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Anthropomorphism in IslamThe Challenge of Traditionalism (700-1350)$
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Livnat Holtzman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780748689569

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748689569.001.0001

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A Tale of Two Narrators: Some Historical, Geographical and Cultural Considerations

A Tale of Two Narrators: Some Historical, Geographical and Cultural Considerations

(p.68) 2 A Tale of Two Narrators: Some Historical, Geographical and Cultural Considerations
Anthropomorphism in Islam

Livnat Holtzman

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter offers a combined literary-historical approach to ḥadīthal-ruʾya (‘the ḥadīth of the beatific vision’). The chapter examines the alleged origins of this ḥadīth in seventh century Medina, and follows the circulation of this text until it became one of the foremost iconic texts of Islamic traditionalism. The chapter examines two versions of ḥadīthal-ruʾya attributed to the Prophet’s companions, Jarir al-Bajali and Abu Razin al-ʿUqayli, and highlights the role of Abu Razin and Jarir’s family members and tribesmen in shaping the two narratives of ḥadīth al-ruʼya. Although the two narratives were almost identical, Jarir’s narrative was admitted into the traditionalistic canon, while Abu Razin’s narrative was cherished only by a few traditionalists. This chapter considers the various factors that led to the iconisation of Jarir’s narrative, and identifies the miḥna, the formative event of Islamic traditionalism that occurred in ninth century Baghdad, as the turning point in the history of this text. During the miḥna, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855) was harshly interrogated by the caliph’s vizier about his belief in the beatific vision. By citing Jarir’s narrative as the ultimate textual evidence of his belief, Ibn Hanbal contributed to this text’s iconisation.

Keywords:   ḥadīth al-ruʾya, beatific vision, narrator, narrative, proliferation of ḥadīth, traditionalistic canon, miḥna, iconisation

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