Paradise Found: ʿAyn al-Quḍāt on Qur’anic Origins
ʿAyn al-Quḍāt Hamadānī (d. 525/1131) was a mystic, philosopher, theologian, and judge who was born in the western Iranian city of Hamadan. He was the student of Aḥmad al-Ghazālī (d. 520/1126), and is best known as a maverick-like figure who was put to death by the Seljuq government at the tender age of thirty-four, ostensibly on charges of “heresy.” Looking beyond the causes surrounding his state-sponsored execution and to his writings, ʿAyn al-Quḍāt emerges as a first-rate thinker who was thoroughly conversant in the Islamic intellectual and spiritual sciences, along with Arabic and Persian poetry.
For all of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s importance, there is relatively little scholarship on him that is entirely reliable, and there are major features of his thought which remain unexamined. His engagement with the Qur’an is one glaring example. In this lecture I outline the main features of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s Qur’anic vision by focusing on the importance he places upon the Qur’an’s all-encompassing nature on the one hand, and his notion of cultivating “worthiness” (ahliyya) in order to understand the Qur’an on the other. This will then set the stage for an exposition of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s unique perspective on the Qur’anic “detached letters” (al-ḥurūf al-muqaṭṭaʿa), through which he presents us with his theory of the Qur’an’s true origins.
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