawjth al-mukhtar fi nafy al-galb ‘an hadith ikhtisam al-janna wa-l- 
nar, ed. al-‘Arabi al-Da’iz al-Faryati (Beirut: Dar al-Bash@ir al-Islamiyya, 2005). 

MS: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, 5293, fols. 162—-165°. 
Ms: Istanbul: Atif Efendi 2441, fols. 1362-151". 

Ms: Istanbul: Kasideci Zade 734, fols. 188-23). 







zamanayn); and the relation of God’s eternal attributes to the created 
world, i.e., how God can be described as seeing and hearing without the 
existence of things that He sees or hears. This work was written on Friday, 
5 Muharram 1082/14 May 1671. 

Al-Maslak al-mukhtar ft awwal sadir min al-wajib bi-l-ikhtiyar®® Also 
known as al-Maslak al-mukhtar fi marifat al-sadir al-awwal wa-ihdath al- 
‘alam bi-l-ikhtiyar. Al-Kurani received a question about two statements, 
one by Ibn ‘Arabi and one by al-Qunawi, that look contradictory. Ibn 
‘Arabi says that whoever accepts the principle “from the One emerges 
only one” is ignorant, and al-Qunawi accepts this principle but says that 
the first that emerged is the general existence (al-wujiid al-mm), not the 
first intellect. So, how can we reconcile these two positions? This work 
contains long discussions of al-Dawani’s and Ibn Sina’s opinions about 
how God perceives things. This work was completed on Friday 23 Dht al- 
Hijja 1082/21 April 1672. 

Al-Ihtimam bi-hukm idrak al-masbug al-ruku‘wa-lam yara al-imam.® This 
two-page treatise contains a figh question about a person who wants 
to pray with the congregation. When he reaches the prayer, the imam 
is kneeling, but the person does not see him for some reason. Is such a 
case considered a rak‘a or not? This work was composed on Muharram 
1083/May 1672. 

Janah al-najah bi-l-‘awali al-sihah.S* Also known as al-Arbatn hadithan 
al-‘awali and Lawami‘ al-la‘ali ft al-arba‘n al-‘awali. Al-Karani mentions 
forty hadiths with their high isnads. At the end of the book al-Kurani lists 
the thulathiyyat of al-Bukhari, then mentions twenty-one hadiths with 
their isnads through Sufis. This work was completed on Monday, 8 Dhu 
al-Hijja 1083/27 March 1673. 

AL-Kashf al-muntagar li-ma yarah al-muhtadar® is a response to a ques- 
tion about some statements that spread among the people of Java about 
moribund (muhtadar) persons and whether these statements have a legal 
source. Al-Kurani’s student ‘Abd al-Ra’uf Singkili wrote a treatise entitled 
Sakarat al-mawt and sent it to al-Kurani in Medina to verify it; al-Karani 
wrote al-Kashf al-muntazar to validate al-Singkili’s approach.® The date 
at the end of the treatise is 1083/1672-1673. 

Ms: Istanbul: Veliyyiiddin Efendi 1815, fols. 72-323. 

Ms: Yemen, Trim: Maktabat al-Ahgaf, majami‘ 2678, fols. 9b-10". 

Ms: Istanbul: Képriilii 279, fols. 12-335. 

MS: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, 5293, fols. 38°—41». 
See Oman Fathurahman, “New Textual Evidence for Intellectual and Religious Connec- 










Masdlik al-abrar ila ahadith al-Nabi al-mukhtar,® or Ithaf raft‘ al-himma 
bi-wasl ahadith shaft al-umma. Al-Karani mentions that he will list his 
isnads in hadith, tafstr, usul, fur’ and other arts of manqul and maqul. 
The work is useful in establishing the chronology of al-Kurant’s life be- 
cause he mentions each hadith with the date of receiving it and the name 
of the teacher, with the full isnad of each hadith. This work is dated 
1083 /1672-1673.%§ 

Nizam al-zabarjad ft al-arba‘n al-musalsala bi-Ahmad® comprises forty 
hadiths that were transmitted by people with the name Ahmad. Al-Kurani 
selected these hadiths from al-Nasa7s book al-Mujtaba.® This work was 
completed on Sunday, 17 Muharram 1085/23 April 1674. 

Jal@ al-fuhum ft tahqiq al-thubut wa-ru’yat al-ma‘dum.®? At the begin- 
ning of this work, al-Kurani states that someone asked about ‘Ali al- 
Ushi’s (d. 569/1173-1174) statement in his ‘agida poem Bad’ al-amali that 
a nonexistent can neither be seen, nor is it a thing, “wa-ma al-ma‘dum 
mariyyan wa-shayan.” Most of the discussions in the work are about al- 
madum, nafs al-amr, al-shay’, mental existence, and fixed entities. The 
work was completed on Tuesday, 28 Rabi‘ 11085/2 July 1674. 

Maslak al-sadad ila mas‘alat khalg af‘al al-ibad.”® This is al-Kurani’s main 
work about the theory of kasb and the creation of human acts. His idea is 
that man does have an effect on his action “by God’s permission” (bi-idhn 
Allah). He refutes later Ash‘arite occasionalism and claims that Abt al- 
Hasan al-Ash‘ari did not deny that humans have an effect on their actions, 
but merely denied the claim that this effect is independent of God’s will.” 
The work was completed on Tuesday, 23 Jumada 11 1085/24 September 


tions between the Ottomans and Aceh,” in From Anatolia to Aceh, Ottomans, Turks and 
Southeast Asia (UK: Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 297. 

Ms: Istanbul: K6priilii 279, fols. 349-1253. 

There is an omitted line that can be read as awakhir Safar. 

MS: KSA, Medina: Maktabat ‘Arif Hikmat, no. 313/80 hadith, majmii‘, 13 folios. The treatise 
is the first work in this majmu‘. 

Also known as Sunan al-Nasa’7i or al-Sunan al-sughra or al-Mujtaba min al-Sunan al-kubra. 
Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Ahmad ibn Shu‘ayb al-Nas@i (d. 303/915), was a collector of hadith. 
Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 528-83". In Ms: Cairo: Azhariyya, Halim, majami‘ 34795, 
fols. 1>—425, it is called ft Ri’yat al-ma‘diim. 

Ms: Istanbul: Veliyyiiddin Efendi 1815, fols. 32-64; Ms: Istanbul: Resid Efendi 996, fols. 2— 
374; Ms: Istanbul: Carullah 2102, fols. 22-40». 

Ms: Istanbul: Resid Efendi 996, fols. 12-37". 








Jal@ al-nagar ft baq@ al-tanzth ma‘ al-tajalli_ ft al-suwar.”* Most of this 
treatise is composed of citations from the Quran and hadiths about the 
topic of divine manifestation in forms, with an emphasis on dissimilarity 
(tanzih) on the basis of the verse “nothing is like Him” (laysa ka-mithlihi 
shay’). The work discusses the hadith of transformation in forms, which 
is held to be an authentic fadith in the Bukhari and Muslim collections. 
In this hadith, the Prophet says that God on the Day of Judgment would 
“come to them in a form other than His own form, recognizable to them, 
and would say: I am your Lord. They would say: We take refuge with God 
from thee. We will stay here till our Lord comes to us, and when our Lord 
would come, we would recognize Him. Subsequently God would come 
to them in His own form, recognizable to them, and say: I am your Lord. 
They would say: Thou art our Lord.’ This work was completed on Tuesday, 
ui Safar 1086/7 May 1675. 

Husn al-awba ft hukm darb al-nawba.”? Al-Kurani received a question 
about using drums in the vanguard of the army or in front of the hajj car- 
avan. His answer is that the permissibility of using drums depends on the 
intention, and that there is only one type of drum that is forbidden. This 
work was written on 14 Rabi‘ 1 1086/8 June 1675. 

Tjazat-nama, or al-Kirani's ijaza to Wajih al-Din ‘Abd al-Malik b. Shams 
al-Din Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Sijilmast.“ In his request for the 
ijaza, the Moroccan scholar mentioned above asked al-Kurani to men- 
tion his isndds in books of hadith through the mashrigi scholars. Al- 
Kurani mentions here his isndds for numerous works of hadith, then his 
isnads for works by other scholars such as al-Taftazani, al-Jurjani, al-Iji, 
al-Dawani, ‘Isam al-Din b. ‘Arabshah, al-Ghazali, Sadr al-Din al-Quanawi, 
and Ibn ‘Arabi. In some cases, al-Kurani mentions his isndds in individual 
works, including Manazil al-sa’irtn by Zakariyya al-Ansari and ‘Awarif al- 
maarif by ‘Umar al-Suhrawardi. In general, this work is a shorter copy 
of al-Kurani’s main thabat, entitled al-Amam li-iqaz al-himam, which 
would be written ten years later. This work is dated Sunday, 5 Shawwal 
1086/23 December 1675. 

Ms: Istanbul: Halet Efendi 787, fols. 324-332; Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 14.40, fols. 27-294; Ms: 
uSA, Princeton University Library, Ns 1109, fols. 324>—326»; ms: Istanbul: Ragip Pasa 1464, 
fols. 298-30». 

MS: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, no. 5345, fols. 16-17; 
Ms: Cairo: Ma‘had Makhtitat al-Alam al-‘Arabi, al-tasawwuf wa-l-adab al-shar‘iyya, 665, 
fols. 257-258. 

Ms: Istanbul: Esad Efendi 3626, fols. 12-22. At (1a) of this manuscript there is a statement 
that this is the ijaza of Ilyas al-Kurani through his shaykh Ibrahim al-Kurani. The actual 











Al-Maslak al-jali ft hukm shath al-walt.” In 1086/1675-1676, al-Kurani re- 
ceived a letter from Java asking about some statements related to wahdat 
al-wujud, in answer to which he wrote this work. Later, on 13th Sha‘ban 
1139/5 April 1727, ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi wrote another answer to the 
same question, mentioning at the beginning that al-Kurani had received 
this question and replied to it, and that now he, al-Nabulusi, would like to 
answer according to how God had inspired him (yaftdu ‘alayna).”6 

Ithaf al-khalaf bi-tahqiq madhhab al-salaf.”’ A short work of three folios 
in which al-Kurani replies to a question about interpreting ambiguous 
verses and the attitude of the salaf toward these verses. His idea, which he 
repeats in different works, is that the salaf confirm the apparent meaning 
and confirm that “there is nothing like Him.” He connects this idea with 
his interpretation of absolute existence as the One who is not restricted 
or conditioned by anything. This idea allows him to defend the Sufi idea 
that God manifests Himself in whatever He wants. The date of this work 
is Monday, 1 Muharram 1088/16 March 1677. 

Imdad dhawi al-istidad li-suluk mastak al-sadad.’® Several years after his 
main work on the creation of human acts, Maslak al-sadad, al-Ktrani con- 
tinued to receive questions about and criticisms of his position. In this 
work, he tries to explain again, in detail, his ideas. This work was com- 
pleted on Friday, 13 Jumada 11 1088/13 August 1677. 

Jal@ al-nagar bi-tahrir al-jabr fi al-ikhtiyar.’”? This work is about free will, 
predetermination, and kasd. It was completed on Friday, 20 Jumada 11 
1088/20 August 1677. 

Risala ft bayan al-mugaddimat al-arba‘a li-l-tawdth.®° Sadr al-Shari‘a, ‘Abd 
Allah b. Mas‘td (d. 747/1346) in his work al-Tawdth fi hall ghawamid al- 
Tanqth, which is a commentary on his own book al-Tanqth fi al-usul [in 
Hanafi usul al-figh], mentions that the Ash‘arites have four proofs that a 

work, as explained above, is an (jaza of Ibrahim al-Kurani to a Moroccan scholar. The last 
folio of this work contains the ijaza of Ilyas al-Kurani to Mustafa ‘Iffati. (ms: Istanbul: Esad 
Efendi 3626), fols. 239-23». 

Ms: UK: British Library, India Office, n. 2164; Ms: Istanbul: Veliyyiiddin Efendi 1815, 
fols. 1372-146». 

Al-Nabulusi’s treatise has been published by ‘Abd al-Rahman Badawi, Shatahat al-stifiyya 
(Kuwait: Wakalat al-Matbut, n. d), p. 189. 

Ms: Istanbul: Halet Efendi 787, fols. 34>-35>. 

MS: USA, Princeton University Library, Garret Y3867, fols. 31°87». 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 36¢—47*. Ms: Istanbul: Ragip Pasa 1464, fols. 639-735; Ms: 
Istanbul: Veliyyiiddin Efendi 1815, fols. 1352-136. This copy is not complete. 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 1772-188. 







human is compelled (majbir) in his acts, in order to refute the Mu tazilite 
idea of human free will. Sadr al-Shari‘a then mentions four premises to 
refute this Ash‘arite position. Al-Kurani disagrees with Sadr al-Shari‘a in 
his understanding of the Ash‘arite position and says that there are mis- 
takes (khalal) in these four premises that he will expose. In general, this 
work is about the theory of kasb. This work was completed on Friday, 20 
Jumada 11 1088/20 August 1677. 

Matla‘ al-jud bi-tahqiq al-tanzth ft wahdat al-wujud® comprises a discus- 
sion of a quotation from Ibn ‘Arabi's al-Futuhat concerning the opinions 
of some commentators, especially the criticism of al-Simnani (d. 736/ 
1336). This work discusses God’s existence and human existence, with 
discussions as well of non-existence and absolute existence. Al-Kurani 
compares Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas with Ash‘arite ones through Abu al-Hasan’s al- 
Ibana and al-Jurjani’s Sharh al-Mawagif. Additionally, al-Kurani discusses 
the topic of God’s knowledge. The work was completed on 22 Dhu al-Hijja 
1088/15 February 1678. 

Ibd@ al-ni‘ma bi-tahqiq sabq al-rahma.®? This work discusses Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
opinion about the end of suffering in Hellfire despite its continuance 
as the abode of its inhabitants. Discussing this topic requires al-Kurani 
to include a discussion about wa‘d (God’s promise of reward) and wa‘td 
(God’s threat of punishment). This work was completed on Tuesday, 23 
Dhi al-Hijja 1088/16 February 1678. 

AL Qawl bi-iman Fir‘awn.83 This work is about the faith of Pharaoh, a 
controversial topic in Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. Many scholars wrote about 
this topic, among them al-Dawani, al-Kurani, and the latter’s student al- 
Barzanji. Al-Kurani starts this work with a citation from al-Sha‘rani’s al- 
Yawagqit wa-l-jawahir in which al-Sha‘rani denies that Ibn ‘Arabi says that 
Pharaoh died as a believer. Al-Sha‘rani cites Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Futuhat al- 
makkiyya to confirm that Pharaoh is eternally in Hell. Al-Kurani replies 
with several citations from Ibn ‘Arabi’s works to support the idea of Phar- 
aoh’s faith. There was a harsh reaction against this idea from Moroccan 
scholars. This work was written in 1088/1677-1678. 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 123-153); ms: Istanbul: Carullah 2102, fols. 178¢-2203; 
Ms: Istanbul: Ragip Pasa 1464, fols. 977-129". 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 237-28". 

MS: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, 5293, fols. 962-973. 
And in Ms: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, 5345, fols. 73- 









Kashf al-mastur ft jawab swal ‘Abd al-Shakur.®4 This work is an answer to a 
question about fixed entities. Al-Kurani mentions Platonic forms and says 
that the difference between the two concepts is explained in Matla‘ al- 
jud. This work was completed on Thursday, 30 Muharram 1089/24 March 

ALI‘an bi-daf« al-tanaqud fi surat al-a‘yan fijawab swal ‘Abd al-Rahman® 
is a short treatise on fixed entities with reference to his earlier works Jala’ 
al-fuhum, Qasd al-sabil, Jala al-nagar, and Matla‘ al-jud. It has the same 
date of composition as the previous work, which means he answered the 
questions about fixed entities asked by two of his students at the same 
time. This work is dated Thursday, 30 Muharram 1089/24 March 1678. 
Al-Maslak al-wasat al-dani ila al-Durr al-multagat li-l-Saghani.®® Al-Sa- 
ghani (d. 650/1252-1253) wrote a work about fabricated hadiths (mawa- 
wat). A student of al-Kurani asked him to review these hadiths and to 
confirm if all of them were fabricated. In this work al-Kurani mentions 
Ibn Taymiyya’s idea about some hadiths and discusses some famous Sufi 
hadiths, such as the hadith of the hidden treasures. This work was com- 
pleted on Sunday, Dhi al-Hijja 1089/January—February 1679. 

Mashra‘ al-wurid ila Matta‘ al-jud.8” This work was written as a reply to 
some questions concerning al-Kurani’s works Matla‘al-jud and Ibda@’ al- 
nima. He received questions about some points in these works, revolv- 
ing primarily around some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s statements about creation, 
fixed entities, the faith of Pharaoh, and the end of punishment in Hell. 
Al-Kurani criticizes Ibn ‘Arabi’s commentators for their explanations, 
stating that their interpretations agree with Ibn Sina’s ideas, not Ibn 
‘Arabi’s. He also mentions that he had previously refuted some of Jami’s 
ideas in his work al-Maslak al-mukhtar. Then he discusses the prece- 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 30-312. 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 316-33». 

Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722, fols. 255-291". Preceding this treatise in the same col- 
lection there is a treatise entitled Risdlat al-Durr al-multagat wa-tabyin al-ghalat wa-nafy 
al-laghat, fols. 249-254, which is almost identical to al-Saghani’s work Mawdi&t al- 
Saghani, which has been edited and published with al-Durr al-multaqat by al-Saghani. 
Abit al-Fad@il al-Hasan b. Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saghani, al-Durr al-Multaqat fitabyin 
al-ghalat wa-yalihi al-mawdu‘at, ed. Abi al-Fida@ ‘Abd Allah al-Qadi (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub 
al-Tlmiyya, 1985). Did al-Kurani try to abridge the work of al-Saghani? Or was it a part 
of the question? Al-Kurani in al-Maslak al-wasat al-dani follows the order of this work, 
hadith by hadith, and gives his opinion about it. 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 15>—22>. Ms: UK: British Library, India Office, no. 2163. 






dence of mercy (asbagiyyat al-rahma) so that he can mention the topic of 
the faith of Pharaoh. The work was completed on Sunday, 14 Muharram 
1090/25 February 1679. 

Kashf al-labs ‘an al-masail al-khams.®® Al-Kurani received questions 
about some aspects of al-Baydawi’s Anwar al-tanzil. The first question 
is about the punishment of the people who had not received a prophet 
from God. The last four questions are related to linguistic aspects of some 
Quranic verses in his answers to which al-Kurani discusses the opin- 
ions of al-Baydawi and al-Zamakhshari. The second question is about 
the Quranic verse related to God’s order to the angels to prostrate before 
Adam (Q 18:50), particularly what the meaning is of the hamza in ‘a-fa- 
tattakhidhiinahu (4 jg deez) “will you then take him [Iblis] and his off- 
spring as friends (awliya’).’ Al-Baydawi says that the hamza is for interro- 
gation and interjection, but al-Taftazani says that humanity was not cre- 
ated yet at that time, so the interrogation cannot have happened on that 
occasion, but only much later. Al-Kurani mentions the opinions of several 
scholars concerning its meaning. The third question is about the mean- 
ing of a word in (Q 5:41,42) “they are listeners of falsehood” (sammatun 
li-l-kadhib), and whether the participle “listening” refers to their ability to 
listen or to their actual listening. The fourth question is about the Quranic 
verse Huwa a‘lam bikum, “He knows you best” (Q 53:32). The fifth question 
is about some grammatical aspects of the verse (Q 9:63). This work was 
completed on g Dht al-Hijja 1090/11 January 1680. 

Iqtif@’ al-athar bi-tawhid al-af‘al ma‘ al-kasb bi-l-ikhtiyar.®9 Al-Kurani re- 
ceived a question saying that some people in the questioner’s region con- 
sider Ash‘arites to be predestinarians and asking about obedience and 
disobedience, particularly in terms of what is from God and what is from 
man. Al-Kurani replays by saying that for Ash‘arites a human acts by their 
own will and selection (mashiatah wa-ikhtiyarah), but this will and selec- 
tion follow and are dependent on God’s will and knowledge. As for obedi- 
ence and disobedience, al-Kurani says that an act by its essence, without 
being considered obedience or disobedience, is from God, and God’s acts 

MS: KSA, Medina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-l-Madina al-Munawwara, 5293, fols. 428-453. 
The copyist of this Ms was Abu Tahir, Ibrahim’s son. This work was edited and published 
by ‘Adil Mahmiid Muhammad, “Kashf al-Labs ‘an al-mas@il al-khams: dirasa wa-tahqiq,” 
Journal of Surra man Raa, University of Samerra, Iraq, vol. 9, no. 35, November 2013, pp. 45- 

Ms: Yemen, Trim: Maktabat al-Ahqaf, majami‘ 2716, fols. 897-92". 







are not describable as obedience or disobedience because no one orders 
God to do or not to do. Because a human being is legally responsible 
(mukallaf ), their acts are divided into what is obligatory, what is forbid- 
den, and what is permissible. And, hence, human acts can be described as 
obedience and disobedience, and are therefore divided into good and bad 
(Ausn and qubh). This treatise was written on 13 Muharram 1091/14 Febru- 
ary 1680. 

Maslak al-tavif bi-tahqiq al-taklof ‘ala mashrab ahl al-kashf wa-l-shuhid 
al-q@iltn bi-tawhid al-wujiid.°° This work is an answer to a question about 
the concept of legal responsibility (taklif) from the wujudt viewpoint. 
To explain the concept of taklif it was necessary to prove that man 
acquires his acts, which led al-Kurani to the topic of “creating human 
acts.” His opinion is that taklif is a combination of absolute existence and 
nonexistent quiddity. He discusses nonexistence and the interpretation of 
ambiguous verses (ta’wil al-mutashabihat), and he ends with a discussion 
on the topic of interpreting Sufi words, and some scholars’ statements 
about Ibn ‘Arabi. This work was completed at noon on Sunday, 24 Muhar- 
ram 1091/25 February 1680.°! 

Al-Maslak al-anwar ila marifat al-barzakh al-akbar.°? Al-Kurani received 
a question about two of Ibn ‘Arabi’s statements that appear contradic- 
tory. The first statement is in his work Insh@ al-dawa’ir, in which he talks 
about a thing that cannot be characterized as existent or nonexistent, and 
neither eternal nor created. According to Ibn ‘Arabi, this thing is the ori- 
gin of the world, and he described it as al-haqq al-makhlug bihi (the truth 
which is created through it). In Lata’if al-a‘lam, atributed to al-Qashani, 
Ibn ‘Arabt says that al-haqq al-makhlig bihiis the perfect man (al-insan al- 
kamil), which is descibed as existent. This work was completed on Mon- 
day, 8 Rabi‘ 1 1091/8 April 1680. 

Madd al-fay’ fi taqrir “laysa ka-mithlihi shay’.” Also known as Risala ft 
gawlihi ta‘ala “Laysa ka-mithlihi shay’.”®? The discussion in this treatise 
revolves around the meaning and function of “ka” in the word “ka-mith- 
lihi.” Was “ka” used in this world only to enforce the word mithl, “like or 
similar,” or does “ka” have no meaning in itself, or, finally, is it possible to 
read the verse as “There is nothing like His similar”? Al-Kurani argues that 

Ms: USA: Princeton University Library, Yahuda 3869, fols. 59°72". 
Ms: USA: Princeton University Library, Yahuda 386g, fol. 72°. 

Ms: USA: Princeton University Library, Yahuda 3869Y, fols. 767-79". 
Ms: Istanbul: Nuruosmaniye 2126, fols. 67>—68>. 








“ka” is not an addition, “z@ida,” so the meaning will be that nothing is 
like the thing that is like Him (/aysa mithla mithlihi shay’), which means 
the negation of any similarity to His similarity. Thus, “ka” in the word “ka- 
mithlihi” does not change the meaning that nothing is similar to Him. This 
work was completed on 13 Rabi‘ 11092/3 April 1681.9 

Ts@f al-hanif li-suluk Maslak al-taTif* is a continuation of the discussion 
in the Maslak al-taTif treatise after a question about some points in it. 
This work was composed on Monday, 2 Rabi‘ 11 1092/21 April 1681. 

Tanbth al-‘uqul ‘ala tanzth al-suifiyya ‘an i‘tiqad al-tajsim wa-l-‘ayniyya wa- 
Littihad wa-l-hulul.°® This work was printed several times. In it, al-Karani 
defends Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers from accusations of anthropomor- 
phism, pantheism, immanentism, and incarnationism. His argument is 
the same as in his theological treatise, that God is absolute existence in 
the sense that He is not restricted or conditioned by any other things out- 
side of Himself. Thus, the Quranic verses and the Prophetic hadiths that 
describe God in bodily or human form or in spatial location should be 
accepted as manifestations of God, without figurative interpretation. This 
work was completed on Saturday, 8 Muharram 1093/17 January 1682.9” 
Al-Ilmam bi-tahrir qawlay Sa‘diwa-l-Tsam.°® Al-Kurani recieved two ques- 
tions about statements by al-Fadil al-Rumi Sa‘d Allah b. ‘Isa (d. 945/1538- 
1539) and ‘Isam al-Din b. ‘Arabshah (d. 943/1536-1537), respectively. In 
the first statement, al-Baydawi says in his interpretation of the word 
“rabb” that it comes from tarbiya, “education,” which means guiding the 
person until his perfection. Al-Baydawi concludes that contingents (al- 
mumkinat) need God in their existence and their persisting. ‘Isam al-Din 
argues that contingents need God in their creation and in their reaching 
perfection, but that there is no indication that they need God in their per- 
sistence. Al-Kurani says that reaching perfection depends on persisting in 

For a discussion of this topic see Michel Chodkiewicz, An Ocean without Shore: Ibn Arabi, 
the Book, and the Law, tr. David Streight (NY: State University of New York Press, 1993), 
Pp. 37- 

Ms: USA: Princeton University Library, Yahuda 386g, fols. 732-75. 

Ibrahim al-Kuarani, Tanbih al-‘uqul ‘ala tanzth al-siifiyya ‘an itiqad al-tajsim wa-l-‘ayniyya 
wa-l-ittihad wa-l-hulul, edited by Muhammad Ibrahim al-Husayn (Damascus: Dar al-Bay- 
ruti, 2009). 

See El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 277. 

Ms: Cairo: Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya, Taymuriyya, 1/10, majami‘ 92, 5 folios. For three more 
copies see al-Fahras al-shamil li-l-turath al-‘Arabi al-makhtut: ‘ulum al-Quran (Jourdan: 
Muvassasat Al al-Bayt, 1989), vol. 2, p. 739. 







time for a while, which is a proof that contingents need God in their per- 
sistence. The other question is about a comment of al-Fadil al-Rumi Sa‘d 
al-Allah’s on al-Baydawi’s comment on the Quranic verse “Who perfected 
everything which He created” (Q 32:7), and the meaning of “thing” (shay’). 
This work was composed on Thusday, 15 Dhu al-Hijja 1093/15 December 

Al-Maslak al-qawitm fimutdabagat ta‘alluq al-qudra bi-l-hadith li-ta‘alluq al- 
‘itm al-qadim,°® or al-Maslak al-qawim fi mutabaqat al-qudra bi-l-hadith 
li-ta‘alluq al-‘ilm al-qadim° This work is an answer to a question con- 
cerning some statements from al-Sha‘rani’s book al-Yawagqit wa-l-jawahir 
about God’s eternal knowledge, and some verses in the Quran stating how 
God will know something. Al-Kurani discusses the connection (ta‘alluq) 
between God’s eternal knowledge and the essences of contingents, which 
are immutable nonexistents that have essential dispositions to be what 
they are. Al-Kurani uses Ibn ‘Arabi’s texts with al-Jurjani’s Sharh al-Mawa- 
gif to explain how God’s knowledge is posterior to the occurrence of 
something. He composed this work on Wednesday, 11 Safar 1094/9 Febru- 
ary 1683. 

Shawariq al-anwar li-suluk al-Maslak al-mukhtar.! A certain scholar 
commented, critically, on al-Kurani’s work al-Maslak al-mukhtar. Al-Ki- 
rani received this gloss and replied to its critiques. He does not men- 
tion the name of this scholar but calls him al-muhashshi, “the glossator.’ 
Most of the discussions are related to the theory of perception in Ibn 
Sina’s works and God’s knowledge of particulars, as well as creation and 
time. There is an interesting note in one of the manuscripts!°? that says 
that the glossator is an eminent person (fadil) from Isfahan, and that 
he is a student of the famous Agha Husayn Khwansari (d. 1099/1687- 
1688) and wrote on the instruction of the latter (al-muhashshi kataba bi- 
mushawaratin ‘an Agha Husayn). This gloss came to Medina with the glos- 
sator’s son. This work was completed on Thursday, 5 Rabi‘ 1 1094/4 March 

MS: Cairo: Azhariyya, 41976, 8 folios. 

Ms: Cairo: Azhariyya, 3988, juhari 41976, 6 folios. 

Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 722, fols. 108-147». Ms: Istanbul: Carullah 2102, fols. 2212-265». This 
majmi‘ contains another work that has the same title, fols. 417-121. After examining this 
latter work I found that it is al-Karani’s work Imdad dhawi al-isti‘dad li-suliik mastal al- 

Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 722, fol. 108. 










Al-Tawassul ila anna ‘ilm Allah bi--ashy@ azalan ala al-tafsil.©3 This work 
is an answer to a question about fixed entities and God’s knowledge of 
particulars. The text was composed on Tuesday, 26 Jumada 11 1094/22 June 

ALTahrir al-hawi li-;awab trad Ibn Hajar ‘ala al-Baydawi)™ This work is 
one of figh. Ibn Hajar rejected one of al-Baydawi's ideas that repentance 
(tawba) may save a person in cases of legal retribution (qisas). Al-Kurani 
distinguishes between cases in which the repentance occurred before and 
in which it occurred after the murderer was captured. This work was com- 
posed in Medina on Friday, 7 Dh al-Hijja 1094/27 November 1683. 
Al-Amam li-iqaz al-himam is al-Kurani’s main thabat, a record of his var- 
ious chains of transmission for a large number of scholarly works and 
contains full isnads of works in the rational sciences. The work was com- 
pleted on Monday, 8 Dht al-Qa‘da 1095/17 October 1684.19 

Izghar al-qadr li-ahl Badr1® This treatise explains the prophetic hadith 
that says: “perhaps God has looked at the people of Badr and said (to 
them), ‘Do whatever you like, for I have forgiven you.’ Al-Kurani clarifies 
that the forgiveness is in the afterlife, while during their lifetimes all the 
Islamic laws applied to them. This work was completed on 19 Muharram, 
1096/26 December 1684. 

Tzalat al-ishkal bi-l-jawab al-wadih ‘an al-tajallt fi al-suwar}°’ This rela- 
tively long text is dedicated to the question of God’s manifestation in 
forms and the ambiguous verses (mutashabihat). Al-Kurani discusses sev- 
eral hadiths that mention God’s manifestation in different forms and 
argues that God manifests in whatever form He wants since He is not 
restricted or conditioned by anything. However, he says clearly that ac- 
cepting that God manifests in material forms does not mean that He is 
material nor does it imply any kind of anthropomorphism or inherence; 
rather, there is always “nothing like Him.” This work was completed on 
Monday, 25 Rajab 1097/17 June 1686. 

Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 344-355; Ms: Istanbul: Veliyyiiddin Efendi 1815, fols. 132>— 

MS: Cairo: Azhariyya 10046, 2 folios. 

Ramilli in his recent paper “Ash‘arism through an Akbari Lens” studied al-Amam “in order 
to establish al-Kurani’s different intellectual affiliations and his broader perspective on 
the relationship between various traditions and disciplines.’ Ramli, “Ash‘arism through 
an Akbari Lens’, p. 375. 

Ms: Yemen, Trim: Maktabat al-Ahqaf, Majami‘ 2681, fols. 20b-22°. 

Ms: Istanbul: Nafiz Pasa 508, 47 folios. 



74. Jala al-ahdaq bi-tahrir al-itlag.!°8 Al-Kurani received a question about 






a gloss he wrote on an unidentified treatise; in this gloss he had men- 
tioned some of his ideas such as that the existence of the necessary is 
specific, individual, abstract, and different from all existences, while hav- 
ing the condition of not anything else (wujud al-Wajib shakhs fard mujar- 
rad mughayir li-l-wujudat kulliha, wa-huwa bi-shart la-shay’). The object 
of the treatise is to demonstrate the absoluteness and unity of the One, 
such that the specific individual abstract cannot be absolute; if He is dif- 
ferent from all existences, He cannot be One, and if He exists with the 
condition of not anything else, He cannot be existent. Thus, al-Kurani’s 
statement according to this objector negates absoluteness, unity, and exis- 
tence. Al-Kurani received the question on 27 Rajab 1097/19 June 1686 and 
completed the answer on 30 Rajab 1097/22 June 1686. 

Al-Tahrirat al-bahira li-mabahith al-Durra al-fakhira,? or Tahrirat ‘ala 
al-Durra al-fakhira. A gloss on Jami’s al-Durra al-fakhira, thus mostly 
about the concept of wujid. It contains discussions from the Ash‘arite 
perspective about essence, existence, quiddity, and God’s unity, knowl- 
edge, and will, as well as about seeing God, with several citations from 
Ibn ‘Arabi. It seems that al-Kurani’s students would collect his comments 
from the margins of the copies he used. There is no date of composition 
on this work, but two copies collected from al-Kurani’s text are dated 19 
Jumada 1, 20/5 September 1708 by a certain Yahya who was living in 
the zawiya of Muhammad Agha in Istanbul. Another copy mentions that 
Misa b. Ibrahim al-Basni, al-Kurani’s student, collected al-Kirani’s com- 
ments from the margins of al-Durra al-fakhira for the Shaykh al-Islam in 
Istanbul, Ahmad Afandi, and collated the copy with Abu Tahir, al-Kurani’s 
son, in 14 Dhi al-Qa‘da 118/17 February 1707. 

Majla al-ma@ni ‘ala ‘aqidat al-Dawani."° A commentary on some sections 
of al-Dawani’s Sharh al-‘Aq@id al-‘Adudiyya. The second part of this com- 
mentary is about the topic of knowledge (mabhath al-‘ilm) and is some- 
times treated as an independent work. 

Hashiya ‘ala mabhath al-‘ilm min Sharh al-‘Aqa@id al-‘Adudiyya li-|-Dawani, 
or Risala fi al-bahth ‘an al-‘lm.™ Al-Kurani received a question about the 

Ms: Yemen, Trim: Maktabat al-Ahgaf, majami‘ 2681, fols. 88¢—go». 

Ms: USA: Princeton University Library, Garrett, 4049Y, 20 folios; Ms: Istanbul: Hudai 
Efendi 1381, fols. 1>—38; Ms: Usa: Princeton University Library, Yahuda 5373, fols. 189>— 

Ms: Istanbul: Nuruosmaniye 2126, fols. 1°50. 

Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 722, fols. 712-107°. 







topic of knowledge (mabhath al-‘lm) from al-Dawani’s commentary on 
al-‘Aqaid al-Adudiyya. The question was whether it is possible for things 
to be generated by the free will of the necessary, and whether free choices 
are always preceeded by knowledge, which would mean all created things 
exist externally in God’s knowledge, for otherwise God’s knowledge would 
be related to absolutely nothing, which is obviously impossible. The work 
is mainly about human acts, free will, and God’s knowledge. This copy was 
copied on the last night of Jumada I, 1.49/5 October 1736. 

Sharh al-‘aqgida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-Mutawakkil ‘ala 
Allah Ismail [b. al-Mansur bi-llah] al-Qasim ridwan Allah ‘alayhim.™? At 
the beginning of this work, al-Kurani mentions that after the season of 
the hajj, he received an ‘aqida in two folios; its author said that it was the 
doctrine of the “saved sect” (‘aqidat al-firga al-najiya). Al-Kurani found 
some mistakes in this text, so he decided to comment on it. Al-Kurani 
also has another commentary on a longer work by al-Mutawakkil’s father 
entitled al-Asas li-‘aqa’id al-akyas. This copy is not dated. 

AL-Nibras li-kashf al-iltibas al-wagqi‘ fi al-asas li-‘aq@id ta’ifa sammu anfu- 
sahum bi-l-akyas. Al-Imam al-Qasim, known as al-Mansur bi-llah b. Mu- 
hammad b. ‘Ali b. Muhammad, the ruler of Yemen (d. 1029/1619),"3 com- 
posed a treatise entitled al-Asas li-‘aqa’id al-akydas."* Several scholars in 
Yemen wrote commentaries on this work. Al-Kurani wrote a commen- 
tary and interpreted it in an Ash‘arite way.!5 Al-Kurani’s commentary 
was rejected by Zaydi scholars and some of them wrote refutations of his 
work, such as al-Ihtiras min nar al-Nibras by Ishaq b. Muhammad b. Qasim 
al-‘Abdi (d. 1115/1703-1704).6 

Ms: USA: Princeton University Library, Garrett 224Y, fols. 1474-174. 

Al-Hamawi, Fawaid al-irtihdl, vol. 6, p. 76; al-Muhibbi, Khulasat al-athar, vol. 3, p. 293; Al- 
Shawkani, al-Bard al-tali‘, vol. 2, p. 47; Ibrahim b. al-Qasim b. al-Imam al-Mw’ayyad bi-1lah, 
Tabaqat al-Zaydiyya al-Kubra, ed. ‘Abd al-Salam al-Wajih (Amman, Jordan: Muassasat al- 
Imam Zayd b. ‘Ali al-Thaqafiyya, 2001), vol. 2, p. 860. 

Al-Qasim b. Muhammad al-Muttazili, Kitab al-asas li-‘aqa@’id al-akydas, ed. Alber Nadir 
(Beirut: Dar al-Tali‘a, 1980). 

Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihal, vol. 6, p. 80. 

Ahmad Muhammad ‘Isawi and others, Fahras al-makhtitat al-Yamaniyya li-Dar al-Makh- 
tutat wa-l-Maktaba al-Gharbiyya bi-l-Jami‘ al-Kabir-San@ (Iran, Qum: Maktabat Samahat 
Ayat Allah al-‘Uzma al-Mar‘ashi al-Najafi al-Kubra, 2005), vol. 1, p. 241. I received a copy 
of al-Ihtiras min nar al-Nibras by Ishaq b. Muhammad b. Qasim al-‘Abdi from Ma‘had 
al-Makhtutat al-‘Arabiyya in Cairo. This copy contains al-Kurani’s work, but it has been 
copied from a microfilm, so the quality is very bad. The first volume of this work is in 335 
folios, and the catalogue of Ma‘had al-Makhtutat al-‘Arabiyya says that this work is in four 












AlItam bi-ma ft qawlih ta‘ala “ala alladhin yutiquna” min al-ahkam™ 
is a response to a question about the interpretation of a Quranic verse 
(Q 2:84) about fasting: “And upon those who are able [to fast, but with 
hardship |—a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day].’ 
This copy is not dated. 

Ibrahim al-Kurants ijaza to al-Dakdakjt. Al-Dakdakji was a Sufi Hanafi 
from Damascus. He was the main student of ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi 
and the scribe of the latter’s works. This work is only one page in which 
al-Kurani replies to a request for ijaza from al-Dakdakji. Al-Kurani wrote 
this ¢jaza for all of his works and riwayat. Also, in this jaza, al-Kurani asks 
al-Dakdakji to extend his greetings to shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi."8 
Nawal dhi al-tawl fi tahqigq al-ijad bi-l-qawl® This work is an answer to 
a question about some verses by Ibn ‘Arabi related to the notion of cre- 
ation through the word “Be” (Aun). Al-Kurani repeats his idea about the 
absoluteness of God and that He can manifest in whatever way He wants. 
Then he mentions the origin of contingents (mumkinat) from mutually 
distinct nonexistents (ma‘dumat mutamayyiza). Al-Kurani also mentions 
al-kalam al-nafst in this text. This copy is not dated. 

ALTashil, Sharh al-‘Awamil al-Jurjaniyya'®° is a commentary on a famous 
grammar (nahw) manual. The original work, al-Awamil al-mia, also 
known as al-‘Awamil al-Jurjaniyya, was written by ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani 
(d. 471/1078). It was the subject of numerous commentaries by schol- 
ars such as Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani, ‘Isam al-Din b. ‘Arabshah, Khalid al- 
Azhani, and ‘Abd al-Ghafur al-Lari.!2! This copy is not dated. 

Takmil al-Awamil al-Jurjaniyya,'*? also known as al-Fawadil al-burhaniyya 
fitakmi al-Awamil al-Jurjaniyya. This work is a short commentary by al- 
Kurani on al-Awamil al-Jurjaniyya. This copy is not dated. 

volumes, (mutafarriqat 317, 318, 319, 320), which may amount to a thousand folios. The 
origin of this ms. is Maktabat al-Jam‘ al-Kabir fi San@. 

Ms: Istanbul: Halet Efendi 787, fols. 1>—2». 

This work is number 375682 in the Juma al-Majed Center for Culture and Heritage in 
Dubai. Inside the work is written that this work is originally from the library of Shaykh 
Badr al-Din al-Hasani (d. 1935). 

Ms: Yemen, Trim: Maktabat al-Ahgaf, majmi‘at Al Yahya 83, fols. 12-16. 

MS: UAE, Dubai: Juma al-Majed Center for Culture and Heritage, no. 232146, 52 folios. On 
the first folio is written that the origin of this Ms is Majma‘al-Lugha al-‘Arabiyya, without 
specifying which one. 

For a list of commentators see ‘Abd Allah Muhammad Habashi, Jami‘ al-shurith wa-l- 
hawashi: mujam shamil li-asm@ al-kutub al-mashriha ft al-turath al-Islamtwa-bayan shu- 
ruhiha (UAE, Abt Dhabi: al-Majma‘ al-Thagafi, 2004), vol. 2, p. 1421. 

Ms: Istanbul: Atif Efendi 2441, fols. 238’—249». 





Tjabat al-s@il ‘amma istashkalah min al-mas@il.!*3 This work is missing 
a few folios from its beginning, and the author is not mentioned in the 
colophon. However, most probably the text is by al-Kurani. The author 
used the sources that al-Kurani usually uses, such as the works of al- 
Taftazani, al-Jurjani, al-Dawani, al-Ghazali, and Ibn ‘Arabi. The clearest 
evidence of al-Kurani’s authorship is that the author concludes with a 
citation of a hadith saying that he read it with his teacher al-Qushashi in 
Medina in 1062/1652. The work contains comments on several topics and 
seems related to al-Subki's book Jam‘al-jawami‘, a work in usul al-figh but 
containing numerous discussions of theology (usw al-din). The topics are 
related to the faith of the imitator (man al-muqallid) and the state in the 
hereafter of the people who lived in the time between two prophets, usu- 
ally called ahl al-fatra (people of the interregnum), i.e., those who did not 
hear the message of the prophet after them and did not receive the mes- 
sages of earlier prophets. This question is also related to the state of the 
Prophet's parents. Another question that is raised in this work is related to 
the issue of the first obligation of the law (taklif). This work is not dated. 
Ithaf al-nabih bi-tahqiq al-tanzih.* Al-Kurani received a question about 
divine manifestation (tajalli), specifically about how the eternal non- 
created God can be manifest in created form. Al-Kurani replied by ex- 
plaining that God is an absolute existence, not conditioned or restricted 
by others, so He can manifest in forms and His transcendence (tanzth) 
remains because His absoluteness is essential and what is essential never 
ceases. This work is dated 22 Rabi‘ 1 1060/25 March 1650, which is obvi- 
ously wrong, because the text concludes with some hadiths that al-Kurani 
received from al-Qushashi, whom he did not meet until 1062/1652. 

Al-Kurani’s Works (Inaccessible) 

Alongside the aforementioned texts that I obtained and examined, historical 

sources mention further works by al-Kurani that I was not able to examine:!”5 



Ms: UK: British Library, India Office, Delhi-Arabic 710j, fols. 86-108. 

Ms: Cairo: Ma‘had Makhtatat al-Alam al-‘Arabi, majami‘ 11/2, fols. 351-362; Ms: Istanbul: 
Halet Efendi 787, fols. 307—-33?. 

I used two lists of al-Kurani’s works alongside manuscript catalogues and bio-biblio- 
graphies in order to collect the works that are attributed to al-Kurani, but I was not able 
to gain access to all of these works. The first list is MS: KSA: al-Riyad University, 3881. This 
manuscript is attributed to al-Kurani's student ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Abi Bakr, and it is dated on 


OO Oe of 






ALDhayl alladhi alhaqah al-Kurant bi-thabatihi.6 From the description 
of the manuscript it seems that this work is the same as the one men- 
tioned above under the title [iazat-nama. 

AL-Ihtibak ft anna al-nawm la yudad mutlagq al-idrak.!?” 

Al-Jawab al-atid li-mas‘alat awwal wajib wa-mas‘alat al-taglid.!28 From the 
title, this work could be the same as the one mentioned above under the 
title Jawab al-s@il amma istashkalah min al-mas@’il, since both of them 
deal with the same topics. 

Al-Jawab al-kaft ‘an ihatat al-‘ilm al-makhlig bi-l-ghayr al-mutanahi.'2° 
Al-Jawab ‘an al-su’al al-awwal min al-as’ila al-makkiyya.3° 

AL-Kanz al-mu’taman fi jawab sw‘alat ahl al-Yaman."! 

Arbatn hadithan ft fadl al-salat ‘ala al-Nabi332 

Bulghat al-masir ila tawhid al-‘Ali al-Kabir.'3 Probably this work is an- 
other title for al-Kurani’s short commentary on al-Qushashi’s poem on 
‘aqida, since his long commentary is entitled Qasd al-sabil ila tawhid al- 
‘Altal-Kabir and al-‘Ayyashi mentions the short commentary with the title 
Zad al-masir. 

Daw’ al-a‘yan fi ajwibat al-shaykh Abd al-Rahman.34 

Dhayl al-maqala al-wadiha fi nadb al-hirs ‘ala al-musafaha.> 

Diy@ al-misbah fi sharh Bahjat al-arwah.136 

Fayd al-Wahib li-afdal al-makasib 13" 

Ghayat al-maram ft mas‘alat Ibn al-Humam.88 

Friday 22 Rabi‘ 11, 122 AH. The second list is Aloys Sprenger, A catalogue of the Bibliotheca 
Orientalis Sprengeriana (Berlin: Giessen: W. Keller, 1857), p. 21, n. 299. 

Ms. Damascus, Asad Library, no. 18206, 28 folios. 

Ms. Maktabat al-Awgaf al-Amma 4745/9, 2 folios. See Mujam tarikh al-turath al-Islami ft 
maktabat al-‘alam, eds. Ali Riza Karabulut and Ahmet Turan Karabulut (Turkey, Kayseri: 
Akabe Kitabevi), vol. 1, p. 13. 

MS: Berline Spre. 299. 

Brockelmann, GAL II, p. 505. 

MS: KSA: al-Riyad University Library, 3881. 

MS: Berline Spre. 299. 

MS. Tahtawi, hadith 35, 8 folios. See Mujam tartkh al-turath al-Islami ftmaktabat al-‘alam, 
vol. 1, p. 13. 

Al-Kurani mentions this title in Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 205 of Fathurrahman’s edition. It is also 
mentioned in Ms: Berline Spre. 299. 

MS: Berline Spre. 299. 

MS: Berline Spre. 299. 

Ms: Berline Spre. 299. 

MS: Berline Spre. 299. 

MS: Berline Spre. 299. 











Hashiya ala al-Zawr@ [by al-Dawani].!°9 

Hashiyat al-Kurani ‘ala al-Muwashshah Sharh al-Kafiya.° Al-Kafiya is the 
famous text by Ibn al-Hajib, and al-Muwashshah is a commentary by al- 
Khabist (d. 731/1330-1331). 

Izalat al-ishkal.“ Probably is the same text mentioned above as /zalat al- 
ishkal bi-l-jawab al-wadih ‘an al-tajalli fi al-suwar. 

Maslak al-irshad ila al-ahadith al-warida fi al-jihad.4? 

Risalat al-gharaniq.? This work is probably the same as the one entitled 
al-Lum‘a al-saniyya fi tahqigq al-ilq@ ft al-umniyya. 

Rw’ya al-shaykh Abi Jafar al-Sulami.“4 

Sharh al-Andalusiyya> by al-Qaysari. Al-Andalusiyya is a text in the 
‘arud meter written by Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah Abu al-Jaysh al-Ansari 
al-Andalusi (d. 626/1228-1229). The commentator is ‘Abd al-Muhsin b. 
Muhammad al-Qaysani (d. 872/1467-1468).!46 

Ta‘liqat ‘ala qawlihi ta‘ala “fala yuzhiru ‘ala ghaybihi ahad illa man irtada 
min rasul.”!4”7 Comment on the Quranic verse (Q 72:26) “He does not dis- 
close His [knowledge of the] unseen to anyone except whom He has 
approved of messengers.” This short manuscript, two folios, contains 
three comments on this verse; the second one is by al-Kurani. 

Takmil al-ta Tif li-kitab fi al-tasrif.48 

Taysir al-haqq al-mubdi li-naqd ba‘d kalimat al-Sirhindi.¥° 

Ms. Damascus, Asad Library, no. 114053, 5 folios (6-10). 

Ms. Maktabat Awgaf al-Maisil, no. 223,198 nahi. 

MS: KSA: al-Riyad University Library, 3881. 

Al-Shawkani, al-Badr al-tali‘, vol. 2, p. 12. 

Ms. Damascus, Asad Library, no. 3.1846, 5 folios. 

Ms. Damascus, Asad Library, no. 614060, 2 folios (75-76). 

Ms: Berline Spre. 299. 

See Habashi, Jami‘ al-shuruh wa-l-hawashi, vol. 1, p. 293. 

Ms. Damascus: al-Zahiriyya, ‘amm8562, fols. 141-142. See Mufam tarikh al-turath al-Islami 
fimaktabat al-‘alam, vol. 1, p. 13. The Al-Zahiriyya collection of manuscripts is part of the 
al-Asad Library in Damascus now. There is a work with the same title in Ms. Asad Library, 
2 folios, no. 128562. 

MS: Berline Spre. 299. Ms. Maktabat al-Sulaymaniyya sarf-nahw 84/12 ta/majami‘. See 
Mujam tarikh al-turath al-Islami ft maktabat al-‘alam, vol.1, p. 13. 

MS: KSA: al-Riyad University Library, 3881. 




Works Misattributed to al-Kurani 

Alongside these works, there are some attributed to al-Kurani, the validity of 
which attributions is doubtful. 





Sharh nukhbat al-fikar, or hashiya ‘ala nukhbat al-fikar. The author of this 
work is Ibrahim al-Kurdi; this is why several catalogues attribute it to al- 
Kurani. Many manuscripts mention the name of the author as Ibrahim 
b. Sulayman b. Ibrahim al-Kardi, usually referring to him as a resident 
of Aleppo; clearly, he is a different person. Still other catalogues men- 
tion two commentaries entitled Sharh nukhbat al-fikar, one attributed 
to Ibrahim al-Kurdi and another to Ibrahim al-Kurani. They may be two 
different commentaries. However, I examined three different copies!>° 
attributed to Ibrahim al-Kurani, and all of them are the same as the 
one attributed to Ibrahim b. Sulayman al-Kurdi. In Al-Fahras al-shamil 
li-l-turath al-Arabi al-Islami al-makhtit, in the section about hadith and 
its sciences, there are three copies attributed to Ibrahim al-Kurani and 
eighteen copies attributed to Ibrahim al-Kurdi.5! On page 1026 of the 
same catalogue, there is a mention of another copy of Sharh nukhbat al- 
fikar, and it is attributed to al-Kurani with a note that the name listed 
in the original index of Awqaf al-Mawsil is al-Kurdi. This work is a com- 
mentary on Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani’s Nuzhat al-nazar fi tawdih Nukhbat 
al-fikar ft mustalah ahl al-athar. The original work, Nukhbat al-fikar, is 
a small treatise by al-‘Asqalani, who wrote it to summarize the terms 
of the science of hadith. But it was very condensed, so some students 
asked him to write a commentary to explain it. The original work and 
this commentary both received a good number of commentaries and 
glosses.5? This work, Sharh nukhbat al-fikar, also contains some refer- 
ences to philosophical-theological works such as al-Jurjani’s Sharh al- 
Mawagif. It does not have an incipit or a colophon, neither does it end 
as al-Kurani ends his works, by citing some hadiths with their full isnads. 
However, missing the colophon can be normal if this commentary was 

One is under the number 237343 in the Juma al-Majed Center for Culture and Heritage 
in Dubai; the origin of this work is al-Maktabah al-Zahiriyya in Damascus, no. 7676. The 
second is from the Azhariyya library, khass 823, ‘amm 53071. The last one is in Maktabat 
al-Malik ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bi-l-Riyad, n. 1501. 

Al-Fahras al-shamil li--turath al-‘Arabi al-Islami al-makhtut, al-hadith al-nabawi al-sharif 
wa-ulumahu wa-rijalahu (Jourdan, Amman: al-Majma‘ al-Malakili-Buhuth al-Hadarah al- 
Islamiyya, Mu’assasat Al al-Bayt, 1991), vol. 2, p. 694. 

See al-Habashi, Jami‘al-shurith wa-l-hawashi, vol. 3, p. 2012. 


collected from a margin of the author's copy with no intention by the 
author to make it a separate work. Also, there is no date of composition. 
2.  Shumus al-fikr al-mungqidha ‘an gulumat al-jabr wa-l-qgadar'®3 was most 
probably not written by al-Kurani. In both manuscripts examined there 
is no clear attribution of this work to al-Kurani, even though it is men- 
tioned in a majmu‘ that contains al-Kurani’s texts, probably because it 
agrees with his idea of kasb. Furthermore, the style of the text is differ- 
ent from al-Kurani’s usual style when he discusses this topic, and there 
is no reference to any of al-Kurani’s longer texts that explain this topic 
in detail. Hadiyyat al-‘Grifin and Kashf al-zunun attribute this text to Ibn 
3.  Risala ft tahqiq zawahir al-salat wa-bawatiniha.> The new catalogue of 
the Ragip Pasha library attributed this treatise to al-Kurani. However, the 
collection that contains this treatise was copied in 987/1579, which makes 
its attribution to al-Kurani wrong. 
In the description of the manuscripts in Asad Library in Damascus, the name of 
Ibrahim b. Hasan al-Kurani appears as a scribe (nasikh) of a hadith manuscript 
entitled Fayd al-Qadir bi-sharh al-Jami‘ al-saghir.°® Al-Jami‘ al-saghir is a ha- 
dith collection by al-Suyuti and the commentary on it, entitled Fayd al-Qadir, 
was written by ‘Abd al-Rauf al-Minawi (d. 1031/1621). The date of this copy 
is 1040/1630-1631, which means that Ibrahim al-Kurani, if he was the scribe, 
would have been around fifteen years old. But as explained in Chapter Three, al- 
Kurani admitted that his early education had lacked study of hadith and Sufism. 
Without examining the manuscript and comparing the script to al-Kurani’s 
authentic handwriting copies, it is difficult to decide whether this copy was 
written by Ibrahim al-Kurani, the scholar who is the subject of this research, or 

4 Conclusion 

Al-Kurani'’s list of works shows his wide interests in diverse disciplines of 
the Islamic sciences, including philosophy, theology, grammar, tafsir, hadith, 

153 Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440, fols. 47-50; Ms: Istanbul: Ragip Pasa 1464, fols. In the mar- 
gin of fols. 637-67". 

