Between Mysticism and Philosophy: Sufi Language of Religious by Diana Lobel

By Diana Lobel

A revealing examine of this crucial medieval Jewish poet and his relation to Islamic inspiration. Judah Ha-Levi (1075-1141), a medieval Jewish poet, mystic, and complex critic of the rationalistic culture in Judaism, is the point of interest of this ground-breaking research. Diana Lobel examines his influential philosophical discussion, Sefer ha-Kuzari, written in Arabic and later translated into Hebrew, which broke spiritual and philosophical conference by means of infusing Sufi phrases for non secular event with a brand new Jewish theological imaginative and prescient. Intellectually enticing, transparent, and obtainable, among Mysticism and Philosophy is an imperative source for an individual attracted to the intertwined worlds of Jewish and Islamic philosophy, faith, and tradition.

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Extra resources for Between Mysticism and Philosophy: Sufi Language of Religious Experience in Judah Ha-Levi's Kuzari (S U N Y Series in Jewish Philosophy)

Sample text

We have seen that the term Ósafwa was used in Ism¯a¡ ı¯l¯ı texts to refer to an elite line of prophets. The sources Shlomo Pines gathered describe a distinct metaphysical hierarchy beginning with minerals and culminating in prophets, who constitute a rank above the human. These ideas are present in the tenth century encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity (Ikhw¯an al- Ósaf a¯ ’), a circle of Muslim Neo-Platonists associated with Sh¯ı¡ite and possibly Ism¯a¡ ı¯l¯ı thought. In the famous debate between the animals and humans found in the second treatise, an Iraqi character claims for his people:81 We are the lubb [heart, core, choice part] of the human beings [al-n¯as]; the human beings are the lubb of the animals; the animals are the lubb of the plants; the plants are the lubb of the minerals; and the minerals are the lubb of the elements.

2 While some groups assert ittiÓsa¯ l is possible and they map out a detailed program for its attainment, others object strongly to this concept. HaLevi plays with the terms ittiÓsa¯ l and wuÓsu¯ l in a way that reframes the problem and offers a unique resolution. IttiÓsa¯ l is central to the Kuzari from the very outset; the term is featured in the King’s opening encounters with his three interlocutors. We will thus begin by examining Sufi and philosophical senses of ittiÓsa¯ l and their role in the opening dialogue, the dialogue’s use of Sh¯ı¡ite terminology, and 21 22 Part One the place of ittiÓsa¯ l in the Haver’s Ó chronicle of Jewish history.

1. IttiÓsa¯ l among Founding Figures The Haver’s Ó sacred history of the Jewish nation sets forth a prophetic elite beginning with Adam. The Haver Ó describes Adam using motifs available in his Islamic intellectual milieu—in particular, Sufi and philosophical models of perfection. In I:95, he calls Adam the Perfect One (alk¯amil), a term that calls to mind the philosopher’s description of the perfect human being (al-ins¯an al-k¯amil) in I:1. 51 The original relationship between human beings and God is a spontaneous connection, not one cultivated by following the steps of a program.

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