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Books

In Search of Iranian Continuity: From the Zoroastrian Tradition to the Islamic Mysticism

Azarnouche, Samra (ed.). 2022. À la recherche de la continuité iranienne: de la tradition zoroastrienne à la mystique islamique. Recueil de textes autour de l’œuvre de Marijan Molé (1924-1963). Turnhout: Brepols.

The work of the Polish-Slovenian Iranian scholar Marijan Molé (1924-1963) has had a profound influence on the religious sciences that can be observed to this day. In barely fifteen years (1948-1963), he was able to give unprecedented impetus to Iranian studies, thanks to the meticulous study of corpora ranging from the Avesta and Middle Persian Zoroastrian literature to treatises on Islamic mysticism, including Persian epics and mythical gestures. Too soon interrupted, the vast project that he had begun during his years of study in Krakow and which he pursued in Paris and Tehran had as its main axis the uncovering of a unitary system that would underpin the evolution of a religious doctrine over the long term, an “Iranian continuity”.

The recent discovery of his Nachlass (IRHT and BULAC, Paris) provides us with the opportunity to take stock of his legacy and to try to highlight the originality of his approach and his contribution to the history of ideas and to the intellectual debate on the religions of Iran, by identifying both the achievements and the dead ends, the innovations and the extensions.

The present volume gathers the contributions on Zoroastrianism and Islamic mysticism, presented at the international study day entitled “Between Mazdeism and Islam”, dedicated to the work of Marijan Molé, which was held on 24 June 2016 in Paris.

Table of Contents

  • Chronologie de la vie de Marijan Molé (1924-1963)
  • Bibliographie de Marijan Molé
  • Gianroberto Scarcia: “Souvenir de Marijan Molé”
  • Anna Krasnowolska: “Marijan Molé’s Early Works and his Study of Persian Epics
  • Jean Kellens: “1956-1964: Le printemps des études gâthiques”
  • Philippe Swennen: “Marijan Molé à l’aube du nouveau comparatisme indo-iranien”
  • Shaul Shaked: “A Zoroastrian Anthropological Theology”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Le gētīg dans le mēnōg et le système chiliadique mazdéen selon la réflexion de Marijan Molé
  • Pierre lory: “Marijan Molé, ‘Azîz Nasafî et l’Homme Parfait”
  • Michel Tardieu: “Les Mystiques musulmans de Marijan Molé: contextes et enjeux”.
    • Appendice: Note brève sur le messalianisme
  • Florence Somer: “Marijan Molé et la «tradition jamaspienne»: le traité apocalyptique inédit des Aḥkām ī Jāmāsp”
  • Alexey Khismatulin: “Destiny of the Unpublished Works by Marijan Molé on the Naqshbandiya”.
    • Appendice: Description of “fonds Molé” (IRHT, Paris)
  • Appendice I: Marijan Molé: “Les origines de la geste sistanienne”
  • Appendice II: Correspondances
  • Appendice III: Description du fonds Marijan Molé (BULAC)
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Articles

Gayōmart and Adam

Panaino, Antonio. 2021. Gayōmart e Adamo. Simmetrie e Asimmetrie tra Zoroastrismo e mondo islamo-giudaico-cristiano. In Carlo Saccone (ed.), Adamo, il secondo Adamo, il nuovo Adamo (Quaderni di studi indo-mediterranei). Milano: Mimesis Edizioni.

The frequent and direct association between Gayōmart and Adam, well attested within the Arabo-Islamic literary tradition, hides a number of embarrassing ethnic and cultural problems emerging from the taboo of the incest and directly connected with the impending desire to accommodate the origin of humanity, as inevitably generated by a couple of siblings, within a moral covered scheme, and in spite of the totally different sexual ethics of the Mazdean tradition. In the framework of this operation, the comparison with the Zoroastrian customs, which emphasized the habit of the next-of-kin marriage, presented a serious problem of moral nature. Then, the necessary accommodation of the origin of humanity was given a special solution, in which the story of J̌im e J̌imāg or of Mašyā e Mašyāne had no particular weight, and were practically covered, while an isolated Gayōmart, devoid of any emphasis for the union with his own mother, was identified with Adam.

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Books

Qurʾānic allusions to Zoroastrian texts

Bitsch, Sebastian. 2020. Sengende Hitze, Eiseskälte oder Mond? Zum Echo zoroastrischer eschatologischer Vorstellungen am Beispiel des koranischen zamharīr. Der Islam 97(2). 313–366.

