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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter presents the details of Wasāʾil. It offers necessary background information on the author and the socio-cultural and intellectual contexts in which he lived and wrote. This includes biographical information about ʿAbd al-Ghanī's life and personality, introductory discussion of postal history and the culture of correspondence in the Islamic world, and critical analysis of ʿAbd al-Ghanī's practice of correspondence. The chapter also offers a phenomenological interpretation of the Unity of Being and a critical analysis of Ibn Taymiyya's critique, in an attempt to clarify, with reference to ʿAbd al-Ghanī's insights, the main points of misunderstanding often associated with this controversial concept. It provides a bilingual list with a brief description of all the letters, maps the regions from which ʿAbd al-Ghanī's correspondents wrote, and gives the number of letters each correspondent received and/or sent. Finally, thematic commentaries on, and selected translations of, the most important letters is presented.

Keywords: ʿAbd al-Ghanī; Ibn Taymiyya's critique; intellectual milieu; Islamic world; socio-cultural contexts



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