Appel à communications : Conference “The Sciences of Islam, between Repetition and Innovation : What is Commenting in Islam?”, Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Le Caire (Égypte), 14-16/01/2016 — LIMITE : 30/09/2015

The sciences of Islam, between repetition  and innovation: What is commenting  in Islam?
Concluding conference of the 200 Project: “Historical contextualization of 200 authors of the Arab and Islamic heritage” IDEO, Cairo, January 14-16, 2016

The Mellon Sawyer Seminar,1  held at the University of California, Berkeley, from October

12-14, 2012, addressed the issue of the literary genre of commentary in post-classical Islam (6th-

13rd century A.H./12nd-19th century A.D.). The organizers wanted to restore honor to the genre of commentary, often ignored by specialists in the various Islamic sciences under the pretext that it would, by nature, lack innovation. As El Shamsy2 put it, while modernity was obsessed with the question  of originality, postmodernism  is preoccupied  with hermeneutic circles and language games. He concludes that the present reassessment of the genre of commentary and of scholastic scholarship is not surprising.

Commentary is of paramount  importance  in the post-classical Islamic sciences. One can even say, as did Saleh,3  that,  in the 8th/14th century,  commentary  became the  main mode of intellectual activity as a natural result of the professionalization of knowledge. It forces thinkers to confront the works of others; to follow their arguments, and to respond to them. Here we use “commentary”  in the  broader  sense:  tafsīr, šarḥ, ḥāšiya, taʿlīq,  but also taḥqīq, taqrīr, taḥrīr etc. Saleh concludes4  by suggesting that the system of the Ottoman madrasa epitomizes this mode of transmission of knowledge.

In the case of philosophical texts, Wisnovsky5 identified seven functions of commentary: 1) reasoned collation of manuscripts; 2) identification  of authors and of cited works; 3) paraphrase or definition  of puzzling terms; 4) provision  of additional  evidence for some propositions; 5) remodeling or replacement  of the evidence given in the matn; 6) harmonization of the author’s theories with other theories he stated himself in other works, or with theories of others; and 7) refutation  of the  theories  of the  matn and at times their  replacement  by a new theory. More generally, commentary, though one tool among many, plays a role in transmitting and developing the Islamic sciences while at the same time maintaining a strong  link with an often idealized past.6

The proceedings of the seminar, partially published in issue 41/3-4 (2013) of the journal Oriens,  show that  the  extent  of the  corpus  of post-classical  commentaries  in Islam requires further  research  before one is able to arrive at meaningful conclusions. Eleven of the thirteen published   contributions   each  address   a  specific  text and  its  corresponding   tradition   of commentaries,  and  those being from various fields: Qur’ān, ḥadīṯ, fiqh, philosophy, medicine, Sufism, and poetry.  Our conference  intends  to contribute  to this research  by continuing  the investigation begun at the 2012 Mellon Sawyer Seminar. We expect to add new fields and provide convincing examples which clarify issues and refine our understanding of the challenges faced by the  transmission  and interpretation of the  Islamic sciences. We also seek to understand if there are historical constants in this matter.

One issue deserves more attention: the analysis of commentaries  that  seem to transmit scribal errors  or miscomprehension  of texts. A good example of this is the case of Ibn al-Nafīs’ Mūjaz. As studied by Fancy,7  the physiological theory  presented  by Ibn al-Nafīs in his Mūjaz (a compendium of Avicenna’s Canon) contradicts  certain  points of his own theory, as expressed in his  commentaries  of the  same  Canon. What  is more  puzzling  is that  some  of Ibn  al-Nafīs’ commentators seem not to have noticed these contradictions.

Other  questions  we would like to  address  are: Do  other  areas reflect  the  same  seven functions of the commentary  that Wisnovsky identified in philosophy? Can variations  in these functions be observed according to the field or era? Which processes govern the canonization of one  commentary  over another?  Do  commentaries  on  these  “canonical”  commentaries serve functions which differ from the functions of the commentaries on basic works? Do self- commentaries follow fundamentally different criteria? Can we pinpoint particular features in the thought of an author in his own practice of commentary  and the function which he intends his commentaries to play?

These research questions are based on the results of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar, they do not cover all the aspects of the commentary relations between texts. We hope your contributions will enrich this fascinating research field.

Keynote speakers : Stefan Reichmut (Ruhr University, Bochum), Walid A. Saleh (University of Toronto) and Nadjet Zouggar (RESMED, Paris).

The proceedings of this symposium will be published in MIDEO, the journal of the Institute, after acceptance by the peer committee.

Practical informations:

To  register,   please   send   an   email  at   the   following  address:   secretariat@ideo-cairo.org. Registration is free of fees.

If you wish to deliver a paper, please send your abstract  (300‒500 words, in English, French or Arabic)  and  a CV to  the  same  address,  secretariat@ideo-cairo.org.  Deadline for  application: September 30, 2015. We will select between six and ten papers.

The conference will take place at IDEO on January, 14, 15 and 16, 2016.

Plus d’infos



Citer ce billet
agirault (2015, 19 mai). Appel à communications : Conference “The Sciences of Islam, between Repetition and Innovation : What is Commenting in Islam?”, Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Le Caire (Égypte), 14-16/01/2016 — LIMITE : 30/09/2015. IISMM. Consulté le 16 juin 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/pzfs

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