The Transmission of the Works of Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (d. 1064)
My current work deals with the well-known Muslim theologian, legal scholar and man of letters, Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (d. 1064 CE), who is regarded as one of the most brilliant representatives of Arab-Islamic culture in al-Andalus (Islamic Iberia). Ibn Hazm had been groomed for a political career, but his ambitions were thwarted when the Umayyad caliphate gradually collapsed and al-Andalus disintegrated into a large number of petty states. Dedicating himself to a life of learning, he developed a legal methodology based on the premise that the sacred scriptures (the Qur’an and the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad) are on the whole to be taken in their most literal sense (zahir), reducing the use of arbitrary and fallible human reason to a minimum and challenging the authority of the representatives of the Maliki school of law, which in al-Andalus held a virtual monopoly over all things religious. Prevented by the religious establishment from teaching in the Great Mosque of Cordoba, Ibn Hazm started preaching in various other cities, where he soon made himself unpopular with his harsh polemics against Muslim legal scholars, theologians and members of the new local ruling elites. The self-styled king of Seville ordered his books to be burned in public, he himself was virtually exiled to his family’s estate in the periphery, and potential students were warned off. Ibn Hazm produced hundreds of works of varying size in fields ranging from genealogy, history and biography to theology, heresiography, law and ethics, but according to a contemporary, his books did not cross the threshold of his house due to the ostracism to which the author was subjected. All these factors combined did not bode well for a successful and lasting transmission of his works and thought, and yet his views found their way into the works of influential Muslim writers. My aim is to trace, on the basis of manuscripts and editions of Ibn Hazm’s works as well as biographical dictionaries, historical chronicles, theological and legal tracts, the channels through which Ibn Hazm’s works and views were transmitted and received in the centuries following his death.
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