This article discusses eventual Qurʾānic allusions to Zoroastrian texts by using the example of zamharīr (Q 76:13). In the early tafsīr and ḥadīth-literature the term is most commonly understood as a piercing cold, which has frequently been interpreted as a punishment in hell. This idea, it is argued, has significant parallels to the concept of cold as a punishment in hell or to the absence of cold as a characteristic of paradise in the Avestan and Middle-Persian literature. In addition, Christian and Jewish texts that emphasize a similar idea and have not been discussed in research so far are brought into consideration. The article thus aims to contribute to the inclusion of Zoroastrian texts in locating the genesis of the Qurʾān – or early Islamic exegesis – in the “epistemic space ” of late antiquity.

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Books

The end of Middle East history

Bulliet, Richard. 2020. The end of Middle East history and other conjectures (Mizan Series 3). Harvard University Press.

The End of Middle East History and Other Conjectures is an unapologetic collection of imaginative essays from thought-provoking Middle East scholar Richard W. Bulliet. Not your ordinary think pieces, this volume collects for the first time Bulliet’s Big Bang–Big Crunch theory of Islamic history and his illuminating conception of the “Muslim South.” Speculations range from future political events to counterfactual histories of how reversal of the outcome of a 1529 battle might have profoundly altered history. After fifty years of posing and answering daring historical questions, Bulliet happily tackles an array of conjectures on subjects as diverse as the origin of civilization, the end of Middle East history, and future interpretations of the twentieth century.

Source: The End of Middle East History and Other Conjectures — Richard W. Bulliet | Harvard University Press

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Books

Islamic Transformations of the Classical Past

Casagrande-Kim, Roberta, Samuel Thrope & Julia Rubanovich (eds.). 2018. Romance and reason: Islamic transformations of the classical past. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Within a century of the Arab Muslim conquest of vast territories in the Middle East and North Africa, Islam became the inheritor of the intellectual legacy of classical antiquity. In an epochal cultural transformation between the eighth and tenth centuries CE, most of what survived in classical Greek literature and thought was translated from Greek into Arabic. This translation movement, sponsored by the ruling Abbasid dynasty, swiftly blossomed into the creative expansion and reimagining of classical ideas that were now integral parts of the Islamic tradition.

Romance and Reason, a lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition of the same name at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, explores the breadth and depth of Islamic engagement with ancient Greek thought. Drawing on manuscripts and artifacts from the collections of the National Library of Israel and prominent American institutions, the catalogue’s essays focus on the portrayal of Alexander the Great as ideal ruler, mystic, lover, and philosopher in Persian poetry and art, and how Islamic medicine, philosophy, and science contended with and developed the classical tradition.

Contributors include Roberta Casagrande-Kim, Leigh Chipman, Steven Harvey, Y. Tzvi Langermann, Rachel Milstein, Julia Rubanovich, Samuel Thrope, and Raquel Ukeles.

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Articles Books

Aristotle and Avicenna on the habitability of the Southern Hemisphere

de Blois, François. 2018. Aristotle and Avicenna on the habitability of the Southern Hemisphere. In Sabine Schmidtke (ed.), Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1935-2018, 188-193. Piscataway: Gorgias Press.

The history of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study dates back to 1935, and it is the one area of scholarship that has been continuously represented at the Institute ever since. The volume opens with a historical sketch of the study of the Near and Middle East at the Institute. The second part of the volume consists of essays and short studies by IAS scholars, past and present, covering fields such as the ancient Near East and early Islamic history, the Bible and the Qurʾān, Islamic intellectual history within and beyond denominational history, Arabic and other Semitic languages and literatures, Islamic religious and legal practices, law and society, the Islamic West, the Ottoman world, Iranian studies, the modern Middle East, and Islam in the West.

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Books

Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam

Sadeghi, Fatemeh. 2018. Sin of the woman. Interrelations of religious judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam (Islamkundliche Untersuchungen 336). Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.

Since the 1920s, the so-called »return to the roots«, has become a hege­monic discourse in Iran. Whereas the Pahlavi regimes (1925–1979) propa­gated the myth of the lost idyll of pre-Islamic Iran repre­sen­ting them­selves as the true inhe­ri­tors of those monar­chies, the Isla­mists adopted a respec­tive approach in regard to Islam.
As a result, a similar fairy­tale was made about the early Islamic community. Such claims, as it were, are not so much about the past as they are about the present. So is this study.
By delving into the past, it ques­tions the wide­s­p­read nost­algic notions cons­i­de­ring the pre-Islamic era as a lost utopia, wherein women were free from the restric­tions »imposed by Islam«. In point of fact such past is a fabri­ca­tion. In the majo­rity of cases, there­fore, the revival projects invent tradi­tions to legiti­mize current political agendas.

