Professor Sabine Schmidtke - Intellectual History of the Islamicate World beyond Denominational Borders: Challenges and Perspectives for a Comprehensive Approach
Professor Sabine Schmidtke - Institute for Advanced Study
Intellectual History of the Islamicate World beyond Denominational Borders: Challenges and Perspectives for a Comprehensive Approach
In the medieval, late medieval and pre-modern world of Islam, Muslims, Jews and Christians constituted a unique cultural and intellectual commonality. They shared a language, Arabic, which they spoke in daily life and which they also used for their theological, philosophical, legal and scientific writings. Moreover, they often read the same books, so that a continuous, multidimensional exchange of ideas, texts, and forms of discourse was the norm rather than the exception. While this has been amply demonstrated, especially for the 9th through 12th centuries CE, scholars usually opt for a one-dimensional approach with an (often exclusive) focus on either Muslim, Jewish or Christian authors and their writings. In all three fields and for a variety of reasons, the scholarly investigation of the so-called rational sciences beyond denominational borders is still in the beginning phase. By drawing on a number of case studies (based on manuscript material taken from the still mostly unexplored Abraham Firkovitch collection in Saint Petersburg, Russia), it will be shown that the intellectual life of Muslims, Christians and Jews was closely connected throughout the centuries—an intellectual whirlpool that touched Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.
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