Publication

  • This is the first English translation of the last known philosophical work of the great eleventh-century Ismaili thinker, poet, and Fatimid emissary,Nasir-i Khusraw. Appointed from Cairo by command of the Fatimid Imaminfo-icon-caliphinfo-icon al-Mustansir to serve first as a daʿi, and then as the hujjatinfo-icon, for the entire region of Khurasaninfo-icon, he maintained his allegiance to both his mission and his Imam for the rest of his life, even when threatened and driven into exile.

    Written during his exile in Badakhshan in the year 1070 CE, Nasir-i Khusraw here develops a powerful presentation of both Aristotelian philosophy and Ismaili exegesis, or taʾwil, and strives to show that they are ultimately in harmony. The work is presented as a learned commentary on a long philosophical poem, written in the previous century and sent to Nasir by the amirinfo-icon of Badakhshan, ʿAli b. Asad, who copied the poem out in his own hand from memory and asked the poet-philosopher to explicate it.

    In doing so, Nasir ranges over a huge span of topics from logic and language to the nature of the physical world, from the spheres of the highest heavens to the plants and animals of the earthly realm, and, most importantly, hidden spiritual realities: the esoteric (batininfo-icon) as well as the exoteric (zahirinfo-icon) realms. He thus discusses the nature of God, the creation of human beings, and the mysteries concealed in the physical world, itself a reflection of a higher, transcendent realm.

    Between Reason and Revelation: Twin Wisdoms Reconciled is an annotated translation of the Persian text prepared by Henry Corbin and Mohammed Muʿin based on the single surviving manuscript of the work, now in the Süleymaniye Mosque Library in Istanbul. It is a work of great philosophical and spiritual insight, which is also a pioneering attempt to tackle difficult intellectual problems in the Persian language; it is at once lucid and lyrical, precise and speculative. Nasir’s influence has been immense as both a poet and a thinker, and the Kitab-i Jamiʿ al-Hikmatayn is his crowning work.

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    Illustrations

    xi

     

    Abbreviations

    xii

     

     

     
     

    Introduction

    1

     

     

     
     

    Translation of Kitab-i Jamiʿ al-hikmatayn: The Book of Twin Wisdoms Reconciled

     
     

     

     
     

     

     
     

    Exordium

    19

    1

    The Reason for the Composition of this Book; its Title

    23

    2

    The Qasidainfo-icon of Ahmad b. Hasan al-Jurjani

    35

    3

    On the Proof of the Creator’s Existence with a Discussion of His Oneness, in Several Discourses

    41

     

    a. On the Creator’s existence

    41

     

    b. The Doctrine of the Dialectical Theologians of the Karramites on Tawhidinfo-icon

    51

     

    c. The Doctrine of the Theologians of the Muʿtazilite School on Tawhid

    56

     

    d. The Doctrine of the Metaphysical Philosophers on Tawhid

    67

    4

    Aristotle’s Teaching on the Four Parts of Speech

    73

    5

    On Form, Property, Definition and Description

    81

    6

    The Definition of ‘I’

    95

    7

    On the Body, on the Soul, on the Intelligence

    101

    8

    On the Seven Lights

    103

    9

    On Eternity, Truth, Pleasure, Life as it Passes, Perfection, and Occultation

    109

    10

    On Universal Nature

    117

    11

    On Angel, Pari, Demon

    127

    12

    A Commentary on ‘One’

    135

    13

    Of Species and Genus

    141

    14

    On Happiness and Unhappiness. And on Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

    147

    15

    Properties of Minerals, Animals, and Places

    155

    16

    On Language, Discourse, Speech

    167

    17

    On Pre-Eternity, Duration, Eternity, and Eternity without End

    171

    18

    On the Moon’s Properties

    175

    19

    On the Necessity of Human Education

    183

    20

    About ibdaʿ (Origination)

    189

    21

    On the Emergence of the Species from the Individual

    205

    22

    On Intellect and Knowledge

    215

    23

    On the Difference between the Perceiver and the Act of Perception

    219

    24

    On the Creation of Heaven and Earth

    223

    25

    On the Circle, the Chicken and the Egg

    231

    26

    On the Whole and the Part

    235

    27

    On Saturn, Seed of Spring

    239

    28

    On the Houses of the Sun and the Moon

    243

    29

    On the Influence of Auspicious and Ominous Stars on the Soul and the Body

    257

    30

    On Spiritual Father and Mother

    261

    31

    On Questions without Answers about the Properties of the Elements

    265

    32

    On the Poet’s Resolve to Reply to his own Questions

    271

    33

    That the Learned Man is Alive, the Ignorant Man Dead

    275

    34

    Conclusion of the Book

    277

         
     

    Bibliography

    281

     

    Index

    286

     

  • Prof. Eric Ormsby

    English
    Deputy Head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, Professor Eric Ormsby has held positions with several university libraries and collections in North America including: Director of Libraries at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. from 1983-86; Director of Libraries at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and Associate Professor in McGill's Institute of Islamic Studies from 1983-86; and from 1996 to 2005, full Professor and Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. Professor Ormsby received his B...Read more