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The Occult Challenge to Philosophy and Messianism in Early Timurid Iran: Ibn Turka’s Lettrism as a New Metaphysics

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Chapter Summary

This chapter emphasizes the existence of a mainstream and intellectual form of lettrism. This lettrism served as a choice vehicle for the millenarian, universalist impulses of the period, and as such achieved wide currency among its leading thinkers, from Anatolia to Egypt, from Iran to India. The chapter takes as an outstanding but representative example Ṣāʾin al-Dīn ʿAlī Turka of Iṣfahān, the foremost occult philosopher of early Timurid Iran, whose lettrist thought constitutes the centerpiece of his universalist project. It is true that Ibn Turka has been acclaimed from the 13th/19th century onward as an important synthesizer of peripatetic-illuminationist philosophy and mystical theory linking Ibn ʿArabī with Mullā Ṣadrā. Lettrist thought in its Islamicate context represents a broad cultural current hosting messiahs and mystics, Imāms and intellectuals, and comprehends in its various iterations everything from metaphysics, cosmogony and physics to alchemy, astrology and magic.

Keywords: astrology; early Timurid Iran; Ibn Turka's lettrism; messianism; metaphysics; philosophy; Turka of Iṣfahān



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