Cookies Policy
X

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

In Defense of Geomancy: Šaraf al-Dīn Yazdī Rebuts Ibn Ḫaldūn’s Critique of the Occult Sciences

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

The late 8th/14th century saw a renaissance of high occultism throughout Islamdom—a development alarming to puritan scholars. This includes Ibn Ḫaldūn (d. 808/1406), whose anti-occultist position in the Muqaddima is often assumed to be an example of his visionary empiricism; yet his goal is simply the recategorization of all occult sciences under the twin rubrics of magic and divination, and his veto persuades more on religious and social grounds than natural-scientific. Restoring the historian’s argument to its original state of debate with the burgeoning occultist movement associated with the Mamluk sultan Barqūq’s (r. 784/1382-791/1389 and 792/1390-801/1399) court reveals it to be not forward-thinking but rather conservative, fideist and indeed reactionary, as such closely allied with Ibn Qayyim al-Ǧawziyya’s (d. 751/1350) puritanical project in particular; and in any event, the eager patronage and pursuit of the occult sciences by early modern ruling and scholarly elites suggests that his appeal could only fall on deaf ears. That it also flatly opposed the forms of millennial sovereignty that would define the post-Mongol era was equally disqualifying. I here take Šaraf al‑Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī (d. 858/1454), Ibn Ḫaldūn’s younger colleague and fellow resident in Cairo, as his sparring partner from the opposing camp: the Timurid historian was a card-carrying occultist and member of the Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ network of neopythagorean-neoplatonic-monist thinkers then gaining prominence from India to Anatolia via Egypt. I further take geomancy (ʿilm al-raml) as a test case, since Yazdī wrote a tract in defense of the popular divinatory science that directly rebuts Ibn Ḫaldūn’s arguments in the Muqaddima. To set the stage for their debate, I briefly introduce contemporary geomantic theory and practice, then discuss Ibn Ḫaldūn’s and Yazdī’s respective theories of occultism with a view toward establishing points of agreement and disagreement; I also append a translation of Yazdī’s tract as a basis for this comparison.La fin du VIII e/XIV e siècle vit une renaissance de l’occultisme d’élite en terre d’Islam, un développement alarmant aux yeux des savants puritains, y compris Ibn Ḫaldūn (m. 808/1406), dont les positions anti-occultistes dans sa Muqaddima sont souvent considérées comme un exemple de son empirisme visionnaire. Pourtant, son but est simplement de reclasser toutes les sciences occultes sous les étiquettes gémellaires de magie et de divination. Son opposition catégorique convainc davantage sur des bases religieuses et sociales que naturelles et philosophiques. Resituer l’argumentaire d’Ibn Ḫaldūn dans son débat d’origine avec le mouvement occultiste émergent associé à la cour du sultan mamelouk Barqūq (r. 784/1382-791/1389 et 792/1390-801/1399) révèle qu’il ne s’agit pas d’une réflexion d’avant-garde mais plutôt conservatrice, dogmatique et, en fait, réactionnaire, puisque particulièrement en étroite relation avec le projet puritain d’Ibn Qayyim al-Ǧawziyya (m. 751/1350) en particulier. Dans tous les cas, le mécénat actif et la quête des sciences occultes par les élites dirigeantes et savantes du début de l’époque moderne suggèrent que son appel ne pouvait que tomber dans l’oreille de sourds. En outre, le fait qu’il s’oppose catégoriquement aux formes de souveraineté millénaire qui définissaient l’époque post-mongole était également disqualifiant. Je prends ici Šaraf al-Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī (m. 858/1454), le jeune collègue d’Ibn Ḫaldūn résidant au Caire, en tant qu’adversaire : l’historien timouride était un occultiste convaincu et membre du réseau de penseurs néopythagoriciens, néoplatoniciens et monistes des Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ qui gagnaient alors en importance de l’Inde à l’Anatolie en passant par l’Égypte. Je prendrai la géomancie (ʿilm al-raml) comme un cas d’école, puisque Yazdī écrivit un opuscule pour défendre la science divinatoire populaire qui réfute directement les arguments d’Ibn Ḫaldūn dans sa Muqaddima. Pour poser le débat, je présenterai succinctement la théorie et la pratique géomantiques contemporaines, puis discuterai respectivement des théories sur l’occultisme d’Ibn Ḫaldūn et de Yazdī en vue d’établir des points d’accord et de désaccord. J’ajouterai également à cette comparaison une traduction de l’opuscule de Yazdī.This article is in English.

Affiliations: 1: University of South Carolina mmelvink@sc.edu

Loading

Full text loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/15700585-12341457
Loading

Data & Media loading...

http://brill.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1163/15700585-12341457
Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/15700585-12341457
2017-09-13
2017-10-23

Sign-in

Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
     
    Arabica — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation