Category Archives: Middle East

MURTAZA MUTAHHARI
(1920-1979)

The Martyr: On Jihad, Suicide, and Martyrdom

  Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari (also spelled Morteza Motahhari or Motah-hary), a traditional Shi’ite mujtahid and scholar influential in the Islamic Revolution of Iran (1978–79), was born in a small town in the province of Khorasan, Iran, and studied at the … Continue reading

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TOSAFOT
(12-14th centuries)

On Avodah Zarah 18a
On the Torah: Concerning Genesis    Rabbah (Genesis 9:5)

  Tosafot, meaning “additions,” refers to a body of explanatory and critical remarks made by a group of Talmudic scholars known as the tosafists, who wrote in France and Germany from the late 11th–12th through the 14th centuries, during the … Continue reading

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ABU HAMID MUHAMMAD AL-GHAZALI
(1056-1111)

from Revival of the Religious Sciences

  A native of Khorasan, of Persian origin, the Muslim theologian, sufi mystic, and philosopher Abu-Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali is one of the great figures of Islamic religious thought, as well as a critical figure in the debates over the preservation … Continue reading

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ABU HAYYAN AL-TAWHIDI
(c. 923-1023)

from Borrowed Lights: On Suicide

  Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi, probably of Persian origin, was born in or around Baghdad sometime between 922 and 932. He was a man of letters and a scholar, influenced by Sufism and the neo-Platonic philosopher Abu Sulayman. Although said to … Continue reading

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AHMAD IBN FADLAN
(fl. 920s)

from The Risala: By the River Volga, 922: Viking Ship-Burial

  Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a Muslim diplomat and secretary to an ambassador for the Caliph of Baghdad, was sent in 921 to the Khaganate of Bulgars along the Middle Volga. His account of his travels with the embassy, The Risala, … Continue reading

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HADITH: THE SAYINGS OF MUHAMMAD
(7th-9th centuries)

  The hadith, speech or tradition, record the Sunnah (“practice”), the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and actions, which Muslims believe were memorized and recorded by his companions and handed down from generation to generation. Many hadith are found in the biography … Continue reading

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THE QURAN
(traditional date c. 632-c. 650)

Surahs 2.54, 2.154, 2.195, 2.207, 3.145, 3.169-70, 4.29-30, 4.66, 4.74-80, 9.111, 18.6

  The Quran (meaning “recital” in Arabic) is the sacred scripture of Islam, and Muslims believe that it is the direct word of God given through the archangel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad over a period of about 23 years, … Continue reading

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THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD
(3rd-6th century)

Bava Kamma 91b
Avodah Zarah 18a
Gittin 57b
Semahot 2:1-2

  The Babylonian Talmud, the most comprehensive body of rabbinic literature and a central text of Jewish civil and religious law, dates from the 2nd century b.c. to its final redaction during the 5th and 6th centuries A.D.. Talmudic literature, … Continue reading

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EUSEBIUS
(c. 260-339)

from Ecclesiastical History

  Eusebius, referred to as Eusebius of Caesarea, was the first and most prominent historian of early Christianity. He lived most of his life in Caesarea Maritima. He was also known as Eusebius Pamphili, taking the surname from his friend … Continue reading

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GENESIS RABBAH
(compiled 3rd-5th century)

Commentary on Genesis 9:5

  Because of its age and significance, the expository commentary on the book of Genesis [q.v., under Hebrew Bible] Bereshit Rabbah, commonly known in English as Genesis Rabbah, is considered to be of primary position in the Midrash, a collection … Continue reading

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