Toronto Ismaili Student Association (ISA) is invited/encouraged to attend Khalil Andani’s Presentation on Ismaili Philosophy at the University of Toronto. This event is open to public.
The life, career, and thought of Abū Ḥamīd al-Ghazālī (1058-1111) have continued to captivate scholars of Islamic thought for the last several decades. Being well versed in Ash‘arite kalām, falsafa, and Sufism, al-Ghazālī is often credited with formulating a unique synthesis of these divergent streams of Islamic theology and philosophy. At the same time, al-Ghazālī is remembered for his infamous refutations of the Philosophers and the Ismā‘īlīs in texts whose publication shortly preceded al-Ghazālī’s own spiritual crisis in the last decade of the eleventh century.
This paper revisits the pivotal question of the Ismā‘īlī influence upon the cosmology of al-Ghazālī and argues that al-Ghazālī did appropriate certain features of the Ismā‘īlī cosmology present in the Persian Ismaili thought of Abū Ya‘qūb al-Sijistānī (d. after 971) and Nāṣir-i Khusraw (d. 1004-1088). The paper first attempts to ascertain one of the Ismā‘īlī sources to which al-Ghazālī had access by examining some of the Ismā‘īlī doctrinal material presented in his Faḍā’iḥ al-Bāṭiniyya and tracing this material back to eleventh-century Ismā‘īlī treatises. This analysis concludes that the Wajh-i Dīn of Nāṣir-i Khusraw was a probable source for al-Ghazālī’s knowledge of Ismā‘īlī doctrines. Secondly, the paper demonstrates the great commonality between al-Ghazālī’s “two-worlds” cosmology of spiritual-physical correspondence (muwāzana) laid out in his Mishkāt al-Anwār and Nāṣir-i Khusraw’s two-world Ismā‘īlī cosmology which is equally based on correspondence. Finally, the paper re-examines al-Ghazālī’s higher cosmology in the “Veils” section of the Mishkāt where he explains how the true God transcends both the “Lunar Angel” (whom the Aristotelians worship as the First Mover) and the “Solar Angel” (the Obeyed One, whom the falāsifa worship as the Necessary Existent). This section critically appraises the prior conclusions of Hermann Landolt (1991) and Frank Griffel (2010) on the “Veils” passages and argues that al-Ghazālī derived his theological interpretations on the God of the falāsifa and the Aristotelians as well as his polemical strategy of evoking Sun and Moon worship from Nāṣir-i Khusraw’s Ismā‘īlī cosmology and the Wajh-i Dīn in particular.
The paper concludes that al-Ghazālī most likely appropriated Ismā‘īlī cosmological ideas and polemical tactics from Nāṣir-i Khusraw and re-presented them in his Niche of Lights. Even if this conclusion is not certain, the results of this study call for a reassessment of the degree of Ismā‘īlī influences on the thought of al-Ghazālī.
Khalil Andani is a doctoral (Ph.D) candidate specializing in Islamic intellectual history, theology, philosophy, and mysticism at Harvard University and holds a Master of Theological Studies degree (2014), specializing in Islamic philosophy and Ismaili thought, from Harvard University. Khalil’s publications include a book chapter on Nasir-i Khusraw’s philosophical thought in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy and articles in Sacred Web, and The Matheson Trust. He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CA-CPA) and completed Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) and Master of Accounting degrees at the University of Waterloo (2008). Over the last few years, Khalil has been invited to deliver several guest lectures and conference presentations on various topics in Islamic philosophy, theology and mysticism at Harvard University (SCT 2013, HDS 2014), University of Toronto (Shia Ismaili Islam, Christology Symposium, NMCGSA 2013, NMCGSA 2014), University of Chicago (MEHAT 2013, MEHAT 2014), Carleton University, the American Academy of Religion (Midwest AAR 2014, NEMAAR 2014), the Middle East Studies Association 2013 and 2014
DATE: Thursday, February 26, 2015
TIME: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
VENUE: Upper Level Dining Room. The Faculty Club, 41 Wilcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1C7
Conference schedule and website: http://nmc.utoronto.ca/nmcgsa/symposium/