The concept of hikmah in early Islamic thought

by Yaman, Hikmet, Ph.D., HARVARD UNIVERSITY, 2008, 349 pages; 3295951


In classical Islamic scholarly disciplines, a thorough knowledge of "technical concepts" is of paramount importance. These terms constitute a highly organized technical system within a complex network of multiple conceptual interrelationships in the cross-disciplinary context of Muslim works. The dissertation examines this situation in the case of the concept of h&dotbelow;ikmah (wisdom) in the scholarly sources written during the formative period of the Islamic intellectual fields. The word h&dotbelow;ikmah has a wide spectrum of connotations in these texts, as it basically contains all knowledge within human reach, and accordingly, received a range of diverse scholarly treatments. This subtle and elusive notion has not been adequately addressed in western scholarship, nor has its potential contribution to presenting the mentality of earliest Muslim scholars been explored. While the dissertation centers on the notion of h&dotbelow;ikmah, it also sheds light on other key epistemological concepts found in the Qur'an, including 'ilm (knowledge), ma'rifah (gnosis), 'aql (intellect), qalb (heart), and fiqh (comprehension). It thus contextualizes h&dotbelow;ikmah in a nuanced fashion in the collective usage of early Muslim authors.

The dissertation first investigates the lexicographical meanings of h&dotbelow;ikmah and analyzes its terminological meanings in the works on the technical vocabulary of Islamic disciplines. It then examines h&dotbelow;ikmah in the literatures of Qur'anic exegesis and Sufism, and contextualizes h&dotbelow;ikmah within a network of associated concepts. In the particular example of h&dotbelow;ikmah, therefore, the dissertation focuses on contextual peculiarities of the technical terms in early Muslim writings and analyzes the relational semantic components of h&dotbelow;ikmah in these texts. It also discusses interdisciplinary elements of h&dotbelow;ikmah therein deriving information from diverse Muslim intellectual fields. Finally, the dissertation elaborates the earliest Muslim philosophers' reception and conception of philosophy in its particular relation to h&dotbelow;ikmah as it is mentioned in the primary authoritative Muslim scriptures.

Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsMedieval literature; Middle Eastern literature
Publication Number3295951

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