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Early Philosophical Ṣūfism

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This book explores the Neoplatonic influences in the thought of the 10th century Ṣūfī Ibn Manṣūr al-Ḥallāğ (d. 922). More specifically, the book situates Ḥallāğ within the Greek and Arabic traditions of Neoplatonism by analysing certain key themes and concepts in Ḥallāğ’s mystical philosophy in light of the texts of Plotinus, Proclus and the so-called “Arabic Plotinus source.” In doing so, this book thesis seeks to demonstrate the significance of Neoplatonism for understanding the philosophical underpinnings of Ḥallāğ’s Weltbild.

Several modern scholars have studied the impact of Hellenistic thought and especially of Neoplatonism on the medieval tradition of Arabic-Islamic philosophy (falsafa), demonstrating a significant correlation between the Arabic translations of Plotinus’ and Proclus’ texts and the forms of cosmological and philosophical argumentation which burgeoned in the course of the 3rd/9th and 4th/10th centuries. In these studies, however, the role of Neoplatonism in the shaping of early Ṣūfī philosophy and cosmology has been largely overlooked.

Drawing on selected extracts and passages from Ḥallāğ’s extant writings – from both primary and secondary sources – this book goes against the main trajectory of modern Western scholarship, which standardly denies any substantial relation between Ḥallāğ and Neoplatonism, arguing that Neoplatonism is inevitable for understanding certain key themes and concepts in Ḥallāğ’s mystical philosophy.

Published: Feb 1, 2019