So far, our understanding of the multifarious processes in the formation of (religious) knowledge in the Persianate world between the late fifteenth and late eighteenth centuries appear still far away from solidly grounded. Rather, scholars oftentimes take narratives from highly standardised sources at face value, this way suggesting a very much straightforward process in the genesis of clear-cut “schools of thought”. With this presentation Dr Hartung seeks to stir up some of our presumed certainties. After a cursory survey of the complex ways in which particular political constellations facilitates certain ideas to travel across the early modern Persianate world — the keyword here is “courtly patronage” —, the focus of the attention will be on various mechanisms used within the initially rather loosely defined community of (religious) scholars to establish more distinct intellectual traditions that, at times, have successfully claimed canonical force. It will be shown that especially two types of texts seem to have been hugely instrumental in this regard: the so‑called “guidance” (hidāya), prominently employed in the field of philosophy, and the theological catechism, the “creed” (ʿaqīda). Both textual forms, it will be argued, proved most useful as a starting point of tradition-building processes by way of commentation.
Dr. Jan-Peter Hartung completed his PhD in the Study of Religions in 2003 at the Max Weber Centre for Social and Cultural Research, University of Erfurt, Germany. He has been the Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam at the Dept for the Study of Religions at SOAS, University of London since 2007. His current research interests are:
(funded by German Research Foundation, 2004-06; Käthe-Hamburger Foundation, 2012/13).