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Shehata, Mariam Mohammed Amin M. (2024) God, Time, and the World: Abū l-Barakāt Al-Baghdādī’s Theory of Divine Temporality. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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In the intricate mosaic of twelfth-century Islamic philosophy, Abū l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī (d.c.560/1165) emerges as a pivotal figure whose unique perspective has yet to be thoroughly explored. This thesis reevaluates his theory of time, rooted in his impactful yet understated argument that God is “in time” (fī zamān). A comprehensive textual analysis of his work, Kitāb al-Muʿtabar, paired with a contextual comparison with his contemporary philosophical-theological discourses, unveils the far-reaching implications of his argument on his broader theological and philosophical ideas. This thesis unravels Abū l-Barakāt’s reimagined God—a dynamic, personal being in time—that paints a distinctive contrast to the timeless and immutable God of the falāsifa and mutakallimūn. This vision refashions the temporal relationship between God and the world, inserting time and change—dynamism—at the heart of his metaphysical paradigm. This novel framework shapes his positions on key theological issues, offering fresh insights into questions such as divine simplicity, immutability, agency, foreknowledge, human freedom, providence, and theodicy. Abū l-Barakāt’s approach, as identified in this thesis, signifies a transformative adaptation of Ibn Sīnā’s metaphysics, integrating elements of Avicennan and kalām traditions. By critically engaging with the Avicennan abstract conception of God and drawing from the personal vision of God in the kalām tradition, Abū l-Barakāt establishes an early form of open theology, positing a God who actively engages with the world, maintains awareness of ongoing events, and responds to human existence. This thesis delves into the complexities of Abū l-Barakāt’s philosophical theology, shedding light on his daring endeavor to intertwine God within the temporal fabric of existence. By highlighting his meticulous and critical engagement with his intellectual legacy, this analysis illuminates the depth and refinement of his thought, carving out new paths for deeper study.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Ayman Shihadeh
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2024 15:18

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