154 Al-Baghdadi, Hadiyyat al-@rifin, vol. 2, p. 16; Hajji Khalifa, Kashf al-gunin, vol. 2, p. 1065. 

155 Ms. Istanbul, Ragip Pasa 1460 (74), fols. 2026-2032. See Fahras al-makhtutat al-‘Arabiyya 
wa-l-Turkiyya wa-l-Farisiyya ft maktabat Ragip Pasha, Muhammad al-Sayyid al-Dughaym 
(Ks, Jeddah: Sagifat al-Safa Trust, 2016), vol. g, p. 92, no. 2135. 

156 Ms. Damascus, Asad Library, no. 4749. 

172 CHAPTER 4 

Sufism, and figh. Although some of his works were dedicated principally to a 
specific topic of these disciplines, nevertheless his discussions of intellectual 
sciences, transmitted knowledge, and Sufism usually co-occurred in most of 
the texts in a coherent way, rather than restricting himself to one topic per 
treatise. The links that he makes between a certain topic that he discusses, 
in a jurisprudential work for example, and a Sufi or doctrinal topic in other 
works suggest that he approached each of his ideas with a comprehensive 
and clear conception of its relationship to all aspects of his thought. He sup- 
ports his arguments for almost every topic with numerous Quranic verses and 
hadiths to demonstrate that rational sciences and Sufi ideas are in harmony 
with transmitted knowledge. Despite the diversity of al-Kurani’s intellectual 
interests and his writing in different fields of knowledge, theology was the 
focus of his interest, and all other subjects refer back to aspects of his doctrinal 
discussions. Whatever the topic of discussion, whether a linguistic, jurispru- 
dential, or hadith issue, al-Kurani links it with his theological preoccupations. 
Elsewhere, I argue that most of his works in hadith were in fact written for the- 
ological purposes, rather than springing from an interest in hadith per se. Even 
topics within Sufism, a prominent theme in the titles of his works, as the next 
two chapters will argue, refer ultimately to theology. The next chapter will show 
how Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas provided the basis for al-Kurani’s theological discussions, 
and how he used the whole of the Islamic intellectual tradition to explain and 
interpret Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought in a way that organizes it as a coherent theologi- 
cal system. 

By introducing al-Kurani’s works and synopses of their contents, I can point 
to some distinctive features present in most of his works. Al-‘Ayyashi describes 
al-Kurani’s style as accessible for all readers; through a careful reading of his 
works this description can be corroborated, owing to al-Kurani’s consistent 
efforts to provide clear explanations and reiterate key points. Another interest- 
ing note that reveals an additional aspect of al-Kurani's personality is the fact 
that he did not dedicate any of his works to any ruler, amir, or Sultan, despite 
the fact that he regularly received large donations from numerous rulers and 
wealthy people. This behaviour indicates his unwillingness to get closer to polit- 
ical power, even in the Hijaz, his lack of interest in benefiting materially from 
his works and fame, and his preference for intellectual independence, which 
was difficult to frame within a specific ideology or sectarian school. 

We can notice from al-Kurani’s works that many of his treatises are dated 
during Dht al-Hijja and Muharram, which is understandable since many works 
were written as answers to questions posed during the season of the hajj. Dur- 
ing this season, al-Kurani was accustomed to receiving inquiries and requests 
for his legal opinion (istifta’) from different parts of the Islamic world with the 


travelers arriving for hajj and sending his responses back with the same caravan 
that brought them to the holy cities. The works dated in the Aajj seasons are rel- 
atively short and deal with specific questions. Another note about al-Kurani’s 
works is that he only translated one text, Ishraq al-shams bi-taTib al-kalimat 
al-khams, a short Sufi text that was translated at the request of his teacher al- 

Al-Kurani’s works demonstrate his engagement in contemporary debates 
from different regions of the Islamic world. Several treatises are written to 
Javanese students or to answer questions from Java. At least two works writ- 
ten in Iran were commentaries on al-Kurani’s works. His debate with Maghribi 
scholars was the reason behind several of his works. He had a debate with 
Indian Mujaddidi scholars in the Hijaz over the topic of the Ka‘ba, as well as 
on his commentary on al-Burhanbun’s al-Tuhfa. For Yemeni Zaydi scholars he 
wrote at least three works to refute some aspects of Zaydi theology, and Yemeni 
schools replied to his works. We need hardly mention Damascus, Cairo, and 
Baghdad, the cities from which many of his teachers and students came. 

Al-Kirani never visited Istanbul, but his works reveal that he was aware of 
and participated in the intellectual debates going on in the Ottoman capital. 
The annual pilgrimage caravan would arrive from the Ottoman Empire car- 
rying pilgrims, among whom there were often scholars and students. These 
caravans were a means of transmitting knowledge in the forms of treatises, 
texts, fatwas, inquiries, and responses to previous debates. In addition to the 
exchange of knowledge and the annual visit of scholars and students, gadis, 
and muftis from the Ottoman Empire were often appointed to positions in the 
Hijaz for varying periods of time. A clear idea about the debates over the main 
controversial topics in the Ottoman Empire during the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries can be found in Katib Gelebi’s Mizan al-haqq, “The Balance 
of Truth,” which focuses directly on the issues raised by the Qadizadeli move- 
ment. Katib Celebi addresses numerous topics, among which were singing, 
dancing, and using musical instruments,!*” the parents of the Prophet, the faith 
of Pharaoh,!8 the concept of bid‘a (“innovation”), performance of supereroga- 
tory prayers in congregation, and shaking hands after prayers. All these topics 
were also addressed and discussed by al-Kurani, as his works reveal. We can 
thereby determine that he was engaged in the intellectual debates occurring 
in the center of the Ottoman Empire, even without having visited Istanbul or 

157  Gelebi, The Balance of Truth, p. 38 and after. 
158 Celebi, The Balance of Truth, p. 75. 

174 CHAPTER 4 

His active correspondence and debates with scholars from different Islamic 
regions indicates, too, that he was well known in almost the entire Islamic 
world during his life. His works reached the Maghrib very early in his career 
and he continued to correspond with Maghribi scholars until the end of his 
life. He also received, and responded to, two letters from Atar, a city that is cur- 
rently located in Mauritania. Al-Kurani was also well known in Southeast Asia 
through his students, mainly al-Singkili and al-Magqassari. The fact that Dama- 
scene students asked him to comment on al-Qushashr’s ‘aqida poem, and later 
to abridge this commentary, attests to his reputation in Damascus. The list of 
his students who are originally from Egypt, or who moved to Cairo, also reveals 
that he was well known in Cairo during his lifetime. The specification of his 
name in the request for the fatwa about al-Sirhindi’s Maktubat means he was 
known and respected among Indian scholars as well. The last important facet 
of al-Karani’s work is that almost all his works are preserved in several libraries 
in different parts of the world. The diffusion of his works over such a wide geo- 
graphic area indicates that his works were frequently copied and studied in 
different parts of the Islamic world. 

All of this evidence leads us to conclude that al-Kurani was one of the most 
influential figures in the seventeenth century not only in the Hijaz, but in 
the entire Islamic world. Beyond what it says about his own popularity, the 
spread of his works and ideas from the Hijaz to almost every part of the Islamic 
world displays the centrality of the Hijaz, not only for the annual pilgrimage, 
but also for intellectual exchange among scholars from different parts of the 
Islamic world. Al-Kurani’s engagement in debates and discussions related to 
other regions speaks to the interconnectedness of the Islamic intellectual world 
of his time. These are the reasons why looking at his theories in the next chap- 
ters is foundational to re-evaluating Islamic intellectual life of the seventeenth 
century, when the Hijaz was especially vibrant. 


Al-Kurani’s Metaphysical and Cosmological 

As mentioned in the Introduction, my initial plan had been to examine al- 
Kurani'’s theological ideas and his Sufi thought in two separate chapters. During 
the research process, however, it became clear that al-Kurani’s theology and his 
Sufi thought are inseparable. While his main concern was theology, al-Kurani’s 
theological arguments are in fact based on Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, to such an 
extent that here I argue that Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas are the true reference and the 
main theological authority for al-Kurani’s theological discussions. Al-Kurani 
was primarily interested in the subject of existence (wujud), which, with its 
related concepts, had been a major concern of Islamic philosophers, most the- 
ologians (mutakallimun), and Sufis for almost ten centuries. Discussing the 
concept of wujiid means discussing a vast range of philosophical and theo- 
logical subjects, including quiddity, nonexistence, creation, God’s attributes, 
predetermination, and human will. All these topics had become part of Sufi 
discourse beginning with ‘Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamadant (d. 525/1131) and contin- 
uing on through Ibn ‘Arabi and the tradition of commentaries on al-Fusus. 
Ibn ‘Arabi, as Chittick remarks, discusses in detail most if not all of the intel- 
lectual issues that have occupied Muslim scholars,! but most of what he says 
is rooted in his own mystical intuition, or, to use his terminology, his unveiling 
(kashf) and opening (fath, futuh).* Ibn ‘Arabi did not attempt to present his 
ideas using reasoned and logical discourse; this task was started immediately 
after his death by his foremost student, Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi. Al-Qunawi and 
his circle played a central role in interpreting Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought and estab- 
lishing the later direction of the entire Akbarian school. Most studies stress the 
idea that al-Qunawi wrote in a relatively systematic way and focused mainly 
on philosophical issues rather than, like his master, on the Quran and hadith? 

1 William Chittick, “Ibn ‘Arabi,’ in History of Islamic Philosophy, ed. Seyyed Hussein Nasr and 
Oliver Leaman (NY: Routledge, 1996), p. 891. 

Chittick, “Ibn ‘Arabi,’ p. 893. 

3 Al-Qunawi’s will displays his intensive education in different fields of Islamic studies. Cer- 
tain works on philosophy from Qunawi’s endowed works are preserved in his endowed 
trust, including a copy in his own handwriting of Suhrawardi’s Hikmat al-Ishraq along with 
Lubab al-Isharat wa-l-tanbthat by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, both copied in 640/1242-1243. William 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_007 

176 CHAPTER 5 

The philosophizing of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought and the attempts to organize it and 
present it systematically would continue after al-Qunawi, reaching their peak 
with Ibrahim al-Kurani's establishment of an Islamic theology based on the 
foundations of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. 

In the seventeenth century, al-Kurani found Ibn ‘Arabr’s writings to be al- 
ready highly philosophized, as a result of the efforts of al-Qunawi and of 
numerous other Akbarian commentators. Building on the efforts of previous 
scholars, al-Kurani used all of his intellectual preparation to build Islamic Sunni 
theology on Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. By that time, kalam had already been largely 
philosophized as well, making al-Kurani’s task easier than it might have been 
without philosophy’s pervasive influence. Al-Kurani discussed almost every 
topic current in theology and Sufism in such an interconnected way that it 
is difficult to separate these discussions into different categories. He estab- 
lished a coherent structure in which each part is at once based on another idea 
and foundational to still others. Presenting all his ideas with their supporting 
demonstrations would mean reproducing all his treatises in this limited chap- 
ter, which is neither possible nor particularly useful. This chapter aims instead 
to present al-Kurani’s main theological and Sufi arguments, those that occupied 
much of his intellectual life, and their interaction with the intellectual debates 
among contemporary scholars. 

Al-Kurani describes God as “absolute existence” (wujtid mutlaq) in the sense 
that He is not restricted or conditioned by anything outside of His essence. 
Since God is not restricted by others, He can become manifest in any restricted 
form He wants without this manifestation affecting the absoluteness of His 
existence. In this view, the ambiguous verses (mutashabihat) and prophetic 
hadiths that contain apparently anthropomorphic meanings should be ac- 
cepted as Divine manifestations without any need for allegorical interpreta- 
tion. The following discussion of these three main ideas, i.e., God as absolute 
existence, the interpretation of the ambiguous verses, and God’s manifesta- 
tions in conceivable forms, will pave the way for reconstructing al-Kurani’s 
philosophical system, which is largely based on these basic ideas. 

According to Ash‘arite theology, God’s attributes are neither other than God's 
essence nor identical with God’s essence, or, in al-Kurani’s expression, laysa 
ghayr al-dhat wa-la ‘ayn al-dhat. Consequently, God as absolute existence can 
be considered from two points of view. The first takes God’s essence without 
any regard to His attributes, names, relations, or anything else. From this per- 

Chittick, “The Last Will and Testament of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Foremost Disciple, Sadr al-Din al- 
Qinawi,” Sophia Perennis, Volume 1v, number 1, 1978, pp. 43-58. 


spective, He is absolutely indeterminate; no label, name, or attribute can be 
ascribed to Him. The second perspective is that God can be known and per- 
ceived through His attributes, names, and relations. For example, knowledge is 
one of God’s attributes, and God’s knowledge has two aspects; in one aspect it 
is identical to and in the other different from God’s essence. God’s knowledge, 
as identical to His essence, is called nafs al-amr. Nafs al-amr contains the reali- 
ties (haqa@’iq), quiddities (mahiyyat), nonexistents (ma‘dumat), or fixed entities 
(a‘yan thabita) of all contingent beings. All these terms appear to be used inter- 
changeably in al-Kurant’s writings. 

God’s knowledge is eternal; thus, the realities or quiddities of all contingent 
beings are eternal and unmade (ghayr maj‘la). Al-Kurani even describes a 
reality as a “thing” (shay’), an idea that appears to be similar to the Mu'tazilite 
idea of the “thingness of nonexistent” (shay’iyyat al-ma‘dum). Al-Karani not 
only explains the meaning of “thing” (shay’), he also tries to prove that the 
Ash‘arites actually accept the idea that a nonexistent can be described as a 
“thing” and thus that they accept the concept of “mental existence” (wujtid 
dhihnt). After establishing the idea that realities are uncreated and individu- 
ated in God’s knowledge, al-Kurani moves toward an explanation of creation 
as a manifestation of these realties in the external world. God creates them 
as their quiddities require, which provides an answer to the question of des- 
tiny and predestination, and will be reflected in al-Kurani’s theory of kasb and 
his affirmation of human freedom with respect to actions. Holding that the 
eternal realities subsist in God’s knowledge also provides al-Kurani with a solu- 
tion to the question of God’s knowledge of particulars. The structure of this 
chapter will lead us to discuss in detail almost every topic mentioned in this 
paragraph: God’s knowledge, which contains the realities or uncreated quiddi- 
ties; the nature of these realities; creation; destiny; human freedom; and God’s 
knowledge of particulars. 

This metaphysical or cosmological structure, starting from absolute exis- 
tence and moving, through the idea of creation, to human existence, represents 
the idea of wahdat al-wujud in al-Kurani’s thought, as will be clarified at the 
end of this chapter.t The main body of this chapter thus starts with the idea 

4 Ido not claim that the manuscripts that I use in this chapter are superior to other extant 
manuscripts of the same works. I collected a sample of al-Kurani’s works that are available 
in libraries and archives around the world as available; the texts that I gathered amount to 
86 treatises, some of them only a few folios, others dozens of folios, and some reaching more 
than 200 folios. For the most part I did not intentionally collect different copies of the same 
work, focusing instead on collecting as many individual works as possible; however, I have 
several copies of some works and in a few cases I consulted different copies intentionally. 

178 CHAPTER 5 

that constitutes the foundation of al-Kurani’s thought: God is absolute exis- 
tence, which means that He can manifest in whatever form He wants, so there 
is no need for allegorical interpretation. From the idea of God’s attributes, the 
topic of God’s eternal knowledge forms the basis on which al-Kurani discussed 
the issues of creation and related topics, including the question of unity and 
plurality, that of how man can be legally responsible for his acts if God knows 
eternally what he will do, and al-Kurani’s main contribution to the question 
of kasb. From these topics, we will move on to discuss several pertinent intel- 
lectual debates in which al-Kurani intervened, such as the concept of “thing” 
and the differentiation between good and bad according to the intellect, to 
conclude this chapter by arguing that the coherent system that al-Kurani was 
building, based on Ibn ‘Arabr’s thought, is represented through the concept of 
wahdat al-wujid. 

1 God is Absolute Existence (al-wujud al-mutlaq or al-wujud 

Ibn ‘Arabi repeatedly describes God as absolute existence, saying, among other 
expressions, that “the Truth Almighty is existent by its essence, for its essence, 
absolute existence, unrestricted by others.”> His use of the term “absolute exis- 
tence” (al-wujid al-mutlaq) provoked strong attacks against him. These attacks 
came from numerous scholars in different intellectual traditions, including the 
Hanbalite jurist and theologian Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328), the Maturidite the- 
ologian al-Taftazani (d. 792/1390), and even from Sufis such as ‘Ala’ al-Dawla 
al-Simnant (d. 739/1336). 

Ibn Taymiyya interpreted absolute existence as a universal concept, mean- 
ing an abstract concept that exists only in the mind and that can never exist in 
the external world. Universals are nothing more than common, general mean- 
ings that the mind retains to signify individuals in the real, external world. For 
Ibn Taymiyya, universals exist only in the mind and thus there are no univer- 
sals in the external world; universal statements are the result of generalizations 
made by the mind on the basis of empirical observation of particulars that 
share certain attributes. In the external world, only individuated particulars 
exist, particulars that are specific, distinct, and unique.® Since abstract meaning 

5 Mubhyial-Din Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya (Cairo: Bulag edition, 1911), vol. 1, p. 99; vol. 1, 
p- 18; vol. 3, p. 162. 

6 Wael B. Hallaq, “Ibn Taymiyya on the Existence of God,” Acta Orientalia, Lugduni Batavorum: 
EJ. Brill, (52) 1991, p. 51. 


exists solely in the mind, it does not have any actual real meaning in the world. 
In other words, Ibn Taymiyya’s objection to Ibn ‘Arabt is that if we say that God 
is absolute existence, then God is just an idea or a concept in our mind without 
any external existence. 

Al-Taftazani in Sharh al-Maqasid discusses this idea extensively and argues 
that absolute existence belongs to the category of the second intelligibles (al- 
ma‘qulat al-thaniya), which do not have any real existence outside the mind.” 
The universal concept (mafhum kull’) does not exist extramentally, apart from 
its particular instances.’ Al-Taftazani rejects the attempts of Ibn ‘Arabi's fol- 
lowers to interpret the concept philosophically. Pseudo-Sufis, according to al- 
Taftazani, tried to use the philosophers’ claim that God’s quiddity is identical 
to God's existence and that He has no contrary, no analogue, no genus, and 
no differentia. While the arguments of pseudo-Sufis, as El-Rouayheb explains, 
established that something can be true both of absolute existence and God, it 
does not necessarily follow from this establishment that absolute existence and 
God are identical.° 

Al-Simnani also rejects the description of God as absolute existence. Al- 
‘Ayyashi mentions that Ibn ‘Arabi’s commentator ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Qashani 
(d. 730/1330) met with one of al-Simnani’s students and asked him about the 
latter’s opinion of Ibn ‘Arabi and his thought. Al-Simnani’s student replied that 
his shaykh, al-Simnani, believed that Ibn ‘Arabi was a great person (rajul ‘azim 
al-sha’n) but that he was mistaken in his idea that God is absolute existence 
(al-wujud al-mutlaq). Al-Qashani replied that this idea is the foundation of 

7 Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani, Sharh al-Magqdsid, ed. Abd al-Rahman ‘Umayra (Beirut: ‘Alam al- 
Kutub, 1989), vol. 4, p. 59. Knysh thinks that the major source of al-Taftazani’s knowledge 
of his opponent's views is the work of Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi, who took a strictly rational- 
ist approach to his master’s legacy. That makes al-Taftazani’s criticism, according to Knysh, 
based ona superficial acquaintance with the Sufi’s original work. Knysh, Ibn Arabi in the Later 
Islamic Tradition (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999), p. 162. 

8 For al-Taftazani’s refutation of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought see Knysh, Ibn Arabi in the Later Islamic 
Tradition, p.146 and after. It is important to mention that Knysh used Risdla fiwahdat al-wujud 
as the main source to present al-Taftazani’s refutation. This treatise was actually written by 
‘Al@ al-Din al-Bukhari (d. 730/1330). Al-Bukhari was a student of al-Taftazani and he repeated 
several of his teacher’s ideas, which perhaps is the cause of this confusion. For further infor- 
mation about this epistle, its different titles, and to whom it has been attributed, see the 
French introduction by Bakri Aladdin to al-Nabulusi’s book al-Wujud al-haqq (Damascus: 
1FPO Linstitut francais d’ études arabes de Damas, 1995), p. 18 and after. 

g El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 315 and after. El- 
Rouayheb argues that from the perspective of al-Kurani and other early modern defenders 
of ontological monism, the most prominent and formidable opponent of the view that God 
is identical to absolute existence was not Ibn Taymiyya but al-Taftazani, Ibid., p. 283. 

180 CHAPTER 5 

all of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, and further that there is no better than this idea 
(asl jamt maarifih hadha al-kalam, wa-la ahsan min hadha al-kalam)/° Al- 
Qashani continues on to say that the idea that God is absolute existence is 
the doctrine of all prophets, saints (awliya’), and imams. When al-Simnani’s 
student conveyed this opinion to his teacher, al-Simnani said that in all doc- 
trines and religions there is no worse than this idea; even the materialists 
and the deniers of the Creator (al-dahriyyin wa-l-tabityyin) are better than 

Describing God as absolute existence is associated with Ibn ‘Arabi and his 
followers, but, in fact, we can also find a description of God as “absolute” in al- 
Ash‘ar'’s thought. Ibn Furak (d. 406/1015), in Mujarrad maqalat al-Shaykh Abi 
al-Hasan al-Ashari, says that al-Ash‘ari, after talking about created existents, 
says: “and the absolute existent, whose existence does not depend on an exis- 
tent of a Creator, is the affirmed being which is neither negated nor nonexistent 
(amma al-mawjud al-mutlaq alladhilayata‘allaq bi-wujud al-wajid lahu fa-huwa 
al-thabit al-k@in alladht laysa bi-muntafi wa-la ma‘dum).”" In spite of the fact 
that Ibn Farak was talking about the absolute existent (mawjud) not absolute 
existence (wujud), what was controversial was the meaning of “absolute.” The 
term “absolute” tends to be associated with Ibn ‘Arabi, and all Ibn ‘Arabi’s com- 
mentators and followers used this term and were thus obliged to reply to critics 
and explain their understanding of it.5 Some scholars dedicated specific trea- 
tises to demonstrating that absolute existence actually exists, among them ‘Ali 
al-Muha’imi (d. 835/1431-1432), one of the Fusus al-hikam’s commentators, who 

1o.—- Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 509. 

11 ~~ Al-Simnani was a critic of wahdat al-wujiid and actively corresponded with al-Qashani 
over the topic of the ontological relationship of God and the universe. See Jamal J. Elias, 
The Throne Carrier of God: The Life and Thought of Ala’ Ad-Dawla As-Simnani (Albany: 
State University of New York Press, 1995), p. 44. About al-Simnani and wahdat al-wujiid see 
Hermann Landolt, “Simnani on wahdat al-wujiid, in Collected Papers on Islamic Philoso- 
phy and Mysticism, ed. Hermann Landolt and M. Mohaghegh (Tehran: McGill University, 
Institute of Islamic Studies, Tehran Branch, 1971), pp. 91-112. 

12 Ibn Farak, Mujarrad maqalat al-Shaykh Abi al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari: min iml@ al-Shaykh al- 
Imam Abi Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Firak (t. 406/1015), ed. Daniel Gimaret (Beirut: 
Dar el-Mashriq, 1987), p. 27. 

13 +Al-Qunawi used the same term for absolute existence in several contexts. See Miftah al- 
ghayb li-Abi al-Mali Sadr al-Din Muhammad b. Ishaq al-Qunawi wa-sharhuhu Misbah 
al-uns li-Muhammad bin Hamza al-Fanari, ed. Muhammad Khvajavi (Tehran: Intisharat 
Mawila, 1416/[1995]). Al-Qunawi, Miftah al-ghayb, p. 19; and al-Fanari’s commentary Mis- 
bah al-uns, p. 150 and after. See also William Chittick, “Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi on the 
Oneness of Being,” International Philosophical Quarterly, XX1, 1, 1981, 171-184, p. 173. Also, 
William Chittick, “Mysticism versus Philosophy in Earlier Islamic History: al-Tisi, al- 
Qunawi correspondence,” Religious Studies 17, 1981, 87-104, p. 92. 


wrote Adillat al-tawhid and commented on his own work in Ajillat al-ta’yid 
to explain this topic.’4 Al-Kurani inherited this long tradition of interpreting 
Ibn ‘Arabi’s concept of absolute existence. Since his teacher al-Qushashi was 
among those who discussed it, it is not surprising to find it in al-Kurani’s early 

Al-Kurani explains in numerous contexts and in several works that absolute 
existence means unqualified and unconditioned existence.!6 In other words, 
the term “absolute” (mutlaq) can be understood by appeal to its contrary; that 
is, the term “conditioned” or “restricted” (mugayyad). God cannot be restricted 
by anything other than Himself. That does not mean that God’s absoluteness is 
contrary of or a contradiction of restriction; in this case, He will be restricted 
by what He is not able to do. He is absolute in real absoluteness: He is not 
bounded or restricted, and at the same time He is capable of every form of abso- 
luteness or restriction (al-itlaq al-haqiqi alladhi la yuqabiluhu taqyyid, al-qabil 
li-kull itlag wa-taqyyid).“ La yugabiluhu taqyyid is explained in Ithaf al-dhaki as 
existence that is not conditioned (la bi-shart shay’).!® Al-Kurani here wants to 
explain that absoluteness does not mean an opposite of restriction, because 
God is able to manifest Himself in a restricted form and in any form He so 
wishes without His absoluteness being affected. The primary and most impor- 
tant characteristic of God is that He will always and forever be without compar- 
ison; “nothing is like Him” (laysa ka-mithlihi shay’) (Q 42:11). God is unbounded; 
He is not determined or defined by any created form; He is an absolute exis- 
tence that assumes every binding and every form without becoming bound or 

In line with al-Qashani’s statement mentioned above that describing God 
as absolute existence is the foundation of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, al-Kurani says 
that the issue of absolute existence is the foundation of all foundations (as! al- 
usul);!° thus, he tries to demonstrate this principle by reason and by scripture to 
assert that absolute existence is necessary and exists extramentally. Al-Kurani 
worked to demonstrate systematically that absolute existence exists, that abso- 

14 Al-Kuarani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 232. 

15 Al-Qushashiin his gloss on ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jili’s al-Kamalat al-ilahiyya discussed the con- 
cept of absolute existence (al-wujiid al-mutlaq). See some aspects of his arguments in 
al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 600. 

16 [brahim al-Kurani, Maslak al-ta‘rif bi-tahqiq al-taklif ‘ala mashrab ahlal-kashf wa-l-shuhid 
al-q@ilin bi-tawhid al-wujiid (Ms: USA: Princeton Islamic_Mss_3869Y), fol. 60°. 

17. ~~~ Al-Kurani, Matla‘ al-jud bi-tahqiq al-tanzih fi wahdat al-wujiid (Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 
1440), fol. 124°. 

18 = Al-karani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 216. 

1g Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 231. 

182 CHAPTER 5 

lute existence is necessary, and finally that the doctrine that God is absolute 
existence is in accord with al-Ash‘ari’s doctrine that the existence of everything 
is identical to its essence. 

Citing Jami in al-Durra al-fakhira, he says that existence must include nec- 
essary existence as well as contingent existence; otherwise, existence will be 
limited to contingents. The contingent does not exist by itself, and what cannot 
exist by itself cannot be a cause of the existence of others, so, that means noth- 
ing exists. And if there is no existence, either by itself or by others, that means 
there are no existents at all. But this assumption is not correct, because there 
are existents; thus, there is necessary existence.?° Al-Kurani then says that the 
origin of existents (mabda al-mawjudat), which should be the necessary exis- 
tence, is itself existent. It is either the reality of existence (haqiqat al-wujid), or 
different than existence. The origin of existents cannot be nonexistent, because 
what is nonexistent needs existence in order to exist. And since it needs others, 
it cannot be necessary. Thus, the origin of existents exists and it is the reality of 

Up until this point, al-Kurani has attempted to demonstrate that there is 
existence that is the origin of all existents, and that this existence is the real- 
ity of existence. Now, he needs to demonstrate that this existence that is the 
reality of all existents and the origin of existents is absolute existence. To do 
so, he first offers two possible definitions for existence: Either existence is [1] 
absolute in the real sense of absoluteness that is neither restricted nor condi- 
tioned by anything apart from itself, and that is able to manifest itself in any 
restricted form without its absoluteness being affected. Such an existence is 
concretely individuated (muta‘ayyin)** by its essence, not by any addition to 
its essence; in itself it is neither universal nor particular. Or, existence is [2] 
restricted and concretely individuated by something added to its essence. If so, 
it is concretely individuated through composition and each composed item is 
in need of something, and what is in need cannot be necessary existence.?3 In 
another context, al-Kurani gives more detail to this argument by stating that it 
is proven that necessary existence is existent in itself. So, necessary existence 
is either: 

20 ~= Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 232. ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami, al-Durra al-fakhira, ed. Ahmad al- 
Sayih & Ahmad ‘Awad (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqafa al-Diniyya, 2002), p. 7. 

21 = Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 231. 

22 Chittick says that in Ibn ‘Arabi and Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi’s writing this term signifies “to 
be or to become an entity,” or “the state of being specified and particularized.” Chittick, 
The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 83. 

23 ~— Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 232. 


a. Pure existence that exists by itself; or 

b. Existence that is attached to quiddity and is conditioned by its disposition 
(istidad); or 

c. The quiddity that can be attached to the existence and that qualifies it; or 

d. Thecompound of the quiddity and the existence that exists in accordance 
with it [the quiddity]. 

(d) is not correct because the compound is in need of others, so it cannot be 

necessary existence. (b) and (c) are also not correct because each one needs 

the other to be actualized, and being in need negates necessity (al-ihtiyaj yunaft 

al-wujiib). Thus, it is (a) that is the correct definition of existence.*+ Thus God, 

which is what al-Kurani means by “necessary existence,’ is a pure, absolute exis- 


In Matla‘ al-jud, al-Kurani repeats the same proof.?° There, he adds that nec- 
essary existence by itself is existence that is devoid of quiddity (wujud mujarrad 
‘an al-mahiyya), and concretely individuated by itself (muta ‘ayyin bi-dhatihi).26 
God’s existence is thus unprecedented (ghayr masbuq) by a quiddity, unlike 
that of all other existents. God is identical to pure, absolute existence (al- 
wujud al-mutlag or al-wujid al-mahd), in the sense that God has no quiddity 
(mahiyya) apart from unqualified existence as such. 

Thus, necessary existence is absolute existence that is devoid of quiddity, 
self-subsisting (qa’im bi-dhatihi), concretely individuated (muta ‘ayyin) by itself, 
and absolute in the real sense of absoluteness.”” This pure existence is nec- 
essary by virtue of itself and is an “individual” (shakhs) and “concretely indi- 
viduated,” but it is nevertheless not a “particular” (juz’t), nor a universal; it is 
unqualified, pure existence and is a concrete entity in the extramental world.?® 
God is a real external existence; He is neither an abstract idea nor a mere men- 
tal concept. His essence and His existence are the same. Existence is essential 
for God since He is the source of existence (‘ayn al-wujud).?° 

After establishing the idea that God is absolute existence, al-Kurani attempts 
to demonstrate that this position is in accord with al-Ash‘an’’s position in his 
famous formula that the existence of everything is identical with its quiddity.2° 

24 = Al-Kurani, Tanbih al-‘uqil, p. 33. 

25 Al-Kurani, Matla‘al-jiid, fol. 124°. 

26 ~~ Al-Karani, Matta‘ al-jiid, fol. 1242-». 

27 ~~ Al-Kurani, Matta‘ al-jiid, fol. 124». 

28 = Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 248. Translated by El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in 
the Seventeenth Century, p. 329. 

29 ~=— Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 228. 

30 ~=— Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 235. 

184 CHAPTER 5 

Al-Kurani’s argument for al-Ash‘ar1’s agreement with the idea that God is abso- 
lute existence always starts with al-Kurani’s attempt to prove that Ash‘arites 
accept the concept of mental existence despite their rejection of the term. This 
issue will be discussed separately below. 

In [thaf al-nabth bi-tahqiq al-tanzih, al-Kirani supports his idea that God 
is absolute existence and that He can manifest Himself in any form with- 
out His transcendence being affected because “nothing is like Him.” (Q 42:11). 
After demonstrating through reason that God is absolute existence, al-Kurani 
attempts to prove this position through several hadiths and Quranic verses 
referring to apparent anthropomorphic descriptions of God. He says that God, 
as absolute existence, can manifest in any form and that there is no need for 
allegorical interpretation (ta’wil) of these verses or hadiths. These descriptions 
should be accepted literally while maintaining that “there is nothing like Him.’ 
Al-Kurani states that the salaf, the first three pious generations, accepted these 
verses and hadiths without allegorical interpretation, a position he holds as cor- 
rect.*! Thus, God defined as absolute existence leads us to two main ideas in 
al-Kurani’s thought: God’s manifestations in forms, or tajalliyat in Sufi terms, 
and his articulation of the attitude of the salaf as acceptance of the ambigu- 
ous verses (mutashabihat) without allegorical interpretation. These topics will 
be discussed separately in the coming pages. 

2 God’s Attributes and Allegorical Interpretation (ta’wil) 

The Quran (Q 3:7) mentions that it contains two kinds of verses: those that 
are precise or specified (muhkam) and those that are unspecific or ambiguous 
(mutashabihat). These ambiguous verses usually refer to descriptions of God as 
possessing sensible attributes, such as a hand (Q 48:10) or an eye (Q 20:39), or 
that He descends to the lower heavens. The Quran also says that “there is noth- 
ing like Him” (Q 24:11). Scholars disagree about how one should understand 
these attributes that God ascribes to Himself so that no kind of comparison, 
likeness, or analogy is implied between God’s attributes and human attributes. 
Indeed, understanding these apparently anthropomorphic attributes has been 
one of the most controversial topics in Islamic theology. 

The Quran says about the ambiguous verses that “no one knows its interpre- 
tation except God and those firm in knowledge say, ‘we believe in it” (Q 3:7). 

31  Al-Karani, [thaf al-nabth bi-tahqiq al-tanzih (Ms: Cairo: Ma‘thad Makhtatat al-‘Alam al- 
‘Arabi, majami‘ 11/2), fols. 352-354. 


According to al-Kurani, the dispute among theologians starts from reading this 
verse. The salaf attitude is that we have to stop the reading after the word 
“God”; thus, the only one who knows the true interpretation is God. In this 
reading, those who are “firm in knowledge” accept how God describes Himself 
and believe in it without any interpretation. Theologians who favour allegori- 
cal interpretation, including the Mu'tazilites and the majority of the Ash‘arites, 
maintain that during our reading of the verse the stop should be after “those 
firm in knowledge.” This reading means that those who know the interpretation 
of the ambiguous verses include both God and those who are firm in knowl- 

El-Rouayheb gives a clear description of the Ash‘arite view of the appar- 
ent anthropomorphic verses, stating that summarizing their position with the 
formula bila kayf, which means these verses should be accepted “without [ask- 
ing] how,’ is not accurate. The mainstream Ash‘arite position from at least the 
fifth/eleventh century onward was that such passages in the Quran and hadith 
should not be taken in their apparent (zahir) sense. Rather, one should either 
reinterpret them allegorically (ta’wil) or entrust their meaning to God (tafwid); 
but such passages should not be accepted literally. This position was the view 
propounded in such standard handbooks of Ash‘arite and Maturidite theology 
as Sharh al-‘Aqaid al-Nasafiyya by Taftazani, Sharh al-Mawagif by al-Sayyid al- 
Sharif al-Jurjani, the creedal works of Sanusi (d. 895/1490), and the Jawharat 
al-tawhid of Ibrahim al-Laqqani (d. 1040/1631).33 El-Rouayheb also clarifies that 
some Hanbalite thinkers were satisfied with the position of tafwid, but more 
radical Hanbalites like Ibn Taymiyya rejected tafwid. Ibn Taymiyya insists that 
the apparent (zahir) sense of passages that state that God has an eye, hands, 
and feet should simply be accepted in the same way that one should accept pas- 
sages that state that God knows or wills or speaks. If theologians say that God’s 
knowledge, will, and speech are unlike human knowledge, will, and speech, 
why can one not say similarly that God has eye, feet, and hands but that these 
are very unlike human eye, feet, and hands?3+ 

Al-Kurani disagrees with later Ash‘arite allegorical interpretations of the 
ambiguous verses, nor was he satisfied with the attitude of tafwid, which some 
Ash‘arite and Hanbalite theologians adopted. Al-Kurani instead embraces the 
position of the radical Hanbalites like Ibn Taymiyya, and claims that accept- 
ing these ambiguous verses and apparently anthropomorphic descriptions of 

32 ~=©Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-khalaf bi-tahgiq madhhab al-salaf (Ms: Istanbul: Halet Efendi 787), 
fols. 34>—355. 

33 _El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, pp. 275-276. 

34  El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, pp. 276-277. 

186 CHAPTER 5 

God without any allegorical interpretation was the true position not only of the 
salaf, but even of Abi al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari himself. 

According to al-Kurani, al-Ash‘ari’s position with respect to God’s attributes 
is the same as that of Ahmad b. Hanbal and all of the salaf: To be in accord 
with the salaf means that that one follows the example of the best generation, 
according to a prophetic tradition says that the best generations (Ahayr al- 
qurun) are the first three, known as the pious ancestors (al-salaf al-salih).>> This 
preference for the first generations of Muslims refers to their understanding 
of the scripture: they were the closest people to the Prophet and thus under- 
stood the scripture in the “best” way. Al-Kurani, in most of his works, puts an 
emphasis on following the doctrine of the salaf, and reminds his readers that 
accepting the apparent meaning of the Quranic verses without any allegorical 
interpretation is the position of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari.*6 There is no likening 
or comparing of God to His creatures. One should describe God as He describes 
Himself in the Quran or as the Prophet described Him, and always remember 
that “there is nothing like Him.’ 

Al-Kurani was aware of the opinion of what he called the “later Ash‘arites” 
(muta‘akhkhiri al-Ashdaira) that the apparent sense should not be accepted lit- 
erally. In his opinion, they promoted allegorical interpretations of the ambigu- 
ous verses and hadiths because they thought that accepting their apparent 
meaning contradicted intellectual demonstrations that it is impossible for God 
to have material descriptions.” Al-Kurani says that intellectual contemplation 
and reasoning (al-nazar al-‘aqit) are not sufficient to provide understanding 
of the ambiguous verses and hadiths. We should believe in these verses with- 
out interpreting them allegorically and at the same time we should reject both 
assimilation and likening of God with his creatures. Al-Kurani repeats fre- 
quently that reason as a means of thinking is limited, but it is limitless as a 
receiver of God's grace (lahu hudid min haythu huwa mufakkir la min haythu 
huwa qabil).38 Al-Kurani’s independent thinking appears clearly in his discus- 
sion of the possible allegorical interpretation of the ambiguous verses, as he 
rejects the opinion of the later Ash‘arites, and proposes an opinion closer to 
the Hanbalites’ understanding of these verses. At the same time, he did not 

35 In Sahih al-Bukhari: “The best people are those living in my generation, and then those 
who will follow them, and then those who will follow the latter.” Similar narrative can be 
found in Sahih Muslim. 

36 = Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 196. 

37. Ibrahim al-Kurani, [zalat al-ishkal bi-l-jawab al-wadih ‘an al-tajalli ft al-suwar (Ms: Istan- 
bul: Nafiz Pasa 508), fols. 52-». 

38 Al-Kurani, /zalat al-ishkdl, fol. 5». 


justify his idea using the Hanbalite argument that we should understand the 
apparent sense of these verses without any allegorical interpretation; rather, 
he concludes his discussion using the Sufi ideas of inspiration and unveiling, 
and he will similarly explain his idea of accepting the verses and hadiths that 
apparently ascribe anthropomorphic characteristics to God using the Sufi idea 
of tajallt in forms. 

How does al-Kurani defend his claim that al-Ash‘ari’s position on the am- 
biguous verses is to accept their apparent meaning without any allegorical 
interpretation? And why does he make the claim in the first place? Al-Kurani 
bases his attempt at reconciliation between the Ash‘arites and the salaf con- 
cerning God’s attributes mainly on al-Ash‘ar1’s book al-Ibana. In al-Ibana, al- 
Ash‘ari acknowledges that he is following Ahmad Ibn Hanbal,?9 and indicates 
that he holds that the attitude of the salaf concerning the ambiguous verses is 
to accept their apparent anthropomorphic meaning. According to al-Kurani, al- 
Ash‘ari thereby affirms the apparently anthropomorphic passages in the Quran 
and hadith without attempting to allegorically reinterpret them, all the while 
affirming that “there is nothing like Him.” 

Al-Ash‘ari’s al-Ibana was not the only Ash‘arite book to say that the attitude 
of the salaf was to accept the Quranic verses that have apparent anthropo- 
morphic meaning without the need for allegorical interpretation. Al-Kurani 
also cites Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwaynt’s al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya, in which al- 
Juwaynt says that the attitude of the salaf was to accept the apparent meaning 
without interpretation and that they entrusted the meaning of these verses 
to God.*° Al-Kurani connects the idea of accepting apparently anthropomor- 
phic meanings with his interpretation of absolute existence as the One who 
is not restricted or conditioned by anything and who can manifest Himself in 
any conceivable form, without His absoluteness being affected. Al-Kurani’s 

39  Abwal-Hasan al-Ash‘ari, al-Jbana ‘an usil al-diyana, ed. Bashir Muhammad ‘Yan (Damas- 
cus: Dar al-Bayan, 3ed, 1990), p. 43. 

40 Imam al-Haramayn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Juwayni, al-‘Agida al-nizamiyya, ed. Muhammad 
Zahid Kawthari (Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Azhariyya li-]-Turath, 1992), p. 32. This edition is a 
reprint of the al-Kawthani edition, with his comments, in addition to the collation of the 
edition with a new manuscript. Al-Kawthari considers al-Juwayni’s position to be a pre- 
caution (ihtiyat), lest one accept a less preferable meaning (marjuh) among the different 
possible allegorical interpretations that respect the transcendence of God. Ibid., p. 32, fn. 
1; p. 33, fn. 1. Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 222. 

41 Al-Karani, Ithdf al-khalaf bi-tahgiq madhhab al-salaf, fols. 34-35». See also al-Kirani, 
Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 196; al-Kurani, Ifadat al-‘Allam (Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722), 
fol. 2472. See also Al-Kurani, Tanbih al-‘uqil, pp. 45-46. Translated by El-Rouayheb, Islamic 
Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 279. 

188 CHAPTER 5 

opinion is that the later mutakallimun interpreted these ambiguous verses 
and hadiths because they thought accepting their appearance contradicted the 
transcendence (tanzth) of God. But according to al-Kurani, God's manifestation 
in forms does not contradict His transcendence, as we shall see in the related 

Al-Ibana and al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya were also the sources for al-Kurani’s 
theory of kasb, in which he affirms that man has effects in his acts, not inde- 
pendently, but rather by the permission of God. This topic will be discussed 
below; it is mentioned here simply to indicate that the doubts cast on al-Jbana 
and al-‘Agida al-nizamiyya, which we shall mention soon, are related mainly to 
the two topics for which al-Kurani relies on them: interpreting God’s attributes 
and the theory of kasb. 

In every context where al-Kurani promotes the attitude of the salaf regard- 
ing God’s attributes and related topics such as the concept of absolute existence 
and of manifestation in forms, he cites a few lines from al-Ibdna in which al- 
Ash‘ari says that he is following the salaf. The works in which these citations 
occur include Ithaf al-nabth bi-tahqiq al-tanzih, Ithaf al-dhakt (before 19 Dhu 
al-Hijja 1071), al-Ayn wa-l-athar fi aga@id ahl al-athar (written in 1070), Ifa- 
dat al-‘Allam (written in 1070), and Ithaf al-khalaf bi-tahqiq madhhab al-salaf 
(written in 1088), just to name a few. In al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar and Ifadat al-Allam, 
al-Kurani quotes almost two pages from al-Ibana, but he mentions that he is 
citing al-Ibana from the text of Ibn ‘Asakir’s Tabyyin kadhib al-muftari.* In one 
of al-Kurani’s last texts, Izalat al-ishkal, written in 1097, almost four years before 
his death, he repeats his ideas about al-Ash‘ari's doctrine of accepting appar- 
ent descriptions without allegorical interpretation.+ Interestingly, al-Kurani 
was still citing al-Ibana from Ibn ‘Asakir’s book Tabyyin kadhib al-muftari. Does 
that mean al-Kurani did not have access to al-Ibana? This question is important 
for the broader project of sketching out a geography of text circulation in the 
eleventh/seventeenth century; thus, although it is not fully answerable here, it 
deserves a brief discussion. 

In reading al-Kurani’s works, I have noticed that he never includes a direct 
citation from al-Ibdana or cites text from al-Ibana that was not itself first cited in 
Ibn ‘Asakir’s text.4° What al-Kurani needed from al-Jbana was only al-Ash‘ari’s 
statement that he follows the salaf, and mainly used the first two chapters that 
Ibn ‘Asakir lists in his book. In Maslak al-sadad, the text that was written in 

42 Al-Karani, Izdlat al-ishkdl, fol. 24°. 

43 ~Al-Kurani, [fadat al-‘Allam, fol. 1892—190%. 

44 Al-Karani, /zalat al-ishkdl, fol. 207-21». 

45 Al-Ibdna, as we shall see soon, is a controversial text in the Ash‘arite tradition. 


1085, AH, when al-Kurani wanted to cite al-I[badna, he mentioned that Ibn ‘Asakir 
cited the beginning of Kitab al-Ibana in his book Tabyyin kadhib al-muftari. 
Then al-Kurani mentioned his isnad of reading the beginning of al-Ibana that 
Ibn ‘Asakir listed, starting with his teacher al-Qushashi, and continuing until 
Ibn ‘Asakir.4® Thus, until the end of his life, it seems that al-Kurani did not have 
direct access to the text of al-Ibana, continuing to cite only the few pages that 
Ibn ‘Asakir included in his book. Does that mean al-Ibdna was not popular in 
Ash‘arite history? Which texts of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari were used to present 
his thought in Ash‘arite history cannot be discussed here. This aside aims to 
draw the attention of scholars to this topic, especially given the fact that while 
modern scholars discuss the place of al-Ibana in al-Ash‘ari’s thought, as far as 
I know there are no studies on the use of al-Ibana in presenting al-Ash‘ari’s 
thought among later Ash‘arites. 

Since there is no doubt in the attribution of al-Ibdnda to Abi al-Hasan al- 
Ash‘ari, how can we explain the difference between his ideas in this book 
and the ideas of the Ash‘arite school as it developed by later generations? Did 
the Ash‘arite school, as it developed, diverge from the thought of its founder? 
Ash‘arite scholars have two arguments to justify the difference between the 
ideas of al-Ibana and al-Ash‘ari’s thought in other books. The first is that al- 
Ibana was written at an early stage in al-Ash‘ar’’s life, and that his thought later 
developed away from Hanbalite influence. The second argument is that the 
text of al-Ibdana, in its printed and known editions, contains interpolations and 
that there are additions that were made to it that were not from al-Ash‘ari's 
work. Thus, the chronology of al-Ash‘an’’s works is essential to understanding 
the developments of al-Ash‘ari's thought and the Ash‘arite school’s doctrine. 
If al-Ibana was the last work, it should be understood to be representative of 
al-Ash‘ari’s thought at the end of his life; al-Kurani, following Ibn Taymiyya, 
accepted this opinion. But if it was one of his early works after leaving the 
Muttazilites, and later he moved away from this early position of accepting the 
apparent meaning of the ambiguous verses to adopt the doctrine of allegorical 
interpretation, that chronology might help explain how the later developments 
of Ash‘arite theology described by al-Kurani as muta‘akhkhiri al-Asha‘ra were 
actually building on the development that had occurred within al-Ash‘an’s own 

The chronology of al-Ash‘ari’s works is still a topic of debate. The Salafi posi- 
tion concerning al-Ash‘ari’s works and thought is that Abu al-Hasan Ash‘ari 

46 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Maslak al-sadad ila mas‘alat khalq af al al-ibad (Ms: Istanbul: Veliyyiid- 
din Efendi 1815), fol. 33. 

190 CHAPTER 5 

passed through three stages in the development of his belief: (1) he was a 
Muttazilite at the beginning of his life, then (2) he converted from Mu'tazil- 
ism and followed the ideas of Ibn Kullab, or what later became to be known 
as Ash‘arism or the position of the later Ash‘arites, to use al-Kurani’s expres- 
sion, and (3) at the end of his life he returned to Salafi doctrines. The main 
evidence for these three stages in al-Ash‘ari’s doctrinal developments is that 
al-Ibana contains doctrines that agree with Hanbalite ideas while other books 
align more closely with the later Ash‘arite school development. Since, in this 
argument, al-Ibana is the last work that he wrote, it must represent the third 
stage, in which he returned to Salafi thought.*” 

Al-Kurani himself was convinced that al-Ibana was al-Ash‘ar''s last book and 
thus represented the most definitive expression of his thought.*8 Ibn ‘Asakir 
in Tabyyin kadhib al-muftart and Ibn Taymiyya in several of his writings con- 
firms that al-Ibana was al-Ash‘an’’s last book. But this conviction concerning 
the place of al-Ibana among al-Ash‘ari’s works has been challenged by contem- 
porary scholars. 

Goldziher regards al-Ibana as the first attempt to reconcile the Ash‘arites 
with the Hanbalites, an attempt that later Ash‘arites did not pursue.*9 Zahid 
al-Kawthari also regards al-Ibana as the first book Abt al-Hasan composed 
after his conversion from Mu ‘tazilism.5° Anawati and Gardet agree with them.5! 
Gimaret in La doctrine d’Ashari is uncertain about the dating of the book and 
in his later article “Bibliographie d’ Ash‘ari” says that we do not have enough 
information to order his works chronologically.52 Most of these scholars base 

47 For an overview of this debate see the introduction of the edition of Abia al-Hasan al- 
Ash‘ari’s al-Luma‘ by Hamida Ghuraba (Cairo, Matba‘at Misr, 1955); for more contempo- 
rary discussion see Muhammad al-‘Umrawi, al-Ajwiba al-muharrara ‘an al-as’ila al-‘ashara 
(Jourdan, Dar al-Fath, 2011), pp. 27-64. 

48 ‘Ali b. al-Hasan Ibn ‘Asakir, Tabyyin kadhib al-muftari fi-ma Nusiba ila Abu al-Hasan al- 
Ash ‘ari, ed. Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari (Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Azhariyya li-l-Turath, 
2010), p. 121, Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, al-Risala al-Hamawiyya al-kubra in Majmiu‘ fatawa 
Shaykh al-Islam, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Qasim (Ksa, Medina: Mujamma‘ 
al-Malik Fahd, 2004), vol. 5, p. 93. 

49 — Ignac Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law (Princeton: Princeton Univer- 
sity Press, 1981), p. 106. 

50  Al-Kawthari’s comment on Ibn ‘Asakir Tabyyin kadhib al-muftari, p. 392; al-Kawthari’s 
comment on al-Lum‘a fi tahgiq mabahith al-wujid by Ibrahim b. Mustafa al-Madhani, 
p. 57. Al-Kawthari repeated this note in several works. For example, in his introduction 
to Isharat al-maram min ‘barat al-Imam by Kamal al-Din al-Bayyadi, (Pakistan, Karachi: 
Zam Zam Publisher, 2004), p. 7; also, al-Kawthar''s footnote on al-Bayhaqi, Kitab al-asma@’ 
wa-l-sifat (Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Azhariyya li-l-Turath, n.d), p. 297, fn. 1. 

51 +Anawati and Gardet, Introduction a la théologie musulmane, p. 56. 

52 Daniel Gimaret, “Bibliographie d’ Ash‘ari,’ Journal Asiatique, n° 273, 1985. 278. 


their suggestion that al-Ibana is Abt al-Hasan’s first work after his conversion 
from Mu‘tazilism on an anecdote recounted by Abu Ya‘la al-Hanbali in his book 
Tabagat al-Hanabila. Here, Abu Ya‘la says that when Abu al-Hasan converted 
from Mu ‘tazalism he came to al-Hasan b. ‘Ali b. Khalaf al-Barbahari (d. 329/941), 
the head of the Hanbalites in Baghdad, and presented his book al-Ibana to him, 
but al-Barbahari rejected it.53 So, while al-Ash‘ari announces specifically in al- 
Ibana that he is following Ahmad b. Hanbal and that he accepts the khabari 
attributes, these protestations did not seem to be enough for the Hanbalites. 
Al-Ash‘ari’s attempt at reconciliation was not received positively, which is the 
reason, in this line of argument, that he did not try again and continued on his 

Not only has the place of al-Jbana in the chronology of al-Ash‘ari’s works 
been challenged, but, as mentioned above, some scholars have claimed that 
various ideas from other sources were interpolated into the edited text of al- 
Ibana.5* Al-Kawthari asserts that the edition from India contains interpola- 
tions.5> ‘Abd al-Rahman Badawi agrees with him. McCarthy has similar doubts, 
at least about the text published in India.5® Allard suggests that parts of al- 
Ibana were possibly written by some of al-Ash‘ari’s students.5” These contro- 
versies are modern, however; al-Kurani most probably knew only that al-Jbana 
raises many problems, because the subsequent development of the Ash‘ari 
school departed from this book and preferred other texts of al-Ash‘ari, to the 
extent that even an Ash‘arite scholar such as al-Kurani did not have direct 
access to the text. 

