Dunja Rašić (Alumna BGSMCS)
The Banisher of Madness - An Interpretation of Language as the Vessel of All Truths Sacred and Profane in the Teachings of Ibn al-Sarrāj of Baghdad
The Banisher of Madness. An Interpretation of Language as the Vessel of All Truths Sacred and Profane in the Teachings of Ibn al-Sarrāj of Baghdad
Born in the late 9th century Baghdad, the ʿAbbāsid grammarian ‘Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Saḥl Ibn al-Sarrāj (d. 929), came to be remembered as the Banisher of Madness and the virtuous scholar whose life has exemplified the culture of Arabs in its fullness. Lauded as the arch-enemy of Hellenistic sciences and, at the same time, as the main source of transmission of Aristotelian logic from the 10th century philosophers to the grammarians of Baghdad; Ibn al-Sarrāj remains a shadowy figure in the history of Arabic grammar studies up until today. As a result, his role in the rivalry between the ‘Abbāsid grammarians and logicians hitherto remains unknown. My dissertation resolves this issue through the analysis of the problematic relationship between language, logic and grammar in Ibn al-Sarrāj’s treatises. In order to reconstruct Ibn al-Sarrāj’s biography and teachings, the present study draws from the works of ‘Abbāsid grammarians, historiographers and the previously unstudied manuscripts of Ibn al-Sarrāj’s works from the collections of the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco. In addition, the present study offers an insight into the conflict between the medieval grammarians and logicians over the traditionally-established authority of ʿAbbāsid grammarians to analyze the intelligible realm and nature of a human soul. In order to come to terms with the controversial notion of grammarians as the guardians of the divine wisdom, the present study pivots on one of its greatest embodiments: Ibn al-Sarrāj’s notion of the Wisdom of Arabs.
▪ In search for the Wisdom of Arabs, the opening chapter of the present study analyses laws of grammar as the embodied, active manifestations of Wisdom and their potential to serve as a medium towards the higher levels of consciousness. In order to come to terms with nature and properties of the supreme Wisdom, this chapter reflects on Ibn al-Sarrāj’s attempt to legitimize the prized traits of Classical Arabic as a reflection of the unsurpassable qualities of its progenitors.
▪ The second chapter of the present study puts to test the long-standing surmise that Ibn al-Sarrāj concealed his philosophical studies and pursued them under the guise of scientific disciplines that had a somewhat better standing in the ʿAbbāsid society. Through the analysis of the records of public debates between the grammarians and logicians and the works of scholars who took part in them, this chapter offers an insight into the nature of rivalry between grammar and logic and the main causes that have led to it. Moreover, the second chapter reflects on how Ibn al-Sarrāj’s notion of supreme Wisdom mirrors the dynamic relationship between Knowledge and Power in the ʿAbbāsid Empire.
▪ With regards to the first and second chapter of the present study, the third chapter overviews the practical methods to obtain the Wisdom and its manifestations in the souls and vernaculars of Arabs. In addition, this chapter introduces Ibn al-Sarrāj’s perception of grammarians as an instrument of the Divine will.
▪ As the concluding chapter of the present study, the fourth chapter analyses the impact of Ibn al-Sarrāj’s teachings on the Arabic grammar tradition. Through the analysis of the cultural politics of the royal court in Baghdad, this chapter maps the historical factors that have generated the need for Wisdom that was set to heal the soul of its afflictions and secure the peace and prosperity in this world and the hereafter.
Through the analysis of the Wisdom of Arabs and the key factors that have shaped and determined its development, the present study strives towards offering an innovative perspective on language, group identities and the social and power relations in the Arab world.
First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Beatrice Gründler
Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Lukas Mühlethaler
Rašić, Dunja. The Banisher of Madness. An Interpretation of Language as a Vessel of All Truths Sacred and Profane in the Teachings of Ibn al-Sarrāj of Baghdad. Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2021.
Rašić, Dunja (2019), ‘’Topographies of Afterlife: Intermediate World of Barzakh in the Works of Ibn Arabi’’, Third Program of Belgrade 161 (2). In press.
Rašić, Dunja (2017), ‘’ Alexander the Great as Qur’anic Zulqarnain: The Two- Horned King of The One Thousand and One Nights’’ FILUM 7 (2): 150-162.
Rašić, Dunja (2016), ‘’al-Sirāfi’s Stairways to Wisdom: A Method’’, The Issues of Arabic Studies 3 (1): 116-140.
Rašić, Dunja (2016), ‘’Throne of Beauty in Islamic Civilization: Diagram no.20 of Ibn Arabi’s Meccan Revelations’’, Journal of Serbian Aesthetical Society 7 (1): 26- 37.
Rašić, Dunja (2016), ‘’Minamoto no Yoshitsune as Ainurakkur: A God-like Human being; Translations and Critical Analyze of Yukar Poetry’’, FILUM 7 (2): 133- 146.
Rašić, Dunja (2015), ‘’The Perfect Man in Literary Opus of St. John Climacus and Ibn ‘Arabī’’, Kom Journal of Religious Sciences 4 (1): 119-145.