Tag Archives: medieval Islamic scholarship

Al-‘Amiri’s Book of Notification of the Virtues of Islam

A classic rookie teaching mistake is to put on one’s syllabus a reading which has not been translated into a language one’s students can understand.  This is what I did a year ago with the Kitab al-I’lam bi-manaqib al-Islam of al-‘Amiri (d. 992).  This text is, among other things, a fascinating treatise in comparative religion (arguing, as the title suggests, for the superiority of Islam), as well as a defense of philosophy from Muslim critics.  Not having a full translation from which to choose a pungent section, however, I hurriedly made my own translation of a single small section defending the study of logic, using logical means.  I thought I’d include it here for general interest:

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The Qur’an in What Context?

The Qur’an is a very strange document.  Although it is often likened to the New Testament, this has merely to do with its sacred status among its reading community, and does not shed much of any light on the Qur’an itself, how to interpret it, or how it developed.  While the New Testament is mostly composed of narrative, and secondly of letters of exhortation from the first generation of Christian leaders, the Qur’an is composed, it is claimed, entirely of God’s words which he revealed (or more literally, “sent down”) through the mediation of the angel Jibril, aka Gabriel.  Any narrative in the Qur’an is framed as a story which God, through Jibril, is telling Muhammad. Continue reading