Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten



Vortrag: On the Hidden Meaning of the Animal Fable in the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’

by Godefroid de Callatay

02.02.2018 um 13:00 Uhr

Freitag, 2. Februar 2018, 13 - 15 Uhr

Ort: At the MusaPH seminar room (Leopoldstr 11b, 4th floor)




Does the famous animal fable, as narrated by the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ in Epistle 22 of their Rasāʾil, possess an inner meaning? The issue is not new, but it may be useful to address it again today, considering the recent, significant re-evaluation of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity in the overall history of medieval thinking. It is also important to return to this issue since it was largely left aside by the editors of Epistle 22 who are part of the ongoing project by Oxford University and the Ismaili Institute to critically edit the entire collection of the Rasāʾil Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ. In the present paper, I argue that the Ikhwān’s animal fable does indeed contain an esoteric level of reading and that it must be understood in line with the Brethren’s Ismāʿīlī or Ismāʿīlī-like aspirations but also, and more importantly, with their wish to take an approach as universal and syncretic as possible. The following motifs are discussed: a) God’s Intimates; b) Seventy / Seventy-Two; c) Seven; d) Yaʿsūb, Commander of the of Bees; e) the Return of the Conjunction; f) Equator.