Mohammed RustomOct 30, 2013
The Triumph of Mercy
Philosophy and Scripture in Mulla Sadra
SUNY Press 2012
What is the relationship between philosophy, mysticism, and scripture in the Islamic tradition? Mohammed Rustom, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Carleton University, has been thinking about this question for years. His intellectual curiosity is thoroughly explored in his book The Triumph of Mercy: Philosophy and Scripture in Mulla Sadra (SUNY Press, 2012). Rustom introduces us to Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Shirazi (d. 1640), better known as Mulla Sadra, and his theory of scriptural hermeneutics developed most explicitly in his book, The Keys to the Unseen (Mafatih al-ghayb). Through his reading of Mulla Sadra Rustom was trying to gather what kind of interpretive framework constituted a philosophical approach to the Qur'an. In The Triumph of Mercy, the Tafsir Surat al-Fatiha, a commentary on the opening chapter of the Qur'an, is used as a touchstone for exploring Mulla Sadra's metaphysics, cosmology, theology, and soteriology. Through this study we see how Mulla Sadra was indebted to earlier figures in the Islamic intellectual tradition, such as Suhrawardi (1154-91) and Ibn al-Arabi (d. 1240). In my conversation with Rustom we discuss Islamic philosophy, the tafsir tradition, practical hermeneutics, God's Essence and Attributes, the Muhammadan Reality, notions of existence or being, the significance of praise, and ideas about salvation, punishment, and hell. Our conversation also demonstrates how contemporary intellectual traditions are built through Rustom's clear admiration for his mentors, such as Todd Lawson, William Chittick, and Michael Marmura.