One Aspect of the Akbarian Turn in Shī̔ī Theology<sup>*</sup>

Robert Wisnovsky

in Sufism and Theology

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748626052
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653126 | DOI:
One Aspect of the Akbarian Turn in Shī̔ī Theology*

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This chapter is a companion piece to an article published in 2004 in the journal Arabic Sciences and Philosophy. There the article examined the history of one of Avicenna's most famous contributions to the history of philosophy, a distinction between ‘the necessary of existence in itself’ (wāji al-wujīd bi-dhātih) and ‘ the necessary through another’ (wāji al-wujīd bi-gharih, which Avecenna took to be convertible with the ‘the possible of existence in itself’, mumkin al-wujīd bi-dhātih). The focus of this chapter is on Shī'ī rather than Sunni kalām, and specifically on the transformation that took place in Shī'ī theology after mutakallimūn began to appropriate elements of the metaphysics of Muhyī al-Dīn Ibn al-'Arabi. In order to give sense of the continuities that existed between the Akbarian turn in Shī'ī theology and the Avicennian turn in Sunni theology that began two centuries earlier, this chapter restricts its scope to the divine attributes and to the evolution of distinction between God's of Majesty (sifat al-jalāl) and His ‘attributes of Beauty’ (sifat al-jamār). After discussing the early history of the distinction, the chapter then discusses Ibn al-Arabi's short treatise entitled Kitab al-Jalal wa-manba al-anwar which will pinpoint how and why his understanding of the distinction differed from that of Ibn al-Arabi.

Keywords: Avicenna; Shī'ī; kalām; Twelver-Shī'ī theology; mutakallimūn; Shī'ī theology; Ibn al-Arabi

Chapter.  7261 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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