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Cheifetz, Haruka (2020) Al-Shaʿrānī’s Theological Defence of Ibn ʿArabī in Context. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This research undertakes the investigation of ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Shaʿrānī’s (d. 973/ 1565) defence of Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn ʿArabī’s (d. 638/ 1240) mysticism. It aims to clarify the theological project on which al-Shaʿrānī embarked in an attempt to promulgate Ibn ʿArabī’s thought to a wider audience. The thesis challenges the reductive view agreed upon in recent scholarship that al-Shaʿrānī was an uncritical apologist of Ibn ʿArabī and a mediocre thinker who was not interested in the latter’s mystical worldview. Contrary to the current reading of al-Shaʿrānī, the study argues how he systematically presents Ibn ʿArabī’s ontology of ‘the oneness of existence’ (waḥdat al-wujūd) as a perceptual and visionary experience. It is shown that this interpretive method emerged against a backdrop of polemics over Ibn ʿArabī. I will further demonstrate that, by situating Ibn ʿArabī’s doctrines in the context of theological issues, al-Shaʿrānī integrates them into his own worldview, thereby merging the mystical and theological disciplines. I will also discuss that al-Shaʿrānī was supportive of Ibn ʿArabī’s monistic teachings on condition that the audience are advanced enough to fully understand them. The thesis therefore provides an account of al-Shaʿrānī’s biography, intellectual milieu, and oeuvre (Chapter 1), investigates his interpretation of the oneness of existence as experiential oneness (Chapter 2), considers his support of the monistic worldview (the first part of Chapter 3), then studies his treatment of some of Ibn ʿArabī’s controversial doctrines, focusing in particular on al-Shaʿrānī’s approach to the anthropomorphic attributes of God (the second part of Chapter 3, and Chapters 4 and 5). It will become clear that al-Shaʿrānī’s theological project was formulated through innovative interpretive efforts and in the context of his own intellectual milieu. The research concludes that al-Shaʿrānī’s defence of Ibn ʿArabī’s thought ought to be received in a more positive manner.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Ayman Shihadeh
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2021 16:17

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