Al-Kurani’s position, based on al-Ibana, seems at first glance to follow Han- 
bali thought on the issue of God’s attributes, but the fact is that he was following 
Ibn ‘Arabi. El-Rouayheb points out that Sufi attitudes about God’s attributes, 
especially those having an apparent anthropomorphic sense, are close to the 
Hanbalite position, but the two positions are based on different underlying 
rationales. While the Hanbalite position arose from their idea that one should 

53 Abu al-Husayn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Yaa, Tabagat al-Hanabila, ed. 
Muhammad Hamid al-Faqi (Cairo: Matba‘at al-Sunna al-Mhammadiyya, 1952), vol. 2, p. 18. 

54  Wahbi Sulayman Ghawaji, Nagra ‘ilmiyya fi nisbat kitab al-Ibana jami‘ahu ila al-imam al- 
jalil nasir al-sunna Abi al-Hasan al-Ash ‘ari (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1989). 

55 Ina footnote in Ibn ‘Asakir’s Tabyyin kadhib al-muftari published in Damascus, 1347/1928, 
p. 28, fn. 1. The Indian edition was published by D@irat al-Ma‘rif al-Nizamiyya, Haydar 
Abad al-Dakan, 1903. 

56 Richard McCarthy, The Theology of al-Ash ‘ari: The Arabic Texts of al-Ash aris Kitab al-Luma‘ 
and Risalat Istihsan al-khawd ft tlm al-kalam (Beirut: Impr. Catholique, 1953), pp. 231-232. 

57. Michel Allard, Le probléme des attributs divins dans la doctrine d’al-ASariet de ses premiers 
grands disciples (Beirut: Impr. Catholique, 1965), p. 52. 

192 CHAPTER 5 

describe God as He describes Himself in scripture, the Sufi position emerged 
from their idea that God can manifest Himself in any form He wishes with- 
out any restrictions. Thus, al-Kurani was not actually following Ibn Taymiyya’s 
line of reasoning, but that of Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers, who were adamant 
that the apparent sense of the Quran and the hadith should be accepted. El- 
Rouayheb states that even though Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers regularly pro- 
posed hidden meanings for parts of the Quran and hadith, they also accepted 
the apparent sense of both and criticized rational theologians and philoso- 
phers for their refusal to do so when they deemed the apparent sense to be 
rationally impossible.5® Al-Kurani chose the most controversial Ash‘arite posi- 
tion, and disagreed with the later development of the Ash‘arite school, in 
order to reach a theological position that agrees with Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. This 
attempt to understand Ash‘arite theology in a way that accords with Ibn ‘Arabi 
is an aspect of al-Kurani's efforts to rebuild Islamic theology based on Ibn 
‘Arabi’s thought. Al-Kurani did not find it difficult to say that his position on 
the apparently anthropomorphic verses, which is based on Ibn ‘Arabi's thought, 
was consistent with Ash‘arite doctrine, since for him it reflected Ash‘arite doc- 
trine as expressed by its founder in the text most representative of his thought, 
by virtue of being his last, al-Ibana. In this way, al-Kurani’s position on one of 
the foundational and most controversial topics in Islamic theology, the under- 
standing of the ambiguous verses, mutashabihat, was established on Akbarian 
thought, supported by evidence from the history of the most widespread Sunni 
doctrinal school, the Ash‘arite, and at the same time consistent with Hanbalite 
doctrines. This kind of synthesis of theology and Sufism is characteristic of al- 
Kurani's approach even in less foundational matters. 

By way of a summary of this topic, for al-Kurani, God is absolute existence 
that may manifest in a limited form without being Himself limited or restricted. 
Not only does reason affirm that absoluteness is not restricted, but the Quran 
and the hadith are full of evidence that God manifests in conceivable forms. 
There is no need to interpret these verses and hadiths allegorically because 
manifestation in forms does not entail any kind of corporealism, incarnation- 
ism, or anthropomorphism, as we shall see in the next section about God's 
manifestations in forms. 

58 _ El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 275. 

3 God’s Manifestations in Sensible and Conceivable Forms 

As explained above, later Ash‘arites thought that accepting the apparent mean- 
ing of these verses and fadiths would contradict the principle of God's tran- 
scendence (tanzih); thus, to avoid this possibility, these descriptions must be 
interpreted allegorically. For al-Kurani, God both is absolute existence and may 
manifest Himself in a limited form while being free from any likeness to crea- 
tures by virtue of there being “nothing is like Him.” He can manifest Himself in 
sensible and conceivable forms, and both revelation (shar‘) and mystic unveil- 
ing (kashf) affirm that He does manifest Himself in restricted forms. In almost 
every context where al-Kurani tries to demonstrate that God is absolute exis- 
tence, he follows his demonstration with several Quranic verses and hadiths 
that appear to support anthropomorphism in order to show that the identifica- 
tion of God and absolute existence is contrary neither to reason nor to religious 

Prophetic fadiths on God’s manifestation in forms can be found in the 
canonical Sunni hadith collections including al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, 
al-Nisabuni, and al-Bayhaqi.5° Al-Kurani dedicated several treatises to clarify- 
ing the idea of God’s manifestations in forms, including Jala al-nazar fi baqa’ 
al-tanzth ma‘ al-tajallt ft al-suwar,®° Ithaf al-nabth bi-tahqiq al-tanzth,* Tan- 
bth al-‘uqul ‘ala tanzih al-suftyya ‘an itiqad al-tajsim wa-l-‘ayniyya wa-Littihad 
wa-l-hulul,®* and Izalat al-ishkal bi-l-jawab al-wadih ‘an al-tajallt_ ft al-suwar.® 
This last treatise is relatively long and detailed. It is one of al-Kuranr’s later 
works, written in 1097/1685-1686, which means that until almost the end of 
his life, al-Kurani was still receiving objections and inquiries related to this 

Alongside the Quranic verses that ascribe to God hands, a face, and the 
actions of sitting on the throne, descending to the lower heaven, hearing and 
seeing, in his discussions of God’s manifestation in forms al-Kurani usually 
mentions several hadiths that contains descriptions of God with anthropomor- 
phic qualities, including: 

59 ~~ Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 225. 

60 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Jal@ al-nagar fi baqa@ al-tanzth ma‘ al-tajalli ft al-suwar (Ms: Istanbul: 
Halet Efendi 787), fols. 327-337. 

61 — Ibrahim al-Karani, Ithaf al-nabih bi-tahqiq al-tanzth, fols. 351-362. 

62 = Ibrahim al-Kurani, Tanbih al-‘uqil ‘ala tanzih al-siftyya ‘an itigad al-tajsim wa-l-‘ayniyya 
wa-l-ittihad wa-l-hulul, ed. Muhammad Ibrahim al-Husayn (Damascus: Dar al-Bayruti, 

63 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Izalat al-ishkal bi-l-jawab al-wadih ‘an al-tajalli fi al-suwar, 47 folios. 

194 CHAPTER 5 

— “my Lord came to me in the best of appearances” (atani Rabbit fi ahsan 
— “He placed His hand between my shoulders, until I sensed its coolness 
between my breast”®> 
— The Prophet said that “God is not one-eyed,” and pointed with his hand 
toward his eye®® 
— “The hellfire will keep on saying: ‘Are there any more (people to come)?’ 
Till the Lord puts His foot over it and then it will say, ‘Qatt! Qatt! (enough! 
— “God created Adam in His own image”®® 
Many other hadiths are mentioned in al-Kurant’s treatises mentioned above. 
Almost all the content of al-Kirani’s Jzdlat al-ishkal and Jala’ al-nazar con- 
sists of citations from hadiths related to God’s manifestation in forms. One 
specific hadith deserves to be mentioned separately because al-Kurani refers 
to it frequently. It is known as the hadith of transformation in forms (hadith al- 
tahawwul fial-suwar). This hadith, which is from the Sahih Muslim, says that on 
the Day of Judgement God appears to people in different appearances, but they 
repeatedly denying Him until He transforms Himself into the form in which 
they recognize Him.®° Al-Kurani says that the hadith of transforming in forms 
is mutawatir, “conveyed by numerous narrators”; as an expert in hadith, he dedi- 
cates several pages in Izalat al-ishkal to the isnads of the hadith and its different 
Most of these verses and hadiths have been the subject of discussion among 
theologians on the question of accepting or interpreting the apparent mean- 
ing of ambiguous verses, but with al-Kurani’s project to build Islamic theology 
based on Ibn ‘Arabi's thought, the apparent meaning takes on new dimensions. 
The acceptance of the apparent meaning is no longer based, as Hanbalites 
argue, on the necessity of accepting the apparent text without interpretation, 
but rather on the idea that these anthropomorphic descriptions are Divine 

64 Muhammad b. ‘Isa al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘al-kabir, ed. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘raf (Beirut: Dar 
al-Gharb al-Islami, 2ed, 1998), vol. 5, p. 283, hadith no. 3234. 

65 — Al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘ al-kabir, vol. 5, p. 282, hadith no. 3233. 

66 Muhammad b. Isma‘l al-Bukhani, Sahih al-Bukhari, ed. Mustafa al-Bugha (Beirut: Dar Ibn 
Kathir, 1976), vol. 6, p. 2696, hadith no. 6972. 

67. Muslim b. al-Hajjaj al-Nisabari, Sahih Muslim, ed. Muhammad Fu’ad ‘Abd al-Baqi (Cairo: 
Dar Ihy@& al-Kutub al-‘Arabiyya, 1991), vol. 4, pp. 2186-2187, hadiths no. 36-37. 

68 Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, p. 2017, hadith no. 115. 

69 Sahih Muslim, vol. 1, p. 163, hadith no. 299. Al-Bukhani, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 1672, 
hadith no. 4305. 

70 ~— Al-Kurani, Izalat al-ishkdl, fols. 28-5. 


manifestations, for God is absolute existence and can manifest in any form He 
wills without being restricted by any form, and without any kind of incarnation, 
embodiment, inherence, or union. 

Another Quranic verse through which al-Kurani attempts to show how later 
Ash‘arites departed from the attitude of the salaf concerning the interpretation 
of Quranic verses that contain some apparent anthropomorphism is the verse 
that states that “when he [Moses] came to it [the fire], he was called: blessed 
is whoever is at the fire and whoever is around it, and exalted is God, Lord of 
the worlds.” (Q 27:8). Al-Karani mentions that al-Baydaw/'s interpretation, and 
those of most later exegetes, proposed that “in the fire” ( fial-nar) means “in the 
vicinity of the fire” (ft makan al-nar); those “in the vicinity of the fire’ would 
thus be Moses and possibly also other humans and angels. Al-Kurani says that 
an early interpretation that goes back to Ibn ‘Abbas (d. 687) instead considered 
“the one who is in the fire” to be God.”! For al-Kurani, there is no need to depart 
from apparent sense (al-zahir) in this latter interpretation, because God can 
manifest in the fire.”4 

God is absolutely transcendent and independent and yet is in whichever 
direction one faces and is with His servants wherever they are; He sits on His 
throne and He descends to the lower heavens. All these Quranic verses and 
hadiths should not be interpreted allegorically, al-Kurani writes, because “if you 
know that the Real has true absoluteness that is not restricted, [then] you know 
that the Real manifests in forms and with other attributes that came in hadiths 
such as laughing, wondering, coming, descending, ascending; all these descrip- 
tions do not negate [His] transcendence (la tunaft al-tanzth).’’> All passages in 
the Quran and hadith that suggest that God has bodily or human form or spatial 
location should, in this account, be understood as descriptions of the manifes- 
tations or epiphanies of God. After mentioning the Quranic verses and hadiths 
that contain an apparent anthropomorphic sense, al-Kurani always reminds his 
readers that the salaf’s attitude is to accept the literal meaning of these verses 
and hadiths and simultaneously to negate any similarity between God and His 
creature, because “nothing is like Him.””* 

According to al-Kurani, accepting anthropomorphic descriptions of God 
does not entail that we affirm that God has corporeal organs ( jarihah); rather, 
we affirm that God can manifest in a phenomenon that has corporeal organs, 

71 ~~ Al-Karani, [fadat al-‘Allam, fol. 231. Al-Kiarani, Izalat al-ishkdl, fol. 38°. 

72 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 278. 
73 ~=~Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 225. 

74 ~~ ~Al-Karani, Izalat al-ishkdl, fol. 5°. 

196 CHAPTER 5 

and His transcendence remains because “there is nothing like Him.””> God’s 
essence is different than the essence of creatures: He is independent by Him- 
self, concretely individuated by Himself, and nothing conditions or restricts 
Him, while the essences of creatures are nonexistent quiddities with specific 
dispositions for specific forms of actualization.”6 Every creature is restricted by 
a form that fits with the essential dispositions of its quiddity (istidad dhati li- 
Lmahiyya).”” God is not restricted by any manifested form because essentially 
He has no form (la tuqayyiduhu surat al-tajalli idh la stra dhatiyya lahu).”® God’s 
manifestation in forms is something added to His essence that does not change 
the essence; what He has essentially (bi-L-dhat) never ceases because “His abso- 
luteness is essential for Him and what is essential never ceases to be.”’? Since 
manifestation in restricted forms does not change the essence, it does not affect 
God's transcendence.®° 

Al-Kurani does not ignore the mutakallimun’s proofs that God is not in a 
specific place or direction. He mentions these proofs, mainly from al-lji’s al- 
Mawagif and al-Jurjani’s Sharh, and confirms them. He says that it is true that 
we cannot say that God is in a specific place or direction, but this is only true 
about God's essence. Refusing to describe God as being in a specific place or 
direction does not mean that He cannot manifest Himself in an appearance 
or form that has a specific place and direction. We affirm place and direction, 
not for God’s essence, but for the form. In addition, al-Kurani accepts that 
God’s essence is not a locus for temporally generated things (la taqum bi-ha 
al-hawadith), but again, that does not mean He cannot manifest in forms.®! 
In general, all the proofs that negate that God is in space and direction are 
accepted by al-Kurani, but for him they do not negate God’s manifestation in 
an appearance or form that has place or direction.®? What al-Kurani means is 
that absoluteness is essential for God, and what is essential never ceases.8° 

It is obvious that the matter at stake in many of al-Kurani's works is the 
proper way of describing God and the relationship between God and the 

75 ~~ Al-Karani, [zdalat al-ishkdl, fol. 7”. 

76 ~—s Al-Kurani, Izalat al-ishkdl, fol. 64. 

77 ~~ +Al-Kurani, Izalat al-ishkdl, fol. 13°. 

78 = Al-Kurani, [zalat al-ishkdl, p. 219. 

79 ~=Al-Kurani, Nawal dhi al-tawl fi tahqiq al-ijad bi-l-qawl (Ms: Juma al-Majed Center for Cul- 
ture and Heritage, no. 375046), fol. 2>. The number of the folio is for this specific treatise 
because the numeration of all the majmu‘ is not clear. 

80 Al-Kurani, [zalat al-ishkdl, fol. 15>—168. 

81 —Al-Kurani, /zdalat al-ishkdl, fol. 162-», 178. 

82 —Al-Karani, [zalat al-ishkdl, fol. 19°. 

83 Al-Karani, Matla‘al-jiid, fol. 125>. 


world. This topic was one of the main discussions in Islamic theology. Between 
anthropomorphism, which describes God in human characteristics, and abso- 
lute transcendence, such as that propounded by the Jahmiyya, who refused to 
describe God with any description that could be applied to a human,** was a 
spectrum of different opinions regarding how to describe God using negative 
or positive statements. As mentioned above, the salaf’s attitude was to accept 
these descriptions without allegorical interpretation. But al-Kurani’s reason to 
accept these verses without allegorical interpretation is different from that of 
the salaf, and most probably his source is not Ibn Taymiyya’s writings. Rather, 
he uses both salaf and Hanbali writings to support an idea that has its source 
in Ibn ‘Arabi’s texts. 

Alongside describing God as absolute existence, Ibn ‘Arabi in Fusus al-hikam 
says, “the Real’s (al-Haqq) [manifestation] is limited through all limits.” (al- 
haqq mahdud bi-kull hadd).®° In the Quran and hadith, God describes Himself 
by saying that He has “established Himself firmly on the Throne,” and that “He 
descends to the nearest heaven’; that “He is in the heaven and in the earth,” and 
that “He is with us wherever we are.” In all these verses, God describes Himself 
by His apparent limits or boundedness.®¢ Ibn ‘Arabi writes that we can know 
God through the limited forms in which He reveals Himself. Everything is a 
locus of manifestation (majla, mazhar) of Divine Being: God displays Himself 
outwardly in the form of existent things. So, each thing shows us something 
about God Himself. And yet, “nothing is like Him.’ In other words, we are talking 
about the two main ways to talk about God, tashbih, “immanence’” or “similar- 
ity,” and tanzth, “transcendence” or “incomparability.” These two attitudes were 
very well known in Islamic theology. Chittick explains that, as part of his con- 
tribution to this conversation, Ibn ‘Arabi's writings address the two primary 
modes of human understanding, “imagination” (khayal) and “reason” (‘aq1). 

84 Ibn Hanbal states that Jahm’s idea about God is that: “He is not described or known by 
any attribute or act, nor has He any term or limit; [...] and whatever may occur to your 
thought as a being, He is contrary to it.” Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Al-Radd ‘ala al-jahmiyya wa- 
l-zanadigqa, ed. Sabri bin Salama Shahin (sa, al-Riyad: Dar al-Thabat, 2003), p. 98. 

85 Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ed. ‘Afifi, p. 68. In Austin’s translation: “He may be defined by 
every definition.” Ibn ‘Arabi The Bezels of Wisdom, tr. R.WJ. Austin (New York: Paulist Press, 
1980), p. 73. 

86 Ibn ‘Arabi, Fuszis al-hikam, p. 11. “Then He says: ‘He established Himself on the Throne, 
which also represents a Self-limitation. He then says that He descended to the lower 
heaven, also a limitation. He says further that He is in the heaven and on the earth, that 
He is with us wherever we are [...] We are limited beings, and thus He describes Him- 
self always by ways that represent a limitation on Himself.” Austin, The Bezels of Wisdom, 

PP. 134-135. 

198 CHAPTER 5 

God discloses Himself to humans in two ways: firstly, He discloses His undis- 
closability, and thereby we come to know that we cannot know Him. This way 
of describing God is the route of negative theology, and Ibn ‘Arabi frequently 
takes it. Secondly, God discloses Himself to human beings through scripture, 
the universe, and their own souls. To the degree that He does so, people can 
and do come to know Him.8” 

These two modes of understanding were known long before Ibn ‘Arabi; 
asserting God’s incomparability had been normative for most versions of 
Islamic theology, and asserting His similarity was often found in Sufi expres- 
sions of Islamic teachings, especially poetry. But Ibn ‘Arabi’s contribution, 
according to Chittick, was to stress the need to maintain a proper balance 
between the two ways of understanding God. As Chittick says, “when rea- 
son grasps God’s inaccessibility, it ‘asserts his incomparability’ (tanzth). When 
imagination finds him present, it ‘asserts his similarity’ (tashbih).”88 According 
to Chittick, tanzith, “incomparability,” and tashbih, “similarity,” are the two theo- 
logical terms that played the most significant roles in Ibn ‘Arabi’s vocabulary.®9 
Similarly, in al-Kurani’s works, the perfect faith (al-iman al-kamil) is a combi- 
nation of transcendence (tanzih) and a confirmation of the mutashabihat in a 
way that is suitable for the majesty of God’s essence, which means in a way that 
does not negate the transcendence expressed by “nothing is like Him.”?° 

Ibn ‘Arabi was accused of Auli, “incarnationism,” and tajsim, “anthropo- 
morphism.” In Tanbih al-‘uqul, al-Kurani defends Ibn ‘Arabi and his follow- 
ers against accusations of anthropomorphism, pantheism, immanentism, and 
incarnationism. His argument is the same in his theological treatises, i.e., that 
God is absolute existence in the sense that He is not restricted or conditioned 
by any other thing outside of Himself.%! Al-Kurani himself then faced similar 
accusations, and was defended in turn. Yahya al-Shawi (d. 1096/1685), a theolo- 
gian from North Africa in what is now Algeria, dedicated a treatise to refuting 
al-Kuran1’s thought, mainly his theory of kasd, and accused al-Kurani of anthro- 
pomorphism. Al-Shawi's criticism of al-Kurani went so far as to pronounce 
him an “unbeliever,” takfir, saying that al-Kurani arose (taraqqa) in disbelief 
(ithad) by saying that God exists in everything. Al-Barzanji, al-Kurani’s foremost 

87 William Chittick, Jon Arabi, Heir to the Prophets (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2005), 
pp. 18-19. 

88 Chittick, Ibn Arabi, Heir to the Prophets, p. 19. 

89 Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 9. For more discussion on tashbih and tanzth in Ibn 
‘Arabi's thought see William Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn al-‘Arabrs 
Cosmology (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), p. xxi. 

go Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 219. 

g1_— Al-Kurani, Tanbth al-‘uqil, p. 48 and after. 


student, rejected al-Shawi's accusation and countered his work in a treatise 
that defends al-Kurani and explains that, among the different opinions about 
God's attributes, al-Kurani had selected the opinion of the salaf.°? Al-Barzanji 
repeated al-Kurani's idea that God can manifest in any form because He is abso- 
lute existence, without any assimilation. 

To gain a wider perspective on God’s relation to the cosmos and to connect 
this idea with the next discussion concerning the status of the “nonexistent,” we 
need to have an idea about the different categories of existence in Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
thought. In Insh@ al-dawair, Ibn ‘Arabi talks about three metaphysical cate- 
gories of existence. The first, the absolute being, which exists through itself and 
through which everything else exists, is God, the Creator, with whom nothing 
is equal. The second metaphysical category is the opposite of the first; that is 
‘limited being” (wujud muqayyad), the material universe and everything it con- 
tains. It has no existence in itself, so it is essentially nonbeing; it exists through 
the absolute and depends upon the absolute for its contingent existence. The 
third metaphysical category is neither nonbeing nor being. It is a sort of inter- 
mediary between the first and second categories. Among the expressions that 
Ibn ‘Arabi uses to describes this third category are the “breath of the Compas- 
sionate” (nafas al-Rahman), the “essence of all essences” (haqiqat al-haqa’iq), 
and “the cloud” (al-‘ama’).%3 One problem with these categories is the relation 
between the first and the third categories. Both are different from the second, 
which is the limited being of the world, and at the same time this third cate- 
gory is neither nonbeing nor being, and cannot be described as either created 
or uncreated, as we will see below. 

Ibn ‘Arabr’s idea of this relation is based on the concept of tajalli, divine 
manifestation. Conceptualizing God’s relationship to the cosmos raised several 
problems for Sufis, who used theological terms in specific ways. Sufis’ novel use 
of theological terms may be one of the main reasons behind their conflict with 
the theologians, which became violent on several occasions. Many centuries 
before al-Kurani, Sufism had moved beyond spiritual exercises (mujahadat) 
to discuss topics related to both theology and philosophy such as knowledge, 
existence, sainthood, and theological doctrines in general on the knowledge 
of God, as well as on the relationship between the Creator and the cosmos. As 

92 Muhammad b. Rasil al-Barzanji, al-Uqab al-hawi ‘ala al-thatab al-ghawi wa-l-nashshab 
al-kawi li-l-a’sha al-ghawi wa-l-shahab al-shawi li-l-ahwal al-Shawi (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 
3744), fol. 37°. 

93 —_ Landolt argues that this category has many aspects in common with that mysterious entity 
that was known in Greek as Logos. Hermann Landolt, “Simnani on wahdat al-wujid,” 
Pp. 91-112, p. 101. 

200 CHAPTER 5 

we will see, Sufism became increasingly philosophical after Ibn ‘Arabi, due to 
the efforts of al-Qunawi and his circle, and theology, which had also become 
increasingly philosophical after al-Ghazali, was already discussing numerous 
Sufi ideas. Chittick states that “Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings mark Sufism’s massive entry 
into theoretical discussions of the meaning and reality of wujud.”** Discussing 
wujud meant that Sufis needed to deal with most of the major philosophical 
and theological discussions regarding topics such as essence, existence, nonex- 
istence, quiddity, creation, God’s attributes, predetermination, and human will; 
all had become integrated into Sufi discourse, as we will see in the coming 
pages, by the seventeenth century. As a result of this incorporation, facilitated 
by philosophy’s permeation of both theology and Sufism, it is difficult to sep- 
arate al-Kurani’s theological ideas from his Sufi thought. Moreover, he actually 
treated Ibn ‘Arabi’s works as texts of theology and often cited Ibn ‘Arabi to 
present and defend his theological arguments, as will become apparent in our 
discussion of each succeeding topic. 

To repeat al-Kuranr’s position, manifestation in forms does not restrict God 
because He is absolute existence, which is not restricted or conditioned by 
anything other than Himself.95 In other words, only absolute existence itself 
is unrestricted, and anything other than Him is forever restricted. God’s mani- 
festation, however, is always restricted by the form in which it occurs. Thus, the 
Quranic verses and the Prophetic hadiths that describe God in bodily or human 
form or in spatial location should be accepted as restricted manifestations of 
God's unrestricted existence, without allegorical interpretation. 

One of the sources that al-Kurani uses frequently to cite hadiths that appear 
to promote anthropomorphism is al-Bayhaqi’s (d. 458/1065-1066) book al- 
Asma@ wa-l-sifat, which contains numerous hadiths concerning God's relation- 
ship with the cosmos. This book was later published with comments by the 
famous theologian Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthani (d. 1952), who was an ardent 
Ash‘ari and a critic of Ibn Taymiyya. Al-Kawthari in his comments on this 
book and on several kalam texts represents the attitude of later Ash‘arites. He 
rejects the literal meanings and emphasizes allegorical interpretations of all 
the descriptions of God that use human or creaturely attributes. It is therefore 
unsurprising that he was not sympathetic to al-Kurani’s efforts to look closely 
at Hanbalite positions on several theological topics. 

94 William Chittick, “Wahdat al-wujid in India,” Ishraq: Islamic Philosophy Yearbook 3 (2012), 
PP- 29-40, p. 29. 

95 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Mirgat al-sutid ila sihhat al-qawl bi-wahdat al-wujiid (UK: British Li- 
brary, India Office, Delhi-Arabic 710c), fol. 21». 


Al-Kawthari actually mentions al-Kurani in several contexts, and for the 
most part rejects his ideas. According to al-Kawthani, anyone who tries to rec- 
oncile the ideas of the Sufis with those of theologians (and here he specifies 
al-Kurani) is attempting the impossible and, furthermore, this person is devoid 
of both reason and scriptural knowledge.9® Al-Kawthari describes al-Kurani 
as al-Mutasawwif (the Sufi) as a way to discredit his theological efforts.9” He 
says that al-Kurani’s words in Qasd al-sabil cannot convey al-Juwayni's ideas 
from al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya.°® He holds that al-Kurani, who believed in wah- 
dat al-wujiid, tried to interpret al-Ash‘ari’s ideas (yukharrij kalam al-Ash‘art) 
according to the idea of wahda. He continues saying that al-Kurani’s position 
is merely a personal whim (hawa) that changed the clear meaning of the text. 
Manifestation in forms, according to al-Kawthani, is incarnation (hulul),°° so, 
for him, al-Karani’s idea of manifestation in forms is “buffoonery and madness” 
(mujiin ft mujun wa-junun laysa fawgahu junin).10° 

Thus, al-Kurani’s ideas are still being debated by modern Ash‘arite schol- 
ars, and just as Moroccan scholars in his own time rejected some of his ideas 
and considered them violations of the Ash‘arite school, in the early twenti- 
eth century al-Kawthari rejected both al-Kurani’s argumentation in general 
when it was based on Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought and his attempt to establish Ash‘arite 
thought based on the latter's ideas. Nevertheless, al-Kurant’s influence reached 
al-Kawthari himself, even if the latter was not aware that the source of the 
ideas that he was citing was al-Kirani. Abi al-Than@’ al-Alisi (d. 1270/1854) in 
his Quranic commentary entitled Ruf al-ma‘ani includes several pages on the 
topic of kalam nafsi,!"! copied almost literally from al-Kurani’s [fadat al-‘Allam. 
Al-Kawthari mentions al-Alisi’s explanation of the meaning of Quran and 
kalam nafsi and praises it, albeit without acknowledging or perhaps even real- 
izing that these ideas are al-Kurani’s.!°* Al-Kurani’s ideas, then, have sparked 
intellectual debates on a number of theological and philosophical topics, and 
in different regions of the Islamic world, and their impact has extended from 

96 Taqi al-Din al-Subki, al-Sayf al-saqil fi al-radd ‘ala Ibn Zafil, ed. Muhammad Zahid al- 
Kawthari (Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Azhariyya li-l-Turath, n. d), p. 86, fn. 2 by al-Kawthari. 

97 ‘Ibrahim b. Mustafa al-Madhani, al-Lum‘a fi tahqiq mabahith al-wujid wa-l-hudith wa-l- 
qadar wa-af al al-‘ibad, ed. Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari (Cairo: Dar al-Bas@ir, 2008), 
p. 56, fn. 1. by al-Kawthari. 

98 = Al-Madhari, al-Lum‘a, p. 56, fn. 1. by al-Kawthari. 

99 ~—Al-Subk, al-Sayf al-saqil, p. 86, fn. 2 by al-Kawthari. 

100 Al-Subki, al-Sayf al-saqil, p. 109. 

101 Mahmid ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Alisi, Rith al-ma&ni fi tafsir al-Quran al-‘azim wa-l-sab‘ al- 
mathant (Cairo: al-Matba‘a al-Muniriyya, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 10-16. 

102 Al-Subki, al-Sayf al-saqil, p. 27, fn. 1 by al-Kawthari. 

202 CHAPTER 5 

the seventeenth century to our time. This breadth of influence indicates that 
intellectual life has been in a state of continuous activity. The dearth of infor- 
mation available about thought patterns outside of certain key moments is thus 
due not to an absence of philosophical texts from different eras and geograph- 
ical regions, but rather to an absence of studies that reveal the development 
of Islamic thought and that shed light on the many works that may surprise us 
with their intellectual content and the variety of their authors’ discussions. 
Al-Kurani’s acceptance of the ambiguous verses or hadiths that describe God 
with anthropomorphic characteristics, as divine manifestations, was central to 
his project of establishing Islamic theology based on Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. It 
was not difficult to find theological bases for the idea of accepting the ambigu- 
ous verses without allegorical interpretation, since that had been the Hanbalite 
position for centuries. Eschewing this easy justification, al-Kurani insisted that 
his position on this topic was based on al-Ash‘ari’s ideas in al-Ibana. This lean- 
ing to the Hanbali position on this fundamental topic underlying the Ash‘arite- 
Hanbalite disputes was not to go unchallenged by the traditional Ash‘arite 
scholars, who leveled the charge of takfir against al-Kurani, accusing him of 
being an anthropomorphist. Although al-Kurani's theological position on this 
topic seems close to that of the Hanbalites, he was in fact a faithful follower 
of Ibn ‘Arabi's thought. These verses and hadiths with apparent anthropomor- 
phic meaning are, for him, actually divine manifestations, an idea that neither 
Hanbalites nor Ash‘arites would accept. But for al-Kurani, the idea of divine 
manifestation in forms is one of the pillars of his thought, as it was one of the 
pillars of Ibn ‘Arabi’s, and we will see it emerge in different aspects of his work, 
particularly in the matter of creation, which we will discuss shortly. 

4 Nafs al-amr in al-Kurani’s Thought 

The concept of nafs al-amr became the subject of heated debates during the 
fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. [Ihsan Fazloglu in “Between Real- 
ity and Mentality” argues that the concept of nafs al-amr came to assume the 
role that the active intellect had played in the Avicennian system, after the 
declining role of the active intellect as a guarantor of certain knowledge in 
classical (ie. Avicennian) epistemological systems.!°? Fazlioglu states that the 
concept of nafs al-amr took on a variety of meanings depending on the author, 

103 thsan Fazho#lu, “Between Reality and Mentality: Fifteenth-Century Mathematics and Nat- 
ural Philosophy Reconsidered,” Nazariyat: Journal for the History of Islamic Philosophy and 
Sciences, 1/1 (November 2014), p. 24 and after. 


which makes a coherent, historical account of this term difficult. However, he 

presents the views of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 672/1274) and Jamal al-Din al-Hilli 

(d. 726/1325) as starting points from which to examine the development of this 

concept. Fazlioglu mentions in particular a Sufi who dealt with the concept of 

nafs al-amr, namely, one of Fusus al-hikam’s commentators, Dawud al-Qaysari 

(d. 751/1350). In his work entitled Matla‘ khusus al-kilam ft ma‘ani Fusis al- 

hikam, al-Qaysari uses the concept of nafs al-amr to refer to the knowledge of 

God or divine knowledge.!°* More texts and works about the concept of nafs 

al-amr are now available in printed form, although there is still much work to 

be done to fully explore its history.!°5 In this context, I will limit my inquiry to 
al-Kurani’s understanding of the concept of nafs al-amr and its related topics. 

In Qasd al-sabil, al-Kurani says that nafs al-amr refers to God’s knowledge, 
which encompasses all objects of knowledge, “nafs al-amr huwa ‘ilm al-Haqq 
subhanah al-muhit bi-kull ma‘um.”6 He interprets this Sufi understanding of 
the term, first mentioned by al-Qaysari above, through an Ash‘arite perspec- 
tive. God’s attributes in the Ash‘arite tradition were usually described as being 
neither other than God’s essence, nor identical with God’s essence itself)!” or, 
in al-Kurani’s expression, laysa ghayr al-dhat wa-la ‘ayn al-dhat.!°® In this for- 
mulation, God’s knowledge has two aspects: 

1. God’s knowledge is not other than God’s essence (laysa ghayr al-dhat). In 
other words, knowledge in this respect is identical to the essence. Knowl- 
edge as identical to God’s essence is called nafs al-amr. God's essence con- 
tains all statuses (shu’tun), considerations (i‘tibarat), and relations (nisab), 
expressions that refer to God’s relation to things other than Himself. The 
object of nafs al-amr is the essence with all its perfection. In this aspect 
of knowledge, there is no distinction, even mentally (i‘tibari), between 
knowledge and its object. Thus, we cannot say that knowledge follows 
the object of knowledge (a formulation that will be discussed more fully 
below), because the relation of following requires multiplicity and dif- 
ferentiation (ta‘addud wa-mughayara), which does not exist, even con- 

104 Fazhioglu, “Between Reality and Mentality,” pp. 25-26. 

105 At least five works on the concept of nafs al-amr have been printed. See Hasan Zadah 
Amul, “Nafs al-amr,’ Majallat Turathund, Iran, Qum, No.1 (second year), Muharram, 1407, 
pp. 62-96; Tisi, Jurjani, Dawani, Kalanbawi, Thalath ras@il fi nafs al-amr, ed. Said Fada 
(Jordan: Dar al-Aslayn, 2017). 

106 = Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 51°. 

107 For the developments of this formula in Ash‘ari’s thought see Harry A. Wolfson, The Phi- 
losophy of the Kalam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976), p. 207 and after. 

108 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 51°. 

204 CHAPTER 5 

ceptually, because the knowledge is not other than the essence.!° Al- 
Kurani states that nafs al-amr is neither the preserved tablet (al-lawh 
al-mahfuz)"° nor the active intellect (al-‘aql al-fa“al).™ In nafs al-amr 
there is no intermediate state (wasita) between existence and nonexis- 
tence, which means that either a reality exists eternally, or has never and 
will never exist in nafs al-amr, or in the external world, as we shall see 
below.” In other words, a certain reality must exist eternally in nafs al- 
amr; otherwise, it will never exist in any form. 

2. When God's knowledge is not construed as identical to His essence, this 
conceptual differentiation (mughayara itibariyya) means that there is a 
kind of conceptual multiplicity (ta‘addud itibart)." This kind of knowl- 
edge is also eternal, but since there is differentiation (tamayuz), we can 
say that this kind of knowledge follows its object, which is, in this case, the 
essence.!4 The object of knowledge (al-ma‘um) is the essence with all its 
perfection and its states (shw’un) that contain all the realities (al-haqa@iq). 

So, for al-Kurani, nafs al-amr is God’s knowledge in the sense that it is not other 
than God's essence, and since God’s knowledge eternally compasses every- 
thing, the realities of everything are affirmed in this knowledge eternally. Thus, 
the realities of everything are uncreated (ghayr majtla) because they eternally 
exist in nafs al-amr, or in God’s eternal knowledge, in the sense that it is iden- 
tical to His essence. 

The existence of realities, which are also described as relations (nisab and 
idafat), in God’s knowledge, insofar as this knowledge is identical to His es- 
sence, does not imply any plurality in the Divine essence. Al-Kurani refers to 
al-Mawagif to indicate that this kind of relation is possible within God, relying 
on al-Iji’s statement that “it is generally agreed that relations can be renewed 
in God’s essence” (al-idafat yajuz tajadduduha ittifaqan)."* Al-Jurjani similarly 
explains the word idafat as al-nisab and says that intellectuals (al- ‘uqala’) agree 
that it is possible for these relations to be renewed in God’s essence.!!® Al- 
Kurani uses the theological authority of these two famous theologians, al-Iji 

10g Al-Karani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 52°. 

110. Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 51°. 

111 ~=Al-Karani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 52°. 

112 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 60». 

113 Al-Karani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 52°. 

114 Al-kKuarani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 522. Al-Kurani, Jal@ al-fuhiim fi tahqigq al-thubut wa-ru’yat al- 
ma‘dum (Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440), fols. 523-83? 

115 AL-Iji, al-Mawagif, p. 275. 

116 ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Jurjani, Sharh al-Mawagqif with al-Siyalkuti and Jalabi’s glosses 
(Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Tmiyya, 1998), vol. 8, p. 36. See also Sayf al-Din al-Amidi, Ghayat al- 


and al-Jurjani, to confirm that this kind of renewal in God’s essence is accepted. 
A similar idea can be found in Ibn Sina’s writings, as we will see in the section 
related to the topic of creation. 

Beyond these scholars, I think his main source for the discussion of nafs al- 
amr, which has not been mentioned in this context, is Ibn ‘Arabi. Al-Kurani uses 
Ibn ‘Arabi's terminology to refer to the affirmation of contingents in nafs al- 
amr: al-dhat al-aqdas.™ God's attributes in Ibn ‘Arabi’s works can be described 
as relations. So, if we say: “God knows,” that means the relation of knowledge 
is established between Him and what He knows. The same thing can be said 
when saying that God creates, so the attribute or relation of creativity is estab- 
lished between Him and His creation."® In other words, God has always been 
and will always be a Creator, as He creates in every moment and new relations 
with creatures are renewed forever, but being a Creator eternally does not imply 
any change in His essence. Creating one person and then another person does 
not make the Creator multiple. Again, in al-Kurani's formulation of nafs al-amr 
the realities of everything eternally exist in God’s knowledge as it is identical to 
His essence. In this context, what does creation mean, and what kind of exis- 
tence do these realities have? They are not existents in the external world, thus 
they are nonexistent, yet they have a kind of existence in nafs al-amr; are we 
talking about the Mu'tazilite conception of the nonexistent? Also, if the reali- 
ties of everything exist eternally in God’s knowledge, are we not left with a form 
of predestination? Can man act with free will if everything already exists eter- 
nally in God’s knowledge? All these topics are interconnected and al-Kurani's 
opinion concerning each topic will be discussed and clarified. 

Before moving on to these points, I should clarify an expression that al- 
Kurani uses frequently, that knowledge follows the object of knowledge (al-‘ilm 
yatba‘ al-matum)."9 This idea can be traced to early theologians. Al- 
Shahrastani (d. 548/1158), in his discussion of Ibn Sina’s idea that God does not 
know things through the things themselves, or else His knowledge would be 
passive, recounts that this issue of the relationship between knowledge and the 
object of knowledge was a topic of discussion between philosophers and the- 
ologians (mutakallimin). He then mentions several options that theologians 
had discussed, including “whether He knows things prior to their coming into 
being, or with their coming into being, or after it; and whether the knowledge 

maram ft ‘lm al-kalam, ed. Hasan Mahmid ‘Abd al-Latif (Cairo: al-Majlis al-A‘a li-l-Shwain 
al-Islamiyya, 1971), p. 193. 

117. Al-Karani, Jala’ al-fuhiim, fol. 54>-55°. 

118 Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God, p. xvii. 

11g Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 208. 

206 CHAPTER 5 

follows the object of knowledge, so that it discovers the object of knowledge as 
it is, or whether the object of knowledge follows the knowledge.”!”° This idea of 
knowledge following its object can be traced to Aristotle’s claim that the object 
of God’s knowledge is Himself, and because He knows Himself and therefore 
knows everything.!”! Ibn ‘Arabi in al-Futuhat al-makkiyya says, “Knowledge fol- 
lows the object of knowledge; the object of knowledge does not follow knowl- 
edge.”!22 When Ibn ‘Arabi says that God’s knowledge follows the realities of 
things, that does not mean that God has acquired His knowledge from exter- 
nally existent things. Rather, God’s knowledge follows the object of knowledge 
as it eternally exists in God’s knowledge insofar as it is identical to His essence. 
Thus, God does not make a thing the way it is; rather, He knows the way it is 
in His knowledge through knowing Himself, because “God is all-knowing, and 
He is all-knowing always and forever. The choices He makes are based on the 
realities of the entities, which are fixed in His knowledge. His choices follow 
what He knows about the entities, because knowledge follows the known.”!23 
In creation, God’s power creates according to His will, and His will follows His 
knowledge, and His knowledge follows the object of knowledge or the known 

Nafs al-amr understood as God’s knowledge is related to two main topics 
in theology, with respect to his opinions on both of which al-Kurani received 
severe criticism. If the realities of things exist eternally in nafs al-amr, does that 
mean that the nonexistent is a “thing,” as the Mu‘tazilites argue? If the reali- 
ties of things are not created, what is the meaning of creation? If realities are 
eternals in this way, should we not say that everything is predestined? And in 
this case how can man be responsible for his acts? These questions are central 

120 Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karim al-Shahrastani, Struggling with the Philosopher: A Refuta- 
tion of Avicenna’s Metaphysics: A New Arabic Edition and English Translation of Muhammad 
b, Abd al-Karim b. Ahmad al-Shahrastants Kitab al-Musara‘a, edited and translated by Wil- 
ferd Madelung (London: I.B. Tauris in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, 
2001), pp. 70-71. 

121 WD.Ross, Aristotle (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 189. Frank Griffel in “Al-Ghazali’s (d. 1111) 
Incoherence of the Philosophers” says that in discussing Ibn Sina’s idea that God knows 
“particulars” (juzyyat) only “in a universal way,” al-Ghazali “draws on ideas and solu- 
tions that were developed earlier in kalam literature. He denies the Aristotelian under- 
standing that ‘knowledge follows the object of knowledge.” Frank Griffel, “Al-Ghazali’s 
(d. 1111) Incoherence of the Philosophers,” The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy, ed. 
Khaled El-Rouayheb and Sabine Schmidtke (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 
p. 203. 

122 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 4, p. 16. Ibn ‘Arabi repeats this expression several 
times in al-Futuhat al-makkiyya; see for example vol. 4, pp. 228, 247, 258, 318. 

123 Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God, p. 186. 


to the theological discussions of mental existence and uncreated nonexistent 
quiddities, to which we now turn. 

5 Ash‘arites and Mental Existence 

Al-Kurani makes an effort to prove that Ash‘arites accept mental existence. This 
step is vital for him in his attempt to prove that the nonexistent has a kind of 
affirmation outside of the mind, which will lead him to the idea of affirma- 
tion of the nonexistent (thubut al-ma‘dum). Affirmation of the nonexistent will 
provide al-Kurani with a key answer to the issue of predestination and legal 

Al-Kurani mentions the arguments both of people who accept mental exis- 
tence and of those who reject it. Those who affirm mental existence usually 
refer to some ideas that do not correspond to anything extramental, which 
means they must have another kind of existence, either in the human mind 
or in God’s knowledge. By contrast, those who reject the idea of mental exis- 
tence argue that if we have the idea of whiteness and blackness in our minds, 
that means the co-existence of contradictions, and if we have the idea of sky 
or mountain that means the occurrence of these huge entities in our minds.!24 
Al-Kurani explains that existence and their concomitants are of different kinds: 
1. There are concomitants of the quiddity of the thing. This type of concomi- 

tant is related to the quiddity whether it is in the external world or in the 
mind, such as, for example, the evenness of four. 

2. There are concomitants of things that exist in the mind. They are con- 
comitants of quiddities in the case where quiddities exist only in the 
mind, such as universal concepts. 

3. There are concomitants of things in the case of a thing that exists only in 
the external world, such as whiteness, blackness, heat, and cold. 

From this classification, it is not necessary to accept that contradictory things 

exist in the mind if we have the idea of white and black. Neither the actu- 

ally existing white and black nor the actually existing sky will exist in the 
mind; what we have in our minds is the quiddity, not the actual being, and 
what is described as huge, hot, or white is the actual being (al-huwiyya not al- 
mahiyya).!*5 In support of this assertion, al-Kurani cites al-Iji in al-Mawaqif as 
saying that the mistake of the theologians is that they use the term “quiddity” 

124 ‘Adud al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Iji, al-Mawagif fi ilm al-kalam (Beirut: Alam al-Kutub, 
n.d.), p. 52. 
125 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 548-». 

208 CHAPTER 5 

(mahiyya) for the concepts that exist in mental existence as well as for what 
corresponds to these concepts in the external world. This equivocation in the 
term is the cause of the mistake. 

External existence is individual (‘a@ynt) and fundamental (asi), such as is the 
case for the existence of the sun. This kind of existence has effects; in our exam- 
ple, the existence of the sun is connected with lighting and heating. Mental 
existence is shadowy (zillc), not fundamental (ghayr asil); the mental existence 
of the sun is a concept that does not have concomitants such as lightning and 
heating. These concomitants are related to external existence.!*6 This distinc- 
tion is essential for al-Kurani because his next step is to argue that Ash‘arites 
actually accept mental existence. What they reject, in his reading, is the idea 
that existence always has concomitants, but, according to his explanation, only 
external existence has concrete concomitants. 

For al-Kurani, what some people affirm is not exactly what other people 
reject. The dispute is simply verbal, because those who affirm “mental exis- 
tence” and those who reject it are talking about two different things. Those 
who reject mental existence reject the meaning that existence necessitates its 
concomitants, and those who accept mental existence affirm the meaning that 
existence does not necessitate its effects.!2” Through this discussion, al-Kurani 
argues that the Ash‘arites accept mental existence in their writings on meta- 
physics (ilahiyyat). What they reject is the concept of mental existence in the 
sense that such existence is followed by its concomitants or external effects. 
Al-Kurani says that what the Ash‘arites reject is not the correct concept of men- 
tal existence: whoever affirms mental existence actually affirms a concept that 
does not necessitate its concomitants and effects.!?8 Since they accept that 
God’s knowledge encompasses everything, they therefore admit that there is 
a kind of knowledge different from external existence. They acknowledge that 
God's knowledge is eternal, without external existence. They also frequently 
talk about different kinds of existence such as existence in the external world, 
in the mind, in spoken, and in written form. In Jthaf al-dhaki, al-Kurani says 
that on the topics of God’s knowledge and God’s will, Ash‘arites accept “mental 
existence,” and in their arguments for mental speech (Kalam nafst) they explic- 
itly say that we have our ideas in our minds before we utter them.!29 

Arguing that Ash‘arites accept “mental existence” paves the way for al-Kurani 
to go another step further to argue that there is a kind of affirmed “thing” out- 

126 =Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 52». 

127 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 54. 

128 ©Al-Kuarani, Jala’ al-fuhim, fol. 53°. 

129 © Al-Kurrani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 55. Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 235. 


side of the mind. After affirmation of external and mental existents, al-Karani 
now needs to argue for affirmation in nafs al-amr, by which he means that there 
is a kind of “nonexistent” that is affirmed outside of our minds. Al-Kurani says 
that Ash‘arites reject the proposition that a nonexistent is a thing or has a kind 
of affirmation in the state of nonexistence. He mentions two of their objections 
to the affirmation of the nonexistent, quoting from al-Iji’s al-Mawagif. The first 
objection is that affirming the nonexistent undermines God’s omnipotence 
because in this case God is not the creator of the nonexistent realities. The 
other objection is that if we accept that there are affirmed contingent nonexis- 
tents (ma‘dum mumkin thabit), the absolute nonexistent is more general than 
the contingent nonexistent, because the absolute nonexistent includes both 
affirmed and negated nonexistents. Thus, the absolute nonexistent would be 
distinct (mutamayyiz) from the possible nonexistent, and this formulation is 
internally contradictory, since whatever is distinct is contingent because it is 
known and could be willed.8° 

Al-Kurani replies to these objections that quiddities are not created by their 
affirmation, but they are created by their external existence, which is identical 
to the existence of individuals in the external world, as Ash‘arites believe. The 
essence of everything is identical to its existence, and existence in the external 
world is created; thus, the quiddities in this sense are created, specifically in 
respect of their existence, not in respect of their affirmation.!*! It is true that 
our minds may assume things that do not have affirmation in nafs al-amr, such 
as the names of the impossible and their concepts, and we can even describe 
them in written form. But the impossible by itself does not have affirmation of 
any kind, neither mental or external nor in nafs al-amr.!8? So, concerning the 
second objection, al-Kurani says that the affirmed thing is what possesses an 
affirmed attribute in nafs al-amr, by itself, not as a result of a mental supposi- 

Beyond these replies, al-Kurani also thinks that Ash‘arite writings demon- 
strate that they accept that the contingent nonexistent (al-ma‘dum al-mumkin) 
is a thing, and that it is affirmed outside of our minds.!5* Let us recall that 
existence can be in the mental, external, or nafs al-amr worlds. An absolute 
nonexistent could exist in the mind as a delusion (wahm), but never in the 
external world or in nafs al-amr. Contingent nonexistence does not exist in the 

130 AL-Tji, al-Mawagif, p. 55. Al-Kurani, Jal@ al-fuhum, fol. 57>-58°. 
131 Al-Kuarani, Jala’ al-fuhim, fols. 587-59". 

132 Al-Karani, Jala’ al-fuhiim, fol. 59°. 

133 Al-Kuarani, Jala’ al-fuhim, fol. 59°. 

134 Al-Kuarani, Jala’ al-fuhim, fol. 53°. 

210 CHAPTER 5 

external world by the virtue of its definition as nonexistent, yet, as al-Kurani 
attempts to prove, it exists outside of the mind. Thus, it must exist in nafs al- 

The idea that the contingent nonexistent is a thing and is affirmed leads to 
another discussion about the possibility of seeing the nonexistent, or what he 
calls rw’yat al-ma‘dum. The cause of seeing, according to Ash‘arites, is exter- 
nal existence, but al-Kurani thinks that the cause of seeing is mere existence, 
which means that the contingent nonexistent can be seen since it has a kind 
of existence in minds or in nafs al-amr. Since Ash‘arites accept mental exis- 
tence, as al-Kurani argues, so all existents in God’s knowledge, in the mind, or 
in the external world can be seen. Al-Kurani uses an analogy between kalam 
nafsi, in which God knows our unuttered speech, and our seeing ideas and 
forms in our minds before they come to the external world. According to al- 
Kurani, all Ash‘arites agree that believers can see God, and they agree that God 
is nota body, nor a substance or accident; He is not in space nor in a direc- 
tion, but He can be seen, thus there is no reason not to see the mental existent 
that is a form in the mind.!85 The Quran says, “We show Abraham the realm 
of the heavens and the earth” (Q 6:75), which al-Kurani takes to mean that 
seeing is not exclusive for things that exist in the external world. Any hadith 
referring to things that will happen in the future or on the day of judgment 
also refers to the possibility of seeing the nonexistent. In short, al-Kurani’s 
idea is that vision is related to existence in general, not only to external exis- 

Again, similar to his strategy in the argument for kalam nafsi, as discussed 
in Chapter Six, al-Kurani uses figh and the concept of ijtihad to explain that 
Ash‘arites actually accept mental existence. Any mujtahid orders the argu- 
ments in his mind before he speaks or writes them; if these ideas do not have 
a kind of existence before they come into the external world, they will be pure 
nonexistence, and if they are pure nonexistence then they will never come to 
exist in the external world. Since they do come to exist in the external world, 
they must have existed in minds before their external existence.156 

As mentioned in the section related to absolute existence, al-Kurani believes 
that al-Ash‘ari’s idea that “the existence of everything is identical with its 
essence” confirms his own idea that God is absolute existence. He repeatedly 
asserts this connection without explaining how the two ideas are connected.8” 

135 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 65°. 

136 = Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 65°. 

137 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 12°. For al-Ash‘ari’s idea see ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Umar al-Baydawi, 
Tawali‘ al-anwar min Matali‘ al-anzar, along with Mahmid Isfahani’s Commentary, Matali‘ 


But, as explained above, for al-Kurani only God has a quiddity that is identi- 
cal to His existence. Everything else has an eternal uncreated quiddity in nafs 
al-amr. These quiddities will have external existence when God bestows His 
existence on them. To say that the existence of everything is identical with its 
essence can be understood in two ways. The first way is to say that there are 
actually no two distinct existing identities in the external world; whatever can 
be truly said to have an existence in the external world will also be truly said to 
have a quiddity that is not distinct from its existence (ma yasdug ‘alayh al-wujud 
fiat-umur al-kharijiyya yasduq ‘alayh al-mahiyya).38 The second way is to say 
that the existence of everything in the external world will be exactly the same 
as its essence in God’s knowledge.!89 What changes in the latter explanation is 
only the reality manifested in the external world: “if it became clear that exis- 
tence exists and that the contingent nonexistent is affirmed, it should follow 
that the existence of everything, as al-Ash‘ari said, is identical to its essence.”4° 
In this way, al-Kurani is able to argue that nonexistent quiddities or realities 
exist eternally in God’s knowledge, which allows him to argue for thubut al- 
ma‘dum, the affirmation of the nonexistent in knowledge (wujid ‘ilmz), not in 
external existence.!#! 

6 Realities: Uncreated Nonexistent Quiddities 

Al-Kurani was accused of reviving Mu'tazilite thought, mainly the idea of 
“thingness of the nonexistent” (shayiyyat al-ma‘dim).42 The Moroccan the- 
ologian al-Hasan al-Yusi (d. 1691) said that al-Kurani revived a moribund inno- 
vation and ascribed a partner to God in acts and a companion in intermediary 
effects (shartk al-af‘al wa-sharik al-wasa@it).5 The first part of this accusation 
is based on al-Kurani’s idea that things have a kind of eternal, uncreated real- 
ity (tahaqquq), affirmation (thubut), and existence (wujid) in nafs al-amr.\44 

al-Anzar, Sharh Tawali‘ al-Anwar, trans. Edwin Elliott Calverley and James W. Pollock (Lei- 
den: Brill, 2002), p. 187. 

