24 cm, oprawa twarda płótno oryginalna, red cloth, obwoluta, 297 p. HB, Fine in Fair jacket. Stan książki prawie idealny, obwoluta mocno zniszczona, głównie przez skurcz folii na kartonie. See photos. Masa egz.: 740 g.
Series: Religion and Society; 4.
Preface by Franz Rosenthal (Yale Univ.).
Texts in English.
Translation of Shahrastani's Kitab al-milal wan-nihal. Part II, Book III, Section B: Ara al-hind / The views of the India. - p. 38-62.
Shahrastānī, Muammad ibn Abd al-Karīm, 1086?-1153. al-Milal wa-al-nial. Āra al-hind.
The comparative study of religions has been rightly acclaimed as one of the great contributions of Muslim civilization to mankind's intellectual progress. Bestriding the middle zone of the oikoumene, medieval Islam had contact with many religions and probably all conceivable types of religious experience. In its own house, it was faced with a constant struggle to preserve its religious purity (something that was variously defined by different groups). There were only two possible ways to confront the challenge arising out of the multiplicity of competing religions. It could either be blandly ignored or it could be met head-on. Greatly to our benefit, Muslim intellectuals chose the second alternative. Numerous disputations, in oral or written form, were the result, and quite a few books were written, preserving for posterity a kaleidoscopic picture of religious life and thought as perceived by well situated and well qualified observers.
Much of this important material has by now become accessible through bibliographical research, through text editions and translations. A good deal of work remains yet to be done also in this respect. But behind that there looms a major question which is rarely raised: What did individual scholars have in mind when they gathered all this information? What did it mean to each one of them personally, so that he would go to all the trouble and travail that are the ineluctable lot of scholarly labor? No doubt there were a few compilers here and there who just threw information together without caring for what they were doing, merely for the glory of authorship or other external considerations. However, for the vast majority of scholars, the principal motivation must have been a deep desire to know and, above all, to understand, and this meant intellectual and emotional involvement, the making of choices and the application of thought. When Muslims whose lives centered around religion wrote on other religions, it touched their own existence in a very real sense. We may expect that everything an author put down on paper had meaning for him and was the result of honest and prolonged mind and soul searching.
Thus, the accomplishments of medieval Muslims in comparative religion have to be taken seriously and evaluated on their own terms, and not merely exploited as sources of haphazard data. This is what Bruce Lawrence has set out to do in the present work by discussing as an example the chapter on Indian religions in the famous Milal wan-nihal of Shahrastani. The Milal wan-nihal was used as a handy compendium in the Muslim world for centuries; translated into German already in the middle of the nineteenth century, it became the main source of information on the Muslims knowledge of religions and religious philosophy for Western scholars and was in a way degraded by them to the status of a source book, often used superficially with little understanding. Whatever value as a source of factual information other chapters of the Milal wan-nihal may have, the Indian chapter is rather unprepossessing. If we knew nothing else about Indian religions, it would not tell us very much. Moreover, as Lawrence shows, the data it contains can usually be traced back to earlier preserved Arabic and Persian works. Unlike Biruni, who was profoundly disturbed not so much by the nature of Indian views but by the fact that he was face to face with a different civilization which he felt he had to reconcile in its totality with his own, Shahrastanis personal situation was not such that it exposed him to a similar severe culture shock. Yet, we can now see that far from leaving him unaffected, the little he was able to learn about Indian religions became a matter of personal concern to him and challenged his powers of interpretation.
There is room, and, in fact, a need for many similar detailed studies of the approach of the comparative religious historians of medieval Islam to their work. Not all of them will be as demanding as this one in requiring a knowledge of two large civilizations. The results of such studies cannot always be as definitive as, for instance, the edition of a text. They are likely to call for revision when some new overall point of view changes the scholarly perspective. But the time for them has come. They will help us to gain a better insight into the intellectual life of Islam and also bring us closer to a general understanding of the interaction between analytic scholarship and religious phenomena.
Library of Congress: 77356089