Wednesday 11 November 2015 | LUCIS Fall Fellow Camilla Adang | Ibn Hazm's theory of language: taking God literally?
On Wednesday 11 November LUCIS Fall Fellow Camilla Adang delivered her second lecture on Ibn Hazm's theory of language.
This lecture is part of a five fold lecture series on Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba and the Ẓāhirī school of law and theology. The lecture series focuses on the controversial Muslim legal scholar, theologian and man of letters Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba (d. 456/1064), who is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant minds of al-Andalus (Islamic Iberia). Nowadays remembered mostly for his treatise on love, Ṭawq al-ḥamāma ("The Ring of the Dove"), he was first and foremost a fierce polemicist who was criticized for his idiosyncratic views and his abrasive language. By insisting that the sacred sources of Islam are to be understood according to their literal or external sense (ẓāhir) and that it is only the Prophet Muḥammad whose example may be followed, rather than fallible jurists and theologians, and by publicly declaring the rulers of al-Andalus to be illegitimate, Ibn Ḥazm alienated himself from the religious and political establishment. As a result, he was forcibly removed from the Great Mosque in Cordoba and some of his writings were publicly burned in his own lifetime. The last decades have witnessed a renewed interest in his thought, both in the Muslim world and in the West, and his call for a return to the scriptural sources has enjoyed great appeal in certain Islamist circles.
Click here for more information about the lecture series.
Ibn Ḥazm's legal, theological and political thought were characterized by a so-called Ẓāhirī approach, which meant that the sacred sources of Islam: the Qurʾān and the Sunna, were to be understood in their external sense, and that wherever possible, God and the Prophet Muḥammad were to be taken literally. In Ibn Ḥazm's view the interpretive role of legal scholars and theologians was to be reduced to a minimum. He rejected reasoning by analogy, as well as attempts to discover God's reasons for issuing particular commandments and prohibitions. In this lecture, Camilla Adang explained the main points of Ibn Ḥazm's Ẓāhirī approach in preparation for the third and fourth lectures.
Camilla Adang (PhD, Nijmegen) is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her main fields of research are social and intellectual encounters between Muslims and Jews in the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period, and the history of the Ẓāhirī school in the Islamic West. She is the author of Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible: From Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm (Leiden: Brill 1996) and editor, together with Maribel Fierro and Sabine Schmidtke, of Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba: The Life and Works of a Controversial Scholar (Leiden: Brill 2013). She currently co-directs the international research project Biblia Arabica: The Bible in Arabic among Jews, Christians and Muslims, which deals with Jewish and Christian translations of the Bible into Arabic and their use by Muslim authors.