Islamic Theology, Philosophy and Law: Debating Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya.

Author:Rittenberg, Ryan
Position:Book review
 
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Islamic Theology, Philosophy and Law: Debating Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya. Edited by Birgit Krawietz and Georges Tamer. Studien zur Geschichte and Kultur des islamischen Orients, n. E, vol. 27. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013. Pp. viii + 583. 129,95 [euro], $182.

This volume represents the rich harvest of the conference "Neo-Hanbalism Reconsidered: The Impact of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya," which was held at the Zentrum Modemer Orient in Berlin during October 2007. Sixteen articles range from discussions of the philosophical views of Ibn Taymiyya to the publication of the works of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya in contemporary Indonesia and Malaysia. The depth and breadth of the articles make this an extremely thought-provoking volume.

The book consists of an introduction and five thematic sections. In the introduction, Alina Kokoschka--who is listed on the front cover as collaborator--and Birgit Krawietz discuss the complex methodological concerns that the study of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim elicit, and note that Western scholars of Islam typically pay more attention to Ibn Taymiyya than to Ibn al-Qayyim. The disparity in the quality and quantity of scholarship devoted to these important intellectual figures reflects the assumption that Ibn al-Qayyim is simply a pale copy of his iconoclastic teacher, Ibn Taymiyya. This characterization of the relation between Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim, and the wider Islamic intellectual tradition rests upon vague notions about the nature of intellectual creativity.

Rather than rehabilitate the terms creativity and imitation, Kokoschka and Krawietz argue for examining intellectual history in terms of acts of appropriation. To put their methodological approach succinctly, the intellectual tradition is a repository of positions, sources, and discursive techniques that a scholar employs to develop his position on a particular topic. In turn, his position becomes part of the repository, which later scholars employ and redefine. Although "appropriation" connotes a conscious action on the part of the scholar, Kokoschka and Krawietz accept that appropriation may also occur unconsciously.

To some extent, the terms appropriation and repository seem reminiscent of Michel Foucault's discourse and the archive. In fact, much like Foucault's discourse analysis, the two terms reveal the play of differences and the diverse nature of the Islamic intellectual tradition. Furthermore, the application of the notions of...

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