Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies
This is a new English translation of a classic of medieval Islamic learning, which illuminates the intellectual debates of its age and speaks vividly to the concerns of our own. It is the most famous work of the Brethren of Purity, a tenth-century esoteric fraternity based in Basra and Baghdad. In this rich allegorical fable the exploited and oppressed animals pursue a case against humanity. They are granted the gift of speech and presented as subjects with views and interests of their own. Over the course of the hearing they rebuke and criticise human weakness, deny man's superiority, and make powerful demands for greater justice and respect for animals. This sophisticated moral allegory combines elements of satire with a thought-provoking thesis on animal welfare. Goodman and McGregor supplement their engaging translation with an introduction and annotations that explore the rich historical and cultural context to the work.
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
‘The language of the translation is lively . . . The work raises high expectations for future editions of the remaining epistles.’
– Philosophy in Review
Lenn E. Goodman is Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. His books include Islamic Humanism; In Defense of Truth: A Pluralistic Approach; Jewish & Islamic Philosophy: Crosspollinations in the Classic Age; Judaism, Human Rights, and Human Values; God of Abraham; Avicenna; On Justice; Creation and Evolution; and his Gifford Lectures, Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself. A winner of the American Philosophical Association Baumgardt Memorial Prize and the Gratz Centennial Prize, Goodman has lectured widely in international venues. His original translation of The Case of the Animals versus Man appeared in 1978. He is also the translator of Saadiah Gaon’s Arabic commentary of the Book of Job. His translation, with commentary, of Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan was published in 2009 in an updated edition by the University of Chicago Press.
Richard McGregor is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Islamic Studies at Vanderbilt University. His primary field of research is mediaeval Egypt and Syria, with a focus on intellectual history, visual culture, and Sufism. He is author of Sanctity and Mysticism in Medieval Egypt (2004), a study of the evolution of theories of religious authority among mystics of mediaeval Cairo. He is also co-editor with Adam Sabra of Le développement du soufisme en Égypte a l’époque mamelouke (2006), and is currently at work on a study of religious practice centred on processions, banners, pilgrimage, and iconoclasm.