Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies
The Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ (Brethren of Purity), the anonymous adepts of a tenth-century esoteric fraternity based in Basra and Baghdad, hold an eminent position in the history of science and philosophy in Islam due to the wide reception and assimilation of their monumental encyclopaedia, the Rasāʾil Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity). This compendium contains fifty-two epistles offering synoptic accounts of the classical sciences and philosophies of the age; divided into four classificatory parts, it treats themes in mathematics, logic, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and theology, in addition to didactic fables.
The present volume is the first of this definitive series consisting of the very first critical edition of the Rasāʾil Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ in its original Arabic, with a complete, fully annotated English translation. This epistle, The Case of the Animals versus Man Before the King of the Jinn (Epistle 22), prepared by Professors Lenn E. Goodman and Richard McGregor, is arguably the best known, on account of its prominent ecological fable, which casts the exploited and oppressed animals pursuing a case against humanity.
Epistle 22: The Case of the Animals versus Man Before the King of the Jinn
Prologue of the Ikhwān
Appendix A: Authorities Cited
Appendix B: Geographical Regions
Appendix C: Iranian Kings and Heroes of History and Legend
Appendix D: Religious Traditions
Risāla 22 (Arabic Text Variants)
‘The publications that are planned within this project will no doubt rekindle the interest of scholars and students of Islam in Islam's rich cultural, educational and historical legacy . . . The work of the Ikhwan al-Safa, like many other works that make up the classical Muslim educational thought, need to be seriously studied and reflected upon. This new publication project contributes immensely towards realizing this educational aim.’
– Abdullah Sahin, Muslim World Book Review, about Epistles of the Brethren of Purity series
‘The value of this beautifully produced book is enhanced considerably by the very full and erudite annotation that accompanies [it].’
– Geert Jan Van Gelder, Times Literary Supplement
Lenn E. Goodman, Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University, is the author of numerous books on Jewish and Islamic philosophy, including his Gifford lectures, Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself. Goodman’s current project is a philosophical study on God and evolution.
Richard McGregor is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Islamic Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Sanctity and Mysticism in Medieval Egypt, and his primary field of research is mediaeval Egypt and Syria, with a focus on intellectual history, visual culture, and Sufism.