seminari fscire – philosophy and sufism in the abbasid period: meeting or clash?

15 aprile, 14.30-18.30 – 16 aprile, 09.00-13.00
(Il seminario si terrà online)

Víctor Pallejà De Bustinza (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

Philosophy and Sufism in the Abbasid Period: Meeting or Clash?


The earliest Western Academic studies on Arab Philosophy -already in the XVIIth c. BC. got interested with “sufism” and inquired about its relation with Arabic Philosophy. E. Renan marked what since the XIXth C. brought the main explanatory approach. Namely, the opposition between reason and faith as it was actually understood in Europe served to describe the clash between Islamicate philosophy and Sufism. Such a pattern has been dominant in the Western world since then.

Yet the growing knowledge acquired since then has changed decisively the reliability offered by such explanatory models. A fresh tentative essay of synthesis and criticism is going to be forwarded. Our starting point will be a first parallel study of al-Hallâj (m. 922) and al-Fârâbî (d. 950) lives and works. Then focusing on al-‘Amirî (d. 992) we will describe the model for a particular brand of “intellectual Sufis”. Abû Hayyân al-Tawhîdî (d. 1023AD)  is going to show us precisely how the discussions between Hukamâ’ and Sûfiyya had reached the Abbasside courts. Thus, earlier than Ibn Sînâ (d. 1027) and al-Gazzâlî (d. 1111) epic clash, an spiritual heritage already existed despite the difficulties in tracing back the often blurred traces discernable up to Ibn ‘Arabî (d. 1240) and his School and much beyond. In between, ‘Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamâdhânî (d. 1131), Ibn Rushd (d. 1198) and Fakhr al-Dîn Râzî (d. 1210) will be called as a witness to the battle for and against Ibn Sînâ doctrines.

Our contention is that during this period a specific closed number of issues came to fuse together as a sort of intellectual agenda transmitted from generation to generation to be commented on again and again though never completely settled. Basically located in Courts, political landlords and upper class bourgeoisie yet in khânaga-hâ and tekkeler too, a sophisticated and often very clumsy debate was carried on leaving for  the future –beyond the clashes and the inherent political tensions– the several patterns that characterize Islamic metaphysics.


Prof. Víctor Pallejà de Bustinza got his degree in Arabic at the University of Barcelona and his Master of advanced studies in Religious Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. He has translated a selection from the Futûhât al-Makkiyya into Spanish. He has been working basically in the field of Christian, Muslim and Jewish medieval philosophical and cultural exchanges. He has been doing  active research and lecturing for thirty years travelling extensively from Spain to Indonesia. Presently he is a member of the Instituto Brasileiro de Filosofia e Ciência Raimundo Lúlio (Sâo Paulo).

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