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A Pseudo-Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī?: The Authenticity of ʿIlm al-qulūb 1

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Abstract This article examines the authenticity of ʿIlm al-qulūb (The Knowledge of Hearts), which is attributed to the early Sufi writer Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 386/996). Al-Makkī is the author of Qūt al-qulūb (The Nourishment of Hearts), which exerted a significant influence on later Muslim thinkers, especially Sufis, as an encyclopaedic work on ethics and spirituality in Islam. Questions around the authenticity of his alleged other work, ʿIlm al-qulūb, have sometimes been raised, and recent scholarship seems to deny authorship to al-Makkī. However, the matter has yet to be analysed thoroughly. This article first introduces modern scholarship on the ʿIlm and examines its extant manuscripts and contents. It goes on to compare the Qūt and the ʿIlm through a study of their aims, structures, approaches, and the religious authorities cited in both works. After tackling the question of the authenticity of the ʿIlm through an analysis of both external and internal evidence, this article touches upon the notion of authorship in the context of medieval Islamic writings.

Affiliations: 1: Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge


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