138 Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 235. 

139 © Al-Karani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 55°. 

140 Al-Kirani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 56>. (Idhd tabayyana anna al-wujiid mawjiid wa-l-ma ‘dim al- 
mumkin thabit, fala budda an yakin wujid kull shay’, kama qala al-Ashari, ‘ayn hagqiqatihi). 

141 Al-Kuarani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 235. 

142 Ibnal-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1789. 

143 Hasan al-Yusi, ‘Rasa’il Abi ‘Alc al-Hasan b. Mas td al-Yusi, vol. 2, pp. 616-617. Al-Yusi’s letter 
is also mentioned in Ibn al-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1790. 

144 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 51°. 

212 CHAPTER 5 

The second part is clearly referring to al-Kurani’s interpretation of kasb and 
humans effect in their actions, a topic that will be discussed below. 

The previous section about nafs al-amr explained that God’s knowledge 
eternally compasses the realities of everything. If the realities of everything 
eternally exist in God’s knowledge, and God’s knowledge is not created, that 
means realities, or quiddities as al-Kurani sometimes describes them, are not 
created.45 Al-Kurani talks about existence in knowledge (wujud ‘“lmt), and con- 
firms repeatedly that what exists in God’s knowledge is the realities, not the 
actual things themselves. 

Recall that for al-Kirani, existence can be of three kinds: mental existence, 
external existence, and existence in nafs al-amr. Nafs al-amr is more general 
than mental or external existences because there is no eternal mental or exter- 
nal existence. However, “external” includes both existences in nafs al-amr and 
in the external word, in that al-Kurani understands external existence as oppo- 
site to mental existence. Both existences in nafs al-amr and in the external word 
are external in the sense that they are not mere mental existence. It is thus 
important to notice that sometimes when al-Kurani talks about existence in 
the external world, al-wujid fial-kharij, he also implies existence in nafs al-amr, 
which, while not mere mental existence, is nevertheless distinct from external 
existence in the actualized world.!*6 

Al-Kurani attempts to prove that the realities of all contingents exist eter- 
nally and are uncreated (ghayr majUla). If the realities of contingents did not 
exist in nafs al-amr, they would be pure or absolute nonexistence, and a pure 
nonexistent can never come to exist in the external world. Because creation, 
which brings realities from God’s knowledge to the external world, occurs by 
God's potency (qudra), and His potency follows His will, and the will chooses 
from the objects of knowledge, without affirmed realities in God’s knowledge 
there is no creation. In other words, the absolute unknown can never be willed; 
thus, creation is not possible for an absolute nonexistent. But this assump- 
tion contradicts the reality that there are existents. The existence of real con- 
crete existents in the external world means that the realities or quiddities of 
every contingent exist in God’s knowledge eternally as distinct (mutamayiz) 
individuals.!*” The eternal existence of distinct individuals is essential for al- 
Kurani’s arguments for God’s knowledge of particulars, as we shall see. Al- 
Kuranr’s teacher al-Qushashi tried to prove that realities are uncreated (ghayr 

145 Al-Kuarani, Tanbih al-‘uqiil, p. 33. 
146 Al-Karani, Jala’ al-fuhiim, fol. 55». 
147. Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 526-53°. 


majula) by saying that if they were created they would be known before cre- 
ation, because creating is a voluntary act (fil ikhtiyar’) and each voluntary act 
is preceded by potency and will, and potency and will are in truth preceded by 
knowledge of the object that is willed and created. Willing the unknown is not 
possible. Thus, to say that entities are created in knowledge means that they 
must be known to be willed, which means in turn that they need to be created 
before they were created, and the series continues ad infinitum.'48 

The realities never change, because they are objects of God’s knowledge, and 
God’s knowledge, like God's essence, is eternal and unchanging. Al-Kurani uses 
several terms to refer to these realities in his writings: realities (haqa@iq), nonex- 
istents (ma‘dumat), quiddities (mahiyyat), essences (dhawat), and meanings 
(ma‘ant); he also uses Ibn ‘Arabi's term “fixed entities” (a‘yan thabita). The 
use of these terms synonymously is also observable in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings, 
where “the entity” is also referred to as the “possible-existence” (mumkin) or the 
“quiddity” (mahiyya), or simply as the “thing” (shay’).!49 Al-Qunawi, the fore- 
most student of Ibn ‘Arabi, says that “the term a‘yan is synonymous with what 
the philosophers refer to as quiddities (mahiyyat).”° Al-Qushashi also says 
that “realities” (al-haqa@iq), “objects of knowledge” (al-ma‘umat), and “fixed 
entities” (al-a‘yan al-thabita) are all expressions referring to the same thing.>! 
These realities are described as nonexistents (ma‘dumat) because they do not 
have external existence. 

God’s knowledge is essential and eternal (azali dhati). Nothing in the extra- 
mental world exists eternally, and at the same time nothing in the world is 
absent from God’s knowledge eternally. Thus, realities are present in God’s 
knowledge eternally by their essences (dhawatiha), which means their realities 
and quiddities (haqa@iqiha wa-mahiyyatiha). These realities are nonexistents 
that are essentially distinct in and of themselves (ma‘dumat mutamayyiza ft 
anfusiha tamayyuzan dhatiyyan).\>* They must be thusly distinct; otherwise, 
they would be absolute nonexistents, which cannot be objects of knowledge. 
Knowledge is a relation between two extremes (tarafayn) and absolute nonex- 
istence cannot be part of a relation because it is impossible to refer to it. Thus, 

148 Safi al-Din al-Qushashi, Nafhat al-yaqin wa-zulfat al-tamkin li-l-miqinin (Ms: Princeton: 
Ns 1114), fol. 67. 

149 William Chittick, “Commentary on a hadith by Sadr al-Din Qunawi,’ Alserat 4/1, (1980), 
PP. 23-30, p. 24. 

150 Chittick, “Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi on the Oneness of Being,’ p. 176. 

151 Al-Qushashi, Nafhat al-yaqin wa-zulfat al-tamkin li-l-mugqinin, fol. 64. 

152 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Imdad dhawi al-isti‘dad li-suluk Maslak al-sadad (Ms: Princeton, G, 
Yahuda 3867), fol. 32». 

214 CHAPTER 5 

these essences or quiddities that are known to God are not absolute nonex- 
istents but contingent nonexistents that are essentially distinct in themselves. 
Al-Kurani’s classification of nonexistents will be discussed in the following sec- 
tion. For now, we can say that God eternally knows, and in eternity none of the 
contingents exist, thus the quiddities that are eternally known by God should 
be nonexistents, distinct, and not created.!°? The distinction between the thing 
itself and the existence of the thing was well known to Muslim philosophers. 
Wisnovsky suggests that this distinction was influenced by kalam discussions 
of existence and shay’,* the problematic term to which we will turn in the 
discussion of the description of the nonexistent, below. 

Affirmation is different from existence, because affirmation covers the exis- 
tent and the distinct nonexistent (madum mutamayyiz).° God knows all 
things as concomitants of His knowledge of Himself, but this knowledge does 
not give them any existence that is separate from God’s existence, similarly 
to the way that our knowledge does not give self-existence to what we know. 
These fixed entities cannot be described as created (majtla), because what 
is created is what has an actual existence. Whatever does not have an actual 
existence cannot be described as created.°6 Al-Kurani says that the idea that 
quiddities are uncreated (ghayr maj‘ila) is the doctrine of the Sunnis (Ahl 
al-Sunna wa-l-Jama@). He explains this idea by saying that since God is eter- 
nally knowing, and the world is created, what is present in God’s knowledge 
are the eternal realities of things (haqa@igq al-ashya’), not the created existents. 
These realities must be distinct, in order that knowledge can be connected to 
them (yata‘allag bi-ha),!5” so they are differentiated by themselves in the state 
of nonexistence./>*Al-Kurani says that the connection of knowledge means 
revealing these realities; it is part of the creation process, as we will see below. 

After establishing that entities exist in God’s knowledge eternally, as present 
in knowledge (huduri) not through acquisition (husuli), such that they are 
meanings free of forms (ma‘ani muhaqqaga khaltya ‘an al-suwar),'©° al-Kurani 
explains that each entity has a specific disposition (istidad). This disposition 

153 Al-Kurani, Matla‘al-jud, fol. 127°. 

154 Robert Wisnovsky, “Notes on Avicenna’s Concept of Thingness (shay yya),’ Arabic Science 
and Philosophy, vol. 10 (2000), pp. 181-221. 

155 [brahim al-Karani, al-Tawassul ila anna ‘itm Allah bi-l-ashya@ azalan ala al-tafsil (Ms: Istan- 
bul: Hamidiye 1440), fol. 34>. 

156 Al-Kuarani, Tanbih al-‘uqiil, p. 36. 

157. Al-Kuarani, Matla‘al-jid, fol. 128. 

158 Al-Kurani, Matla‘ al-jid, fol. 127°. 

159 Al-Kurani, Matla‘ al-jid, fol. 127°. 

160 Al-Karani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 52°. 


is part of their quiddity, uncreated and not acquired; it is what prepares quid- 
dity for the effusion of existence and knowledge. Since everything is the object 
of God’s knowledge for all eternity, then entities or “things” are not “made” 
(majul). God did not “make” them the way they are; instead, they are “concomi- 
tants” (lawazim) of the very nature of God’s essence Itself: Thus, the quiddities 
of nonexistent things are known to God eternally, distinguished in themselves 
by unmade eternal distinct dispositions (istidadat dhatiyya ghayr majtla),1™ 
and their eternal distinctness and their eternal dispositions are uncreated 
(laysat majUla ft tamayyuziha al-azalt wa-la ft istidadatiha al-azaliyya).‘6* 

The idea that realities are affirmed eternally in distinct individual ways 
in God’s knowledge and that they are uncreated is frequently expressed in 
Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings and in those of the tradition that follows him. Realities 
are the fixed entities that remain always in the state of nonexistence; in Ibn 
‘Arabi’s words, “they have never smelt the breath of existence.”!®? Realities 
never change or transform; what transforms are the forms “la tabdil li-kalimat 
Allah” (Q 10:64). Al-Qunawi also says that the fixed entities (al-a‘yan al-thabita), 
which are called by the philosophers “essences” (mahiyyat), “with respect to 
being delineated within the knowledge of God, are not created [...] and in 
their entity (bi-‘ayniha), with regards to their becoming entities and manifest 
in the knowledge of those other than Him, they are created.”!6* These entities 
are the “objects of God’s knowledge” (ma‘umat), and God’s knowledge does 
not change. Thus, in al-Kurani’s discussion of the issue of realities, although he 
sometimes refers to the terms of philosophers and theologians, he follows the 
Akbarian tradition that had been working to bring Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought closer 
to philosophical and theological thought since al-Qunawi. 

As mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, establishing that these 
realities are eternal, uncreated quiddities will have a direct impact on several 
topics, such as creation, destiny, predestination, and God’s knowledge of par- 
ticulars. Al-Kurani is interested in demonstrating that theologians, and specif- 
ically Ash‘arites, accept the idea that there are eternal, nonexistent quiddities 
in order to pave the way for the idea of creation as presented in Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
works, i.e. that it is the external manifestation of the eternal nonexistent quid- 
dities, or, in Ibn ‘Arabi's terms, al-a‘yan al-thabita. He does not mention the 
philosophers’ arguments, since for him anyone who differentiates between the 

161 Al-Kurani, Imdad dhawi al-isti‘dad, fol. 32°. 

162 Al-Karani, Imdad dhawi al-isti‘dad, fol. 33°. 

163 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futiuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 2, p. 404. 
164 Al-Qunawi, al-Nafahat al-ilahiyya, p. 143. 

216 CHAPTER 5 

contingent and the impossible cannot reject the distinction between the con- 
tingent nonexistent and the impossible nonexistent.1® 

The classification of existents or intelligibles was one aspect of Ash‘arite- 
Mutazilite disputes. The other two aspects related to our discussion are how 
we can classify nonexistents and how we can describe them. 

6.1 Classifications of Nonexistents 

As al-Kurani asserted that accepting ambiguous verses without allegorical in- 

terpretation is an Ash‘ani idea that existed both in al-Ibana and in al-Juwayni's 

al-‘Aqida al-Nizamiyya, he also argues that Muslim theologians, including 

Ashirites, classified nonexistents in different categories and differentiate be- 

tween contingent nonexistents and impossible nonexistents. The Mu'tazilite 

theologian Ibn Mattawayh distinguishes between two kinds of nonexistents: a 

nonexistent whose actual existence can possibly be created under the potency 

of God, and a nonexistent whose actual existence is impossible. Both are 

nonexistents, but the first can possibly exist, while the latter will never come 

to be.!66 From the Ash‘arite side we can similarly mention al-Baqillani’s classi- 

fications of nonexistents according to their possibility of existence: 

a) Never existed and impossible for it to exist; logically impossible. 

b) Never existed; even if it is possible, it will never exist, like when God says 
that something will never happen. 

c) Nonexistent in our time and will be “existent” in the future, like the Day 
of Judgment. 

d) Nonexistent in our time but was “existent” in the past, like the events of 
the past. 

e) Nonexistent that is possible but depends on God’s will, and we do not 
know if it will happen or not.16” 

Abi Ishaq al-Isfara’Ini gives a similar classification of nonexistents.!6* 

165 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 57°. 

166 Al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. Mattawayh, al-Tadhkira fi ahkam al-jawahir wa-l-arad, ed. Daniel 
Gimaret (Cairo: Institut Frangais D’ Archéologie Orientale, 2009), vol. 1, p. 17. 

167 Al-Baqillani, al-Tamhid, p. 40. 

168 Nonexistents are spoken of under several categories (aqsam):1- The non-actuality in being 
(intifa’) of what was and is in the past is known; 2- The non-actuality in being of what shall 
be is known as one posits the actuality of an entity and then knows that it does not exist; 
3- The non-actuality in being of what will not be of those beings whose existence is pos- 
sible, how it would be were it to be (md la yakunu mimma jaza an yakuna an law kana 
kayfa kan yakin); and 4- The non-actuality in being of those things whose existence in 
the impossible (ma yastahil kawnuh) is known. See, Richard M. Frank, “The Non-existent 
and the Possible in Classical Ash‘arite Teaching,’ MIDEO 24, Louvain, 2000. Republished 


Al-Kurani was therefore following the long kalam tradition of classifying 
nonexistents. But his particular classification of nonexistents into contingent 
nonexistents and impossible nonexistents was probably influenced most pro- 
foundly by Ibn ‘Arabi, although it is also possible that he found the classification 
of theologians to be consistent with Ibn ‘Arabi’s classification. Ibn ‘Arabi distin- 
guishes between two kinds of nonexistence: absolute nonexistence (al-‘adam 
al-mutlaq), which is nothingness, pure and simple; and relative nonexistence 
(al-‘adam al-idaft), which is the state of things considered to be Not God.!69 In 
other words, only God has true existence, and everything else is nonexistence 
in one way or another. 

As we have seen, Mu'tazilites and Ash‘arites had different categories and 
descriptions for nonexistents. So, what led to the Ash‘arite criticism that al- 
Kurani was reviving a problematic Mu‘tazilite position? It seems that the main 
problem was his use of the concept of “thing” (shay’) to describe nonexistents. 

6.2 The Description of Nonexistent and the Concept of “Thing” (shay’) 

Sunni theologians of the Ash‘ari and Maturidi schools believed in a strong iden- 
tification of “thing” with “existent.”!”° In this framework, a nonexistent cannot 
be described by any term that refers to any kind of existence. Al-Juwayni says 
that “nonexistence is an unqualified negation and does not embrace any of the 
positive attributes of existent entities. Since it is nothing at all, it has no essen- 
tial attribute by which it can be described.”!”! For Mu'tazilites, a nonexistent 
has a kind of affirmation that allows it to be described. However, they disagree 
about how to describe a substance without the attribute of existence.!”? Ibn 
Mattawayh says that the description of the substance in the state of nonexis- 
tence is possible using any term, with the condition that this term does not refer 
to existence through its expression or meaning. It is a matter of language, and 

in: Texts and Studies on the Development and History of Kalam. USA & UK: Ashgate Pub- 
lishing Company, 2008), p. 3. 

169 Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 7. 

170 Robert Wisnovsky, Avicenna’s Metaphysics in Context (NY: Cornel University Press, 2003), 
p- 148. 

171 Imam al-Haramayn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Juwayni, ALShamil frusul al-din, ed. A.S. al-Nashshar 
(Cairo: 1969), pp. 609-610. Al-Juwayni said similar things in al-Irshad. See al-Juwayni, al- 
Irshad ila qawati‘ al-adilla fi usul al-i'tiqad, ed. M. Yusuf Musa and A.A. ‘Abd al-Hamid 
(Cairo: Maktabat al-Khanji, 1950), p. 31. Ibn Farak said that Aba al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari held 
that a nonexistent cannot be described as a substance or as an accident. Ibn Furak, Mujar- 
rad maqalat al-Ash‘ari, p. 246. 

172 See Ibn Mattawayh, al-Tadhkira, vol. 1, p. 13; Aba Rashid al-Nisaburi, al-Masq@il fi al- 
khilaf bayn al-Basriyyin wa-l-Baghdadiyyin, ed. Ma‘n Ziyada and Ridwan al-Sayyid (Beirut: 
Ma‘had al-Inm@ al-‘Arabi, 1979), p. 37. 

218 CHAPTER 5 

since it does not refer to actual existence it is possible to call accidents ‘acci- 
dents’ even if they are nonexistents, since we do not understand from these 
names or descriptions that they have an actual existence.!”4 

However, as mentioned above, Ash‘arites classified nonexistents in different 
categories and had different way to describe them. Ibn Furak summarizes the 
description of nonexistents in Ash‘arite doctrine as “hav[ing] in common that 
they can be known and that they can be spoken of, made the subject of a pred- 
ication and referred to, and they are potential objects of God’s power.”!* But 
one cannot describe those nonexistents with other names and descriptions, 
specifically with the descriptions that imply the assertion of the actual exis- 
tence of entities such as “thing” (shay’). Al-Baqillani says that the existent is 
the established existing thing (al-mawjud huwa al-shay’ al-thabit al-ka’in) and 
the nonexistent is a negation and not a thing (ma‘dum muntaft laysa bi-shay’). 
Shay’ according to al-Baqillani, and Ash‘arites in general, is the existent (mana 
al-shay’ ‘indana annahu mawjud).1” 

Ibn Mattawayh adds a new expression to describe the nonexistent, “as it is 
possible to call it substance when it is nonexistent, it is possible to call it “thing” 
(shay’), because its reality (hagigatuh) is known and can be spoken of.”!”6 A 
new term thus became the center of controversy between Muttazilites and 
Ashiarites, the term “thing” (shay’).!”” Ibn Mattawayh was aware of the contro- 
versial use of this term, so he tried to justify using it through lexicographic and 
Quranic sources. He says that “thing” does not refer to actual existence because 
we say: “existent thing” (shay’ mawjiid), and if these two words had the same 
meaning that would be a useless repetition. Also, we say “I knew of a nonex- 
istent thing” (‘alimtu shay‘an ma‘duman), and there is no contradiction in this 
sentence as there would be if we were saying “I knew of a nonexistent exis- 
tent.” Moreover, when lexicographers say “nothing” (/a shay’), they do not mean 
nonexistent (ma‘dum).!”8 From the Quran, Ibn Mattawayh uses many verses 
where the word “thing” refers to nonexistents such as: “God is able to do all 

173 Ibn Mattawayh, al-Tadhkira, vol. 1, p. 22. 

174 Ibn Furak, Mujarrad magalat, p. 252, cited in Frank, “The Non-existent and the Possible in 
Classical Ash‘arite Teaching,” p. 2. 

175 Muhammad b. al-Tayyib al-Bagillani, al-Tamhid fi al-radd ‘ala al-mulhida wa-l-rafida wa- 
Lkhawarij wa-l-mutazila, ed. Mahmid Muhammad al-Khudari and Muhammad ‘Abd al- 
Hadi Abi Rida (Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-‘Arabi, 1947), p. 40. 

176 Ibn Mattawayh, al-Tadhkira, vol. 1, p. 23. 

177. For more discussions about the concept of “thing” (shay’) and the role these discussions 
played in kalam and philosophy developments, see Wisnovsky, “Notes on Avicenna’s Con- 
cept of Thingness (shay’tyya).” 

178 Ibn Mattawayh, al-Tadhkira, vol. 1, p. 23. 


things,” (Q 2:284), (Q 3:29) and that which is under the ability of God could be 
nonexistent; “and never say of anything ‘I shall do such and such thing tomor- 
row, except [with the saying] if God wills.’ (Q 18:23-24). He confirms through 
this reasoning that “thing” can come before acting or existing. He also gives 
many other examples where “thing” refers to a nonexistent, such as the verses 
(Q 16:40), (Q 36:82), (Q 22:1), and (Q 19:9).179 

It is not clear whether al-Kurani had direct access to Mu'tazilite texts, but 
certainly he knew their arguments through the texts of their opponents, and he 
refers to their arguments as recorded in in al-lji’s al-Mawagif and its Sharh, and 
other Ash‘arite texts that reject Mu‘tazilite doctrines. Al-Kurani uses the same 
Quranic verses as Ibn Mattawayh that refer to shay’ in the state of nonexistence. 
He also uses the theologians’ discussions and the lexicographers’ views to argue 
that shay’ can be used to describe the nonexistent in the external world. From 
the linguistic perspective, al-Kurani says that al-Zamakhshari in al-Kashshaf 
mentions that the meaning of shay’ is “what can be known and talked about” 
(ma yasihhu an yu‘lama wa-yukhbara ‘anhu). Al-Kurani says that shay’ is origi- 
nally from sha’, which means “he wills or desires.” So, shay’ is the thing to which 
the will or the desire attaches. But the will attaches to what is known, because 
no one can desire what is unknown to him. Since the will is attached to what is 
known, every intelligible can be called shay’.!8° 

Similar to the Mu‘tazilites, al-Kurani holds that “thing” (shay’) is the most 
broadly applicable category of intelligibles, and that “thing” is divisible into 
“existent” and “nonexistent.” Al-Kurani says that shay’ can be used to describe 
every intelligible, whether eternal or created, substance or accident, even the 
nonexistent, be it a possible nonexistent or an impossible nonexistent; all 
intelligibles can be described by the term shay’ in a literal sense, not simply 
metaphorically (haqiqatan la majazan).‘*! According to al-Kurani, the use of 
the term shay’ for all intelligibles is confirmed by linguistic scholars like Sib- 
awayh, so there is no reason for Ash‘arites to say that shay’ can only be used in its 
literal sense for existents and metaphorically for nonexistents. Again, al-Kurani 
repeats that al-Ash‘ar’’s doctrine is to accept the apparent without allegorical 
interpretation, and since the word shay’ occurs in the Quran and in the Sunna 
to refer to extramental nonexistents, there is no need to say it can only be used 
metaphorically.!8? Al-Kirani says that what al-Iji and al-Jurjani mention about 
the Ash‘arite position is that saying, “every existent is a thing,’ means that we 

179 Ibn Mattawayh, al-Tadhkira, vol. 1, p. 23. 
180 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 67°. 
181 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 67°. 
182 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 67°. 

220 CHAPTER 5 

cannot say that an existent “is not a thing/is nothing” (/aysa bi-shay’). Al-Iji’s 
and al-Jurjani's idea does not mean that everything is existent; it is possible to 
use the term shay’ for existents in the extramental world and also for a nonex- 
istent in the extramental world. The only difference is that the existent in the 
extramental world cannot be called “nothing.”!83 

The concept of “thing” played an essential role not only in kalam, but in 
Islamic philosophy as well. As Wisnovsky has shown in “Notes on Avicenna’s 
Concept of Thingness (shay*iyya),” kalam discussions of “thing” and “existent” 
were the backdrop against which Avicenna made his distinction between es- 
sence or quiddity and existence. The discussions about existence came to 
encompass general questions of ontology, and the metaphysical notions used 
in the debate among mutakallimun became more sophisticated.!** These dis- 
cussions of wujiid, shay’, and the nonexistent found their way into Sufism 
through theoretical discussions of the meaning of wujiid. The Sufi discussion 
of the concept of existence, especially the terms wahdat al-wujiid and abso- 
lute existence, motivated several theologians, such as Taftazani and al-Jurjani, 
to discuss these concepts and to discuss Sufi writings seriously. At the same 
time, the involvement of Akbarian Sufis in the discussion of philosophical con- 
cepts was increasing as well. In the seventeenth century, al-Kurani thus found 
a rich body of Sufism and philosophical discussions that facilitated his process 
of bringing (philosophised) kalam and (philosophised) Sufism into a coherent 
system. Sufi engagement in philosophical arguments can be seen in the fol- 
lowing section, which deals with the topic of God’s knowledge of particulars, 
famously associated with Ibn Sina’s philosophy. 

7 God's Knowledge of Particulars 

Ibn Sina’s theory that God knows particulars “in a universal way” has attracted 
considerable attention from traditional Muslim and academic scholars alike.!85 
God is always described as perfect; thus, He cannot change. But particulars 

183 Al-Karani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 684. 

184 Wisnovsky, “Notes on Avicenna’s Concept of Thingness (shay%yya),” p. 187. 

185 Michael E. Marmura, “Some Aspects of Avicenna’s Theory of God’s Knowledge of Partic- 
ulars,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 82 (1962), pp. 299-312; Peter Adamson, “On 
Knowledge of Particulars,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (3):273-294 (2005); 
Rahim Acar, “Reconsidering Avicenna’s Position on God’s Knowledge of Particulars,” in 
Interpreting Avicenna: Science and Philosophy in Medieval Islam: Proceedings of the Sec- 
ond Conference of the Avicenna Study Group (Leiden: Brill, 2004); S. Nusseibeh, “Avicenna: 
Providence and God’s Knowledge of Particulars,” in Avicenna and his Legacy: A Golden Age 


change, so knowledge of particulars will change with the change of particu- 
lars, thus implying that a change occurs in God. In order to solve this appar- 
ent contradiction, Ibn Sina asserts that God’s knowledge only contains eternal 
truths, which he understands to be “universals” (Aulliyyat). God thus knows 
individual objects and their attributes “in a universal way” only. Al-Ghazali 
understands Ibn Sina’s position as entailing the denial of God’s knowledge of 
individuals.!86 Al-Shahrastani in Struggling with the Philosopher mentions the 
traditional argument as follows: any change in the object of knowledge will 
necessitate a change in the knowledge, and the multiplicity of the objects of 
knowledge will necessitate a multiplicity in knowledge. So, it would follow that 
the essence is multiple by virtue of the multiplication of the objects of knowl- 

Al-Kurany’s solution to this argument is embedded in his theory of realities 
and their eternal affirmation in God’s knowledge and in his theory of creation. 
Creation occurs by God’s power or potency (qudra). Power acts according to 
God's will. And God’s will follows God’s knowledge. As explained above, no 
one wills things that are unknown to himself. For the will, in order to choose 
something from the knowledge, this “thing” should be distinct from other 
things (mutamayyiz). In the external world, there are only particulars, which 
means that everything is individuated eternally in God’s knowledge that never 
changes. Recall that realities, quiddities, or fixed entities in al-Kurani’s thought 
are uncreated (ghayr majUla); they are nonexistents that are distinct by them- 
selves, affirmed in God’s knowledge.!88 As the existence of God is necessarily 
eternal, so the reality of a contingent that is nonexistent, affirmed, and individ- 
uated (muta‘ayyin) is eternal in God’s knowledge; if there is no individuation 
and distinctiveness from other contingents, the word “Be” would not have a 
specific entity to address, or to make manifest in the external world. 

Al-Kurani cites several statements from Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Futiuhat that confirm 
the idea that contingents are distinct individually and eternally in God’s knowl- 
edge. Ibn ‘Arabi in chapter 373 of al-Futuhat says that contingents are them- 
selves mutually distinguishable in the state of nonexistence, and God knows 
them as they are; He sees them and orders them to be. Everything exists in a 

of Science and Philosophy, ed. Langermann, Y. Tzvi (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2009), 
PP. 275-288. 

186 Frank Griffel, “Al-Ghazali’s (d. 1111) Incoherence of the Philosophers,” in The Oxford Hand- 
book of Islamic Philosophy, p. 203. 

187. Al-Shahrastani, Struggling with the Philosopher, p. 70. 

188 = Ibrahim al-Karani, al-Tawassul ila anna ‘ilm Allah bi-l-ashya@ azalan ala al-tafsil (Ms: Istan- 
bul: Veliyyiiddin Efendi 1815), fol. 1325. 

222 CHAPTER 5 

detailed way in God’s knowledge. Again, in chapter 297, Ibn ‘Arabi says that 
in God’s knowledge there is no general knowledge (imal).1®8° So, fixed enti- 
ties according to Ibn ‘Arabi are affirmed, distinct, uncreated nonexistents in 
God’s knowledge, and knowledge follows the object of knowledge, in the sense 
that it is attached to it and reveals it as it is. Thus, God knows every particu- 
lar thing eternally. Since God’s knowledge encompasses every particular reality 
eternally, God knows every particular thing whether this particular was only 
in His knowledge or was manifested and actualized in the external world. In 
other words, God’s knowledge of all particularities does not need the realities of 
things to be actualized or moved from the state of fixed entities (a‘yan thabita) 
to the state of existent entities (a‘yan mawjtda). 

Al-Kurani says that knowledge in Ibn ‘Arabi's thought is a relation (idafa), 
not an acquired form (stra hasila); the eternal relation is revealing things as 
they are and according to their eternal dispositions.!9° As knowledge in Ibn 
‘Arabi’s thought follows the object of knowledge, this knowledge is attached 
to its object and reveals it. So, the source of God’s knowledge of the world 
is His very knowledge of Himself. Al-Kurani mentions that this idea is differ- 
ent from al-Tasi’s argument in Tajrid that knowledge and its object correspond 
to each other (mutatabiq), and that the object is the origin of this identifica- 
tion, because the basis of this latter idea is that knowledge is a form (sura). In 
Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, knowledge is a relation that reveals the affirmed nonexis- 
tent, not the existent forms (al-suwar al-wujudiyya). After these clarifications, 
al-Kurani returns to the main topic of God’s knowledge of particulars to con- 
clude that detailed knowledge (al-‘ilm al-tafsili) does not depend on existent 
forms, but, on the contrary, the existent forms emanate ( faida) from detailed 
knowledge according to their quiddities, which are the affirmed, uncreated 

8 Creation 

As mentioned above, the Quran describes creation as consisting in God say- 
ing “Be” to a “thing.” A thing is thus nonexistent before God says “Be” to it 
and existent after God says “Be” to it. The question that arose was whether 
the world was created ex nihilo (min la shay’), or from a nonexistent (min al- 

189 All these citations and more are mentioned by al-Kurani, al-Tawassul ila anna ‘lm Allah 
bi-L-ashy@ azalan ‘ala al-tafsil, fol. 1337. 

igo Al-Karrani, al-Tawassul ila anna ‘ilm Allah bi-L-ashy@ azalan ‘ald al-tafsil, fol. 133°. 

igi Al-Karani, al-Tawassul ila anna ‘ilm Allah bi-l-ashy@ azalan ‘ald al-tafsil, fol. 133°. 


ma‘dum)? If the world was created from a nonexistent, can we regard that 
nonexistent as prior, pre-existent matter? Nicholas Rescher summarizes the 
challenge of the idea of a nonexistent to the theory of creation ex nihilo as 
implying a version of a doctrine of pre-existent substances.!%? If God created 
the actual existent world out of “something” that means there is “something” 
uncreated and co-eternal with Him. That also implies that God’s potency is 
limited to moving the nonexistent into the state of the actual existent, rather 
than creating from nothing. This question about God’s power to change any- 
thing in creation is important for the concept of God’s omnipotence in Islamic 
theology. The connection between the nonexistent and creation was clear in 
the minds of the Mu‘tazilites’ opponents; al-Baghdadi in al-Farg bayn al-firaq 

All Mu'tazilites, except al-Salihi, claim that all originated things (hawa- 
dith) were “things” before they come to be. [...] That means God creates 
things from things. God creates things from “nothing” according to our 
colleagues (ashabuna) who confirmed the attributes and denied that the 
nonexistent is a “thing.”!%3 

According to al-Kurani, things have uncreated quiddities prior to their actual 
existence; these quiddities are uncreated and exist eternally in God’s knowl- 
edge. Creation in this case means a transformation of entities from fixed enti- 
ties to existent entities (a‘yan mawjuda) God gives each entity within His 
knowledge its existence in the universe without any change in its reality. In 
other words, realities that are affirmed in God’s knowledge will be manifested 
in the external world. 

In Qasd al-sabil, al-Karani says that quiddities are created from one perspec- 
tive and uncreated from another. Quiddities are not created in their eternally 
known affirmation (thubut ‘lmi azalt) and created in their external or mental 
existence.!*4 Creating does not mean that the exact quiddities will move from 
eternal knowledge to external existence. The affirmation in knowledge (al- 
thubut al-‘ilmi) of quiddities is essential (dhatt), eternal, and forever. Affirmed 
quiddities are not preceded by possibility; in that case, they would be con- 
sidered created. Rather, affirmation precedes their possibility. In other words, 

192 Nicholas Rescher, Studies in Arabic Philosophy (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 
1966), p. 71. 

193 ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi, al-Farq bayn al-firaq, ed. M. Muhyi al-Din ‘Abd al-Hamid 
(Beirut: al-Maktaba al-‘Asriyya, 1995), p. 116. 

194 Al-Karani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 59°. 

224 CHAPTER 5 

eternal quiddities are possible nonexistents because they are affirmed eternally 
in God’s knowledge; otherwise, they would be absolute nonexistents. 

These entities are concretized in the external world, in accordance with 
their dispositions, through the light of absolute existence. Absolute existence, 
by which al-Kurani means God, effuses His light on the contingent realities 
according to their dispositions and makes them ready to receive His own act 
of creation. Then God, by His will, effuses on the entity its hearing (al-sam‘). 
At this point God says to it “Be” (kun), which means its specific individuation 
(ta‘ayyun khass) according to the disposition of its reality. In this way, it will 
appear in an individual form in “the general existence” (al-wujud al-amm),1%> 
the first creature according to al-Kurani. This first creature is called in Ibn 
‘Arabi’s writings “the cloud” (al-‘ama’), among other terms. 

Ibn ‘Arabi uses the famous /adith of the hidden treasure to explain the rea- 
son for creation. This hadith states that God “loved” to be known, so He created 
creatures in order to be known by them or through them. This love, through 
His mercy (rahma), formed an abstract space in which creations would appear; 
this abstract place is named by Ibn ‘Arabi “the cloud” (al-‘ama’).!96 Ibn ‘Arabi 
uses the term “effusion” (fayd) to describe the act of generating this abstract 
space. He talks about two levels of effusions: in the first effusion the realities 
manifest in “the cloud,” and in the second the realities manifest in the external 

The first effusion, which caused the “the cloud,’ is called “the most holy effu- 
sion” (al-fayd al-aqdas); that effusion is the manifestation of the Divine essence 
to Itself. Through this effusion, “God discloses Himself, through Himself, to 
Himself” (tajalla bi-dhatihi li-dhatih). God knows Himself and all His perfec- 
tions as concomitants of His essence, which is nothing but Himself. The entities 
stand in relation to His knowledge, so, when God knows Himself, He knows all 
the entities. This self-knowledge that embraces the knowledge of all the latent 
existents is the source of plurality that emerged from the One, which is the 
essential point in the discussion of how plurality emerged from the One, as 
will be explained below. The realities are subsistent (qa’ima) in this effused exis- 
tence and God is the sustainer (Qayyum) of them; God’s essence is not the locus 
of creation.!%” So, through the holy effusion, the nonexistent entities become 
“connected” (iqtiran) with existence, or they act as “receptacles” to the extent 

195 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 59-». 

196 Mohamed Haj Yousef, Ibn Arabi—Time and Cosmology (NY: Routledge, 2008), p. 8. 

197 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Is‘af al-hanif li-sulitk maslak al-tarif (Ms: USA: Princeton University 
Library, Yahuda 3869), fol. 75°. 


that their disposition allows. But the existence they now possess is only “lent” 
to them temporarily.!98 

The second effusion of the absolute existence is called “the holy effusion” 
(al-fayd al-mugqaddas). This effusion causes the manifestations of creatures 
in the external world according to their eternal dispositions, so that reality 
becomes manifest outwardly as an existent (mawjid) or form (sura).199 When 
God bestows existence upon these nonexistents and nonmanifest entities, they 
become manifest outwardly. So, every existent entity, every existent thing, is the 
outward manifestation of a reality existing eternally in God’s knowledge. 

The process of creation thus has absolute existence on one side and the cre- 
ated material world on the other side, and there is a world between them, which 
is “the cloud” (al-‘ama’) or “general existence” (al-wujud al-Gmm).2° This inter- 
mediary world plays an essential role in Ibn ‘Arabi's thought: it is the limit 
(barzakh,; literally “isthmus”) between God and the world.2™ Ibn ‘Arabi calls the 
barzakh, or the “supreme barzakh,’ by several other names, such as the “reality 

198 The ontology of creation in Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought can be found in Chittick’s The Self- 
Disclosure of God and The Sufi Path of Knowledge, mainly chapter three of the latter. 

199 Ibn ‘Arabi also talks about the perpetual effusion, which means the continued creation, 
renewed at each moment. See Souad Hakim, “Unity of Being in Ibn Arabi—A Human- 
ist Perspective,” Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, Volume 36, 2004, pp. (15-37), 
p. 22. 

200 A short description of creation can be found in Ibn ‘Arabi’s Insha’ al-dawa@’ir, in which 
he talks about three metaphysical categories of existence: absolute existence, the mate- 
rial universe and everything it contains, and a third metaphysical category that is neither 
nonexistence nor existence, but some sort of intermediary between the first and the sec- 
ond categories. Ibn ‘Arabi calls this last category the essence of all essences (hagiqat al- 
haq@iq), which may be said for both God and the world, or neither God nor the world, 
but a third entity that comprehends everything. Ibn al-‘Arabi, Kitab insh@ al-dawa@’ir in 
Kleinere Schriften des Ibn Al-‘Arabi, ed. H.S. Nyberg (Leiden, 1919), p. 15 and after. Landolt 
argues that this category has many aspects in common with that mysterious entity that 
was known in Greek as Logos. Hermann Landolt, “Simnani on wahdat al-wujud,’ pp. 91-112, 
p. 101. 

201 One ofthe most common classifications is that of the five divine presences (al-hadarat al- 
ilahiyya al-khams), the first of which is the uncreated knowledge of God. The next three are 
created: the spiritual world, the world of images or imagination, and the corporeal world. 
The world of imagination acts as a barzakh or isthmus between the other two created 
worlds; since it comprehends the attributes of both, it allows them to become interrelated. 
The fifth presence is the Perfect Man, who is both created and uncreated since he com- 
prehends the other four levels within himself. About the seven stages doctrine see Azra, 
The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia, p. 136; Megawati Moris, “Islamization 
of the Malay Worldview: Sufi Metaphysical Writings,” World Journal of Islamic History and 
Civilization, 1 (2): 108-116, 2011; and Chittick, “The Five Divine Presences: From al-Qunawi 
to al-Qaysari,” Muslim World 72 (1982): 107-128. 

226 CHAPTER 5 

of the perfect man” and the “Muhammadan Reality,’?°? the “reality of realities” 
(haqigat al-haqa@iq), the “universal reality” (al-haqiqa al-kulliyya), the “breath 
of the Compassionate” (nafas al-Rahman),?° and the origin of everything. Ibn 
‘Arabi does not use the term “creation” in discussing the formation of the cloud, 
but the term “manifestation” (tajallt). This cloud appeared (zahara) through 
the All-Merciful breath (nafas al-Rahman), and everything else appeared in the 
cloud by the Divine word “Be” (Aun). Al-Kurani calls the first creature “general 
existence” (al-wujiid al-‘amm) and he acknowledges that al-wujiid al-‘amm is 
exactly what Ibn ‘Arabi called al-‘ama’.2% In fact, Ibn ‘Arabi sometimes calls 
al-‘am@ “emanated existence” (al-wujid al-mufad).?°> Al-Kurani says that the 
existence of all creatures is from the emanated existence (al-wujiid al-mufad), 
which is also known as the added light (al-nur al-mudaf ), the cloud (al-‘ama’), 
and the breath of the Compassionate (al-nafas al-rahmant).2% 

The cloud is also called the “absolute imagination” (al-khayal al-mutlaq), so 
when Ibn ‘Arabi refers to the cosmos as “imagination,” he does not mean that 
the world has no external real existence, but that it is a never-ending transfor- 
mation. Al-Kurani says that imagination (khayal) means everything within the 
“absolute imagination” is constantly transforming from one state to another 
and from one form to another, while the khayal itself is fixed because its real- 
ity is the breath.2°” The perpetual transformation of forms explains that real 
existence is only God and everything else is in the absolute imagination.?°° 

202 Ibn ‘Arabi begins chapter 27 of al-Fusiis by saying about the Prophet: “he is the most perfect 
existent of this human species, which is why the matter begins and ends with him, for he 
was a Prophet while Adam was between clay and water.” Qaysari explains this statement 
by saying: “It is the wisdom of singularity because of his singularity in the station of Divine 
All-Comprehensiveness (al-jamtyya al-ilahiyya), above which is nothing except the level 
of the Essence of Exclusive Oneness (al-dhat al-ahadiyya).’ “The Prophet is the receptacle 
for all the Divine names, since he receives the Name Allah, which is the name which brings 
all the other names together [...] he stands alone at the top of the cosmic hierarchy of 
God’s Self-Disclosures.” Mohammed Rustom, “The Cosmology of the Muhammadan Real- 
ity,” Ishraq, Islamic Philosophy Yearbook, Moscow: Vostochnaya Literatura, Issue 4; 2013, 
PP. 540-545, pp. 540-541. About the Muhammadan Reality see, Michel Chodkiewicz, Seal 
of the Saints: Prophethood and Sainthood in the Doctrine of Ibn ‘Arabi, trans. Liadain Sher- 
rard (Cambridge, 1993), Ch. 4 in particular. 

203 Ibn ‘Arabi usually maintains that “the cloud” is identical with “the breath of the All- 
Merciful,” although sometimes he distinguishes between the two and says that “the cloud” 
comes into existence through the breath. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 126. 

204 Al-Karani, al-Tawassul ila anna ‘ilm Allah bi-l-ashy@ azalan ‘ala al-tafsil, fol. 133°. 

205 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 3, 467-468. 

206 Al-Kurani, Is‘af al-hanif li-sulik mastlak al-taTif, fol. 753. 

207 Al-Kuarani, Matta‘ al-jiid, fol. 126». 

208 Al-Kurani, Is‘G@f al-hanif li-suluk mastlak al-taTif, fol. 73°. 


This intermediary world was a subject of different treatises by al-Kurani 
in which he replied to questions about this world. In al-Maslak al-anwar ila 
marifat al-barzakh al-akbar?°° al-Kurani received a question about a state- 
ment of Ibn ‘Arabi in his work Insha@’ al-dawa@iir, which talks about a thing that 
cannot be characterized as existent or nonexistent, nor as eternal or created. 
According to Ibn ‘Arabi, the first emanated creature, “the cloud,” is the origin 
of the world, and he describes it as al-haqq al-makhlug bihi “the real through 
which creation occurs.’””!° But al-Qashani in Lataf al-a‘lam says that al-haqq 
al-makhlig bihi is the perfect man (al-insan al-kamil), who is described as exis- 
tent. The question was whether this third realm can be characterized as existent 
or nonexistent in the external world. Al-Kurani says that this third realm is not 
characterized as existent or nonexistent, because according to Insha’ al-dawa’ir 
only the first is existent by itself, that is God, and the second realm is existent 
by God. The existence of that which exists by itself is not different from its real- 
ity and the existence of that which exists by God is different from its reality, 
because realities of contingents are nonexistents that are essentially distin- 
guishable (ma‘dumat mutamayyiza ft dhatiha), affirmed in nafs al-amr, which is 
God’s knowledge insofar as it identical to His essence, or the most holy essence 
(al-dhat al-aqdas).?" If this third realm, which is described as “the reality of all 
realities,” is characterized as existent or nonexistent, as generated or eternal, 
then the reality of all realities would not be inclusive of all realities. The uni- 
versal reality comprehends all the individual realities, which it encompasses 
without being exclusive to any individual reality within it. So, by itself it can- 
not be characterized as existent or nonexistent, or as eternal or created. For 
the eternal, it is eternal, and for the generated it is generated, and by itself is 
an intellectual concept that has no external existence (ma‘qul ghayr mawjud 
al-wujud al-‘aynt).?! 

What attaches to the realities in creation and actualizes their realities 
according to their eternal disposition is general existence, not absolute exis- 
tence. Al-Kurani says that actual existence in the external world consists of 
the eternal nonexistent and existence, which means the eternal nonexistent 
quiddities and general existence, or emanated existence, and not absolute exis- 
tence. In the section related to legal responsibility, we will see that al-Kurani 
received a question related to this exact point. 

209 Ibrahim al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-anwar ila mavifat al-barzakh al-akbar (Ms: USA: Prince- 
ton University Library, Yahuda 3869), fols. 767-79". 

210 About this concept see Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God, pp. 17-18; The Sufi Path of 
Knowledge, p. 132 and after. 

211 Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-anwar, fols. 76-77". 

212 Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-anwar, fols. 77°. 

228 CHAPTER 5 

The entities are either nonmanifest and “nonexistent,” although known in 
God’s knowledge, or outwardly manifest and existent. In either case, they are 
the same entities; in the first case, they have no independent or outward exis- 
tence, and in the second case God has given them existence outside of His 
knowledge. Creating means giving these quiddities the accidents and the forms 
that their eternal essential dispositions require. God’s knowledge of these enti- 
ties does not change, and He knows them in the same way before and after their 
coming into existence. God is the Knower, always and forever, so the realities or 
the quiddities never leave God’s knowledge. What comes to exist in the cosmos 
are not the things in themselves, for nothing is found in itself other than God. 
Ibn ‘Arabi urges the reader of al-Futuhat to 

Know that the entities always remain in their original state of nonexis- 
tence. They never go outside the presence of knowledge, and they have 
never smelled the breath of existence. The only existence they have in 
the external world is the existence of God (Hagq) clothed in the forms of 
the states of the possible. So, no one takes delight in or is pained by His 
manifestations except Him.2!8 

Al-Qushashi says that in existence there is nothing but God and His objects of 
knowledge (ma‘tumatihi); the objects of His knowledge are His words. They are 
the realities of everything. If God wants to manifest any of them in the exter- 
nal world, He will say to it, “Be,” and it is.21* Al-Qushashi says that creating in 
the external world is not ex nihilo, or from pure nonexistence (‘adam sirf ), but 
from an affirmed existence (wujud thabit) in God’s knowledge and a veritable 
nonexistence (‘adam muhaqqaq) into the external world.#!5 

Al-Kurani says explicitly that “nothing is made except the external forms of 
things” (la majUl ila al-suwar al-wujiidiyya li-l-ashya’).?\6 Each creature mani- 
fests its properties to the extent of its own dispositions, “so the human being 
comes to be according to the property of the disposition to receive the divine 
command.’2!” The eternity of the realities does not mean the eternity of the 
world, because the dispute is not regarding the eternity of the realities but the 
eternity of the forms of those realities in the external world. On this count, al- 

213 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 2, p. 404. 

214 Al-Qushashi, Nafhat al-yaqin wa-zulfat al-tamkin li-l-muginin, fol. 6°. 

215  Al-Qushashi, Nafhat al-yaqin wa-zulfat al-tamkin li-l-magqinin, fol. 6°. 

216 Al-Karani, Imdad dhawi al-istidad, fol. 33°. 

217 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futihat al-makkiyya, vol. 11, p. 272. Translated in Chittick, The Self-Disclosure 
of God, p. 272. 


Qushashi disagrees with philosophers (hukama’) who say that some external 
forms, such as the celestial spheres (al-aflak), are eternal.”18 

According to his interpretation of creation as being due to the realities’ 
uncreated disposition, al-Kurani interprets al-Ghazali’s statement “there is 
nothing in [the realm of] possibility (imkan) more wondrous than what is” 
(laysa ft al-imkan abda‘mimmé kan) as an affirmation that God bestowed upon 
each creature what it was able to accept, without any deficiency at all, and since 
everything received what was suitable for it, that means it reached its perfec- 

Closely connected to the entities’ disposition is the question of “destiny” 
(qadar). God brings the entity from nonexistence in His knowledge to existence 
in the world, so that these uncreated entities have specific dispositions. Is des- 
tiny therefore determined and foreordained? Al-Kurani’s position on this topic 
will be discussed below. But the question of creation still has an important facet 
in need of investigation: how plurality proceeds from unity. 

9 Unity and Multiplicity 

In al-Maslak al-mukhtar al-Kurani records having received a question about 
an apparent contradiction between Ibn ‘Arabi and al-Qunawi. Ibn ‘Arabi states 
that whoever says “from the One proceeds only one” is ignorant, while al- 
Qunawi says that philosophers (hukama’) are correct in this statement, but 
they are mistaken in identifying the first emanation (al-sadir al-awwat). Philo- 
sophers say that the first emanation is the first intellect, but according to al- 
Qunawi the first emanation is general existence (al-wujiid al-‘amm).?2° 
Al-Kurani states that according to al-Qunawi the first and the vastest man- 
ifestation is the essential manifestation (al-tajallt al-dhatt).?*1 Al-Kurani then 
cites several works in which al-Qunawi says that from the One proceeds only 
one. In Tafsir surat al-fatiha, al-Qunawi says that plurality cannot issue from 
the One, as one, because unity negates plurality, and it is impossible for there 
to emerge from a thing that which negates it.2?? The One in respect of His abso- 

218 Al-Qushashi, Nafhat al-yaqin wa-zulfat al-tamkin li-l-migqinin, fol. 8°. 

219 Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 207. 

220 Ibrahim al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar ftmaTifat awwal sadir min al-Wajib bi-l-ikhtiyar 
(ms: Istanbul, Veliyyiiddin Efendi 1815), fol. 7>-84. 

221 Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 9°. 

222 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 9*. Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi, [jaz al-bayan fitafsir Umm 
al-Qur ‘an, ed. Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani (Iran, Qu: Bustan-e Ketab Press, 1423/[2002]), p. 104. 

230 CHAPTER 5 

luteness is not named by any name, nor is any proposition ascribed to Him, He 
is One for Himself without rationalizing His unity as an attribute or a prop- 
erty or a state; His existence is absolutely for Himself. But in another respect, 
He knows Himself by Himself, and He knows that He knows that; He knows 
His unity and that the unity is a fixed relation (nisba thabita) or an attribute 
in which nothing else participates. He knows that he is independent (ghant) 
from anything outside of Himself. From this relative plurality (ta‘ddud nisbi), 
plurality emerges.??3 Another citation that al-Kurani makes is from al-Qunawi's 
work Miftah al-ghayb, in which the latter says that from the unity of God’s 
existence proceeds only one because from the One only one proceeds. This 
emanation is the general effused existence (al-wujud al-‘amm al-mufad); this 
general existence is effused upon the eternally nonexistent individual entities 
that become externally existent (a‘yan al-mawjudat).22* Another long citation 
is from al-Nusis, which repeats the same idea that God, with respect to His 
essential absoluteness, cannot be recognized by any description, while from 
the standpoint of the essential relation of knowledge (al-nisba al-‘ilmiyya al- 
dhatiyya) there is a relative (nisbz), not a true distinction.?*° So, it is true that 
from the One only one proceeds, which is the effused general existence.?76 
And the first emanation is not the active intellect, but “the cloud,” which is 
general existence, the All-Merciful Breath, the actualized absolute imagination 
(al-khayal al-mutlaq al-muhaqqaq). This general existence is the first existent 
and it is common among all creatures, including the active intellect.22” 
Concerning Ibn ‘Arabi's idea that whoever accepts the idea that “from the 
One only one proceeds” is ignorant, al-Kurani cites Ibn ‘Arabi’s statement that 
philosophers never accepted absolute unity from all aspects, and explains 
that the philosophers who accept this principle say that the First has rela- 
tions (nisab), additions (idafat), and negations (sulub).228 He probably refers 

223  Al-Kuarani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 9>. Al-Qanawi, Ijaz al-bayan, p. 105. 

224 Al-Kuarani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 9>. Sadr al-Din al-Qinawi, Miftah al-ghayb li-Abi al- 
Mali Sadr al-Din Muhammad b. Ishaq al-Qunawi wa-sharhuhu li-Muhammad b. Hamzah 
al-Fanari, pp. 20-21. 

225 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 9%. Al-Qunawi, al-Nusus fi tahqiq al-tawur al- 
makhsis, ed. Ibrahim Ibrahim Muhammad Yasin (Cairo: Munsha’at al-Ma‘arif, 2003), p. 39. 
Al-Nusus has been translated into English by Chittick and published in Seyyed Hossein 
Nasr and Mehdi Amin Razavi, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia (London: I.B. Tau- 
ris Publishers, 2008), vol. 4, p. 416. The version printed in this volume was abbreviated 
because of publishing constraints. 

226 Al-Kuarani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 10. 

227  Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 12°. 