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Articles

The Dēnkard Against its Islamic Discourse

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2017. The Dēnkard Against its Islamic Discourse. Der Islam 94(2).

The Dēnkard is the most exhaustive Pahlavi work ever produced in Zoroastrianism. Due to the large amount of information included in it, this body of work has often been referred to within the field of Iranian Studies as a ‘Zoroastrian Encyclopedia’. This article discusses two main points. First, it holds that it was not the intention of the Dēnkard’s authors and editors to compose a Zoroastrian encyclopedia in the 9th and 10th centuries. By contrast, the independent texts which serve as the basis of this compilation deal with other religions or present a Zoroastrian apologetic. It also claims that the Dēnkard has not been perceived as an encyclopedia in later Zoroastrianism. Second, the article scrutinizes the editorial process that led to this book. It furthermore argues that the Dēnkard, in its current form, has been structured to resemble the Zoroastrian world history comprising nine millennia. This article aims, moreover, to show that the last three books of the Dēnkard aim to depict Zoroastrians as belonging to the People of the Book. The article finally argues that the Dēnkard should be considered entirely a theological apologetic within an inter-religious context, which was mainly carried by Muslim theologians.

 

 

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Articles

A Jewish Convert to Imāmī Šīʿism

Halft, Dennis. 2017. Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī: A twelfth/eighteenth-century Jewish convert to Imāmī Šīʿism and his critique of Ibn Ezra’s commentary on the four kingdoms (Daniel 2:31-45). In Miriam Lindgren Hjälm (ed.), Senses of scripture, treasures of tradition: The Bible in Arabic among Jews, Christians and Muslims (Biblia Arabica 5), 280–304. Leiden: Brill.

Abstract of the article:

This study explores the previously unstudied anti-Jewish Persian polemic Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ by the Jewish convert to Twelver Šīʿī Islam, Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, the father of Ḥāǧǧī Bābā Qazvīnī Yazdī. It examines Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī’s discussion of a medieval Jewish controversy concerning the four-kingdom schema in the book of Daniel and Ibn Ezra’s interpretation of the dream-vision in favor of Islam as the fourth kingdom. The study shows that Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, besides his reference to Muslim works in Persian, relied on different (partly printed) Jewish textual sources in the original Hebrew and Aramaic (Miqraʾot Gedolot, Neḇuʾat ha-yeled, Sefer haš-šorašim, Sefer Josippon), from which he quoted in his own Persian translation/adaptation. He thus made internal Jewish debates accessible to native Muslim scholars, such as Mullā ʿAlī Nūrī, who borrowed from Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ. Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī was a cross-cultural intermediary and go-between who expanded the traditional range of Šīʿī polemical arguments against Judaism in pre-modern Iran.

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Articles

Descent and Inheritance in Zoroastrian and Shiʿite Law

A Zoroastrian family in Qajar Iran, circa 1910 © The National Geographic Magazine © The National Geographic Magazine

Macuch, Maria. 2017. Descent and inheritance in Zoroastrian and Shiʿite law: A preliminary study. Der Islam 94(2). 322–335.

The Twelver Shiʿite law of inheritance constitutes one of the most distinctive features of the legal system in comparison with Sunni law. Although there are major and even irreconcilable divergences between the Sunnite law of succession according to all four legal schools on the one hand and Twelver Shiʿite law on the other, no convincing explanations for this striking development within Islamic law itself, leading to two fundamentally distinct systems, have hitherto been put forward. The aim of this preliminary study is to call attention to several remarkable correspondences between the complex Iranian (Zoroastrian) law of succession, conceived to support the specific needs of aristocratic descent groups in the Sasanian period, and Twelver Shiʿite regulations, reflecting a very similar underlying concept of family ties and descent groups as a whole. The question is, whether these congruencies are purely coincidental or based on age-old social and traditional norms, which continued to be practised in the regions of the former Sasanian empire after the Islamic conquest. As Sasanian norms remained operative in customary law (now documented by Pahlavi legal documents from 8th century Tabarestān) during the formative period of Islamic law and the Sunnite regulations, being based to a large extent on pre-Islamic tribal law in Arabia, contrast sharply with the Shiʿite concept, it would be consistent to assume that certain precepts in the pre-Islamic Iranian system had an important impact on the development of the Twelver Shiʿite law of inheritance.