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“I Have Seen The People’s Antipathy To This Knowledge”: The Muslim Exegete And His Audience, 5th/11th–7th/13th Centuries

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Chapter Summary

Today's scholars have debated whether the genre of tafsir was central to pre-modern Muslim intellectual life. This chapter offers a preliminary assessment of whether any tafsīr works from the eleventh and twelfth centuries were intended for, and used by, a non-specialist audience. The material in the introductions to works of tafsīr, sermons and works of exegesis, examined here gives the strong impression that exegetes intended for their works of tafsīr to be read by different levels of scholar. Author argues that they did not intend for tafsīr works to appeal to a broad, popular, non-learned audience. He examines the tafsīr works in the catalogue of a 13th-century Damascene library, which, it seems, was for learned patrons who were not necessarily specialists in the religious sciences. The tafsīr works in this library are chiefly characterized by a bias towards medium-length or short works by eleventh and twelfth century authors from Khurāsān.

Keywords: audience; authors; Damascene library; Khurāsān; Muslim exegete; religious sciences; scholar; tafsīr



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