228 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 12. 


to Ibn Sina’s statement in al-Isharat: “A multiplicity of relative and nonrela- 
tive concomitants as well as a multiplicity of negations occur to the First. This 
causes a multiplicity of names [for him], but it does not affect the unity of 
his essence.”229 A]l-Kurani says that all these concomitants should instead be 
understood as rational considerations (itibarat ‘aqliyya), which are not enough 
to cause external entities. And, if we consider these considerations as condi- 
tions that necessitate external existence, God will be the necessary cause by 
His essence, not an agent who creates by His will, a claim that is rejected by Ibn 

Here al-Kurani moves to the idea that God is not a cause, which is clearly con- 
trary to the citation from al-Isharat mentioned above which states that “multi- 
plicity comes as a necessary consequence.” For al-Kurani, following Ibn ‘Arabi, 
God or the first principle is not a cause that necessitates by its essence (‘lla 
mujiba bi-l-dhat).231 If God creates by the necessity of nature, nature could be 
understood to be opposed to will, which means that the world would be created 
whether God wills or not. The idea of the necessity of nature is understood to 
mean that God is a necessary cause of the effect, which in turn means that God, 
with respect to His essence, is necessarily attached to the world, and that He is 
not perfect. But God is independent (ghant) and perfect, according to reason, 
revelation, and unveiling (kashf). Even philosophers (hukama’) acknowledge 
that God is essentially perfect (kamil bi-l-dhat).23? Al-Kurani mentions several 
citations from Ibn ‘Arabi in which he refuses to describe God as the cause of 
creation.?33 In al-Futihat, Ibn ‘Arabi states that “He is not caused by anything, 
nor is He the cause of anything. On the contrary, He is the Creator of the effects 
and the causes.”234 For Ibn ‘Arabi, cause and effect require each other in exis- 
tence, and “cause and effect play roles within the cosmos, but not in the relation 
between God and the cosmos.’235 Why is God not the cause? Ibn ‘Arabi says: “we 

229 Abii ‘Ali al-Husayn Ibn Sina, Al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat, ma‘ Sharh Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, ed. 
Sulayman Dunya (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-Nu‘man li-I-Tiba‘a wa-l-Nashr, 2ed, 1993), vol. 3, 
p. 285; Avicenna and Shams Constantine Inati, Ibn Sina’s Remarks and Admonitions: 
Physics and Metaphysics: An Analysis and Annotated Translation (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 2014), p. 174; Avicenna and Michael E. Marmura, The Metaphysics of 
the Healing: A Parallel English-Arabic Text = al-Ilahtyat min al-Shif@ (Provo, UT: Brigham 
Young University Press. 2004), book 8, Ch. 4, p. 273. 

230 ~=©Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 13°. 

231 Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14°. 

232  Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 13>. 

233  Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 13°. 

234 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol.1, p. go. 

235 Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God, p.17. 

232 CHAPTER 5 

do not make Him a cause of anything, because the cause seeks its effect, just 
as the effect seeks its cause, but the Independent is not qualified by seeking. 
Hence it is not correct for Him to be a cause.’236 

After emphasizing that God acts by His will, al-Kurani addresses Ibn Sina’s 
idea of the impossibility of plurality proceeding from the One without any 
intermediary.2°” Ibn Sina in al-Isharat says: 

Since his knowledge of his essence is by his essence, and [since] his sub- 
sisting as an intellect by himself due to his essence necessarily leads to 
his knowledge of multiplicity, multiplicity will come as a necessary con- 
sequence posterior to and not included in the essence as a constituent of 
it. Further, multiplicity proceeds in a hierarchy. The multiplicity of con- 
comitants due to the essence—be they separate or nonseparate—do not 
cause a breach in the unity. A multiplicity of relative and nonrelative con- 
comitants as well as a multiplicity of negations occur to the First. This 
causes a multiplicity of names [for him], but it does not affect the unity 
of his essence.?38 

This statement is important for al-Kurani in his argument that Ibn Sina also 
accepts the idea that the concomitants of God’s essence are the source of the 
“relative plurality” that allows plurality to proceed from the One without need 
of any intermediary. Al-Kurani then cites al-Tusi with the epithet “the commen- 
tator” (al-sharih), stating: “the necessary is one, and His unity does not cease by 
the multiplicity of the intellectual forms affirmed to Him (mutaqarrira fthi).’2°9 
Then al-Tasi says, continues al-Kurani, that there is “no doubt that affirming 
concomitants to the first in his essence is saying that the same thing is receptive 
and active (qabil wa-fail) together, and that the first is described by attributes 
that are not relations or negations.’24° Al-Kurani considers al-Tust's ideas to be 
objections to Ibn Sina’s idea. His reading is confirmed by al-Tusi’s statement a 
few lines later that he would explain these difficulties (madayiq), except he has 
committed himself to a condition that he would not mention his own opinion 
in case he found some arguments against Ibn Sina’s theory.?#4 

236 Ibn Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 2, p. 57. More passages with the same meaning are 
in Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God, p. 17. 

237  Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14°. 

238 Avicenna, [bn Sina’s Remarks and Admonitions: Physics and Metaphysics, p. 174. In al- 
Isharat wa-l-tanbthdat, vol. 3, pp. 283-284. Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14°. 

239 Ibn Sina, al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat, ma‘ Sharh Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, vol. 3, p. 282. 

240 Ibn Sina, al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihdt, vol. 3, p. 282. 

241 Ibn Sina, al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihdt, 3, p. 283. 


What is more important for al-Kurani is that Ibn Sina’s text and al-Tisi’s 
objection allow him to argue that the meaning of the former is that God’s 
essence eternally has these concomitants, i.e., nisab, idafat, sulub, which for 
al-Kurani accord with the idea of eternal uncreated realities. Also, since God’s 
essence has “relative plurality,” it is possible that the plurality proceeds from 
Him directly without any need for an intermediary. But how can the idea that 
plurality proceeds from the First without an intermediary agree with the idea 
that from the One only one proceeds? Al-Kurani makes an analogy between 
God’s perception of individuals all at once (duf‘atan) and multiplicity’s pro- 
ceeding from the one all at once (duf‘atan). This should be similar to the first 
divine effusion, the essential manifestation that bestowed existence on the 
realities, not in the external world, but in the “cloud.” Al-Kurani says that things, 
“creatures,” proceed from God all at once (duf‘atan) because God’s knowl- 
edge of things is “comprehensive and instantaneous’ (daft); things are even 
arranged by themselves through God’s wisdom.”*? Al-Kurani cites Ibn Sina’s 
al-Shifa’, book eight, chapter seven, which says: “He intellectually apprehends 
things all at once, without being rendered multiple by them in His substance, 
or their becoming conceived in their forms in the reality of His essence.’243 

Al-Kurani wants to demonstrate that Ibn Sina accepts that from the One 
multiplicity proceeds all at once. He states this aim explicitly in his work 
Shawarig al-anwar li-suluk al-Maslak al-mukhtar,2™ a text written as a response 
to a gloss that was written on his work al-Maslak al-mukhtar.**> Al-Kurani says 
that multiplicity can issue from God all at once because God’s knowledge is 
instantaneous (daft) and eternal.?*° The glossator objected to al-Kurani’s anal- 
ogy, saying that if God intellectually apprehends things all at once, that does not 
mean that multiplicity issues from Him all at once, without an intermediary.”4” 
Al-Kurani replied that God intellectually apprehends things all at once because 
they issue from Him all at once. Ibn Sina says that the intellectual forms (al- 
suwar al-‘aqliyya) issue from Him, and that their effusion is not temporal (laysa 
zamaniyyan), because temporal effusion necessitates change in the essence, 
and as he explains in al-Shifa@ God’s knowledge of particulars is not temporal: 

242 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14 a. 

243 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 291. 

244 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Shawariq al-anwar li-suliik al-Maslak al-mukhtar (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 
722), fol. 1092. 

245 Al-Kurani, Shawariq al-anwar, fol. 108?. The glossator is not named, but as I discussed in 
the description of al-Kurani’s works in Chapter Three, in one manuscript it is mentioned 
that the glossator is from Isfahan and that he is one of Agha Husayn Khawansar‘’s students. 

246 Al-Kuarani, Shawariq al-anwar, fol. 1092-». 

247 Al-Kuarani, Shawarigq al-anwar, fol. 109”. 

234 CHAPTER 5 

It is not possible that He would apprehend intellectually these change- 
ables with the changes [they undergo] (inasmuch as they are changeable) 
in a temporal, individualized manner but in another manner we will be 
[shortly] showing. For it is not possible that at one instance in a temporal 
[act] of intellectual apprehension He would apprehend them as exist- 
ing, not nonexisting, and at another instance [in a state of] nothingness, 
nonexisting. For then each of the two situations would have an intellec- 
tual concept apart from the other, neither of the two concepts remaining 
with the other, and thus the Necessary Existent would be of a changeable 

This text, according to al-Kurani, indicates that the effusion cannot be temporal 
(zamani) because temporality would necessitate change in the essence, just as 
apprehending individuals intellectually would make the essence changeable. 
According to al-Kurani, perception cannot be temporal, because Ibn Sina’s idea 
of perception would entail the imprinting of forms on God's essence. Due to 
the coming to be of some forms and the passing away of others, change would 
occur in God’s essence. But God’s essence is not a locus of change; thus, indi- 
viduals should be considered to be imprinted on God's essence eternally. There 
is another aspect of this analysis. Imprinted forms on God’s essence will cause 
change in God’s essence, which is not accepted either by al-Kurani or by Ibn 
Sina. Thus, al-Kurani says that forms should be considered to be imprinted 
eternally, and instantaneously (daft), in a comprehensive way (bi-wajh kulli), 
yet restricted in respect of a particular (munhasir fi juz’t), so that there is no 
change in the essence.?*9 Al-Kurani's idea is that according to Ibn Sina, emana- 
tion occurs all at once (duf‘atan), which means that creatures issue from God 
all at once. Thus, it is not true that from the One only one proceeds. The first 
effused, as explained above, is general existence where all the realities manifest. 

After arguing for Ibn Sina’s idea “from the One only one proceeds,’ construed 
as meaning that multiplicity proceeds from the One all at once, and that God 
creates not by His nature, but by His will, al-Kurani says that Ibn Sina accepts 
that the world was created. Al-Kurani says that Ibn Sina says that the contin- 
gent cannot exist eternally, that the world is generated (muhdath), and that God 
was and nothing was with Him.?°° Ibn Sina in al-Shif@’ states: “everything is 

248 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 287. 

249 © Al-Kuarani, Shawarigq al-anwar, fol. 109”. 

250 In book eight, chapter three of al-Shifa’ Ibn Sina says: “everything, with the exception 
of the One who in His essence is one and the existent who in His essence is an exis- 
tent, acquires existence from another, becoming through it an existent, being in itself a 


generated (hadith) from that One, that One being the originator of it, since the 
originated (muhdath) is that which comes into being after not having been.’25! 
Al-Kurani says that the meaning of our saying that the world is originated is that 
it exists after it was nonexistence (kan bad an lam yakun). This posteriority was 
imagined to be temporal (badiyya zamaniyya mutawahhama), in which that 
which is before and that which is after cannot be together; what is after is pos- 
terior not in the sense of actual time, but as today is posterior to yesterday.”5? 
Al-Kurani here refers to Ibn Sina’s idea of “essential posteriority” (al-badiyya bi- 
L-dhat), and he will attempt to demonstrate that essential posteriority means 
the world is not eternal, since it is preceded by nonexistence. 

After attempting to prove that Ibn Sina claims that God’s knowledge of 
everything is imprinted eternally in His essence, al-Kurani says that Ibn Sina 
accepts that the world was created. His idea is that essential origination (al- 
huduth al-dhati) actually means that the world was preceded by nonexis- 
tence (‘adam). In his comments on al-Dawant’s Sharh al-‘Aq@id al-‘Adudiyya, 
al-Kurani cites several statements in which Ibn Sina says that the contingent 
by its essence does not exist, but it exists instead by its cause, which is the nec- 
essary. For example, from al-Shifa’ 

[As for] the rest of things, their quiddities, as you have known, do not 
deserve existence; rather, in themselves and with the severing of their 
relation to the Necessary Existent, they deserve nonexistence. For this 
reason, they are all in themselves nugatory, true [only] through Him and, 
with respect to the facet [of existence] that follows Him, realized. For this 
reason, “all things perish save His countenance” [Quran 55:26 ].253 

nonexistent. This is the meaning of a thing’s being created that is, attaining existence from 
another. It has absolute nonexistence which it deserves in terms of itself; it is deserving 
of nonexistence not only in terms of its form without its matter, or in terms of its matter 
without its form, but in its entirety. Hence, if its entirety is not connected with the necessi- 
tation of the being that brings about its existence, and it is reckoned as being dissociated 
from it, then in its entirety its nonexistence becomes necessary. Hence, its coming into 
being at the hands of what brings about its existence is in its entirety. No part of it, in 
relation to this meaning, is prior in existence neither its matter nor its form, if it possesses 
matter and form.” 

251 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 272. 

252 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 16°. 

253 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 284. In Marmura’s edition this paragraph 
is in book eight, chapter six, while al-Kurani says book eight, chapter seven. Al-Kurani, 
Hashiyat al-Kurani ‘ala Sharh al-‘aq@id al-‘Adudiyya (Ms: Istanbul: Nuruosmaniye 2126), 
fol. 14>. 

236 CHAPTER 5 
And from al-Isharat: 

Whatever exists due to something other than itself merits nonexistence 
if taken on its own, or existence does not belong to it if taken on its own. 
Rather, existence belongs to it only due to something else. Therefore, it 
has no existence before it has existence. This is the essential beginning of 

Al-Kurani then says that there was an objection to this opinion. The objection 
is by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, but al-Kurani does not mention him by name and 
probably he found this objection in al-Tiusi’s commentary. Al-Razi’s objection 
is that it is wrong that something merits nonexistence if taken on its own. In 
al-Razi's opinion, if something is considered only by its essence, it does not 
merit either existence or nonexistence; if it merits nonexistence, that means it 
is nonexistent, not contingent. Al-Razi continues to say that if Ibn Sma means 
that we consider the essence with the absence of its cause, that means it is 
not isolated.2°° Al-Tusi replies to this objection by saying that quiddity isolated 
from any other considerations cannot be confirmed in the external world; thus, 
mentally it should be considered either with the existence of another thing, or 
with the absence of the other thing, or it could be considered with neither of 
them, but in the external world there is no difference between the last two pos- 
sibilities. If it is not considered with another, it will not exist at all. Thus, to be 
taken on its own means it will not exist, and that is the meaning of saying that 
it merits nonexistence.”5§ 

Al-Kurani replies to this objection by saying that what Ibn Sina actually 
meant is the second possibility proposed by al-Razi, namely considering the 
essence with the absence of its cause. For al-Kurani, Ibn Sina says explicitly in 
the above cited paragraph of al-Shifa’: “in themselves and with the severing of 
their relation to the Necessary Existent, they deserve nonexistence.”25” Thus, 
what Ibn Sina means by a quiddity that is taken on its own is that it is isolated 
from the necessity of the one who gave it its existence (Yab al-mujid).?5° For 
al-Kurani, what is important is proving that Ibn Sina actually accepts that the 

254 Ibn Sina, al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat, vol. 3, pp. 89-90, Avicenna, Ibn Sina’s Remarks and 
Admonitions: Physics and Metaphysics, p. 137. Al-Kirani, Hashiyat al-Kurant ‘ala Sharh al- 
Aq@id al-‘Adudiyya, fol. 15°. 

255 Ibn Sina, al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihdt, vol. 3, p. 89, al-Tasi’s commentary. Al-Kurani, Hashiyat 
al-Kurant ‘ala Sharh al-‘Aqa@id al-‘Adudiyya, fol. 15°. 

256 Ibn Sina, al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihdt, vol. 3, p. 89, al-Tusi’s commentary. 

257  Al-Kurani, Hashiyat al-Kurani ‘ala Sharh al-‘Aqaid al-‘Adudiyya, fol. 15. 

258 Al-Kurani, Hashiyat al-Kurani ‘ala Sharh al-Aqaid al-‘Adudiyya, fol. 15°. 


world was generated by demonstrating that the world is preceded by nonexis- 
tence. Al-Kurani cites al-Sharif al-Jurjani’s commentary on the relevant section 
of al-Mawagqif in which al-Jurjani says that it seems that the essential origi- 
nation (al-huduth al-dhati), according to philosophers, means preceding exis- 
tence by nonexistence, like temporal origination (huduth zamant), except that 
preceding by essence is by the essence, and preceding by time is by time.?°9 

Two topics arise from this argument. The first is the need to prove that mul- 
tiplicity exists in God’s essence as concomitants. The second is an objection 
raised by the glossator who denies that Ibn Sina accepts the idea of “impress- 
ing” or “stamping” (irtisam) anything in God’s essence. 

Ibn Sina in al-Isharat says, “A multiplicity of relative and nonrelative con- 
comitants as well as a multiplicity of negations occur to the First,’2®° and in 
al-Shif@ he says, “He intellectually apprehends things all at once, without being 
rendered multiple by them in His substance, or their becoming conceived in 
their forms in the reality of His essence.”26! Al-Dawani in Sharh al-‘Aqa’id al- 
‘Adudiyya says that the apparent meaning (zahir) of the words of al-Isharat is 
that the conceived forms subsist in God’s essence, but that Ibn Sina’s argument 
in al-Shif@ negates this opinion.”®2 Al-Kurani rejects al-Dawant’s objection and 
explains that there is no contradiction between Ibn Sina’s two statements. 
What Ibn Sina rejects in the statement of al-Shif@ is that the essence will be 
formed by the multiplicity that is conceived in the essence. In other words, al- 
Kurani thinks that Ibn Sina does not reject the idea that multiplicity subsists in 
the essence, but he rejects that the essence would be formed according to the 
multiplicity that God conceived. Ibn Sina in al-Shif@ does not reject that multi- 
plicity could be within the essence (dakhila fi al-dhat), he only rejects that His 
Essence would be formed by the forms of the multiplicity ( fa-ma nafa illa kawn 
al-awwal mutasawwar fi haqigat dhatihi bi-suwariha).2® 

In other words, multiplicity can subsist in the essence, but the essence will 
not be made multiple by this conceiving,.?®* Al-Kurani continues citing from al- 

259 ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Jurjani, Sharh al-Mawagqif wa-ma‘ahu hashiyata al-Siyalkuti wa-l- 
Jalabi (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1998), vol. 2, part 4, p. 4. 

260 Avicenna, [bn Sina’s Remarks and Admonitions: Physics and Metaphysics, P. 174. In Ibn Sina, 
al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat, ma‘ Sharh Nasir al-Din al-Tasi, vol. 3, pp. 283-284. Al-Kurani, al- 
Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14. 

261 Ibn Sina, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 291. 

262 Jalal al-Din al-Dawani, Sharh al-‘Aq@id al-‘Adudiyya, in al-Taliqat ‘ala Sharh al-‘Aq@id al- 
‘Adudiyya, al-Amal al-Kamila li-l-Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, ed. Sayyid Hadi Khusrt- 
shahi (Cairo: Maktabat al-Shuriq al-Dawliyya, 2002), p. 76. 

263 Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14°. 

264 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14>. 

238 CHAPTER 5 

Shifa’, book eight, chapter seven, including: “Nor should it be thought that, if the 
intelligibles with Him have forms and multiplicity, the multiplicity of the forms 
He intellectually apprehends would constitute parts of His essence. How [can 
this be] when they are posterior to His essence?” Al-Kurani cites a further 
long quotation from al-Shifa’ in which Ibn Sina discusses the locus of perceived 

It remains for you to examine the state of their existence as intellectually 
apprehended, as to whether they [1] exist in the essence of the First as 
necessary concomitants that are consequent on Him; or [2] whether they 
have an existence separate from His essence and the essence of other[s| 
as separate forms, having an order placed in the region of Lordship; [3] 
or [to examine them] with respect to their existing in an intellect or soul, 
becoming imprinted in either one of the two when the First apprehends 
these forms.?6° 

According to al-Kurani, Ibn Sina lists these possibilities and then refutes all of 
them except one, by saying: 

If you make these intelligibles parts of His essence, then multiplicity 
will take place. If you make them consequential [concomitants] of His 
essence, then there would occur to His essence that which would not be 
a necessary existent with respect to them-[this] because of its adhesion 
to the possible existent. If you make them things separated from every 
entity, then the Platonic forms would occur. If you render them existent in 
some mind, then there would take place the impossible [consequences] 
we have [just] mentioned before this.*®” 

Al-Kurani says that Ibn Sina in this text refutes all these possibilities except the 
idea that forms exist in the essence of the First as necessary concomitants that 
are consequent to Him, because Ibn Sina replies to the objection that might 
arise to this possibility by saying: 

You must, hence, exert your utmost effort to extract yourself from this 
difficulty and guard yourself against [the error of] rendering His essence 

265 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 292. Al-Kirani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 14>- 

266 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 293. 

267 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 294. 


multiple. You must not heed [the fact] that His essence is taken conjoined 
to some relation whose existence is possible. For [His essence] is not a 
necessary existent inasmuch as it is a cause for the existence of Zayd, but 
with respect to itself.268 

So, if all possibilities are refuted, except that multiplicity exists in God’s essence 
as concomitants to His essence, there is no contradiction between al-Isharat 
and al-Shifa’,?®? and God’s essence has a kind of relation that justifies the claim 
that multiplicity directly proceeds from the One. 

The glossator denies that Ibn Sina accepts the idea of “impression” (al- 
irtisam) of the forms on the essence in this context, but admits that this idea 
could be a consequence of his ideas (‘ala sabil al-ilzam).?”° Ibn Sina says about 
the first: “He intellectually apprehends things all at once, without being ren- 
dered multiple by them in His substance, or their becoming conceived in their 
forms in the reality of His essence. Rather, their forms emanate from Him as 
intelligibles.”27! The cause of the mistake, according to the glossator, is read- 
ing the “or” in “or their becoming ...” as “and.” The statement from al-Shifa’, 
as understood by al-Dawani, negates the idea of “impression” (al-irtisam), as 
does the statement from al-Isharat that “whose existence is necessary knows 
everything, then he is not truly one, but a multiplicity.” However, according to 
al-Kurani Ibn Sina rejected this possibility by saying: “The multiplicity of con- 
comitants due to the essence—be they separate or nonseparated—does not 
cause a breach in the unity.’2”? Al-Kurani repeats that Ibn Sina in al-Shifa’ men- 
tions four possibilities and rejects three of them, and replies to the objections 
that may be raised against the forth possibility, which means that he accepts 
the idea that forms are imprinted on the essence of the First.” Al-Kurani cites 
also Ibn Sina’s statement in al-Ta‘igat that knowledge is the existence of its 
configuration in the essence of the knower (al-‘ilm wujud hayatahu fi dhat al- 
‘alim),2"4 and says that the statement from al-Isharat is repeated verbatim in 

268 Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing, p. 294. Al-Kirani, al-Mastlak al-mukhtar, fol. 15°. 

269 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 16°. 

270 ~=Al-Kurani, Shawariq al-anwar, fol. 14°. 

271 Avicenna, The Metaphysic of the Healing, p. 291. 

272 Avicenna, Ibn Sina’s Remarks and Admonitions: Physics and Metaphysics, p. 174. 

273  Al-Kurani, Shawariq al-anwar, fol. 114”. 

274 Al-Ta‘liqat statement is: “al-‘alim innama yasiru mudafan ila al-shay al-ma‘lum bi-hay’atin 
tahsulu fi dhatihi.” Ibn Sina, al-Ta‘liqat, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Badawi (Beirut: al-Dar al- 
Islamiyya, n.d), p. 13. 

275  Al-Kurani, Shawarigq al-anwar, fol. 114”. 

240 CHAPTER 5 

To demonstrate that Ibn Sina accepts the idea of impression of forms on 
the essence of the First is an essential step in al-Kurani’s attempt to interpret 
Ibn Sina in a way that agrees with his own explanation of creation detailed 
above. As a result of this demonstration, he can argue that not only do Sufis and 
theologians agree on central theological issues such as the eternity of realities 
and creation, but philosophers do as well. God’s essence is beyond any change, 
and at the same time, it has relations as concomitants. These concomitants 
are the relative plurality that allows plurality to proceed from the One directly. 
These concomitants are the eternal, uncreated quiddities of all creatures. Al- 
Kurani says that accepting temporal creation does not contradict the idea of 
divine generosity, as deniers of temporal creation claim,?’”° because generos- 
ity is a beneficent act devoid of intention (qasd) or end (ghaya) beyond the 
act itself.2”” Generating the world in specific time is generosity itself because 
it agrees with wisdom. There was no generating in eternity because the world 
was not ready to receive the existence that is bestowed by God, and bestowing 
existence on what is not ready for it is neither generosity nor wisdom.?”8 

As mentioned above, the issue of creation and God’s foreknowledge is 
closely connected with the question of “destiny” (qadar), the topic to which 
we now turn. 

10 Destiny and Predetermination 

‘Realities do not change,” as Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Qushashi, and al-Kurani often repeat. 
If they did, they would not be realities.2”9 Al-Kurani explains that knowledge 
follows the object of knowledge, meaning it reveals the object as it is in itself. 
Knowledge in this conception is revealing the distinct, essential quiddities that 
were affirmed in nafs al-amr.?8° Al-Kurani cites Ibn ‘Arabi to say that “existents 
have fixed entities in the state of nonexistence, the nonexistence of contin- 

276 Usually the argument for the eternity of the world says that since God creates on account 
of His goodness and, since divine goodness is eternal, God creates eternally, there must be 
an eternal effect. This effect is the world, and thus the world is eternal. 

277 For the idea of creation as an act of pure generosity in the philosophy of Ibn Sina see 
Jonathan Samuel Dubé, Pure Generosity, Divine Providence, and the Perfection of the Soul 
in the Philosophy of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), M.A. thesis, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill 
University, Montreal, 2014. 

278  Al-Karani, al-Maslak al-mukhtar, fol. 17°. 

279 Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God, p. 187. 

280 Al-Kurani, Tanbth al-‘uqil, p. 34. 


gents, not the absolute nonexistence.’2®! Creation by God’s potency and will 
follows His knowledge, and if knowledge follows the object of knowledge, that 
means God’s knowledge follows reality or quiddity; thus, creatures determine 
their own destiny: “when a bird, a tree or a man enters into existence, God does 
not ‘make’ it a bird, a tree or a man. He only bestows existence upon a reality 
that He has known for all eternity.’2®? By giving existence to things, God simply 
makes the realities of the things known to them; He does not make their reali- 
ties what they are, since their realities are what they have always been and will 
forever be. 

Ibn ‘Arabi says that among those who uncover the mystery of destiny are 
“those who know that God's knowledge of them, in all their states, corresponds 
to what they themselves are in their state of preexistent latency.’283 The enti- 
ties’ state prior to creation can be understood on the basis of “simultaneity,’ 
which means that God’s knowledge of Himself is the same as His knowledge 
of the world. Al-Kurani states that the muhagqgqiqin’s idea is that God’s eter- 
nal knowledge of everything is identical to His knowledge of Himself, which 
means that God knows Himself by Himself, and through knowing Himself He 
knows everything, because everything is related to His knowledge insofar as 
His knowledge is identical to His essence. In other words, as discussed above, 
God knows everything through knowing His own essence.?®* Realities exist in 
the eternal, Divine knowledge as possible things, and everything has its own 
independent character and disposition, and its own specific destiny. As for its 
subsequent state after being created, or after its existence in the external world, 
the state of the created things will be as it is eternally. Thus, God’s knowledge of 
things, or of the known things, after they are created is exactly His knowledge 
of them before creation. 

The thirteenth chapter of Fusis al-hikam, dedicated to al-Uzayir (Ezra,) Ibn 
‘Arabi calls “the wisdom of destiny in the word of Ezra” ( fass kalima qadariyya ft 
hikma Uzayriyya). At the beginning of this chapter, Ibn ‘Arabt says: “His knowl- 
edge of things is dependent on what that which may be known gives to Him 
from what they are [eternally] in themselves [essentially].’2®5 He then says 
that determination (qadar) means “the precise timing of [the manifestation 

281 Al-Kurani, Tanbih al-‘uqil, p. 34. 

282 Chittick, “Commentary on a hadith by Sadr al-Din Qunawii,” in Alserat 4/1, (1980), pp. 23- 
30, Pp. 25. 

283 Ibn ‘Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, p. 64; Fusus al-hikam, p. 60. 

284 Al-Kurani, Jala al-fuhum, fol. 54?. 

285 Ibn ‘Arabi, The Bezeles of Wisdom, p. 165; Fusus al-hikam, p. 131. 

242 CHAPTER 5 

and annihilation of] things as they are essentially,’2°° which is what he calls 
“the secret of destiny” (sirr al-gadar). Destiny, then, consists in the transition 
between the two states of entities from fixed entities to existent. Between these 
two states Ibn ‘Arabi sees the balance between theodicy and the human free- 
dom: “God does not compel his servants to behave in a certain way, He simply 
allows them to be what they are; ‘God does not treat his servants unjustly, for 
He only knows what the objects of knowledge provide to Him, since knowl- 
edge follows the object of knowledge.”?8” Each creature has a corresponding 
established entity in the eternal knowledge of God, and the creature’s appear- 
ance in the world conforms to its eternal state. God “effused His existence 
upon these entities in keeping with what their own preparedness requires, so 
they come to be for their own entities, not for Him.”2°* In short, God’s knowl- 
edge exposes these quiddities as they are according to their own dispositions 

Existent things in the external world are determined by their quiddities or 
entities, and the entities differ in their capacities or dispositions. At the same 
time, God is absolute existence and everything else is restricted, yet God is man- 
ifested in restricted forms. The divine Self-disclosure is always conditioned by 
the disposition of the receptacle entities. We have to remember that God 

gives constantly, while the loci receive in the measure of the realities of 
their preparednesses. In the same way we say that the sun spreads its rays 
over the existent things. It is not miserly with its light toward anything. 
The loci receive the light in the measure of their preparednesses.?9° 

Those with the greatest disposition display the perfections of God in the fullest 
measure, while those with a more limited capacity disclose God’s perfections 
in accordance with their own limitations. As Chittick explains: “God created 
the universe to manifest the fullness of His generosity and mercy.’2°! But as 
explained above, manifested realities reflect only some aspects of Divine per- 
fection, according to the realities’ own dispositions. In Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, the 
only reality that is able to receive and actualize every divine attribute is the 

286 Ibn ‘Arabi, The Bezeles of Wisdom, p. 165; Fusus al-hikam, p. 131. 

287 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 4, p. 182. 

288 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 11, p. 55. Translated in Chittick, The Self-Disclosure 
of God, p. 182. 

289 Al-Kurani, Imdad dhawi al-isti‘dad, fol. 32. 

290 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 1, p. 287. Translated in Chittick, The Sufi Path of 
Knowledge, pp. 91-92. 

291 Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 30. 


perfect man (al-insan al-kamil). Al-Kurani does not elaborate on this Akbarian 
concept, but al-Qushashi does in his commentary on chapters of ‘Abd al-Karim 
al-Jili’s treatise al-Insan al-kamil.29? 

The questions of destiny, predetermination, and human freedom are essen- 
tial topics of any theology. Yet we see that in al-Kurani’s writings, these issues 
are intertwined with Sufi arguments for fixed entities, God’s manifestation, and 
the perfect man, making it difficult to separate each topic according to the 
traditional disciplinary boundaries between philosophy, Sufism, and kalam. 
It seems that this is the natural development of Islamic thought in the post- 
classical period. Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought has become a philosophical system that 
no philosopher can ignore, while at the same time the followers of Ibn ‘Arabi, 
mainly the Fuss commentators, were discussing all the philosophical issues 
related to metaphysics, creation, and human life. Building on the efforts of the 
Akbarian scholars to emphasize the compatibility between Ibn ‘Arabr’s though 
and the Sunni Islamic theology of Ash‘arite thought, al-Kurani went a step 
further and built Islamic theological thought entirely on Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. 
Al-Kurani argues that when an Akbarian understanding of Islamic belief con- 
tradicts that of his contemporaneous Ash‘arite theologians, the deviation from 
original Ash‘arite thought, represented in his mind by Abi al-Hasan al-Ash‘ar1’s 
al-Ibana and Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni's al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya, was on 
the part of later Ash‘arites, not Ibn ‘Arabi. 

Al-Kurani went even further to confirm that philosophers, especially Ibn 
Sina, who represented the philosophical intellectual authority at that time, 
agreed with Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. In his assertion of the idea of realities, al- 
Kurani says that whoever accepts the idea of distinguishing between contin- 
gent and impossible existences cannot deny the existence of realities, then 
affirms that Ibn Sina’s idea of “impression” (irtisam) corresponds to the idea 
of the eternal existence of realities in God’s knowledge. As a result of this affir- 
mation, al-Kurani is able to interpret Ibn Sina’s idea that from the One only 
one proceeds with the possibility of multiplicity’s proceeding from the one, as 
explained above, such that this idea agrees with Ibn ‘Arab’'s idea of divine effu- 
sion. Al-Kurani continues his attempt to demonstrate the agreement between 
Akbarian and Avicennian though by providing an innovative solution to the 
issue of God’s knowledge of particulars based on Akbarian thought as well. 
Thus, for al-Kurani, Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought is not only the main source of Islamic 
theology, but is also in line with Islamic philosophical thought represented by 
Ibn Sina. 

292 Al-Qushashi’s commentary can be found in Ms. Istanbul: Resid Efendi 428, fols. 452-82". 

244 CHAPTER 5 

Al-Kurani sought to establish an Islamic worldview that combined philo- 
sophical and theological consideration, in addition to the Sufi experience, 
while emphasizing the agreement of reason and Sufi revealing (kashf) with 
the revelation of the Quran and hadith. The borders between these disciplines, 
philosophy, theology, and Sufism, had already begun fading away with the his- 
torical development of Ibn ‘Arabi’s metaphysics. Dagli reminds us that repre- 
sentatives of Ibn ‘Arabi's thought 

not only engage with the ideas and concepts usually associated with _fal- 
safah, which Ibn al-‘Arabi also did, but they gradually adopt a mode of 
discourse that in tone and in technical style begins to mirror, at least in the 
realm of the metaphysics of existence and related concepts, the already 
well developed and increasingly influential discourse of falsafah, which 
since the time of Ghazali had also been taken over by kalam.?93 

Al-Kurani, whose primary education and intellectual preparation were very 
rational, based on philosophy and theology, and who became influenced by 
Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought after his meeting with al-Qushashi in Medina, represents 
the latest transformation in the development of Islamic thought in the post- 
classical period. His intellectual preparation, in combining both main intel- 
lectual currents in the post-classical period, Avicennian and Akbarian, quali- 
fied him to put the proverbial last brick on the efforts of numerous previous 
scholars who had worked to integrate all philosophical issues into theologi- 
cal discourses, and those who had discussed all theological and philosophical 
issues within the bounds of the Akbarian tradition. As will be clear by the end 
of this chapter, al-Kurani established a sophisticated intellectual system that 
contained most of the philosophical and theological issues discussed by Mus- 
lim scholars for centuries, and he presented in this intellectual system a vision 
of Sunni Islamic theology that combines rational, spiritual, and legal aspects in 
an unprecedented way. 

Re-establishing Islamic theology in this systematic way based on Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
thought required discussion of various aspects of Islamic theology. As men- 
tioned in the introduction to this chapter, the constituent parts of al-Kurani’s 
system are strongly interconnected and discussion of a certain topic requires, 
or leads, to discussions of other topics. The issue of destiny discussed in this 
section is interconnected with the question of human freedom. Al-Kurani was 

293 Caner K. Dagli, Ibn al-Arabi and Islamic Intellectual Culture: From Mysticism to Philosophy 
(New York: Routledge, 2016), p. 3. 


inspired by Ibn ‘Arabi as he developed his position on the freedom humans 
have to create their actions.2% It is true that we can find in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writ- 
ing some texts supporting the idea of predetermination. But these texts should 
be understood in the context of Ibn ‘Arabi’s distinction between God’s engen- 
dering command (al-amr al-takwini), through which He gives existence to the 
entity, and His prescriptive command (al-amr al-taklift), through which He 
requires people to follow religious law. The former cannot be resisted because it 
is tied to the command “Be.” As for the prescriptive command, it can be obeyed 
or disobeyed by the believer.?9 Ibn ‘Arabi says that during a discussion with 
his student Ibn Sawdakin, the latter proposed a way to construe the believer’s 
ability to choose. Ibn ‘Arabi recalls that 

He said: What stronger proof could there be in attributing the actions to 
the servant and relating it to him and the theophany in him? It was part of 
his attribute since God “created man in His own image.” If he didn’t have 
action attributed to him, it wouldn't be true that he is in His image and he 
wouldn't have accepted being qualified by the Names. But it is accepted by 
you, and all the people of this Way, without doubt, that man was created 
in the [Divine] image and it is right that he is qualified by the Names.?9° 

Here again, Sufism, philosophy, and kalam overlap in an inseparable way. God 
created man in His image; thus, man’s actions can be attributed to himself, 
and this attribution in turn constitutes evidence that man has power over his 

al Kasb: Free Will and Predestination 

In the Quran, we can find several verses referring to human freedom of action, 
and at the same time verses indicating God’s absolute power over human des- 
tiny. Different suggestions have been offered by Muslim theologians to solve 
this apparent contradiction. From one side, there is the determinist ( jabriyya) 
position that human actions are determined eternally by God, and that God 
directly creates humans and their actions; from the other side are most of 
the Mu‘tazilite school, who believe that a human’s actions are derived from 

294 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 302. 

295  Bakri Aladdin, “The Mystery of Destiny, sir al-qgadar in Ibn ‘Arabi and al-Qunawi,” Journal 
of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, vol. 49 (2011), pp. 129-146, p. 138. 

296 = Ibn ‘Arabi, Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. iv, p. 681. 

246 CHAPTER 5 

their own free well. Between these two sides many more ideas have been pro- 
posed. This topic is intimately related to that of legal responsibility (taklif) 
and God’s omnipotence. If God creates all things, including a human’s actions, 
then humans cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. If a human 
acts independently, however, they may act against God’s will, and then God 
would not be omnipotent. In order to save both God’s omnipotence and human 
responsibility, the Mu‘tazilite solution was to affirm the human capability of 
creating their own works as granted to them by God. For the Ash‘arites, this 
solution preserved God’s justice, but detracted from God’s omnipotence. The 
Ash‘arites taught that since God is the sole creator, He creates human actions. 
Al-Ash‘ari developed a theory of kasb, “acquisition,” according to which God 
creates human actions while humans acquire them, and thus become legally 
responsible for them.?9” The Ash‘arite belief that only God has causal pow- 
ers came to be known as “occasionalism” in the history of Western philosophy, 
meaning there is no natural necessity between a cause and its effect; it is God 
who in fact brings about the effect in conjunction with the cause. 

Al-Kurani discusses the topics of kasb and taklif in various contexts, begin- 
ning in his early works. His addressing of these topics at this stage is under- 
standable since the topic was actually raised by his teacher al-Qushashi, who 
wrote several treatises on it.?98 Al-Kurani dedicated some treatises specially 
to this controversial topic, including al-Mutimma li-l-mas‘ala al-muhimma, al- 
Ilma‘ al-muhit, Takmilat al-qawl al-jali, Maslak al-sadad, and Imdad dhawi al- 
istidad li-suluk maslak al-sadad. These works were received in a negative way, 
mainly by Ash‘arite theologians who felt that al-Kurani was betraying the offi- 
cial Ash‘arite position. Objections to these works may explain why al-Kuarani 
wrote several treatises to reply to his critics and to explain his ideas. 

Probably one of the earliest works by al-Kurani in which he tries to explain 
the theory of kasb is his attempt to summarize one of al-Qushashi’s three works 
on this topic, sughra, wusta, and kubra. In al-‘Ayyashi’s opinion, the sughra is 
the most completely verified and perfectly analyzed (atammuha tahqiqan wa- 
akmaluha tadqiqan).°° In it, al-Qushashi says that the followers of al-Ash‘ari 
were very confused on the topic of kasb and that al-Juwayni’s theory as set out 

297 Binyamin Abrahamov, “A Re-examination of al-Ash‘ari’s Theory of ‘kasb’ According to 
‘Kitab al-Luma‘,’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1 (1989), p. 210. 

298 Safi al-Din al-Qushashi, al-Ifada bi-ma bayn al-ikhtiyar al-ilaht wa-l-irada (Ms: Istanbul, 
Resid Efendi 428), 352-443; al-Qushashi, al-Intisar li-Imam al-haramay ft ma shanna‘ 
‘alayhi ba‘d al-nuzzar (Ms: Istanbul, Resid Efendi 428), fols. 129-1353. 

299 Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, pp. 575, 598. 


in al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya is the closest to the truth.3°° Al-Qushashi also wrote 
a treatise to defend al-Juwayni’s position in al-Nizgamiyya that humans actu- 
ally have effects in their actions, entitled al-Intisar li-Imam al-Haramayn fima 
shanna‘ bihi ‘alayht ba‘ al-nugzar. 

Al-Qushashi’s works, or at least some of them, had arrived in the Maghrib 
and were not well received among Maghribi scholars. Since there were vari- 
ous critics of the author (kathrat al-ta‘nin ‘ala sahibiha), al-‘Ayyashi asked his 
teacher Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir b. ‘Ali al-Fasi for his opinion of one of 
al-Qushashi's treatises on this topic, the medium-length one (al-wusta) enti- 
tled al-Kashf wa-l-bayan ‘an mas‘alat al-kasb bi-l-iqan. Al-Fasi found it long and 
difficult to read, because it has no chapter headings or any divisions among its 
topics and ideas. He said to al-‘Ayyashi that if this work were summarized and 
its objectives clarified, he would return to look at it. When al-‘Ayyashi met al- 
Kurani, he therefore asked him to summarize the objectives of al-Qushashi’s 
treatise. Al-Kurani wrote this work, i.e., al-J/ma‘ al-muhit, for al-‘Ayyashi, who 
included a copy of the entire text in his Ri#/a.3© Al-Kurani says that he com- 
posed this treatise to express his teacher’s ideas, as if al-Qushashi himself had 
spoken it with al-Kurani’s tongue (ka-annahu al-qa@il ‘ala lisant). This work is 
thus a good place to start explaining the kasb theory as al-Qushashi explained 
it. The Sufi temper of this work is perceptible through the repeated claim 
that knowing the meaning of the ambiguous verses (mutashabihdat) is possi- 
ble through divine bestowal (wahb ilaht) and that understanding the topic of 
kasb is based on divine inspiration rather than on reasoning ( fikr).3°? Al-Kurani 
begins this work by refuting the two extreme positions that human beings 
act completely independently, or that their acts are completely determined 
by God. This attempt at compromise is clear from the title of the treatise, al- 
Itma‘al-muhit bayn tarafay al-ifrat wa-l-tafrit, which refers to a middle position 
between two extremes. This middle position according to al-Kurani is to accept 
the idea that humans have effects in their actions, not independently, but with 
God’s permission. This compromise position is supported by the shar‘ and can 
be justified by reason.3°3 

El-Rouayheb mentions that al-Juwayni’s al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya, in which al- 
Juwayni suggests that humans have the capacity to act “by God’s permission” 

300 = Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 616. 

301 Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, p. 604. The treatise is between pp. 604-620. 
Another copy is in (Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Paga 2722), fol. 151-161. 

302 Ibrahim al-Kurani, al-I/ma‘ al-muhit bayn tarafay al-ifrat wa-l-tafrit (Ms: Istanbul: Sehid 
Ali Paga 2722), fol, 1525. 

303 ~=Al-Karani, al-Ilma‘ al-muhit, fol. 152°. 

248 CHAPTER 5 

(bi-idhn Allah), was not widely copied or studied in later centuries. However, 
this alternative position survived in the works of the later Ash‘ari theologian al- 
Shahrastani (d. 1153) and of Ibn Taymiyya’s student Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya.3°4 
We can add that al-Juwayni’s suggestion in al-‘Agida al-nizganmiyya was actu- 
ally well-known among later Ash‘arite theologians, long before al-Qushashi's 
treatise in defense of al-Juwayni. Al-Taftazani in Sharh al-Maqasid says that 
it is well known (mashhur) that the doctrine of Imam al-Haramayn is that a 
human’s action occurs by their will and potency, similar to the opinion of the 
philosophers (hukama’).3°5 Attempts to distinguish al-Juwayni's opinion from 
that of the Ash‘arites can also be found in al-Razi's Nihayat al-‘uqil?°® and al- 
Amidi’s Abkar al-afkar.3°7 Al-Dawani in Risdlat khalq al-a‘mal also considers al- 
Juwayni's position to be similar to that of the philosophers, who affirm human 
effects on their actions.3°° Al-Dawant’s Risalat khalq al-a‘mal was already cir- 
culating in Medina during al-Qushashi’s life, as we know from al-Kurani's work 
Ishraq al-shams bi-ta‘rib al-kalimat al-khams.3°9 

Al-Kurani’s argument for his interpretation of kasb is examined closely in 
El-Rouayheb’s Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century. Here I 
will simply mention the main lines of this theory, and then try to shed more 
light on different aspects of al-Kurani’s theory of kasb and the influence of al- 
Kurani's works on his contemporaries and successors. Al-Kurani rejected both 
the Muttazilite view that humans create their actions independently of God 
(bi-l-istiqlal) and the later Ash‘arites view that human actions are the direct cre- 
ations of God and that human intentions and abilities have no effect (ta’thir) 
on the created action.3!° Al-Kurani cites many Quranic verses and hadiths that 
support his idea that God granted humans the power to act. However, as men- 
tioned above, al-Kurani bases his interpretation of kasb on two Ash‘arite works 
in order to confirm his adherence to “early” Ash‘arite theologians: al-Ibana of 
al-Ash‘ari and al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya of al-Juwayni. As explained above in the 

304 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History of the Seventeenth Century, p. 297. 

305 Mas‘ud b. ‘Umar al-Taftazani, Sharh al-Maqasid, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Umayra, (Beirut, 
‘Alam al-Kutub, 2ed, 1998), vol. 4, p. 224. 

306 Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Nihayat al-‘uqul fi dirayat al-usul, ed. Said Fada (Beirut: Dar al- 
Dhakhaiir, 2015), vol. 2, p. 42. 

307 Sayf al-Din al-Amidi, Abkar al-afkar fiusil al-din, ed. Anmad Muhammad al-Mahdi (Cairo: 
Dar al-Kutub wa-l-Watha@’ig al-Qawmiyya, 2004), vol. 2, p. 384. 

308 Jalal al-Din al-Dawani, Risalat khalq al-a‘mdl, in al-Rasa@’il al-mukhtara, ed. Sayyid Anmad 
Tuwaysirkani (Isfahan: Imam Ali Public Library, 1400/[1979]), p. 69. 

309 MS: Cairo: Ma‘had al-Makhtutat al-‘Arabiyya, majmii‘16, treatise 3, fols. 267-275, fol. 267- 
268. The numeration is for each page not for folios. 

310 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 298. 


section related to God's attributes, these two texts are controversial. Al-Kurani, 
basing his arguments on al-Ash‘ani and al-Juwayni, nevertheless considers him- 
self faithful to the original Ash‘arite position, and suggests that later Ash‘arites 
who refuse to accept that humans have any real effect on their acts are the ones 
actually departing from al-Ash‘ari’s doctrine. 

As mentioned already, this topic was one of the most controversial among 
Ash‘arite scholars contemporary to al-Kurani and after him. El-Rouayheb lists 
the positions of some opponents, such as the Tunisian contemporary ‘Ali al- 
Nuni al-Safaqisi (d. 1706),3" and discusses in detail al-Nabulusi’s opinion and 
his correspondence with al-Kurani concerning this topic.3!? The topic was too 
important to al-Nabulusi for him to deal with in only one or two works. He 
wrote several treatises that deal directly with the topic that came to be known 
as “al-irada al-juz’iyya”: al-Kawkab al-sari ft haqigat al-juz’ al-ikhtiyart> al- 
Durra al-mudta fi al-irada al-juz’iyya, Tahqiq al-intisar ft ittifaq al-Ash‘art wa-l- 
Maturidi ‘ala khalg al-ikhtiyar, Radd al-jahil ila al-sawab fi jawaz idafat al-ta’thir 
ila al-asbab, and Tahrik silsilat al-widad fi mas‘alat khalq af‘al al-‘ibad.3"* 

The most severe criticism of al-Kurani’s interpretation of kasb came from 
Moroccan scholars, who were acquainted with the theory through al-Qusha- 
shi’s works and through those of al-Kurani’s works that reached the Maghrib 
during the latter’s life. Ibn al-Tayyib mentions some citations by scholars who 
rejected al-Kurani’s ideas, including Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi, who 
had been in contact with al-Kurani previously, and who sent with al-‘Ayyashi 
several questions to al-Kurani concerning his ideas about the satanic verses, to 
which al-Kurani replied in Nibras al-inas. The other scholar mentioned by Ibn 
al-Tayyib is Muhammad al-Mahdi b. Ahmad al-Fasi (d. 1109/1697), who wrote 
a refutation of al-Kurani’s interpretation of kasb entitled al-Nubdha al-yasira 
wa-l-luma al-khatira fi mas‘alat khalq al-af‘al al-shahira.3© 

311 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 299. 

312 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 302. 

313 Edited by Sami Turan Erel in Islam Aragtirmalart Dergisi, 34 (2015): 135-174. 

314 About al-Nabulusi’s works see Bakri Aladdin, ‘Abdalgani an-Nabulusi: Oewvre, Vie et Doc- 
trine (Université de Paris, 1985). 

315  Al-Shawisays that Abi Salim al-‘Ayyashiis the person who introduced al-Kurani’s works to 
Morocco. Yahya al-Shawi, al-Nubl al-raqiq ft hulqum al-sabb al-zindiq (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 
3744), fol. 53°. 

316 These works were the topic of a doctoral dissertation written in Morocco. See Sa‘ld al- 
Sarraj, Maslak al-sadad li-l-Kurant wa-rudid ‘ulam@ al-maghrib ‘alayhi: Dirasa wa-tahqiq 
(Morocco, Tatwan: The University of ‘Abd al-Malik al-Sa‘di, Kulliyyat al-Adab wa-l-Ulam 
al-Insaniyya, PhD dissertation, 2010-2011). 

250 CHAPTER 5 

Al-Yusi wrote in praise of al-Fasi’s al-Nubdha?"” and in another letter to two 
Qadiri brothers, Abt Muhammad al-‘Arabi and Aba Muhammad ‘Abd al-Salam, 
he mentions that he saw some of al-Kurani’s works and that he would look 
at them to ascertain the truth in them. This letter is only one page, like the 
previous one, and does not contain any actual discussion. He only says that al- 
Kurani revived a dead innovation and ascribed a companion (sharik) to God in 
the causation of human acts.3!8 Among the Moroccan scholars who praised al- 
Fasi’s al-Nubdha is Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Qusantini.3!9 Al-Nubdha featured 
al-Sanisi’s ideas on the refutation of al-Kurani’s arguments, al-Sanusi being 
the main source of Ash‘arite doctrine for later Maghribi scholars. However, al- 
Sanus! says that human beings’ possessing effective power over their actions 
is an idea mistakenly attributed to Imam al-Haramayn.3° Many other scholars 
repeated al-Sanusi’s claim, such as Yahya al-Shaw1 in his refutation of al-Kurani, 
and Shaykh Khalid Naqshbandi in al-Tqd al-Jawhari fi al-farq bayn qudrat al- 
‘abd wa-kasbihi ‘ind al-Maturidi wa-l-Ash‘ari.3| Al-Ifrani offers an important 
hint about the reason for the contention of Fasi scholars with al-Kurani saying 
that the latter interpreted kasb in a way that differed from al-Sanisi’s interpre- 
tation. The student of Fas was here standing in for al-Sanisi’s position. Al-Ifrani 
reports that al-Kurani was amazed that he was responding to al-Santsi and the 
student of Fas responded to him with al-Sanisi’s ideas.32? 

One of the harshest criticisms against al-Kurani came from the Algerian 
theologian Yahya al-Shawi. Al-Barzanji, al-Kurani’s foremost student, replied 
to al-Shawi saying that al-Kurani’s theory is that God creates by causes and 
in conjunction with causes (yakhluq bi-l-asbab wa-‘inda al-asbab) and that 
humans have effective power over their acts by the permission of God (bi-idhn 
Allah).3?3 Al-Shawi says that al-Kurani relies on a statement falsely attributed 
to Imam al-Haramayn. Here al-Shawi follows al-Saniusi in trying to rehabilitate 
al-Juwayni.34 Al-Barzanji rejects this claim on the grounds that whoever reads 

317. Al-Hasan al-Yusi, Rasa@’il Abi ‘Ali al-Hasan b. Mas‘id al-Yusi, ed. Fatima Khalil al-Qibli 
(Casablanca: Dar al-Thaqafa, 1981), vol. 2, pp. 613-615. 

318 Al-Yusi, Ras@il Abi Ali al-Hasan b. Mastd al-Yusi, vol. 2, pp. 616-617. Al-Yusi’s letter is also 
mentioned in Ibn al-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1790. 

319 See his praise in Ibn al-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1791. 

320 Muhamma b. Yusuf al-Sanisi, ‘Umdat ahl al-tawfiq wa-l-tasdid fi sharh ‘Aqidat ahl al- 
tawhid al-kubra (Egypt: Jaridat al-Islam bi-Misr, 1316/[1898]), p. 186. 

321 Khalid Naqshbandi in al-Yqd al-Jawhari fi al-farq bayn qudrat al-‘abd wa-kasbihi ‘ind al- 
Maturidt wa-l-Ashari, ed. Sa‘id Fudah (Jordan: Manshuarat al-Aslayn, 2016), p. 42. 

322 Al-Ifrani, Safwat man intashar min sulaha@ al-garn al-hadi ‘ashar, p. 350. 

323  Al-Barzanji, al- Uqab al-hawi ala al-tha‘ab al-‘avi, fol. 37?. 

324 ©Al-Shawi, al-Nubl al-raqiq, fol. 54°. 


al-‘Aqida al-nizamiyya knows that it is al-Juwayni’s work, and that many schol- 
ars have transmitted this work in interconnected isnads. Al-Barzanji goes on to 
ask what right al-Sanisi has to evaluate Imam al-Haramayn, and whether any- 
one has even heard about al-Santisi except in the Maghrib.3”5 Al-Shawi says that 
al-Kurani even attributed this idea to al-Ash‘ari himself in al-Ash‘ari’s book “al- 
Burhan.’ In responding to this point, al-Barzanji starts to mock al-Shawi, saying 
that he does not even know the title of al-Ash‘ari’s book al-Ibana. 

In spite of the fact that al-Kurani’s theory concerning human effects on 
their acts was rejected by several proponents of traditional Ash‘arite thought, 
it actually revived discussion of this topic, and many works in his time and 
after him continue to debate the issue, for example, Khalid al-Naqshbandi’s 
work mentioned above, al-Tqd al-jawhari, also known as al-Risala al-kasbiyya ft 
al-farg bayn al-jabr wa-l-qadar; and al-San‘ani’s (d. 1182/1768-1769) treatise al- 
Anfas al-rahmaniyya al-yamaniyya ft abhath al-ifada al-Madaniyya,**6 in which 
he commented on an earlier work on human actions by Muhammad al-Sindi 
al-Madani. As mentioned above, in part through al-Kawthari’s stance on al- 
Kurani’s ideas and his multiple references to the latter, we can see to what 
extent al-Kurant’s thought is still influential into the present. With the editing 
and printing of more of his works, al-Kurani’s thought will likely once again 
stimulate discussion, especially given the resurgent polarization of Hanbalites 
and Ash‘arites due to the rise of exclusionary Wahhabi thought in the twenti- 
eth century, which claims to represent the Hanbalite school, in addition to the 
fact that al-Kurani’s thought has always been problematic within the Ash‘arite 
school itself due to its Sufi tendencies that situate Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought as the 
main source of Islamic theology. 

