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Iʿjāz al-bayān

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Ṣadr al-Dīn Qūnawī (d. 1274) is arguably the most important thinker of the generation following the main founders of medieval philosophy—al-Fārābī, Ibn Sīnā, Ibn ʿArabī and Suhravardī—and before Mullā Ṣadrā. Despite this, almost nothing of his writings has been translated into English and few critical editions of his writings have really been published.

Iʿjāz al-bayān, his magnum opus, explores some key questions in philosophy, among which is speech (divine and human) in the unfolding of knowing and being. In this influential work, Qūnawī lays forth in detail the principles and semiological tools for interpreting the opening chapter of the Qur’ān, the Fātiḥa. Widely known as the epitome of the Qur’ān, the Fātiḥa was also understood to indicate the divine ‘opening’, the ‘beginning’ of being’s unfolding. Far from a mere analysis of concepts or epistemology, his philosophical ‘exegesis’ is about the self- identical unfolding of speech from the hidden secrecy of the divine source, from which flows God’s creative command, Be!

The doubt that Ibn Sīnā expressed concerning the human capacity to know the “realities of things” manifested in this unfolding—namely, the letters, words, sentences and meanings of the divine writ of being—by dint of man’s faculties was critical to Qūnawī’s dynamic understanding of what a plenary knowledge of anything must be.

This is an authoritative edition of the Arabic text with an Editor’s Introduction in English explaining the mechanics and publication history behind the edition and concisely summarizing the book’s contents. The Bibliography and Notes are also in English.

Published: Sep 1, 2023