IIS Publishes Introductory Volume on the Ikhwan al-Safa’
In association with the Oxford University Press, the IIS has published The Ikhwan al-Safa’ and their Rasa’il: An Introduction, which inaugurates the much-anticipated publication of the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity). As a preparatory volume, it offers a broad overview of this important and influential corpus, detailing conceptual and historical aspects of the work, as well as considering some more technical aspects of certain epistles.
The Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’ is a ca. tenth-century encyclopedia, unique in its combination of Greek philosophy (particularly Neoplatonism) with the Islamic faith, while drawing upon Persian, Indian and other sources. However, little is known of the anonymous authors, the Ikhwan al-Safa’, but their possible Ismaili affiliation has been a topic of scholarly debate.
This IIS project, which has been underway for some time, is highly significant, as it will produce both the first critical edition (in Arabic) and the first complete translation (in English) of the Rasa’il. Consequently, the text will be rendered accessible for serious scholarship in a way hitherto unprecedented. The 16 bilingual volumes of primary text (available from 2009) will be of interest to readers hitherto unfamiliar with the Rasa’il as well as to experts and also those in the wider disciplines of Islamic studies, philosophy and the history of ideas.
Related pages on the IIS website:
The gallery of Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’
16th century manuscript of the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’
The Classification of the Sciences According to the Ikhwan al-Safa’