Al-Kurani’s conception of kasb found supporters, and became an opinion 
that would usually be mentioned in any discussion of the topic after the elev- 
enth/seventeenth century. In al-Lum‘a ft tahqiq mabahith al-wujud wa-l-huduth 
wa-l-gadar wa-af‘al al-ibad by Ibrahim b. Mustafa al-Halabi al-Madhari (d. 
Rabi‘ 11, ug0/May 1776),?2” one of al-Nabulusi’s students, mentions al-Juwayni’s 

325  Al-Barzanji, al- Uqab al-hawi, fol. 379-37. 

326 Muhammad b. Isma‘ll al-San‘@ni, al-Anfas al-rahmaniyya al-Yamaniyya fi abhath al-ifada 
al-Madaniyya, ed. ‘Ali b. Abduh al-Almai (Ksa: al-Riyad: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2007). 

327 Ibrahim b. Mustafa al-Halabi al-Madhari was born in Aleppo and studied with scholars 
there, then he moved to Damascus where he studied with ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi, Aba 
al-Mawahib al-Ba‘li, Ilyas al-Kurani, and others. Later, he traveled to Cairo and the Hijaz, 
where he studied with several students of Ibrahim al-Kurani, among them his son Abu 
Tahir, Salim al-Basri, and Muhammad Hayat al-Sindi. This information is from Muham- 
mad Zahid al-Kawthari’s introduction to the edition of al-Lum‘a fi tahqiq mabahith al- 
wujud wa-l-hudiuth wa-l-qadar wa-af al al-ibad. Al-Kawthari mentions that Abu Tahir b. 

252 CHAPTER 5 

opinion on kasd and says that it is the true position of al-Ash‘ari as explained in 
his last book al-Ibana. Al-Madhari cites al-Kurani’s Qasd al-sabil and Maslak 
al-saddad as his sources for this information and mentions that al-Kurani in 
Qasd al-sabil was himself citing Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Shifa’ al-‘alil.328 “Abd 
al-Qadir al-Mijjawi al-Tilimsani (d. 1913) in TuAfat al-akhyar ft-ma yata‘allaq 
bi-l-kasb wa-l-ikhtiyar also mentions al-Kurani’s ideas on kasb.329 Al-Kawthari 
comments in a footnote that al-Juwayni encountered some difficulties from his 
students about this idea, but that some later scholars supported him, such al- 
Qushashi, who wrote al-Intisar li-Imam al-Haramayn fi-ma shanna‘ alayhi ba‘d 

Some contemporary scholars interpret al-Ash‘ari in a way that is similar to 
that of al-Kurani. Frank’s article “The Structure of Created Causality According 
to al-As‘ari, an Analysis of Kitab al Luma‘ pars. 82-164” says that the term kasb is 
used to denote free human action that is brought to realization through human- 
created power. It follows that God’s omnipotence is not impaired, while human 
responsibility is preserved, too.33! Frank understands qudra to mean a power of 
efficient causality. However, Frank’s interpretation of human qudra in Ash‘ari 
thought as an efficient cause is not convincing for Binyamin Abrahamov.3?? 
Abrahamov says that “it is true that nowhere does al-Ash‘ari indicate that the 
created power to appropriate has no effect on the appropriation, and this may 
allow the possibility that al-Ash‘ari thought of a human’s using a power granted 
to him by God to effect in his acts.”333 This debate among contemporary schol- 
ars was not based on the problematic book al-Ibana; however, both of them 
did recognize the possibility of reading al-Ash‘ari’s thought in the way that al- 
Kurani read it. Perhaps the mission of these two contemporary scholars was 
easier in this reading because they were not under the pressure of the subse- 
quent development of the Ash‘arite school concerning occasionalism, whereas 
al-Kurani came from the same Ash‘arite heritage and had the courage to chal- 
lenge this subsequent development. 

Ibrahim al-Kurani studied with ‘Abd al-Hakim al-Siyalkiti’s son. Ibrahim b. Mustafa al- 
Halabi al-Madhani, al-Lum‘a ft tahqiq mabahith al-wujiid wa-l-hudith wa-l-qadar wa-af ‘al 
al-‘ibad (Cairo: Dar al-Bas@ir, 2008), p. 3. 

328 Al-Madhari, al-Lum‘a, pp. 54-56. 

329 ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Mijjawi al-Tilimsani, Tuhfat al-akhyar fima yata‘allaq bi-l-kasb wa-l-ikh- 
tiyar (al-Jaz@ir: Matba‘at Biyyr Fultana al-Sharqiyya, 1905), pp. 10-11. 

330 Al-Madhari, al-Luma, p. 55, fn. 2 by al-Kawthari. 

331 Richard M. Frank, “The Structure of Created Causality According to al-AS‘ari: An Analysis 
of the ‘Kitab al-Luma’® § § 82-164,” Studia Islamica, No. 25 (1966), pp. 13-75. 

332 Abrahamoy, “A Re-examination of al-Ash‘ari’s Theory of ‘kasb’” p. 214. 

333 Abrahamoy, “A Re-examination of al-Ash‘ari’s Theory of ‘kasb’’ p. 212. 


Another element of al-Kurani’s work on kasb that El-Rouayheb does not dis- 
cuss is the possibility that a human by their free will to act may act sometimes 
against God’s will and decree. This idea will be discussed below. 

1.1 Good and Bad According to the Intellect (al-husn wa-l-qubh 

One point related to the topic of acquisition (kasb) is the possibility that 

humans, by their free will to act, may act sometimes against God’s will and 

decree. This idea is related to the discussion of good and bad according to the 


Al-Kurani says that human power does not have an effect on its object unless 
it agrees with God’s will, justifying this position with a prophetic hadith that 
says: what God wills will surely happen, and what He does not will, will not 
happen (ma sh@ Allah kan wa-ma lam yasha@’ lam yakun).3*4 In another con- 
text, al-Kurani cites the same hadith and says that we reach this conclusion by 
conversion of the opposite (‘aks al-naqid).33° Thus, anything made to happen 
by human action is happening by God’s will. It is not true that humans can act 
independently, as Mu‘tazilites and Zaydis believe.9° The Quran also says that 
“there is no power except in God” (la quwwa illa bi-llah), and since there is no 
power except in God, there is no power except God’s. Since there is no action 
without power, there is no action without God. 

Al-Kurani also makes another refutation of the Mu‘tazilite idea that humans 
act independently. According to al-Kurani, all actions are by God; as such, all 
actions by definition are beautiful and good (hasana wa-khayyira).33” These 
actions can then be attributed to humans, and, as such, they are divisible into 
good and bad. What is good for humans is action that agrees with the law 
(shar‘), and what is bad is action against the law; the good is what God has 
commanded and the bad is what He has forbidden.338 The Quran states that 
“decision [authority] belongs only to God” (in al-hukm illa li-Allah) (Q 6:56) 
(Q 12:67); this verse is essential to al-Kurani’s argument about the good and bad 

334 Abu Dawud Sulayman al-Sajistani, Sunan Abi Dawud, ed. ‘Izzat Ubayd al-Da“as and ‘Adil 
al-Sayyid (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1997), no. 5075, vol. 5, p. 199. 

335 Ibrahim al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala 
Allah Ismail [b. al-Mansur bi-llah] al-Qasim ridwan Allah ‘alayhim (Ms: USA: Princeton 
University Library, Garrett no. 224Y), fols. 1472-174». 

336 = Al-Kurani, al-Qawl al-jali (Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722), fol. 306. 

337. Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 1537. 

338 Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 1537. 

254 CHAPTER 5 

deeds of humans. He says that this verse is an explicit refutation of the idea that 
the good and bad are determined according to human reason; what is good and 
what is bad are determined by God, through His law.3%° Authority belongs only 
to God, and no one has authority over Him; God's actions thus do not enter 
under the division of human actions. Everything God does is of one kind, good 
and beautiful (al-khayr wa-l-hasan). Ultimately, everything belongs to God, so 
He is acting in His own property and “He is not questioned about what He does.’ 
(Q 21:23).340 There are numerous Quranic verses and Prophetic hadiths that 
attribute all acts to God; they are used in Ash‘arite-Mu ‘tazilite debates over the 
issue of human actions and the capacity of reason to determine what is good 
and what is bad. Among these verses and hadiths are “All [things] are from God” 
(Q 4:78); “God created you and that which you do” (Q 37:96); “God is the Cre- 
ator of all things” (Q 39: 62); and “all goodness is in Your hands, and evil is not 
attributed to You.”34! 

Al-Kurani explains that the idea that whatever God does is good does not 
contradict the Quranic verse, “He is not satisfied with disbelief from His ser- 
vants” (la yarda li-‘ibadihi al-kufr) (Q 39:7). In the same verse, directly before 
this sentence, the Quran says, “If you disbelieve, then verily, God is not in need 
of you [lit. independent, All Rich]” (ghani ‘ankum) (Q 39:7). God is indepen- 
dent from His creatures and not in need of them, so whatever the creatures do 
does not affect Him. Human actions are part of this world and God is totally 
independent of everything outside of Himself. 

God specifies in the Quran some acts that He loves and some acts that He 
does not love, acts with which He is satisfied (rida) and acts with which He is 
dissatisfied, along with His orders and prohibitions. For example, we can find 
several verses in the Quran that say, “God loves ...” (Q 3:134), (Q 5:93), (Q 9:108), 
(Q 60:8), (Q 61:4), and other verses that say that “God does not like ...” (Q 2:205), 
(Q 3:57), (Q 7:55), (Q 30:45), (Q 57:23). Similarly, there are statements about 
what He is satisfied with and what He is not satisfied with. But God does not 
specify similar things relating to His will, potency, and knowledge. God does 
not say that He wills one thing and does not will another thing. So, God may 
will something and this thing could be loved by God or unloved, forbidden or 

339 © Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 1537. 

340 Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 153. 

341 Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Agida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 1537. 


Al-Kurani further distinguishes between God’s attributes that are totally 
independent of His creatures, which means they encompass all human actions, 
and those that constitute relations with creatures. God’s will is different from 
His satisfaction, command (al-amr), and loved actions. This specification of 
some Divine attributes that encompass all human actions explains why disbe- 
lieving could be willed by God, yet still be something with which He is not sat- 
isfied, does not like, or does not command.3*? What is attributed to God is the 
act itself, not the human-centric value of the act, which is divided into bad and 
illegal or good and legal, since these are categories that apply only to humans. 
God is totally independent and there is no obligation on God; thus, there is 
no badness in his actions. God acts according to His wisdom by His mercy, 
not because He is obliged to do something. Humans, being legally responsible, 
act in a way that can be described as constituting obedience or disobedience, 
which depends on how the action accords with God’s law. No one gives orders 
to God, so His actions cannot be described as exceeding any limits.344 

In conclusion, al-Kurani emphasises that the authority over, and the evalua- 
tion of (al-hukm), actions belongs only to God, and is not derived from reason, 
because evaluating actions as bad and good according to reason subordinates 
God to the categories of the human intellect, and God is independent accord- 
ing to the Quran and hadiths. God is not subject to human standards of good 
and bad. What is bad according to human reason could not be thus described 
were it attributed to God; for example, there may be wisdom in a given action 
that we do not perceive.344 Good and bad are not essential to actions; instead, 
it is God who determines their moral qualities. To describe an action as good 
or bad is dependent on how God describes it in the Quran or in law.345 

The contention between Mu‘tazilites and Ash‘arites revolves around human 
reason’s capacity to recognize the badness or goodness of human actions. This 
doctrine is intertwined with the issue of justice. If a human is capable of recog- 
nizing the good and the bad by their reason, that means they should be legally 
responsible even if there is no revelation or Divine law. But if all power belongs 
to God, how can a human be responsible for their actions? 

342 Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 154°. 

343 Ibrahim al-Kuarani, Maslak al-ta‘if, fol. 61°. 

344 Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 155°. 

345 Al-Kurani, Sharh al-‘Aqida allati allafaha mawlana al-‘allama al-mutawakkil ‘ala Allah, 
fol. 154°. 

256 CHAPTER 5 

u.2 Legal Responsibility (al-taklif) 

Al-Kurani received a question about the concept of legal responsibility (tak- 
lif) from the wujudt viewpoint, to which he replied in his work Maslak al-tarif 
bi-tahqigq al-taklif ‘ala mashrab ahl al-kashf wa-l-shuhid al-q@ilin bi-tawhid al- 
wujud.346 The question about legal responsibility from the wujudi perspective 
recalls Ibn Taymiyya’s understanding of wahdat al-wujid and his interpreta- 
tion of it as “the existence of objects is the essence of God” (wujid kull shay’ 
‘ayn wujud al-Haqq).3*” For Ibn Taymiyya and his followers, the idea of wah- 
dat al-wujud means that God and the world are identical. In such a doctrine, 
there is no distinction between the Creator and the creature, thus there is no 
responsibility because there is no distinguishing between the one who gives 
the orders (amir) and the one who receives the orders (ma’mur). The connec- 
tion between the theological idea of kasb, the legal idea of taklif, and the Sufi 
idea of wahdat al-wujud becomes very clear with this explanation in mind. Al- 
Kurani attempts to prove that the human actor is responsible by showing that 
there is an essential distinction between the Creator and His creatures; this dis- 
tinction is essential to defending the idea of wahdat al-wujid and to refuting 
the pantheistic understanding, as we will soon see. 

Al-Kurani acknowledges that legal responsibility assumes distinguishing 
between two realities: the one who assigns legal responsibility (al-mukallif), 
and the one to whom the legal responsibility is assigned (al-mukallaf ).248 With- 
out a clear distinction, there will either be no responsibility, or we will fall into 
pantheism in the way that Ibn Taymiyya explained, with no commands, no obli- 
gations, no prohibitions, and no law or sharta. Al-Kurani’s task, to demonstrate 
the essential distinction between God as absolute existence and humans, was 
not difficult, because he had already established all the required elements for 
his arguments. On one side, we have God whose essence is identical to His quid- 
dity or reality; He is absolute in the real sense of absoluteness. On the other side, 
there is the contingent whose existence is distinct from its reality; this reality is 
nonexistent, essentially distinguishable by its eternal dispositions, and its exis- 
tence is not absolute but restricted by the disposition of its inner-reality.349 This 
essential distinction between the necessary and the contingent is the condition 
for legal responsibility. 

346 Al-Kurani, Maslak al-ta‘if, fols. 59°—72°. 

347. Ahmad b. ‘Abd al-Halim Ibn Taymiyya, Hagiqat madhhab al-ittihdadiyya, in Majmu‘Fatawa 
Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad ibn Taymiyya, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad Ibn Qasim, and 
Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Qasim (KSA, 1977), vol. 2, p. 112, and p. 140. 

348 Al-Kurani, Maslak al-ta‘rf, fol. 60>. 

349 = Al-Kurani, Maslak al-ta‘rf, fol. 60>. 


The one who is legally responsible (mukallaf) is a composite of existence 
and nonexistence; in their reality they are nonexistent and in their apparent 
form they are existent. Al-Kurani cites his main authority in theological mat- 
ters, Ibn ‘Arabi, to support this idea. The first sentence of Ibn ‘Arabt’s al-Futuhat 
states: “praise be to God who made things exist from a nonexistence and [from] 
its (nonexistence’s) nonexistence” (al-hamdu li-Allah alladhi awjada al-ashya’ 
‘an ‘adam wa-adamihi).5° The non-nonexistence of nonexistence is exis- 
tence, so God created the world from nonexistence and existence: the reality 
of the contingent is nonexistence and its form is existence.>> It is important to 
remember that the combination of the nonexistent reality and existence does 
not equal absolute existence. Al-Kurani in fact received an inquiry specifically 
about this idea. The questioner asked how absolute existence could be part of a 
combination and thus be considered legally responsible. Al-Kurani replied that 
the existence that becomes part of external existence is emanated existence 
(al-wujud al-mufad), or al-‘am@ in Ibn ‘Arabi’s terms.*5? We find here that even 
in the question of legal responsibility, an issue that has both doctrinal and juris- 
tic aspects, al-Kurani established his understanding on Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, 
particularly on the idea of nonexistent eternal realities and the manifestation 
of these realities in the external world. In this case it becomes especially clear 
the extent to which Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought penetrated all aspects of al-Kurani’s 
thought, coloring it entirely. 

The other topic related to human responsibility is that of the ability to act, 
and the idea that action should be attributed to the actor. This point was not a 
problem for al-Kurani, since he had previously established that humans have 
effects in their actions. He repeats several verses that attribute action directly 
to humans: “are you being recompensed except for what you used to earn?” 
(Q 10:52), “And you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do” 
(Q 37:39), and many other verses ending with the statement “for what you used 
to do.” (Q 16:32), (Q 43:72), (Q 77:43). Thus, humans are legally responsible, and 
reward or punishment depends on human actions.353 

The two assertions that all power belongs to God and that all perfections 
belong only to God are called tawhid al-af‘al and tawhid al-sifat. Neither asser- 
tion undermines the essential difference between the absolute and the con- 
tingent. All human powers are manifestations of God’s power, but these man- 

350 = Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol.1, p. 2. 

351 Al-Kurani, Maslak al-ta‘rf, fol. 60>. 

352 = Al-Kurani, Is‘Gf al-hanif li-suluk mastak al-ta Tif, fol. 75°. 
353 ~Al-Kurani, Maslak al-taTif, fol. 61°. 

258 CHAPTER 5 

ifestations are not the same as the reality of the attribute itself; as al-Kurani 
explains, something appearing or reflected in a mirror does not mean that the 
thing itself is in the mirror.3>4 With this example, al-Kurani enters into the most 
controversial topic associated with Ibn ‘Arabi's legacy: the doctrine of wahdat 

12 The Unity of the Attributes (wahdat al-sifat) 

The expression “the unity of the attributes” (wahdat al-sifat) was coined with 
intentional resemblance to the expression wahdat al-wujid, “the unity of 
Being” or “Oneness of Being,” which latter is closely associated with Ibn ‘Arabi's 
thought. The idea of wahdat al-sifat is one of al-Qushashi’s doctrines; al-Kurani 
said, according to al-‘Ayyashi, that no one explained the idea of wahdat al-sifat 
better than al-Qushashi. Al-Kurani referred to wahdat al-sifat as the “sister” of 
wahdat al-wujid, and thought al-Qushashi’s efforts in laying the basis for the 
former were similar to Ibn ‘Arabi’s efforts in laying the basis for the latter.355 
Al-Kurani also calls the theory tawhid al-sifat, which is closer to the theological 
term used to express tawhid al-af‘al, “the unity of God’s actions” or the unique- 
ness of God’s actions; and tawhid al-dhdt, “the oneness of God’s essence.” These 
different types of unity are interconnected. 

All prophets assert God’s unity, or Divine unity (tawhid al-uluhiyya), in other 
words a belief in God’s oneness. God’s oneness entails that He be described by 
all the attributes of perfection, including necessity of existence. Being 
described by all the attributes of perfection is called “the unity of the attributes 
of perfection” (tawhid sifat al-kamal). In al-Qawl al-jali, al-Karani explains that 
the unity of the attributes means that the attributes of perfection belong exclu- 
sively and essentially (bi--dhat) only to God (qasr al-kamalat kulliha bi-l-dhat 
‘ala Allah ta‘ala).3° He is omnipotent, necessary existence by Himself, the 
absolute existence that exists by His essence (mawjtd bi-dhatih), indepen- 
dent by essence (ghani bi-l-dhat), and perfect by essence (kamil bi-L-dhat).35” 
It seems that the rider (bi-(-dhat) is what distinguishes God from His creatures. 
Humans can have power, will, and knowledge, but only as reflections of their 

354 ~Al-Kurani, Maslak al-ta‘if, fol. 62°. 

355 ~ Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 590. Also, al-Hamawi, Fawa@‘id al-irtihdl, vol. 2, 
Pp. 327. 

356 Al-Kurani, Takmilat al-qawl al-jali fi tahqiq qawl al-Imam Zayd b. ‘Ali (Ms: Istanbul: Sehid 
Ali Pasa 2722), fol. 3037. 

357 ~ Al-Kurani, Maslak al-sadad, fol. 34. 


divine counterparts. Human powers are instances of divine power; they are loci 
of manifestation (magahir), specifications (ta‘ayyundat), or revelations (tanaz- 

The unity of the attributes entails the unity of God’s actions (tawhid al- 
afal). According to al-Kurani, the unity of God’s actions allows us to talk 
about the human capacity to act by God’s permission. As explained in the 
previous sections about kasb and taklif, humans have power that is given to 
them by God, but the true attribute of power belongs only to God; humans 
do not have power and cannot act except by the power granted to them by 
God.*5° Thus, there is only one unqualified power in existence, and that is God’s 

Given this connection with the topic of kasb, it is not surprising to find the 
main discussion of wahdat al-sifat in al-Kurani’s corpus in his works that deal 
with the issue of kas6, i.e., in Maslak al-sadad and Takmilat al-qawl al-jali. In 
Maslak al-sadad, al-Kurani says that accepting that human power (qudra) has 
an effect on human actions—by God’s permission, not independently—does 
not contradict the claim that God is the Creator of everything. For al-Kurani this 
is “the unity of actions” (tawhid al-af‘al).3©° Al-Kurani means that the actions 
of all creatures are ultimately reducible to God’s power. The human power 
that causes an action is therefore not independent of God’s power, as the early 
Muttazilites wrongly supposed, but is instead a manifestation of God's abso- 
lute power. The human act results from a particular manifestation or instance 
of divine power and is not independent of God’s power. Al-Kurani states: “It 
is clear that power is one in essence but manifold in its specifications. If that 
is the case, it will be correct to say that actions are one while also affirming 
the human's acquisition (kasb) in virtue of the effect of his power by God’s 
permission, and not independently.”3* Attributes such as power are not essen- 
tial to human beings, but are instead bestowed on them by God. Humans have 
power (qudra) through God (bi-llah) and potency (quwwa) through God. What 
is given to humans by God belongs essentially only to God; thus, power is only 
one by essence, but it can be multiplied by its specifications (ta‘ayyunat). On 
this understanding, al-Kurani was able to argue that human power and potency 
have effects on human actions by God’s permission. As mentioned above, this 
theory is called the unity of actions (tawhid al-af‘al). Humans cannot act with- 
out power, and “there is no power except in God,” (Q 18:39); thus, there is no 

358 _El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 301. 
359 ~Al-Kurani, Takmilat al-qawl al-jali, fol. 303°. 

360 = Al-Kurrani, Maslak al-sadad, fol. 32°. 

361 Al-Kurani, Maslak al-sadad, fol. 34». 

260 CHAPTER 5 

human action except through God’s power. This is how “God is the creator of all 
things” (Q 13:16) while at the same time humans have effects on their actions.3° 

Al-Kurani says in Imdad dhawi al-isti‘dad that he is still receiving questions 
about kasb because the main principle (as/) of the unity of attributes (wah- 
dat al-sifat) that he explained in Maslak al-sadad was unclear. He repeats his 
idea about accepting the ambiguous verses (mutashabihat) without allegorical 
interpretation, and says that this principle is a result of conceiving of God as 
absolute existence.?63 The unity of God’s actions thus depends on the unity of 
God’s attributes, and the latter depends on the idea that God is absolute exis- 
tence, or on the unity of God’s essence (tawhid al-dhat), which indicates that 
God’s essence and His attributes are incomparable with their human counter- 
parts and bear no likeness to the essences and attributes of creatures because 
“there is nothing like Him.” 

A contemporary of al-Kurani, al-Kafawi (d. 1683), details in his dictionary al- 
Kulliyyat the three kinds of unity, or three levels (maratib), as he calls them: (1) 
tawhid al-dhat, “the unity of God’s essence,’ which is the highest level of divine 
unity, at which everything is annihilated and vanishes in God ( fana’wa-istihlak 
ft Allah), and where the only real being is God (la wujud ft al-haqigqa illa Allah); 
(2) tawhid al-sifat, “the unity of God’s attributes,’ which is the level at which 
the believer perceives every perfection in the world as a reflection of the light 
of God's perfection; and (3) tawhid al-af‘al, “the unity of God’s acts,” which is 
the level at which the believer realizes (yatahaqqaq) and knows with certainty 
that nothing can have an effect in the universe except God.3 

God’s essence is identical to His existence, so we can say that the first level 
of unity is the unity of God’s existence, or Oneness of Being, the most contro- 
versial idea in the Akbarian tradition. 

13 Wahdat al-Wujud 

It may be surprising that al-Kurani, who has been described as “the leading 
representative of Ibn ‘Arabi’s doctrines in Medina and perhaps throughout 
the entire Muslim world,’2® did not dedicate more than a few short treatises 

362 Al-Kurani, Maslak al-sadad, fol. 34. 

363 = Al-Kurani, Imdad dhawi al-istidad, fol. 32°. 

364 Ayyub Ibn Misa Kaffawi, al-Kulliyyat, ed. ‘Adnan Darwish and Muhammad al-Misri (Bei- 
rut: Muassasat al-Risala, 2ed, 1998), pp. 931-932. 

365 Martin Van Bruinessen, “The Impact of Kurdish ‘Ulama on Indonesian Islam,” Les annales 
de l’autre islam 5, 1998, pp. 83-106. 


to address the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud directly. Wahdat al-wujid in al- 
Kuranr’s thought, as will be explained here, is not a matter of terminology; it is 

instead a complete theological system that contains all of al-Kurani’s thought 
discussed in this chapter. Ibn ‘Arabi himself, so far as we know, never used this 
term specifically in his writings.366 Al-Kurani nevertheless mentions wahdat 

al-wujud in the titles of two of his works: 




The first work is Mirgat al-sutid ila sihhat al-qawl bi-wahdat al-wujud,3®" 
which is only two folios long. In this treatise, al-Kurani rejects an extreme 
idea proposed by some Javan Sufis who claimed that Muhammad pos- 
sessed divine aspects, and that this possession is the true meaning of 
wahdat al-wujud. Al-Kurani, in response to this idea, states that “the doc- 
trine of wahdat al-wujid is correct on legal ground (shar‘an) because it 
agrees with the Quran and the Sunna. Its gist (hdsiluh) is to believe in 
the ambiguous verses while confirming God’s transcendence by virtue 
of [the statement] ‘there is nothing like Him’ and to affirm the apparent 
meaning of these verses.’368 Then he says that the followers of wahdat al- 
wujud believe that God Almighty is absolute existence in the true sense 
of absoluteness—namely that which is not restricted by anything in the 
cosmos—and that He manifests Himself in created forms without being 
restricted by these forms. According to al-Kurani, God as absolute exis- 
tence is the belief of the AAl al-Sunna wa-l-Jamaa, who reject both the 
assimilation (tashbih) of God to his creatures through their confirmation 
that “there is nothing like Him,’ and the stripping away of the Divine 
attributes (ta til) through their confirmation that He manifests Himself 
in whatever forms He wills.369 Al-Kurani then refers his readers to two 
other works for more detail about the meaning of wahdat al-wujud: Ithaf 
al-dhak and Qasd al-sabil. Both are doctrinal surveys that discuss most of 
the topics in this chapter: the idea of absolute existence, manifestations in 
forms, and accepting the ambiguous or anthropomorphic Quranic verses 
without allegorical interpretation. 

The second work is Matla‘al-jud bi-tahqiq al-tanzth ftwahdat al-wujud,?” 
in which al-Kurani emphasizes the transcendence of God according to 
the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud. This work is divided into several chap- 

William C. Chittick, “A History of the Term Wahdat al-Wujid,’ p.73; Dagli, Ibn al-Arabtand 
Islamic Intellectual Culture, p. 2. 

Al-Karani, Mirgat al-suiid ila sihhat al-qawl bi-wahdat al-wujiid, fols. 20-21». 

Al-Kurani, Mirgat al-sutd, fol. 21°. 

Al-Karani, Mirgat al-su iid, fol. 21°. 

Al-Karani, Matla‘ al-jiid, fols. 123-153. 

262 CHAPTER 5 

ters. In chapter one, al-Kurani discusses the idea of God’s absoluteness. In 
chapter two, he talks about general existence (al-‘ama’) that is emanated 
from absolute existence. In chapter three, he talks about the quiddities 
or realities of contingents and how they are uncreated nonexistents. In 
chapter four, he explains creation as the emanation of existence from the 
absolute existence in accordance with the disposition of the nonexistent 
realities. He also explores the main topics related to “necessary existence,” 
“contingent existence,” and creation. 
The above are the only two treatises that contain the term “wahdat al-wujud’ in 
their titles. Another text that deals directly with the term wahdat al-wujiid is al- 
Kuranr’s treatise al-Maslak al-jalt ft hukm shath al-waii. In this treatise, al-Kurani 
mentions that he received a letter from Java asking about some statements 
related to wahdat al-wujiid. The question refers to the fact that some people 
in Java say that “God is ourselves and our existence and we are Himself and 
His existence.”3”! This treatise is one of only a few texts that address wahdat 
al-wujud explicitly. Al-Kurani says that this idea is spreading in that country, 
ie., Java, among the educated and the common people (al-khass wa-l-amm), 
so it needs to be clarified.3’2 What al-Kurani accomplishes in this treatise is an 
explanation that wahdat al-wujud should be construed in such a way that God, 
absolute existence, is different from the human and from contingent existence 
generally.3’3 Absolute existence exists by Himself for Himself; His essence is 
identical to His existence. The contingent existent has a distinct essence that 
is an uncreated nonexistent; “nonexistent” cannot be predicated of God, and 
absolute existence cannot be contingent upon an existent.3”4 So, God cannot 
be us. The second part of the Javans’ claim, namely that we are Himself and His 
existence, is similarly impossible. “We,” whether it refers to the eternal realities 
or to the existent forms, cannot be predicated of God; the realities are nonexis- 
tents, and the apparent forms are created, and God can be neither nonexistent 
nor created.3”5 Here, al-Kurani has not stated anything new concerning wahdat 
al-wujud. He is simply restating the ideas he explained in his other theological 
We should note that the two treatises that refute the pantheistic interpreta- 
tion of wahdat al-wujiid, i.e., Mirgat al-sutid and al-Maslak al-jalt fthukm shath 

371 Ibrahim al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-jalifthukm shath al-wali (Ms: Istanbul: Veliyyiiddin Efendi 
1815), fol. 1375. 

372  Al-Kuarani, al-Maslak al-jali fi hukm shath al-wali, fol. 137>-138*. 

373 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-jali ft hukm shath al-wali, fol. 138°. 

374 Al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-jali ft hukm shath al-wali, fol. 1392. 

375 Al-Kurani, al-Mastak al-jali ft hukm shath al-wali, fol. 1392. 


al-walt, were written as responses to questions from Southeast Asia, which sug- 
gests that this understanding of wahdat al-wujud was spreading in Java in the 
seventeenth century. Al-Kurani also wrote for Javan students in Medina, at their 
request, his main text relating to the doctrine of wahdat al-wujiid, i.e., Ithaf 
al-dhaki. Writing about wahdat a-wujud to a Javan audience implies that the 
pantheistic interpretation of wahdat al-wujid was an important topic in Java. 
This active engagement of al-Kurani in Sufi-theologian debates in Southeast 
Asia requires some clarification of the context of wahdat al-wujiid’s reception 
in Java. 

In Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, Riddell gives a general overview of 
prominent Malay religious scholars and their writings during the late tenth/six- 
teenth and the eleventh/seventeenth century. Hamza Fansuri (c. 1690) and 
Shams al-Din al-Samatrani (d. 1630), two important Sufis in Southeast Asia, 
were accused by Nur al-Din al-Raniri (d. 1658) of heresy. Al-Raniri devoted 
several works, including Hujjat al-siddiq li-daf< al-zindiq, to refute what he 
considered to be the pantheistic teachings of al-Fanstri and al-Samatrani. Al- 
Raniri distinguished between two groups of wujiidiyya: “the true” and “the 
heretical.” Ibn ‘Arabi belongs to the former, according to al-Ranin, who him- 
self was a Sufi.3’6 Al-Raniri launched an attack on the heretical wujtdiyya, 
targeting Hamza Fanstri and Shams al-Din al-Samatrani by accusing them 
of collapsing the correct multiplicity-within-unity viewpoint into a simple 
equation of God and the world by saying: “the world is God and God is the 

Al-Kurani went further than simply participating directly in this argument 
through the texts mentioned above. Another of his important contributions to 
the wujudiyya debate was through his main student, ‘Abd al-Ra uf al-Singkili 
(c. 1615-1693), who spent nineteen years in the Arabian Peninsula and stud- 
ied in a variety of centers there, and later became the preeminent Islamic 
scholar dominating the religious life of the Acehnese sultanate during the lat- 
ter half of the seventeenth century. ‘Abd al-Raif reaffirmed the reformed Sufi 
approach initiated by al-Raniri and emphasised the importance of adhering to 
the sharia.3”* He is also probably the translator of al-Kurani’s short commen- 
tary on al-Qushashi’s creed into the Malay language. This translation, in the 
context of the debate over the wujidiyya and al-Kurani's other treatises that 
were addressed to Javan audience, can be considered an attempt to correct the 

376 Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, p. 120. 

377 Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, p. 122. However, al-Attas argued that al- 
Raniri misunderstood the essential orthodoxy of Hamza’s position. Ibid., p. 19 and after. 

378 Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, p. 125 and after. 

264 CHAPTER 5 

excesses of certain Sufis. These efforts can also be seen in the Malay translation 
of al-Nasafi’s creed at the end of the sixteenth century.3”9 

To summarize al-Kurani’s understanding of wahdat al-wujid, we can look at 
chapter twelve of Inbah al-anbah, one of the chapters added in 1072/1661-1662, 
almost ten years after his companionship with al-Qushashi began. Al-Kurani 
says that tawhid al-wujud means that God Almighty does not have a partner in 
existence in the real sense of existence (la sharik lahu fi al-wujiid, ayy [al-wujiid] 
al-haqiqt).3®° Al-Kurani cites al-Ghazali’s interpretation in Mishkat al-anwar of 
the Quranic verse “everything perishes except His Face” (Q 28:88), claiming that 
it does not mean that everything will perish at some future point; it has actu- 
ally perished eternally in the past (aza/an) and forever in the future (abadan). 
Everything but God, if you consider it in term of its essence, is nonexistent.3°! 
Al-Kurani says that al-Ghazali’s words mean that the existence of the universe 
(al-Glam) is not independent but emanated from God, so its existence cannot 
be described as existent with God, but it is existent by or through God. Al-Kurani 
concludes this section by saying: 

The statement “no God except God” means that there is no essential per- 
fection except for God, just as there is no existence for anything except 
through God, so too there is no perfection except through God. And what- 
ever does not exist except through another, then the existence as truly 
belongs to that other; similar things can be said about the perfection [it 

Again, when al-Kurani tries to explain wahdat al-wujiid, he returns to explana- 
tions of his ideas about absolute existence, realities, manifestations in forms, 
and other topics mentioned in this chapter. Wahdat al-wujud for al-Kurani was 
not a matter of terminology, but was instead the correct explanation of Islamic 
theology. Al-Kurani’s detailed explanation of Islamic theology based on Ibn 
‘Arabi’s thought and represented in the term wahdat al-wujud constitutes, I 
argue, the climax of the evolution of the organization of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought 
in a systematic way such that it can represent Islamic theology as a whole. The 
domination of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought as the correct interpretation of Sunni the- 
ology can be noticed in al-Qushashi’s reading of Ibn Kemal Pasha’s fatwa?*? as 

379 Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, p. 132. 

380 = Al-Kurani, Inbah al-anbah, p. 226. 

381 Al-Kurani, Inbah al-anbah, p. 228. 

382 Al-Kurani, Inbah al-anbah, p. 233. 

383 An English translation of the Ibn Kemal Pasha fatwa can be found in Mustafa Tahrali, “A 


a suggestion to the Sultan that Ibn ‘Arabi’s doctrine of wahdat al-wujtid should 
be imposed as the official doctrine of the state (yajib ‘ala wali al-amr an yah- 
mila al-nas ‘ala al-qawl bi-wahdat al-wujiid), a reading reported by al-Qushashi 
in his treatise Kalimat al-jud bi-l-bayyina wa-l-shuhud ‘ala al-qawl bi-wahdat al- 
wujud.384 This request was later mentioned with admiration by al-Nabulusi, 
who cited al-Qushashi’s reference to Ibn Kemal Pasha’s idea.3®> The support of 
these two scholars clearly demonstrates a shift in the general attitude toward 
Ibn ‘Arabi in the seventeenth century. For al-Qushashi, al-Kurani, al-Barzanji, 
and al-Nabulusi, wahdat al-wujid is the best explanation of the first Shahada, 
la ilah illa Allah. Ibn ‘Arabi became the criterion by which to judge orthodox 
Sunni theology. 

Although al-Kurani is the scholar who provided the most detailed and struc- 
tured explanation of wahdat al-wujiid as a complete Islamic doctrine that rep- 
resents the correct explanation of Islamic faith, the efforts of most of the Akbar- 
ian scholars in his time were similarly directed to clarifying the idea of wahdat 
al-wujid as representing the true faith. A brief idea of how his main contempo- 
rary Akbarian scholars understood wahdat al-wujud will help contextualize al- 
Kuranr’s efforts and shed more light on the development of Akbarian thought 
in the seventeenth century. 

Al-Qushashi in Kalimat al-jud says that there is no existence by itself and for 
itself except for God’s existence, and the cosmos is His action (/t‘tuhu); thus, it 
exists through God, not by itself. There are therefore no two existences, only one 
existence—God’s—through which everything exists.38° Then, one folio later, 
he states that if all existents possess existence neither by themselves nor in 
themselves, but their existence is instead contained in God’s knowledge, then 
they do not exist in themselves or for themselves, but are rather through Him 
and for Him. He continues on to say that this is what is meant by wahdat al- 
wujud: it means that there is no other partner for God in His existence; the 
contingents consist entirely in His objects of knowledge, His actions, and His 
creatures. The action of an agent does not exist without the agent, but instead 
exists only through the existence of the agent.38” Drawing closer to the philoso- 
phers’ language, al-Qushashi says that there is a division between [1] the nec- 

General Outline of the Influence of Ibn ‘Arabi on the Ottoman Era,” Journal of the Muhyid- 
din Ibn ‘Arabi Society, Vol. XXV1, 1999. Pp. 47. 

384 Safi al-Din al-Qushashi, Kalimat al-jid bi-l-bayyina wa-l-shuhid ‘ala al-qawl bi-wahdat al- 
wujiid (Ms: Istanbul: Resid Efendi 428), fol. 227-225. 

385 ‘Abdal-Ghanial-Nabulusi, /dah al-maqsid min ma‘nd wahdat al-wujiid, ed. Azza Husriyya 
(Damascus: Maktabat al-‘Ilm, 1969), p. 21. 

386 Al-Qushashi, Kalimat al-jiid, fol. 2”. 

387 Al-Qushashi, Kalimat al-jiid, fol. 3°. 

266 CHAPTER 5 

essary for whom it is impossible to imagine His nonexistence even mentally, 
whose existence is for Himself and by Himself (li-dhatih wa-bi-dhatih), not for 
a thing, nor from a thing; this necessary existence is God Almighty, and [2] the 
contingent that could potentially exist or not, as its existence or nonexistence 
depends on the murajjih.388 Existence is essentially one (al-wujud wahid bi-l- 
dhat); there is nothing in it except the truth by its essence (al-haqq li-dhatih).3®° 
True existence belongs to God alone and anything other than Him does not 
have any part in existence in any way.39° Al-Muhibbi described al-Qushashi as 
the Imam of all those who believe in wahdat al-wujid.3"! 

‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi (d. 1143/1731) dedicated a special book to explain- 
ing the concept of “the True Existence’ (al-Wujtid al-Haqq), which applies only 
to God. Possible existence does not exist independently from True Existence. 
Contingents are existent, but they do not possess existence by themselves. 
Al-Nabulusi says that “if you heard us saying that ‘Existence is God, do not 
think that we mean ‘all existents are God, regardless of whether these exis- 
tents are material or mental. Rather, existence is God through whom all other 
existents subsist.”39? Al-Nabulusi distinguishes clearly between oneness of exis- 
tence (wahdat al-wujiid) and multiplicity of existents (kathrat al-mawijiid); exis- 
tence is one and God alone deserves the title wujiid, since his existence is from 
Himself and does not depend on anything else; multiplicity lies in existent 
things, which are absolutely not God.393 Al-Nabulusi says: 

Know that the difference between existence (wujud) and existent 
(mawjud) is necessarily demarcated. Existents are numerous and differ- 
entiated, while existence is one, neither multiple nor diverse in itself; it 
is one reality undivided and indivisible according to the multiplicity of 
existents. Existence is an origin and existents are succeeding, proceeding 
from and based on Him. He controls them according to His will and He is 
able to change and replace them. The meaning of existent is a thing that 
has existence; it is not the essence of existence. Our discussion is con- 
ceming wahdat al-wujud not wahdat al-mawjid, since al-mawijiid is not 
one but multiple.394 

388 Al-Qushashi, Kalimat al-jiid, fol. 8». 

389 Al-Qushashi, Kalimat al-jid,, fol. 9?. 

390 = Al-Qushashi, Kalimat al-jiid, fol. 9». 

391 Al-Muhibbi, Kulasat al-athar, vol.1, p. 345. 
392 ~©Al-Nabulusi, al-Wujiid al-Haqq, p. u. 

393 Al-Nabulusi, al-Wujiid al-Haqq, pp. 13, 17. 
394 Al-Nabulusi, al-Wujid al-Haqq, p. 19. 


Al-Barzanji dedicates numerous pages of his work al-Jadhib al-ghaybi to the 
discussion of the concept of “absolute existence” and the distinction between 
different types of existence. Based on al-Kurani’s works, al-Barjanzi distin- 
guishes between two kinds of absolutes: absolute in contrast to particular, 
which means that the absolute here does not exist in reality except by its indi- 
viduals. God is not absolute in this sense. The other type is absolute in the sense 
that God does not have any restriction. The latter is the meaning Ibn ‘Arabi had 
in mind when he said in al-Futuhat that “the Truth Almighty is existent by its 
essence, for its essence, absolute existence is not restricted by others.”39° Al- 
Barzanji thinks that the vilification of Ibn ‘Arabi came from misunderstanding 
the difference between these two senses of “absolute.” Absolute existence, as 
al-Barzanji describes it, exists in reality, necessarily, individually, and it differs 
from the existence that is common to all quiddities. God is one without any 
duality; so, al-Barzanji, following al-Kurani, argues that the existence of God is 
identical to His essence, and that this idea is exactly that of al-Ash‘ari that the 
existence of everything is identical to its essence. 

We can note that these three scholars, as was the case for al-Kurani, were 
all working in the seventeenth century and were all residents in the Arabic- 
speaking part of the Ottoman Empire. Three of them were active in the Hijaz, 
and al-Nabulusi lived and died in Damascus close to Ibn ‘Arabi’s tomb. The 
agreement with sharia was a central aspect of all of their efforts to explain 
wahdat al-wujid.3°* Unfortunately, the study of the reception of Ibn ‘Arabi’s 
thought and the development of Akbarian schools contains large gaps, espe- 
cially in the period between Jami and Nabulusi, and between the latter and ‘Abd 
al-Qadir al-Jaza@iri. Al-Sha‘rani and al-Nabulusi are the well-known figures in 
academic studies, but, as I have argued, al-Qushashi, al-Kurani, and al-Barzanji 
should also be understood as central. There are other teachers, students, and 
their peers who also contributed greatly to the development of Akbarian stud- 
ies in the seventeenth century, mostly from the Hijaz in its function as an 

395  Al-Barzanji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi ila al-Janib al-gharbi, p. 443. 

396 Numerous contemporary scholars interpreted wahdat al-wujiid similarly. For the term 
wahdat al-wujid in Ibn ‘Arabi’s tradition see William Chittick, “Wahdat al-wujid in Islamic 
Thought,” Bulletin of the Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies, 10 (1991), pp. 7-27- 
Revised copy entitled “Rami and Wahdat al-Wujiid,’ Poetry and Mysticism in Islam, The Her- 
itage of Rimi, ed. Amin Banani, Richard Hovannisian, and George Sabagh (UK: Cambridge 
University Press, 1994). Another revised copy is in In Search of the Lost Heart, chapter 
eight “A History of the Term wahdat al-wujiid” See also Souad Hakim, “Unity of Being 
in Ibn ‘Arabi—A Humanist Perspective”; and Bakri Aladdin, “Oneness of Being (wahdat 
al-wujiid) the Term and the Doctrine,’ Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, vol. 51 
(2012), pp. 3-26. 

268 CHAPTER 5 

important center for Akbarian studies in that century, a center whose neglect 
in scholarship I hope to continue remedying. 

In sum, wahdat al-wujiid in the seventeenth-century Arab world was under- 
stood as existence being nothing but the existence of God. Existence is a single 
reality that manifests in other entities, without itself becoming many. Existence 
belongs only to God; thus, everything other than God is nonexistent in itself, 
although it is existent to the extent that it manifests real existence. Absolute 
existence is the source of all existence (al-wujud al-mutlaq asl kull wujud); thus, 
in themselves, creatures are entities (a‘yan) that possess no existence of their 
own. The reality of possible existents remains nonexistent, or, as Ibn ‘Arabi 
describes them, “the contingent beings are, in the final analysis, nonexistent, 
since the only [true] existence is the existence of the Reality in the forms of 
states in which the contingent beings are in themselves and in their [eternally 
latent] essences.’$9” External existence has no being or meaning apart from 
God, absolute existence, who is the only real existence; the world is merely a 
manifestation of the absolute, or an expression of Divine external existence. 

14 Conclusion 

As has hopefully become clear in this chapter, it is impossible to separate the 
theological and Sufi mystical aspects of al-Kurani’s thought. This intermingling 
of theology and mysticism can be attributed at least in part to his intellec- 
tual formation. As discussed in Chapter Three, by the time al-Kurant’s inter- 
est in Sufism began, in Baghdad when his travel to the aj was interrupted 
because of his brother's illness, he was already an established scholar in the 
intellectual sciences. His exploration of Sufism would continue until the end 
of his life and would dominate both his intellectual production and his per- 
sonal life. He nonetheless never abandoned the rational sciences; rather, he 
used his intellectual knowledge to clarify and explain the theories of Ibn ‘Arabi. 
He did not see Sufism as being in competition with the rational sciences but 
rather as complementary to them, although he did maintain that there is a 
higher knowledge than intellectual knowledge, i-e., divine emanation (fayd 
ilaht). This higher kind of knowledge can be perceived by human intellects, 
not through their thinking faculty, but as the intellect’s divinely gifted ability to 
receive this knowledge.3°8 This “received knowledge” is in turn presented and 

397. Ibn ‘Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, p. 115; Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, p. 96. 
398 Al-Kurani, Ithaf al-dhaki, p. 197. 


demonstrated using systematic, intellectual arguments, with supporting evi- 
dence from across the Islamic intellectual traditions. Al-Kurani was an Ash‘arite 
theologian and he cited most of the famous Ash‘arite texts, including those of 
al-Ash‘ari, al-Juwayni, al-Ghazali, al-Iji, al-Taftazani, al-Jurjani, and al-Dawani. 
Along with these famous theologians, al-Kurani used Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Qunawi, 
Jami, and other Akbarian scholars and commentators when making theolog- 
ical arguments. These arguments are presented side by side with the Quranic 
verses and Prophetic Aadiths that buttress al-Kurani’s theories. 

Al-Kurani without a doubt belongs to the long-standing intellectual tradi- 
tion of interpreting Ibn ‘Arabi. According to Knysh, al-Qunawi’s emphasis on 
the ontological elements of Ibn ‘Arabi’s mysticism sprang from his proficiency 
in and preoccupation with the philosophy of Ibn Sina, who exercised enormous 
influence, both directly and indirectly, on subsequent generations of Muslim 
thinkers.399 Al-Qunawi, Knysh states, “took a strictly rationalist approach to his 
master’s legacy, treating it from the perspective of Avicennian philosophy with 
its persistent ontological bent.”4°° Thus, by the seventeenth century al-Kurani 
could find Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings to be already very philosophized. Akbarian 
thought was philosophically grounded through the efforts of commentators 
such as al-Qinawi and some of his students. Al-Kurani mentioned several of 
al-Qunawi's disciples and used their texts, which were already systemized in 
an intellectualizing manner. What changes through al-Kurani’s thinking is the 
prioritization of all the topics discussed in this chapter: al-Kurani considers 
God, as absolute existence, to be the foundation of all foundations (as/al-usil), 
and the doctrine of absolute existence serves as the foundation of al-Kurani’s 
thought. It is his main underlying principle that existence is nothing but God's 
existence, absolute existence, real existence, and the source of all existence. 

All the topics of this chapter lead to his interpretation of the idea of wah- 
dat al-wujud. The idea of nonexistent eternal realities, or fixed entities, has a 
clear connection with the doctrine of wahdat al-wujiid. External existence has 
neither being nor meaning apart from God, the absolute existence, who is the 
only real existence outside of the mind. The idea of God’s manifestation estab- 
lishes that all things other than God are loci of manifestation (majla) of God’s 
attributes, in which God discloses Himself in accordance with the thing’s dis- 
positions. So, the world does not actually have an existence; it is merely a mani- 

399 Knysh, “Ibrahim al-Kurani (d. 1101/1690), an Apologist for wahdat al-wujud’? pp. 39-47, 
p. 39. For the same idea, see, e.g. J. Morris, “Ibn ‘Arabi and his Interpreters,” sAos, Cv1/3 
(1986), pp. 539-564; Cv1/4 (1986), pp. 733-756; CVI1/i (1987), pp. 101-120; W. Chittick, “Mys- 
ticism versus Philosophy in Earlier Islamic History,” pp. 87-104. 

400 Knysh, Ibn Arabi in the Later Islamic Tradition, p. 162. 

270 CHAPTER 5 

festation of the absolute, the only true existence. In the progression of creation, 
we saw that everything other than the essence of God is in a perpetual process 
of transformation. And as explained in the sections on wahdat al-sifat, kasb, 
and taklif, the power of the human agent comes from God, the only essential 
power in the world. The idea of wahdat al-sifat, which is intimately connected 
with the idea of absolute existence and God's attributes, is related to the first 
kind of tawhid, tawhid al-dhat, “the unity of the essence.’ Since God’s essence 
is identical to His existence, it can also be called “the unity of existence.’ 

The fact that al-Kurani did not dedicate a special treatise to discussing and 
explaining the term is very significant to his understanding of wahdat al-wujud 
not as a matter of a single term, but as a complete doctrine. Al-Kurani and 
other Sufis claimed that the doctrine of wahdat al-wujiid is the subject of Sufi 
experience through kashf or dhawq. However, in al-Kurani’s framework the 
manifestation of this Sufi experience is clearly expressed by a systematic intel- 
lectual structure. Al-Kurani may well have thought that he was only reveal- 
ing the coherent system that lies beneath Ibn ‘Arabi’s mystical language, as 
some contemporary scholars read Ibn ‘Arabi. Chittick writes that “[Ibn ‘Arabi'’s] 
writings are clear, consistent, and logically structured, even though they may 
appear opaque to those not familiar with them.”*°! James Morris remarks that 


describing Ibn ‘Arabi as “incoherent,” “pantheist,’ or “heretic” is not based on 
reasoned judgments; rather, the use of these terms amounts to a reaction to the 
difficult task of unifying and integrating such diverse and challenging materi- 
als.40 These difficulties forced generations of Ibn ‘Arabi’s followers to explain 
his ideas and attempt to reconcile them with the Islamic intellectual traditions 
of kalam and philosophy. With al-Kurani the reconciliation reached its peak: 
theology and Sufism become one in an integrated intellectual system based on 
reason, mystical experience, and revelation. 
401 William C. Chittick, “A history of the term Wahdat al-Wujiid,’ in Search of the Lost Heart 
(New York: State University of New York Press, 2012), p. 72. 
402 James W. Morris, “Ibn ‘Arabi and his interpreters: Part 1: Recent French translations,” Jour- 
nal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 106, No. 3 (Jul.—Sep., 1986), pp. 539-551 p. 540, n. 4 
(Part 1). 


Al-Kurani’s Other Theological and Sufi Thought 

Along with the main topics of his metaphysical and cosmological thought dis- 
cussed in the previous chapter, al-Kurani discussed numerous other theological 
and Sufi topics that constitute essential parts of his intellectual efforts. These 
topics include the faith of Pharaoh, the satanic verses, unuttered speech (kalam 
nafst), the precedence of God’s mercy and the annihilation of Hellfire ( fand’ 
al-nar), and the preference between the reality of the Ka‘ba and the reality 
of Muhammad. Discussing al-Kurani’s opinion on these issues will reveal both 
the centuries-long continuity of their discussion and the new issues that were 
being raised in the seventeenth century. We will see that the discussion of these 
topics was not confined to the Hijaz alone, but rather extended to different 
regions of the Islamic world, which gives us an idea of the regional variety in 
discussion topics. 

