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Al-Jā-hiẓIn Praise of Books$
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James Montgomery

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748683321

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748683321.001.0001

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The Architecture of Design

The Architecture of Design

Chapter:
(p.275) Part 5 The Architecture of Design (p.276)
Source:
Al-Jā-hiẓ
Author(s):

James E. Montgomery

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748683321.003.0006

Al-Jāḥẓ thought his book would save society through an appreciation of God’s design in the universe. The ninth century abounded in books on the subject. Chapter 5 excavates the theological premise of the work: that God has put in man a primary appreciation of His design. Al-Jāḥẓ’s directs his book at the monotheists in his audience, Christian and Muslim. By participating in the process of becoming his ideal readers, this audience will be led to recognise that creation can only fully and properly, however imperfectly, be appreciated through al-Jāḥẓ’s (Islamic) account of design. Appreciation of design took two forms: the proper use of the ?Arabīya, Arabic in its loftiest register; and a conception of composition which permitted an author to aspire to mimic God without thereby becoming God. Although The Book of Living has this lofty didactic and salvific purpose, al-Jāḥẓ makes it difficult for his audience to become ideal readers by his regular use of obliquity and misdirection. He employs these techniques to encourage his readers to understand that writing and reading his book involve the same challenges that reading God’s creation involves.

Keywords:   Design Arguments, Christian and Muslim theories of design, Theories of composition, ?Arabīya as numinous, Atomism and books, Misdirection, Semiotics

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