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Devil’s Advocate: ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s Defence of Iblis in Context – Mohammed Rustom

Abstract:

The writings of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt Hamadānī (d. 525/1131) anticipate some of the major trends that characterize the post-Avicennan ḥikmat tradition. But modern scholarship has as of yet not completely come to grips with the far-reaching implications of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s teachings, many of which are framed in terms of the symbolic language and imagery of the Persian Sufi school of passionate love (madhhab-i ʿishq) and the defence of the devil’s monotheism (tawḥīd-i Iblīs). The focus in this article will be upon this lat- ter aspect of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s Sufi doctrine. Upon closer inspection, his “Satanology” (for lack of a better term) turns out to not only be concerned with a defence of the devil as a tragic, fallen lover of God; it is also intimately related to our author’s robust theodicy, as well as his theory of human freedom and constraint. At the same time, ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s defence of Iblis demonstrates his understanding of philosophical and theological discourse as themselves symbolic representations of another, higher form of being and knowing.

Devil's Advocate (SI 115.1, 2020)