Clarifying al-Kurani's opinion on these issues will reveal consistency in his 
thought, which is reflected in both fundamental and sub-issues. All these top- 
ics are connected directly to the main arguments mentioned in the previous 
chapter. I have decided to separate them from the previous arguments sim- 
ply in order to preserve the flow of Chapter Five from the main idea of God 
as absolute existence into the natural result of this idea in wahdat al-wujud, a 
phrase that serves as the foundation of al-Kurani’s whole philosophical system. 
The topics discussed in this chapter can thus be considered a consequence of 
those in Chapter Five, but listing each idea directly after the relevant section 
in Chapter Five would have created an interruption of the general argument. 
For example, kalam nafsi is clearly part of the discussion of God’s attributes. 
But including a few pages about kalam nafsi after the topic of God’s attributes 
would distract from al-Kurani’s main aim when explaining the topic of God’s 
attributes, which is God’s manifestation in conceivable forms. We must also 
keep in mind that numerous of his treatises were written as replies to specific 
questions that he received related to different topics that are part of theology or 
Sufi thought. These treatises may concern certain topics that do not fit directly 
into the general arguments elaborated in Chapter Five or in larger treatises, 
even though al-Kurani’s main philosophical and theological doctrines clearly 
appear even in his answers to these specific questions. 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_008 

272 CHAPTER 6 
1 The Faith of Pharaoh 

The faith of Pharaoh is one of the topics that caused al-Kurani to be criticized by 
several scholars, mainly Moroccans. The controversy over the issue of Pharaoh’s 
faith goes back to Ibn ‘Arabi’s works. In al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, Ibn ‘Arabi lists 
Pharaoh among the four groups that will remain forever in Hell because he was 
arrogant (mutakabbir) and because he asserted his own divinity. Yet in Chap- 
ter 25 of Fusus al-hikam, which is devoted to Moses, Ibn ‘Arabi argues for the 
validity of Pharaoh's confession of faith. Ibn ‘Arabi says that God had granted 
Pharaoh belief and that he died a believer, pure and cleansed of his sins. The 
Fusus statement is: 

Pharaoh’s consolation was in the faith God endowed him with when he 
was drowned. God took him to Himself spotless, pure and untainted by 
any defilement, because He seized him at the moment of belief, before 
he could commit any sin, since submission [to God: Islam] extirpates all 
that has occurred before. God made him a sign of His loving kindness to 
whomever He wishes, so that no one may despair of the mercy of God, 
for indeed, no one but despairing folk despairs of the spirit of God (12:87). 
Had Pharaoh been despairing, he would not have hastened to believe.” 

The faith of Pharaoh was subsequently the topic of several independent trea- 
tises and attracted numerous interpretations from Ibn ‘Arabi’s supporters and 
detractors. The discussion of this issue relies heavily on transmitted texts, i.e. 
the Quran and the hadith, and can be considered part of intellectual discus- 
sions only to the extent that intellectual effort is necessary in understanding 
and interpreting texts. Therefore, before discussing al-Kurani's opinion on this 
issue, it is relevant to present the general lines of the texts that were the subject 
of discussion between both supporters and opponents of the idea of Pharaoh's 

The arguments are related to several Quranic verses and Prophetic hadiths. 
The Quranic verse in Surat Yunus says: “And We took the Children of Israel 
across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and 
enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he [Pharaoh] said, ‘I believe that 
there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I 
am of the Muslims” (Q 10:90). God replied, saying: “Now? And you had dis- 
obeyed before and were of the corrupters?”$ (Q 10:91). These verses seem to 

1 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya, vol.1, p. 301. 
2 Ibn Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, p. 255. 
3 For Ibn ‘Arabi’s approach to these verses see Denis Gril, “The Quranic Figure of Pharaoh 


indicate that Pharaoh announced his belief in the God of Moses, which means 
he became a believer. No one can deny that God blamed him for delaying 
his repentance until the last minute, but blaming him for his delay cannot 
be equated with a rejection of his faith. The argument cannot be about his 
announcement of the statement of belief in the God of Moses, because the lat- 
ter is confirmed by the Quran. According to a hadith considered authentic in 
the collections of Muslim and the musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the Prophet 
says: “that embracing of Islam wipes out all that has gone before it (previous 
misdeeds).” Since Pharaoh died immediately after his announcement of belief, 
all his previous sins were forgiven, and he became thus not only saved, but with- 
out any sin. 

The center of the argument was not so much about the fact of Pharaoh pro- 
nouncing his faith in the God of Moses, but about the timing of this faith. The 
Quran says: “But repentance is not [accepted] of those who [continue to] do 
evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them, he says, ‘Indeed, I have 
repented now’” (Q 4:18). In another hadith, the Prophet says: “God accepts the 
repentance of His servant so long as the death rattle has not yet reached his 
throat,” which means until the point of his death when, according to tradition, 
the dying person sees the signs of the truth of the religion. In another Quranic 
verse, it is said: “But never did their faith benefit them once they saw Our pun- 
ishment (ba’suna)” (Q 40:85). The faith in this context is called “aman al-ba’s.’ 
Ba’s is usually rendered into English as “duress” or “force,” and also refers to the 
moment of death. So, the faith that occurs due to duress or due to expecting 
punishment or certain death is not accepted because it is not a free choice. 
Does the faith of Pharaoh therefore constitute the faith of ba’s? 

Muslim scholars generally hold that Pharaoh's faith was invalid on the 
grounds that it had been extracted from him under duress or at the moment of 
his death. But the topic became controversial after Ibn ‘Arabi. Several Muslim 
theologians and Quranic interpreters argued extensively about the validity of 
Pharaoh’s faith. Numerous scholars defended Ibn ‘Arabi's position and numer- 
ous others refuted his argument. Most of the authors and commentators who 
defended Ibn ‘Arabi and tried to support his idea that the faith of Pharaoh 
was valid discussed the idea from the perspective of God’s mercy. Accepting 
the repentance of Pharaoh is proof that even the worst sinner can be forgiven 
if he repents at the last minute. Among the most prominent of the schol- 
ars who wrote to defend Ibn ‘Arabi’s position was Jalal al-Din Dawani. Mulla 
‘Ali b. Sultan al-Qari al-Harawi (d. 1014/1605) subsequently wrote a refutation 

According to the Interpretation of Ibn ‘Arabi,’ Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, 
volume 60 (2016), pp. 29-52. 

274 CHAPTER 6 

of al-Dawani’s work entitled Farr al-‘awn min al-qailin bi-iman Fir‘awn.4 Both 
works are published and have been analysed briefly in academic articles.> A 
list of twenty further scholars who participated in the debate is provided in 
Eric Ormsby’s article “The Faith of Pharaoh: A Disputed Question in Islamic 
Theology.” Al-Kurani is not mentioned in the list, but his student al-Barzanji 

Al-Kurani's work defending the faith of Pharaoh is extremely short, only one 
folio: it is entitled Bayan al-qawl bi-tman Fir‘awn and was written in 1088/1677. 
However, his student al-Barzanji wrote one of the most detailed and compre- 
hensive studies defending the faith of Pharaoh, entitled al-Ta’yyid wa-l-‘awn 
li-l-q@ilin bi-iman Fir‘awn.’ Al-Barzanji summarizes the main arguments of the 
latter in his work al-Jadhib al-ghaybi.8 

Al-Kurani, following the long tradition of commentators on Fusis al-hikam, 
argues that both scripture and logic prove that Pharaoh’s last-minute belief was 
both sincere and accepted as such by God.? Al-Kurani starts his work with a 
citation from al-Sha‘rani’s al-Yawagqit wa-l-jawahir in which al-Sha‘rani denies 
that Ibn ‘Arabi says that Pharaoh died as a believer.!° Al-Sha‘rani mentions 
the idea of Pharaoh’s faith in the section about the words that were posthu- 
mously added to Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings, which means al-Sha‘rani believes that 
the sections related to this topic in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings are not authentic, but 
forged." Al-Sha‘rani cites Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, chapter sixty-two, 
to confirm that Pharaoh is eternally in Hell. Al-Sha‘rani claimed that several 
controversial ideas of Ibn ‘Arabr’s were heretical interpolations by later hands,!? 

4 Both texts are printed in one volume. See Iman Fir ‘awn li-l-Imam Jalal al-Din al-Dawani 
wa-l-radd alayhi li-l-‘allama Ali b. Sultan Muhammad al-Qari, ed. Ibn al-Khatib (Cairo: al- 
Matba‘a al-Misriyya wa-Maktabatuha, 1964). 

5 See for example Eric Ormsby, “The Faith of Pharaoh: A Disputed Question in Islamic The- 
ology,’ Studia Islamica, No. 98/99 (2004), pp. 5-28; and Carl W. Ernst, “Controversies over 
Ibn ‘Arabi’s Fusus: The Faith of Pharaoh,” Islamic Culture c1x (3): 1985, 259-266. 

Ormsby, “The Faith of Pharaoh,” pp. 27-28. 

MS copy in Ma‘had al-Makhtutat al-‘Arabiyya in Cairo in 20 folios, no. 303 (tawhid, al-milal 

Al-Barzanji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi, pp. 379-419. 

Ibrahim al-Kurani, Bayan al-qawl bi-iman Fir‘awn (Ms: KSA, al-Madina al-Munawwaza: al- 
Jami‘a al-Islamiyya bi-]-Madina al-Munawwara, 5293), fol. 96. 

1o.~—- Al-Kurani, Bayan al-qawl bi-iman Fir ‘awn, fol. 962. 

11 ~~ ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani, AL-Yawagit wa-l-jawahir ft bayan ‘aq@id al-akabir (Beirut: Dar 
Thya@ al-Turath al-‘Arabi), p. 33. 

12 Al-Sha‘rani used this strategy also to refuse Ibn ‘Arabi’s idea that the torment of infidels 
in Hell would eventually come to an end. El-Rouayheb mentions that al-Sha‘rani usually 
uses al-Futuhat al-makktyya and avoids Fusiis al-hikam. Al-Sha‘rani wrote an abridgment 


an idea that al-Kurani and al-Barzanji would reject. Al-Barzanji says that al- 
Sha‘rani claimed that some ideas are interpolations in Ibn ‘Arabi’s works in 
order to protect the reputation of al-Shaykh al-Akbar, or because he could not 
reconcile these ideas with sharta.'8 To validate that Ibn ‘Arabi indeed argues for 
the faith of Pharaoh, al-Kurani lists several passages from Ibn ‘Arabi’s works to 
demonstrate that the idea of Pharaoh’s faith actually occurs in several contexts 
in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings, especially in al-Futuhat and al-Fusus. Al-Kurani, always 
attempting to reconcile different ideas, suggests that al-Sha‘rani should try to 
reconcile the citation he mentioned about the four doomed groups in Hell, in 
which Ibn ‘Arabi mentioned Pharaoh, with other citations in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writ- 
ings that suggest the acceptance of Pharaoh’s faith, instead of trying to deny 
the authenticity of some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas. 

Al-Kurani also cites the Damascene scholar Siraj al-Din al-Makhzumi 
(d. 885/1480) as saying that several scholars of the salaf accepted that Pharaoh 
died a believer, since his last words in this life were his declaration of follow- 
ing Moses. Al-Makhzumi said that there are reports that al-Baqillani suggested 
that the possibility of the faith of Pharaoh is stronger by inference, because 
we do not have explicit scriptural evidence that he died an unbeliever. In al- 
Kurani'’s opinion, the Quran confirms that Pharaoh pronounced the statement 
of faith explicitly, and the Quran does not say explicitly that he died an unbe- 
liever. Thus, the question at stake is whether his faith is the faith of a dying 
person (iman ba’s)** or not. 

Al-Kurani thinks that Pharaoh believed while he was convinced that he 
could be saved, which is not the faith of a person who is certain that he is dying 
at that moment. Several arguments support this idea: Pharaoh saw the believ- 
ers cross the sea that was parted for them, so he knew that their physical safety 
was due to their belief. He thus repented with the hope of being saved, not with 
fear of the arrival of death. Pharaoh was in front of his army, which means he 
was physically the closest person to the believers who were passing onto land 

of al-Futuhat al-makkiyya in two works, al-Kibrit al-ahmar ft bayan ‘ulum al-Shaykh al- 
Akbar and al-Yawagqit wa-l-jawahir fi bayan ‘aq@id al-akabir, in which he did not mention 
al-Fusis at all, nor any of Ibn ‘Arabi’s commentators. See El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual 
History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 238. 

13. ~~ Al-Barzanjji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi, p. 372. 

14 Some scholars read it as ya’s, “desperation,” but it is ba’s, which literally means “power” or 
“force,” and in the Quran is used to refer to those who believe only when they see God’s 
power over them. The faith at this moment is not accepted because it is not an act out 
of free choice. Carl Ernst also read it as “the faith of despair” (man al-ya’s). Carl Ernst, 
“Controversies over Ibn ‘Arabi’s Fusis: The Faith of Pharaoh,” Islamic Culture c1x (3):1985, 
259-266. p. 262. 

276 CHAPTER 6 

in front of him. Al-Kurani also thinks that God did not deny his faith, but only 
reproached him for delaying it to this time. The Quran says: “Now? And you 
had disobeyed [Him] before and were of the corrupters?” (Q 10:91). When God 
did not accept from other people their claim of faith, in contrast, He explic- 
itly rejected it; “The Bedouins say, ‘we have believed. Say, ‘You have not [yet] 
believed’” (Q 49:14). 

Another proof that the faith of Pharaoh was not occasioned by his impend- 
ing death is the fact that he was able to pronounce his faith using a long state- 
ment as recorded in the Quran: “I believe that there is no deity except that 
in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims.” (Q 10:90). 
Al-Barzanji says that this verse contains three confirmations of faith: his con- 
fession of faith, his specifying that he believed in the God of the Children of 
Israel, and his repeating again that he is a Muslim.’ Al-Barzanji was clear that 
accepting the idea of Pharaoh’s faith does not mean suggesting that he will not 
enter Hell; rather, it means that he will not remain in Hell forever. It is similar to 
the believers who were disobedient or committed sins. Their punishment will 
be according to their sins, but after that they will be taken to Paradise.!6 

The faith of Pharaoh, alongside the destiny of non-believers in the Here- 
after, which will be discussed shortly, were among the most controversial topics 
of Ibn ‘Arabi’s legacy, even among Akbarian scholars. These two topics were 
particularly controversial in the Ottoman Empire during the sixteenth and the 
seventeenth centuries and were refuted by numerous Ottoman scholars. Ibn 
Kemal Pasha, who is known as a defender of Ibn ‘Arabi, has two fatwas against 
these two controversial ideas.!” Even the defenders of Ibn ‘Arabi seemed to have 
found it difficult to accept that Pharaoh died as a believer. Thus, in the Ottoman 
Empire, Akbarian scholars also used the idea of interpolations in Ibn ‘Arabi's 
works. Muhammad b. Mustafa al-‘Imadi, known as Abit al-Su‘id Efendi, who 
was Shaykh al-Islam for thirty years from 952/1545 until his death in 982/1574, 
says in a fatwa that some ideas in Ibn ‘Arabi’s works were actually the result of 
forgery.!® ‘Abd al-Majid Siwasi also mentioned this possibility in his defense of 
Ibn ‘Arabi’s opinion in the matter of Pharaoh's faith. 

15 ~~ Al-Barzanjji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi, p. 387. 

16 ~— Al-Barzanjji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi, p. 383. 

17 See the fatwas in Ozen, “Ottoman ‘Ulama Debating Sufism,’ in El sufismo y las normas 
del Islam: Trabajos del 1v Congreso Internacional de Estudios Juridicos Isldmicos, Derecho y 
Sufismo, ed. by Alfonso Carmona Gonzalez, Murcia, 7-10 mayo 2003, pp. 335-336. 

18 See his fatwa in Ozen, “Ottoman ‘Ulama Debating Sufism, p. 337. 

19  Cavusoglu, The Kadizadadeli Movement, p. 277. 


If some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s admirers found it difficult to accept the idea that 
Pharaoh died as a believer, the reaction of other theologians was even stronger. 
Al-Kurani’s view that the faith of Pharaoh was accepted was mentioned among 
the others criticized by scholars of the Maghrib. Ibn al-Tayyib in Nashr al- 
mathani mentions theological disputes concerning several topics in al-Kurani’s 
thought, such as his interpretation of kasb, the material character of nonexis- 
tence, the satanic verses, and the faith of Pharaoh.2° I do not believe there is 
any specific refutation of Bayan al-qawl bi-tman Fir‘awn, probably because of 
its brevity and the fact that al-Kurani’s student al-Barzanji wrote one of the 
most detailed and comprehensive defenses of Pharaoh’s faith, a defense that 
may have been a more attractive target for critics. 

Al-Kurani’s short work on the faith of Pharaoh may seem like a mere defense 
of one of Ibn ‘Arabi's ideas, but it is easy to find some connections between the 
topic and al-Kurani’s main interest in theology, by which I mean the question of 
human free will and the theory of kasb, and God’s eternal knowledge and pre- 
destination. If God knows from all eternity that Pharaoh will not believe, how 
then can Pharaoh be considered responsible for his disbelief? This question 
also relates to the question of whether divine foreknowledge is itself causative. 
None of these questions is mentioned explicitly in al-Kurani’s text, but the 
question of Pharaoh’s faith could be a starting point for extending the discus- 
sion to more controversial theological arguments. His discussion of the faith of 
Pharaoh issue reveals the consistency of his thinking in discussing all theologi- 
cal issues, and his complete dependence on Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought on all matters, 
even the most controversial. 

The faith of Pharaoh can also be situated in relation to Ibn ‘Arabi’s idea that 
the punishment of all the people in Hell will come to an end, and that even the 
people of the Fire, who will remain eternally in the Hell, will live in blessing 

2 The Precedence of God’s Mercy and the Vanishing of the Hellfire 
(fan@ al-nar) 

Al-Kurani received a question concerning Ibn ‘Arabi’s idea that the punish- 
ment of the people in the Hellfire will come to an end despite the existence 
of a Quranic verse stating: “So taste [the penalty], for all you will get from Us 
is more torment.’ (Q 78:30). The questioner seems to consider Ibn ‘Arabi’s idea 

20  ~=Ibnal-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1789. 

278 CHAPTER 6 

contradictory the Quranic verse. Al-Kurani replied with his main treatise that 
discusses this topic, Ibd@ al-ni‘ma bi-tahqiq sabq al-rahma.?! 

Al-Kurani states that Ibn ‘Arabi repeated this idea in several places in al- 
Fusiis and al-Futuhat, then he lists several citations from these two books 
related to this topic. For example, Ibn ‘Arabi in Fusus al-hikam says: “as for 
the people of the Fire, they will return to bliss, but it will be in the Fire since 
after the end of the duration of punishment, it must become cold and peace- 
ful according to the mercy which preceded it.”2? Ibn ‘Arabi continues with the 
example of Ibrahim (Abraham), who was thrown into the fire; from outside it 
looked like a punishment, but actually it was cool and peaceful.?3 In another 
chapter of al-Fusus, Ibn ‘Arabi says: “the hope of the people of the Fire lies 
in the removal of pains. Even if they still dwell in the Fire, that is pleasure, 
so wrath is removed when the pains are removed since the source of pain is 
the source of wrath.’*4 Again, in another context, Ibn ‘Arabi states: “God says, 
‘My mercy embraces everything’ (Q 7:156), and His wrath is a thing. Hence His 
mercy embraces His wrath, confines it, and rules over it. Therefore, wrath dis- 
poses itself only through mercy’s ruling property. Mercy sends out wrath as it 
will.”25 He also says, “the final issue of the cosmos will be at mercy (li--rahma), 
even if they take up an abode in the Fire and are among its folk.’?6 

Ibn ‘Arabi thus emphasises the precedence and predominance of God's 
mercy, appealing to several Quranic verses and hadiths.”” The main Quranic 
verse that Ibn ‘Arabi repeats frequently is “My mercy embraces everything” 
(Q 7:56), and his most frequently-mentioned prophetic hadith is the one in 
which God says, “My mercy takes precedence over My wrath.” However, the 
topic is more complicated than can be resolved by the citation of a few Quranic 
verses, and contains controversial theological aspects, which we will discuss 

The precedence of God’s mercy is also related to the topics of human free- 
dom and predestination. As Chittick states, Ibn ‘Arabi distinguishes between 
two basic sorts of worship and servanthood: the “essential” sort that follows 
upon created nature, and the “accidental” sort that derives from God’s com- 

21 = Al-Kurani, [bda@ al-ni‘ma bi-tahqigq sabq al-rahma (Ms: Istanbul: Hamidiye 1440), fols. 237— 

22 Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusits al-hikam, p. 169. 

23 ~~ Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusis al-hikam, p. 169. 

24 ~— Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusis al-hikam, pp. 93-94, 172. 

25 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futiuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 3, p. 9. 

26 — Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 4, p. 434. 

27 For a clear discussion of this topic in Ibn Arabi’s thought see Chittick, Ion Arabi: Heir to 
the Prophets, chapter 9, p. 123 and after. 


mandments delivered by the prophets. The existence of accidental servant- 
hood depends on a number of factors, not least of which is free choice. In the 
next world, whether people go to Paradise or Hell, they will lose their freedom 
of choice and return to worship through their essences. “This is why the final 
issue for the wretched will be at mercy (al-ma“al ft al-ashqiy@ ila al-rahma), for 
the essential worship is strong in authority, but the commandment [to worship 
God in this world] is accidental, and wretchedness is accidental. Every acciden- 
tal thing disappears.”28 In other words, by our created nature we all worship 
God; this worshipping is our essence, to which in the afterlife everyone will 
return, thereby becoming believers, and therefore God’s mercy will prevail. 

Ibn ‘Arabi’ opinion is that suffering in Hell will come to an end, even though 
the people in Hell will stay in it and it will be their home. Eternity in Hell, not 
in torment, is not the destiny of believers who have committed sins or who are 
disobedient; Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers were talking specifically about unbe- 
lievers who were threatened with remaining in Hell forever. Ibn ‘Arabi confirms 
that unbelievers will remain forever in Hell, but they will not be suffering and 
tortured forever. One day the fire will pass away and the people in Hell will live 
in bliss. 

In the Quran, there are several verses in which God promises to reward the 
obedient, and there are verses where He threatens to punish the disobedient 
and sinners. This topic is known as wad (God’s promise of reward) and watd 
(God’s threat of punishment). According to the Mu tazilite principle of theod- 
icy, God does not break His own promises or forgo His threats, as stated by 
the Quranic verses regarding Divine promises: “Indeed God does not break the 
promise” (Q 13:31), and “do not think that God will fail in His promise to His 
messengers” (Q 14:47). Indeed, this nexus of concepts became one of the five 
principles of Mu'tazilite theology, known as al-wa‘d wa-l-waid.”® According to 
the Mu‘tazilites, all threats addressed to sinners and the wicked will be car- 
ried out without fail, except when the sinner repents before death. There is 
no pardon without repentance. From the viewpoint of the Mu'tazilites, par- 
don without repentance implies a failure to carry out the threats (wa‘d) and a 
breaking of the promise (khulf al-wa‘d), both of which are bad (qabih), there- 
fore such pardon is an impossible occurrence. 

28 — Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 3, p. 402; tr. Chittick, Jon Arabi: Heir to the Prophets, 
P- 134. 

29 See Richard C. Martin, Mark R. Woodward, and Dwi S. Atmaja, Defenders of Reason in 
Islam: Mu‘tazilism from Medieval School to Modern Symbol (England, Oxford: Oneworld 
Publications, 1997), p. 103. 

280 CHAPTER 6 

For Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers it is true that God says, “as for the wretched 
they will be in the Fire” (Q 11106), but they note that immediately, in the follow- 
ing verse, He also says: “they shall remain there forever, as long as the heavens 
and the earth remain intact, unless your Lord wills otherwise.” (Q 11107). Ibn 
‘Arabi and his followers, including al-Kurani, say that every threat of punish- 
ment in the Quran is restricted and conditioned by God’s will: “unless your 
Lord wills otherwise.”?° Al-Kurani supports his idea with a Prophetic hadith 
saying “the verse ‘unless your Lord wills otherwise, overrules every threat in 
the Quran.”3! So, God is not obliged to punish the sinner as the Mu‘tazilites 
argue, but He can forgive them. On the other hand, the Quran states concern- 
ing the rewards of obedience that “as for those who have been blessed, they 
will be in Paradise, there to remain as long as the heavens and earth endure, 
an award never to be ceased” (Q 11108). The Quran says that the reward of God 
is “never to be ceased” with no restriction or condition, but there is no similar 
verse regarding the punishment of the people of the Fire. 

Al-Kurani repeats Ibn ‘Arabi's idea that God’s threat is conditioned by God's 
will.3? Then he says that according to Arab custom, forgiveness of a threat does 
not constitute a falsehood; on the contrary, they consider refraining from car- 
rying out threats as praiseworthy, while failure to fulfill a promise is blamewor- 
thy.3$ Al-Kurani then cites a few verses from an Arabic poem that considers a 
man of honour who is obliged to keep his word if he promises to do some good, 
and, on the other hand, considers his failure to carry out a threat an act of gen- 
erosity.3+ According to al-Kurani, wa‘d and wa‘d are true, but God’s promise 
is the right of the people from God that if they do such and such they will be 
rewarded, and God fulfills His promise. Although God’s threat to punish people 
if they do not obey His orders is God’s right over people, He can carry out his 
threat or He can forgive them.?5 

Interestingly, Ibn Taymiyya seems to hold an opinion close to Ibn ‘Arabi’s.36 
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 751/1350), the foremost student of Ibn Taymiyya, 

30 ~— Al-Kairani, [bda@’ al-ni‘ma, fol. 25. 

31  Al-Karani, [bda@’ al-ni‘ma, fol. 25. 

32 ~=— Al-Karani, [bda@’ al-ni‘ma, fol. 26°. 

33 ~—~Al-Karani, [bda@’ al-ni‘ma, fol. 262-». 

34 ~~ Al-Kurani, [bda@’ al-ni‘ma, fol. 26°. 

35 ~~ Al-Kurani, [bda’ al-ni‘ma, fol. 26°. 

36 Several studies explored Ibn Taymiyya’s and Ibn al-Qayyim’s opinions in this topic; see for 
example: Jon Hoover, “Islamic Universalism: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Salafi Deliberations 
on the Duration of Hell-Fire,’ The Muslim World, 2009, 99 (1), pp. 181-201; Hoover, “Against 
Islamic Universalism: ‘Ali al-Harbi’s 1990 Attempt to Prove that Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn 
Qayyim al-Jawziyya Affirm the Eternity of Hell-Fire,’ in Islamic Theology, Philosophy and 


in two of his books, Hadi al-arwah and Shif@ al-‘alil, is inclined toward this 
view, outlining the evidence in support of it, and attributing this position to 
his teacher Ibn Taymiyya. Several scholars have used Ibn al-Qayyim’s texts to 
argue that Ibn Taymiyya actually believed that the punishment in Hell comes 
to an end, a topic that came to be known as the vanishing of the Hellfire ( fana’ 
al-nar). bn Taymiyya’s main work on this topic is al-Radd ‘ala man qala bi-fan@’ 
al-janna wa-t-nar. This text, which was edited and published in 1995, is proba- 
bly the last treatise that Ibn Taymiyya wrote before his death in 728/1328,3” and 
it seems to be the source of Ibn al-Qayyim’s arguments in the two aforemen- 
tioned books.38 Hoover discusses the topic in several studies and argues that 
“the evidence might be thought sufficient to report that Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn 
al-Qayyim believe that the Fire will pass away.’39 

Ibn Taymiyya’s position is relevant to our discussion because al-Kurani’s stu- 
dent, al-Barzanji, used both of Ibn al-Qayyim’s texts to argue that Ibn Taymiyya 
also believed that the punishment of Hellfire will come to an end.*° Al-Barzanji 
explains that Hell is the place of the fire and not the fire itself, and that Ibn 
‘Arabi’s opinion is that the people who will remain eternally in Hell will not 
be punished eternally but will stay there, since it is their home, and eventually 
their punishment will turn sweet. Meanwhile, Ibn Taymiyya’s idea is that Hell 
will be empty after the period of punishment.*! Al-Barzanji wanted to empha- 
size that Ibn Taymiyya’s position that Hell will become empty is further than his 
own from the verses specifying the eternity of unbelievers’ sojourn in Hell. Ibn 
‘Arabi says that they will remain forever in Hell, but not in torment, while Ibn 

Law: Debating Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, ed. Krawietz, B. and Tamer, G., 
(Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 377-399; Binyamin Abrahamoy, “The Creation and Duration 
of Paradise and Hell in Islamic Theology,” Der Islam, 79 (2002): 87-102; and Muhammad 
Hassan Khalil, Muslim Scholarly Discussions on Salvation and the Fate of Others, (PhD. diss., 
University of Michigan, 2007). This last was later published under the title Islam and the 
Fate of Others: The Salvation Question (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); chapter two 
of this book discusses Ibn ‘Arabi’s opinions and chapter three discusses Ibn Taymiyya’s 
and Ibn al-Qayyim’s opinions. 

37. Hoover, “Islamic Universalism: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Salafi Deliberations on the Dura- 
tion of Hell-Fire,” p. 184. 

38 Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Radd ‘ala man gala bi-fan@ al-janna wa-l-nar, ed. Muhammad b. 
‘Abd Allah al-Simhani (KSA, al-Riyad: Dar Balansiyya, 1415/1995). 

39 Hoover “Against Islamic Universalism,” p. 378. 

40 Al-Barzanjji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi, p. 327 and after. Al-Barzanji cites many pages from Ibn 
al-Qayyim’s Hadi al-arwah, all of which correspond to pages 309-327 in Ibn al-Qayyim’s 
edited copy. Ibn al-Qayyim, Hadi al-arwah ila bildd al-afrah, ed. ‘Abd al-Latif Al Muham- 
mad al-Fa‘ur (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1987). 

41 = Al-Barzanjji, al-Jadhib al-ghaybi, p. 356. 

282 CHAPTER 6 

Taymiyya says that no one will remain in Hell, yet criticism is mainly directed at 
Ibn ‘Arabi not at Ibn Taymiyya. Al-Barzanji suggests that this situation indicates 
that the criticism is not fair and does not seek to achieve the truth. 

After al-Kurani and Barzanji, ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi also wrote on this 
topic. He wrote a treatise entitled al-Qawl al-sadid fi jawaz khulf al-watd wa- 
Lradd ‘ala al-Rumi al-zindiq.** Al-Nabulusi repeats that God’s refraining from 
His threat is generosity on His part and is one of the qualities of perfection. 
Al-Nabulusi adds that God’s refraining from His threat was the opinion of the 
Sunni ulama.*3 

3 Satanic Verses 

The satanic verses, known in the Islamic tradition as qissat al-gharaniq, “the 
story of the cranes,” refers to an incident in which Muhammad was reciting 
some verses of the Quran, Stra 53:19—20, and recited mistaken words suggested 
by Satan. These verses that were inspired by Satan praise the pagans’ idols and 
acknowledge their power to intercede with the supreme God. Al-Kurani’s trea- 
tise on this topic, entitled al-Lum‘ al-saniyya ft tahqig al-ilq@ fi al-umniyya, is 
one of the earliest of his texts to be published, with a summary of the argu- 
ments by Alfred Guillaume.*4 Guillaume gives a brief introduction to the inci- 
dent of the satanic verses, and then summarizes al-Kurani's arguments and 
provides an Arabic edition of the treatise based on only one manuscript. 

It may seem strange that the first text by al-Kurani to be edited and published 
is a short treatise that does not relate to his main interests in Sufism, theology, 
or hadith. In my opinion, Guillaume’s interest in the topic is related to the fact 
that he translated Ibn Ishaq’s lost biography of the Prophet (sira). Guillaume 
extracted Ibn Ishaq’s sira, which mentions this incident, from the sira of Ibn 
Hisham, in which the story is omitted.*° Al-Tabari in his history mentions it and 

42 About this treatise see Michael Winter, “A Polemical Treatise by ‘Abd al-Gani al-Nabulusi 
Against a Turkish Scholar on the Religious Status of the Dimmis,’ Brill, Arabica, T. 35, Fasc. 
1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 92-103. 

43 Winter, ‘A Polemical Treatise by ‘Abd al-Gani al-Nabulusi,’ p. 100. 

44 Alfred Guillaume and Ibrahim Al-Kurani, “Al-Lum‘at al-saniya fi tahqiq al-ilga’ fi-l-um- 
niya,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 20, 
No. 1/3, Studies in Honour of Sir Ralph Turner, Director of the School of Oriental and 
African Studies, 1937-1957 (1957), pp. 291-303. 

45 ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn Hisham, Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, and Alfred Guillaume, The Life of 
Muhammad: A Translation [from Ibn Hisham’s Adaptation] of Ishaq’s Strat Rasul Allah 
(Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1967). 


attributes it to the authority of Ibn Ishaq.*° It seems that Guillaume searched in 
other historical documents to restore the sira of Ibn Ishaq. The omission of the 
incident of the satanic verses from Ibn Hisham’s sira can be considered repre- 
sentative of later attitudes toward the authenticity of the incident, a topic that 
has been studied by Shahab Ahmad.*” 

The attitude of Muslims toward the historicity of this incident has changed 
completely between the early generations and contemporary Muslims. Shahab 
Ahmad planned to follow the incident of the satanic verses and its reception 
within Muslim sects and groups. Ahmad studied fifty historical reports from 
the first two hundred years of Islam to reach what he called the fundamental 
finding of his research: that the Muslim attitude toward the satanic verses inci- 
dent, which is collectively rejected by contemporary Muslims, was to accept it 
as a true historical event.4* In Ahmad’s opinion, objections to the historicity of 
the satanic verses incident were raised as early as the fourth/tenth century and 
continued to be raised in subsequent centuries. Several historians, theologians, 
and Quran commentators from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries argued 
against the historicity of the incident, an attitude that eventually became the 
only acceptable orthodox position.79 

In another study, Shahab Ahmad confirms that Ibn Taymiyya accepted the 
historicity of the satanic verses incident; the latter’s argument is that the inci- 
dent cannot be rejected on the basis of weak isnads because the transmission of 
the reports is sound. According to Ibn Taymiyya, the incident does not under- 
mine the concept of infallibility (“sma), because Prophets are not infallible 
in the transmission of divine revelation but rather are protected only from 
any error coming to be permanently established in divine revelation.5° Ibn 
Taymiyya’s attitude toward the incident is misunderstood by some of the mod- 
ern Salafi scholars who understood that Ibn Taymiyya’s stand on the incident 
was that Satan uttered the verses and not the Prophet.*! This idea is mentioned 

46 Guillaume, “al-Lum‘at al-saniya fi tahqiq al-ilqa’ fi-l-umniya,” p. 291. 

47 Shahab Ahmed, Before Orthodoxy: The Satanic Verses in Early Islam (Cambridge, Mas- 
sachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2017). 

48 Ahmed, Before Orthodoxy: The Satanic Verses in Early Islam, pp. 2-3. Ahmad uses the recep- 
tion of the satanic verses incident among Muslims as a case study constituting an instance 
of contemporary Islamic orthodoxy. However, he does not mention al-Kuran’'s treatise in 
his publications on this topic. 

49  Shahab Ahmed, “Satanic Verses,” in J.D. McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Quran (Lei- 
den, the Netherlands: Brill, 2001-2006), v, pp. 531-536. 

50  Shahab Ahmad, “Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses,” Studia Islamica 87 (1998), pp. 67— 

51 Ahmad, “Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses,’ p. 119. 

284 CHAPTER 6 

by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, who said that Satan imitated the voice of the Prophet 
in reciting the words of the gharaniq,°? a position that al-Kurani rejected, as we 
will see shortly. 

Al-Kurani confirms the authenticity of the story of the satanic verses in 
divine revelation.®? He rejects Ibn Hajar’s interpretation that Satan imitated 
the voice of the Prophet in reciting the words of the gharaniq.** Al-Kurani also 
rejects al-Baydawi’s idea that the story is not true. However, al-Baydawi also 
suggests that if the story were true then it was a test by which those of firm 
faith could be distinguished from the waverers.®> Al-Kurani agrees with this 
idea and believes that the true tradition supports it.5° He cites al-Kashshaf by 
al-Zamakhshari to support the idea that it was a test that increases the doubts 
and obscurity of the half-hearted and the light and certainty of believers.5” 

Al-Kurani argues that Muhammad uttering these words does not contradict 
the fact that the Prophet does not speak from his own inclination or out of vain 
desire, nor does he utter lies against God, and that whatever Muhammad says 
‘js not but a revelation revealed” (Q 53:3-4). God says in the Quran that “We 
did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he spoke 
[or recited], Satan threw into it [some misunderstanding]. But Allah abolishes 
that which Satan throws in; then Allah makes precise His verses. And Allah is 
knowing and wise.” (Q 22:52) The uttering of the words that Satan suggested 
by the Prophet’s tongue does not contradict the Prophet's infallibility, in al- 
Kuran’s view, nor can it be inferred that revelation is mingled with satanic 
whispering. God tells us that He cancelled what Satan had suggested and then 
He established His own verses. This confirmation by God removes the feeling 
of uncertainty. 

52 Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, al-Minah al-makkiyya ft sharh al-Hamziyya al-musammat Afdal al- 
qira li-qurr@ Umm al-Qura, ed. Ahmad Jasim al-Muhammad and Bu-Jum‘a Makni (Beirut: 
Dar al-Minhdaj, 2005), p. 258. Umm al-Qura is a poem by al-Busiri (d. 696/1294). Ibn Hajar 
repeats the same idea in Fath al-Bari, ed. ‘Abd al-Qadir Shaybah al-Hamad, (al-Riyad: 
2001), vol. 8, p. 303. 

53 For early records of the incident see Shahab Ahmad, Before Orthodoxy; Shahab Ahmad, 
“Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses;” Guillaume, “Al-Lum‘at al-saniya.” 

54  Al-Haytami, al-Minah al-Makkiyya p. 258. Ibn Hajar repeated the same idea in Fath al-Bari, 
ed. ‘Abd al-Qadir Shayba al-Hamad (xsA, al-Riyad: 2001), vol. 8, p. 303. 

55 Nasir al-Din ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar al-Baydawi, Anwar al-tanzil wa-asrar al-ta’wil al- 
musamma Tafsir al-Baydawi, ed. Muhammad Subhi Hallaq and Muhammad al-Atrash 
(Beirut: Dar al-Rashid/Dar al-Iman, 2000), sitrat al-hajj, vol. 2, p. 454. 

56 = Al-Kurani, “Al-Lum/at al-saniya,” p. 299. 

57 Abi al-Qasim Jarullah Mahmid b. ‘Umar al-Zamakhshani, Tafsir al-Kashshaf ‘an haqa’iq 
al-tanzil wa-‘uyun al-aqawil fi wujith al-ta’wil (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 2009), p. 699. 


The Moroccan historians al-Ifrani, in Safwat man intashar,5® and Ibn al- 
Tayyib, in Nashr al-mathani,** mention theological disputes that arose con- 
cerning several of al-Kurani’s positions, including that regarding the satanic 
verses. Most of the Moroccan refutations of al-Kurani’s thought were against 
his theory of kasb, however, and only briefly mentioned other topics, such as 
the satanic verses and the faith of Pharaoh, as examples of topics that al-Kurani 
supported in order to discredit his reputation.©° 

In Nibras al-inas bi-ajwibat swalat ahl Fas,®' al-Kurani tries to clarify his 
position concerning the satanic verses after receiving some questions from 
the Moroccan scholar Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi.®? In his reply, al- 
Kurani confirms that the incident of the satanic verses is historically correct. 
He mentions several historical sources to support his idea, mainly the works of 
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, al-Suyuti, and al-Sakhawi. Al-Fasi’s question had men- 
tioned that al-Qadi ‘Iyad (d. 544/149) claimed that this story was fabricated. 
But, according to al-Kurani, there are numerous isndds for this story in works 
of history and of hadiths, and the numerous accounts indicate some shared ori- 
gin.®3 Al-Fasi had claimed that this story contradicts the Quranic verses about 
protecting the Prophet, so we cannot accept the story at face value (imtina‘ 
hamlat-qissa ‘ala zahiriha). Al-Kurani replies that there is no contradiction, and 
that accepting the incident does not undermine the theory of prophethood or 
the concept of infallibility. Al-Kurani says that this deception by God of His 
Prophet is a kind of education, because Muhammad was very eager to see all 
the people accept his call to Islam, whereas in God’s foreordained plan there 
were different receptions by different people. It is a kind of purification and 
elevating of his Prophet's position by educating him to be in accord with God’s 
decree; accepting God’s will is a higher degree of perfection. It is proven in the 
same verse that God abrogated the false and that He established the true.®° 

In general, most of the discussions relate to evidence mentioned in histor- 
ical records and whether accepting this incident affects the authenticity of 
prophetic revelation. Later, Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi wrote a refu- 

58  Al-Ifrani, Safwat man intashar, p. 350. 

59  Ibnal-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1789. 

60 See, Ibn al-Tayyib, Nashr al-mathani, p. 1792. 

61 = Ibrahim al-Kurani, Nibras al-inds bi-ajwibat swalat ahl Fas (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 3744), 
fols. 72-25". 

62 Acopy of al-Fasi’s treatise can be found in Cairo, Ma‘had Makhtatat al-Alam al-‘Arabi, ms. 
majami‘ 11/5 (fols. 374-386). 

63 ~~ Al-Karani, Nibras al-inds, fol. 12°. 

64 = Al-Karani, Nibras al-inds, fol. 13°. 

65 Al-Kurani, Nibrdas al-inds, fol. 14>. 

286 CHAPTER 6 

tation of al-Kurani, but only concerning the idea of kasb.®§ Al-Fasi’s objections 
to al-Kurani on this topic and others took the form of polite scholarly discus- 
sions with mutual respect. But another North-African scholar, Yahya al-Shawi 
(d. 1096/1685), accused al-Kurani of kur, mainly due to his ideas on the satanic 
verses. Al-Shawi was a prominent scholar who studied with scholars of Alge- 
ria and Morocco. He went on pilgrimage in 1663 and then settled in Egypt 
where he taught Maliki law, grammar, rational theology, and logic at al-Azhar.6” 
He traveled to Istanbul twice and had good relations with the scholars there. 
He returned several times to teach in the great schools of Cairo. But in the 
final years of his life, he was excluded from all his positions. Al-Shawi seems 
to have written more than one treatise against al-Kurani. Al-Nabl al-raqiq ft 
hulqum al-sab al-zindiq®® is the one that al-Barzanji refuted. There is at least 
one other work, entitled Tawkid al-‘aqd ft-ma akhadha Allah ‘alayna min al- 
‘ahd, in which he defends the traditional Ash‘arite position concerning God’s 

In the same anthology that contains al-Kurani'’s al-Lum‘a al-saniyya” and 
Nibras al-inas, Laleli 3744, there are two more treatises related to the same 
topic. The fourth is by Yahya al-Shawi, and the third is a reply to this work by al- 
Barzanji. Al-Barzanji’s refutation, written in 1093/1682,” is entitled al-‘Uqab al- 
hawi ‘ala al-tha ‘lab al-‘awiwa-l-nashshab al-kawi li-l-a‘sha al-ghawiwa-l-shahab 
al-shawt li-l-ahwal al-Shawi. The title and the content of this work confirm 

66 See Radd Muhammad b. Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi ‘ala al-Maslak [Maslak al-sadad by al- 
Kurani] in Said al-Sarraj, Maslak al-sadad li-l-Kurantwa-rudid ‘ulam@ al-Maghrib ‘alayhi: 
dirasa wa-tahqiq, PhD dissertation, Kulliyyat al-Adab wa-l-Ulam al-Insaniyya, Jami‘at 
‘Abd al-Malik al-Sa‘di, Tatwan, 2010-201, pp. 418-429. 

67 El-Rouayheb, Intellectual Islamic History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 157 and after. Also 
see Amahamad Qrid, “al-Dawr al-thaqAafi li-l-shaykh Abu Zakariyya Yahya al-Shawi fi al- 
Jazair wa-l-Mashriq al-‘Arabi,” in Majallat Ansana li-l-Buhith wa-l-Dirasat, Algeria, No. 15, 
December, vol. 2, 2016, (87-118). 

68 Yahya al-Shawi, Al-Nabl al-raqiq fi hulqum al-sab al-zindiq (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 3744), 
fols. 55>-724. 

69 Amahamad Qriid, “al-Dawr al-thaqafi li-l-shaykh Abu Zakariyya’ Yahya al-Shawi,’ p. 97. 
Qrad thinks the work is addressed against anthropomorphists (mujassima) and Mu‘ta- 
zilites because it considers the topic of God’s attributes and the creation of man’s acts. 
Al-Shawi's positions on these two topics were refuted by several Maghribi scholars. 

70 Inthe margin ofal-Kirani’s al-Lum‘ al-saniyya (fol. 2»), the scribe says that al-Kiran’’s rat- 
ification of this story was a trial (ibtila’) from God for al-Kurani in spite of the abundance 
of his knowledge. 

71 Muhammad b. Rasil al-Barzanji, al-Uqab al-hawi ‘ala al-tha‘lab al-‘awi wa-l-nashshab al- 
kawit li-l-a'sha al-ghawiwa-l-shahab al-shawi li-l-ahwal al-Shawi (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 3744), 
fol. 53°. 


al-Barzanji’s reputation as a person of quick temper; al-‘Ujaymi describes him 
as adopting the caliph ‘Umar’s position (‘Umari al-maqam),” that his insis- 
tence on the truth did not leave him any friends.”3 Al-Barzanji accuses al-Shawi 
of being jealous of al-Kurani and says that it is due to his envy that he wrote 
a treatise accusing al-Kurani of Aufr. Al-Barzanji says that al-Shawi visited al- 
Kurani and kissed his hands several times, and that at one point he praised his 
works, including the one he later criticized. But when al-Shawi went to Istanbul 
and saw how al-Kurani was respected there, envy burned in his heart.” 

Al-Shawi accuses al-Kurani of disparaging the prophets through the story 
of the satanic verses. He says that Moroccan scholars had refuted the story 
and insulted (shatama) al-Kurani. Al-Barzanji in turn says that Muhammad 
b. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi wrote a very respectful letter to al-Kurani to ask him 
about some points, mentioning the beginning of this letter and recalling that al- 
Kurani replied to these points in a work entitled Nibras al-inds bi-ajwibat swalat 
AAl Fas, which the other scholars received and accepted. Al-Barzanji mentions 
that al-Kurani also sent them his work Maslak al-sadad ila mas‘alat khalq af‘al 
al-‘ibad, on which Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir also had some questions. In 
order to clarify his theory of the creation of human acts, al-Kurani responded 
with Imdad dhawit al-isti‘dad li-suluk maslak al-sadad and sent it to Morocco.”5 
Al-Shawi lists several sources in order to refute the story of the satanic verses, 
and he ends his work by saying that al-Kurani should be executed and that even 
if he repented, his repentance would not be accepted. In his reply, al-Barzanji 
mentions several prophetic hadiths indicating that the Prophet can forget some 
Quranic verses, and he confirms the historicity of the satanic verses with sev- 
eral citations from prominent scholars.”6 

It is important to place al-Kurant’s position on this topic, both as he articu- 
lated it and as clarified by al-Barzanji, in the context of his general approach 
to the figurative interpretation of Quranic verses. In Nibras al-inas, al-Kurani 
mentions several times that the Moroccan scholar Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Qadir 
al-Fasi suggested that even if we accept the historicity of the incident, we need 
to interpret it figuratively (ta’wil) and we do not have to accept it at face value.”” 
Al-Kurani’s position on ta’wil was explained in Chapter Five and there is no 

72 This refers to a statement attributed to ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, the second Caliph in Islam, 
who said: ma tarak lial-haqq sahiban, “announcing the truth did not leave me any friends.” 

73 ~=Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 287. 

74 ~~ Al-Barzanji, al-Uqab al-hawi, fol. 36°. 

75 ~~ Al-Barzanji, al-Uqab al-hawi, fol. 41°. 

76 ~— Al-Barzanji, al- Uqab al-hawi, fol. 32”. 

77 ~~ Al-Kurani, Nibras al-inds, fol. 11, 14>. 

288 CHAPTER 6 

need to repeat it here. His position is simply that accepting the historicity of 
this incident will not undermine the concept of infallibility. 

4 Preference for the Reality of the Ka‘ba or for the Muhammadan 

In Taj al-rasa’il wa-minhaj al-wasa’il, Ibn ‘Arabi addresses eight love letters to 
the Ka‘ba. The circumstances in which he composed this work are explained in 
chapter 72 of al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, which deals with the pilgrimage and its 
secrets. He says that he used to consider his own origin (nash‘a) and rank to be 
more excellent than those of the Ka‘ba, given that as a locus for the theophany 
of divine realities it was inferior to him. Once when he was circumambulating 
around the Ka‘ba, however, he had a mystical vision and heard the Ka‘ba saying 
to him: “How you underestimate my value and overestimate that of the Sons of 
Adam, when you consider that those who have knowledge are superior to me!” 
Ibn ‘Arabt says that he realised that God wished to correct him. After this vision, 
he then composed eight love-letters explaining the Ka‘ba’s high rank.’8 In these 
letters, as Denis Gril explains: 

The Ka‘ba appears there above all as a majla: a place where theopha- 
nies (tajalliyat) occur. Ibn ‘Arabi recognises the high rank occupied by 
the Ka‘ba in the hierarchy of levels of Being, since he considers it to be 
the heart of existence (galb al-wujud; cf. Futuhdat, 1, 50). Ona higher plane 
he even converts it into a symbol of the Essence, where the seven ritual 
circumambulations correspond to the seven major divine attributes.” 

The Ka‘ba thus has a mystical dimension beyond its physical, surface appear- 
ance.8° The status of the Ka‘ba compared to the status of human beings, 

78 Denis Gril presented and analyzed Ibn ‘Arabi's Taj al-rasa’il, which contains these eight let- 
ters. See Denis Gril, “Love Letters to the Ka‘ba: A Presentation of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Taj al-rasa’il,” 
Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, vol. 17 (1995), pp. 40-54. 

79 Gril, “Love Letters to the Ka‘ba,’ p. 45. 

80 _ For this mystical aspect of the Ka‘ba see Stephen Hirtenstein, “The Mystic’s Ka‘ba: The 
Cubic Wisdom of the Heart According to Ibn ‘Arabi,’ Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi 
Society, vol. 48 (2010), pp. 19-43; and for other aspects of the relations between al-Futuhat 
al-makkiyya and the Ka‘ba see Michel Chodkiewicz, “The Paradox of the Ka‘ba,” Journal 
of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, vol. 57 (2015), pp. 67-83; and Claude Addas, Quest for 
the Red Sulphur: The Life of Ibn ‘Arabi, Tr. Peter Kingsley (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 
1993), chapter eight. 


including all the prophets and Muhammad, was also discussed by Ahmad al- 
Sirhindi and engendered intense debate in the Indian Subcontinent.®! When 
al-Sirhindi’s thought reached the Hijaz in the seventeenth century, it created 
considerable controversy there as well. One of the most controversial ideas, 
which directly relates to al-Kurani’s position, was the superiority (afdaliyya) of 
the Ka‘ba, or the superiority of the reality of the Ka‘ba (haqigat al-Ka‘ba) over 
the Muhammadan Reality (haqiqa Muhammadiyya) and the reality of the other 

One of al-Sirhindi’s leading students, Adam al-Banniri (d. in Medina in 
1054/1644) arrived in the Hijaz and started spreading Sirhindi’s views to the 
‘ulama@’ of Mecca and Medina; among these views was his theory of the supe- 
riority of the reality of the Ka‘ba. Al-Qushashi was in the audience on one 
occasion and publicly challenged al-Bannuri on his theory. He partially con- 
vinced shaykh Adam of the superiority of the Prophet Muhammad over the 
Ka‘ba, but not of the superiority of other prophets or awliya’.® 

Al-Ujaymi mentions in Khabaya al-zawaya that once al-Qushashi met with 
Adam al-Banniii in the presence of an African man and he said to al-Banniri 
that this black man is better than the Ka‘ba and that even his dress is better 
than the cover of the Ka‘ba. When al-Bannuari wondered about his dress being 
better than the cover of the Ka‘ba, al-Qushashi replied that this superiority 
was because his dress covered him so that he could perform his obligations to 
God.®* Al-‘Ujaymi is not an unbiased narrator; he participated in the debates 
occurring in the Hijaz over al-Sirhind}’s ideas, and he was the author of one trea- 
tise that describes al-Sirhindi’s ideas as contradicting Islamic law (kufriyyat), 
as we will mention shortly. Concerning the topic of the Ka‘ba, in Khabaya al- 
zawaya, al-“Ujaymi wonders what al-Sirhindi means by the Ka‘ba, whether its 
appearance, which consists of stones and clay and the roof, or its reality, which 

81 Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of his Thought and a Study of his 
Image in the Eyes of Posterity, Doctoral Thesis, McGill University, 1966, p. 130 and after; 
Sayyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 
1978), vol. 2, p. 218 and after provides a clear idea about the controversy over al-Sirhindi’s 
thought in the Indian Subcontinent. 

82 The controversy over al-Sirhindi’s thought in the Hijaz is discussed in several studies, 
mainly, Friedmann’s Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi; Sayyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, A History of Sufism 
in India; and Atallah S. Copty’s “The Naqshbandiyya and its Offshoot, the Naqshbandiyya- 
Mujaddidiyya in the Haramayn in the uth/17th Century,” Die Welt des Islams, New Series, 
Vol. 43, Issue 3, Transformations of the Naqshbandiyya, 17th—20th Century (2003), pp. 321— 

83. Abbas Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, vol. 2, p. 339. More detail can be found in al- 
Ujaymi, Khabaya al-Zawaya, p. 151. 

84  Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 153. 

290 CHAPTER 6 

is mentioned by some Sufis such as Ibn ‘Arabi. Al-‘Ujaymi says that in both 
cases, the Prophet Muhammad is better than the Ka‘ba because there is a con- 
sensus that he is the best creature in the universe.®> Al-‘Ujaymi goes on to say 
that if al-Sirhindi meant the first meaning, ie. the appearance of the Ka‘ba, 
then any living creature is better than it, even a dog, since a living creature is 
better than a non-living one. He says that ensouled (i-e., animals) creatures are 
always better than inanimate ( jamad) creatures.®® 

Atallah S. Copty in his article “The Naqshbandiyya and its Offshoot” divides 
the debates over al-Sirhindi’s thought in the Hijaz into two phases. The debates 
over the status of the Ka‘ba were essential in both phases. The first phase is 
associated with the arrival of shaykh Adam Banniuri and the debates with al- 
Qushashi that ended with the latter convincing al-Bannuri of the superiority of 
the Prophet Muhammad over the Ka‘ba.8” Copty mentions that the debates in 
this phase did not reach the degree of declaring al-Sirhindi an unbeliever (tak- 
Jfir).88 In the year 1067/1656-1657, during the time of shaykh Adam, al-Sirhindi’s 
son and khalifa Muhammad Ma‘sum arrived in the Hijaz and calmed the situ- 
ation by avoiding the most controversial topics, mainly the criticism of wahdat 
al-wujud in favor of al-Sirhindi’s idea of wahdat al-shuhid, and the issue of 
hagqiqat al-Ka‘ba.®° Muhammad Ma‘sum also sent his son to visit al-Qushashi, 
who received him with great honour. Later, al-Qushashi sent Ibrahim al-Kurani 
and Muhanna ‘Awad Ba-Mazri‘ al-Hadrami to visit Muhammad Ma‘sium.2° 

The second phase is associated with the request that reached the Hijaz in 
Jumada 1093/June-July 1682, asking for the legal opinion (istifta’) of the Hijazi 
scholars on 32 points from al-Sirhindi’s Maktubat, including his idea about the 
status of the Ka‘ba.°! It seems that the dispute over al-Sirhant’s ideas did not 
end on the Indian Subcontinent; as we saw above, it also spanned about half 
a century in the Hijaz, but at this point the matter reached the point of takfir. 
Less than one month after the istifta’ reached the Hijaz in 1093/1682, al-Kurani’s 
student Muhammad b. Rasul al Barzanji was one of the most energetic schol- 
ars opposing al-Sirhindi; he wrote ten treatises in response to al-Sirhindi, some 

85  Al-Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, pp. 151-152. 

86 = Al-‘Ujaymi, Khabaya al-zawaya, p. 152. 

