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The Banisher of Madness

An Interpretation of Language as the Vessel of All Truths Sacred and Profane in the Teachings of Ibn al-Sarrāj of Baghdad


Born in the late 9th century Baghdad, the ʿAbbāsid grammarian ‘Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Saḥl Ibn al-Sarrāj came to be remembered as the Banisher of Madness and the virtuous scholar whose life has exemplified the culture of Arabs in its fullness. Lauded as the arch-enemy of Hellenistic sciences and, at the same time, as the main source of transmission of Aristotelian logic from the 10th century philosophers to the grammarians of Baghdad; Ibn al-Sarrāj nonetheless remains a shadowy figure in the history of Arabic grammar studies up until today. This book addresses this issue by examining the problematic relationship between language, logic and grammar in Ibn al-Sarrāj’s teachings.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4162-9
  • *
Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Feb 26,2021
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 265
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4162-9
$153.00
Born in the late 9th century Baghdad, the ʿAbbāsid grammarian ‘Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Saḥl Ibn al-Sarrāj (d. 929), came to be remembered as the Banisher of Madness and the virtuous scholar whose life has exemplified the culture of Arabs in its fullness. Lauded as the arch-enemy of Hellenistic sciences and, at the same time, as the main source of transmission of Aristotelian logic from the 10th century philosophers to the grammarians of Baghdad; Ibn al-Sarrāj nonetheless remains a shadowy figure in the history of Arabic grammar studies up until today. This book addresses this issue by examining the problematic relationship between language, logic and grammar in Ibn al-Sarrāj’s teachings. In addition, the present study offers an insight into the conflict between the medieval grammarians and logicians over the traditionally-established authority of ʿAbbāsid grammarians to analyse the intelligible realm and nature of a human soul. In order to come to terms with the controversial notion of grammarians as the guardians of the divine wisdom, the present study pivots on one of its greatest embodiment: Ibn al-Sarrāj’s concept of the Wisdom of Arabs.
Born in the late 9th century Baghdad, the ʿAbbāsid grammarian ‘Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Saḥl Ibn al-Sarrāj (d. 929), came to be remembered as the Banisher of Madness and the virtuous scholar whose life has exemplified the culture of Arabs in its fullness. Lauded as the arch-enemy of Hellenistic sciences and, at the same time, as the main source of transmission of Aristotelian logic from the 10th century philosophers to the grammarians of Baghdad; Ibn al-Sarrāj nonetheless remains a shadowy figure in the history of Arabic grammar studies up until today. This book addresses this issue by examining the problematic relationship between language, logic and grammar in Ibn al-Sarrāj’s teachings. In addition, the present study offers an insight into the conflict between the medieval grammarians and logicians over the traditionally-established authority of ʿAbbāsid grammarians to analyse the intelligible realm and nature of a human soul. In order to come to terms with the controversial notion of grammarians as the guardians of the divine wisdom, the present study pivots on one of its greatest embodiment: Ibn al-Sarrāj’s concept of the Wisdom of Arabs.
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ContributorBiography

Dunja Rašić

Dunja Rašić (University of Belgrade), is a specialist in the intellectual and social history of the early and classical periods of Islam. Her primary areas of interest are Islamic philosophy, Sufism and philosophy of language.

Acknowledgments .......................................................................... vii
Transcription and Transliteration System ....................................... ix
Symbols and Abbreviations ............................................................. xi
Figures, Graphs and Tables ............................................................ xiii
Figures ................................................................................... xiii
Graphs .................................................................................... xv
Tables .................................................................................... xvi


Chapter 1. The Mirror and the Wisdom: Ibn al-Sarrāj and the Pre-
Modern Arabic Language Ideologies ......................................... 1
1.1. Physiognomy of the Age: Frameworks of Culture and
Identity ............................................................................. 8
1.2. The City of Peace and the Heralds of Destruction ............ 20
1.3. Setting the Stage: Ibn al-Sarrāj and the Peripatetic School
of Baghdad ...................................................................... 27
1.4. Ibn al-Sarrāj and His Times: The Portrait of a Grammarian
and the Portrait of an Empire .......................................... 40
1.5. The Writings of Ibn al-Sarrāj: a Description of Sources .... 62
MS Rabat #326........................................................................ 64
MS Qarawiyyin #1774 ............................................................. 66
MS Tehran #3990 ................................................................... 66
MS London #2808 .................................................................. 68
MS Istanbul #1077 .................................................................. 70
Collection 100/q ...................................................................... 71
MS #21028–2 ........................................................................... 74
MS Ankara 547/3 ..................................................................... 75

Chapter 2. The Interpretation of Silence: Greek Elements in the
Foundations of Arabic Grammar ........................................... 87
2.1. Language Corruption and its Sources ............................ 108
2.2. Mending the corruption: the notion of maʿnā and the
Foundations of Arabic Grammar ................................... 115
2.3. Ibn Sarrāj, the Banisher of Madness ............................... 127


Chapter 3. The Language of God and the Speech of Men: Ibn Al-
Sarrāj and the Wisdom (Re)acquired ..................................... 157


Chapter 4. The Legacy We Leave Behind: The Banisher of Madness
and the Founder of Foundations ............................................. 171
4.1. The Precious Rosary ........................................................ 174
4.2. The Outcome: The Legacy We Leave Behind ................. 195


Appendix 1. The Quoted Excerpts from the Grammar Treatises of
Ibn al-Sarrāj............................................................................ 201
Appendix 2. His Was the Greatest Poetry among the Grammarians:
The Surviving Verses of Ibn al-Sarrāj ..................................... 207
Bibliography ................................................................................. 209
Primary Sources .................................................................... 209
Secondary Literature ............................................................. 220
Index .............................................................................................. 241

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