Thursday, 05 November 2020, 06.00 PM-08.00 PM
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What does a theory of metaphor have to do with the development of Islamic theology, law, and politics? To understand the connection, my talk starts with investigating the hidden assumptions that were held by early medieval Muslim theoreticians as they were constructing a theory of metaphor. These hidden assumptions were rarely put into question as they reflected what was perceived to be a matter of consensus among reasonable people (al-ʿuqalāʾ) despite time and place. Nevertheless, once we delve into earlier Arabic modes of thinking, these assumptions start to collapse. This singles out that the first two or three centuries of Islam witnessed the emergence of a new “common sense” different from the one held at the beginning of this process. I argue that understanding this process illuminates many other transformations that took place in early Islam, not only in poetics, but also in theology, law, politics, and ethics.
Abdallah Soufan joined the OIB as a research associate in September 2019. He received his PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Georgetown University with a dissertation entitled “Tradition and Its Boundaries: A Diachronic Study of the Concept of Bidʿah in Early Islam.” He holds a BS in Mathematics, and a BA and an MA in Arabic from the American University of Beirut, where he had worked for several years as an Instructor of Arabic and Islamic Thought. His research investigates dichotomies in classical Islamic thought, including the dichotomies of sunnah-bidʿah, veridicality-tropicality, reason-tradition, word-meaning, and exoteric-esoteric. His publications include a critical edition and a translation of Epistle 48 of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (jointly with Abbas Hamdani; Oxford University Press, 2019).
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