87. Atallah S. Copty, “The Naqshbandiyya and its Offshoot, the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya 
in the Haramayn in the uth/17th Century,’ p. 332. 

88  Copty, “The Naqshbandiyya and its Offshoot,” p. 334. 

89  Copty, “The Naqshbandiyya and its Offshoot,” pp. 335-336, 338. 

go Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol. 1, pp. 405-406. 

91 For more detail on al-Barzanji’s treatise and al-Uzbaki’s reply see Copty, “The Naqsh- 
bandiyya and its Offshoot,’ p. 338 and after. For the controversies over al-Sirhindi’s thought 
in India see Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, p. 130 and after. 


in Arabic and some in Persian,®* the most famous one being Qadh al-zand 
wa-qadah al-rand fi radd jahalat ahl Sirhind. Al-“Ujaymi wrote al-‘Asab al-hindi 
li-isti’sal kufriyyat Ahmad al-Sirhindt around the same time. The two treatises 
were sent on behalf of the Sharif of Mecca, with a personal letter to the chief 
qadi of India; al-Barzanji was among the delegation that traveled to meet the 
Mughal Sultan, but he was not able to see him. 

Al-Kirani’s contribution to this debate is a treatise entitled Risdlat ibtal ma 
gahar min al-maqala al-fadiha fi-ma yata‘allaq bi-l-kaba al-mu‘azzama, writ- 
ten on Wednesday, 4 Rabi‘ 11078/ 24 August 1667.93 It seems that al-Kurani also 
wrote another work entitled Taysir al-Haqq al-mubdt li-naqd ba‘d kalimat al- 
Sirhindt, which may contain a discussion of the Ka‘ba’s status, but I was not 
able to find it in any library catalogue.%*4 The former work was written after the 
death of al-Qushashi and before the debate ignited by the istift@’ from Indian 
scholars, which indicates that the debate over the status of the Ka‘ba went on 
for almost half a century. 

Al-Kurani starts his text by indicating that when a certain scholar from India 
announced his scandalous opinion (maqala fadiha) about preferring the Ka‘ba 
over human beings, even prophets and the Prophet Muhammad, al-Qushashi 
responded in a treatise entitled al-Maqala al-fadiha. In this treatise, al-Kurani 
recounts, al-Qushashi stated that in 1053/1643-1644, a person came from India 
who held the opinion of his teacher [al-Sirhindi] that the Ka‘ba is preferable to 
human beings. Al-Qushashi mentioned that this Indian scholar turned from his 
preference for the Ka‘ba over the Prophet Muhammad, but continued to hold 
a preference for the Ka‘ba over the rest of the prophets and all other human 
beings.°> This person, ie. al-Bannini, had been following the opinion of his 
teacher for years, based on the idea that all humans prostrate themselves to the 
Kaba, and he agreed to exclude the Prophet Muhammad because the latter is 
the origin of all creatures. 

Al-Kurani then says that after a few years he found two pages in which al- 
Bannuri tried to interpret al-Sirhind?’s opinion as referring only the preference 
for the reality (haqiqa) of the Ka‘ba over the reality of the Prophet Muhammad, 

g2  Al-Hamawi, Fawa’id al-irtihdl, vol. 1, p. 479. 

93 ‘Ibrahim al-Kurani, Risalat ibtal ma gahar min al-maqala al-fadiha fi-ma yata‘allaq bi-l- 
kaba al-mu‘agzama (Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722), fols. 3477-3562. 

94 It is mentioned in a list of al-Kurani’s works by his student ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Abi Bakr, ms. 
Al-Riyad University Library, 3881. 

95 ~~ Al-Kurani, Risalat ibtal ma zahar min al-magala al-fadiha, fol. 347°. Al-Kirani in folio. 350° 
mentions that al-Qushashi sent his reply to the author, supposed to be Adam al-Bannirri 
since al-Sirhindi died in 1034/1624, and that al-Bannuri responded to his letter. 

292 CHAPTER 6 

not for the form (sura) of the Ka‘ba over the form of the Prophet Muhammad.°6 
Al-Kurani thinks that this text aimed to rectify the mistake that had occurred 
earlier, so he decides to mention these ideas to clarify their confusions and 
contradictions.9” But two years later, al-Kurani obtained the original texts of 
al-Sirhindi, in which al-Sirhindi states his opinion that the form of the Ka‘ba is 
preferable over human forms because man prostrates himself (yasjud) to the 
Ka‘ba; this text is al-Sirhind?’s Risdlat al-mabda@ wa-l-mad.°8 In this treatise, 
al-Sirhindi says that the reality of the Quran and the reality of the Ka‘ba are 
above ( fawq) the Muhammadan Reality. Al-Sirhindi’s argument for preferring 
the reality of the Ka‘ba over the Muhammadan Reality is that because every- 
thing prostrates itself to the Ka‘ba, every reality therefore prostrates itself to the 
reality of the Ka‘ba, including the Reality of Muhammad.°9 

Another point that al-Sirhindi raises in this work and that al-Kuarani refutes 
is his idea that one thousand and some years after Muhammad, the Muham- 
madan Reality will ascend (taTu/) from its status (maqam) and unite with the 
reality of the Ka‘ba and will became known as the Ahmadan Reality (al-haqiqa 
al-Ahmadiyya).!°° This text clearly says that the status of the reality of the Ka‘ba 
is higher than that of the Muhammadan Reality. Al-Sirhindi then says that the 
maqam of the Muhammadan Reality will be empty until the return of ‘Isa, who 
will apply the sharia of Muhammad and his Reality will ascend to occupy the 
place of the Muhammadan Reality.!©! These are the points that al-Kurani dis- 
cusses and refutes in his treatise al-Maqala al-fadiha. 

Al-Kurani replies to the first claim—that the form of the Ka‘ba is prefer- 
able over all other forms because all prostrate themselves to it—by saying that 
Muslims used to prostrate themselves to bayt al-maqdis in Jerusalem before 
they changed the direction of the prayer to Mecca. Also, he points out that 
the angels were ordered to prostrate themselves to Adam. Al-Kurani says 
that al-Sirhindi admits that the Muhammadan Reality is the origin of all real- 
ities, so the reality of the Ka‘ba must therefore be included among the things 
that are inferior to the Reality of Muhammad; thus, there is nothing superior 

96 ~—Al-Kurani, Risdalat ibtal ma zahar min al-magala al-fadiha, fol. 348. 

97 ~~ Al-Kurani, Risdlat ibtal ma zahar min al-magqala al-fadiha, fol. 347°. 

98  Al-Kurani, Risalat ibtal ma zahar min al-maqala al-fadiha, fol. 348». Al-Sirhindi’s Risdlat al- 
mabd@ wa-l-ma4d is published in Kitab al-rahma al-habita ft ahwal al-Imam al-rabbani 
qaddas Allah sirrah (Turkey, Istanbul: Waqf al-Ikhlas, 2002), p. 167. 

99 __ Al-Sirhindi, Risdlat al-mabda’ wa-l-ma‘ad, pp. 167-168. 

100 = Al-Sirhindi, Risalat al-mabda@ wa-l-ma 4d, p. 168. 

101 Al-Sirhindi, Risalat al-mabda@ wa-l-ma 4d, p. 168. 

102 Al-Kirani, Risalat ibtal ma zahar min al-magqala al-fadiha, fol. 349°. 


to the latter.1°% Concerning the idea about the future ascent of the Muham- 
madan Reality and its unification with the reality of the Ka‘ba, al-Kurani says 
that the realities (al-haqa’iq) are fixed (thabita) in God’s knowledge and there 
are no transformations or ascents with regard to realities.!04 Al-Kurani also crit- 
icises the idea that the status of the Muhammadan Reality will be void from the 
millennium until the descent of ‘Isa. The void status of the Muhammadan Real- 
ity means that the law of Muhammad will be interrupted, which contradicts 
Prophetic hadiths that the religion will continue until the Day of Judgement.!©5 
Al-Sirhind?’s theory of hagiga Muhammadiyya changing to haqiqa Ahmadiyya 
was interpreted by al-Barzanji in Qadh al-zand as a nod to himself, and al- 
Barzanji suggested that al-Sirhindi claimed to be a prophet.!°° 

From al-Kurani’s text, it seems that he had several conversations with shaykh 
Muhammad Ma‘sum, al-Sirhindi’s son, who tried to interpret several of his 
father’s controversial ideas; al-Kurani clearly thinks that they are mere contra- 

As mentioned above, the controversy over al-Sirhindi’s idea of haqigqat al- 
Ka‘ba did not come to an end with al-Kurani’s work. It became more inflamed 
in 1093-1094/1682-3 with the arrival of the istifta’ from India and al-Barzanji’s 
severe reaction that culminated with proclaiming al-Sirhindi a kafir, although 
that proclamation was made primarily because of other Sirhindian ideas.!0° 
Shortly after the appearance of al-Barzanji’s work Qadh al-zand, Muhammad 
Bég al-Uzbaki came from India to the Hijaz and wrote a book entitled Atiyyat 
al-Wahhab al-fasila bayn al-khata’ wa-l-sawab to show that the fatwds issued 
against al-Sirhindi were based on a faulty translation of his Maktubat into 
Arabic and on the willful misrepresentation of his views. This controversy 
over al-Sirhindi’s Maktubat made the celebrated Sufi ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi 
request a new translation of all the Maktubat of Sirhindi, and he commented 
on some parts of al-Maktubat in his work Natijat al-‘ulum wa-nasthat ‘ulama@ 
al-rusim.!© After al-Uzbaki’s campaign to correct al-Sirhindi’s image in the 
Hijaz, al-Barzanji wrote al-Nashira al-ndjira li-l-firqa al-fajira, completed in 
Muharram 1095/December 1683, with the intention of countering al-Uzbaki’s 

103 Al-Kurani, Risalat ibtal ma zahar min al-magqala al-fadiha, fol. 350°. 

104 Hagqiqa may also mean reality, essences, or quiddity. 

105 Al-Kurani, Risalat ibtal ma zahar min al-magala al-fadiha, fol. 351°. 

106 Al-Barzanji, Qadh al-zand (Ms: Istanbul: Laleli 3744), fol. 87». 

107 Al-Kurani, Risalat ibtal ma zahar min al-magala al-fadiha, fol. 354?. 

108 See Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, p. 148 and after. 

1og_ ‘Abd al-Hayy b. Fakhr al-Din al-Husayni, al-I‘lam bi-man fi tarikh al-Hind min alam al- 
musamma bi-Nuzhat al-khawatir wa-bahjat al-masami‘ wa-l-managir (Beirut: Dar Ibn 
Hazm, 1999), vol. 5, pp. 481-482. 

294 CHAPTER 6 

efforts."° Al-Nashira lists sixteen scholars from the Hijaz who rejected and 
refuted al-Sirhindi’s thought, including Ibrahim al-Kurani.! However, as we 
found in al-Kurant’s treatise discussed above, it is highly unlikely that al-Kurani 
had reached the point of accusing al-Sirhindi of takfir. In fact, takfir was not 
part of al-Kurani's thinking at any stage of his life or in any of his works; rather, 
he always emphasized the idea of interpreting others’ opinions in a positive 
way, saying that we have to excuse them and seek to justify whatever of their 
opinions we think do not agree with shari@. In addition to this position, al- 
Kurani had a constant tendency toward the reconciliation of conflicting and 
even contradictory ideas by focusing on common factors and by finding excuses 
for different ideas. 

5 God's Speech (kalam Allah) 

The question of God’s speech is related to two main debates in Islamic theol- 
ogy, over God’s attributes and over the createdness (or un-createdness) of the 
Quran. Kalam Allah had been a central theological topic ever since the inqui- 
sition (mihna) instituted by the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’min in 833 CE. Later, 
discussions concerning God’s speech detached from both topics and became 
an independent subject of debate between the Hanbalites and the Ash‘arites. 
Discussions of God's speech found their way into works of usu al-figh as well. 
Usul al-figh scholars investigated the meaning of God’s speech in the context 
of their discussions about the Quran as the first source of Islamic law (masadir 
al-tashri‘) "2 

110 See Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, p. u1. 

111 Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, p. 12. Copty in his article “The Naqshbandiyya and 
its Offshoot” says, based on Friedmann’s work, that the 16 scholars accused al-Sirhindi of 
being a kafir. But Friedmann’s text does not mention the idea of takfir. After referring to 
al-Barzanji’s works against al-Sirhindi, Friedmann simply adds, “many more works of the 
same kind seem to have been written at that time. A list of authors containing 16 names 
is given in al-Nashira al-Najira. The most prominent among them seems to have been al- 
Barzanji’s teacher, Ibrahim al-Kurdi al-Kuarani,’ p. 12. 

112 Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Futuhi al-Hanbali, known as Ibn al-Najjar (d. 972/1564-1565) 
dedicated more than one hundred pages to the topic of kalam Allah in his book Sharh 
al-Kawkab al-munir al-musamma bi-Mukhtasar al-Tahrir aww al-Mukhtabar al-mubtakar 
Sharh al-Mukhtasar fi usul al-figh, ed. Muhammad al-Zuhayli and Nazih Hammad (xksa: 
Wazarat al-Shw’in al-Islamiyya wa-l-Awgaf wa-l-Da‘wa wa-l-Irshad, 1993), vol. 2, pp. 7-115. 
Ibn al-Najjar has another book entitled Muntaha al-iradat. A famous commentary on this 
book was written by Mansir al-Buhiti al-Hanbali (d. 1051/1641), the teacher of ‘Abd al-Baqi 


Al-Jurjani in Sharh al-Mawagif mentions four different positions on the 
issue of God’s speech, and classifies them according to those who promoted 

1. Hanbalites: His speech is eternal. Extreme Hanbalites: even the cover and 
the paper are eternal. 
2.  Karramiyya: His speech is created, but it subsists in God’s essence. 
3. Muttazilites: His speech is created. 
4.  Ash‘arites: kalam nafst is unuttered speech. 
Al-Jurjani found that each of these positions concerning Kalam Allah is re- 
ducible to one of two syllogisms: 
1- His speech is an attribute; all attributes are eternal; therefore, His speech 
is eternal. 
2- His speech is composed of ordered, sequential parts; whatever is com- 
posed is created; therefore, His speech is created." 
Each one of the four groups accepted some parts of the syllogism and rejected 
others. The two syllogisms used to explain the different positions concerning 
Kalam Allah became the norm when presenting this topic. Jami in al-Durra al- 
fakhira™* al-Qushji in al-Sharh al-jadid™ on al-Tusi’s Tajrid, and al-Dawani in 
Sharh al-Aq@id al-‘Adudiyya* repeat them verbatim. 

In the seventeenth century, al-Kurani, who we must recall studied with 
the Hanbali scholar ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Ba‘li, attempted to reconcile the Ash‘arite 
and Hanbalite positions on this controversial topic, as part of his overall view 
that tends to reconcile, and to understand and interpret contrary ideas with 
a positive approach that reduces the difference between different schools of 
thought. As explained earlier, al-Kurani’s position concerning the issue of God’s 
attributes is closer to the Hanbalite position than it is to the later Ash‘arite posi- 

al-Ba‘li al-Hanbali, al-Kurani's teacher in Damascus. Ibn al-Najjar’s and al-Buhuti’s works 
were the main sources for al-Ba‘li’s arguments against kalam nafsi in his original work al- 
‘yn wa-l-athar. Al-Kirani therefore mentioned them frequently in his al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar 
and in Jfadat al-Allam. Al-Kawkab al-munir is Ibn al-Najjar’s abridgment of ‘Ala’ al-Din 
al-Mirdawi al-Maqdisi’s (d. 885/1480-1481) Tahrir al-manqul wa-tahdhib ‘lm al-usul. Ibn al- 
Najjar then commented on his own Mukhtasar and called the commentary al-Mukhtabar 
al-mubtakar Sharh al-Mukhtasar ftusul al-figh. 

113 ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Jurjani, Sharh al-Mawagif, with al-Siyalkuti’s and al-Fanari’s glosses 
(Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1998), vol. 4, part 8, pp. 103-104. 

114 Jami, al-Durra al-fakhira, p. 36. 

115 ‘Ali al-Qushji, al-Sharh al-jadid (Ms: Tehran: Tehran 1884), fol. 3532. 

116 Jalal al-Din al-Dawani, Sharh al-‘Aqa’id al-‘Adudiyya, in al-Ta‘liqat ‘ala Sharh al-‘Aqa@id al- 
‘Adudiyya by Muhammad ‘Abduh, ed. Sayyid Hadi Khusrt-Shahi (Cairo: Dar al-Shurtiq, 
2001), p. 112. 

296 CHAPTER 6 

tion. Both Ash‘arites and Hanbalites agreed that God is “speaking” (Mutakallim) 
and both considered the Quran to be divine speech. However, they disagreed 
over the meaning of kalam. The word “speech” may be taken to refer to one of 
two things: 
1- God’s attribute of “speech” or 
2- The Quran as the word of God. 
Al-Kurani in al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar and Ifadat al-‘Allan refers respectively to these 
two senses as kalam bi-ma‘na al-takallum (speech in the sense of “speaking”) 
and kalam bi-ma‘na al-mutakallam bihi (speech in the sense of “what is spo- 
ken”).2” And according to him, both God and man have these two kinds of 
kalam, and each kind has uttered (/afgi) and unuttered (nafsi; literally, “men- 
tal”) aspects.48 

Hanbalites accepted that God has uttered speech because it is mentioned 
frequently in the Quran and in hadith that God speaks. But as Ibn al-Najjar 
explains, we cannot call “speech” the meaning that we have within ourselves 
before it is uttered. If we call unuttered speech kalam, it must only be metaphor- 
ically." For Ash‘arites, “speech” can refer to both uttered and unuttered speech. 
Later Ash‘arites emphasize that unuttered speech is the true meaning of kalam, 
and uttered speech can be said to be God’s speech metaphorically. El-Rouayheb 
presents the position of several later Ash‘arites concerning kalam nafsi, saying 
that their idea is that kalam nafsi does not consist of sounds and letters (sawt 
wa-harf) and that the Arabic Quran that is recited, written, and memorized is 
an articulation of this eternal spiritual speech that in itself is not ordered spa- 
tially or aurally.!2° Uttered speech requires organs such as a tongue, a throat, 
anda mouth, all anthropomorphic descriptions that cannot be ascribed to God. 
Therefore, al-Kurani dedicates part of his work in al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar and Ifadat 
al-‘Allam to responding to this Ash‘arite argument that God's speech refers only 
to kalam nafst. 

Al-Kurani discusses the topic of God’s speech (kalam Allah) and unuttered 
speech (kalam nafs) in several different works,!?! but his main discussion is in 

117. Al-Kirani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 140°. al-Kirani, [fadat al-‘Allam, fol. 190°; 208. 

118 Al-Kirani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 191°. 

11g Ibn al-Najjar, Sharh al-Kawkab al-munir, vol. 2, p. 14. 

120 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 283. 

121 Forexample, al-Kurani, al-Maslak al-wasat al-dani ila al-Durr al-multaqat li-l-Saghani (Ms: 
Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722), fols. 286>—287°; al-Kirani, I‘mal al-fikr wa-l-riwayat, pp. 74— 
75, 146; in Takmilat al-qawl al-jali (Ms: Istanbul: Sehid Ali Pasa 2722), fol. 3453; and a title 
that al-Kurani mentioned elsewhere, Ft ithbat al-kalam al-nafsi al-qadim. This last work 
is not dated, but it was apparently written at the request of al-Qushashi, which means 


three works: Qasd al-sabi,, and two other works that are dedicated specifically 
to the topic of God’s speech, namely al- ‘Ayn wa-l-athar ft aq@id ahlal-athar and 
Tfadat al-‘Allam fitahqtq mas‘alat al-kalam. These latter two works are intercon- 
nected, as explained in the discussions of al-Kurani’s works in Chapter Four. 
In Qasd al-sabil, al-Kurani mentions the main arguments around kalam nafsi, 
without attempting to compare the Ash‘arite position with that of Hanbalite 

Al-Kurani’s attempt to reconciliate the Ash‘arites and Hanbalites on the 
question of God’s speech came from two angles. From one angle, he tried to 
prove that al-Ash‘ari’s position on God's attributes is to affirm the attributes of 
God as they exist in the Quran without any figurative interpretation, meaning 
that al-Ash‘ari accepts that God has uttered speech composed of sounds and 
voices, not only unuttered speech as some later Ash‘arites suggested. God said 
explicitly in the Quran that He is speaking, and that others heard Him, so there 
is no need to interpret these verses as if they refer to kalam nafst. Al-Kurani here 
argues on the basis of his fundamental idea about accepting the anthropomor- 
phic verses without figurative interpretation, and his idea that God manifests 
Himself in any form He wills without restriction because “nothing is like Him.’ 
As explained before, al-Jbdana is taken by al-Kurani to represent the final, defini- 
tive expression of al-Ash‘ari's view. 

From the other angle, al-Kurani tries to prove that not only do the Ash‘arites 
accept kalam nafst but the Hanbalites do as well, whether they acknowledge 
it or not. After repeating the Ash‘arite proofs for kalam nafsi from the Quran, 
hadith, statements by many of the Prophet’s companions, and poetry, he cites 
numerous Hanbalite scholars who effectively endorsed kalam nafsi even 
though they did not accept the term. 

Al-Kurani starts his argument by defining unuttered speech (kalam nafst) as 
mental words that are ordered in a way such that if a person pronounces them 
with his voice they will correspond exactly to his mental words.!*3 That means 
the uttered words are an expression of the words that we have in our minds. Al- 
Kurani is saying that for every speech act, we first have the words in our minds 
before they are uttered, so that when we pronounce them audibly they will be 
our uttered speech (kalam lafzi), and if we do not pronounce them, our speech 
will remain mental speech (kalam nafst). That means that anyone who accepts 

its date of composition is close to that of the other works, al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar and Ifadat 

122 Al-Kurani, Qasd al-sabil, fol. 154-»; fol. 402-50». 

123 Al-Karani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 190°. 

298 CHAPTER 6 

that man and God have uttered speech must also accept that man and God 
have unuttered speech, whether they admit it explicitly or not. And since all 
Hanbalites accept uttered speech, they also must accept unuttered speech.!*4 

Al-Kurany’s reply to the Ash‘arites who refused to ascribe sounds and voices 
to God is easy to anticipate. From one side, al-Ash‘ari follows Ahmad b. Hanbal 
and the salaf in accepting the verses that appear to have an anthropomorphic 
sense without figurative interpretation.!25 From the other side, God manifests 
Himself in restricted forms without Himself being restricted or conditioned.!?6 

Al-Kurani’s attempt to prove that kalam nafsi thus comes from both a tradi- 
tional angle that repeats the Ash‘arites’ arguments for kalam nafsi and from a 
new angle that shows that even Hanbalites accept kalam nafsi. Al-Kurani men- 
tions several Quranic verses that can be interpreted as referring to kalam nafsi 
in this new sense. Every verse or story that indicates how a person keeps a 
secret inside himself can be interpreted as kalam nafs, because we keep these 
words in our minds without uttering them. For example (Q 12:77) “Joseph kept 
it within himself (asarraha) and did not reveal it to them. He said [without 
uttering the words] ‘You are worse in position” In this verse Yusuf did not 
utter any words, but the Quran says that he “said” them to himself. Thus, the 
Quran describes these unuttered words as speech. The same situation occurs 
in (Q 43:80), (Q 20:7), (Q 2:248), and numerous other verses.!2” Al-Kurani men- 
tions more prophetic Aadiths and stories of the Prophet’s companions that all 
refer to thought that is not uttered vocally.!?8 

Ahmad b. Hanbal accepts that God speaks by words and voices. This implies 
that he should also accept that God has kalam nafst, because God speaks 
according to His eternal knowledge, and the existence of the words in God’s 
knowledge precede their external existence. Uttered speech is a form of eternal 
unuttered speech.!29 Al-Kurani regards the Hanbalites’ creed of the uncreated 
and eternal speech of God as enough to prove kalam nafsi; it was the Quran in 
God’s knowledge, exactly as we have it now, but it was without voices or letters, 
and Hanbalites cannot deny that.!8° Al-Kurani cites several statements from 
Hanbali scholars who in effect accepted this sense of kalam nafst. For example, 
al-Kurani believes that when Ibn ‘Agqil (d. 513/1119) states, “The Quran is divine 

124 Al-kKuarani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 204°. 

125 Al-Kurani, [fadat al-‘Allam, fol. 188°. 

126 ©Al-Kirani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 220-2212. 
127. Al-kKuarani, [fadat al-‘Allam, fol. 192". 

128 Al-Karani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 1937-». 
129 = Al-Kirani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 200°. 

130 = Al-Karani, Ifadat al-Allam, fol. 2008-». 


speech before it is recited to us, when it is still in the hearts, not uttered in voice 
and letters,” is an implied recognition of kalam nafsi.3! 

Al-Kurany’s interesting new contribution is his heavy reliance on Hanbalite 
figh texts to prove that they accept kalam nafsi. He refers to various texts with 
a citation of several legal situations in which they acknowledge kalam nafsi, 
at least according to his interpretation. He starts from the issue of intention 
(niyya) in worship (%badat), citing several statements indicating that intention 
in fasting or prayer is necessary, and that it is enough for the intention to simply 
come to the person's mind (or heart). In its legal effect, therefore, it is equiva- 
lent to an articulated intention.!8* Another example brought from law is that 
if a person is in the washroom, it is discouraged (makruh) for him to talk or to 
respond to the adhan, or to thank God with a loud voice if he sneezes. In these 
cases, he is recommended to speak in his heart.!33 Yet another example is that 
of a disabled person or a prisoner, who should perform the prayer in his heart, 
silently recalling the fatiha; it is required as part of the prayer and it is accepted 
without being made vocal.!34 Al-Kurani cites all these examples from Hanbalite 
figh books to prove that they do in fact accept kalam nafsi and elaborate upon 
it, even though they do not acknowledge the use of the term. 

Al-Kurant’s al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar and Ifadat al-‘Allam each contain an interest- 
ing conclusion in which al-Kurani examines the accusation of anthropomor- 
phism levelled against Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim, and defends both of 
them. Al-Kurani seems not to have possessed any of Ibn Taymiyya’s works ini- 
tially, so he used Ibn al-Qayyim’s texts instead and took him to be representative 
of his own and his master’s ideas. Later, al-Kurani modified his conclusion, 
mentioning that he had obtained some of Ibn Taymiyya’s works.!*5 According 
to al-‘Ayyashi, al-Kurani said that he looked carefully at the works of the Han- 
balites, and found them innocent of many of the charges brought forth against 
them by Shafi‘ites, such as corporealism (tajsim) and anthropomorphism (tash- 
bth). He found the Hanbalites adhering to the position of the hadith schol- 
ars, which is to accept Quranic verses and hadith reports as they stand, while 

131 Al-Kuarani, [fadat al-‘Allam, fol. 204'. 

132 Al-Kirani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 204). 

133 Al-Kurani, [fadat al-‘Allam, fol. 205?. 

134 Al-Karani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, fol. 2057-». 

135 MS: Pakistan: Maktabat Thana’ Allah Zahidi, Al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar fi ‘aqa@’id ahl al-athar, no 
number. Two copies in this library contain the conclusion that mentions Ibn Taymiyya’s 
works. Ms: UK: University of Birmingham, Mingana 176, contains the old conclusion in 
which al-Kurani used Ibn al-Qayyim’s texts and regarded him as representative of his own 
and Ibn Taymiyya’s ideas. All mss of Ifadat al-‘Allam that I examined contain al-Kurani’s 
edited conclusion, in which he uses Ibn Taymiyya’s works. 

300 CHAPTER 6 

entrusting to God the meaning of passages that seem anthropomorphic.*6 Al- 
Kurani in al-‘Ayn wa-l-athar and Ifadat al-Allam quotes extensively from Ibn 
Taymiyya’s works al-Risala al-Tadmuriyya, al-Risala al-Hamawiyya,'?"Risala ft 
rajulayn tanazaG ft hadith al-nuzul, and Risala firajulayn ikhtalafa ft al-itiqad. 
Al-Kurani also quotes from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s works al-Ruh and Shif@ al- 
ghalil. He shows that they went to great length to distance themselves from cor- 
porealism and anthropomorphism, and that they affirmed how God describes 
Himself in the Quran and negated what He negates in the Quran without inter- 
preting these descriptions allegorically. Theirs is the position of the salaf, and 
even that of al-Ash‘ani, concerning the verses that appear to endorse anthropo- 

Al-Kurani’s defense of Ibn Taymiyya’s position regarding apparently anthro- 
pomorphist statements in the Quran and hadith, as El-Rouayheb explains, is 
in support of his idea that God manifests Himself to whomever He chooses 
and in whichever way He chooses, while being devoid of any likeness to crea- 
tures by virtue of the Quranic statement “There is nothing like Him,” even when 
manifesting Himself in phenomenal appearances.!98° Al-Kurani'’s position on 
this issue is thus consistent with his position on God’s attributes and on God’s 
manifestation in forms (al-tajalli ftal-suwar). Both positions are representative 
of the broader Ibn ‘Arabi tradition. Moreover, in his defence of Ibn Taymiyya 
against the accusation of anthropomorphism (tashbih), al-Kurani quotes, with 
approbation, that likeness and similarity (tashbth wa-tamthil) only occur when 
one says: “a hand like my hand, ora hearing like my hearing.” If you say that God 
has a hand, hearing, and seeing, but also that they are different from the hand, 
hearing, and seeing of creatures, then, given that the attributes differ just as 
the objects of the attributes differ, this is not tashbih with God.9 This linguis- 
tic approach is attributed to Ahmad b. Hanbal in Ibn Qayyim’s book al-Ruh, as 
cited by al-Kurani.!*° We can also find it in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings. In al-Futuhat 
al-makkiyya Ibn ‘Arabi says that likeness (tashbih) does not occur except when 
saying the word mithl (“like”) or the kaf of similarity (“just as”), and these prepo- 
sitions are very rare in the statements that are considered to be indicating an 

136 © Al-‘Ayyashi, al-Rihla al-‘ayyashiyya, vol.1, p. 271. | benefited from El-Rouayheb’s translation 
in Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 274. 

137  Al-Kurani does not mention this work in his text but in examining the quotations from 
Ibn Taymiyya’s works for their sources I found this text among them. 

138 El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century, p. 282. 

139 Al-Kirani, Ifadat al-‘Allam, p. 245>-246+. 

140 Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Kitab al-ruh, ed. Muhammad Ajmal Ayyab al-Aslahi (ksa, Mekka: 
Dar ‘Alam al-Fawa’id, 1432 [2011]), p. 729. 


apparent similarity between God and man. Ibn ‘Arabi then continues to crit- 
icize Ash‘arism, saying that when they apply figurative interpretation (ta’wil) 
they think they have escaped from anthropomorphism, when in fact they have 
simply moved from the drawing of corporal likeness to the drawing of semantic 
likeness (intaqalat min al-tashbth bi-l-ajsam ila al-tashbth bi-l-ma‘ant).4 
Al-Kurani’s discussion of the kalam nafst issue and his endeavor to reconcile 
Ash‘arite and Hanbalite opinions provides a good example of his reconciliatory, 
reformist project, which seeks to reduce the gaps between the various Islamic 
currents by addressing their basic issues and showing that what is presented as 
a fundamental dispute can be read in a way that makes the differences fewer 
and brings the differing viewpoints closer together. The same can be said about 
the acquittal of Ibn Taymiyya from the accusation of being an anthropomor- 
phist, and the use of his ideas to defend concepts that are historically related 
to currents considered to be opposed to Ibn Taymiyya and his thought, like the 
thought of the Ash‘arites and the Hanbalites. The Hijaz in the seventeenth cen- 
tury was thus not just a point of convergence for different intellectual currents 
as represented by scholars and texts, but was also a place to gather and bring 
together these various Islamic currents into a cohesive system that combines 
intellectual and spiritual aspects based on the Islamic heritage represented in 
the Quran and Sunna. These unique circumstances, if they were to have con- 
tinued, might have completely changed the destiny of the Islamic world. 

6 Conclusion 

As mentioned in the introduction of this chapter, most of the topics of this cur- 
rent chapter are connected directly to al-Kurani’s main theological arguments 
mentioned in Chapter Five. Al-Kurani had clear theological and cosmological 
conceptions that permeated all aspects of his thinking. His thinking was consis- 
tent and coherent across all the topics he discussed, even in the small treatises 
that came in the form of fatwas dealing with specific, individual issues. He was 
a mufti and a guide of Sufi disciples involved in dealing with partial problems, 
as his works listed in Chapter Four display. 

Al-Kurani’s discussion of major theological issues, alongside some particu- 
lar topics in _figh, Sufism, tafsir, or specific hadith, demonstrates his intellectual 
independence. He raised various controversial issues and did not hesitate to 
disagree with contemporaneous Sunni mainstream opinions toward some top- 

141 Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya, vol. 1, p. 43. 

302 CHAPTER 6 

ics such as the authenticity of the story of satanic verses or the faith of Pharaoh. 
His independent thinking earned him the outrage of several scholars, who con- 
sidered his ideas a departure from general Ash‘arite thought. But the treatises 
that he wrote in the last years of his life confirm that he did not retract any of 
his ideas, despite the severe criticism to which he was subjected, which reached 
the degree of takfir at times. It is true that al-Kurani’s opinions on some topics 
approach those of the Hanbalites, and in other instances he seems closer to 
the Mu‘tazilites, but he always demonstrates a clear desire to reconcile the dif- 
ferent intellectual trends by attempting to narrow the differences between the 
various streams of Islamic thought. 

The intellectual topics that were discussed in this chapter were not limited 
in their diffusion to the Hijaz; they were transregional topics flowing between 
the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Ottoman lands, the Levant, and North 
Africa. The Hijaz as the religious center of the Islamic world, along with its 
being one of the most important intellectual centers in the seventeenth cen- 
tury, played an important role in these discussions. Another point of note con- 
cerning the topics discussed in this chapter is al-Kurani’s heavy dependence 
in discussion of these topics on Quranic verses and prophetic hadiths. Topics 
such as Pharaoh’s faith and the end of the torment of the unbelievers in the 
Hellfire need to be discussed through the lens of the Quran and hadith, in al- 
Kuranr’s position, because it is easy to use these subjects to discredit Ibn ‘Arabi 
or Sufism by claiming that the latter’s views are clearly contrary to the texts of 
the Quran or hadith. Al-Kurani’s reliance was therefore mainly on quoted texts 
to confirm that Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas were consistent with the Quran and Sunna. 
In this aspect of his work, al-Kurani’s expertise in hadith studies helped him to 
argue for his cases. Al-Kurani was able, via this strategy, to defend the opinions 
of Ibn ‘Arabi that were subject to intense criticism on the basis of Quranic and 
hadith texts, especially the issue of Pharaoh’s faith and the fate of non-believers 
in the Hereafter, which are topics even some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s followers found it 
difficult to accept, resorting to the idea of interpolations in Ibn ‘Arabi’s books. 


This book does not claim to have provided a comprehensive picture of the 
intellectual life in the pre-Wahhabi Hijaz; rather, it has provided a snapshot of 
the richness, depth, and diversity of Islamic thought that existed in the Hijaz 
during that period. Through carefully examining local and global conditions 
as well as the intellectual situation in the Hijaz during the seventeenth and 
early eighteenth century, this book has demonstrated that over the period of 
a century in this small geographical zone, approximately one hundred schol- 
ars studied and taught classical works of the intellectual sciences, including 
texts by Ibn Sina, al-Suhrawardi, al-Razi, al-Ghazali, al-Tusi, al-Taftazani, al- 
Jurjani, al-Dawani, and others. This intellectual activity produced commen- 
taries, glosses, and new works related to the classical texts being studied. Hun- 
dreds of their titles, mostly from the Hijaz and mostly related to intellectual 
topics, have been mentioned in this book. However, the majority of these works 
have yet to be published or extensively studied, such that we do not yet have a 
full understanding of the development of intellectual life in the post-classical 
period in general and in the Hijaz during the seventeenth century in particu- 

Not only was intellectual life in the Hijaz during the post-classical period 
rich and dynamic, but the region was a global center of Islamic thought during 
that era and contributed to discussions of intellectual issues that were taking 
place in various parts of the Islamic world, both east and west. My arguments 
for the flourishing of intellectual life in the seventeenth-century Hijaz reveal 
that Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, North Africa, Iran, the Ottoman 
Empire, Yemen, and other parts of the Muslim world were intellectually inter- 
connected and actively engaged in scholarly discussions. The discussions that 
took place in any given part of the Islamic world were reaching other parts of 
the Islamic world via the heart and center of annual convergence, the Hijaz 
during the fajj season. Studying intellectual life in the Hijaz during the sev- 
enteenth century, as I have contended throughout this book, reveals the great 
intellectual activity occurring across the Islamic world during that period, of 
which the Hijaz was one of, if not the most important intellectual center. In 
addition to acting as a link between different parts of the Islamic world, the 
region was also a conduit through which intellectual debates and ideas moved. 
As a result of the ease of transmission of texts and ideas, a kind of concurrency 
in discussion and writings developed, such that we find that al-Kurani sends 
some of his treatises to Morocco and the year after a reply or even a refutation 
may arrive to him and stimulate him to respond to the refutation or to clarify his 

© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2022 DOI:10.1163/9789004499058_009 


previous ideas; discussions continued in this way over many years and through- 
out his life. The same can be observed through his discussions with scholars 
from Iran, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Yemen. This situation, 
of which al-Kurani is representative rather than constitutive, meant that there 
were common issues that were discussed in faraway parts of the Islamic world; 
these discussions need study to clarify both their local contexts and external 

Intellectual activities in the seventeenth century throughout the Islamic 
world can be characterized as cross-continental and cross-regional in an un- 
precedented way as a result of changing global conditions that facilitated the 
movement of students, scholars, and texts. Consequently, more scholars, texts, 
and debates need to be integrated into the general narrative of Islamic thought 
in order to develop a more accurate picture of Islamic intellectual history dur- 
ing the post-classical period. Glimpses of various aspects of intellectual life in 
distant parts of the Islamic world have emerged, in this study, on the sidelines 
of the study of the life and thought of one scholar, which provided us with a pic- 
ture significantly different from that provided by the “ignorance” and “decline” 
narratives. It is clear that we cannot make general judgments about these cen- 
turies and these vast geographies without a clear understanding of the lives 
and intellectual production of most, if not all, of their scholars, given that the 
life of a single scholar, combined with his works and his intellectual relations, 
has opened up to us such a trove of ideas and discussions between different 
parts of the Islamic world. What we do not know about the history of Islamic 
thought is significant: Al-Kurani is only one scholar who wrote around one hun- 
dred books, his teacher al-Qushashi wrote about seventy treatises, his students 
al-Barzanji and al-‘Ujaymi wrote eighty and one hundred treatises respectively, 
and his peer Muhammad ‘Ali b. ‘Allan al-Siddiqi is said to have written around 
four hundred treatises; with such an extensive output in this century, there is 
much work to be done before we can claim to understand it. 

Since a survey of scholars’ names and book titles alone cannot convey the 
depth or extent of intellectual life, I have focused specifically on a case study 
that demonstrates the originality of Islamic intellectual life in the post-classical 
period. On the basis of a detailed account of eighty-six of al-Kurani’s works— 
mostly manuscripts—alongside dozens of manuscripts related to the topics 
debated by and exchanges that took place between al-Kurani and his contem- 
porary scholars, I have attempted to elucidate al-Kurani’s coherent philosoph- 
ical system by systematically treating, for the first time, and in all its depth and 
breadth, his synthesis of several of the major traditions of Islamic thought in 
the post-classical period, namely kalam and the Akbarian appropriations of 
Avicennian metaphysics. This book has explored, in so doing, the extent to 


which philosophical, theological, and Sufi texts were disseminated, studied, 
and discussed. Al-Kurani's life and works, especially his dialogues with scholars 
from around the entire Islamic world, provide an entry point into intellectual 
discussions in the seventeenth century, both in terms of scholarly activities in 
general and in terms of the particulars concerning the teaching of the rational 
sciences, and the philosophical and theological topics discussed. He discussed 
the majority of topics current at the time in Islamic philosophy and theology, 
including quiddity, existence, creation, God’s attributes, God’s knowledge of 
particulars, unity and multiplicity, and predestination, which taken together 
provide us with an example of post-classical kalam and Sufism that demon- 
strates that the rational sciences continued to be studied, discussed, and taught 
in the Islamic world during the so-called period of “decline.” Indeed, in the 
seventeenth-century Hijaz the rational sciences flourished, alongside Sufism 
in both its theoretical and practical aspects, with great reliance on the Quran 
and hadith in order to confirm the compatibility of the rational sciences and 
spiritual life with the teachings of the Quran and Sunna. Together, these strands 
of thought provided an integrated vision of Islam based on the shari‘a and spir- 
itual and intellectual traditions. This vision is what has been denied by the 
Wahhabi narrative of “ignorance,” which focuses only on shari‘a and excludes 
the rational and spiritual aspects of religious life. 

The study of al-Kurani’s intellectual life and the attempt to uncover the 
unique moment in Islamic history when rational and spiritual trends united 
on the basis of Quran and Sunna reveals primarily the need for more studies 
in order to obtain a better picture of this moment in Islamic intellectual his- 
tory and the development of Islamic thought during the post-classical period 
more generally. What this research presents is a light focused on a single sec- 
tion of this picture to reveal that the still-hidden section is much larger than we 
may have expected. Dozens of scholars who wrote hundreds of texts remain to 
be investigated in order for us to fully see the larger picture of post-classical 
Islamic intellectual life. 

Situating al-Kurani’s work in the particular context of the Hijaz requires 
a deeper understanding of the Hijaz itself, and the local and global factors 
that contributed to making it a place fertile for scholars like al-Kurani. Chap- 
ter One argued that multiple factors, primarily external, contributed to trans- 
forming the Hijaz into a center of intellectual life in the seventeenth century. 
The spread of European navies and merchant fleets in the Indian Ocean rein- 
forced the connection of the Hijaz with the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast 
Asia, in addition to facilitating the circulation of knowledge through different 
parts of the Islamic world. Enhanced opportunities for safe travel resulted in 
an increase in the number of pilgrims, students, and scholars who journeyed 


to study in the Hijaz. Contemporaneously, Iran’s conversion to Shi‘ism forced 
numerous Sunni scholars to flee to other parts of the Islamic world, carrying 
their knowledge with them to other intellectual centers in the Indian Subcon- 
tinent, Anatolia, Damascus, or Cairo, and eventually some scholars and most 
of the important texts came to be found in the Hijaz. 

The stable political situation in the Hijaz, along with generous donations 
from the Mughals and the Ottomans, helped increase investments in the 
region's educational institutions and maintain endowments that provided 
their teachers and students with living stipends. The institutions and the schol- 
ars who through these institutions contributed to this intellectual transforma- 
tion of the Hijaz were discussed in Chapter Two, with a focus on the diverse 
range of madrasas, libraries, ribats, and zawiyas. This chapter also referred to 
numerous scholars from the seventeenth-century Hijaz who taught in fields 
such as kalam, logic, and philosophy, without including Ibrahim al-Kurani’s 
own circle, the number of whose members exceeds the number of the scholars 
that were mentioned in this chapter. These factors transformed the Hijaz into 
one of the primary scholarly destinations of that era. It became a meeting point 
for all the major intellectual trends in the Islamic world during the sixteenth 
and the seventeenth centuries, partially due to the annual Aajj season, which 
continued to play an essential role in gathering scholars together and promot- 
ing the circulation of knowledge. Chapter Two also attempted to trace the cir- 
culation of some of the main texts from the seventeenth-century Hijaz back to 
thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Central Asia, using a historical source that 
is not normally associated with intellectual sciences: the chain of transmission 
(isnad). The isnad, as shown in this chapter, represents promising textual evi- 
dence that has the potential to change our perspective on the transmission of 
knowledge between different parts of the Islamic world. In addition to mapping 
knowledge circulation between different geographical regions of the Islamic 
world, isnad literature involves different intellectual aspects, including the rela- 
tionship between the different schools of thought, the texts that were taught 
and where and in what era, and in some cases direct intellectual discussions. 
These aspects of knowledge circulation are revealed by tracing the isnads of 
scholars, and the names, biographies, and isndds of their teachers. 

After setting the stage for al-Kurani’s life and work, Chapter Three revealed 
further aspects of intellectual life in the Islamic world by tracing al-Kurani’s 
background and education, beginning in his hometown. Then, through a 
detailed discussion of the wide range of al-Kurani’s teachers and students, this 
chapter documented the active scholarly environment in the Hijaz during the 
seventeenth century, illustrating the centrality of the Hijaz for intellectual life 
and knowledge exchange and circulation. The list of al-Kurani’s students dis- 


plays how his influence extended across most of the Islamic world. His works 
show that he was actively engaged in ongoing debates in different regions, 
from Java and the Indian Subcontinent to Iran, Yemen, North Africa, and the 
Maghreb. His correspondence with scholars from different regions further indi- 
cates that almost the entire Islamic world was engaged in these various theolog- 
ical debates. Furthermore, many of the theological arguments travelled from 
one region to another and prompted responses by different scholars in geo- 
graphically distant regions. 

Chapter Four clarified al-Kurani’s multiple interests, as well as the intellec- 
tual interconnectedness of the Islamic world that emerges clearly from the fact 
that al-Kurani was well-known during his lifetime and that he engaged, through 
the treatises that he wrote aimed at people of a specific region, in theologi- 
cal discussions then current in Southeast Asia, Iran, Yemen, and North Africa. 
Some of these treatises had supplements due to the responses and debates that 
they raised, which indicates that the intellectual debates extended beyond the 
small geographical region of the Hijaz to include contributions from scholars 
in different parts of the Islamic world. In addition, this chapter clearly demon- 
strated that most of the Islamic philosophical and theological issues that had 
been discussed in the classical period were still being discussed and debated, 
and that philosophy, theology, logic, and most of the rational sciences con- 
tinued to be an essential part of intellectual life in the Islamic world in the 
seventeenth century. Additional investigation is thus required to clarify the 
continuity and development between the versions of ideas presented here in 
this book, and those current in both previous centuries and in different regions 
in the same century in order to reach an integrated picture of the development 
of Islamic thought from the classical period until the modern era. 

After thus situating al-Kurani within his local and global contexts, Chapters 
Five and Six focused on his philosophical and theological arguments, which 
provide clear evidence of the sophistication of theological discussions in the 
seventeenth-century Hijaz. Al-Kurani discussed almost all the main topics of 
Islamic theology and Sufism and his discussions display not only his own wide 
range of knowledge of these intellectual arguments, but the diffusion of the 
ideas of most early Muslim philosophers and theologians in the Hijaz. An 
established scholar in the rational sciences before arriving in the Hijaz, al- 
Kurani was convinced that Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought did not contradict the rational 
sciences. Indeed, while al-Kurani’s main concern was theology, his theologi- 
cal arguments are heavily influenced by the philosophy of Ibn ‘Arabi, and, as I 
have argued, the latter is the central reference point for al-Kurani’s theological 
discussions. Al-Kurani uses his intellectual background to clarify, explain, and 
interpret the theories of Ibn ‘Arabi and to present them in a systematic fash- 


ion, supporting his own theories with numerous Quranic verses and hadiths as 
a way of creating harmony between the rational sciences, mystical experience, 
and transmitted knowledge. 

In the course of undertaking this case study, a clear sense emerged of the 
essential role that isnad literature can play in constructing scholars’ connec- 
tions and tracing philosophical and theological texts across different centuries 
and geographical regions. The isnad, which is usually considered the main fea- 
ture of transmitted knowledge (manqulat), also appears to be a very valuable 
source for studying the rational sciences (ma‘qulat) in post-classical Islamic 
history. The isnad can help fill lacunae in Islamic intellectual history, allowing 
us to map the circulation of scholars, texts, and knowledge between the twelfth 
to thirteenth centuries and the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries. Following 
scholars’ travels through their isndds also reveals the names of many previously 
unknown figures who studied and taught these rational texts. 

This book has also argued for including other new sources for studying 
Islamic intellectual life in the post-classical period. Sufi texts, mainly those of 
the Ibn ‘Arabi tradition, should be understood as a valuable source of philo- 
sophical discussions. The Ibn ‘Arabi tradition, steered largely by al-Qunawi’s 
rationalist inclination, became increasingly philosophical and eventually in- 
cluded all major philosophical and theological matters in their discussions. By 
the seventeenth century, Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought was not simply an aspect of spir- 
itual life and the followers of his thought were no longer striving to bring it 
closer to philosophical or theological thought, as it itself had become a philos- 
ophy that no philosopher or theologian could ignore. In some regions, as has 
been demonstrated in this book with respect to the Hijaz, Ibn ‘Arabi's thought 
became the main source of Islamic theology. In other words, we can say that 
Sufism was able to provide an alternative to traditional kalam theology. Sufi 
thought derived from Ibn ‘Arabi's work became organized in a systematic and 
comprehensible way, allowing it to substitute for traditional kalam, which had 
dominated Islamic thought during the previous centuries. 

Al-Kurani’s intellectual formation in Kurdistan did not include any of Ibn 
‘Arabi's texts or any works of his disciples, meaning that his deep engagement in 
Akbarian thought emerged from his time in Medina. His works from that period 
show that he mastered not only Ibn ‘Arabi's works but almost all the main affili- 
ated commentaries including those of al-Qunawi, al-Qashani, al-Qaysari, Jami, 
and al-Sha‘rani. Ibn ‘Arabi’s ideas became the main source of al-Kurant’s ‘agli 
writings and formed the basis of his intellectual reasoning; al-Kurani without a 
doubt belongs to the intellectual trend of the Ibn ‘Arabi tradition. How exactly 
did Ibn ‘Arabi’s works and thought reach the seventeenth-century Hijaz and 
to what extent was Ibn ‘Arabi’s influence widespread there? I have alluded to 


some of the major links in the chain during the course of the book, but giving 
a full answer to these questions requires further study. Ibn ‘Arabi's thought, as 
I have suggested throughout this book, dominated the intellectual and spiri- 
tual aspects of life in the seventeenth-century Hijaz and turned it into one of 
the most active centers of Ibn ‘Arabi studies, to such an extent that one could 
argue convincingly for the existence of what I term “The Ibn ‘Arabi School in 
the Hijaz.” This rich, unknown, and heretofore largely ignored school is the sub- 
ject of my ongoing work and I hope to clarify its features and its importance in 
a forthcoming study. 

A question that may arise in the mind of the reader is what happened after 
this period of rich intellectual life in the Hijaz during the seventeenth century? 
Although to fully answer this question actually requires yet another detailed 
study of the intellectual life of the Hijaz in the eighteenth and nineteenth cen- 
turies, it is possible to provide some brief references here. 

Political stability, as this book has argued, was the decisive local factor in 
attracting scholars and students to the Hijaz, especially Medina. This stabil- 
ity and other global factors that had played essential roles in the prosperity of 
intellectual life in the seventeenth-century Hijaz started to change at the begin- 
ning of the eighteenth century as the political situations of the two empires 
most generous toward the Hijaz, i.e. the Mughals and the Ottomans, began 
changing as well. The Mughals’ centralized control over their lands had broken 
down over much of the empire within the first two decades of the eighteenth 
century, and by the 1750s the East India Company had begun to achieve political 
dominance throughout India.! On the Ottoman side, their catastrophic defeat 
in the Vienna Campaign of 1683 marked the beginning of a military weaken- 
ing that was followed with other severe defeats in Central Europe at the turn 
of the twelfth/eighteenth century.” Even the Safavid Empire collapsed when 
the Afghans invaded Iran and captured Isfahan after a long siege in 1722. Thus, 
the three empires that had dominated most of the Islamic world during the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries seemed to be in a state of political deteri- 
oration, and the Hijaz was no longer among their priorities. 

Local stability started to change in Medina due to the multiplicity of power 
centers in the city, and the resulting conflicts. The Ottoman presence in Medina 

1 See The Mughal State 1526-1750, especially chapters thirteen and fourteen, respectively “Trade 
and Politics in Eighteenth-Century India,” and “The ‘Great Firm’ Theory of the Decline of the 
Mughal Empire,” ed. Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University 
Press, 1998). 

2 See Douglas A. Howard, A History of the Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 2017), especially chapter five. 


had begun to strengthen since the middle of the seventeenth century through 
appointment of the city’s main religious positions, namely the shaykh of the 
haram, the judge of Medina, and the mu/ti, from the seat of the caliphate in 
Istanbul directly.3 The shaykh of the Aaram was responsible for all the work- 
ers in the Prophet's mosque; they amounted to eighty persons, called aghawat, 
and their head was appointed by Istanbul as well. As a result of corruption, the 
aghawat had many followers and turned into a major power in the city. Mili- 
tary forces, which were mainly in Jeddah, started to have greater influence in 
Medina and the authority of soldiers increased to the extent that they chal- 
lenged the authority of the amir of Medina, and of the judiciary power in some 
cases.* Thus, the authorities and power centers in the city diversified, and a 
clash began between them at the end of the seventeenth century. The local 
authority of the Medinan Sharifs had little value and even the minister who 
was appointed by the Sharif of Mecca had more power than local Sharifs.5 
Thus, power in Medina became divided between different power centers: the 
minster of the Sharif of Mecca, the shaykh of the haram, the shaykh of the 
aghawat, the judge of Medina, the mufti, and the leaders of the military divi- 
sions, especially the commander of the fortress garrison (hamiyat al-qal‘a) and 
the commander of the Cavalry Division (sibahiyya).® The conflicts between 
these strongholds erupted and in many cases turned bloody. For example, a 
fight broke out between the then-vizier Muhammad al-Khalafani and military 
leaders in 1090/1679 and the vizier who had been appointed by the Sharif of 
Mecca was killed.” In 1127/1715, there was a major