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Josephine Gehlhar (2013-2020)


The Ottoman Commentary Tradition to al-Ghazālī’s Tahāfut al-falāsifa

The Ottoman Commentary Tradition to al-Ghazālī’s Tahāfut al-falāsifa

About a decade after conquering Istanbul Sultan Mehmed II ordered two of the most renowned scholars of his time, Musliḥ al-Dīn Muṣṭafā, known as Khōjazāde from Bursa (d. 893/1488), and the Persian scholar ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 887/1482) to once again subject the controversy between theology and philosophy to critical scrutiny. Therefore, the two scholars competed in a scholarly dispute by commenting on the influential book “The Precipitance of the Philosophers” (Tahāfut al-falāsifa) by the 11th century scholar Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī. In the Tahāfut, al-Ghazālī deals with the central philosophical notions of metaphysics and condemns them as unbelief (kufr) in three matters: the world’s origination, God’s knowledge of the worldly particulars and the bodily resurrection. Eventually, Khōjazāde’s commentary emerged victorious  and provoked an extensive tradition of super-commentaries, glosses and critical synopses of at least thirteen authors up to the 18th century. This research projects focuses on commentaries of the Ottoman scholars to Khōjazāde’s Tahāfut. For four of the commentaries we hold manuscript evidence. The texts show a sophisticated engagement with the philosophy-theology controversy. Some of the most distinguished Ottoman scholars contributed to the tradition; one of them was the prolific Ibn Kemāl Pāshā. At about the same time Qarabāghī penned his commentary. After a short recess in the 17th century, the commentary tradition was revived in the 18th century by al-Üsküdārī and Mestcīzāde. The research project will examine the interconnectedness of the commentaries throughout the centuries as well as their respective historical context and takes all the commentaries as a testimony of the nature and scope of Ottoman intellectual engagement. Thus, it engages with the hitherto vastly underrepresented topic of Ottoman Intellectual History.


Erstgutachterin: Prof. Dr. Heidrun Eichner