- Book Notes
Between Reason and Revelation: Twin Wisdoms Reconciled: An Annotated English translation of Nasir-i Khusraw’s Kitāb-i Jāmi‘ al-ḥikmatayn trans. Eric Ormsby, 2012. London: I. B. Tauris in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, x + 292 pp., £29.50. isbn: 978-1-780-76132-9.
Jami‘ al-Hikmatayn (lit. Reconciliation of Two Wisdoms) was written by Nasir-i Khusraw Qubadiyani (394–481/1003–1088), the Isma‘ili poet, philosopher, and author. It aims at “finding solutions to religious issues and philosophical doctrines”. Nasir-i Khusraw states that in 462/1069, on his way from Egypt to Persia, ‘Ayn al-Dawlah Abu al-Ma‘ali ‘Ali ibn Asad, the ruler of Badakhshan, sent him a qasidah by Khwaja Abu al-Haytham Ahmad ibn Jurjani (fl. late tenth to early eleventh centuries) containing 91 questions on philosophy, logic, physics, syntax, and the religious sciences, and requested that he provide him with answers. And so, in his safe haven of Yumgan (in Badakhshan, present-day Afghanistan), Nasir wrote Jami‘ al-Hikmatayn, his last work, wherein he discussed with more precision and a simpler diction almost all the questions treated in his earlier work, Zad al-Musafirin. The book takes the form of a discussion between a philosopher and an Isma‘ili on a wide array of subjects, and each discussion ends with a reconciliation of the twain views. Eric Ormsby’s translation includes an introduction with a brief biographical account of Nasir-i Khusraw and a description of Jami‘ al-Hikmatayn as well as useful bibliography. The translation is beautifully worded but tends towards the literal, with frequent transliterations, and appears to rely on the 1953 French translation by Muhammad Mu‘in and Henri Corbin, which has also been criticised in some Persian works. In that regard, some of these explaining Jami‘ al-Hikmatayn or offering insight into the translation by Mu‘in and Corbin could be consulted if preparations are made for a second edition.1 [End Page 249]
Mohammad M. Baghi
The Islamic College, London, UK
Unburied Memories: The Politics of Bodies of Sacred Defense Martyrs in Iran, ed. Pedram Khosronejad, 2013. Abingdon, Canada & New York: Routledge, ix + 172 pp, £80.00. isbn: 978-0-415-52398-1.
Unburied Memories is a collection of previously published articles on how Iranians, both rural and urban, have chosen to remember the trauma of the Iran-Iraq war. The question is raised as to whether Iranians continue to perceive the war as something of contemporary relevance, or whether – perhaps as a survival mechanism to keep up hope – they instead have chosen to portray it as a significant but historically distant event, despite visible reminders of the conflict. The articles explore the way the war is perceived by the collective Iranian psyche by delving into the cultural and socio-political symbolism of visible war memorials. The memorials discussed range from cemeteries to museums to paintings and photographs, and occupy both public and private space – the latter including memorials to fallen loved ones in people’s homes. Frequent black-and-white photographs of war memorials and depictions of martyrs (both historical and contemporary) aid in communicating the symbolism being discussed. The use of the Shi‘a symbolism of martyrdom in the memorials is a common theme, as is the adoption of the ideology of martyrdom in post-Revolutionary politics, and how different people respond to the politicization of personal loss. Some articles also explore how war memorials have evolved to reflect current social concerns in the Islamic Republic; for instance, a museum wing commemorating female martyrs is seen not only as a memorial to the deceased but as a reflection of contemporary debates on the ideology of gender in Iran. As would be expected, the tone of the book is sombre, and the immediacy of the prose suggests that at least some of the authors have a deep personal connection to the tragic events of the war.
The Islamic College, London, UK [End Page 250]
Muslim Voices and Lives in the Contemporary World ed. Frances Trix, John Walbridge, and Linda...