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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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Physiognomy of Anapocalyptic Age

Physiognomy of Anapocalyptic Age

Chapter:
(p.21) Part 1 Physiognomy of Anapocalyptic Age (p.22)
Source:
Al-Jā-hiẓ
Author(s):

James E. Montgomery

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748683321.003.0002

This chapter sets the scene by drawing a picture of the electric decade in which The Book of Living was written, between 847 and 857. The decade was characterized by the certainty of the imminence of the End Time and by political turmoil and unrest, with the death of caliph al-Wāthiq, the accession of Caliph al-Mutawakkil, and the termination of the Caliphal Inquisition (Mi?na). The decade witnessed a turning away from Kalām theology. In terms of al-Jā?i?’s view of how his society should be organized this turning away from Kalām was tantamount to a threat to its security and was reflected in the prevalence of dissent and disagreement around him. The chapter also reviews the personal cataclysms experienced by al-Jā?i? during this decade: his stroke; the death of his patrons; and his sponsorship by al-Mutawakkil. It also highlights two key features so typical of elite writing: the close connection between eristics and salvation; the practice of self-chronicling.

Keywords:   ʿAbbasid history, Apocalyptic society, Kalām, Eristics and salvation, Self-chronicling society

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